A while ago a friend asked me why the western media ignored the Naxalite rebellion. I confess I looked at them in some bemusement. They gave me a quick briefing and I went to read more.
Yesterday the Naxalites killed 74 Indian para-military forces in a huge gun battle in Chatisgarrh, bringing to over 200 the number of Indian security forces they have killed this year – before we get into the officials and landlords they have killed. A Muslim suicide bamber killing six Pakistani civilians makes broadcast media on every channel. The Naxalites are fighting a burgeoning civil war in the heart of India, yet totally ignored.
The Naxalites are a rebellion of impoverished castes against landowners, and of indigenous people whose environment is being ruined by mineral mining against the government and big business who make sure they don’t benefit. They characterise themselves as Maoist, and their leadership includes Indian university intellectuals with links to the cult of Bob Avakian in the USA and to the Maoist rebels of Nepal. The Naxalites have real control on the ground of a great deal more territory in India than Karzai and NATO control in Afghanistan.
This low level war has been rumbling on for decades, but has burst into real fire by a decision two years ago by the Indian government to switch policy. From trying to undermine the Naxalites by social policies assuaging the greivances of the poor in the region, they dramatically changed to a policy of wiping out the Naxalites militarily. The cause of the change was India’s economic growth and the urge to speed up multinational company access to mineral resources. So far, it looks like a very stupid decision.
How much of that did you know? I maintain that if the Naxalites were Muslim, they would be on the front page of every paper as a threat to India, and the Americans would be bombing them. But they aren’t, so you will find them hard to track in the mainstream media.
They are however just an extreme example of the fact that the losers in India’s economic miracle are not dependably complacent.