When the peasants of Naxalbari lifted crude weapons to wage war against the Indian state in 1960s’ West Bengal, they could be sympathised with. Their violence, if not condonable, was understandable. It was clearly borne out of desperation against the exploitation by their landlords. They had been left with no choice. Their grievances had gone unheard, and they were utterly voiceless, faceless, leaderless. When leftist revolutionaries like Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal gave them a direction, they saw hope. It was an alternative to the daily toils for bread. They jumped in. Thus began the infamous Naxalite or Maoist insurgency.
The peasants’ struggle which began about half a century ago was not for a Communist utopia – only the uppermost echelons of the leadership were anxious about that. The peasants were fighting for their right to land, against the unmitigated suffering inflicted upon them by an uncaring nation and people – their own. Their violence, while still absolutely condemnable, could not reasonably be termed as ‘terrorism’.
Now? Now, nobody knows what the Maoists fight for – not even I suspect them. They have no perceptible direction despite there supposedly existing ‘urban Naxals’, the left-leaning intellectuals from premier educational institutions, who guide them and endorse their ’cause’, whatever it is.
All the sympathy Maoist guerrillas had has now evaporated into thin air with the 2010 Dantewada attack and now the Sukma incident. Their wanton cruelty shames the Jihadis of ISIS and al-Qaeda. They are the topmost threat to the country’s national security. Rest, like Islamic and Hindutva terrorists, do not come close.
Gandhians with guns? Not so much.