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

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Politics of Naming the ‘Naxal’

Action against intellectuals/activists by the state is procedurally flawed and morally humiliating.


The recent attempt of the Maharashtra government to arrest some of the leading social activists and raid the houses of two Dalit intellectuals has been seen by the defenders of democracy as the suppression of the democratic right to dissent. However, such action by the state government raises two relevant questions: Why does the government need to summon the label “Naxal” to its usual gaze of suspicion? And, what is the social and moral cost that the intellectuals have to pay when the department of home affairs and its empirical hard core—the police—overreaches itself?

Ruling party combinations, including the Bharatiya Janata Party–Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra, seem to be rais-ing the bogey of charges against intellectuals and civil rights activists as a problem of “law and order,” basically with two pur-poses. First, they raise such a bogey to possibly overcome the “acute” sense of anxiety stemming from the feeling that the 2019 general elections are going to be tough for them. Hence, the need to first use the bogey of the Naxal as a problem of law and order in the particular context of the Bhima–Koregaon issue, and second, portray through the media and other propaganda machines, the negative role of the Naxal particularly in regard to nationalism. Thus, it becomes necessary on the part of the government to confuse the focus of at least the urban middle classes onto the pressing issues of inflation and good governance. Of course, such anxiety is likely to persist in the context of central government’s colossal failure on the socio-economic front.

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Updated On : 9th Oct, 2018
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