Maoist Movement in India: Readjusting to ‘Operation Green Hunt’?

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Introduction

At a time when India is aspiring to become a world power, the internal destabilisation incurred by the country due to various conflicts has become a major concern for peace and economic growth.   The conflicts in north eastern region, Jammu and Kashmir and the regions affected by left wing extremism (LWE)/Maoists/Naxalite movement dominate the security discourse in India. Significantly, despite the proscription of the CPI-Maoist[1] in seven Indian States - West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand - the Maoist-related violence has come close to the other conflict theaters (Jammu & Kashmir, Northeast region) since 2006.

The Maoist movement, which started from a peasant and tribal uprising against landlords at Naxalbari village in Darjeeling district of West Bengal in 1967, has influenced over 106 districts in nine States - Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. The Maoists have already targeted over 400 police stations in these States out of a total of 12,700 police stations in India.[2]  In addition, by the end of 2011 the outfit planned to spread to three more states - Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.[3] Media reports have indicated that the rebels have been trying to revive their movements in Telangana and Andhra-Odisha border region as well. 

Although the present phase of the Maoist movement is restricted to some tribal pockets and Maoist related incidents have come down in the last five years, both the State and rebels claim tactical victory. The rebels claim that they have reduced their military campaigning as a tactics to readjust to the changing socio-economic and political landscape in India.[4] Since the radical views or political line has failed to achieve desired results in the last 57 years and experiences from other countries on similar line have been unsuccessful, the party perhaps has been trying to apply the moderate line to revive the movement in India. On the other hand, the state agencies claim that they have been successful in their approach to contain the conflict.[5]

In reality, despite multiple efforts from the State to bring the conflict to an end, the movement has sustained since 1967. Although the movement has been confined to a few pockets in India, intense state actions against the rebels has helped the movement to revive each time with new tactics by readjusting with the State’s response. The Maoist attacks on government and MNC installations in Kerala in December 2014, successful hijacking of passenger bus in Chhattisgarh on the Republic Day in 2015, attacks on the CRPF in Sukma and holding of training and recruitment camps indicate that the military campaigning of the outfit is overtaking political campaigning. There are also reports that the Maoists have been trying to revive the movement in tri-junction of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra-Odisha border region.[6]

Testing of Conflict Duration

Conflict theory analysts often argue that an average life span of a conflict or insurgency is 10-20 years due to various factors. Western analysts have analyzed that duration of the conflict last longer, if: (1) the rebel base is located in remote area,[7] (2) the affected State is big, (3) there are more mountainous terrain in a State, (4) the State adheres to more democratic principles, (5) external forces support the rebels, (6) the State is weaker, and (7) the State is under political transition or is newly independent.[8] Except for factors 2 and 6, none of the other factors apply in case of India. Besides, LWE in India has revived and sustained due to fault-lines in India’s federal structure, especially due to the feature of distribution of power between center and states, which resulted into incoherence state responses against the rebels, failure to evolve a consensus to identify and understand the conflict and deviation of State from its responsibility as a regulator to a facilitator (although unconsciously) in the post economic reform period.

This paper analyses in particular the state of Maoist conflict in India in the last five years. Also, the paper delves into factors to find a co-relation between the growing Maoist related incidents and trends. Given the fact that 106 districts are affected by the insurgency, and it is the “single biggest internal security challenge,”[9] it is pertinent to analyse the recent changes in Maoist strategy and activities to understand its presence in the country. The study examines how the new tactics affect the conflict dynamics in India and what would be the State’s response to that.

Historical Background

The history of the Left Wing Extremist movement in India can be divided into four phases: (i) Naxalite Phase (1967-1972) (ii)  Dormant or Splinter group phase (1972-1980) (iii) Dominance of People’ War Group and United Front (1980-2004) (iv) CPI-Maoist (2004 onwards).

Naxalite Phase

In the first phase, the Naxalites fought against the land owners and demanded ‘land to the tiller.’ The strategy was elimination of the feudal system in the Indian countryside to free the poor peasants from the clutches of the oppressive landlords by Protracted People’s War (PPW) and replace the old system with a Communist society that would implement land reforms. The tactics to achieve this was through guerilla warfare by the peasants, small land owners, youths and tribal to eliminate the landlords and build up resistance against the State's police force. However, the Naxalite movement came down in its intensity drastically in the early 1970’s due to the State’s repressive actions,   ideological degeneration, factionalism, failure to choose the right political line with changing domestic, regional and global changes and also due to sudden death of Charu Mazumdar, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).

