Maoist movement in Tamil Nadu and Keralam started in the initial period of historical Naxalbari struggle. After the setback in the early period and a bitter struggle against left and right deviations, it was reorganized in AP and TN. Both these state committees merged to form CPI (ML) PW. Later, in the beginning of 80’s building of the Maoist movement in Karnataka has picked up the momentum. In Keralam, the fight against left line turned into right opportunism. In the end of the 90’s, revolutionaries come out of it and started building revolutionary movement. Our party in these three states is making serious efforts to build a strong revolutionary movement particularly in the direction of armed agrarian revolution. The strategic area work in Tamil Nadu started in Eastern Ghats area of north TN. In KN the strategic area work started in Hyderabad Karnataka area. Later in the both states we shifted the strategic area to WG based upon our review. In Keralam the preparatory work has started from its inception in the Western Ghats area, though in a limited way due to our weak subjective strength. Due to the subjective weakness, the movement in three states underwent stagnation. After decades of political and organizational work in these states we could not able to make a break-through. It was reviewed deeply as part of the Leadership Training Programme process.
After the merger of erstwhile PW and MCCI and formation of CPI (Maoist) the level of class struggle has changed qualitatively. Party is considered as a main threat for the internal security of the country by the ruling class. Lakhs of central and state armed forces were deployed to crush the movement. Even in places where the movement is in weak position ruthless terror campaign is unleashed on the party and the struggling masses. Despite some differences in the approach of the state governments the overall approach of the state and the central governments are alike, i.e. must not allow any growth of revolutionary movement, particularly the armed struggle. That is why even in a place like Keralam, where our movement is still in its initial stage, the state is literally hunting for the leadership in order to prevent the initiation of armed struggle there. In this situation, where the enemy is going for an all out offensive against our party, our subjective forces in each state is very weak to bring about a breakthrough in the movement and facing enemy offensive. Therefore, by combining revolutionary force of three states we can face the enemy offensive and build the revolutionary movement in the strategic area; and hence it was decided to concentrate on Tri-Junction (TJ) as a single strategic area for the three states.
Working out a single strategic area, rallying all our subjective forces to concentrate in TJ is not an easy task. The separate existence of developed nationalities like Kannada, Malayali, Tamil presence of emerging nationalities like Coorgi and Tulu, very serious unevenness in socio-economic condition, uniqueness of the history of each separate state are some of the stumbling block which we are supposed to face in the initial period. The huge concentration of plantation economy, considerable presence of cash crops even in which large chunk of the poor and medium peasants are engaged, the relatively high level of urbanization, the development of road connectivity and other infrastructure are the peculiarities which we are supposed to address while making the tactics.
. Western Ghats is one of the areas having strategic importance not only for revolutionary war in South India but also to the Indian revolutionary war. Unlike the other forests, it is an evergreen forest having thick forest cover with high ranging hills which is very conducive for conducting revolutionary war. In fact it is most favorable region for building revolutionary movement. In south India the Western Ghats runs through three states of KN-KL-TN forming a tri-junction. Nilgiri Bio-Reserve (NBR) stretches from north the Kodagu-Wayanad plateau east of Brahmagiri hills in Kodagu district KN towards south to Bolampatti hills at Attappadi in Palakkad district in KL and eastward into Talaimalai-Hasanur plateau of eastern Ghats at Satyamngalam in Erode district. The Biligiri Rangana Betta (Hills), south-east of Chamarajanagar meets the Shervarayan Ranges linking the Western Ghats to the Eastern Ghats. These areas are under the joint jurisdiction of Forest Departments from all three states. There are many towns like Chamrajanagar, Satyamangalam, Ooty, Kalpetta and cities like Coimbatore, Calicut located inside and adjoining areas of NBR. About two million people are living in the NBR. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve includes many National Parks (NP), Wild Life Sanctuaries (WLS) and Reserved Forests (RF). To mention some of them:
Karimpuzha National Park (proposed), Silent Valley NP, Wayanad WLS, Aralam WLS, Attappady RF, Nilambur Forest Division (FD), in Kerala. Mudumalai WLS, Mukurthi WLS, Nilgiri north FD, Naduvattam RF in Nilgiri south FD, New Amarambalam RF, Cairnhills RF, Kundah RF, Thai Shola RF, Talaimalai RF, in TN and Rajiv Gandhi NP Nagarahole, Bandipur NP and Tiger Reserve, Nugu WLS, Brahmagiri WLS, Biligiri Rangana Thittu (BRT), Kollegal RF in KN. The whole area of NBR 5670 sq. kms with these NPs and WLS forms the largest contiguous Protected Area (PA) in the Western Ghats. In 2006 the Indian government applied to the UNESCO-MAB (Man and the Biosphere Programme) for the Western Ghats to be listed in the World Heritage Site. According to this the whole Western Ghats is divided into seven sub-clusters and Nilgiri sub-cluster is one among them comprising the whole NBR. Along with this other sub-clusters includes Talakavery sub-cluster and Kudremukh sub-cluster together would bring the whole strategic area under the control of UNESCO-MAB. Already we can see the people of Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada districts are protesting against the proposed Pushpagiri WLS.
