JNU: How The Maoists Are Expanding In Urban Areas

JNU: How The Maoists Are Expanding In Urban AreasJNU-Jadavpur Leftist rally (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • The history of students’ and teachers’ association with Maoism is as old as the movement itself.

    Maoist strategies emphasize on expansion in urban areas like Delhi which have great political and economic significance for the ruling class.

    Notwithstanding intellectual perspectives  given by leftist scholars, it is imperative that we control and combat Maoist expansion in our universities.

On the night of 5 September 2002, a group of people arrived at Bamdev Cheetri’s house on the old Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus in Delhi. After minutes of conversation, the group took away Bamdev without divulging any specifics about their identity. Days later, his wife came to know about her husband’s whereabouts. He had been deported to Nepal on charges of being among the most dreaded Maoist leaders.

Bamdev Cheetri was a caretaker at the JNU Library since 1975 and was secretary of Akhil Bharat Nepali Ekta Samaj (ABNES), a group banned under the Prevention Of Terrorist Activities (POTA) Act. At the time of arrest, there was a reward of Rs 25 lakh on his head. Intelligence agencies claim that ABNES was actively engaged in raising funds for Maoist insurgents in Nepal as well as in recruiting cadres for the insurgents from among Nepalese settlers in India.

It must be remembered that 2002 was the bloodiest year of Maoist violence in Nepal with the highest number of fatalities – 4896 deaths, almost a fourfold increase from the previous year. It was also a period when the Indian government was wary of Nepali Maoists and concerned about their tacit support to Indian Maoists.

It is perhaps emphasizing the perfectly evident to say that JNU has long been a breeding ground for the growth of extremist forms of communism. The university has not only produced some of the finest political leaders and academicians of left wing ideology, but also elements who believe in war against the state and against so-called ‘state oppression’. Banshidhar alias Chintan Da, a politburo member, was perhaps the first case of a JNU student having links with Maoists. He was arrested in 2006. He received a PhD and MPhil degree from JNU.

If intelligence agencies are to be believed, the revelations from the arrested JNU student Hem Mishra, who was arrested from Aheri in Gadchiroli District on 22 August 2013, suggest the presence of at least one active party cell of Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) in JNU with students as its cadres. A former PhD student from Assam christened Navin, earlier an active member of the party cell, is now part of the Naxals’ core team based at Abujmadh in Chhattisgarh. A Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court on 3 September 2015 granted bail to Hem Mishra after barring him from leaving the country.

The information collected by the investigative agencies probing the link of Delhi University (DU) Assistant Professor GN Saibaba with Maoist groups indicates recruitment of one more JNU student described as Goswami. He is allegedly a former member of Democratic Students’ Union (DSU), the group whose members are currently charged for ‘anti-national’ activities by the Delhi Police over the pro-Afzal event in JNU. Recently, amid high voltage drama over the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, the probe into the arrest of DU professor Saibaba indicates that a large number of left-wing radical students from both JNU and DU are in touch with Kashmiri extremist groups.

The history of students’ and teachers’ association with Maoism is as old as the movement itself. Whether the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Warangal, Jadavpur University in Kolkata, Allahabad University or universities in Hyderabad, Dakshin Kannada, Mangalore and Shimoga, campuses have been a preferred hunting ground for Maoists. According to the Maoist Strategy and Tactics document adopted at the Ninth Congress of 2001, there is a need for “Secret Revolutionary Mass Organisations”. The document says “secret organisations may be formed in any section of the masses; we have so far, in the urban areas, mainly set them up among the youth, students, and workers.”

The advantage with DU and JNU is that they lie at the centre of economic and political activity in India: Delhi. Maoist strategies emphasize on expansion in urban areas like Delhi which have great political and economic significance for the ruling class. Their document advocates strong movements in big cities to cripple and paralyse the ruling class in order to induce greater impact on the movement. And given the trajectory of the Maoist movement in India and the complex form of its network, it is very likely that a part of its urban unfolding has plucked a large number of students from DU and JNU.

The biggest hurdle in the fight against Maoists is that there is virtually no discernment of its fundamental actions, strategies and networks. The state, its institutions and the society are floundering to comprehend the wide range of people engaged by Maoists for their long term plan.  In its 2011 judgment, the Supreme Court observed that mere membership of a banned organisation will not incriminate a person. However, it fails to analyse how members of Maoist organisations have been able to widen its anachronistic and violent footprint.

There is a pressing need to be vigilant about the urban movement of Maoists which employs students in underground political activities, essentially to expand its reach to new sections of urban India. Students with similar mental disposition and ideology are easy to indoctrinate.

Certainly, expansion into elite universities like JNU is just a fraction of the Maoists’ plan, but this needs to be seen in the wider context of the destabilization of India. Notwithstanding intellectual perspectives  given by leftist scholars, it is imperative that we control and combat Maoist expansion in our universities.

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