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In the Interest of Peace and Justice

What can be the basis for some sort of dialogue between the Maoists and the Indian state?

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram denies that there is anything on the anvil like “Operation Green Hunt”. Yet, going by reports in the media, the government’s preparations for “war” are on; additional central paramilitary forces and CoBRA battalions are being deployed in the areas of Maoist influence in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, and Maharashtra. Now, even as this massive deployment is underway, Chidambaram has asked the Maoists to “abjure violence” and agree to talks with the government, to which, the Maoists have, not unreasonably, in our view, concluded that the United Progressive Alliance government “has no intention of holding talks with our Party, the CPI (Maoist)”. In a statement issued on 4 November 2009, the Central Regional Bureau of the Party has stated that if the government “has the slightest sincerity left with regard to talks”, it should “immediately put an end to its war on the people, stop the indiscriminate murders of innocent adivasis, and withdraw the paramilitary forces and CoBRA commandos from the adivasi-inhabited areas”.

Clearly, the government needs to ask the question whether similar “hunts” elsewhere, in the Kashmir Valley and the northeast, have managed to put an end to civil strife there. Indeed, if one takes the case of the Naxalite/Maoist movement itself, the May 1967 peasant uprising in Naxalbari was crushed in a few months, but very soon a succession of militant struggles of the rural poor, led by the Naxalites, followed. These, too, were more or less crushed by the early 1970s, and with the crackdown during the Emergency, the ruling establishment concluded that they had done away with “the problem” once and for all. But the Maoist movement revived after the Emergency and grew despite periodic massive state repression. Of course, those who conceive of such repression as the solution to “the problem” absurdly and myopically view the Maoists as “the problem”.

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