All of a sudden, since the last few days, there has been an outrage over the term ‘Urban Naxal’ that has created a spate with its #MeTooUrbanNaxal on the microblogging site. Although, the question here arises that many youngsters as well as social media users — be it journalists, activists, celebrities etc., — who have been using the term Urban Naxal to fit in the trend, are they aware of the accurate definition of the term being spread all over?
Kumar Ketkar, Congress MP and veteran Journalist asserted, “These terms like urban or rural Naxalism do not exist not only in India but anywhere in the world. It was created by the Police Department and people are promoting it. Earlier, if anybody attacked the Muslims, they were called as the Indian Mujahideen after that new names started to coin. Protesting and writing against Modi is the reason behind the discussion and conceptualisation of the term ‘Urban Naxalism’. According to this government, all socialist, communist and liberals are urban Naxals.”
Nonetheless, the genesis of this uproar about Urban Naxalism started after the Maharashtra police arrested five human rights activists under the charges of controversial Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on Tuesday following synchronised raids at eight locations across five states — Maharashtra, Goa, Telangana, Delhi, and Jharkhand — in connection with an alleged plot by the Maoist extremists to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and caste violence at Bhima-Koregaon received strong criticism from the rights activists, academicians and the Opposition. Moreover, a three-judge Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra provided interim relief to the five activists arrested on Tuesday evening by ordering that they will be kept under house arrest till the next date of hearing on September 6.
In favour of the activists, Social activist Kumar Saptarshi said, “RSS and BJP are not being able to counter other ideologies creating around. They create a psychological block and this is a power game between the extreme left communist and rightist Hindutvavadi ideologues. It is like a political war, a tactic to divert the attention of the people from issues like Sanatan Sanstha and Bhima Koregaon.” On the contrary, BJP Maharashtra Chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari stated, “Naxalism does exist in the country. It is not debatable that it is rural or urban Naxalism. Rural Naxalism has the support system from the urban side and that’s why they are able to survive and sustain. These arrested activists are not innocent people and two of them were arrested during the UPA government as well. Showing them innocent is a propaganda. These people are instigating violence in the society.”
Let’s go back to the history and dig into the diagnosis of Naxalites; the parent term ‘Naxal’ entered Indian lexicons in the 1960s and acquired certain meaning over the years. The origin of Naxal comes from a village called Naxalbari in Siliguri district of West Bengal. However, Naxalism is understood at two levels — as a socio-economic issue and a law and order problem. The people who launched Naxal operations were frustrated with growing inequality among the various classes of society and government’s apathy to address the routine grievances of the poor. They launched an armed rebellion against the system and the government dealt with it as a law and order problem.
Mumbai Press Club President and Political editor of a renowned newspaper Dharmendra Jore exclaimed, “This term definitely exists. In older days it was known as the sleeper cell. But, the issue is that people have now started realising the meaning of this word. Urban Naxalism is an old term. The urban people and the educated ones only migrated to the Naxal zones. Naxalism and Maoism is a continuous process. In the Congress regime too, many files were prepared mentioning people involved in Urban Naxalism. Every government tries to capture such Naxalists because Naxals do not believe in democracy and establishments and they want to remove democracy in an undemocratic way.”
Former Bombay High Court Justice B.G.Kolse Patil expressed, “In India, Urban Naxalism as a term doesn’t exist. This is a game tactic of RSS. All these activists are the rational thinkers. If people have any literature of Lenin and Mao, it is not an offense and not only that, even if we have that ideology, unless and until we don’t instigate people and if we are not supporting Naxalist, how it can be against the Constitution. The Intelligence Bureau is the supporter of RSS.”
The first NaxaI group sprang off as an offshoot of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). A small group of the party decided to break away to launch an armed struggle against big landowners and establishment. Their objective was to capture additional lands of big zamindars and distribute the same among the tilling farmers and landless labourers. The leadership was provided by Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, and Jangal Santhal. They became the first Naxals or the original Naxals. But people leaving in cities with all the facilities that were condemned by the Naxalites, would it be justified to call themselves as the Urban Naxals without understanding the significance of the subject?
Journalists Raju Parulekar commented, “According to me, all these terms exist only in virtual reality. #MeTooUrbanNaxal is being used as a sarcasm but those who are propagating the electoral agenda are using it to play with the minds of masses and divert their attention.” While K. Sujith, a private sector employee from Andheri said, “The government doesn’t take criticism in the right spirit and anybody who raises question against it, is termed as an anti-national. Incidents happening in the country remind me of the emergency era. The government has failed to create jobs, improve the economy, and the rupee too is sliding. The government is only indulging in cheap gimmicks to divert the attention of masses from the real issues.”
It comes as a positive sign looking at the concern of people to voice their opinions against the wrongdoings in the society. Although the concept of Urban Naxalism is yet unclear in the minds of today’s generation, who are claiming themselves as the Urban Naxals and outrightly supporting the arrested activists which can prove to be perilous!
NCP Rajya Sabha member Majeed Memon voiced, “It is being exaggerated for political reasons and it is a misfortune. The innocent activists and lawyers were hauled which created an outcry. The Supreme Court anyway expressed its anguish by granting an interim bail to them.”
Actress and writer Nishigandha Wad remarked, “Media should have some kind of control and tolerance. Media is powerful and this word can be spread to all those who do not have insight into this subject. According to me, any kind of terrorism-related news — whether it is digital media, print or any other — there is a need for the responsibility to provide calculative information regarding such subjects. Rather, we should think about how to tackle any kind of terrorism. Instead of spending time discussing such subjects, youth should work towards the progress of the nation and their self-goals.”