At a time when Naxalism is seen as a threat both to our national cohesion as well as economic development, two books try to look into the subject from a critical point of view.
In Days and Nights in the Heartland of Rebellion, civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha tries to give a critical but partisan perspective account after spending a fortnight in the guerrilla zone where the Maoists run their movement.
Author Dilip D'Souza in The Curious Case of Binayak Sen analyses the roles of the judiciary and executive in a democracy and looks critically at the poor state of rural health care.
Taking up the legal case of paediatrician, public health specialist and civil rights activist Sen, who was arrested after being accused of acting as a courier for a jailed Naxalite leader, D'Souza writes, "I believe this is a case against not just a man but an entire thought process.
"It has to do with a certain concern for your fellow humans in less privileged circumstances than you. It has to do with questioning. It has to do with the recognition that in a complex world, issues and answers are not black-and-white..."
The Curious Case of Binayak Sen, published by HarperCollins, also touches issues of state power and individual freedom.
D'Souza denies that his book is an effort to paint Sen as a "saintly man unjustly wronged" or a defence of Maoists.
The book, he says, was never set out to be a biography of Sen, but an effort to understand the case and the issues it raises, in a wider context than just a courtroom.
"Nor is my book a jeremiad about India," he says.
In Days and Nights in the Heartland of Rebellion, published by Penguin, Navlakha takes on the difficult task of knowing the Maoists first hand by visiting the heart of Bastar.
"Objectively speaking, Maoists do not pose as great a security risk as the government claims they do. Nor is there anything which says that Maoists would not want cessation of hostilities," he writes.
About an alternative, the author says, "For an alternative to become credible it must rise above surface manifestations of wrong and address the underlying causes and processes which account for skewed, unequal and stunted growth and social conflicts."
Two New Books on the Naxal Movement
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