THE NAXALITE MOVEMENT IN INDIA
RESEARCH PAPER - NOOR BAWA
From the village of naxalbari in west Bengal the term naxalism is derived. Naxalisim is an informal name given to radical, often violent, revolutionary communist groups that were born out of the Sino-soviet in Indian Communist Movement. It was initially started with a rebel by a group of people against the local landlords, as a peasant was bashed by the local landlords over land dispute.. The objective of the rebellion was, “Rightful redistribution of land to the working peasants.” The Naxalite movement is not principally a rural, agrarian problem as the doctrine of the Naxalites argues, but is a problem of the leading edge of the urban intelligentsia. Now naxalisim is one of the biggest security problem faced by India. Naxalisim not only affects the internal security but it also affects the external security. This paper aims to study the Naxalite movement in India and the problems faced by the Naxalites. The object of this research paper is to identify the root causes of the Naxalite movement in India and mode of operation identified to tackle its existence. The government of India had made certain provisions to stop the entry of large number of people and to rehabilitate the affected population but the main problem lies in the implementation of these provisions so in this study we try to focus on the solutions and how these provisions can be conveyed to the isolated mass in a substantiated way. This paper also focuses on the the naxal tactics and strategies and the suitable measures that should be taken by the government to abolish the existence of naxalism in India. It also speaks about the naxal’s as well as government’s point of view. It furthermore emphasizes on the evolution of the naxalism in India for the purpose of understanding the reason of its present domain and to tackle the problem faced by the Naxalites. A few keywords in this project can be seen as ‘naxalism’, ‘rightful redistribution’, ‘ideology’, ‘revolution’, ‘urban intelligentsia’, ‘India’.
The Naxalite Movement in India has experienced a fascinating journey encountering numerous organizational upheavals and conflicts of thoughts and ideas. The movement has seen many highs and lows in its long history since 1967 and mirrors the sentiment expressed by one of the official Maoist documents: “Revolutions never proceed in a straight line. The history of all successful revolutions shows this. The path is zig-zag, there are ups and downs, there is victory and defeat repeated a number of times....before final victory”. The birth of the Naxalite movement in India took place in a remote village in West Bengal called Naxalbari1 in the year 1967. A tribal youth named Bimal Kissan obtained a judicial order permitting him to plough his land. The local landlords with the support of their goons and musclemen attacked him. This event infuriated the local Tribal population and led to a violent retaliation by the tribal community to recapture their lands. The events in Naxalbari took shape of a giant rebellion and gained visibility and support across regions including West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.A section of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] led by Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal led a violent uprising in 1967. They tried to develop a “revolutionary opposition” to the official CPI (M) leadership. Revolutionary cadres of the CPI (M) counter attacked the landlord, giving rise to the “Naxalbari Uprising”. The uprising was spearheaded by Charu Mazumdar. Similarly, a peasant revolution was launched in an area called Srikakulam of Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh led by Chandra Pulla Reddy. Both incidents were violent in nature and drew their inspiration from the success of the Communist movements in China and Russia the then United Front government led by the CPI (Marxist) came down heavily on the rebellion using all kinds of repressive measures. Seething with anger, the participants of the “revolution” formed the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR) in May 1968. “Allegiance to armed struggle and non-participation in the elections” formed the cornerstone of the AICCCR. The radicals comprehended the Indian situation then to be similar to that in China prior to 1949 and characterized it as essentially semi-colonial and semi-feudal. Based on that analysis, the revolutionaries concluded that the “People’s Democratic Revolution” should be launched in India by immediately resorting to an armed struggle on the Chinese lines.
HISTORY OF NAXALISM
As stated earlier, the term Naxalites comes from Naxalbari, a small village in West Bengal, where a section of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) led by Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, and Jangal Santhal initiated an uprising in 1967. However, the uprising itself formed after two decades of minor communist activity which first began in South India. In current-day Telangana, an Indian state which split from the larger Andhra Pradesh, communism began to manifest, and in July of 1948, a major event known as the Telangana Struggle occurred in which the lower-classes of 2,500 villages of the former Hyderabad State formed a series of communes. Furthermore, in same year, far-leftist mentality was solidified within the government structure by the publication of two major communist documents.. The first, the Andhra Thesis, expressed "that 'Indian revolution' follow the Chinese path of protracted people's war" and how the "Indian revolution" must be similar to the Chinese people's war, in which the entirety of the population from the rural and agrarian areas of the nation should participate in conflict. The second document would be the Andhra Letter which was published in June of 1948, and the letter spoke of how Mao Zedong's concept of New Democracy should be implemented in an Indian revolution. In terms of communists in the young nation, the Communist Party of India (CPI) formed in 1920 had internal conflict because the CPI had support from the Soviets, and by 1964, the Communist Part of India (Marxist) was established. From the Telangana Struggle and the two political manifestos, the Naxalites were not the first instance of communist activity in the newly-formed country.
