Left Wing Extremism In India: Causes And Remedies


The Maoist movement currently involves 232 districts which work out to about 37 per cent of the Indian population. Out of 232 districts which have been affected by the problem, about a total of 45 districts are seriously affected. The government of India banned the CPI (Maoist) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as a terrorist organisation on 22 June 2009. They have been charged by the government with running an extortion economy in the guise of popular revolution, extorting vast amounts of money from local branches of mining companies and other businesses. They have been involved in disrupting communications, blowing up of schools and accused of keeping their pockets away from organised development so that they can retain their control over these forested areas.

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This article is published with the kind permission of „Defence and Security Alert (DSA) Magazine“ New Delhi-India
Defence and Security Alert (DSA

India attained her independence 65 years ago and despite all efforts has a sizable portion of her rural population living in poverty. This is particularly predominant in rural areas which house the major portion of our population. Left Wing politics has been present in India prior to independence, but resort to violence commenced with the Naxalbari movement in West Bengal on 24 May 1967. The rebellion was started by a breakaway group of Communist Party of India (Marxist) who formed a new party, Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) under the leadership of Kanu Sanyal and Charu Mazumdar. The movement was aimed at redistribution of land to the peasants. The party used violence and this triggered violent clashes in rural Bengal between the landlords and tillers of the soil. The Naxalites adored the Chinese leader Mao Zedong and believed in his diktat, “Power flows from the barrel of a Gun.” It is pertinent to note that in 1966 Mao had started the Cultural Revolution in China which led to purges in the Chinese Communist Party and the Naxalites drew their inspiration from Mao and his political thoughts. The movement was contained by 1971 and people expected there would be social and economic development of the affected regions. Unfortunately, there has been negligible development in these areas resulting in resurfacing of violent activities along with India’s economic resurgence in 1990. The opening of the economy helped India to be possibly the fourth largest economy in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) but failed to remove the disparity between the rich and the poor. This led to the creation of the Maoist movement involving 232 districts which work out to about 37 per cent of the Indian population.

Formation of the present movement

The present Maoists are a part of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), an underground political party of India which aims to overthrow the government of India through people’s war. It was founded on 21 September 2004 by the merger of two political groups, the People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre. The party was formed on 18 October 2004 and a Central Committee was constituted. The CPI (Maoist) is often referred as Naxalites as they draw their impression from the Naxalbari revolt in 1967. The Party has finally drafted a Constitution which is an amalgamation of all the positive points in the document of the two erstwhile parties as well as their experiences in this field of waging a people’s war and building a revolutionary movement in the tribal areas of the country. The Maoists are fighting for the rights of the tribes in the forest belt in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Kerala and Karnataka, They have been charged by the government with running an extortion economy in the guise of popular revolution, extorting vast amounts of money from local branches of mining companies and other businesses. They have been involved in disrupting communications, blowing up of schools and accused of keeping their pockets away from organised development so that they can retain their control over these forested areas.

Most of these areas lack infrastructure. The Maoist leaders leave no stone unturned to prevent the development of communications network in the region to ensure that their propagation against the government is easily digested by the people. The next aspect is demography. India is faced with a youth bulge as per which 70 per cent of our 1.2 billion population are below 35 years and need to be gainfully employed

The Maoists have been in contact with the Maoist movement in Nepal, ISI and possibly certain elements of China who are supporting militant groups in the north-east. Some of their leaders have undergone training abroad and weapons as also RDX slabs are being supplied. The Maoists have realised that the best weapons to be used against the security forces are the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and the suicide bomber. Foreign connections and extortion as also sale of drugs have led to Maoists gathering an annual turnover of Rs 1,500 crore (US$ 300 million).

