Urban Maoists: Truth or Hype?

The arrests of 5 activists for alleged “urban maoism” and ties to the Bhima Koregaon protests raises many questions

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Video Editor: Mohammad Ibrahim, Purnendu Pritam

(This article was published after the first five activists were arrested on 6 June in connection with the Bhima Koregaon protests. It has been republished from The Quint's archives.)

On 6 June, five activists were arrested from Mumbai, Pune and Delhi for allegedly triggering the Bhima-Koregaon violence through hate speeches delivered in Pune.

  • Sudhir Dhawale – Activist, actor and the editor of the bi-monthly Marathi magazine ‘Vidrohi’
  • Mahesh Raut – Former PM’s Rural development fellow
  • Shoma Sen – Associate professor at Nagpur University
  • Rona Wilson – Public relations secretary, Committee for Release of Political Prisoners
  • Surendra Gadling – Pune-based lawyer

Newspaper headlines and breaking plates on news channels covering the arrest, used the term ‘urban maoists’ extensively – but is urban maoism real?

Ahead of the assembly polls in Naxal-affected Chhattisgarh, The Quint asked the people there what they think of urban maoists.

5 activists were arrested from Mumbai, Pune and Delhi for allegedly triggering the Bhima-Koregaon violence by delivering hate speeches in Pune.
5 activists were arrested from Mumbai, Pune and Delhi for allegedly triggering the Bhima-Koregaon violence by delivering hate speeches in Pune.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Have You Heard of Urban Maoists?

Almost all the people interviewed by The Quint agreed to having heard the term ‘urban maoists’. Some said it’s a new word while others claimed that the word has been doing the rounds for quite some time.

Urban Maoists is a new term. I have heard about it from news channels.
Ajay Kumar, Resident, Durg
Urban Maoists is not a new term for me.
Sumit Kumar, Journalist

Who are Urban Maoists?

As self-explanatory as the term is, the residents too were well-versed with what it denotes.

Urban maoist refers to those who help the maoists from big cities. They can be anyone. They can even be our neighbours. 
Harish Patel, Student
A large part of Chhattisgarh is affected by Naxal activities. Naxals operate from forest areas and stay clear of the cities, but they often require basic amenities from cities. Those who assist and help Naxals from the cities are urban Naxals... They are in constant touch with the other Naxals.
Dr Deen Dayal Sahu, Journalist

Do You Think Urban Maoists Are a Threat to Society?

Most residents interviewed by The Quint said they were aware of the threats posed by urban maoists.

If they harm the people, then they are a threat to society but if their fight is only against the government and they don’t intend to harm the people, then they are not a threat.
Santan Singh, Resident, Raipur
Any form of Naxalism is a threat to society.
Vipin Jain, Student

Should Urban Maoism be Discussed Ahead of Polls?

When asked by The Quint, some said it was an issue worth being raised ahead of the assembly polls, while others believed other issues would take prominence.

So many issues have come up in the past like, beef, lynching in the name of protection of cow, nationalism, so why not urban maoists. This can also become a political talking point before polls.
Shesh Shubh, Resident, Raipur
The issue has never been raised ahead of polls. Health, education, roads are the issues that are raised.
Santosh Singh, Resident, Dantewada

(With inputs from Anthony Gardia)

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