On 18 May 1967, the Siliguri Kishan Sabha, of which Jangal was the president, declared their support for the movement initiated by Kanu Sanyal, and their readiness to adopt armed struggle to redistribute land to the landless. The following week, a sharecropper near Naxalbari village was attacked by the landlord's men over a land dispute. On 24 May, when a police team arrived to arrest the peasant leaders, it was ambushed by a group of tribals led by Jangal Santhal, and a police inspector was killed in a hail of arrows. This event encouraged many Santhal tribals and other poor people to join the movement and to start attacking local landlords.
These conflicts go back to the failure to implement the 5th and 6th Schedules of the Constitution of India. In theory these Schedules provide for a limited form of tribal autonomy with regard to exploiting natural resources on their lands, e.g. pharmaceutical and mining, and 'land ceiling laws', limiting the land to be possessed by landlords and distribution of excess land to landless farmers and labourers.
Mao Zedong provided ideological leadership for the Naxalbari movement, advocating that Indian peasants and lower class tribals overthrow the government of the upper classes by force. From 1965-1966, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had a major figure by the name of Charu Majumdar, and he was a major figure of the movement who believed in Zedong's "protracted people's war" ideology. A large number of urban elites were also attracted to the ideology, which spread through Charu Majumdar's writings, particularly the 'Historic Eight Documents' which formed the basis of Naxalite ideology. These documents were essays formed from the opinions of communist leaders and theorists such as Mao Zedong, Karl Marx, and Vladimir Lenin. Using People's courts, similar to those established by Mao, Naxalites try opponents and execute with axes or knives, beat, or permanently exile them.
At the time, the leaders of this revolt were members of the CPI (M), which joined a coalition government in West Bengal just a few months back. However, this plan of action led to dispute within the party as Charu Majumdar believed the CPM was to support a doctrine based on revolution similar to that of the People's Republic of China. Leaders like land minister Hare Krishna Konar had been until recently "trumpeting revolutionary rhetoric, suggesting that militant confiscation of land was integral to the party's programme." However, now that they were in power, CPI (M) did not approve of the armed uprising, and all the leaders and a number of Calcutta sympathisers were expelled from the party. This disagreement within the party soon culminated with the Naxalbari Uprising on May 25th of the same year, and Majumdar led a group of dissidents to start a revolt in the West Bengal village of Naxalbari. The uprising occurred because an individual who was of tribal background (Adhivasi) was attacked by a group of people who acted on the orders of the local landlords, and this caused other Adhivasis in the area to retake their land, and after seventy-two days of revolt the CPI (M) coalition government suppressed this incident.
Subsequently, In November 1967, this group, led by Sushital Ray Chowdhury, organised the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR). Violent uprisings were organised in several parts of the country. On 22 April 1969 (Lenin's birthday), the AICCCR gave birth to the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) (CPI (ML)).
Practically all Naxalite groups trace their origin to the CPI (ML). A separate offshoot from the beginning was the Maoist Communist Centre, which evolved out of the Dakshin Desh group. The MCC later fused with the People's War Group to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist). A third offshoot was that of the Andhra revolutionary communists, mainly represented by the UCCRI(ML), following the mass line legacy of T. Nagi Reddy, which broke with the AICCCR at an early stage.
The early 1970s saw the spread of Naxalism to almost every state in India, barring Western India. During the 1970s, the movement was fragmented into disputing factions. By 1980, it was estimated that around 30 Naxalite groups were active, with a combined membership of 30,000.
Violence in West Bengal
Around 1971 the Naxalites gained a strong presence among the radical sections of the student movement in Calcutta. Students left school to join the Naxalites. Majumdar, to entice more students into his organisation, declared that revolutionary warfare was to take place not only in the rural areas as before, but now everywhere and spontaneously. Thus Majumdar declared an "annihilation line", a dictum that Naxalites should assassinate individual "class enemies" (such as landlords, businessmen, university teachers, police officers, politicians of the right and left) and others.
The chief minister, Siddhartha Shankar Ray of the Congress Party, instituted strong counter-measures against the Naxalites. The West Bengal police fought back to stop the Naxalites. The house of Somen Mitra, the Congress MLA of Sealdah, was allegedly turned into a torture chamber where Naxals were incarcerated illegally by police and the Congress cadres. CPI-M cadres were also involved in the "state terror". After suffering losses and facing the public rejection of Majumdar's "annihilation line", the Naxalites alleged human rights violations by the West Bengal police, who responded that the state was effectively fighting a civil war and that democratic pleasantries had no place in a war, especially when the opponent did not fight within the norms of democracy and civility.
Large sections of the Naxal movement began to question Majumdar's leadership. In 1971 the CPI(ML) was split, as Satyanarayan Singh revolted against Majumdar's leadership. In 1972 Majumdar was arrested by the police and died in Alipore Jail presumably as a result of torture. His death accelerated the fragmentation of the movement.
