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Maoists, Naxalites or Terrorists?

The media seems confused about the heartland movement

While the rest of the mediawallahs were reading dark and nebulous meanings into the exit of Aruna Roy from the National Advisory Council (NAC), Nidhi Razdan of NDTV took an interview with Roy as an opportunity to shed some light, by simply running down a checklist of all the old charges against the NAC. That interview was convincing evidence that Roy has been working in the wrong professions. Tired of listening to stirring equivocators and grandstanders, the electorate is ready for someone who is likely to call a glass of water a glass of water, without vapid speculations on whether it is half-empty, half-full or brimming over with snake oil.

Meanwhile, Jairam Ramesh suffered an unusual paroxysm of free speech when he referred to Maoists as terrorists, but fortunately Tribal Affairs Minister KC Deo was at hand with NDTV to ask, with pacific calm, how the new classification helped. Indeed, invoking terrorism often confuses the issue. A gruesome killing in London was immediately given a terrorism slant by the UK media, perhaps on the grounds that David Cameron had reacted with a “never buckle to terrorism” speech and the inquiry was being led by the Counter Terrorism Command of the Metropolitan Police. However, the case failed the most basic test of terrorism. A military man was targeted while civilians who were equally vulnerable were not attacked. Governments draw a distinction with terrorists by pointing out that unlike the latter, they do not wilfully harm civilians. Actually, they do, but that’s a different story.

By ‘terrorist’, perhaps Ramesh meant ‘illegitimate’. The various Maoist movements across the heartland do seem to lack the legitimacy that is conferred by ideology. But further down that route is the strange and terribly simple idyll presently populated by Praveen Swami. An incredible tweet from him: “The cause of Maoist violence are violent Maoists.” Not just dreadful thinking, but dreadful grammar too.

… contd.

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