(continuation of Tales from Dantewada..page 5)
It was in 1980 that the Maoists, fleeing from AP, reached Dantewada, amidst the unorganised and exploited tribals. They had to build the organisation from scratch, and that’s exactly what they did. It all started when the Maoists intervened to secure better prices from the contractors for the ‘tendu’ and Bamboo products on which the sustenance of the adivasis depends upon heavily. They won over the peoples’ hearts with a relentless struggle against forest officials that saw the men in uniform retreating in to safety, out of Dantewada. The Maoists’ dominance in these areas is not an overnight phenomenon. It happened as a result of relentless struggle for the peoples’ rights along with ideological education and military training. Today the Maoists claim that there’s not a single landless adivasi left in the whole region.
But we also need to enquire here about the nature of the alternative put forward by the Maoists. It’s obvious that that in the last 30 years of their campaign they have been focussing almost solely on building up a well trained armed force. Till now, disappointingly, they’ve not been able to effectively intervene in basic issues of the people such as agriculture, health and education, nor have they managed to raise the standard of living of the people. Most importantly, the Maoists have failed to initiate Panchayathi raj institutions, a vital prerequisite of people’s democracy, which is promised to be heralded by the Maoists. Also, pro poor legislations of the state like NREGA and Forest Rights Act etc also remains largely under utilised by the Maoist administration which has denied the people the little relief that they could have got from their daily routine of penury and exploitation. Of course the Maoists were severely crippled as a banned organisation, no doubt, but even then there were things they could’ve done, if they were willing to shift the focus from arms. It’s a fact that almost all the money tolled from the contractors was dedicated for the procurement of arms.
But the most disappointing aspect has been the rise in the violence unleashed by the Maoists in the last few months. One might even be able to justify the resistance they offered against Salvajudum, the tyrannical government sponsored militia which heralded a reign of terror in the villages. But the killing of civilians in recent times strips them off from whatever moral justification they had and points to a serious degradation in the organisation. It also offers a taste of things to come. The ultimate casualty is undoubtedly the life of the poor tribal, caught in the crossfire between the state, Maoists and the salvajudum.