In July 1971, Indira Gandhi took advantage of President's rule to mobilise the Indian Army against the Naxalites and launched a colossal combined army and police counter-insurgency operation, termed "Operation Steeplechase," killing hundreds of Naxalites and imprisoning more than 20,000 suspects and cadres, including senior leaders. The paramilitary forces and a brigade of para commandos also participated in Operation Steeplechase. The operation was choreographed in October 1969, and Lt. General J.F.R. Jacob was enjoined by Govind Narain, the Home Secretary of India, that "there should be no publicity and no records" and Jacob's request to receive the orders in writing was also denied by Sam Manekshaw.
WHO ARE NAXALITES?
Naxalites are common people who want equal social and financial status for all. Their ideology is clear that they are fighting oppression and exploitation to create a classless society. They work for the centralization of power. They just want basic amenities for their survival; infrastructure and most importantly they want opportunities to grow. The Naxalites operate mostly in rural and Adivasi regions. They are usually found in the area where there is a forest cover. Their motto is to show teeth and enlarge upon their ideology and if possible support landless and poor.
The origin of the Naxalite movement can be located in the contemporary global context of the 1960s. The Naxalite movement was a part of the contemporary, worldwide impulse among radicals to return to the roots of revolutionary idealism. The Naxal leaders drew inspiration from the Indian peasant uprisings of the18th and 19th centuries and the more modern organized armed peasants’ struggles led by Communists in Telengana in south India in the late 1940s.
Naxalism is essentially an outcome of socio-economic problems, mal-administration, un-accountability, perceived injustice and is an end product of agrarian tensions. The contention of Naxalites is that the existing system is corrupt, rotten and can be destroyed by violence alone. Naxals feel that it is the landlords and the state administrators who keep violence on their agenda. Naxals feel justified to counter it by violence so as to achieve radical reforms. The genesis of this movement is based on peasants’ movement and agrarian discontent. The primary aim of the movement was to liberate the poor through land and social reforms. Although, the aim was a noble one, the method chosen to achieve it was completely misguided and unlawful. The Naxalite movement quickly veered away from its professed agenda of social justice and, today, various Naxalite factions are nothing more than tools at the disposal of external forces that want to create internal turmoil in India.
Naxalism grew from a tiny movement of Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal of village Naxalbari in the foothills of the Himalayas in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, carved out by him in 1967 after a split, from the ultra left sections of CPI (Marxists). Mazumdar greatly admired Mao Zedong and advocated that Indian peasants and lower classes must follow in his footsteps and overthrow the government and upper classes whom he held responsible for their plight. The movement, basically anti-landlord, acquired the nomenclature of
CPI (Marxist- Leninist) in Nov 1967. A similar group, calling itself Marxist Communist Centre (MCC) was operating in the South. CPI (M) and MCC merged in 2004 and became CPI (Maoist), accepting Maoist doctrine of revolutionary agrarian war of seeking power through armed violence and surrounding the urban centres from the countryside. Their activities soon accounted for approximately 90% of revolutionary armed action in India. This brand of revolutionary activities came to be described broadly as Naxalism in recognition of the village Naxalbari from where the bugle of armed revolutionary agrarian revolt was first sounded.
Naxalism and its threat to the state have been growing steadily in the past forty years. Their ideology appeals to the deprived and downtrodden. They have a coherent organisation whose members are ready for sacrifice. They have visionary plans of seizing political power through armed violence. They display a robust will and determination of purpose.
The Maoists adhere to violence as the decisive tool of socio-economic transformation. Their contention is that the existing system is basically rotten and that it can be destroyed by violence alone. The crux of the Naxal stand on violence is that violence is imposed by the ruling class. Naxals feel that it is the land lords and the state administration who keep violence on their agenda. It is they who perpetrated it on the people. In such a situation the option left to Naxals is either to surrender to the violence let loose by the state or to counter it by violence. Naxals feel forced to take the latter course in order to achieve radical reforms- agrarian, social, economic and political to which they seem to be whole heartedly committed.
In theoretical terms, naxalites justify their actions as the political programme to overthrow the Indian state, comprising the big landlord-comprador, bureaucratic, bourgeoisie classes and the imperialism that backs them. They aim to achieve this through armed struggle and establish a people’s democratic state under the leadership of the proletariat. Taking a leaf from the movement of Mao Zedong in China which resulted in the formation of a formidable Peoples’ Army, naxal leaders in India have also dreamt of a spontaneous rebellion by the peasants and the working classes, if provided with the right spark. While the ideology itself would seem to be unsustainable, the prevailing socio-economic-political conditions provide a fertile ground for it to take roots and grow.
NAXAL AFFECTED REGIONS IN INDIA
The Naxalites operate in 60 districts in India, mainly in the states of Odisha (5 affected districts), Jharkhand (14 affected districts), Bihar (5 affected districts), Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh (ten affected districts), Madhya Pradesh (8 affected districts), Maharashtra (2 affected districts) and West Bengal (8 affected district). In West Bengal areas west of Howrah are affected by the insurgency. Chhattisgarh is the epicentre of the conflict (2007).
