This is terrorism

Terrorism in India is about Pakistani infiltrators, Kashmiri militants and North-east insurgents. For a peculiar reason that defies any logic, both public perception and government policy see it fit to treat Naxals as social justice-seekers gone overboard.

india Updated: Mar 15, 2006 02:01 IST
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Talk terrorism in India and it’s about the usual suspects: Pakistani infiltrators, Kashmiri militants and North-east insurgents. For a peculiar reason that defies any logic, both public perception and government policy see it fit to treat Naxals as social justice-seekers gone overboard, or marginalised victims hitting back at the mainstream from the periphery. Four months after attacking a jail in Bihar and rampaging through the town of Jehanabad, the CPI(Maoist) cadres hijacked a passenger train in Jharkhand on Monday. It hasn’t been a week since the Maoists conducted a killing spree aimed at tribals in Chhattisgarh. To treat them as ‘lost souls’ is helping not only in pulling the wool over our own eyes, but also giving these enemies of the State a tag that suits them fine. The Naxals are terrorists, at par with the more ‘visible’ ones that plague our country, and deserve the same treatment from those whose job is to fight terrorism in this country.

The strange restraint shown by state and central governments was made most surreally evident when the Andhra Pradesh government had decided to hold talks with various Naxal outfits last year. The notion of arriving at any kind of settlement was scuppered from the very start as the YS Rajashekhara Reddy government incredulously felt shy of asking the Maoists to give up their arms. Variations of this soft approach have led to the Naxals gaining ground across the country. In Left-ruled West Bengal, the perils of trying to co-opt the ‘extreme Left’ has ended in failure. Instead of bringing Maoists into the mainstream, cadre-level turf wars between the Left and ultra-Left have provided the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government a serious headache it can very well do without.

If one does subscribe to the facile view that the Naxals are fighting for the cause of the peripheral and the outcast, what, pray, do they have to show apart from a trail of violence? However flawed and opportunistic the politics of people like Mayawati, Mulayam and Lalu Yadav might be, social backwards have made a forward movement as a result of their parliamentary realpolitik. The Naxals present a radical and romanticised option of social justice. But as their bloody fieldwork shows again and again, so do all terrorist ideologies and outfits.

First Published: Mar 15, 2006 02:01 IST