Adivasis:- the TJ area is the home for more than 50 adivasi communities. Many of them like Paniyar, Adiyer, Kattunayakkas, Kurichyar, Todar, Kotha, Irular, Kurumbas, Sholigar, Jenu Kurubas, Betta Kurubas, and many others are living there for centuries. Being original inhabitants of the forest they enjoyed right over the land and resources of the forests. As their needs and life are very simple, they live in harmony with the nature and protected the forest wealth, flora and fauna for ages. Many of them were hunter-gatherer, engaged in pastoralist culture and practiced shifting cultivation i.e. slash, burn and cultivate. The feudal kings/ British colonialists/non-tribal people from plains invaded this territory grabbed the land and forest of the tribal communities and overturned the tribal way of life and brought under their rule.
For example, Wayanad was originally inhabited mainly by Kurichyar, Kurumar, Adiyer and Paniyar and Kattunayakka communities, since long. After the war and Sreerangapattanam agreement with Tipu, the British colonialist took control over the Wynadu. Since then the “Vayal nadu”(land of paddy fields )of the adivasi heartland forcefully converted to big coffee and tea plantation”. British colonialists not only snatched the lands from the adivasis but also destroyed their subsistence farming, particularly the food crops, and started coffee and tea plantation. After the British the Indian rulers followed the same policy resulting in reducing the tribes as destitutes working as bonded labourers in the lands once they owned.
Similarly, in Attappady, the indigenous people are Kurumbar, Mudugar and Irular once practiced shifting cultivation and engaged in collection of Minor Forest Produce (MNF). Due to alienation of lands and restrictions enforced by the forest department, were reduced to wage labourers and some work for the ganja mafia.
In Nilgiri, the Todar, Kotha, Irular, Kurumbar are living there for many centuries. Badagas migrated to this region around 16th century and they are more around a few Lakhs. They lived and developed their culture by adopting a particular way of life e.g. the Todar were grazing buffaloes, Irular were cultivators and trap small animals. Kurumbar are depending on Minor Forest Produce (MFP) and Badagas are agriculturists. The British colonialists occupied this place in 19th century to set up military establishments, residential places during summer and plantations. The tribal communities lost their land and source of livelihood and became labourers in their own land. In Nagarahole, Kodagu district in KN. It was the land of Jenu Kurubas and Betta Kurubas for centuries. By the end of 19th century the British colonialists brought this area under their ownership forcibly evicting the indigenous communities for timber logging.
The colonialists enforced many restrictions on the movement of the tribal communities to engage in shifting cultivation, to collect the minor forest produce and hunting for their livelihood. due to the encroachment of their traditional lands, oppression and exploitation by the non-tribal exploiters, and eviction from their traditional habitat by the state authorities in the name of various projects ,National parks, Wildlife sanctuaries, Reserve forests and other Protected Areas (PA), the tribal communities in all three states are living in a miserable condition The tribal people not only lost the land and the sources of their livelihood but also their rights, their dignity and their way of life. Today they work as wage labourers in the estates and in lands owned by non-tribals.
In these whole TJ area, mainly two types of rural proletariat comprising huge change of the total rural population. They are agricultural workers and plantation workers. Plantation workers mainly working in big and medium CBB owned plantations and plantation controlled by forest department or plantation corporations. The globalization policies seriously affected the plantation workers. Job security was badly affected, casualization, the tendency of engaging workers in temporary, Badali and contract basis is increasing drastically. Work load of the plantation workers increased manifold at the same time real wage has decreased. The housing and other basic amenities are the same level when it started several decades before.
The agricultural workers mainly engaged in the small and medium holding owned by rich and medium peasants. Due to the globalization affect the agricultural workers becoming more and more unemployed or underemployed. The real wage rate is also going down due to the continuous inflation. As a whole the living conditions of the rural proletariat is very pathetic.
