Maoists and Jihadis: An Indigenous Uprising
The Maoists of Eastern India have been described as a terrorist group threatening the survival of the Indian state just as the Taleban in Pakistan’s frontier province and Afghanistan. While the rhetoric of these movements could not be any more different, they are all being followed by indigenous people who have either long-been ignored or sold out by the government.
Machiavelli was a 16th century political theorist who is frequently cited by military-first analysts because he argued that the state must use force to crush opposition and maintain order. However, Machiavelli also stated that the laws must give equal protection to the citizens “for when legal means do not exist, the people turn to illegal ones and without a doubt the latter produce much worst effects than do the former.”
Arundhati Roy, an Indian writer who has lived with the Maoists for some time, gave an interview in which she cited the indigenous nature of both Maoist and jihadi movements. Her explanation for the uprising of these groups is that it was a rejection to corporate-take over of lands and society. This explanation works for the Maoists, who are fighting corporations that have purchased their native land for mineral excavation from the central government.
However, this leaves the anomaly of Baluch and Pakthun rebels in Pakistan who are fighting a government that did quite the opposite of Indian’s interventionism in selling land. Instead, Pakistan’s central government has sat back over the last 60 years without incorporating these tribal areas or providing them with any social services. While the citizens of Punjab and Sind are afforded social services and enjoy a better quality life, tribal groups have come to realize their place as second class citizens. Such a practice of inequality before the law would be harsly criticized by Machiavelli who would predict the rise of indigenous terrorist groups in such an environment.
And further, if one examines the rights of the indigenous groups in India, they are technically protected by the Indian constitution. However, by issuing Memorandums of Understanding which portion off huge pieces of land in Central India to corporations, the Indian government has failed in its legal duty to protect the rights of these indigenous groups. These areas have now been ordered to be cleared out by thousands of Indian paramilitary troops who will burn down villages and exterminate thousands to uphold the business deal with the corporations.
The Maoists have organized and armed themselves in small groups and have violently taken control in several areas through the Red Corridor. The Deputy of India’s Communist Party, Koteshwar Rao, stated that “the Islamic upsurge… is basically anti-US and anti-Imperialist in nature. We, therefore, want it to grow.” While the movement in the frontier areas of Pakistan is an inate rejection of U.S. military involvement, the two groups share an experience of injustice orchestrated by their federal government.
The objective of this analysis is not to humanize the incredibly brutal tactics used by both Maoists and jihadis. However, it is to understand that these groups did not form serendipidously as a reaction to corporations or American imperialism. Rather, one must look to the individual federal governments of Pakistan and India who have mistreated these areas to understand the deeper ideological conflict between armed extremists and the central government.
Both Pakistan and India are narrowly focusing on the stratagies laid out by Machavielli in attempting to fight force with greater more violent force (as seen by the Indian military’s entrance into the Maoist areas and Pakistan’s military attacks in Waziristan). Without recognizing the government’s direct fault in inspiring these groups, one cannot hope to alter the militarist ideals of these indigenous populations. Until the states can begin to equally protect the rights of all its citizens, the inherint conflict between these armed groups and the state will continue to spread instability and terror.