The Maoist movement currently involves 232 districts which work out to about 37 per cent of the Indian population. Out of 232 districts which have been affected by the problem, about a total of 45 districts are seriously affected. The government of India banned the CPI (Maoist) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act as a terrorist organisation on 22 June 2009. They have been charged by the government with running an extortion economy in the guise of popular revolution, extorting vast amounts of money from local branches of mining companies and other businesses. They have been involved in disrupting communications, blowing up of schools and accused of keeping their pockets away from organised development so that they can retain their control over these forested areas

Cause Maoist insurgency is caused due to numerous reasons. However, a few snippets are interesting. First of all out of the 100 districts in India with highest poverty rates only 26 districts are affected by the Maoists. With regard to education, out of the 100 districts in India with lowest literacy rates there are only 20 districts which are under Maoist influence. With regard to healthcare, out of the 100 districts in India with highest infant mortality rates only 9 districts are gripped by Maoist terrorism. Statistically in a diverse country like India insurgency is triggered by multifarious issues. In the present case the insurgency is mainly spread over areas which are forested and are rich in mines.

States must raise forces like Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh police who have practically paralysed the Maoists in Andhra Pradesh. The main aspect is the issue of leadership. Police officers must be participative leaders and they should be able to motivate by personal example. The Maoists would gradually transform once they meet determined and honest Security Forces

There are primarily two causes for the Maoist extremism in India. These are lack of governance and socio-economic issues. In as much as governance is concerned the most important issue is we lack a Long Term Strategic Perspective. Development of these regions has been haphazard and does not lend to long term benefits. There is no plan of action ipso facto any accountability. Further the government has been mistaking industrialisation for development. The tribals have been denied their constitutional rights and justice has been denied to them. The Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) operating in these regions have their own vested interests consequently providing the space for Maoists to spread their agenda. The next issue is equitable distribution of land. The Maoists promise that they would equitably distribute land and this lures the people to participate in their movement.

With regard to socio-economic issues, education must be the prime intervention and this needs to be addressed with innovation. The Operation Sadbhavna model could be innovatively replicated. Once education enters the blood stream of the people in this region, they would be discrete with their actions. Most of these areas lack infrastructure. The Maoist leaders leave no stone unturned to prevent the development of communications network in the region to ensure that their propagation against the government is easily digested by the people. The next aspect is demography. India is faced with a youth bulge as per which 70 per cent of our 1.2 billion population are below 35 years and need to be gainfully employed. It is also pertinent to note that bulk of this population live in the rural areas and often fall a prey to the call of Maoists in the absence of suitable employment. It may be noted that being a diverse country there has to be a separate plan for each region based on the peculiarities.

Remedies

There are no easy answers to the Maoist problem. At the outset the Union government in conjunction with state governments must formulate a Long Term Perspective Plan for dealing with tribal areas. This will institutionalise the overall development of these areas and create a framework for organised development in tribal areas.

It is pertinent to note that in 1966 Mao had started the Cultural Revolution in China which led to purges in the Chinese Communist Party and the Naxalites drew their inspiration from Mao and his political thoughts. The movement was contained by 1971 and people expected there would be social and economic development of the affected regions. Unfortunately, there has been negligible development in these areas resulting in resurfacing of violent activities along with India’s economic resurgence in 1990

With regard to dealing with ongoing issues, broadly there are two distinct areas in which the Maoists can be divided; 45 districts which need constant vigil by the security forces and the remaining 187 in which situation has partially stabilised and needs further improvement. To start with the difficult districts of the red corridor security forces must create a good intelligence network and use state-of-the-art technology to track rebels. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) must be used for surveillance and reconnaissance. Further helicopters must be available for the same purpose. The force must operate from independent operating bases and should be trained exclusively for this task. The security force must have adequate Improvised Explosive Device (IED) jammers and well trained Guard and Tracker dogs to sniff out suicide bombers. The leadership in these forces must be of the highest order. Further the existing Village Defence Committees and forces like Salwa Judum must be well equipped and protected. There should be all out efforts despite presence of these hard core Maoists to run educational institutions, medical aid posts and building of infrastructure. As the Maoists would apply obstruction to these activities, the district administration has to innovatively create and look for windows of opportunity to undertake these activities. All operations have to be people centric. People have to be the centre of gravity of the entire organisation. In these districts the Deputy Commissioner, the Superintendent of Police and the District Forest Officer must work as one team who must work out the tactical framework to improve conditions in these remote areas. The officers must be visible and this would have a tremendous impact on the local population. In the remaining districts the focus should be on development particularly in the fields of education and health. Further road network and electricity must be established in all habitations. There must be atleast one model town created in the affected areas by the government which becomes an attractive alternative for the Maoist rank and file who are actually craving for minimum inescapable needs of education, affordable medical treatment and opportunities for employment. Further land must be redistributed to give the poor their rightful share to enable them to earn their livelihood.