The peasantry consists of three types in the whole area – the landless and poor peasants, middle peasants and rich peasants. The majority of the adivasis particularly Paniyar, Adiyar, main section of Kurichyar, Irular are mainly landless peasants, those adivasis who have some meager land, do not have any valid pattas. The plight of Poor and middle peasants is in a serious question due to the globalization impact. More and more these section coming in debt tarp and thousands of the peasants committed suicide so far. Today, more than 80% of adivasis are landless labourers, 35% are poor peasants having less than two acres. The share of income from cultivation is less than 20% of the total income. More than 70% of their income is from wage labour and nearly 10% from MFP.
Apart from them, Dalits are the other major community working in large numbers as labourers. Their condition is not better than that of adivasis. More than 60% of dalits living in rural areas are landless labourers and 30% are poor peasants. A tiny 5-10% is middle and rich peasants and persons belonging to landlord class are very rare.
The migration was increased in three decades, from 1950-1980, changed the demography of the whole NBR that the tribal population was reduced to minority. Majority of the migrant peasants, over 80% are the poor and middle peasants. They worked hard to transform the hills and forest into fertile land in an unfamiliar territory and hard living condition. Today, their population is over a million and is mainly engaged in cultivation of commercial crops such as coffee, tea, cardamom, rubber, pepper, banana, fruits and vegetables etc.
Workers and urban poor:
There is high concentration of working class population inside and adjoining areas of tri-jn. In addition, industrial proletariat also in hundreds of thousands is working in large, medium, and small-scale industries. Coimbatore city, largest industrialized city in TN after Chennai, is in the foothills of Nilgiri. Textile industries, particularly power loom, are most prevalent not only in Coimbatore but also in all other cities and towns in and around TJ. Out of 4.3 lakh power looms in TN Coimbatore and Erode cluster accounts for 33% and 25% or 1,41,900 and 1,07,500 looms respectively. Coimbatore is the textile centre of South India having 175 major spinning mills. Apart from this, a cement factory situated in the outskirts of Kovai city, Madukkarai, and foundries, textile machineries and automobile spares are the other major industries. Mettuppalayam, another city closer to tri-jn has a rayon factory, a dyeing unit, tanning and bleaching units. In Erode three taluks namely, Gopichettipalayam, Satyamangalam and Bhavani, are very closer to TJ. There are bleaching and dyeing plants, sugar factory, distillery unit, TN Newsprint and paper plant and other small scale industries. Nilgiri falls within the strategic Area and it has 175 tea processing units and several other major industries. A chemical factory producing gelatin sticks, an ordnance factory (defense factory), surgical needle and knitting accessories unit, and instant tea manufacturing unit are located in the district.
In Palakkad district, two taluks Palakkad and Mannarkad, are very closer to Strategic area. On the whole, about 25 large-scale industries and around 5000 small-scale units are there. Major industries are situated at Walayar-Kangikkode belt. Fertilizer, pesticides and chemical manufacturing units, rubber treading, flour mills, paper mills are functioning. In Malappuram, about 10 major industries, mainly chemical plants are there. In Nilambur a wood industrial complex is working. In Wayanad there are no major industries but few medium-scale industries like edible oil extraction unit, rubber treading units, electroplating units and more than 500 small-scale industries such as brick works, tyre treading, granite crushing, sandal and eucalyptus oil extraction units are there.
In Kodagu district, Virajpet Taluk falls within NBR. There are around 60 coffee pulping units, 25 hulling units, 25 coffee curing units. Chamarajanagar has more than 1000 medium and small scale spinning mills and in Gundlpet about 750 small units are running.
Lakhs of workers are working in these industries. In addition, there are many town and cities having more than one lakh population are situated within and adjacent to NBR are there. Some more major cities such as Kozhikode, Kannur, Mysore, Salem, Tiruppur are nearby this region. Hundreds of thousands of workers and other toiling masses are living in grueling poverty in these cities and towns. They are fighting against the anti-people policies of the governments either spontaneously or under the leadership of bourgeois/revisionist organizations. Very often, their struggles acquire militant form.
There are many democratic and progressive forces working in the interest of broad masses. Many petty-bourgeois intellectuals are voicing their protest against the globalization policies and violation of democratic rights by the state and central security forces. Many of them are in support of the growing revolutionary movement under the leadership of our party
Large number of Muslim minorities is also, particularly in Kerala, live in this region. They are subjected to worst type of religious discrimination. Every Muslim is considered as a potential ISI agent or Jihadi fighter supporting Al-Quida or dangerous enemy for the ‘unity and integrity’ of the country or a fundamentalist terrorist want to build an Islamic state and viewed with suspicion. Scores of innocent youths are booked under false cases and languished in different jails all over the country. The pro-Hindu, pro-Brahminical Indian state is killing hundreds of innocent Muslims under mere suspicion. They are fighting militantly against this discrimination, killings, tortures and harassment.
