In the interior of India there are people called the Adivasi or "tribal" people - these are people that are thought of much like we think of our indigenous people in Canada - those people "over there" - not Hindi, Muslim, Christian or Buddhist - they are outsiders and because they traditionally held their land in common they are not -"owners of the land". As a result the government sees the land (or at least has too often treated it that way) as unoccupied or at least unowned and gives mineral, mining and damning rights to multi-national corporations which flood or destroy the land of the Adivsai. Since the 1940's the Maoists have been the only ones helping and defending the Adivasi people. So as Roy (see next para) put it, 90% of the Maoists are Adivasi but not all the Adivasi are Maoists.
A while ago, I was quite compelled by Arundhuti Roy's article in Outlook that defended the Maoists and their violence, see here, because they are defending those without rights or privilege in India and the movement is growing especially among the "tribal people". Several articles have been published lately that were very sympathetic to the Maoists or Naxalites as they are known in India.
Their previous violence has targeted police, military, paramilitary and corporations. There has been some (but little) collateral damage - killed civilians (and always because they were unluckily traveling on the same bus or train as lots of military or police.) Now, suddenly a few weeks ago, a civilian train travelling from Kolkata to Delhi is blown up, or the track was sabotaged, it seems to be still a little unclear - but it was clear that two months ago, a bus load of police and security police wanna-be's was attacked and there were "civilian casualties" - although the bulk of deaths were police - and everyone is blaming the Maoists who have apparently only slaughtered (relatively) innocent civilians - what's the dealio?
Another article in Outlook here.
and here, questioning whether it was in fact, the Maoists.
Another story here from Al Jazeera
And lastly in the Guardian - UK supporting the struggle for the landless even if not the Naxalite methods. . .
But they have not got control over all of the forces that are calling themselves "Maoists." In this article from Tehelka they suggest that the Naxals and the Green Hunt (paramilitary force set up by the government to hunt Naxals - Judum ) are both torturing and killing people, including raping women, and executing people for being anti-naxal informers, or for supporting "the other side" . . . This sounds reminiscent of stories from Vietnam - but most people just want to return to their villages and improve their lives. . .. As the Tehelka article puts it:
It has been five years since the Judum was formed, but there is no rehabilitation policy for displaced villagers. TEHELKA visited four ‘relief’ camps and found that almost 100 percent of the Adivasis want to return to their villages. Manni Paro pays a Judum leader Rs 200 a month to keep her mud hut and tarpaulin sheets. Those who cannot afford the bribe moved further into the more cramped sections of the camp.
“We were much happier in our villages. The Naxals didn’t bother us before the Judum started. We got fish from the lakes and reared our chicken. Everything was cheap,” says Madkam Sita, from Konta camp. “Here, there is nothing to do and not enough to feed my three children.”
In what is perhaps an attempt to corroborate the government’s claim that it is giving the Judum no official support, the supply of free ration to the camps was stopped three months ago. Korsa Sanmu, Sarpanch of Silger and Judum leader, met the CM for answers. “We can’t feed you forever. You have to stand on your own feet. The supplies had to end at some point,” he says the CM told him.
The desperation has triggered a new trend. Most Dornapal camp villagers now trek upto 20 km to cultivate their fields, always fearfully. Some have received notices from the Naxals: “Come back home. We will not harm you.” But the past records are ugly, and there is a trust deficit in Dantewada.
For those whose homes are deeper in the jungle, even such daily trips are impossible. Mangal Dai from Aserguda village now toils under the NREGS, but yearns for his five-acre plot. “If I go back, the Naxals will kill me for being part of the Judum, and the Judum will kill me for helping the Naxals,” he says. “We’re being hounded at both ends.”
More trouble for women - I do hope that things improve. . .