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Understanding Urban Naxalism

Educated individuals such as lawyers, academics, and activists living in cities provide legal and intellectual support to Naxalites

Understanding Urban Naxalism

Nearly thirty years ago, William Lind, one of the finest minds in military and warfare strategy jointly authored a seminal paper titled The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation. Ever since that, the phrase, "Fourth Generation War" gained wide currency. Here's an excerpt: There is a goal of collapsing the enemy internally rather than physically destroying him. Targets will include things such as the population's support for the war and the enemy's culture. Correct identification of enemy's strategic centres of gravity will be highly important as fourth generation warfare seems to be widely dispersed and largely undefined; the distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point. It will be non-linear, possibly to the extent of having no definable battlefields or fronts. The distinction between civilian and military might disappear. Actions will occur concurrently throughout all participants' depth, including their society as a cultural, not just a physical, entity.

Consider the numerous instances of manufactured unrests, violence, etc., from 2014 until now. And compare how precisely it tallies with Lind's prognosis. For example, on his point about technology and artificial intelligence, one can cite the recent explosive revelations of the numerous skulduggery by Cambridge Analytica to foment disruptions within the Indian political, societal, and legal system. Indeed, Lind's entire paper is a brilliant manual analysing Urban Naxalism in all its manifestations. Without going too deep into the history of Naxalism, we can examine a relatively recent quote: such as forests provide safe hideouts to Naxalites in tribal areas and the cities also provide them cover. Taking advantage of this, they plan to target major installations in cities.

Urban Naxalism is a phenomenon where educated individuals living in cities provide legal and intellectual support to Naxalites. These individuals could be lawyers, professors, writers, and activists who are not involved directly in Naxal activities. Urban Naxals are the 'invisible enemies' of India, some of them have either been caught or are under the police radar for working for the movement and spreading insurgency against the Indian state. One common thread amongst all of them is that they are all urban intellectuals, influencers, or activists of importance.

In simple words, it means supporting and spreading the ideology of Naxals (few support Maoist acts also) in urban areas. Urban Naxal can be a student, teacher, professor, columnist, journalist, filmmaker, etc. This is achieved through the creation of the following types of frontal organisations: (1) Secret revolutionary mass organisations; (2) Open and semi-open revolutionary mass organisations; and (3) Open legal mass organisations which are not directly linked to the party. Urban work within the third type of organisations can further be subdivided into three broad categories: (a) fractional work; (b) partly-formed cover organisations; and (c) legal democratic organisations."

Urban Naxals are out to win the information/perception war through legal means. The real Naxals want to overthrow the state through armed conflict in selected combat areas given any opportunity. Another definition of Urban Naxalism is that it's a phenomenon that is marked by one or more or all of the following characteristics: An attempt to weaken the Indian state in any form by hampering its economy (for example, by filing PILs against dam constructions, nuclear power projects, etc), tampering with its education (for example, RTE, Marxist propaganda in textbooks, etc), interfering in its legal and judicial process, meddling with its armed forces, demonising the native Hindu culture (for example, attacking Hindu festivals, customs, etc). Manufacturing non-existent issues such as Award Vapsi, intolerance, fake reports of cow slaughter, rapes, lynching, etc, mobilising caste and other groups against the Indian state where the recent example is Maharashtra 'farmers' agitation, which turned out to be populated by serving cadres of Communist and allied elements. Usage of the combined might of a supplicant, supportive media, academia, intelligentsia, and the film industry to hype up these incidents aimed at weakening the Indian state.

Naxalism/Maoism, at least over the last fifteen years, has quietly invaded the drawing rooms of urban India, capturing the minds of our kids and altering their sense of reality. The recent news where the Pune Police arrested five people suspected to have Maoist links in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence reveals just how close the terror is to all Indians. Moreover, the revelation of a Rajiv Gandhi type incident reportedly plotted to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a letter seized from the New Delhi home of one of the suspects, in a way, confirms the deep nexus between various enemies of India, both external and internal. Right from the initiation to its present-day transformation into a tool to thwart India, Urban Maoists or Naxals have always hinged on exploitation and indoctrination of the young. The concept of radicalisation among the students, be it for right-wing Islamists, or the ultra left-wing Maoists and Naxals, has made our campuses a ripe breeding ground. In fact, whether it was the Indian Mujahideen or the now-banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), or the Maoists and Naxals, our campuses have been used as recruiting centres with the students radicalised enough for the induction.

During UPA II time, MHA filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court acknowledging that 'The 'frontal' organisations of CPI (Maoist), operating under the garb of human rights NGOs, have kept the Maoist movement alive and are more dangerous than armed cadres. These mass organisations (frontal) are generally manned by ideologues, who include academicians and activists, entirely committed to the party line. Such organisations, ostensibly, pursue human rights related issues and are also adept at using the legal processes of the Indian state to undermine and emasculate enforcement action by the security forces. They also attempt to malign the state institutions through propaganda and disinformation to propagate the cause of their revolution. The state governments are required to initiate legal action against the Maoist front organisations in towns and cities. However, initiating legal proceedings against them has often resulted in negative publicity for the enforcement agencies due to the effective propaganda machinery of the CPI (Maoist).

Urban Naxals and Maoists are a threat to the internal security of India and have many takers in enemy nations, with whom we have been waging a proxy war for a long time. Much like how a global business giant looks to buy out local competition, these Urban Naxals and Maoists are the perfect conduits to progress their war against India. To sum it up, gone are the days when it was just about the enemy at the gate — today, "sleeping with the enemy" would be closer to home.

(The views expressed are strictly personal)

Uday Kumar

Uday Kumar

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