 

Splinter Group Phase

Apart from the state repression, several splits within the Naxalite movement in the 1970s weakened its capacity to resist the police offensive. In fact, many followers of Charu Mazumdar had opposed his tactics of assassination of individual ‘class enemies.’ His indifference towards important social organizations like the trade unions (that isolated the Naxalites from the industrial workers) and the growing bureaucratization of the party organization brought divisions amongst the cadres. As a result, the Communist Party of India, Marxist Leninist (CPI M-L) split into several factions with growing instances of infighting.

People’ War Group and United Front

The LWE movement resurfaced in 1980 in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu under the leadership of K. Seetharamaiah with a new organization named CPI (ML)-People’s War Group. Although the movement started with the old demand of ‘land to the tiller,’ later, tribal rights, forest  and industrialization issues became dominant demands  with the passing of forest bills in the 1980s and economic reforms introduced in July 1991. Since the slogan of  ‘land to the tiller’ did not catch people’s attention in the post economic reforms era, the Naxalites introduced the slogan of Jal, Zamin and Jungle due to rapid industrialization and foreign direct investments in forest areas. The Naxalites even gave importance to governance and corruption issues and attacks on dalits to seek support of the masses.

Thus over the years, there has been qualitative change in the Maoists’ political demands from “land to the tiller” to “anti-globalization” to seeking public support.  In a document titled "New Challenges: Our Perspectives," meant for internal circulation, the CPI-Maoist emphasized the need for a re-look at the Indian scenario and then redefine its strategies and field tactics. The reappraisal attributed to the mismatch between their forms of struggle and the prevailing social conditions. The document also observed that the 1980s and 1990s witnessed the peak of the Naxalite movement in India when different segments of society such as students, workers, peasants, women and to some extent the middle class too became effective tools of revolution. The contributions of students and workers dominated the movement.[10]

But by the early 2000, inflow into the Naxalite movement from these two vital segments almost dried up due to employment opportunities in the private sector as India adopted liberal economic policies. The CPI-Maoist introspected its performances to deal with the emerging situation. There was also a visible change in the Maoists’ tactics and target groups. Ideologically, they had been targeting security forces, government officials, corporate houses, landlords, railway establishments and other institutions in the name of class struggle. A new support base was added when the Maoists extended support to those people who were internally displaced due to formalization of mega projects in the country. This new group was added to the list due to lack of support from students and workers. The rapid industrialization and investments in mining sector increased the funding sources.

Since 2000 onwards the Maoists also engaged in a tactics of seeking support from the displaced local tribal groups and minority groups in India. The cadre recruitment among these tribal groups to the Naxalite outfits has been steadily increasing, so also the sympathy from the common people. Significantly, three states – Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand -- pursued aggressive industrial policy to entice private investors since 2001. Most of the investors were establishing projects in tribal dominated-areas. Simultaneously, these states have been witnessing steady increase in Maoist violence and organized protests against some mega projects and rapid industrialization.

Moreover, violence cannot be the only criterion to judge Naxalite presence and activities.  The level of violence depends on the significance of the region in the context of achieving Maoists political goal. Therefore, the Maoists tactics is not “limited to the areas of immediate violence, nor does this threat vanish if violence is not manifested at a particular location for a specific period of time.”[11] The Maoists also do not abruptly launch  'armed struggle' or violence, but are known for gradual consolidation, including a preliminary study of local social, economic and political conditions and the vulnerabilities of particular sections of the population for mobilization.

CPI-Maoist phase

As part of the united front program to take the movement to a higher level and have a pan India presence, the PWG and the MCC merged on September 16, 2004 and formed the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). The merger increased the geographical reach, cadre strength, new attack tactics and fire power of the outfit. “With the merger, the Party’s fighting capacity [grew] considerably, and, as a result, its effective striking power multiplie[d], thereby benefiting the masses.  The number of attacks on police stations, jails and government installations were increased.”[12] In a press release the central committee of the CPI-Maoists stated, “The last ten years have seen a massive upsurge of people’s movements all across the country. Workers, peasants, the middle classes, dalits, adivasi, women, religious minorities, nationalities, students and youth, other oppressed classes and sections carried out militant struggles. The party was actively involved in many of these and extended support to others.”[13] Following are the major attacks undertaken by the CPI-Maoist in post-merger period:

