ME TOO URBAN NAXAL.
The Naxalite Movement had originated in Bengal in the decade of late sixties and early seventies. Almost all sections of the society had been directly or indirectly affected by the movement. Brilliant students from colleges and universities were involved in it. Primarily the movement had been an agrarian revolt, only to be taken up by students and political leaders alike. Naxalbari is a region in North Bengal, and since the uprising, to be called later onwards as Operation Spring Thunder, had begun there, the movement came to be thus named. The Naxalite Movement had been one which had targeted all forms of establishments. It had been an anti-establishment agitation, which had aimed at breaking all forms of bureaucracy. Many had lost their lives, and others had to endure torture by the government. Umpteen number of novels have been written around this movement, the most glaringly memorable being Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland.
From then onwards the term ‘Naxal’ connotes someone who is a rebel, an iconoclast. But in recent times, the word ‘Urban Naxal’ has gained huge popularity and widespread acceptance. Social activists like Arundhati Roy, have come out into the open and have declared themselves as an ‘Urban Naxal’. A rebel who resides in an urban locale, and who is dissatisfied with the way the society is moving onwards, I think, probably defines the term ‘Urban Naxal’.
Recently eminent historians like Romila Thapar, among others, have begun a movement on social media platforms like Twitter, called ‘#MeTooUrbanNaxal’. The Central government’s hegemonic decision to render eminent activists like Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, under house arrest has necessitated mass protest from civilians of our country. A curb on freedom of expression is a curb on one of our fundamental rights. Why should they be under constant vigilance, when they all are rightful social activists? They had been fighting for the social injustices that we are facing every day. We have fallen into bad times. If communalism becomes the rock on which most political leaders decide to rest their hopes for securing the vote bank, then where do the ordinary citizen’s moral rights go?
If the slogan for ‘Urban Naxal’ has been raised to collect support from the urban residents and thinkers like ourselves, it’s about time that we called ourselves ‘Urban Naxals’ too. I am one. Are you also one like me? The Naxalites had dreamt that they’d be able to build a classless society where the hegemony of power struggle will be non-existent. Let’s hope that we, as Urban Naxals, can bring about as well as ring in that change, where people would never be scared of voicing their opinions or raise their voices against injustice.