Before talking of Urban Naxals, I would take a leaf from Kauravi’s syndicate article on Nagalim and Naxalism published in the Nation in Dec last year to apprise the readers about the actual Naxals. “Naxal movement derives its strength from Maoist ideology, was started by Charu Majumdar in 60s and wants to establish the Naxal Republic with the rule of the proletariat. Naxals are organised into military platoons, wings, and battalions, ranging between 50 to 500 in strength and having a total mass of 25000-armed rebels with indirect support from almost 200 million people in 160 districts. With their heroes and fountain heads like Charu Majumdar, Jangal Santhal and Kanu Sanyal who perished in the fight for Naxalism, the new generation of young Naxalists is taking the movement to a new high. Currently, new leaders like Lakshmana Rao ‘Ganapathy’ are fighting for the cause of Naxalism. Despite all the negativism fomented by mainstream media, Charu Majumdar is still alive and adored in the forests of Eastern Indian seaboard, also called the Red corridor”.
More recently the term ‘Urban Naxal’ was thrown up by the RSS/BJP duo to suppress the voices of dissent in the left leaning intellectuals and educated youth, who have regularly protested against the alarming trends of lynchings of people belonging to minorities, assassinations of activists, false flag attacks to malign India’s neighbours (especially Pakistan), bomb attacks, riots and communal pogroms.
As reported by the Hindu on 30 Sep, eminent historian Romila Thapar stated “We were all born Indians, lived as Indians all our lives. (The five arrested) activists are fighting for good causes and terming them urban Naxal is a political move”. Romila Thapar petitioned the Supreme Court against the house arrest of five Left-leaning activists, has asked government to define the phrase “urban naxal”, saying either they do not understand the meaning of the term or the activists like her do not. Talking on the house arrests of five activists Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, she said these are the people who are fighting against social injustice.
Politicians including Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis have referred to the five activists as “Urban Naxals”. Many social media users have enlisted themselves as “Urban Naxals” in a show of solidarity with the arrested Left-leaning activists as #MeTooUrbanNaxal trended on Twitter.
They countered that the term “Urban Naxal” was a mere creation of some sections to malign those who have an anti-establishment stance. Advocate Tamanna Pankaj tweeted, anyone who defends human rights, raises concerns about atrocities against Dalits and condemns BJP’s authoritarian regime will be targeted as Urban Naxal . In Sep famous Indian actor, film director, writer, playwright and a Rhodes Scholar, Girish Karnad openly supported the trend by wearing a #MeTooUrban Naxal plate around his neck. A left wing comrade Janani tweeted, “So what are the basic qualities to be an Urban Naxal? Those who are, against fascist government, against lynching people in the name of cow, against glorifying rapists, against the false communal propaganda/lies of government”.
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Arundhati Roy’s detailed comment on the issue was published by the Outlook Magazine on 31st August who stated that the liberal India was up against a regime that its own police call fascist. In the India of today, to belong to a minority is a crime. To be murdered is a crime. To be lynched is a crime. To be poor is a crime. To defend the poor is to plot to overthrow the government.
Arundhati Roy believes that five major factors have contributed to frustration of RSS/BJP duo’s efforts to win the upcoming elections in 2019. She refers to political surveys and states, “recent analyses of real voter data as well the Lokniti-CSDS-ABP Mood of the Nation survey have shown that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are losing popularity at an alarming pace (for them). This means that we are entering dangerous times. There will be ruthless and continuous attempts to divert attention from the reasons for this loss of popularity and to fracture the growing solidarity of the opposition. It will be a continuous circus from now to the elections—arrests, assassinations, lynchings, bomb attacks, false flag attacks, riots, pogroms. We have learned to connect the season of elections with the onset of all kinds of violence. Divide and Rule, yes. But add to that—Divert and Rule.
On murder of ill-fated left wing activist Gauri Lankesh, Roy blasts the Indian establishment ruling the Rajpath, “the investigation by the Karnataka police into the assassination of the journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh has led several arrests which have in turn led to the unveiling of the activities of several right-wing Hindutva organizations like the Sanathan Sansthan. What has emerged is the existence of a shadowy, full-blown terror network, with hit-lists, hide-outs and safe-houses, flush with arms, ammunition and plans to bomb, kill, and poison people. How many of these groups do we know about? How many are continuing to work in secret? With the assurance that they have the blessings of the powerful, and possibly even the police, what plans do they have in store for us? What false-flag attacks? And what real ones? Where will they occur? Will it be in Kashmir? In Ayodhya? At the Kumbh Mela? How easily they could derail everything— everything— with some major, or even minor attacks that are amplified by pet media houses. To divert attention from this, the real threat, we have the hue and cry over the recent arrests.
The other factors negatively affecting Modi’s popularity include the scam in Rafael Aircraft deal, the failure of demonetization drive and the inability of the BJP government to lift half a billion poor of India into some semblance of decent livelihood.
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The RSS ideologues and head honchos like Subramanian Swami, Rajnath Singh, Yogi Adityanath, Indresh Kumar, Amit Shah and Narendra Modi are driving a hate train in India, exploiting the communal fault-lines and dividing the vote bank to gain political mileage; however the heterogeneous composition of India and her secular façade may not allow this hate train to keep moving on the path of destruction. Although Congress and other so called secular parties are trying hard to stop this hate train, it appears that India will witness increasing tension and polarization before run up for elections of Lok Sabha in 2019.
For now we will have to agree with Arundhati Roy’s snap shot of today’s India, where the “vulnerable are being cordoned off and silenced and the vociferous are being incarcerated”.