  • November 13, 2005: The CPI-Maoist launched simultaneous attacks in the jail, police lines and a paramilitary camp at Jehanabad.
  • March 24, 2006: Around 200 armed cadres of the CPI-Maoist attacked a police station, a camp of the Orissa State Armed Police, the local jail and a bank at Ramagiri Udayagiri town in the Gajapati district.
  • October 27, 2007:  18 persons, including the son of former Jharkhand Chief Minister, Babulal Marandi, were killed by the CPI-Maoist at Chilkhadia village in Giridih district.
  • February 15, 2008: The CPI-Maoist attacked a Police Training School (PTS), the district armory and district police station in the Nayagarh district of Odisha. 14 police personnel and a civilian were killed and four policemen were wounded in the attack.  
  • June 29, 2008:  35 security force personnel belonging to the Greyhounds from Andhra Pradesh were killed in a CPI-Maoist attack in the Chitrakonda reservoir of Malkangiri district of Odisha.
  • November 8, 2009: The CPI-Maoist killed four Security personnel of the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) and looted  arms near a police camp close to a school in Gidhni Bazaar area under the jurisdiction of Jamboni Police Station in West Midnapore District of West Bengal
  • April 6, 2010: 75 CRPF personnel and a State policeman were killed in an attack by the CPI-Maoist in Dantewada District, Chhattisgarh.
  • July 20, 2011: CPI-Maoist blew up a bridge at Udanti near Devbhog, about 175 kilometers east of Raipur District in Chhattisgarh, killing eight Congress Party workers.
  • May 25, 2013: Around 28 persons, including former Union Minister V C Shukla, were killed when CPI-Maoist cadres ambushed a convoy of the leaders inside a dense forest in Sukma District.

Despite these spectacular attacks, the outfit lost major leaders from November 2009 onwards. The situation changed with the implementation of ‘operation green hunt’ (OGH) in the worst affected regions of the country in November 2009. In the 10 years of the CPI-Maoist formation, 2,332 comrades, including members of the politbureau and central committee (CC) were killed.[14] While between 2005 to 2009 only three CC members were killed (other than state and district committee members), more top leaders were targeted in post 2009 period under OGH. Many top leaders of the outfit either surrendered or were arrested by the security agencies. Some cases are stated under:

  • May 24, 2009: CC member Pradesh Patel Sudhakar Reddy alias Suryam was shot dead in Andhra Pradesh
  • July 2, 2010:  Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad a politburo and CC member, was killed near Jogapur in the Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh.   
  • November 24, 2011:  Politburo member and CC member Mallojula Koteswara Rao alias Kishanji was shot dead in Kushaboni forest in West Midnapore district of West Bengal. 

Similarly, the State lost around 1821 security personnel and 4554 civilians since 2005 due to the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC)[15] of Maoists. The TCOC was declared in regular intervals between 2007 and 2009. In the post-merger period, the outfit also adopted some new tactics like strengthening its movement in big cities (Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad) and extending support to minority issues, demand for new states and displacement issues, thereby enlarging the popular support that they appealed to.

Maoist Related Fatalities Since 2005

Years

Incidents

Civilians

SF

Rebels

Total

2005

1608

524

153

225

902

2006

1509

521

157

274

952

2007

1565

460

236

141

837

2008

1591

490

231

199

920

2009

2258

591

317

220

1128

2010

2213

720

285

172

1177

2011

1760

469

142

99

710

2012

1412

300

114

74

488

2013

1129

282

115

100

497

2014*

942

197

71

58

326

Total

15987

4554

1821

1562

 

 

Source: Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. * Data till November 2014.

Urban Front

The CPI-Maoist and other LWE outfits carried out 'structural changes' in their movement by creating the support structures in big cities and urban areas in a tactical attempt to adapt to the changed socio-economic and security scenario. The Maoists have set up base in cities to act as a supply-line and to build public support structure to their organization. Union Home Ministry expressed concern at the spurt in ‘over ground mass organizations’ of Naxalites in urban areas. The move to urban areas, the Ministry observed, is aimed at supplementing the rural base in several significant ways.[16] The then Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on December 5, 2006 in Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian Parliament, said “Like forests provide safe hideouts to Naxalites in tribal areas, the cities also provide them cover. Taking advantage of this, they plan to target major installations in cities.”[17] The Maoists in a document called "Urban Perspective Document" mentioned about their tactics in the urban areas by drawing up guidelines and for the revival of a mobilization effort targeting students and the urban unemployed to upgrade the movement towards the New Democratic Revolution (NDR). Other objectives of this plan perhaps to generate funding and identification of safe shelter for the leaders. In this regard, they initially had identified two principal 'industrial belts' - Bhilai-Ranchi-Dhanbad-Calcutta and Mumbai-Pune-Surat-Ahmedabad - as targets for urban mobilization.[18]                                                                         

