Beyond ‘State versus Maoists’: Two books that explain the complexities in Bastar
As a new government takes charge in Chhattisgarh, here are two books that go beyond the rhetoric.
Using the rhetoric of polarisation – to create an us and them situation – is an old trick in politics. Sometimes the polarisation feeds on an already existing conflict, which makes the trick work rather more surreptitiously. It may easily escape notice that the conflict is fuelled rather than solved because of the creation of two – and no more than two – possible sides, while the parties who use the polarisation rhetoric gain in power. This appears to be the case with the armed conflict of “the State versus the Maoists (or Naxalites)” in central India.
Two academic contributions which extensively analyse the conflict – The Burning Forest by Nandini Sundar, published in 2016 and Maoist and Other Armed Conflicts by Anuradha Chenoy and Kamal Mitra Chenoy, published in 2010 – cast doubt on the binary. They provide a far more complex picture of the conflict and how it became increasingly violent from the early 2000s onwards. Their work should become much more widely known not only for the sake of civic consciousness but also to increase the chances of a peace process.