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

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Maoist Justice vs Liberal Justice

A Tribute to K Balagopal

Can violence become a means to justice? Should an oppressed community give any consideration to the principle of liberty? Using K Balagopal’s position on human rights as the backdrop, a theoretical approach to human rights is presented. The Maoist movement’s communitarian approach to rights, where every fight for justice is reduced to “us versus them,” comes at a high cost to overall justice in society. Instead, the only reasonable approach is one that recognises multiple credible claims to justice from myriad interests of individuals and groups across society.

On 9 December 2017, the media carried reports that Maoists had killed Kalakani Surya (26 years old) and Mukla Kishore (22 years old) in Maddigaruvu village, in Malkangiri district, Odisha (Kalinga TV 2017). The reports said that 20 to 25 armed men had dragged them out of their respective houses, even as their families pleaded their innocence, and had shot them dead. Surya was a photocopy shop owner with a wife and two children, and Kishore was an unmarried agricultural labourer. The Maoists left behind a pamphlet justifying their actions and accused the two of being police informers.

These actions were clearly an attack on Surya and Kishores right to liberty, regardless of whether we think they were informers or not. It is also important to recognise that these actions were an attack on liberty at two separate levels: the idea that violence can be seen as a means to justice, and the assumption that the interests of the community represented by the Maoists should be privileged over the interests of any other individual or community. Can violence become a means to justice? Should an oppressed community give any consideration to the principle of liberty?

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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