Over the last 44 years, the Maoists have been giving an impression that they are fighting for justice, tribal welfare and good governance. They benefit from the view of some political leaders, intellectuals and civil society members that Maoism in India is due to socio-economic problems and that needs to be addressed with the development approach. However, the reason for Maoist presence in urban areas is very much linked to the CPI-Maoist’s objective of “capture political power”. Responding to a media question: “Is your goal tribal welfare or political power?” former Maoist leader Kishanji had replied to Tehelka in November 2009 that “It [is] political power”. Article 4 of the CPI-Maoist constitution states, “The immediate aim of the party is to accomplish the New Democratic Revolution …”.  Further, the party document on Strategy and Tactics notes that “the central task of the Indian revolution is the seizure of political power”.[19] There is no mention anywhere in the Maoist literature that the movement will end once social and economic infrastructure is strengthened in remote areas.

Since the Maoists’ ultimate goal is to capture political power by encircling cities with a strategy of protracted people’s war (PPW), urban areas figure prominently in their revolutionary agenda. Towards “urban uprising”, which figures in the Maoists’ strategic offensive phase, they wish to concentrate on building an organization of the working class. CPI-Maoist decided to intensify the people’s war by increasing its mass base across the country and strengthening its presence in urban areas.[20] The decision, taken at a leadership conclave held in the forests along the Jharkhand-Orissa border sometime in January–February 2007, was unanimous. The conclave resolved to expand the armed struggle from “guerrilla war” to “urban and mobile warfare”, focusing on industrial areas. It also created a five-member Urban Sub-Committee (USCO) with Kobad Ghandy as its head and tasked it to prepare the urban plan. This plan is guided by the Peru Communist Party’s (PCP) model on warfare in cities.[21]

The objective of targeting the urban areas could be to build a countrywide anti-State, anti-government united front during PPW and prepare the urban areas for “strategic offensive phase”.  Since the urban areas are dominated by class enemies, a strong urban revolutionary movement could be supportive of waging struggle consistently until PPW would reach the stage of strategic offensive. In this way, the PPW in rural areas would play the primary role and the urban workforce a complementary role. The Maoist document on “Urban Perspective” also notes that in cities and industrial townships forces of counter-revolution such as the police, army and other state organs are almost invincible. In such circumstances, to promote the Maoist agenda, the participation of the urban masses would be a sine qua non.[22]

Maoist presence has already been reported in Delhi, Gurgaon, NOIDA, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune, Nagpur, Surat, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Raipur, Durg, Patna, Hyderabad, Rourkela, Bhubaneswar, etc. Andhra police sources indicated that Naxalites want to make a “big impression” by carrying out a strike in Delhi or the National Capital Region. Maoists’ urban plan synchronizes very much with some of their recent activities in cities.

Some Maoist supporters who have been active in urban areas and have come under the police radar are:

  • Murali alias Ashok Satya Reddy, a top Maoist leader, and three other cadres, arrested on 9 May 2007 in Nagpur;
  • Kobad Ghandy, politbureau member, arrested in Delhi on 20 September 2009;
  • Sagar alias Shrinivas Venkatachalia, arrested in Ahmedabad in May 2010;
  • Sunil Mandiwal, a Delhi University faculty, detained on 4 April 2010;
  •  Gopal Mishra, a trade union leader of Delhi, and his wife, arrested on 29 March 2010;
  • Lakkaraju Satyanarayana Murty, arrested in Hyderabad on 23 March 2010;
  • Arvind Joshi, an alleged accomplice of Kobad Ghandy, arrested on 21 February 2010 with seven others at Kanpur;
  • Subhashree Panda alias Mili, who was allegedly in charge of fundraising and printing of Maoist literature, arrested on 15 January 2010 in Bhubaneswar.

