ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Widening Debate on the Naxalite Movement

Who will heed a government committee that has discarded the "security-centric" view of Naxalism?

The report of the expert group (EG) on “Development Issues to Deal with the Causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism” associated with the Naxalite movement, set up by the Planning Commission two years ago, has the merit of making the relevant issues visible in an official milieu blinded by a “securitycentric” view of the movement. But will the powers that be heed the change in “policy perspective and strategy to deal with the movement” that the EG recommends in its report, Development Challenges in Extremist Affected Areas?

Before getting to this crucial question, it might be fruitful to delve into the EG’s view of the movement, its context, and the approach it puts forth for dealing with “Naxalite extremism”. The EG acknowledges that Naxalism is “a political movement with a strong base among the landless and poor peasantry and adivasis”, which, “in its day-to-day manifestation” is seen by its support base as “basically a fight for social justice, equality, protection and local development”. The 16-member committee’s analysis of the context of the rise and spread of the Naxalite movement, now four decades old, is not new but it is refreshing all the same. It comes at a time when the central and state governments seem to agree with each other on the issue, there being, in their assessment, no need to seriously debate it.

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