INDIA: The Naxalite Movement
By Sabena Siddiqui
The Naxalite movement is India’s largest insurgency, second only to the Kashmir movement yet virtually unknown to the world in general.
It started in 1967 and has been continuing to defy the state of India for the longest time.
India houses one of the largest poor populations in the world, the benefits of ‘Shining India ’ do not reach 90 per cent of Indians, economic growth in India has not trickled down.
India grows only sector-wise, it has been called the poorest nation in the world according to a World Bank report last year.
According to Naxal plans, the elite rich are to be overthrown and there is to be an equal distribution of wealth attained by employing Mao’s “protracted people’s war” strategy.
The Naxalite movement is an armed agrarian revolutionary war aiming to attain area-wise seizure of power, the modus operandi is to encircle cities from the countryside and then finally capture them. The revolution is sustained by class and caste tensions and a general sense of desperation due to poor economic and social conditions.
In 2004, two Naxal /Maoist groups joined to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Since 2011, CPI(M) is leading the state government in Tripura, it also leads the Left Front coalition of leftist parties in other states and parliament.
Since 2004, Maoist insurgents are better equipped with weapons and properly trained in guerilla warfare.
Lower castes and marginal groups low in the social hierarchy also form its support base.
Naxalites have formed sympathetic student groups in universities, and human-rights groups,their ideology attracts not only peasants but the urban educated, also it is rare to find an illiterate Naxal, they easily talk people into joining their ranks.
The movement is on the rise and its influence among the poor is only growing, it also benefited from the ongoing drought in India which affects peasants drastically.
Difficulties like starvation and disease brought more farmers into the folds of the Naxalite movement.
The government has not given peasants any relief ,270,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1995. Naxalites claim support by the poorest rural populations, especially Adivasis.
Modi might find it difficult to repress the Naxal might , discontent will only grow among the lower classes as there is no way he can provide half a million jobs every year or a good economy for the fastest growing population in the world.
Today it is one of the strongest revolutionary leftist movements in the world, comparable to that in the Philippines, Peru and Nepal.
The Naxals were highly repressed, they were tortured and their leaders were killed but today 14 out of India’s 28 states are affected by their dangerous presence.
The Naxals want to topple the Indian state by force and first intended to achieve this by 1975 but have since compromised and now aspire to control India by 2016 or thereabouts.
In September 2008, the Union Home Ministry approved a proposal to set up a new commando force to fight the Naxals and recruit and train 10,000 personnel for the elite force.
This elite force was to infiltrate the Maoist territories in small groups. This force was named the Cobra Unit , after its deployment the insurgency in the Red Corridor increased against all expectations. The Indian security forces began a major offensive against the Naxalites last year, using satellite technology large areas of India were mapped.
Altogether more than 80000 security forces were deployed to recapture Naxalite areas. Indian government even ordered a number of sophisticated UAVs from U.S to spearhead the operation.
The latest tactic of the Naxals was implanting IEDs in dead bodies of their adversaries to cause more casualties.
This ‘Body trap’ strategy of the Maoists has never been witnessed before in the history of the Naxal Movement.
They keep employing new tactics constantly which makes them even more unpredictable and dangerous, it has even been claimed they learn tactics from Hollywood action movies and their mercenaries are given CDs to watch and pick up methods from. They employ a wide range of low-intensity guerrilla tactics against government institutions, officials, security forces and paramilitary groups.
In the last two years, the Naxals have definitely become more lethal in the area of Chhattisgarh, Home Ministry data has the statistics. Naxal activities in Jharkhand are at an all-time high as well, more lives have been lost in Naxal violence in Jharkhand than in Chhattisgarh.
In the past two years alone, there have been 863 Naxal attacks in Jharkhand. As many as 254 civilians, 59 security personnel and 19 Naxals have been killed.
Now Naxalites are active in 40% of India’s land area, they are active in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal states.
The Naxals almost run a parallel government ,anyone who understands Maoist tactics needs no specific intelligence inputs to know that anyone could be the target of an attack in what is referred to as the Red Corridor.
Most political parties survive in Naxal areas by bribing them to stay safe.
The Naxals are a big threat to business and industry as some of the railways and mining towns are in their strongholds, they constantly sabotage roads by planting improvised explosive devices under road surfaces or simply digging roads up.
Naxalites view roads as a means for the government to send its forces into their territory, so it does not let the Indian government start any development projects.