Areas governed by the elected Communist Party of India (Marxist) in India such as West Bengal, specifically those of Jangalmahal and Lalgarh, are some of the worst affected by anti-state violence by Maoist groups who cite the accumulation of unaccounted-for wealth in the hands of CPI-M leaders and specific failure to counter problems they were elected to address such as caste discrimination and poverty.
There is a correlation between areas with extensive coal resources and impact of the insurgency. Naxalites conduct detailed socio-economic surveys before starting operations in a target area. It is claimed that the insurgents extort 14 billion Indian rupees (more than $US300 million).
In Chhattisgarh, Salwa Judum, an anti-insurgency operation which was aimed at countering the naxalite violence in the region was launched in 2005. The militia consisting of local tribal youth received support and training from the Chhattisgarh state government. The state came under fire from pro-Maoist activist groups for "atrocities and abuse against women", employing child soldiers, and looting and destruction of property, allegations rejected by a fact finding commission of the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) in 2008. The commission, which had been appointed by the Supreme Court of India, determined that the Salwa Judum was a spontaneous reaction by tribals against Maoist atrocities perpetrated against them.
On 5 July 2011, the Supreme Court of India declared the militia to be illegal and unconstitutional, and ordered its disbanding. The Court directed the Chhattisgarh government to recover all the firearms, ammunition and accessories. In the court's judgement, the use of Salwa Judum by the government for anti-Naxal operations was criticised for its violations of human rights and for employing poorly trained youth for counter-insurgency roles. The Supreme Court of India, also ordered the government to investigate all instances of alleged criminal activities of Salwa Judum.
In Bihar, the Ranvir Sena, a paramilitary group of the upper-caste landlords, has been known for fighting against Naxalites and Maoists.
In Odisha, the number of districts affected by Maoist activities has been reduced from 17 to 9, as claimed by the Director General of Police (DGP), Prakash Mishra on December 30, 2012.
Similar paramilitary groups have emerged in Andhra Pradesh during the last decade. Some of these groups are Fear Vikas, Green Tigers, Nalladandu, Red Tigers, Tirumala Tigers, Palnadu Tigers, Kakatiya Cobras, Narsa Cobras, Nallamalla Nallatrachu (Cobras) and Kranthi Sena. Civil liberties activists were murdered by the Nayeem gang in 1998 and 2000. On 24 August 2005, members of the Narsi Cobras killed an individual rights activist and schoolteacher in Mahbubnagar district.
ROOT CAUSES OF THE NAXALITE MOVEMENT
The Naxalite movement derives the root causes of its formation from the inequalities and exploitation faced by the tribal communities. The following issues at the inception of the Naxals,form the plight of the sufferers:
The Zamindari system was adopted during the British rule wherein a piece of land was given to a Zamindar and in return, he was required to pay a certain amount to the company or the state. The Zamindar did not cultivate the land himself. He distributed and redistributed it till it reached the tiller of the land who was a tribal or a common man working hard in the field. At each stage, the poor people or the tribals suffered immensely because a certain amount was required to be paid to the renter of the land and it led to the exploitation of the poor tribal at each stage.
The government decided to declare certain forests as reserved forests for the purposes of conservation, scientific research, for sanctuaries and land acquisition for dams, roads, industries, etc. It was done directly at the cost of the tribals who the inhabitants of these forests for many generations were. Thus, the state government, the contractors, and lower level officials fully exploited the tribals, bringing down their status to that of encroachers in the forests.
The records of resettlement and rehabilitation reveal that payment of compensation for lands and assets acquired from the people for various purposes, are very rarely compensated to them. For certain poor families, it has meant generations of resettlement without being given any compensation. This has led to deprivation and marginalization of the people. Although industrialization did take place in the country, the tribals were deprived of the basic benefits of education and training. Therefore, they could not avail of new opportunities in the industries and remained marginalized. Administration in Remote Areas Being very poor and unmonitored, these areas were developed but had poor connectivity. Even post-independence, the agrarian reforms did not reach these areas. Corruption, vote bank politics and atrocities against the Scheduled Castes wrecked havoc in the economic and social fabric of the society.
The malfunctioning of government machinery in terms of inefficiency, corruption and exploitation was largely considered as the main factor behind the creation of a power vacuum as well as a space for Maoists to take root in and find legitimacy amongst the deprived and impoverished sections of the population in the country. Since the demand of the poor people for change was not coming from the government, a natural recourse was to look for an alternative. The mass mobilisation has been possible only due to the inherent disenchantment with the prevalent system. The Naxals reached out to the people, understood them, took up their issues and fought for their dignity and rights. They earned goodwill among the tribals and the downtrodden. It is of great interest to note that unlike the other internal security problems of the northeast, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Punjab were separatist in nature; Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is not a separatist or externally driven movement. LWE believes that democracy is ill suited to India and wants to make it a Communist type state. They have no respect for, or faith in, the Indian Constitution and the democratic system of government. They strongly believe in a classless society and consider rich capitalists, farmers and industrialists as their enemies. The aim is to overthrow the established government by using armed guerrilla rebellion along with agitation by the masses which in effect means dictatorship by the proletariat. Globalisation and liberalisation are seen as challenges to socialism. It is common knowledge that in most Naxal-affected regions, there is total lack of governance. The civil administration departments like the police forces, revenue department, and judicial institutions are seldom heard of. This has allowed the Naxal forces to run a parallel government in these areas. The practice of holding Jan Adalat’s, land distribution, construction of irrigation facilities and tax collection by the Maoist cadres, are evidence of the lack of the hold of the state government, as also explain the reach of Naxalism.
