Predictably, Delhi’s Left-dominated intellectual circles have condemned the reported move on the part of Chhattisgarh police to implicate a high-profile Delhi University professor for her alleged links with the Maoists in the state. Like the professor concerned, most of these intellectual elites come from highly influential families. In fact, many of them are the children of top bureaucrats and academicians. Many of them have been educated abroad. And most of them spend more time in foreign junkets and seminar circuits, mostly conducted in five-star hotels. They talk about the poor and exploited but their personal lifestyles are typically that of upper middle class. They earn their names by criticising the actions of the Indian “State”, which they accuse of being the worst offender of human rights and the greatest exploiter of the toiling classes. They extol the ideas and activities of the Maoists, Muslim-fundamentalists and the secessionist terrorists. They do not believe in the idea of India and its present Constitution. They would like a new revolution, but not exactly clear what that revolution should lead to. And they are not bothered whether India survives in its present form or disintegrates.
And yet, when in trouble for their various acts of omission and commission, they do not lose any time in utilising their family connection and other clouts to seek respite from the same “State” or the government. The family of the aforementioned Delhi University professor is hyperactive these days in seeking favour from the senior ministers and bureaucrats of the central government so as to neutralise the fears generated from the government of Chhattisgarh. And in this endeavour, the “secular” credentials of the professor and her husband, who is a high-profile journalist, are being highlighted so that the “secular” central government restrains a “communal state government” of Chhattisgarh from contemplating any action against the professor.
Interestingly, however, both the central government and Chhattisgarh government are on the same side as far as fighting the Maoists are concerned. There are, of course, some differences between them over the manner of using the paramilitary forces in the state, but these differences are only tactical. On May 6, 2010, the Union Home Ministry issued a statement saying: “It has come to the notice of the government that some Maoist leaders have been directly contacting certain NGOs and intellectuals to propagate their ideology and persuade them to take steps which would provide support to the CPI (Maoist) ideology.” Government officials warned members of civil society that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, which calls for imprisonment of up to 10 years, could be used to punish individuals in contact with the Maoists. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had earlier called upon civil society, demanding “voices of condemnation of those who have, erroneously, extended intellectual and material support to the CPI (Maoist)”.
And it is precisely under this set of laws that the professor could be implicated since the telephone record of one of the arrested Maoist functionaries in Chhattisgarh suggests that he was in touch with her. Now, the so-called human rights activists challenge this set of laws. They argue that these laws are draconian and fascist, leading to the suppression of their freedom of speech and political rights. Therefore, these laws are threats to the civil society and must have no place in a democracy, they add.
In other words, the activists like our professor would like to make a distinction between the Maoists fighting violently on the ground and those who intellectually support them “for fighting and speaking for the rights of the marginalised, including landless peasants, tribal groups, and Dalits”. Though these activists claim not to approve Maoists’ violence, their opposition is nothing but superficial. Because, at the same time they say that they understand the Maoists’ noble goal of ending exploitation and how their violence is with a cause. This being the case, they totally underplay if the Maoists destroy schools and hospitals and indulge in extortion, torture and killings. They hardly bother to speak about the death of police personnel gunned down by the Maoists but make a lot of hue and cry if a Maoist is questioned or gunned down. These activists do not consider of any minimum but uniform standard to oppose all rights violations irrespective of who its victims are or who commits them.
All this leads to the question: where exactly should one draw a line between the Maoists on the ground and their intellectual supporters under the grab of human rights activists? The question is all the more relevant when the Maoists are literally fighting a war against the nation as a whole. Let us have no pretension that they are fighting for the poor and downtrodden; their leaders, most of whom incidentally, come from the privileged backgrounds, are exploiting and recruiting the poor and downtrodden as foot soldiers. The Maoist leaders’ ultimate aim is to capture political power, which they cannot attain under our parliamentary democracy. By any stretch of imagination, they will not grant us the rights and facilities which their intellectual supporters are claiming for them if they acquire political power through a violent revolution. They do not believe in the principle of reciprocal recognition and respect of rights that ensures that one’s own rights will be protected as much as that of one’s adversary.
The war that the Maoists are fighting is like any other typical “Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW)” in which the war is within, amongst, and sometimes even against, the people, and is not centered around the armed forces on a battlefield. Its objective is to foster a collapse of the enemy internally, rather than that of its armed forces physically. Its warriors are not only foot soldiers but also supporters who facilitate their ideas in disseminating them fast though media, films, lectures and seminars. Here the battle is for the domination of the mind space. The 4G warrior is extremely powerful because he or she has now got enough opportunities provided by a democracy like ours to manipulate the public opinion by magnifying minor tactical successes out of proportion.
In my humble opinion, any human right activist, howsoever celebrated he or she may be, has to be dealt under the laws legitimately framed in accordance with the country’s Constitution. If he or she is supporting, irrespective of whether directly or indirectly, the ideas and activities of the Maoists, then he or she should be branded as a 4GW soldier and prosecuted accordingly. He or she cannot claim any special concessions in the name of human rights. In any case, international law also recognises that human rights can be limited or even pushed aside during times of national crises. And Maoism today constitutes a national crisis in the country. The Maoists are hardcore terrorists, not like ordinary criminals. They and their supporters need to be treated sternly by the State with all its might.
By Prakash Nanda