Salil Tripathi in the Wall Street Journal:
Maoist insurgents ambushed Indian security forces in the dense forest region of Chhattisgarh state in central India on Tuesday, killing over 70 troops of the Central Reserve Police Force. Analysts are calling it the worst single-day loss in fighting domestic insurgencies.
But despite such massacres, not everyone in India regards the Maoists with horror. One such apologist is the talented and articulate novelist Arundhati Roy who has, since her Booker Prize-winning 1997 novel “The God of Small Things,” focused on bigger things, such as attacking Indian economic reforms, foreign investment, free markets, the United States and Israel.
In a rambling 19,500-word essay published a week ago in Outlook magazine in India and the Guardian newspaper, Ms. Roy writes of recent experiences following the Maoists in the Dandakaranya forest, near where the security forces were ambushed this week. The piece was headlined “Gandhi, but with guns.”
The comparison is obscene. Not only does it suggest an amoral nihilism, it also represents a rewriting of history. A Gandhian with a gun is as absurd as a Maoist pacifist. India’s founding father Mohandas Gandhi may not have been as perfect as some would make him out, but he did believe that only the right means could be used to reach an end, however noble. In 1922 he suspended a nationwide civil disobedience movement, when some Congress followers burned a police station in Chauri Chaura, killing over a dozen policemen and officers. Maoist ideology is precisely the opposite: The ends justify the means. More:
From The Independent: Who are the Naxalites?
What do the rebels want?
Theoretically, the leadership of the movement says they are committed to a “protracted armed struggle” in order to seize power from the state. Yet the Maoists also stress that they are fighting to protect the rights of India’s most oppressed communities, the adivasis or tribal people, and dalits, or untouchables, whose land and resources have often been taken by Indian and international corporations. While some of the rebel leaders were originally educated urbanites, their rank-and-file fighters are made up overwhelmingly of tribal people and other marginalised people. The government routinely claims that the rebels are opposed to development and progress, yet GN Saibaba, an activist and professor at Delhi University, said: “The government has no other explanation to offer for why there is an uprising. It is not true that the Maoists are against development but the questions they ask is ‘whose development’ and ‘what sort of development’.” More: