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/ India News / 2008 / February 2008 / February 20, 2008|
Naxal flag will fly in Delhi if their economic woes are not addressed: Fernandes
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Former Defence Minister George Fernandes has warned that if the government of the day does not take steps to relieve the Naxals of their economic woes, soon they may find the Naxal flag on Delhi.
New Delhi, Feb.20 : Former Defence Minister George Fernandes has warned that if the government of the day does not take steps to relieve the Naxals of their economic woes, " soon they may find the Naxal flag on Delhi".
In an article for the recently revived journal of socialist thought and action " The Other Side", Fernandes says that when he was the country's Defence Minister under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime (1998-2004), Naxal activities in Assam had reached uncontrollable levels, and to neutralise that threat, he roped in the Army to reach out to the Naxals.
That initiative resulted in 1200 Naxals giving up their menacing and nomadic lifestyle and rejoining the social mainstream, doing jobs in the Army, he said.
Suggesting that the present government should abandon the idea of freshly recruiting more paramilitaries to end the threat of Naxalism, Fernandes said: "Already situations have gone out of hand. Whether it is the Police, paramilitary , even the Army, they would not shoot down their own children because they are Naxals, and this I am saying from the mouths of these people."
He also recalls a conversation that he had with the noted socialists leader, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, on the issue. Lohia had told him (Fernandes) to meet the first Naxalite, Dr. Charu Majumdar, and the result of that meeting was that Fernandes said their could be no political dialogue or relationship with Naxalities preaching violence and killing.
In response, Dr. Lohia said: "Don't say that. In politics, there could be no saying how things work and you start a relationship with him. Who knows when he will give up his violent politics and we could have a relationship."
In hindsight, Fernandes says that he was initially surprised by Lohia's response, but as time went by, he was able to interact with Majumdar on issues affecting farmers and the poor.
The Naxalite menace prevails and millions of people have lost their lives as a result, but Fernandes sincerely believes that there are other ways to tackle it.
The Naxal movement that we see today is a far cry and far removed from the Naxal movement that was born in the 1960s in Naxalbari, a remote area of West Bengal.
What we saw then was the splintering of the Communists into radicals and moderates; what we are seeing now is abusing the barrel of the gun for furthering negative power politics.
Starting from Andhra Pradesh, the 'Red Corridor' runs through eastern Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar. It links the 'liberated zones' of India with the Maoist held territories of Nepal. The 'Red Corridor' unites the left-extremists of India with their comrades in Nepal. It covers 155 districts in India, that is nearly a quarter of our national territory.
The 'Red Corridor' makes nonsense of any official claim, made either by state governments or the Union government, that security agencies are battling the Naxalites with full force. Its expansion at a rapid pace betrays the fact that our security agencies and their political patrons are both clueless and lacking in courage to tackle India's enemy within.