#UrbanNaxals : Distorting ‘Culture’
Organiser   21-Jun-2018

The Urban Naxals are now waging their warfare in the garb of cultural activities. Ideology has been worked out as culture and enemy has put on a mask disguised as fellow citizen


   Amidst the chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and waving the Tiranga Anna Hazare led an anti-corruption movement in 2011. In hindsight, it appears that one of the reasons of the success of the movement was its Gandhian mode of protest and cultural mooring. The notion of fasting as panacea and devotion to the motherland has been the key components of cultural dimensions of protest since the days of the freedom struggle. The biggest take away from the Anna movement is that protests, disturbances and anarchy must be supplanted within cultural spaces to become a success.

Culture is the new battleground! Globally, new phenomenon called the Cultural Studies within the academia started taking shape in 1960-70s. The ‘New Marxists’ had learnt the lesson by then that new class war must be fought on the basis of the dominant versus the subservient cultures. No wonder Mao Zedong had engineered a ‘Cultural Revolution’ in 1960s to purge the remnants of capitalist and traditional elements in the Chinese society.

A doyen of Cultural Studies Stuart Hall defined ideology as “The mental frameworks- the languages, the concepts, categories, imagery of thought, and the systems of representation—which different classes and social groups deploy in order to make sense of, define, figure out and render intelligible the way society works.” Ideology was renamed as culture in disguise!

Culture and Naxals

In the follow up of Bhima-Koregaon riots the Pune police search teams confiscated pamphlets, books and written literature bearing the words Kranti (revolution) and Vidroh (uprising). It belonged to Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) members.

KKM, a cultural group, was formed in Pune after the 2002 Godhra riots to spread communal harmony. It began using protest poetry and plays to take on Government policies and address social inequalities. Many members of the group along with founders Shital Sathe and Sachin Mali were booked for their links with the banned outfit Communist Party of India (Maoist) and for working as per the instructions of its leaders Angela Sontakke and her husband Milind Teltumbde. Two more prominent members of the group Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor have been arrested for Naxal connections. A KKM Defence Committee was formed when this Dalit cultural troupe’s Naxal links started surfacing up. No lesser than a person like Anand Patwardhan, a famous filmmaker, is associated with this Defence Committee.

In 2014, when a poetry book by Sachin Mali was released at St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, the occasion was graced by many prominent people. The evening was conceived of as a cultural event with talks, poetry reading and songs. Girish Karnad was the chief guest and eminent theater personality Ratna Pathak Shah, Advocate Prakash Ambedkar, Mihir Desai, writers and cultural activists Satish Kalsekar, JV Pawar, Ratnakar Mhatkari, Pradnya Pawar, Sambhaji Bhagat and many others were present.

This fan-fare was going on in a time when Justice A.R. Joshi of the High Court of Mubai delivered a verbal order in the matter relating to the bail application of three KKM activists and rejected the bail appeal of Sachin Mali, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor.

Why an accused like Sachin Mali was being celebrated in Mumbai when the Hon Mumbai High Court had a month before rejected his bail plea? Precisely because Urban Naxals like Sachin Mali and many others have mastered the art of disguise. They fight against the State but represent their ill-will as ‘To fight against State attacks on artistes’; the motto of KKM Defence Committee.

Forging Anarchy from Within

Pune Police arrested advocate Surendra Gadling, Professor Shoma Sen and activist Mahesh Raut from their homes in Nagpur in connection to Bhima-Koregaon riots. In a coordinated operation, the police also arrested activists Sudhir Dhawale in Mumbai and Rona Wilson in Delhi, and brought all five of them to Pune. Now consider this, a poet, a professor and a lawyer have been arrested. What does it suggest?

The indications are clear if one understands. The new dangers on the floor are from those who have successfully infiltrated the civil society and now taking up the politics of destruction and anarchy against the State in the garb of citizenry.

Minister of Home Affairs (State) Kiren Rijeju has given a statement in Lok Sabha that the Naxals have close links with Maoist organisations in the Philippines and Turkey and get support from several organisations in Europe. The Hon Minister has also added that, “Left Wing Extremist groups have participated in conferences/seminars conducted in Belgium and Germany.” Why don’t we wonder that how Maoist insurgents who are supposed to be confined only in the Red Corridors which are constituted of forests and hills make an entry to the academic conferences in Europe? Do they make themselves talk directly, or links are there which cannot be identified? The puzzle of Urban Naxals is worked out in these links.