The Party has finally drafted a Constitution which is an amalgamation of all the positive points in the document of the two erstwhile parties as well as their experiences in this field of waging a people’s war and building a revolutionary movement in the tribal areas of the country. The Maoists are fighting for the rights of the tribes in the forest belt in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Nagaland, Kerala and Karnataka

Apart from these socio-economic measures the security forces must be made capable of dealing with the Maoists. Viewing the enormous size of the problem there is a need for the Home Minister and a Committee of Chief Ministers to form a central body which can form an organisation at the apex level to formulate and coordinate all activities at the national level. The National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) is a step in the right direction. As law and order is a state subject and in a federal structure a committee comprising of representatives from the state and central governments should resolve their differences and form the NCTC at the earliest. This would require patience, persistence and persuasion on the part of the centre and state governments but must be done at all cost. Success of security forces depends on the availability of timely actionable intelligence. This would be possible by having an Intelligence Grid at the national level and subordinate organisations at the state level. The intelligence gathered must be disseminated in real time which would permit timely cordon and search operations. The security forces be it CRPF, BSF, ITBP or the local police must be structured, trained and equipped for these tasks. They must have IED detectors, jammers and state-of-the-art surveillance equipment like UAVs with SAR and Long Range Observation and Optical Equipment. There should be well trained tracker and guard dogs who can take on suicide bombers. States must raise forces like Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh police who have practically paralysed the Maoists in Andhra Pradesh. The main aspect is the issue of leadership. Police officers must be participative leaders and they should be able to motivate by personal example. The Maoists would gradually transform once they meet determined and honest Security Forces.

The government has been mistaking industrialisation for development. The Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) operating in these regions have their own vested interests consequently providing the space for Maoists to spread their agenda

Army’s involvement

The Maoist movement is presently being tackled by socio-economic development and security measures. Security forces comprise of the local police and Central Police Organisations. The situation is being managed and issues have not gone out of control. The security forces need to be having greater tenacity and improve intelligence collection and dissemination. Positive steps are being taken to improve on these aspects. With all these improvements is there a need for the Army to be inducted in anti-Maoist operations? The answer is that in the present circumstances there is no need to induct the Army in anti-Naxal operations. Assistance of the Army can be sought in training security forces in counter-terror operations. Active involvement of the Army would rather be detrimental as it will lead to greater difficulties in transforming the Maoists as their movement gets highlighted and their leaders are able to convince the people to harden their attitude resulting in lengthening the struggle between the Maoists and security forces.

Conclusion

Maoism is a social problem caused primarily by poor governance. Socio-economic development with precise operations by security forces will transform the attitude of the people, who in turn will gradually resist the insurgents thereby paving the way for normalisation of the problem.

About the Author
Maj Gen P K Chakravorty VSM (retd) – The writer is an alumnus of National Defence Academy who was comissioned into the Regiment of Artillery on 31 March 1972. A Silver Gunner who has undergone the Long Gunnery Staff Course, Staff College and is a graduate of the National Defence College. He has commanded a Medium Regiment and a Composite Artillery Brigade. He was Major General Artillery of an operational Command, Commandant of Selection Centre South in Bangalore and Additional Director General Artillery at Army Headquarters. He has also served as the Defence Attache to Vietnam and is a prolific writer on strategic subjects.

Note by the Author:
The Maoists have been in contact with the Maoist movement in Nepal, ISI and possibly certain elements of China who are supporting militant groups in the north-east. Some of their leaders have undergone training abroad and weapons as also RDX slabs are being supplied. The Maoists have realised that the best weapons to be used against the security forces are the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and the suicide bomber. Foreign connections and extortion as also sale of drugs have led to Maoists gathering an annual turnover of Rs 1,500 crore (US$ 300 million)

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