“How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can’t scare him- he has known a fear beyond every other”- John Steinbeck
No of pages: 190
Author: Rahul Pandita
Publisher: Westland Books
Genre: Non fiction
Every since I have read Our moon has blood clots I have been a big fan of Rahul Pandita. The naxalite and maoist movement is something which I hear in the news everyday and have always been interested to understand it from both perspective. Now the book world is inundated with many books on this topic but as I love Rahul Pandita writing style and the fact that he researches on the topic well made me pick up this one.
About the book:
The book starts with the arrest of Kobad Ghandy a senior leader of the maoist movement and chronicles the present happenings like the killing of policemen and CRPF by Naxalites, presence of guerilla zones of Maoist across many Indian states and raises pertinent questions like: Is this insurgency more of a socio economic problem or is it a mere law and order problem? Why is it today that more and more tribals tend to support Maoist movement?
The book then goes back and lets us know how from a small 500 sq km area called Naxalbari this movement was started by Charu Mazumdar. The oppression which farmers and labourers faced during this time from landlords was immense. Charu was inspired by the peasants army of Mao Tse- Tsung in China and wanted to do something similar. He got the support of local leaders and hence the Communist cadres were born who forcibly occupied lands from landlords and distributed them among the peasants. The rich landlords sought the help of policemen and this is how the fierce killings began.
The book shows how oppression and feudalism was the root cause which lead to the seeds of the Maoist movement being sowed. It shows us example of how tribal people lost their sustenance under the new forest laws and fell into the trap of powerful moneylenders and landlords. It is in such times that common people like a school teacher, college students owing to seeing such oppressive conditions turned towards Maoist beliefs. Thus the guerilla zones of Maoist started to spread across states of Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal. The book introduces us to many Maoist leaders and gives one an opportunity to understand their viewpoint. The book goes in depth and explains us the entire structure of Maoist as an organization and how they operate. It helps us to see as to why in certain places the Adivasis and tribals favor Maoist despite all the violence.
The book gives a glimpse of the oppressive conditions in which many tribals live till today. It shows us how in this fierce war among the Maoist and the states how at times the innocent harmless tribals are killed in cold blood. We also get to see how some political parties prior to election campaigns use the Maoist as pawns to get local support and at the end go back on their promises.
Rahul Pandita has spent many years in these Naxals area and interacted with the Maoist cadres and he has beautifully put together all he saw, whereby one feels as if we are witnessing it on our own while reading the book. The writing is simple which aids in understanding this complex topic. There is a good structure in the book from how it all started to how the movement spread and what is the present day scenario which gives us a good overall picture.
Very often we start giving our opinions on a particular topic without having a good knowledge on the subject. At times we just know only one side of the story and take no efforts to look it from the other perspective. I feel the Maoist insurgency in India is a similar topic. Now and then we hear of killings of policemen and CRPF by Maoist cadres and killings of Maoist in encounter. We talk about it for a few days and then forget it. This book gives us a sneek peek into why this movement started, who are the biggest casualties of this insurgency? This book made me think if the present measures we are taking to curb this insurgency, is the best possible way or can it be done better. I request all to read this book just to get a better picture and understand India’s biggest internal security issue better.