The Naxal affected areas are severely affected by the disparities in economic and social terms. The rich Thakurs and Zamindars consider poor people and tribals as people with no dignity and, hence, socially exploit them. All kinds of social discrimination are practised against them. The females of the poor classes are treated as commodities to be used and exploited. These inequalities in society force them to take recourse to violence and join Naxalism. Economically, there is a large gap between the haves and have nots. Lack of employment opportunities for the youth in the relatively deprived regions of the country further allows Naxal groups to recruit more and more people. Hence, the primary incentive to join the Naxals was to ensure an adequate income. The poverty levels in the Naxal affected states of Orissa, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are much higher (with more than 40 percent of the population living below the poverty line)
No organisation can survive without sound financial support and a source of regular income. By rough estimates, the LWE generates approximately Rs 500- 700 crores annually. This money is spent on payment to its cadres, for the purchase of arms and ammunition, running of frontal organisations and institutions. The main sources of funds are wealthy industrialists who carry out mining in these areas. To finance their activities, the Naxalites “accept contributions” in the form of “taxes and levies”, loot government treasuries and banks and also extort vast amounts from businesses, industries, political leaders, government officials, rich landlords and professionals. The extremists live by the gun, reaping a rich harvest of extortion and tax collection, with revenues to the tune of Rs.1,000 crore a year. The quantum of collection varies from state to state. As per estimates, the total collection from Bihar and Chhattisgarh is around Rs 200 crore and Rs. 150 crores respectively, while that from Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh is about Rs. 350 crore and Rs. 100 crores respectively.6 In addition, the Naxalites are also engaged in, or control, significant levels of illegal economic activity7 .The extremists live by the gun, reaping a rich harvest of extortion and tax collection, with revenues to the tune of Rs.1,000 crore a year. In addition, the Naxalites are also engaged in, or control, significant levels of illegal economic activity, harvesting and smuggling of forest produce. Smuggling of tendu leaves and other forest products such as opium and kattha also adds to their revenue.
NAXAL STRATEGY AND TACTICS
The consolidation of several sections of the Naxalites has been responsible for the organised, institutionalised and planned manner in which the Naxalites function. The ideological dedication, the cadre-based organisational setup and understanding of the micro socio-economic situation in various regions of India makes the extremists plan, operate and implement their strategies efficiently. There is a Central Committee and a Politburo at the apex. The hierarchical structure, which flows from the Regional Bureaus— State Committee/Special Zone Committee—Zone and Sub-Zone District/ Division Committee—Squad Area Committee, is well established and institutionalised. The armed wing has a few divisions and dalams. At the village level, they have units called “Sanghams” comprising ideologically committed active supporters.
The Naxalites have adopted the strategy of “protracted war”. The aim is to capture political power by armed struggle as a prelude to the subsequent unification of the liberated areas. The armed struggle has no time limit. It can attain the goal in one or 10 or 20 years and, in this way, the struggle moves ahead. Recently, the Naxalite groups have laid greater focus on organising along military lines. The military wing has based its ideology on guerrilla warfare. They have resorted to well-conceived, thoroughly planned and ably executed sensational actions such as the attack on the convoy of Mr. Chandra Babu Naidu, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, the forced release of prisoners from the prisons at Jehanabad (Bihar), Narayangarh (Orissa), police stations in Chhattisgarh and Silda (West Bengal) and the recent spurt in hijacking of trains in Bihar and Jharkhand.
In order to fulfil the aim of protracted war, the Naxalites believe in building up both physical and mass bases. Initially, the bases are built up in rural and remote areas. The areas are, then, to be developed into “Guerrilla Zones” and ultimately into “Liberated Areas”. Naxalites operate in the very heartland of India, known as the Dandakaryna region (named after a mythological region from the epic Ramayana) which spreads over Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The heart of this region is the thickly forested area of Abujmarh which is approximately 10,000 sq. km. This area till date has not been surveyed by the Government of India. The Naxalites treat it as a totally liberated area.
