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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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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