Home Minister Amit Shah gave a strong message in the Lok Sabha on Thursday: Under the garb of ‘social activism’ and ‘ideological movement’, Maoism — especially 'urban Naxalism' and violence against common man, villagers and tribals under its pretext — won’t be tolerated at any cost.
In the first session of the Parliament after NDA’s return to power at the Centre, Shah in his first assignment as home minister categorically emphasised on ‘urban Naxals’ during the debate on the 'Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019'.
Responding to Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule, who said that many social activists were being arrested under the UAPA, Shah said that those involved in 'urban Maoism' won’t be spared.
“There are crores of people who are working as social activists or workers…they are never being targeted (by the police). But there are a few who work for the urban Maoists and these people won’t be spared,” asserted Shah.
What did Amit Shah actually mean by 'urban Naxals'?
The home minister said that Left Wing Extremism (LWE) began as an ideological movement but later, under the garb of this ideology, Maoists rampantly killed thousands of innocent people, poor and tribals.
Without mincing words, he said that there were social activists who act as ‘Maoist sympathisers’ and such people won’t be spared. “I don’t accept Maoism as an ideological battle…we should rise above parties and ideology when it comes to banning terrorism of any kind,” said Shah.
What he meant to say was that there are social activists working in metros and urban centres, who actively support Naxal ideology as a tool to bring social change. These people may not be directly involved in armed action like the Maoist cadre in the jungles of Bastar, Jharkhand, Odisha or Telangana, but act as a catalyst in propagating LWE.
A 2004 document titled ‘Urban Perspective’ of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) strongly emphasises on strategy and gaining leadership from urban areas. The experts believe that with ageing leadership within the organisation, Maoists have been looking at university-educated individuals from cities and towns to develop next generation leaders.
According to the sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as counter-terrorism experts, the CPI (Maoist) gives strong impetus to its ‘urban movement’ for providing supplies, technology, information and logistic support to ground cadre.
One may recall, in August 2018, the Pune police had arrested five persons from different cities – Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in connection with a probe in the Bhima-Koregaon riots in January 2018. The arrested people were claimed to be ‘top urban Maoists’.
What makes government concerned on Naxal issue?
On 25 June, Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy informed the Lok Sabha that as many as 4,647 people, including security force personnel, lost their lives in 13,751 incidents of Naxal violence between 2009 and 2018.
Though there has been a reduction in Naxal violence – 43.4 percent as reported between 2009-13 and 2014-18 — the government couldn’t check the menace completely.
Even during the Lok Sabha elections, high-security measures couldn’t stop the Maoists in Bastar from killing five people, including the BJP MLA from Dantewada, Bhima Mandavi.
Maoists as barriers
It has widely been seen that the Maoists act as a barrier between the government and tribals. On pretext of ‘neo-revolution (Janwadi Kranti)', they prevent government from carrying out developmental works, especially construction of roads, which they consider a threat next to security forces. A large number of paramilitary force personnel lost their lives protecting roads in Maoist-hit regions. Apart from killing people, the Maoists have caused huge damage to public properties.
Besides killing police and security force personnel, Maoists have killed large number of innocent villagers and tribals by branding them ‘police informers’. In fact, the tribals become victims of the tussle between security forces and Maoists.
Government’s zero tolerance against terrorism
The NDA government reiterated its ‘zero tolerance’ stand against terrorism in the Parliament on Thursday and got the UAPA Amendment Bill passed in the Lok Sabha.
Last week, the Lower House cleared the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Bill, arming the central agency, which was created in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, with more powers. The Opposition, including Congress and DMK, voted in favour of the Bill, despite raising objections to the amendments during the debate.
During the debate on Thursday, Shah said that UAPA would speed up trials and every party needs to take an uncompromising stand on terror, which is a global menace.
Updated Date: Jul 25, 2019 20:11:44 IST