Jihadism and Maoism: A distinction without a difference

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 28, 2018 15:29 hrs

Some 1,400 years ago, Hazrat Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammad was murdered whilst offering his fajr namaz (dawn prayer). On 23 September this year, Nisar, a SPO in Kashmir, was killed as his father was performing fajr namaz. The very same day, Maoist militants killed a TDP MLA Surveswara Rao in Andhra Pradesh.

I was part of a government team that carried out an assessment of Maoism in the affected areas. I travelled through the Red Corridor and interacted with many officials. The District Magistrate of Gaya told me that on the eve of Independence Day, a Maoist leader had issued a diktat that schools shall hoist the black flag, instead of the tricolour. As this was happening in one school, a girl from Class VIII, unable to bear the sight, pulled down the black flag and hoisted the tricolour instead. The girl and her family had to flee their home out of fear for their lives.

Women are increasingly being employed to be part of such abject cruelty. A few days ago, SSB Jawan Sikander Yadav, was dragged out of his residence in Bihar’s Jamui district and murdered by at least 20 Maoist thugs. Among those who lynched him were women. All this happened while Sikander was celebrating his son's birthday with his kinfolk. He was home on leave having returned from the Indo-Nepal border.

When Congress leader Mahendra Karma was felled by Maoists bullets in Chhattisgarh, women cadres danced around his corpse. The boy who was handling the radio set during this attack was no more than ten years old.

RPN Singh, when he was the Minister of State for Home, stated that one-third of the attacks by Maoists were executed by women cadre.

Again on September 23, after a gap of four years, the Maoists killed two TDP politicians i.e. Sarveswara Rao, an incumbent MLA and Siveri Soma, a former MLA in Andhra Pradesh. Significantly, elections coincide with assassination attempts on politicians by Maoists. In 2003, there was an assassination attempt on Chandra Babu Naidu. In 2013, the Maoists murdered 25 people in a Sukma, Chattisgarh, which included Mahendra Karma, a Congress leader. In the incident, the SUV carrying the two politicians was stopped by more than 50 Maoists. Subsequently both were killed in cold blood. A not dissimilar environment of fear pervades the Kashmir Valley as well. What do you call those who drag a father out from his home while he is in attendance for funeral rites of his son and murder him? Well, the father was a soldier in the Indian Army and his son had died in a road accident. These wolves who murdered the soldier are jihadis and their status, the fundamentalists claim, is sanctified by their faith.

Like the SSB jawan Sikander Yadav , the Indian Army soldier named Mukhtar Ahmad Malik was home on leave as well. The only difference being that Mukhtar had returned to perform the Rasm-e-Chauram (post-death ritual) and Sikander had come to celebrate his son's birthday.

On 23 September, three SPOs i.e. Nisar Ahmed, Firdous Ahmed and Kulwant Singh were killed by jihadis of Hizbul Mujahideen. It is now clear that these killings were at the behest of Pakistan, which is desperate to derail the local body elections.

The killing of the SPOs in Kashmir marks yet another inflection point in the dehumanisation of Jihadis in Kashmir. On 23 Sep, in the wee hours of the morning, as Abdul Rashid was offering his fajr namaz at a mosque, shrieks from his daughter-in-law pierced the eerie calm. Stumbling all over, the breathless 74-year-old man made it to his home to see his son being dragged by Hizbul beasts. Rukshana, Nisar’s wife ran behind to rescue her husband, but was beaten by the terrorists mercilessly.

Rashid, Nisar’s father put his taqiyah (Islamic cap) at the feet of the militants. 23 other namazis who had followed him did the same. The Hizbul beasts crushed the caps under their boots. This is the love jihadists have for Islam.

Another SPO, Firdaus Kuchey’s wife, Rukshana, says she will not permit her son to join the police because even as her husband fought for Kashmir, the state had abandoned his security.

Although the Hizbul Mujahideen claim to fighting for their faith but for jihadists nothing is sacrosanct. Jihad, too, like Maoism, has turned women and children into brutal murderers. Children are being brought up to be stone-pelters. A video, portraying a woman, haranguing her son to die rather than surrender has gone viral.

Both Maoism and jihad follow the same murderous strategy and both ideologies revel in blood. The Americans were no fools to pit jihadists against Communism in the grand finale of the Cold War in Afghanistan in 1980s. The Americans had researched Islamic history extensively to realise the potential for irregular warfare. When the jihadist machine was being assembled on the Af-Pak border, the entire corpus of the literature that was used for indoctrination was published and supplied by US and UK. Ironically, soon after the war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, both Jihadism and Communism began to buffet India.

Most jihadis are not illiterate, and every Maoist is not uneducated. In fact the civil bulwark of Maoists and Jihadis comprise of professors, lawyers, journalists etc. If these groups did not have their slavish defence for such extremists, the Urban Maoists and Jihaditss would have not survived for so long.

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RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or RAW. He is the author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan.

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