The plight of the adivasi population can be resolved only after settling the land question and right over the forest. The so called forest right act will give room for the dwelling right under the forest department (even this is not implemented in most of the areas). So the basic issue right from the beginning is the contradiction between adivasi population and the state. The direct face is either forest department or the police and armed forces. The issue of destruction of the Western Ghats through the granite and sand Quarries, the tourism projects, the other issues which are depleting the flora and fauna of the WG can be settled as part of the right over the adivasis into the forest. The main land concentration is either with state or with the Comprador Bureaucratic Bourgeoisie (CBB) and in some places big land lords. The seizing and occupying of the CBB plantation is closely linked with the alliance of plantation workers. It can be directly put under collective ownership with joint ownership of landless agricultural workers and plantation workers. Forest lands and lands under the control of landlords can be sized and distributed to the poor and landless peasants. Large population of small and medium peasants must rally against globalization policies in agriculture which are making their life into misery. Co-operative ownership of small producers of cash crops can make them strong enough to fight with MNCs and CBBs those are controlling international and domestic market. Shifting to the food crops for achieving the self sufficiency has to be addressed in long term perspective. The rich peasants also definitely come into the association of other peasantry to fight against the globalization policies which they are also badly affected. The working class in the urban area can lead the whole movement as the most developed class with the effective allies with the peasantry and rural proletariat while taking ups its own economic and political struggles. Different sections of urban poor and petit- bourgeois can be rallied while taking up their respective issues.
Basing the strong foot on adivasis, poor and landless peasants, rural proletariat in rural area, the working class and urban poor in the urban area, winning over middle and rich peasantry in rural area the different types of petit- bourgeois and other progressive sections will the orientation in the concrete condition of the Tri-Jn area of the Western Ghats
There had been rich experience of people’s movement in this area in the long past. The anti British armed struggle conducted under the leadership of Sankolly Rayanna, Rani Chennamma, Hyder and Tippu in Karnataka side, The naval guerrilla war fare against Portuguese and Dutch colonialist which led by Kunjali Marakkar in 17th and 18th century. The anti- colonial guerrilla warfare was conducted by the Pazhassi Raja under the commandership of Talakkal Chandu from Kurichya adivasis during the late 18th century. The historic anti- colonial and anti-feudal guerrilla revolt was conducted by Kurichya and Kuruma adivasis during the 1st quarter of 19th century. The historic armed upsurge and the guerrilla war were conducted by moppila peasants of Malabr during the last and 1st quarters of 19th and 20th century. The Kayyoor, Karivallor Morazha anti colonial and anti feudal militant struggles led by the undivided communist party during 1940s. The anti colonial struggle led by Veerapandya Kattabomman and others in Tamil Nadu are some of the epic historical struggle against colonialism and feudalism before the transfer of power. During the Naxalbari period it was comrade Varghees who organize the Adiya and Kurichya tribes and migrant peasants and started guerrilla war in the banks of river Kabani. Comrade Appu and later com: Balan took initiative to build revolutionary movement in Vada arcot of the then Darmapuri district of Tamilnadu. Later several militant struggles of peasants, adivasis including the heroic Muthanga struggle rocked different areas of the tri-jun. This way rich experience of militant struggle was witnessed in the past in this whole area.
Build peoples power
As we explained earlier, there are millions of workers, peasants, and other toiling masses living inside and in the adjoining areas of the TJ. They are cruelly exploited by the ruling classes. The Adivasis, their population is around half million, are living in most inhuman conditions and are exploited and oppressed by the non-adivasi ruling classes. Organizing all the revolutionary classes for their basic economical and political needs with the orientation of establishing peoples power by intensification of armed struggle is only way to end of the suffering of the vast majority of the toiling masses. We could complete the preparation for the armed struggle while facing the offense of the superior enemy. We lost one of our beloved comrade and valiant fighter, comrade Yelleppa, in this processes. Our squads could able to stretch foot among the masses during one year of the enemy offense. The task before the party in Western Ghats is to take the movement into the next higher level; to make a leap. So the development of armed struggle and establishment of people’s organs of power with the perspective of building base area is only the way to the liberation of all the toiling masses under the clutches of imperialism and semi feudalism in neo-colonial forms of exploitation and control. That way opening up of another battle front in the Western Ghats will directly serve the central task of building base area in central and eastern India.
[ Datas and reference taken from the Party Document ‘Social conditions and Tactics in Tri-Junction.]