The left has not only been highly unreasonable to complain that the ‘Urban Naxal’ concept is a mere tool to avoid questions on the Modi administration, but they have also been grossly insincere when asserting how ‘dissent is being curbed’ through its medium.
When liberal circles criticise, disparage and unfairly trivialise the phrase for it to be painted as a mere ‘tool of propaganda’, it is a necessity for us be armed with facts to take down the dangerous narratives.
Let us start by even conceding to the average left-leaning liberal that people are just labelling those who question Modi as “urban Naxals”. And even if that is the case, there is just one important question every responsible citizen has to ask themselves: just because select few individuals call dissenters ‘urban Naxals’, do we suddenly gain the prerogative to conclude that the entire phenomenon ceases to exist?
But the sort of discourse that has occupied the mainstream media and the intellectual spaces, makes it abundantly clear that a majority of individuals who found the phrase being trivially used, chose to be unfair to its original purpose. And with very little consideration to the heaps of evidence that is out in the open, a number of left-leaning liberals were more than happy to jump the gun and rubbish the seriousness behind the claims.
For instance, I find attempts to hijack the #UrbanNaxals hashtag with those like #MeTooUrbanNaxal or #UrbanNazi, to be genuinely petty, simply because they prove to address a trivial side of the issue (i.e. the name calling part) over the threatening implications of the ultra-left finding resonance in cities.
Having established the meaninglessness behind addressing the empty name-calling and branding, we must remember the deeply intellectual basis behind the terminology. It is well worth asking ourselves what an ‘urban Naxal’ really is; if we do not understand what an ‘urban Naxal’ really means, our discourse runs the risk of being trivialised by people, as has happened already.
Thus, I would submit that an ‘urban Naxal’ is an intentional or unintentional proponent of revolutionary Maoist propaganda.
And so, what leads to one being termed an ‘Urban-Naxal’, is following the prescribed path of carrying out “revolutionary propaganda”. And the point at which one crosses the line of criticism to adhere to the ulterior motives that are spoken of in the Maoist doctrines is the point at which credential-based questions will occur.
But now, we approach the elephant in the room: establishing the presence of urban Naxals. If it can be proved that the urban Naxal phenomenon is a reality, then the premise of many left-leaning liberals falls flat on its face. And there is no better way to prove that, than examining the documentation provided by the Maoists.
A manifesto named ‘CPI (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) Urban Perspective: Our Work in Urban Areas’, on its own, serves as conclusive proof to understand the existence of Maoists masquerading as civilians. Below are excerpts from the same document, that state the importance of Naxalites in urban areas and the systematic checklist that must be ticked off while operating. This also serves as a direct counter to those who naively limit the movement to India’s jungles:
The CPI (Maoist)’s Urban Perspective
But even though people are happy to accept that such a phenomenon of ‘urban Naxals’ can exist, they gladly undermine its threat in cities, citing the fact that these people too “love the country” and want to “democratically communicate their message for a revolution” by fighting for “minorities and Dalits”.
However, a deeper look into the same set of doctrines will tell us how opportunistic the movement gets, and how dangerous their utopia is. For instance, in the above excerpt, they talk about setting up committees for minorities, women, dalits and so on. But it is later, that they expose why they pretend to strive for them. Take Muslims, for instance:
It is very important to note that “Muslims being ghettoised” is something the urban Maoists savour because it moves them into the “semi-proletariat” (working class), whom they only want to mobilise for “the people’s war”. Those who talk about the supposed pleasantness and alleged nobility of the Maoists ought to reflect upon how exploitative a group must be to hound on the poverty of a community and exaggerate it, just so they can assimilate its people. And these are the social justice warriors of our time.
Not only should we remember the existence of the urban Naxal in our biggest cities, but we must reflect upon their systematically malicious operation in places where they are unknown. In no uncertain terms, the Maoist manifesto claims harbour their covertness and the fact that they are underestimated in urban areas.
At this point, it is very important for us to acknowledge the fact that those like Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, aptly fit the ‘urban Naxal’ definition. And there cannot be any diplomacy when stating that. Why?
Simply because they are proponents of the revolution and are almost directly influenced by Mao. At some point, people like Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Gonsalves have even had their pieces published as ‘exemplary writings’ of sorts, in Maoist journals.
For instance, Sudha Bharadwaj had a couple of pieces of hers published in the Maoist ‘Information Bulletin’:
The fact that the Naxalites have commended the views of Sudha Bharadwaj implies that they fully subscribe to her views on the subject of Naxalism and adivasis. And so, it is axiomatic that she is a proponent of the line of argument employed by the Maoists on their biggest area of conflict. But still, that does not mean she is necessarily guilty of being “funded” or “planning to kill the Prime Minister”; it just means that she is (either an intentional or unintentional) proponent of the Maoist propaganda. In that regard, nobody would be wrong to call it a case of urban Naxalism.
Likewise, those like Rona Wilson, Rao, Ferreira, and Gonsalves have actually been very open to suggesting that they “support liberation” and the ‘armed revolution’ that must be strived towards, just like the Maoists do.
Many people are knowingly or unknowingly tossing aside the exploitative and violent threat of urban Naxals, just because of a few people on social media resort to name-calling and cacophony. And there are heaps of evidence to establish the reality of the dangerously propounded Maoist ideology in the biggest cities of our country.
An optimistic part of me hopes that we recognise the toxicity of urban Naxalism irrespective of where our sociopolitical views stand. But another realistic part of me says that a few affiliated urban Naxals will try as hard as they possibly can, to stop that. The need of the hour is for our society to see through such attempts of belittlement and denigration so that we unite against a serious existential threat.