GN Saibaba release: Cong slams Govt over ‘Urban Naxal’ tag, but it has got a fresh life

On Friday, a Bombay Supreme Court Nagpur bench acquitted Saibaba and five others, overturning the life sentence imposed on them in 2017 by a Sessions Court in Gadchiroli.

Shortly afterwards, Congress Secretary-General Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “The acquittal of Prof. GN Saibaba, who was acquitted by a wheelchair after five years in prison, proves that the ‘urban naxal’ tag invented by the Prime Minister’s Brigade , is completely false… Many others are still in completely unwarranted detention. Such slander tactics must be resisted. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Prime Minister calls me that too (an Urban Naxal)!”

The BJP has been using the term regularly since it first became popular following high-profile arrests of activists in July and August 2018 in the Elgar Parishad case. Investigation into alleged links of the arrested activists to the violence in Bhima Korean in Pune that followed the Elgar Parishad event, the police called them Urban Naxals.

On Monday, after laying the foundation stone of the country’s first bulk drug park in Gujarat’s Bharuch district, Prime Minister Narendra Modic raised the issue of “Urban Naxals”.

In what appeared to be a covert attack on the… Aam Aadmi party, which is an aggressive fight for the elections in Gujarat, Modi said: “Urban Naxals is trying to enter the state with new appearances. They have changed their costumes. They deceive our innocent and energetic youth into following them… They are agents of foreign powers.”

More than a month ago, at a meeting in Kutch, the Prime Minister spoke in a similar vein: “There was a time when Gujarat faced one crisis after another. As Gujarat battled natural disasters… one conspiracy after another was hatched to give Gujarat a bad name both in the country and the world, and to block investment here.”

Immediately after the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Bhupendra Patel stated who Modi was referring to. “…we have to remember who those people were who had robbed Kutch of getting the Narmada water for nearly five decades. We all know who those Urban Naxals were who had opposed the Narmada dam project… One of that Urban Naxals was Medha Patkar. We all know which political party these people were associated with.”

The reference seemed to be to AAP, who had expelled Patkar from Mumbai Northeast in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In 2015 she left the party.

Then, days later, during a video conference hosted by the Union’s Environment Minister, Bhupender Yadav, the Prime Minister said: “I have seen in the name of environmental clean-up how the creation of modern infrastructure is being hindered. .. How Urban Naxals, those opposed to development, had halted such a major project, the Sardar Sarovar Dam.”

In November 2018, the term was stamped by the Union Ministry of the Interior, when it said in a statement: “The Interior Minister instructed the CRPF to launch an effective and decisive campaign against left-wing extremism over the next six months. to be carried out. Action must be taken against Urban Naxals and their agents.”

The same month, BJP MP Manoj Tiwari . called Delhi Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal “an urban naxal”. “Some Urban Naxals are planning to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Arvind Kejriwal is a great example of an Urban Naxal,” he said at a press conference.

When noted Kannada writer and Jnanpith Award winner, Girish Karnad carried a placard with ‘Me too Urban Naxal’ written on it during a protest to mark the death of a journalist Gauri Lankeshhe was booked.

The term also appeared in RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s annual Dussehra speech in October 2018. “Urban Maoism” propagated lies and spread hatred in society, he said. “These people (Maoists) derive strength from the enemies of the country and always slander the nation wherever they go… Establishing an anti-national leadership with blind followers devoted exclusively to them is the neo-left doctrine of this Urban Naxals.”

Modi, speaking in parliament in February 2022, accused Congress of being “trapped by the Urban Naxals” and said the “thought process has been captured by Urban Naxals”, making it “destructive”. Congress walked out of the House in protest.

In a response to a written question from Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha But MP Shanta Chhetri, Home Secretary G Kishan Reddy told parliament in March 2020, “The phrase ‘Urban naxals’ is not used by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.” But, Reddy said, the government’s national policy and action plan focuses on left-wing extremism in all its manifestations, including urban activities.

Chhetri had asked “if it is a fact that the Ministry has stated that it will take effective action against ‘Urban Naxals’ and their intermediaries”, “whether the Ministry has defined what ‘Urban Naxals’ is and its definition, who among these category of ‘Urban Naxals’.”

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