Dr Bibhu Prasad Routray, who was deputy director in the National Security Council Secretariat says that the commando operation in Naxal areas failed due to poor intelligence gathering. India,s then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh labeled the Naxalites “the biggest internal security challenge” to India.
In his tenure, Naxals attacked a political rally in the state of Chattisgarh, brutally madsacring 28 ministers as punishment for Sonia Gandji,s unjust policies against the poor and ordering extra-judicial killings.
The biggest Naxal attack then was in April , 2010 when at least 75 personnel of CRPF were killed in an ambush by Naxalites in Chhattisgarh.
Vietnamese and Israeli help was also sought by the Indian government to learn tactics for guerrilla warfare operations against the Naxalites.
Naxalites are no more confined to traditional weapons and are better equipped than the police forces, they use latest modern communication gadgets to track police movements.
Gathering intelligence Naxalites interact with Maoists from Nepal, secessionists in India’s restive northeast, Islamists from Bangladesh, criminals from Myanmar and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam LTTE in Sri Lanka.
The Indian media seems to be in a sorry state of affairs, the Naxals carried out 863 attacks in Jharkand in two years and the media hardly reported these developments.
Attacks were being carried out every two days and Indian media gave next to no coverage , this makes one wonder whether there is there some kind of censor policy enforced by the Indian government.
How can the Indian media not notice the insurgencies India is surrounded with? Kashmir freedom movement has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
The north-eastern states are wracked by dozens of secessionist movements.
The seven states of northeastern India also called the Seven Sisters are significantly different, ethnically and linguistically from the rest of India.
These states are rocked by numerous armed and violent insurgencies, seeking separate statehood, autonomy or outright independence, mostly due to government neglect.
These include Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.
The Tamil struggle continues till date and is gaining momentum each passing day.
India has in all, an estimated 30 armed insurgency movements sweeping across the country.
There are 16 belligerent groups and 68 major organization as terrorist groups in India, which include: nine in the northeast Seven Sisters, four in the center & the east including Maoist/ Naxalites,seventeen in the west Sikh separatist groups, and 38 in the northwest Kashmir.
The Naxalite problem is in certain respects more serious than the Kashmir problem. Naxal leaders , when looking into the future, dream of seeing the red flag fly over the Red Fort in Delhi in their lifetime.
All this going on and the Indian media turns a blind eye until news leaks out.
India has always feared outside powers would manipulate grassroots rebel groups in India and further destabilize an already regionalized country.
In 2011, Indian police accused the Chinese government of providing sanctuary to the movement’s leaders.
Alarmist visions linking Naxalites to militant groups supposedly backed by Pakistan,India’s main geopolitical rival are the ultimate nightmare scenario for India.
India actually needs to do some introspection and find out where it went wrong instead of blaming others.
Pakistani media has never faced any impediment in creating news stories out of random events while the Indian media cannot see even major insurgencies.
The FATA areas remained a hot topic many a time in Pakistan though attacks there were never even close to the rate of attacks by the Naxals in India.
There is much more terrorism in India than in Pakistan , many rampant insurgencies, an alarming poverty rate and dangerous rape and crime ratio.
Still tourism flourishes there, thanks to the ‘ostrich in the sand ‘ policy of the Indian media and the government,s hush-hush policy. Indian media presents a censored version of the news aimed at downplaying the Naxal crisis brewing at home.
It is highly unlikely that this ostrich in the sand attitude will wish away the Naxalites.
Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights, New Delhi, says that ‘India is at war with itself’.
Until the Indian government implements employment, poverty alleviation and land reform programmes, counterinsurgency measures cannot achieve much…
Using strong-arm tactics on the Naxalites is not advisable as they have grassroots support of millions of victimised Indians.
In the present globalized world where terrorism and human rights are talked about a lot, surprisingly the Naxalite movement is overlooked on both counts.
Neither terrorist acts by Naxalites nor their deliberate oppression by the Indian Government has attracted international attention, the names of these insurgencies are never taken on international forums.
Thinktank Stratfor informed India a few years back that irrespective of the Maoist movement appearing to be fairly contained in India, they could develop the “tradecraft for urban terrorism”,’
In this situation, what if the Naxals get access to India’s already scantily protected nuclear assets , seeing the huge failings in Indian nuclear security.
So India is actually sitting on a time-bomb which is slowly ticking away until the time comes that they capture major Indian cities. ‘Shining India’ is a myth, existing only in the minds of Indian journalists and television anchors who have glorified it unrealistically.
With this attitude, India is a security risk for itself and for the world
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