“It is a big breakthrough”, said Kerala home minister just few hours after a most wanted Maoist leader was arrested along with his wife and three others near Coimbatore. The man was reportedly involved in some 20 cases in Kerala.

Roopesh, in-charge of the Western Ghats zone of the Communist Part of India (Maoist), was leading the Maoist movement in Kerala along with his wife. He was arrested following the joint efforts by the police teams of five states, namely, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Kerala home minister lauded the coordinated efforts by the police teams of all the states and termed it a ‘ big breakthrough ‘. The arrested Maoists have been taken to Kerala for further questioning.

But does Roopesh’s arrest bring an end to Maoism in South India? May be not. Because it is a problem that needs to be addressed at the root level, as it has claimed countless lives.


A brief history of Maoism in India

Maoism started in India in 1967 with an objective to end class struggle and oppression towards the poorest of poor through justified violent means. The Maoists are inspired by the doctrine of Mao Zedong, a legendary Chinese Communist revolutionary.

Maoism challenges feudalism, imperialism and class divide by waging an armed struggle against the state. Indian Maoists are also called as Naxals owing to their origin in Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal. The Maoists are classified as ‘far radical left’.

Why are they a threat?

Naxalites work to overthrow the government and upper classes by violence. The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) describes the objectives of Naxalites as destroying “state legitimacy…with the ultimate object of attaining political power by violent means”. The armed wing of the Naxalite–Maoists is called the PLGA (Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army) and is estimated to have between 6,500 and 9,500 cadres, mostly armed with small arms.

They have presence in 8 states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Odisha, West bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. The Maoists have killed thousands of people, including civilians, security personnel and political leaders over the years, as stated on the official website of the Union Home Ministry .


What kind of people take to Maoism?

The Maoists claim they are waging a war against class struggle and oppression. They present themselves as the fighters for the poorest of the poor which includes peasants, farmers, tribals and daily wage workers.

Maoism is seen heroic and revolutionary by many. They have an active support base among tribals in remote forests as well as among academics, intellectuals, writers and artists. Many Maoists themselves including Kobad Gandhy, Kishanji etc are well educated intellectuals. The recently arrested Roopesh was a law graduate who had a diploma in IT.