While naxalism has lost its strength in rural India, its focus now is to wreck the country from within using ‘urban brains’.
To begin with, their plan is to unite all those who are crafty, yet educated, and implode the economy through united, intelligent destruction.
On 28 August, in furtherance of the probe into the Bhima Koregaon violence, the Pune police conducted nation-wide raids and arrested five people who are alleged sympathisers of naxalites. On expected lines, there was a hue and cry by a large section of people, who termed these arrests as a blot on democracy.
The fact of the matter is that some of these persons – Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Gautham Navlakha – have always been on the radar and have had their brush with the law in 2007 as well. The Pune police report to the Union Home Ministry says that they had been providing logistic and financial support to the naxalites and were making attempts to forge alliances with terror groups.
In December 2012, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in office, it had prepared a list of 128 organisations linked to naxalites and written to all states asking them to take action.
While the police say that they would make out a strong case in court, there have been debates questioning the very concept of ‘Urban Naxals’. Some have gone on to ask if this concept is fact or fiction.
The concept of urban naxalism or the urban forum as the naxalites themselves call it had been in the making for several years now. A top naxal sympathiser, Govindan Kutty, had prepared a 53-page confidential document (in possession of Swarajya) in which he sets the ground on how and why they need to have urban forums.
This is an extensive document, which is considered as ‘The Document’ by the naxals and it details the modus operandi to be followed. Armed struggles in the urban areas, infiltration into white-collared organisations, infiltrating the army and other services are some of the aspects that this document goes on to mention.
The White-collared Infiltration
While making submissions before a Pune court, the prosecution said that letters had cropped up where it was mentioned that attempts should be made to recruit from reputed institutions such as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
The prosecution said that the letters spoke about recruiting young working professionals for naxal activities and they were targeting professionals from institutes such as the TISS.
This is an interesting submission by the prosecution and in this context, one must quote from the document titled CPI (Maoist)-Urban Perspective. Under the title ‘White Collar Employees’, there is a clear mention of how the urban forces must infiltrate into this segment.
It states, “the rapid spread of computerisation and automation in modern industry and increasing share of the services sector in the economy has resulted in a significant increase in the number and proportion of white-collar employees. A large number of them are in the public sector and they are mostly unionised.”
Examples are the unions of banks, insurance companies, teachers, government employees, among others. There has also been a more recent growth of unions and associations of higher- level professionals such as electricity, telecommunications and other department engineers, resident doctors and pilots among others. Many of the above unions are powerful and have shown their ability to hit and paralyse the economy.
The report further states, “while all the white-collar employees are reliable allies of the working class and the revolution, certain sections sometimes tail the bourgeoisie and become victims of reactionary propaganda. It is, therefore, necessary for the industrial proletariat to always maintain close links with the employees' section and lead it away from vacillations in the class struggle.”
It says, “in all industries and enterprises, we should, therefore, always struggle for unity of both white-collar and blue-collar sections into one union. We should generally oppose the backward practice of having separate workers’ and 'employees’ unions. Where separate unions exist however, we should, where possible, allocate forces for fractional work within them.”
Another excerpt says, “in the globalisation period, the ruling classes have launched a concentrated propaganda attack against this section as an overpaid, under-worked section whose salaries and numbers should be reduced. Thus, some sections are being forced to agree to very meager rises in salary and cuts in earlier allowances. They have also been the target of various privatisation and voluntary retirement schemes. Though they have been struggling continuously, they often do not receive the sympathy and support of other sections. Our workers’ unions, legal democratic and secret workers organisations, and sometimes even the party should make it a point to express solidarity in various ways with the struggles of the bank employees, teachers, journalists, etc.”
“When joint trade union bodies are formed at the town/city level, we should try to draw in all the local branches of the employees unions. This can help in organising joint programmes and mutual solidarity during times of repression and struggle,” it says.
Building An Urban Force
Security and Intelligence Bureau officials that Swarajya spoke with say that this has been a pattern for long. Their primary intention was to propagate and ensure that democracy is in danger, irrespective of which government is in office.
The naxalites realise that the rural struggle could be strengthened only in the presence of a strong urban force. The naxal document states that during its ninth congress held in the late 1990s, there was a call to build a broad urban force. This force would comprise the so-called secular forces and ‘persecuted’ religious minorities. The idea was to build a strong group as the Hindu fascist forces, the document states.