 

The police has also identified another Delhi University faculty, G.N. Saibaba, and members of rights organizations such as Darshan Pal of the People’s Democratic Front of India, Rona Wilson, secretary of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, and Gautam Navlakha of the People’s Union for Democratic Rights as sympathisers.[23]

Some recent Maoist attacks have been carried out closer to cities, including one on an Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) security camp at Silda in West Medinipur district of West Bengal on 15 February 2010. Maoists carried out a similar attack on 15 February 2008 in Nayagarh, just 88 kilometres from the state capital. Earlier, Maoists had attacked the district headquarters and jails in Orissa and Bihar. On 24 March 2006, over 500 Maoists attacked the Orissa State Armed Police camp at R Udayagiri town in Gajapati district, looted arms, and managed to free 40 prisoners. In November 2005, over 300 armed Maoists raided the district jail in Jehanabad town and freed their comrades. Earlier, on 12 February 2004, over 500 Maoists simultaneously attacked the Koraput district headquarters and armoury. These attacks indicate that the Maoists are moving closer to cities and that semi-urban areas are vulnerable to their attacks. Police stations located close to highways and situated in semi-urban areas are their immediate targets.[24]

Urban areas would, however, pose serious challenges to the Maoist designs. The challenges stem from absence of strong social and political issues, support base, heavy presence of security forces and lack of terrain support to hide after major attacks. In urban areas the Maoists would be more dependent on their front organizations than on PLGA. It is likely that in the given circumstances they would in the short term focus mainly on organization building, fundraising and identification of organizations for a united front in the urban areas. During this phase, their tactics could be defensive. They would also try to seek support of urban intellectuals and students to justify their cause. In the interim period, smaller cities or satellite towns could become their immediate targets. An indicator to the growing Maoist presence in urban areas in the coming days would be the political campaigning – demonstrations, strikes and labour problems – dominating the Indian urban areas and industrial zones. This together with their newly adopted international campaigning may cripple the political and economic performance of India.

Fraternal linkages

Since the MCCI was a member of the RIM, the CPI-Maoist automatically became a member of the RIM. Under the RIM, the outfit got an opportunity to share strategy and guerrilla tactics with other MLM groups across the world.  It played a major role in the formation and functioning of the Co-ordination Centre of Maoist Parties and Organizations in South Asia (CCOMPOSA) in 2006 and merger of CPI (M-L) Naxalbari with the CPI-Maoist in 2013. During this period, the outfit also extended its linkages with non-Maoist outfits. It established links with the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) of Manipur on 22 October 2008. In a joint declaration, both the outfits vowed to “extend full morale and political support to each other in the liberation struggles to overthrow the common enemy, the Indian reactionary and oppressive regime, respectively.”[25]  The CPI-Maoist also welcomed the formation of the Maoist Communist Party of Manipur in 2012 and vowed to extend all kind of support to the new outfits to fight against the Indian state by unleashing a new democratic revolution in Manipur.[26]  For the first time the CPI-Maoist openly decaled its support to the Azadi movement in Kashmir. In a press release dated August 27, 2008, it extended support to the peoples of Kashmir by stating, “the CPI (Maoist) hails the glorious role of the people of Kashmir in their just struggle for national self-determination.”[27]

Apart from continuing its linkages with South Asian Maoist outfits, it also tried to seek public sympathy from other regions of the world. While earlier the outfit wanted to establish linkages with Maoist outfits operating in Europe and the US through the CPN (Maoist) of Nepal, the outfit established direct contacts through RIM after severing ties with the Nepali Maoists after the latter joined the mainstream politics. In this regard, the international committee supporting the people's war of the outfit organized a week-long international campaign in as many countries as possible. The purpose of such a campaigning was “advancement of unity of the international proletariat, of revolutionaries, democratic forces and oppressed peoples around the world.”[28] The campaigning gave desired results and the outfit organized a joint conference to seek international support for Maoist movement in India along with the Hamburg-based League Against Imperialist Aggression in November 2013. The outfit also attended the November 2012 Hamburg conference. In September 2014, the similar conference was organized in Milan. Presenting the status of the Maoist movement in India, the outfit shared that “our [India] countrywide movement is facing a very difficult condition… We [CPI--Maoist] suffered some losses, lost some ground temporarily while withdrawing in the face of superior forces… The Central Committee has formulated the basic tactics to overcome this situation.” [29]

