In the wake of a series of high-profile events, including the Income Tax Department’s investigations into prominent institutions like the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), Oxfam India, and the Bengaluru-based Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF) last year, a significant development unfolded on September 3, 2023. On this day, the Delhi Police conducted a sweeping raid on 46 media professionals, culminating in the arrest of NewsClick Editor Prabir Purkayastha and administrator Amit Chakravarty under the UAPA. The law enforcement agency also confiscated electronic devices, including laptops and telephones, from several individuals.
The booking of journalists, under UAPA, may come as a surprise to many, prompting a critical inquiry into their potential affiliations with extremist or banned organisations, or their role as beneficiaries of an anti-Bharat ecosystem. This begs the crucial question: are these journalists exercising their right to free speech, or are they engaging in activities that may be shielded by this right, yet potentially pose a threat to national security?
The aftermath of these events has sparked a surge of commentary and discussions, creating a wave of public discourse against the Government of Bharat. In light of these intricate developments, it becomes imperative to delve deeper into the complexities of these relationships to gain a comprehensive understanding of the real threats to the current internal security scenario of India.
In recent times, Bharat has witnessed a growing concern regarding the emergence of a covert network commonly referred to as “Urban Naxals”, that subtly support, ideologically align or even collaborate with extremist groups, posing a potential threat to India’s security and stability. The interplay between these entities is both intricate and intriguing, as they navigate through various socio-political landscapes.
PFI’s Evolution and Alliance with CPI (Maoist)
Over the past 15 years, the Popular Front of India (PFI) has evolved into a significant player, demonstrating a deliberate consolidation of similar ideological groups. This amalgamation has seen individuals assuming leadership positions across different organisations, forming a complex web of interconnected entities. Through this process, the PFI has emerged as a central entity within this network.
One of the most intriguing alliances is between the PFI and the Communist Party of India (Maoist). This relationship is substantiated by statements from the Central Committee of CPI (Maoist), condemning the ban on the PFI. The CPI (Maoist) emphasises the deliberate promotion of “Islamicphobia” by the ruling party and the consequent marginalisation of Muslims in India. This narrative is closely tied to the concept of “ghettoisation” of various communities within urban centres.
During the Bhima Koregaon investigation by the Maharashtra Police, a robust connection with Jharkhand Naxals was uncovered. On the other hand, the handing over of the Bhima Koregaon case to the National Investigating Agency (NIA) was severely criticised by Congress scion and former party president, Rahul Gandhi, and the Nationalist Congress party chief Sharad Pawar. Coming back to links between perpetrators of Bhima Koregaon and Jharkhand, it becomes clearer with the letter, written by the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Director General of Police, Jharkhand, dated June 27, 2018.
This letter mentions: “There is a growing convergence between the Maoist affiliates and the Popular Front of India. Following the ban imposed by the Jharkhand Government on Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti (MSS), a CPI(Maoist) front, and PFI consequently, both sides have echoed each other causes and, in the process, targeted the ‘Hindutva’ State Government.” The letter further says: “On the Maoist side, reliable inputs indicate that Anjani Kumar Mal played a significant role in helping lawyers representing PFI build bridges with MSS lawyers in the Jharkhand High Court. Earlier, individuals closely linked with Maoist affiliates, including Rona Wilson (Secretary, Public relations, Committee for Release of Political Prisoners) and Vasantha Kumari (Member, Committee for Defence and Release of GN Saibaba) called on the Jharkhand government to lift the ban on PFI. Separately, People’s Union for Democratic Rights, pro-CPI/Maoist has demanded revocation of the ban.”
The last part of the report states: “In the past, convergence between Maoist affiliates and PFI/NCHRO was witnessed in Kerala in the aftermath of the killing (24th November 2016) of two senior Maoist leaders in district Malappuram. Anti-Fake Encounter Front and Anti-Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act were formed by both sides to progress anti-government propaganda. As part of their strategy, Maoist affiliates have attempted to form ‘Tactical United Fronts’ with like-minded organisations across different theatres to push their narrative.”
The above letter mentions the ‘Tactical United Fronts’ which simply decodes the fact that the anti-Bharat organisations are coming together on a ‘Common Minimum Programme’ followed by a common organisational platform and joint actions. The letter mentioned the name of the notorious urban naxal Rona Wilson, who was later arrested by the Maharashtra Police for the Bhima Koregaon violence. Wilson, along with others, is the prime accused of a conspiracy to kill the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
Birth of Urban Naxals
The fusion of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and the Maoist Communist Centre of India in 2004 marked a pivotal moment in Indian history, giving rise to a new form of extremism known as the ‘Red Terror’. This period saw a strategic shift towards urban operations, leading to the prominence of the term “Urban Naxal”. Key documents, such as ‘Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution’ (STIR) and ‘Urban Perspective: Our Work in Urban Areas (UPUA)’ from 2004 and 2007 respectively, outlined the Maoists’ urban strategy in great detail.
