The idea of communist guerrillas may seem like an anachronism now. Isn’t that 60s and 70s stuff? Viet-Cong lurking in the jungle, or at a push, the FARC in Colombia who have since disarmed. (And are now being murdered at a frightening rate after the fact). But no, in some parts of the world, the struggle for socialism established through force remains, with one of the front-lines of this struggle being India.
Multiple Maoist groups in India exist, broadly referred to by the label of ‘Naxalites’, in reference to the village of Naxalbari which sparked a peasant uprising in 1967. Ever since then, a predominantly Maoist uprising has been held against the Indian state through what would be referred to in Maoism as ‘protracted people’s war’, in which the peasantry aids the guerrillas in making increasingly wide parts of territory unmanageable to the state, essentially ceding it to the rebels. In some states of India, surveying has put support for the Maoists at over 58% with only 19% opposed, all while hundreds are killed annually in clashes between the Maoists and the government.
As the Indian government grows increasingly fascistic in nature, with increasingly brutal measures used against opponents and complete neglect is shown towards the peasant populace, it’s perhaps no surprise that the Maoists could co-ordinate such a large meeting.
In Chhattisgarh, the mass public gathering was organized between June 18th and June 20th of 2020, with many high up members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in attendance. If one wonders why there was no police or military intervention, it was reported that around 300 armed Maoists with 500 militia supporters were present to protect the location for the duration of the meeting. The meeting itself was heavily involved with propaganda speeches, tributes to fallen comrades, as well as more innocuous activities such as sport and dance. It’s no surprise then that the Maoists would be seen by many in the region as allies rather than foes.
This is notably not the first time such a thing has happened. A police officer from the region stated that a gathering of the same size was organized in Potumpalli village in Sukma in 2015. Many other meetings of the same size have doubtlessly occurred throughout India, along with countless others of much smaller size. Images and footage can be found all over the internet, though it would appear in this particular case that recording equipment wasn’t allowed into the event. The Maoists are reportedly going to release their own footage soon, but hell if I’m going to wait for it before publishing!
For those looking to understand a little more about the fascinating tale of Maoism in India, I highly recommend the documentary Red Ant Dream, directed by Sanjay Kak in 2013. Including meetings with villagers, police, military and even a great many Maoist guerrillas themselves, it helps to shed some light on the history of the movement, why they have support and what they’re actually like.