Over the past 60 years, India has confronted three major domestic insurgencies. These insurgencies occurred in Jammu and Kashmir, North East states and central parts of India. Among them social and economic class based violence central and eastern regions are considered very serious in nature. This raw aggression is known as Naxalite or Maoist insurgency. In a broad sense, Naxalite movement is often termed as a social movement in India in the post-independence years. The members of the revolutionary movement are mostly tribals and peasants who believe they win the war against government through war.
As per available reports, the estimated armed cadre strength of the left-wing extremist groups is around 8000-9000. India’s central and eastern parts, home to about 84 million adivasi (indigenous people), since the place is rich in mineral resources mainly in the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, mining activity pose a threat to their livelihoods. Most of them are farmers or landless peasants and depend on the forest for livelihood. They feel the government is exploiting the hidden treasures located under the forest.
What are the causes for Naxal movements?
Deprivation of livelihood, hunger, starvation, ill health is the primary reasons for naxal insurgency. They believe that the poor citizens of the India are yet to have freedom from hunger and deprivation and they continue to struggle from the exploitation of the rich landlords, industrialists and traders who control the means of production. Due to these reasons, naxal target all representatives of the state like politicians, the police and other officials. They even target the landlords and village functionaries.
History of Naxal Movements
Telangana Uprising (1946-51) gave communist groups, an opportunity to mobilize the people on the principle of armed struggle. In the late 1950’s, it began to spread as communist peasant revolts against rich landlords. Over a period of time, it later evolved into a combination of ethnic, caste, and class based political violence. It became known as Naxalism or the Naxalite movement, due to the independence in the small village named ‘Naxalbari’ in the state of West Bengal. The 1967 Naxalbari uprising against feudal landlords saw the rise of insurgency in India. Peasants were led by leaders Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal. In 1968, the movement re-emerged in a larger form in the northern parts of Andhra Pradesh. Here, the members of the naxal movements seized property, killed landlords. These members crushed by 1970. But once again in the late 1980s, the Naxal Movement saw numerous splits and few mergers. Numerous factions led to the spread of the ideology of Naxalism a large number of young people including the students. During this period, almost 200-250 revolutionary journals and publications were brought out which further fueled the spread of the naxal movements. Second Phase of merger and consolidation happened in 1980, Kondapalli Seetharamaiah a prominent leader separated from the CPI (ML) and founded the People’s War Group (PWG), in Andhra Pradesh. 1980-90’s were filled with the uprising and crushing of the naxal forces. Despite losing several hundred personnel, naxal once again emerged.
In 2004, the People’s war and MCCI merged resulting in the formation of the largest and most lethal Naxalite outfit in India, known as CPI (Maoist). The new combination had an estimated strength of 9,500. In 2014, the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Naxalbari also merged into the CPI (Maoist). Currently, this group has been declared as Terrorist Organization
How naxal insurgency continues to survive?
One the primary reasons for the survival of the naxal is the local support, which makes difficult for the security forces to get accurate information about the insurgents. Besides, the naxal get information about the movement of the forces through villagers and some government officials. Here are some the reasons:
Good knowledge about topography
Insurgents have thorough knowledge about the area they are in, whether it is hill, forest etc. For example, about 44 per cent of Chhattisgarh is covered under forest, hills and plateaus. Naxals launch their operations in the nearby areas and flee into the forests. The Naxals are very well aware of the topography of the forest land and the hills. The paramilitary force employed to contain them struggle to keep pace with the naxals as they lack accurate knowledge of the terrain.
Supply of weapons
Naxal procure arms in several ways including raids in a police station or by buying small guns from local people. They also bribe security forces sell their firearms. Many naxal groups make their own arms from small manufacturing units. Besides, they smuggle arms and ammunitions through the porous international borders with Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Using tribal as human shield
Despite getting intelligence inputs, security forces are hindered by the presence of tribal men as human shields. Naxals put up children and women as human shield against an advancing team of security forces.
Lack of quality roads
Lack of good quality proves to be the major stumbling block for security forces for their movements. With the lack of roads, security forces unable to mobilise the troops despite getting sufficient inputs about an impending attack.
What are the solutions?
Most tribal and marginalized peoples live in abject poverty, despite, the national GDP growth rate of India is 7.2 percent. Tribal regions of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar suffer from various problems. So a comprehensive rural reform plan should be created and it must ensure government’s commitment to developing rural infrastructure like road networks, power services, and irrigation facilities, facilitating rural integration into the urban areas. Government must also ensure increased political participation of the people through improved access to the political system. It should also provide for the promotion of electoral participation among tribals, since lack of proper electoral representation of the tribal and under-privileged people led to the disenfranchisement of people with government. Adequate emotional and psychological reform must be carried out to restore the confidence of victims and rebels alike toward the government. Government should avoid enemy-centric approach and follow military operations combined with creative with peace deal with adequate financial compensation. A peace deal, if properly executed, will go a long way in both ensuring the development of Naxal belt districts.