Saturday, April 3, 2010

Can the Maoists shun violence?

There are many who believe that Maoists are forced to resort to violence against the State.They feel it is a  response to the extreme repression of the Indian state.They say that since the Indian state is always ignoring or violently repressing various people’s movements, the people have no choice but to take to violence.


In a long article in The Outlook depicting her experience of living and traveling with the Maoists, Arundathi Roy shares similar view. She says

But what should I suggest they do? Go to court? Do a dharna at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi? A rally? A relay hunger strike? It sounds ridiculous. The promoters of the New Economic Policy—who find it so easy to say “There Is No Alternative”—should be asked to suggest an alternative Resistance Policy.

Is that true that Maoists are resorting to violence only because the State is extremely repressive and violent and they having no other alternative but to be violent?

The programme of the CPI[Maoist] says:

The immediate aim and programme of the Maoist party is to carry on and complete the already ongoing and advancing New Democratic Revolution in India as a part of the world proletarian revolution by overthrowing the semi-colonial, semi-feudal system under the neo-colonial form of indirect rule, exploitation and control. This revolution will remain directed against imperialism, feudalism and comprador bureaucratic capitalism. This revolution will be carried out and completed through armed agrarian revolutionary war, i.e. protracted people’s war with the armed seizure of power remaining as its central and principal task, encircling the cities from the countryside and thereby finally capturing them. Hence the countryside as well as the PPW (Protracted People’s War) will remain as the “center of gravity” of the party’s work, while urban work will be complimentary to it.

Here you can see that there is no talk of a non-violent alternative to fight against oppression.

The document states further that

Since armed struggle will remain as the highest and main form of struggle and the army as the main form of organization of this revolution, hence it will continue to play a decisive role, whereas the UF[United Front] will be built in the course of armed struggle and for the seizure of power through armed struggle. Mass organizations and mass struggles are necessary and indispensable but their purpose is to serve the war.

Maoists do not believe in the present Indian State and aims to overthrow it.The problems of the Adivasis are used by the Maoists to organise them against the State.Such people's movements are used by Maoists to serve their armed struggle against the State.

 This means Maoists can never shun violence.If they shun violence they cease to be Maoists.

 Can the Indian State defeat the Maoists?

 Yes,but not  by killing all the tribals in Maoist movement,but by genuinely addressing the problems of Adivasis.


  1. I saw Arundhati Roy speaking to Karan Thapar in a TV interview... she raised many points where there appear to be no answers... how does one address the problems now by genuinely addressing the problems of the Adivasis? this looks like a terrible situation, from whatever I could understand, almost too late, and hopeless :(

    And I wonder if anybody is seriously thinking of finding any solutions here. We seem to like shortcuts and always wait till we feel violence is the only option left :(

  2. Violence is never an answer specially when innocents are killed.. and now as you have implied, the party has an agenda and as usual the tribals are just pawns in the game...An organization that is born out of terror and uses terror to gain control will never work...

    as for Roy, one wonders what she really wants.. Like everyone else, I am sure even Roy has received much from independant India.. even with the myriad problems, but losing hope and justifying violence is not the answer.

  3. IHM, situation in the mineral rich interiors of India are really bad.But the Maoists have no solution other than violent overthrow of Govt.They will never be able to achieve anything except killing of many innocents and destruction of the region.
    Solution atleast theoretically is simple. Allow the tribals who live in the forest some voice in decision making of what to do with the land. If there are rich minerals there which are essential to Nation's progress relocation to a fertile region else where may be considered.There should be no injustice to them. The State cannot simply take away the land where they lived for centuries and give it to big business houses at throw away prices.
    Arundathi Roy's attitude towards the issue is mainly emotional and not intellectual.

  4. Happy Kitten,

    Maoists also uses the same terror tactics of other terrorists, killing hundreds of our ill equipped police men and political leaders who oppose their views. Intellectuals who support them saying there is no alternative as the State is extrmely repressive is not looking at the program of Maoists. For Maoists violent over throw of the State is the primary aim and their violence is not reactive.
    There are several non violent struggles going on against State repression and exploitation in many parts of our country and there is no point in loosing hope as violence is never the answer. End will never justify the means.

  5. Ma'am,

    You've very well demonstrated how Maoists are not going to give up violence.

    I would like to add a few more points.

    1. I am not sure if local population actually sympathizes with them as they have killed innocent civilians, too.

    2. Tribals support them or at least do not resist them. This could either be because of fear or a large scale Stockholm syndrome.

    3. Maoists use violence not only to threaten the government, but also to awe the tribals. To dissuade them from siding with the Indian government.

    4. The biggest problem is even if government would want to develop those regions, it is not possible in face of continued violence. Maoists will not allow construction of school buildings, for instance.

    5. Fear of mining is not the only factor. Maoists, I suppose are there in some parts of Bengal, too where there are no mineral reserves.

    6. Unfortunately, two of Bengal's political parties have outsourced violence to Maoists at different points in time. My friend from Bengal tells me that till recent times, many elections there were won at gun point. That's why only one party had been able to dominate the political scene till so long.

    7. For practical purposes Arundhati Roy is a nonissue. Because her line of reasoning is flawed. As I pointed out had this been "people's movement" native civilians (tribal people) would've never been harmed by Maoists, but that's not the case.

    8. Possibility of their funding from foreign sources has to be strongly considered.

    9. Lack of political will. After all, politicians are safe in their homes. Nobody can do anything to them for next 5 years with representative form of democracy we have.

    In light of all the above facts, solution is very difficult to arrive at. :(

    Lastly, I feel very sorry for soldiers who'd lost their lives. I can't even imagine what they must be feeling roaming in jungles, not knowing when would be the last moment of their lives, or if they would ever get to meet their families again. In midst of all this so called intellectual talk, I feel guilty that people are losing their lives to protect me, and I am doing nothing to return that favor. :( I do not know if I have a moral right to ask the government to "crush" the Maoists, 'cuz that means imminent death of hundreds of soldiers & sorrow to their families, though that seems to be the only 'solution'.

  6. Ketan, welcome here.
    Abt local ppls attitude towards Maoists. There must be support in some areas as they have recruited many cadres from those areas and many tribals believe they can deliver them from their misery. Those not taken in by their ideology might be afraid of them especially due to the brutal way they deal with alleged informers.

    Trying to exterminate Maoists with massive fire power may be counterproductive.Maoists may just disappear among common ppl while the offensive may harm a large number of civilians and make them future cadres of Maoism.
    More sophisticated and clever approach using minimum force to cause maximum damage to the leadership of the movement may be more useful.
    Most important thing will be to take measures to end exploitation of the poor tribals. Making our democracy more just and equitable will help in a long way.

  7. Don't you think that once they take to violence the idealism that they stand for is sullied? I know they get a raw deal, but engaging in violence does not make it easier for them, rather destroys others as well.

  8. @lankrita,
    welcome back. As per Communist theory ruling capitalist class will only succumb to an armed revolution by the peasants and workers.So violence is part and parcel of their idealism which is based on Communist theory.
    At the same time we should acknowledge the fact that it was the violence that put the sad plight of tribals on the front pages.I feel there are other less violent but very very difficult ways for effective protest which needs courage,patience and ingenuity on the part of the leadership.
    Did violence brought more misery? Yes in the form of more arrests, killings, destruction of hamlets and forests etc.If civil society became more sensitive to the plight of the oppressed due to this violence, situation on the ground may become better.


Comments are welcome especially if you do not think like me. But anonymous comments behind masks and those not relevant to the post are not encouraged.