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The Maoist insurgency and the shadow of the State

For the first time a comprehensive book has been brought out by this courageous team of editors on the Maoist-Naxalite insurgency in India. More than Maoism is a compilation of very informative essays. The writers have all gained first-hand knowledge of their subject before they wrote their papers and interviews of Marxist cadres in their forest sanctuaries.

The first essay of John Harris has given a factual account of the Maoists. This paper is followed by accounts of their experiences as Naxalites by Sumanta Bannerjee and Ronojoy Sen. Both were active Naxalite cadres in the insurgency that hit West Bengal in 1968. This is followed by Prof. Nandini Sunder’s account of the situation in the Maoist affected Chhattisgarh belt. She has been a tireless worker for the deprived forest tribals of Central India and has exposed the game of the Government in raising the Salwa Judum — a force raised from among the forest tribals to fight their brethren by offering jobs and rewards for betraying their own people.

Ajay Dandekar and Chitrangada Choudhury have exposed the Government’s lip service of legislating the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled areas Act, which since its notification in 1996 has been just decorating the pages of the Law Manual. Incidentally, enacting this Act was a mockery of the Governors of the different States in India not touching the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution that gives the powers to administer the Scheduled areas or Forest Reserves to them by constituting Tribal Advisory Councils in each Scheduled Area consisting of Tribals living in that Scheduled Area. No Governor of any State in India has touched this Schedule of the Constitution from 1950 till today. They have left it to the Chief Ministers and Forest Ministers to administer the Forests and lease them to Mining Companies after evicting the forest Tribals living in the concerned sections of Scheduled Areas – all illegal and unlawful actions! Enacting the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act (PESA) was unnecessary when the Fifth Schedule existed. When this Act was enacted in 1996 it was with the fanfare that the Tribals will now administer their Forests by forming Panchayats. Far from it; no Collector of any district in which there were Scheduled Areas has ever formed a Panchayat on behalf of the Governor, for as per the Fifth Schedule it is the Governor who has to form the Tribal Advisory Council. The PESA cannot override the provisions of the Constitution.

The paper by Om Prakash talks of the experiences of Andhra Pradesh in negotiating with the Maoists. This so called talks were simply farcical because the upper castes of Andhra Pradesh are so overbearing, that they cannot even imagine that they will implement the Land Ceiling laws legislated by their State Legislative Assembly in 1955.

Harivansh’s ‘The Naxal Movement’ is summed up in his last paragraph – “People have lost faith in political parties because there is a total contradiction between their promises and their actions once elected.”

Shoma Chaudhury has summarised the Report of the Planning Commission’s Expert Committee of Prakash Singh, Ajit Doval, B Bandhopadhyay, EAS Sharma, SR Shankaran and BD Sharma, all officers of outstanding integrity. The conclusions are quoted by EAS Sharma – “Left extremism is a secondary issue. How many tribals even know that there is a Government? Their only experience of the State is the police, contractors and real estate goons. Besides, the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution grants tribals complete rights over their forests and their traditional land and prohibits private companies from mining on their land. This Constitutional Schedule was upheld by the Samatha judgment of the Supreme Court in 1997.

The only conclusion that I can make is that the Government both Central and state have deliberately and consciously violated the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. The state governments, excepting for three states have also deliberately violated the provisions of the land revenue laws of all states except three – Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal and Kerala by not implementing the land ceiling legislations. Into this vacant space created by the deliberate violations of both the Centre and the states, the Maoists have stepped in and we have a Maoist insurgency. Need anything further be said about how to cut the Maoists out of this Maoist Naxalite insurgency?

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