The Naxalites, with the support of their Nepal counterpart, plan to create a ‘Red Corridor’, starting from the Nepal border with Nepal and extending up to Kerala. It was in August 2001 that the idea came up of establishing a Compact Revolutionary Zone (CRZ) or the Red Corridor. It extended from the forest tracts of Adilabad (Andhra Pradesh) to Nepal, traversing the forest areas of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar and Nepal. It was conceptualised at Siliguri in a high-level meeting of the Maoist leaders. The notion of CRZ seems to be working in the correct direction. There has been a remarkable growth in Maoist between 2001 and 2010 in India. Training the LWE affected areas being underdeveloped and forested, safe joint training camps can be organised. It has been reported that some Nepal Maoists have been possibly trained in the West Champaran and Aurangabad districts of Bihar, and Palamau and Kodarma districts of Jharkhand. Also, CPI - ML and PWG cadres are imparting specialist training to the Maoists of Nepal in Rolpa and Rukum districts of Nepal. On this basis, they attack the enemy’s outposts. An uncorroborated media input reveals that an attack on a police outpost in the West Champaran district on July 16, 2004, was carried out jointly by Indian and Nepalese groups. The attack on a police post in Madhu Bani in North Bihar in June 2005 is also reported to be a joint operation.
To obtain their strategic, objectives, the Naxalites have been very ruthless in their approach. The following methods highlight their tactics to achieve their goals. The Naxalites aim at enhancing public support and mass base. The failure of the Naxalbari movement in the initial stages led the Naxalite leaders to rely solely on the people and create a powerful mass base. Therefore, now, the Naxals’ aim is to enlarge their mass/support base by undertaking development work and garnering the support of the civil liberty groups. In addition, they indulge in rendering instant justice through ‘Jan Adalat’s’. The movement has strengthened itself in the forest areas and in areas marked by lack of governance.
Naxalites hold ‘Jan Adalat’s’ to dispose of the criminal and civil cases and, then, dispense justice by settlement of disputes and punishing the offenders. For this, the PWG has introduced a new ‘Judicial System’ by forming the ‘People’s Court’, i.e., the Gram Rajya Committee and subsequently ‘Revolutionary People’s Committee’, as an alternate judicial system. The ‘Judicial Department’ i.e. ‘Sangham’ comprising three to five members with a ‘People’s Protection Squad’ at its disposal, delivers judgments and sentences, including fines and imprisonment in a temporary designated lock-up in the village, apart from awarding capital punishment. The Dandakaranya Adivasi Mazdoor Kisan Sangh (DAKMS) and the Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sanghatan (KAMS) are two specific Naxal front organisations that are entrusted with the task of looking into all disputes.
STATE’S RESPONSE TO NAXALITE CHALLENGE
Government failed to understand the reasons behind the Naxalite Movement. Initially the response of the central as well as the state government, was that this was a problem of law and order. The government completely failed to understand the situation and this can be borne out by the statement made in LokSabha by Home Minister Y.B. Chavan, On June 13 1967, where he stated that “This was a case of lawlessness and should be contained and crushed by the local police force”. Even Manmohan Singh who served as the Prime Minister stated that “What was thought to be a brief period of discontent has today grown into becoming India’s biggest threat to internal security.
GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO UNDERSTAND THE REASONS BEHIND THE NAXALITE MOVEMENT & ORIGINS OF DISCONTENT
The initial response of the state government and subsequently, the central government, was that this was a ‘law & order’ problem and believed that the uprising would be short lived and could be crushed with force in a short period of time. The government completely failed to read the situation and this is borne out by the statement in Lok Sabha on June 13 1967, by the then Home Minister Y.B.Chavan, where he stated that this was a case of lawlessness and should be contained and crushed by the local police force.
Unfortunately, this was to remain symptomatic of all subsequent governments at the state and centre, with very little effort to address the root cause of mass discontent that drew people to join the Naxalite movement. What was thought to be a brief period of discontent has today grown into becoming Indian’s biggest threat to internal security as stated by PM Manmohan Singh in 2008.
Extreme poverty, exploitation of lower and backward castes by the upper classes and denial of social justice and opportunity to the exploited classes were the main reasons of simmering discontent among the masses.
Since Independence, the government has focused on improving agricultural output without simultaneously addressing social disparity that was actually widening as a result of improved agricultural returns. This was not a problem restricted to Bengal but all across India. Once the government abolished the Zamindari system, what took its place were large landowners who rapidly prospered while the masses remained mostly landless and without any means of food or income.
The gap between the landowners and the landless had begun to widen, while the government has continued to focus on improving agriculture at the cost of equitable social development. In several parts of India, the poverty levels are as high as 95.8%, while several tribal areas in central, east and south east India still remain underdeveloped even after 68 years of Independence. These areas have, therefore, attracted the masses to leftist ideology with many actively joining the Naxalite movement.
PRESENT DOMAIN OF NAXALISM
The exponential spread of Naxal influence has now engulfed 231 districts or 20 states as compared to 182 districts or 16 states earlier, which indeed gives a pan-India hue to the Naxal movement. The Naxals’ consolidation along the axis of the projected ‘Red Corridor’ or the ‘Compact Revolutionary Zone’ (CRZ) highlights the long-term objectives of the outfit. The Naxals’ aim is to upgrade their armed wing from a ‘Guerrilla Force’ to a regular ‘People’s Army’.