The UPUA document provides crucial insights into the methods employed by Urban Naxals to infiltrate urban areas. Notably, it highlights the targeting of ghettos as a key strategy. The document’s focus on the ghettoisation process demonstrates the deliberate efforts to exploit existing fault lines within society, creating divisions that serve their agenda.
The above-mentioned document mentions that ghettoisation is a process where a specific community is repeatedly targeted, compelling it to concentrate in a particular area for safety. This phenomenon is prevalent across Indian towns and cities, based on factors like nationality, caste, and religion. Caste-based violence and riots, attacks on Dalits, and communal pogroms have further exacerbated these divisions.
The fusion of the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) and the Maoist Communist Centre of India in 2004 marked a pivotal moment in Indian history, giving rise to a new form of extremism known as the ‘Red Terror’
The document strategically portrays the Muslim community as victims and labels the Hindu community as fascists. The mention of Dalits, Sikhs, and Christians is also calculated, aligning them against the broader Hindu community. This strategy has been executed in various events, such as the Bhima-Koregaon violence with the Dalit community, anti-CAA protests with Muslims, and the Khalistan Referendum-2020 with Sikhs.
Legal Democratic Organisations: A Veiled Front
It is also said in the document that legal democratic organisations are established with explicit political agendas, falling within a legal framework. They address issues ranging from labour rights to caste atrocities, reflecting a wide scope of concerns. These organisations operate at various levels, from grassroots to international platforms.
Participation in legal democratic movements is imperative for urban-based parties. However, striking a balance between mass mobilisations and consolidating party-building efforts is crucial. It is essential to maintain a careful distinction between open and covert operations to safeguard party members and leaders.
The document refers to Urban areas serving as epicentres for the struggles of various classes, led by diverse organisations representing them. Building coalitions and alliances against ruling classes is essential. This encompasses forming tactical united fronts and nurturing worker-peasant alliances, forming the foundation of a strategic united front.
The Jharkhand Connection
The investigation into the Bhima Koregaon case revealed substantial connections with Naxal groups in Jharkhand. The convergence between Maoist affiliates and the Popular Front of India was evident, particularly in response to bans imposed by the Jharkhand Government. This convergence underscores the formation of Tactical United Fronts, uniting organisations with similar agendas.
The intricate interplay between Urban Naxals, extremist outfits, and affiliated organisations poses a significant threat to India’s security and unity. Understanding the dynamics of this network is essential in devising effective counter-strategies. By unravelling the complexities of these alliances, India can better safeguard its democratic values and promote inclusive growth for all communities.
To define the formation of this nexus the word Quadriga is very appropriate. Quadriga is a basically car or a chariot drawn by four horses abreast. Here Quadriga is referred to as the collaboration of radical Islamic organisations, Maoists and evangelical missionaries and organisations, with the set of select intellectuals, legal professionals, NGOs, Bollywood stars, other cultural groups and media platforms. The issues like repression by the State, police firing, lockup deaths and rape by security forces are used as a weapon by the Maoist think tanks. It must be noted that in all the areas of the activities of Maoist, terrorist or allied formations across India, these same set of issues are very commonly raised by a definite set of propaganda groups, including select civil rights activists, journalists, cultural activists and organisations. Most of the time, these allegations are purely misleading and concocted, but these issues are used by the Quadriga to further the fault lines of Indian society and create a situation of chaos and conflict.
It is hardly surprising that the two-decade-old Urban Perspective document finds such uncanny similarity with the present situation in the country. Be the urban agitation of United Fronts against previous laws passed by the Government or the militant struggle in the urban areas, the way they have unfolded are strong testimony to the fact that the Naxal policy mentioned in this document is being implemented successfully in many urban pockets of this country. The web of deceit and lies to execute nefarious designs under the garb of benign intentions requires more than just indoctrination. As it is, the logistics are huge and to support and run that, what is required is significant finance. The finance networking of Quadriga elements, ultimately, seeks to dominate even the banking system and has the capability of circumventing the national laws, as and when required.
To halt the advance of the Quadriga as a whole, an emergency and full-body surgery must be conducted to remove these tumours from our society before they turn cancerous. The action by the Indian agencies and the police forces is a strong message that the Government of Bharat is determined to fight domestic terror, where other countries are still struggling to find ways to tackle it.