Indian Maoist/ Naxal insurgency
January 8, 2010 1 Comment
The Maoist or Naxalite insurgency in India is gnawing away India’s roots and has become a cause of major concern of its administration.
Let us briefly examine this uprising. The term ‘Naxalite’ draws its origin from an organized armed peasant resistance against the landlords that began in March 1967 in a small village called Naxalbari in the state of West Bengal. It signaled the birth of a new movement and since then, all forms of armed struggle with socio-economic development of the downtrodden as the cause have come to be termed ‘Naxalite’. Other terms that are used to describe the movement are ‘leftwing extremism’ and ‘radical Maoism’.
Naxalites are backed by the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). According to Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, Naxalites’ extremism today constitutes the single most important internal security threat to India. The Naxal groups have spread their activities to as many as 22 out of 28 states in the country. In East Bengal the Naxal movement was immensely popular with not only the radical sections of the students movement in Calcutta, but the whole student body of Bengal undeniably were sympathetic about them since the mainstream Communist ideology had proved itself to be hypocritical and farcical in practice, as they stand to this day. The state machinery of India systematically annihilated this student support baseline from the whole movement as international human rights watchdog bodies picked up frantic calls of disappearances of students and intellectuals. Between 1969 and 1979 an estimated 5000 students and intellectuals disappeared or were killed under mysterious conditions. The West Bengal Left Front maintains that these students and intellectuals left their education to join violent activities of the Naxalites. Charu Majumdar progressively changed the tactics of CPI (ML), and declared that revolutionary warfare was to take place not only in the rural areas but everywhere and spontaneously. Thus Majumdar’s ‘annihilation line’, a dictum that Naxalites should assassinate individual “class enemies” as a part of the insurrection, was exploited by state media and the Bengal Left Front to infuse a sense of demonic identity into Naxals and over thirty years portrayed them as a social evil.
Whereas the statistical data refers to the theory being only practiced against such elements in civil society who were deemed to be “class enemies”: the police, landlords, and corrupt politicians cutting across mainstream party lines. Throughout Calcutta, schools were shut down. The strategy of individual terrorism soon proved counterproductive. Eventually, the Chief Minister, Siddhartha Shankar Ray, began to institute counter-measures against the Naxalites. The West Bengal police and the state sponsored CPI (Marxist) cadres fought back to stop the advancement of Naxalites. The student part of the movement was cruelly repressed by numerous disappearing s, staged encounters, and a doldrum of state sponsored media allegations tarnishing the image of the Naxalite movement and this massive and relentless public brain washing campaign was partly successful in hijacking public opinion sympathetic of the Naxalite ideology to that of misinformed ‘fear’. The human rights violations on the West Bengal police went unabated for decades after this to attain the demonic proportions of the eighties and nineties where they have been appropriately termed as the ‘uniformed mafia’. Buddhadev Bhattacharya tactically led from the front line as the police and home minister of West Bengal during the same period to turn the evil nexus of CPIM and the West Bengal Police into a feared repressive regime which was the most effective counteractive agent against the onslaught of Naxalites.
Significantly, aside from the internal dynamics of the Maoist/ Naxal insurgency India also perceives an external element to it. Indian security and intelligence agencies maintain that the Maoists are receiving weapons from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and China through illegal channels So far Indian security forces have tried to suppress the rebellion with brute force; there is an increasing need of a serious dialogue with all the groups involved in the Maoist/Naxal insurgency. The dialogue which has taken place so far with the Maoists is deemed to be a mere ploy by the government to buy time before launching a stronger offensive against the Maoists for which a number of internal security measures have been taken recently which include: trawling the international arms market to upgrade the country’s counter-insurgency capabilities by India’s security agencies; floating global tenders for more than 800 bulletproof vehicles by the Indian military, which are likely to be given to security agencies involved in counter-insurgency operations in Moist effected areas; allocating an additional 10 billion dollars by the Indian government to upgrade its homeland security by 2016. This upgrade envisages affordable technology comprising laser-guided armaments, light vehicles and drones as priority purchases. India has also drawn up a multi-pronged strategy that will target top leaders, win people through a propaganda war and offer cadres a surrender-and-rehabilitation policy while launching an extensive armed operation in Maoist strongholds across the country.
The Indian Central government has also asked the State governments to speed up development works and employment generation programmes in the Naxal-affected areas so as to counter left wing extremism with development. A military advisor has been appointed to prepare an action plan for dealing with Maoists. Indian Central Government is actively considering setting up brigade headquarters or Army cantonments in interior areas of Naxal affected states.
If Indian media reports are credible, the Indian government is preparing to launch full-fledged anti-Naxal operations at three different areas, considered tri-junctions of worst Naxal-affected states. The tri-junctions identified for the offensive are Andhra Pradesh-Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh; Orissa-Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh and West Bengal-Jharkhand- Orissa. The Maoists are enjoying popular support in the poorer area of rural, central and eastern India. Any full fledged anti-Naxal operation will be a great challenge to the Indian Security establishment.
India is hosting the 2010 Commonwealth games for the first time and in the backdrop of acute threats from the Naxalites, its security forces face a major challenge. Unless it can curb or pacify the Naxalites in the meanwhile, it may be nigh impossible to host the games without exposing the participants from 71 nations to extreme danger.
—Sultan M Hali