LAWS MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT
The main aim of this act is to minimize the displacement of people and to promote non-displacing or least displacing alternatives (Dharmadhikary, 2010). The objective of this act is to ensure that proper care is been taken of the weaker sections of the society. On 11 October 2007 the government issued a rehabilitation policy for the easy displacement of people who lost their land for industrial growth. According to this policy land will be given for the exchange of the land, in future jobs will be given to at least to one member of the family, also they will be providing them with the housing benefits vocational training and houses to people in urban and rural regions.
This act grants the rights to weaker sections of the society and the traditional forest dwellers. Forest dwellers are the people residing in the forest from past so many years, for their livelihood. Under this act forest dwellers are given various rights such as land rights, right to protect and conserve and rights to use. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has allowed conversion of kutcha roads into pukka roads and also allowed the use of 1 hectare of land for non-forest purposes.
This bill provides definition of unlawful activities, declaring an organization unlawful, formation of an advisory board wherever the state government feels the need for its establishment, procedure of the formation of the advisory board, action of the advisory board, penalties viz punishments even for not committing a crime, the power to notify a place being used for unlawful activities and taking occupation of such place thereof and revision/bar against intervention by the courts (Dr. Abid Ali, 2015). These laws have in many ways caused a lot of problems to the tribal’s and the scheduled castes by negating the spirit of the various safeguards available to the scheduled tribes under the constitution and other laws in the country. The act providing 'land for land' has become a nightmare for the government and has become a stumbling block for ensuring industrialisation. As per the Unlawful activities prevention act (UAPA) the government has banned all organisations that have any connections with any Naxal movements like the MCC or the CPI-M (Marxist-Leninist). There was no need of this bill to tackle Naxalism. This bill was formulated, only to silence the appropriate discord and dissent brewing in the minds of people in the areas affected by Naxalism due to persistent ignorance by the government to their situation. This Bill has also failed to make a distinction between the anti-social, anti-national elements from the people who are peace loving.
It provides the District Magistrate unconditional powers to notify places which he thinks are being used for unlawful activities without any prior notification. There is no requirement of production of anything as evidence to prove that the said place is being used for unlawful activities. It is just a violation of principles of natural justice as the aggrieved parties don't even get a fair hearing. This bill also provides that any revision application has to be filed with the High court only, challenging the validity of the order of the government. This petition has to be filed within 30 days and that no court has the jurisdiction against any decision of the court. Any kind of application or form of revision or injunction by a court or officer except for the High court and the Supreme Court regarding any action to be taken as a follow up to the order of the government has been barred in this Bill. So, it can be said that this bill was totally uncalled for and has only be brought to act as a blandishment to the people.
In 1967, Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal, became the centre of a Mao inspired militant peasant uprising guided by firebrand intellectuals. Today, Naxalism is no longer the Che Guevara-style revolution that it was. Spread across 15 of India's 28 states, it is one of the world's biggest, most sophisticated extreme-Left movements, and feeds off the misery and anger of the dispossessed. Since the late 1990s, hardly a week has passed without people dying in strikes and counter-strikes by the Maoists - interchangeably known as the Naxalites - and police and paramilitary forces." In this disturbing examination of the 'Other India', Sudeep Chakravarti combines political history extensive interviews and individual case histories as he travels to the heart of Maoist zones in the country: Chhattisgarh (home to the controversial state-sponsored Salwa Judum programme to contain Naxalism), Jharkhand, West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (where a serving chief minister was nearly killed in a landmine explosion triggered by the Naxalites). He meets Maoist leaders and sympathizers, policemen, bureaucrats, politicians, security analysts, development workers, farmers and tribals - people, big and small, who comprise the actors and the audience in this war being fought in jungles and impoverished villages across India. What emerges is a sobering picture of a deeply divided society, and the dangers that lie ahead for India.
The Naxilite movement is one of the important components in the political spectrum in India. At one stage, the 'spring thunder' caused tremors in practically all the states of the Union and posed a serious challenge even to the democratic structure. The Idealists saw in it the beginning of a new world, a new socio-economic order. But soon sordid politics took over. The movement, however continues to have a large support base because of the intellectual appeal of its ideology. It has survived more than a quarter century of onslaught by the security forces - without any external support, unlike the Punjab terrorism and Kashmir militancy. The Movement has developed an inherent strength. The present book is the only one of its kind. It covers all the important developments from the inception of the Movement in 1967 to the present day in historical sweep.
MY LESSON FROM THE PROJECT
For dealing effectively with the naxal problem, I feel an entirely police and security oriented approach is not enough. While it is necessary to conduct proactive and sustained operations against the extremists, it is more important to simultaneously give focussed attention to development and governance issues in the affected areas. Towards this end, there is need to develop short term programmes such as effective implementation of the PDS and some medium and long term measures for overall development of the area. Moreover, land reforms must be pursued sincerely. The problem should be realised in its entirety and should not merely become an exercise in political expediency. It is not enough to award the land to landless, but equally important to ensure it is cultivable, remains in their possession and is inheritable.
