How does the vision become non-revolutionary only because, “Their mining policy is not very different from that of the state. They too would mine the bauxite instead of leaving it in the hills, which is what the people they are fighting for want”?
I think there is too much talking at cross-purposes here, conveying absolutely nothing. It would be fine if she is speaking as a writer. (She was addressing the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh where the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights had organised a meeting on ‘War on the people’.) But the tendency in the media to imbue anyone who has “spent time” with tribals and Maoists as their legitimate voices can be counterproductive. When there are killings, she obfuscates.
Their methods are not revolutionary – they are like any extremist movement; their vision was. A little reading up on the Naxalism in the 70s will reveal that. (No, watching ‘Hazaroun Khwaaishein Aisi’ will only reveal the tip of the adrenaline!) Better still, talk to Naxalites of the time. I have met a few and it was vision that sustained them.
I will be simplistic here but the fight for tribal lands is one part of the Maoist ideology. Tribal lands do not as a matter of course translate into tribal issues, for not all tribals own the land. Their displacement depends to a great degree on who is taking advantage of them.
Roy argued that Naxalite violence must be viewed in the context of the battle between tribals and corporate houses to gain control over natural resources like minerals, water and forests. "While 99 percent of Maoists are tribals, 99 percent of tribals are not Maoists."
Corporate houses have to work in tandem with the state. Tribals have to work with landlords.
A movement that works at the grassroots level cannot be dependent on imagination. And who is the ‘we’ that needs to imagine? The government? The Maoists? The activists? The tribals who are not Maoists, but who will benefit? Or those that may not because there could well be a pecking order? Capitalism and Communism are mere labels in this context.
Lauding the Maoists for the determination with which they are fighting the unjust policies of the state, Roy said a little bit of dissent would only make them strong. “We can’t betray the causes we are fighting for.’’
A little bit of dissent? It has been a long struggle and there is no doubt that the state has suppressed the movement at various times.
Clarifying that she was “not here to defend killing by any side’’, Roy said the government was vilifying the Maoists so that they could brand all struggles against injustice as Maoist activities.
“There is a whole bandwidth of resistance movement and at the heart of the problem is land. But the complex situation is being simplified by the government into a law and order issue.”
Much as I support dissent, I do not agree that the government is simplifying the issue. It is a law and order problem too. All such movements are, but the state is forced to speak to the leaders of these movements, which is itself evidence that it has to be taken seriously. It is ridiculous to assume that all struggles will be branded as Maoist activities. Have the insurgents in any other part of the country been branded so?
My question is: even if they are, what is the problem? Is Ms. Roy trying to say that other movements are not necessary and only those that get sanctioned from a group of the right kind of activists are worthy of being considered of any consequence?
Later, when asked what she felt as a writer about the UPA government’s attempts to ban a book on Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Roy said, “Of course, I am against any kind of censorship but here we’re are talking about the silencing of a genocide.”
Of course. But if the state is interfering in any aspect of a person’s or group’s right to freedom of living/expression then we are speaking about the same root of the problem. If someone chooses to see a branch with more succulent fruit, then it is all about pickings. Incidentally, there has been a blockade of essential supplies to Manipur for over 50 days.
It isn’t a sexy enough issue.
Regarding Maoists, Roy said:
“I am bored of posing questions to the state. It is more interesting to question the people in the resistance movement.”
True. Except that the resistance movement is fighting the state and the state has to be made answerable and to provide alternatives/solutions. The idea of a resistance movement is to resist; it does not exist in a vacuum or thrive in one. It is posited against the state and that is bloody damn interesting. Nice word. Now if only she weren’t bored. Which she is not when making dramatic assertions:
"I am on this side of line. I do not care...pick me up put me in jail."
This is mockery. Binayak Sen? Hundreds of undertrials for 'suspicious activities'? She does not care. Right.