The attack on the iron ore processing plant owned by Essar Steel in Chhattisgarh, on the night of April 24th, by a mob of 300 armed men with bows, arrows and sickles is just the tip of the iceberg. Once inside the compound, they torched the heavy machinery on the site, plus 53 buses and trucks. And if media reports are to be believed, they had in fact left behind a note, saying ‘stop shipping local resources out of the state—or else.’
It is evident that this was the handiwork of Naxalites – a Maoist insurgent movement who are hell bent to dismantle the notion of government holdings and business classes. Till few years ago, they weren’t in the national news because perhaps, they didn’t succeed in grabbing news headlines. Very few know that the Naxalites were named after the Bengal village of Naxalbari, where the movement was born in 1967. Of late, however, the tentacles of the movement has spread across the country, mainly in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chattishgarh and West Bengal in the East.
The recent spat of Naxalite attacks doesn’t augur well for the growth of Indian economy, especially at a time when the country is witnessing FDI growth, foreign companies joining the fray and a steep increase in overall per capita income. Bhibhu Routray, the top Naxal expert at New Delhi’s Institute for Conflict Management says,
People in the cities think India is strong and Naxalism will fizzle out. Yet considering what has happened in Nepal, it could happen here as well. States, capitals, districts could all be taken over
One might wonder, why such a hue and cry about a movement which has existed for 40 long years? Simply because, they have succeeded in making their presence felt. According to estimates, they operate in 30% of India which is a sharp increase of 9% in 2002.
For ages, the dense forest and jungles from where the Naxalites have operated were not even touched by the outside world. All of a sudden it has witnessed a rampant inflow multinational companies entering their territory, for instance, the coming of the bigwigs like Tata Steel, ArcelorMittal, De Beers Consolidated Mines, BHP Billiton, and Rio Tinto to explore the huge iron-ore deposits in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, thereby forcing these companies to face the wrath of Naxalites.
So, we might as well conclude that the ball is in the state machinery’s court. They better play it safe!