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Lone Wolf in Cyberia @GabbarSanghi
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Much before #UrbanNaxals became a buzzword, we in erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh , actually experienced. From 80s to mid 2000s , AP had a long running battle with Naxals, lost some of our best cops ( Umesh Chandra, Vyas) , political leaders, ordinary people to this.
It was a two front battle, on one hand the regular encounters between the cops and Naxals. On the other hand the #UrbanNaxals in Telugu media, cinema, academia, campuses. It was a living reality for us.
Telugu media had it's own share of #UrbanNaxals , Varavara Rao one of the leading lights. There were others like Balagopal too. Some magazines and newspapers supported them in a guarded manner , some were openly in support of the Naxals.
Telugu media throughout the 80s and 90s was heavily leftist, or having a more pro Left leaning. Was very common to see OpEds and Articles, praising the "Annalu" ( Naxals) and demonizing the cops.
Matter of fact throughout the 80s, Telugu media along with movies created a very romantic perception of the Naxals, as crusading heroes, fighting against oppression, justified their killing of cops, political leaders, Govt officials , influencing a generation. #UrbanNaxals
There was a genre of movies called "Erra Cinemalu" in Telugu cinema throughout the 80s and 90s that glorified the Naxals. Even well known actors and directors like Krishna, Mohanbabu, Dasari appeared in such movies and roles glorifying Naxals.
Basically these "Erra Cinemalu"( literal trans Red Cinema) had a common theme. Hero gets into a fight with local Zamindar, clashes, becomes a Naxal. And filled with Leftist dialogs and songs.
While Osmania was a known hub of these Naxals, others were no better. Andhra University in Vizag had a good number of these #UrbanNaxals most of em students for life kind. Was common to see very leftist pamphlets there during 80s and 90s.
Very common sight in Vizag during 80s and 90s, and even till early 2000s, was seeing posters celebrating Naxals, denouncing Police and Govt, calling for overthrow of Indian state, some even supporting Azadi in Kashmir. #UrbanNaxals
So what turned the tide? Well the Naxals themselves as they slowly turned into an extortionist gang. And began targeting people who were not exactly "bourgeois" enemies of the state.
Sometime in late 80s, the Naxals burnt a train bogie full of passengers, near Warangal. Most of em were ordinary workers, small time farmers, the very people they claimed to be fighting for. And they brushed it off as a "mistake"
That incident where Naxals burnt a train bogie full of passengers, began to turn most ordinary people who till then had some sympathy against them. The Naxals claimed it as a "mistake" but problem is those mistakes just kept on growing.
As more and more "mistakes" began to be committed by the Naxals, it became harder for the #UrbanNaxals to justify their activities. The "Annalu" were no longer heroes now, they were being exposed for what they were bunch of goons.
In due course of time , other aspects started coming out , the way tribals were targeted by these Naxals in Kangaroo courts. Limbs chopped off on suspicion of being informers, extortion of funds , making money in trading of forest produce
As the sordid details of the "Annalu" began to come out, the Naxals began to loose their support, even in rural, tribal areas. The best efforts of the #UrbanNaxals in Telugu media was not able to convince people about them.
Northern Telangana consisting of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Nizamabad , Warangal, Khammam was one of the worst hit by Naxals. Even an institution like NIT( then REC) Warangal, was not spared. Certain areas there were pretty much no go areas, totally controlled by Naxals.
In Andhra Pradesh, it was the Agency ( basically tribal areas) of Vizag, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, Godavari districts that were badly affected by Naxal activity then. At one stage, ppl refused to even go there
One thing was that both TDP and Congress went hard after Naxals, though YSR did flirt with them for some time for political gains. The police force was made more professional, cops were given a free hand, and specialist units like Greyhound were formed.
Of course it was a carrot and stick strategy with the Naxals. Populist schemes helped to wean away most of the tribals, small and medium size farmers from Naxals, and a ruthless crackdown on the other hand.
Also the Commies and Naxals were confined to certain pockets in Andhra and TG then. And while they did ally with TDP or Congress alternately, fortunately they did not end up being a major influence, else wud have been another Bengal.
Have seen "intellectuals" come up with stuff like Varavara Rao, Gautam Navalakha never indulged in violence so they aren't dangerous. No dude, you don't necessarily need to take up the sword to fight a war, the pen will do too and in fact it's more dangerous.
Wars are not just fought by foot soldiers, the activists, writers, who believe in the ideology are as much a part of it. And if you are telling me these #UrbanNaxals are just harmless old uncles and aunts, well I am the President of US then.
In fact these #UrbanMaoists are more dangerous, as they have the capacity to influence impressionable minds. I grew up with friends believing Communism was Cool, and hailing Naxals as heroes, thanks to all those Commie movies and the OpEds in Telugu media.
The human rights activists, writers , intellectuals who cheer the Naxals and support their antics are as dangerous as them. Just coz they are old uncles and aunts, don't carry a gun, doesn't make em less dangerous.
And effect of brainwashing, in the 80s and 90s, Naxals were not underground in Andhra Pradesh, they were right on the ground, openly showing off. For us #CallMeUrbanNaxal was not a hash tag, it was a bloody ugly reality we had to live with.
For a good part of the 80s and 90s, being a Naxal was considered "cool" in Andhra Pradesh , thanks to movies, intellectuals in media. And we had no Net , Social Media to counter that. Guys openly distributed Naxal pamphlets, without any fear.
And what did we get out of this fascination with Naxal- Leftist ideology in Andhra Pradesh for 2 decades. No industry worth it's name, except for some PSUs in Hyderabad and Vizag. And that meant large scale migration of Telugu people to other places for work.
For close to 2 decades in Andhra Pradesh, we had not much industry except in few pockets, thanks to the Naxals and the Leftists. Those who cud afford left for the US or Gulf, others migrated to other states and cities.
Since everyone is going on about how well educated and qualified the arrested #UrbanNaxals are, well here is something the patron saint of most Naxals, their icon, their hero Che Guevera is a qualified medico, and also one of the biggest mass murders too.
How come many of these Libertarian, Free Market kinds end up supporting #UrbanNaxals , who are the other end of the spectrum? Somehow was always sceptical about these Libertarian types.
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