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Unformatted text preview: COMMENTARY june 19, 2010 vol xlv no 25 EPW Economic & Political Weekly 16 Arms Over the People: What Have the Maoists Achieved in Dandakaranya? Nirmalangshu Mukherji It has hitherto been impossible to assess the approach and activities of the Maoists in the Dandakaranya region in central India. We now have four documents – two authored by senior leaders of the Maoists and two sympathetic accounts – which allow us to evaluate in a limited fashion the work of the Maoists over the past quarter century of operations. The story that comes across is a dismal one. The State earlier did nothing for the adivasis but, considering the time the Maoists have spent in the region, they themselves have achieved little by way of adivasi welfare, be it in wages, education, health or agriculture. This is because the Maoists’ politics of waging guerrilla warfare on the road to seizure of state power has meant that they must focus on using the adivasis for their war. T he Indian state has amassed nearly 1,00,000 paramilitary forces – code- named Operation Green Hunt – ostensibly to confront an armed rebellion organised by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in the Dandakaranya forests that stretch across eastern Maharashtra, south Chhattisgarh and western Orissa. There is overwhelming evidence that the Maoist forces at the front line – the militias and the guerrilla army – consist almost entirely of adivasi youth. It is evident – yet systematically overlooked – that any armed operation to flush out the Maoist leader- ship will have adivasis, armed or unarmed , as the direct target. There are layers and layers of adivasi human shields between the government forces and the Maoist leadership. Further, as the ill-fated and murderous Salwa Judum campaign showed, any attack on adivasis not only results in immense calamity for the adivasis, it, in fact, helps increase Maoist base of sup port including expansion of guerrilla forces. To understand why even the militias and the guerrillas – not to mention the millions of unarmed adivasis who support them – ought to be viewed as victims requiring protection, we need to under- stand the real character of how the (upper class) Maoists, driven out from Andhra and Bihar, went about constructing their base of support in Bastar. The Documents We now have four important documents in the public domain to study this issue. Two of these are based on recent travels inside the Maoist territory by two public intellec- tuals from Delhi (Roy 2010; Navlakha 2010); the others are detailed interviews of the general secretary of the Maoist party (Gana pathi 2010) and the Maoist spokesperson (Azad 2010). The last two are Maoist documents by definition. The other two were written after the authors were apparently invited by the Maoists to visit their area of operation....
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