By Arun Srivastava
Like his earlier proposal ‘One Nation, One Uniform’, the innovative prime minister Narendra Modi has come out with yet another pioneering directive to the security forces to identify and crack down on the Urban Naxal network of Maoist strategists and their supporters across the country.
This instruction makes it clear that Modi government is determined not to take lessons from the history instead resort to actions which simply help RSS and BJP’s mission of communal polarisation and perpetrate oppression on the poor and proletariat of the country. While coming out with the proposal of One Nation, One Uniform Modi had only one objective in his mind, to dissipate and crush the voice of protest.
True enough this is a shrewd attempt to turn democracy dysfunctional. It is a known fact that academics and intelligentsia of the country have been consistently protesting against the misdeeds and anti-people actions of the governments, which ever might be in the power. It did raise its voice even during the Congress rule and has been doing the same during Modi Raj. Modi in fact is scared of this voice of protest and nurses the view that this would erode his support base and eclipse his charisma.
“Urban Naxals” is a phrase coined by the Right-wing to trample dissent and let lose reign of terror on the critics of the Narendra Modi government. It is worth recalling that nearly 18 intellectuals and academics were imprisoned in 2018 on the allegation of being Urban Naxals. On 6 June 2018, the Pune Police arrested five activists in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence. After that names of thirteen more academics were added to the list. The NIA claims to have seized incriminating documents and have clinching evidences against but so far it has not succeeded in producing those documents to the court. In every hearing the NIA reiterates its theory that they are urban naxals and investigation is on. Arrested persons include Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, Sudha Bhardwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha and Arun Ferreira.
Some time back an opposition member raised the issue of Urban Naxal in parliament, but the Modi government could not come out with a feasible reply and the minister told the house that he was not aware of this word. Even in the court the prosecution could not furnish the definition for “Urban Naxal”. But the government using this term has been imprisoned hundreds of academics and activists raising their voice of protest. Home ministry official claim that latest intelligence report cites that some NGOs and front organisations of the Maoists are functioning in some cities and have been providing support to underground rebels.
In the backdrop of this report the home ministry has asked security forces to identify and crack down on such ‘urban Naxals’ and their supporters”. Nevertheless the veracity of the report is under cloud. Some senior police officer express disbelief on the report. They say it is very easy to claim that some frontal organisations have been functioning in the garb of NGOs and civil rights organisations and provide support to the Naxals.
Significantly on October 28, at the brainstorming session of state home ministers and senior police officers where Modi came out with his idea of One Nation, One uniform, he had also stressed the need to root out all forms of “Naxalism”, whether “the ones with guns or the ones with pens”. He had emphasised that it was the need of the hour to come together and handle the situation. He also mentioned “Naxals with pens”.
Like Modi the film maker is owner of an imaginative mind. He said that the term ‘Urban Naxal’ is based on a Maoist strategy where they look to urban regions for leadership, organising masses and engaging in military tasks. Strange he painted the task of organising the working class with the Urban Naxals. Surprisingly Agnihotri through Twitter messages has given the calls to compile a list of those defending ‘Urban Naxals’. For him ‘Urban Naxal’ is an invisible enemy of India
The hatred and contempt of Modi towards the liberal and left oriented intellectuals is manifest in his observation, “Urban Maoists live in air-conditioned surroundings, move in luxury cars and send their children to study abroad, but ruin the lives of children here”. He also described them as “monsters” who put guns in the hands of children and burn schools.
With the view to expose the design of the Modi government about Urban Naxals, the renowned Historian Romila Thapar had said on September 28, 2018 after the Supreme Court verdict on the arrest of five rights activists; “Do they even know what urban naxal means, first ask the government to define the term urban naxal and then tell us how we fall into this category. It is very easy to call us urban naxal. And also tell us how we have become urban naxal, either the government does not understand the meaning of urban naxal or we don’t understand the meaning of the term”.
She had said; “we were all born Indians, lived as Indians all our lives. The activists are fighting for good causes and terming them urban naxal is a political move”. She had even petitioned the Supreme Court and had asked government to define the phrase “urban naxal”. In protest against this move of the Modi government many social media users have enlisted themselves as “urban naxals” in a show of solidarity with the arrested Left-leaning activists. They alleged that the term “urban naxal” was a mere a tool to malign those who have an anti-establishment stance.
“Any democratic institution cannot take law into its hands. It has to go through a certain procedure. Arrests are the last step of a probe it is not the first step of an investigation,” Ms. Thapar said. “Arbitrary arrests on implausible charges means the police can walk into our homes and arrest us — either without a warrant or a warrant written in a language we don’t understand and then accuse us of activities about which we know nothing.”
Nonetheless the academics and intellectuals have taken strong view of the term ‘Urban Naxals’. They hold it is slyly being used to brand any city resident who is anti-establishment or critical of the political Right. This manifests intolerance of the ruling dispensation and nothing else. (IPA Service)