Maoists, money and business
The arrest last week of two Chhattisgarh-based businessmen on the charge of being financial and logistics conduits for rebels has again highlighted the aspect of how loudly money talks for Maoists. This ought to come as no surprise. Rebels may thrive on causes, but a rebellion’s critical components such as food, weapons, ammunition, communication, propaganda and healthcare inevitably makes it a cash and carry enterprise.
Moreover, though operating in areas of conflict is always complicated and risky in terms of life, limb, lies and liability, even businesses that ought to know better seem unable to keep away. In late 2011, a contractor for Essar was arrested by Chhattisgarh Police while carrying more than a million rupees in cash, which he claimed he was carrying to the Maoists on behalf of Essar, which mines and ships iron ore from the heart of Dantewada—in several ways the heart of the Maoist rebellion. Within days, a general manager with Essar was arrested on various charges, including that of sedition. Essar put out a denial with key phrases like “vehemently rejects” and “baseless allegations”. WikiLeaks later added fuel to the fire by mentioning a January 2011 cable between officials of the US department of state: “A senior representative from…a major industrial company with large mining and steel-related facilities in Chhattisgarh, told Congenoff (consul general’s office) that the company pays the Maoists ‘a significant amount’ not to harm or interfere with their operations.” Tables can turn too.
In June 2013, a senior executive at Lloyds Steel, a contractor and a local village elder were killed in Maoist-affected Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. In the subterranean world of business and conflict, reasons ranged from Maoist rebels being upset over the company’s incursions into nearby iron ore-rich areas against local opposition, to an example made so that in future, businesses would kowtow to Maoist diktat and levies in exchange for permission to operate in rebel zones, to a rogue Maoist leader ordering the hit.
I’ve heard executives describe this sharp business practice as minimizing tension. It is all too-clever-by-half and illegal, and plays almost seamlessly into the schema of rebels—no slouches when it comes to leveraging the profit motive of the running dogs of capitalism, even as they question capitalism itself. In an interview published in May 2010 (a short version appeared in the Economic and Political Weekly and I received the uncut version via a Maoist-friendly Internet newsgroup), Alpa Shah, an academic with Goldsmiths, University of London, queried a Maoist leader about it. The response of a Maoist spokesperson who went by the nom de guerre of Gopalji, was revealing.
“This is not corruption,” the rebel claimed. “This is taxation. In the areas of our struggle, we are the authority that is serving the people… We are using the funds to accelerate our struggles and we are using them in radical reform programmes.” The rebel added: “We have rules and norms around how we tax people. For instance, large schemes and operations are taxed more than smaller ones. We don’t tax the building of schools, hospitals, small tanks, tube wells, etc. We also have rules and norms around how we use the fund collected. So we are not simply collecting money for private gain—that would be corruption. We are collecting money for the service of our toiling masses.” His chief, Muppala Laxman Rao, better known by the nom de guerre Ganapathy, claimed as much in other media interviews.
‘I funded these leaders’ campaigns, introduced those firms to Maoists’
Contractor arrested claims that no one working in interior Bastar can do without Maoists’ help, and that they oblige companies and contractors in lieu of monetary and logistical support.
Aided by local contractors, a bond is flourishing between Maoists of Kanker district, Bastar, and politicians and top mining firms. An arrested contractor whom The Indian Express spoke to, Dharmendra Chopra, has named some key players in politics and mining, and claimed he helped the latter forge deals with Maoists. Chopra, who claims a friendship with Maoists, has noted that no one working in interior Bastar can do without their help, and that they oblige companies and contractors in lieu of monetary and logistical support. “I have had close links with political leaders Sohan Potai, Vikram Usendi and Mohan Mandavi. And they know I have contacts with senior Maoists,” Chopra told The Indian Express.
India’s Northeast 2013: A Year Of Peace And Violence – Analysis
…The silent spread of the Maoism (Communist Party of India-Maoist) in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh is becoming a worrying factor. On 22 November 2013, the Union Home Minister said, “Maoist presence in Assam and border areas of Arunachal Pradesh have been noticed, in areas like Golaghat, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur and Tinsukia Districts of Assam and Namsai area of Lohit District in Arunachal Pradesh.”
Seven Maoist-related incidents were reported in 2013, in addition to 10 incidents in 2012, three in 2011 and one in 2010. Maoist activities in the region have been taken seriously by the Centre and the 27 September 2013 notification declared Tirap, Changland and Longding Districts of Arunachal Pradesh as ‘Disturbed Areas’ under AFSPA for a further period of six months with effect from 1 October 2013…..