In the wake of the central government’s decision to deploy the army and air force against the Naxals, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, People’s Union for Democratic Rights and Jan Hastakshep organized a public meeting demanding the immediate calling off of the military offensive. The meeting was held last Saturday, at the Speakers Hall of the Constitution Club, Rafi Marg.
The speakers included political activists, social workers, scholars, ex-army personnel, etc. Although they held divergent views on the Naxalbari movement and the methods employed by it, they unequivocally condemned the use of violence by the state against its own people.
The meeting opened with an evocative speech by Prof Randhir Singh, who highlighted the role of ‘structural violence’ of the state in forcing the Naxals to take to arms
Indeed, a running theme through the speeches was an attempt to highlight the need to address the underlying causes of the problem, rather than suppressing it through the deployment of the armed and air forces. In terms of participation and support, the meeting was an affirmation of a belief in values of democracy and equality. However, it remains to be found how effective initiatives such as these and others would be in keeping the state from launching a military offensive against its citizens.