Delhi writer Rahul Pandita's book, 'Hello Bastar: The Untold Story of India's Maoist Movement', talks about how important the cities are to Maoists
In a chapter called, 'The Urban Agenda,' Rahul Pandita writes, "The Maoists regard the urban movement as very important since they believe that revolution will occur only when cities are finally taken over. Also, it is from urban areas that the Maoists hope to draw their leaders, and it is there that they plan to shift some of the senior leaders in the wake of sustained military operations in their strongholds like Bastar.
Finally free: Dr Binayak Sen in Mumbai
A Maoist document prepared in 2007 makes clear the significance of Maoist influence in urban areas: 'We should not forget the dialectical relationship between the development of the urban movement and the development of the people's war. In the absence of a strong revolutionary urban movement, the people's war will face difficulties.' Stressing upon the need to recruit people from urban areas, it says: 'A steady supply of urban cadre is necessary to fulfil the needs of the rural movement and the people's war. This is necessary for provoking working class leadership, as well as technical skills to the people's war."
Going Urban The author writes that the target is India's urban population as Maoists believe that, "India's urban population today is significantly larger in numbers in proportion to the total population, as also in economic weight, when compared to China's urban population at the time of the revolution there. The leadership says that this would mean that India's urban areas would have to play a relatively more important role than the cities in China during the revolution...
Suspects: Officers of special cell (background) show three suspected Naxalites, who were arrested from South Delhi in 2009. File Pic/AFP
The Maoist cadres are also advised to form legal democratic organisations such as those catering to a particular section like students, lawyers, teachers and cultural bodies. It says that other groups may be formed with issue-oriented programmes focusing on core questions like communalism, violence against women, corruption, regional backwardness and statehood, etc. 'It is necessary that the party in the urban areas should give considerable importance to the task of participating in and building up a strong and broad legal democratic movement,' it says. Expanding into urban areas has, so far, proved to be tough. In recent years, many of the senior Maoist leaders have either been arrested or killed in urban areas �"
Expansion Plan But the Maoists are determined to spread their wings, writes Pandita, "The urban agenda document urges Maoist cadres to pay attention to organising the workers within the slums and such localities. 'Through this we can get in touch with new workers from various industries, we can draw the families of the workers into and other sections of the urban poor living in the slums and poor localities,' it explains." Cadres are advised to, writes Pandita, "cover themselves by building or joining traditional organisations like chawl committees, sports clubs, cultural bodies and mandalis for Ganesh and Durga puja, for Ambedkar jayanti, etc. The Maoist leadership also points out what it calls the 'problem of imperialist funded NGOs'.
Maoist leader: Kobad Ghandy was arrested in 2009
It says that such NGOs are in existence in almost all the slums of the major cities and that it is the duty of the Maoist cadre to educate the slum masses and particularly the activists about the sinister role of such organisations and the agencies financing them."
Pandita mentions in his book that, "The Maoist cadres working in urban areas should also try to forge a unity between blue-collar (workers, labourers) and white-collar employees (like bank workers, insurance workers, teachers and other government employees). It says that efforts should be made to oppose the creation of separate 'workers' and 'employees' unions.
'Some industries like transport, communications, power, oil and natural gas defence production can play a crucial role in the people's war. Disruption of production in these industries has an immediate impact on the enemy's ability to fight the war..."
Secret teams Pandita further added that Maoists also aim at building, "city action teams-small secret teams of disciplined and trained soldiers of the Maoist army who are permanently based in the cities or towns to hit at important, selected enemy targets...
But, how do the Maoists expect the middle class in cities to be sympathetic to their cause? In fact, the middle class fears that if the Maoists come to power, they would be annihilated and their properties confiscated �The Maoists are currently facing problems on account of very little recruitments from the urban areas. The Maoist movement is not attracting youth from universities and other academic institutions the way it did in the '70s and '80s. Ganapathi (Maoist leader) accepts that this indeed is a problem."
Events Kobad Ghandy: A top Maoist leader, Kobad Ghandy was in charge of the South Western Regional Bureau (SWRB) and was responsible for coordinating Naxalite activity in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra. He was arrested in 2009 in Delhi. Taking into consideration his ability to analyse national and international developments, he was also entrusted with the job of building up the Naxal movement in urban areas. Kobad hailed from a rich Parsi family in Mumbai. Kobad Ghandy was working in England and he got involved in Left-wing politics but was soon arrested and deported. By 1982, he had left Mumbai along with wife Anuradha. They decided to move to Nagpur to dedicate themselves entirely to the cause of tribal rights, women's issues and started working for lower caste people. Anuradha Ghandy died of cerebral malaria in April 2008 in the jungles of Dandakaranya in Central India.
Binayak Sen: Dr Binayak Sen was detained by security agencies for his alleged links with Maoist rebels in 2007. Sen, accused of sedition by the Chhattisgarh Government, was granted bail on April 15, 2011 by the Supreme Court of India which said no evidence of sedition had been produced against the accused by the Chhattisgarh Government. He is the national Vice-President of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).
Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi: Two tribals, Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi, in Chhattisgarh were arrested for allegedly acting as Maoist conduits. While activist-cum-journalist Kodopi, 25, was arrested in September 2011, Soni Sori, 36, a tribal teacher and mother of three, was arrested in October 2011. Both belong to India's worst Maoist-affected district of Dantewada and are in jail for allegedly receiving money on behalf of Maoists from a corporate house.
According to police, Kodopi was caught red-handed at a weekly market in Dantewada on September 9, while he was receiving Rs 1.5 million from a contractor. Police theory says, the money was provided by Essar Company as protection money and Sori too was present at the spot but escaped. Sori was nabbed in Delhi on October 4 and Chhattisgarh Police brought her to the state on transit remand.
However, not everybody believes the police theory. "The police role is under serious question in the arrest of Sori and Kodopi because they were gunning for them for a long time as they were vocal against police excesses in Dantewada," said Rajendra K Sail, former state president of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).
Sori sustained serious injuries on her back and a leg in Dantewada while in police custody. She had to be admitted in a hospital in Raipur where she had gone on a hunger strike, alleging police were treating her like a hardcore criminal