“This task has appeared in our documents now from many years, but very little has as yet been done. One of the explanations for this failure is the weakness of our urban organisations, but the other more important reason is our neglect of work among the minorities," the document further reads.
United ‘Seculars’ Through A Political Programme
The naxals felt that a urban force could not be built merely by uniting secular individuals through a political programme. To be effective among the masses, particularly those from the minority had to be involved and hence substantial grassroot work among the minorities, the Muslims in particular, had to be done.
“However, due to extreme ghettoisation in almost all Indian cities, this is only possible if we take a conscious decision to shift out at least some forces from Hindu-dominated areas and base them in the slums and localities inhabited by the Muslim poor. This would be the first step to building any united front,” Govindan Kutty had suggested.
An Issue-based Front Against Hindus
One of the key issues that the rise of urban naxalism shows is that there was a strong anti-Hindu front that was being built. The naxalites felt that issue-based organisations could be built to oppose Hindus and fight the “saffronisation of education”.
They also felt that the Hindus were trying to push their agenda and hence the task of building this urban front became even more important. All urban organisations should plan concretely to bring this into practice, the naxalites said.
Infiltrating the Indian Army
Following the ninth congress, it was felt that the rural armed struggle must be aided from the urban areas. Kutty suggested that the rural struggle could be assisted by the urban movement. Some involve direct and immediate help in terms of materials and personnel; others involve the long-term preparation for the decisive battles in the later stages of the peoples’ war, the document reads.
Further Kutty goes on to state, “it is very important to penetrate into the military, paramilitary forces, police, and higher levels of the administrative machinery of the state. It is necessary to obtain information regarding the enemy, to build support for the revolution within these organs, and even to incite revolt when the time is ripe. Other types of technical help are also possible.”
“The cities are the strongholds of the enemy and have a large concentration of enemy forces. It is, therefore, from the cities that attention must be given to this task. Such work can be done by following up contacts obtained from the civilian sphere, or by directly allocating comrades to penetrate the enemy ranks,” he said.
"Whatever be the method, the work is of a very special type, which requires a high degree of political reliability, skill and patience. Such work should be without the knowledge of the lower-level committees and the details of the work should only remain with the comrades directly responsible.”
"Associated with this task is the need for a plan to work in the cantonment towns spread out throughout the country. Such work even among the civilian population of these towns can give us valuable information and openings for penetration in the enemy ranks."
“We should make use of opportunities for entry into the police, paramilitary and military forces. We should very secretly follow up contacts of those already within these forces. Where possible, we should enter into them from outside. Such work should be guided directly by the higher committees without informing the local bodies."
"We should regularly conduct propaganda regarding the problems of the ordinary constables and soldiers. We should pick up the burning issues concerning them and arouse them to agitation."
"We should also make a study of cantonment towns, ordnance factory areas, etc. with the purpose of formulating a plan for work in such zones. We should also try to collect and generate the type of forces who would be able to do such sort of work."
Setting Up Urban Military Operations
Although the entire urban naxal philosophy has been around propaganda and instigating violence, there was also a concrete plan to set up urban military operations. They say that the countryside is the main area of operation of the people’s army. However, there are certain military objectives that have to be performed through operations in the urban areas. This would also require the setting up of permanent structures of the Peoples’ Guerilla Army/Peoples’ Liberation Army in the cities and documents, the naxalites had also planned.
Elaborating further on this, the document also states that these city teams would have the role of hitting targets such as structures of military importance, annihilation of individuals, sabotage actions like blowing up ammunition depots and also destroying communication operations and damaging oil installations.
The Expert View
Former special secretary with the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Amar Bhushan, tells Swarajya, that this view that urban naxalism is a myth is all rubbish. There is no ideology left anymore in the movement. It has in fact become a good business. The movement is under the control of local dons and external elements, he said.
Bhushan points towards a very important aspect relating to urban naxalism and says that they are the primary movers of arms and funds. Contrary to what is said, there is a proper channel for the arms to come in from abroad. The urban naxals are the ones who form the pipeline so that both arms and funds reach the jungles, he said.
Although the issue is dying in the rural areas, these people in the urban areas keep the idea alive. They have a single-point agenda and that is destabilising India and furthering their own interests and businesses. There are so-called intellectuals, journalists and several others who are part of this very dangerous movement. They either work in non-governmental organisations or universities and keep the idea alive. Contrary to all the chest beating about human rights that these people do, the fact is that they are promoting a political culture in India that is violent and this, in my opinion, is their sinister plan, the former RAW officer added.