However, the government is trying to do its best. There is continuous and intense monitoring, reviews and discussions at the highest level including the Prime Minister. There are various committees formed at the Chief Ministers level, Cabinet Secy level, Chief Secretary level etc. There is also an Inter Ministerial group headed by Addl Secy (Naxal Management) in the Home Ministry which oversees effective implementation of developments issues in naxalite affected areas for accelerated socio economic development. Under Centre’s direct assistance to states are schemes such as the Modernisation of Police Force Scheme, Security related expenditure Scheme, deployment of central para military forces, scheme for raising ‘India Reserve Battalions’, Backward Districts Initiative, Backward Districts Grant Fund and a host of other development schemes.
Great amount of money is being pumped by the government into these schemes. In totality, the various schemes provide an immense opportunity to address the development aspects relevant to the naxalite affected areas, provided the implementation is done in a systematic and qualitative manner and closely monitored.
The Naxalite Movement in India emerged to address the exploitation faced by the tribal community in India. Reasons like exploitation of tribals by the rich zamindars, corruption by the government officials,displacement of tribals from land by falsely alleging encroachment and failure of proper governance in the areas like Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh etc lead to the formation and continuance of the movement. It later spread due to the effective propagandas used by the Naxalites in mobilising people, which they made sure appealed to them, and pointed out the flaws in the existing governance. The Naxalites derive strength from the failure of governance mechanisms. It wins over people by pointing out that the elected government cannot effectively govern them and picks up such issues to use in their own favour. The under developed state of education and employment opportunities in the affected areas also contribute to the recruitment of people into the outfit, The Naxalites finance themselves through taxes and levies collected from the local people, looting of government treasuries and banks and also extort vast amounts from businessmen, miners, industries, political leaders, government officials, rich landlords and professionals. The funds must first be cut off for the outfit to stop functioning for without it will be impossible to carry out attacks. There must be awareness created to prevent the Naxalites from securing finances for the sustenance of the movement. The government must extend its sovereignty upon the ‘liberated areas’ captured by the Naxals and prevent them from capturing or accessing more areas. The government must also include the support of the Government of Nepal to curb the influence of its Nepali counterpart on it and prevent the extension of the proposed ‘red corridor’.
The Naxals reached out to the people, understood them, took up their issues and fought for their dignity and rights. They earned goodwill among the tribals and the downtrodden by fighting for them. The Naxalite Movement started with a noble objective to protect the rights of the tribals, but its extremism and violence deterred it from becoming an accepted revolution. The tackling of the threat to internal security, as a result of this movement must start with government addressing the problems faced by the tribals and ensure that their rights are protected. The central and eastern parts of the country are relatively underdeveloped as compared to other parts of India, both industrially and agriculturally. The areas also lag behind in almost all human development indicators. Hence, efforts must be made by the government to tackle the disparities in the social system. The government must take immediate steps to eliminate poverty, ensure speedy development and enforce law and order strictly and initiate welfare programs for the tribals in all parts of India. Naxal groups have been raising mainly land and livelihood related issues. If land reforms are taken up on a priority basis and the landless and poor in the Naxal areas are allotted the surplus land, this would go a long way in tackling the developmental aspects of the Naxal problem. Greater attention on this area and also speeding up developmental activities and create employment opportunities in the Naxal affected areas, with special focus on the creation of physical infrastructure in terms of roads, communication, power as also social infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, etc would go a long way in tackling the issue. In my opinion, the Naxalites today are far more radicalised than they were when they first began and this leads to a greater chance of increased violence. Before the government retaliates, it must address the core issues on which this movement is based, eradicate or solve them and then further work towards restricting the existence and spread of Naxalism. The government must also resort to publicity campaigns in order to expose the unlawful activities and misdeeds of Naxal outfits and their leaders, use of violence and armed struggle, loss of human life and property and absence of developmental activities in the affected areas due to fear of, and extortion by, Naxal cadres, etc. It must aim at finding loopholes in the strategy and tactics in the modus operandi of Naxalites in the State. Furthermore, an attractive and all-encompassing surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy will have a great psychological effect on the Naxals who seem far removed from their ideology.
The Times of India, 24 August 2018. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/fight-naxalites-like-maharashtras-c-60-does-govt-tells-forces-states/articleshow/65523039.cms
The Economic Times, 25 July, 2018. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/odishas-surrender-rehab-policy-that-has-worked/articleshow/65139437.cms
The India Today report, 06 January, 2011. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/insider-says-maoists-helped-mamata-stir-the-nandigram-pot-126090-2011-01-06
Article by Shrey Verma, TheFar-Reaching Consequences of the Naxalite Movement in India, RakshakFoundation, July 2011
Article by Dhruv C Katoch, Naxalism in India: Prognosis and Cure, CLAWSjournal, Winter 2012
Article by M. Manoranjan, Revolutionary Violence, New Delhi, 1977