Column: Maoists Thrive On Poverty and Backwardness

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Maoist rebels have warned the residents of a particular village in Malkangiri, state’s most formidable Red citadel, against using their mobile phones. Orapadar, located in the district’s Swabhiman Anchal ( earlier known as the cut-off area), is a dark hinterland with connectivity the biggest problem being faced by the people.

With roads in a bad shape, the residents rely on mobile phones, modern technology’s best gift to the world, to remain connected with the rest of the world which, in their case, does not extend beyond Malkangiri.

Now the rebels want them to switch off their sets. The obvious fear of the radicals is that the villagers could use their mobile sets to get in touch with the security forces preparing to launch an operation against them. The fear of being betrayed has made the Maoists panicky. They have in the past killed several tribals on the suspicion of being police informers. Now they have gone a step forward by issuing a diktat prohibiting the use of mobile phones.

The Maoist rebels, notwithstanding their so-called concern for the poor, have always been anti-development. Like politicians, they also have a vested interest in keeping people poor and under-developed. The more underdeveloped the people the greater their reliance on the radicals who have been projecting themselves as their saviours.

Their entire movement thrives on popular disillusionment against the government in backward areas where basic infrastructure is poor and government officials either corrupt or not willing to help people. Since connectivity is one of most important aspects of development the rebels are completely against any improvement in this, be it road or mobile phone network.

In the past Maoists in Malkangiri and its surrounding areas have blown up several mobile towers in a bid to destroy the mobile phone network. For them, such acts are insurance against the possibility of being betrayed and being tracked by police and paramilitary forces.

They have even equally fierce in countering other signs of government-sponsored development in their areas of dominance. They are against new schools and hospitals being opened and forest officials forming committees with the local people to guard forests.

Successive governments have lent the Maoists a helping hand in fulfilling their evil designs by failing to launch meaningful and lasting developmental initiatives in the areas dominated by rebels. While developmental projects have been few and far between their monitoring has been worse.

Corrupt contractors and government officials have been treating these projects as an opportunity to line their pockets. This has generated a sense of disillusionment among the people residing in the Maoist belt and making the job of rebels easy.

But there has been some positive change in the last one decade in districts such as Malkangiri and Koraput which have been rebel fortresses. Not only have roads become better in these districts the condition of schools and hospitals have also improved significantly. One of the biggest achievements of the government in Malkangiri has been the opening of the Gurupriya bridge connecting the district’s “ cut-off” area, now known as the Swabhiman Anchal, with the mainland.

All this has rattled the Maoists who now appear to be taking out their anger on the people who they publicly profess to protect. People, however, are unlikely to be fooled by them anymore.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)