The left-wing guerrilla forces famously known as Naxalites attacked a political rally in state of Chattisgarh on Saturday, killing 27 minsters. The brutal incident came after months of peace in Red Corridor, bringing into light the increasing influence of the banned communist party in southern and eastern states of the country.
The origin of Naxalites dates back to 1967 in Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal. The tea garden workers demanded their share of land and abolition of zamindari. (Zamindari, however, was already abolished in post-independent India, but in spite of that the land lords managed to retain their status and land and continued to suppress the lower class.) The government viewed the tensions in the region as a law and order problem and replied back to their demands with no carrots and heavy sticks, ignoring the cause and consequences of the movement. The irresponsible behavior by the government transformed an agraarian movement into an armed struggle, which still continues to thrive and mobilize large population from poor areas.
The things have only gone worst in recent years. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Naxalism as "the greatest threat to our internal security." The Communist Party of India (Marxist), or Naxalites, have adopted the tactic of killing or abducting top bureaucrats and ministers to meet their demands of putting end to the "exploiter" class and implementing effective land reforms that will ensure equal land to all. Of late, in light of indifferent attitude of the Indian government, the Naxalites have also proposed an independent state. Such a state would theoretically have an alternative system of governance that will work for the upliftment of suppressed classes.
The sense of being wronged and alienated in their own land and property is the reason behind Naxal uprisings. The government, on its part, has initiated various socio-economic development programs for the betterment of the poor. Funding schemes such as Backward District Initiative and Backward Region Grant Fund provide money to concerned areas for establishments of road, homes, electricity plants, and other infrastructure projects. Poverty alleviation programs are in place too.
All the same, the most pressing issue has not been touched upon: land reforms. The governments of the resource-rich states of Bengal and Chattisgarh want industries to set up on their land, and this accounts for the hesitant approach of government towards land reforms. Unless the implementation of effective land reforms is in place, the Naxal movement will continue to exist.
To bring an end to the existence of Naxal movement, India's power brokers must ensure effective implementation of all their policies. The police force must only be reserved for defense and to prosecute members of the "exploiter" class who have illegally occupied land. Peace talks must be organized and government officials should be willing to give more than they receive. The government must work to make the suppressed class believe that they are not wronged and isolated, so that the continuing mobilization of people to rebellious groups can be brought to end.
The brutal incident that took place on Saturday should prove as an alarm to the indifferent government. The Naxal movement should be viewed and approached seriously before it spreads beyond India's capacity to control the uprising.