Resistance against mega projects

India has been experiencing violent protest movements against the State in urban/semi-urban and special economic zone (SEZ) areas, where many development projects have come up in recent past. As many as 250 proposals to create SEZs in 21 states are awaiting approval from various state governments, and decisions on these are delayed mainly due to disputes over compensation for agricultural land acquired for the project purposes. The opposition to Nandigram and Singur SEZs in West Bengal came as a bonanza to the Naxalites in terms of increasing their support base. They could use similar tactics in other semi-urban and urban areas. In May 2007, police arrested a top Maoist leader, Murali alias Ashok Satya Reddy, and three other cadres in Nagpur while they were preparing to instigate locals to launch an agitation over rising cases of farmers’ suicides and a movement on the line of Nandigram to oppose SEZs in Nagpur.[30]

Inequality in land distribution, exploitation of tenants by landlords, social injustice, inequality, tribal marginalization and grievances and poor governance to the extent of absence of civil administration in remote areas have enabled the rebels to fortify themselves in such areas. Unequal land distribution and caste prejudices are the major issues for Naxalites in Bihar. Forest issues, displacement of tribal groups due to mega projects and industrialization and other development projects have created a massive pool of resentment against the State in Jharkhand and Odisha. It is estimated that “nearly 85.39 lakh tribals have been displaced since the 1990 on account of some mega projects or some other development projects reservation of forests as protected areas, etc. Tribal people constitute at least 55.16 per cent of the total displaced people in the country.”[31] Although the Naxalite movement emanates from a combination of factors, displaced people and those alienated from the state administration have been the main support base of the movement.

State Response

The state response to the Maoist related violence changed with the change of government in May 2014. The BJP government identified the problem as a ‘national challenge’ and updated the previous ‘two-pronged strategy’. The Union Home Ministry decided to bring out a new ‘anti-Maoist doctrine’ to ensure peace, development and business to the red corridor. The new doctrine is prepared as per the lessons learnt in the last 4-5 years by the security forces and civil administration to deal with the Maoists. The objective is to bring more investments and development in the red corridor, which has tremendous Maoist influence. Therefore, keeping in mind this objective, the Indian State is trying to revisit its entire anti-Maoist operation. The proposed doctrine is yet to be approved by the affected state governments and Union cabinet. According to the proposed doctrine:

1. Both state and central police forces are to be modernized to undertake operations against the Maoists. The police in the affected provinces (state police) will take lead role in anti-Maoist operations. The paramilitary forces (Central Reserve Police force-CRPF, Border Security Force and other paramilitary forces) will provide support to the state police by undertaking inter-state operations.

2. The CRPF would lead from the front to fight the Maoists in major operations in Maoist strongholds. The Home Ministry has ordered enhancement of the capacity of the CRPF by creating new battalions, specialised training to fight against guerrilla, use of automatic rifles/weapons, creation of special intelligence wing of the CRPF and organizing cultural, social and rural sports programs to reduce misunderstandings between tribal and security forces. 

3. The new doctrine also advocates ‘multi-pronged strategy’ to tackle the Maoist problem. It includes: security-related measures, development-based approach, rights and entitlement-based measures (forest and land rights to the local people, instant delivery of justice, speedy action against exploitation) and public perception management (make the security forces friendly with local people) and attractive surrender policy. Security and development initiatives would go hand in hand in moderately affected areas and development interventions will take dominant role in less affected areas.

4. However, the State reserves the ‘right to use any element-Army, Air Force or any other- only if the situation warrants’ of its national power against the Maoists and terrorists.

5. Peace talks will be initiated only after the Maoists renounce violence and express faith in the democratic process.[32]

The OGH has completed its five years. It has been successful in restricting the Maoist activities to few tribal pockets only. However, as discussed earlier, although the  security forces has been successful in restricting the activities of the rebels, the outfit has been readjusting with the OGH and its CC has already devised a new strategy to cope with the situation.

 

 

Conclusion

Therefore, the Maoists still have the potential to carry out major operations in their strategic base areas and regroup and recoup in future taking advantage of the existing socio-economic faultiness in India. Given the Maoists’ elaborate preparation to counter the OGH effectively they might consolidate further due to the recent ordinance on land acquisition. There has already been strong resistance and reactions to the ordinance from tribal, civil society groups, the Maoists and some provincial governments. The existing anti-Maoist policy (not the doctrine) is mostly dominated by heavy police operations, and the area domination strategy might not be effective enough to tackle the conflict in the future. The policy has some extent unsuccessful in - resolving the ongoing conflict. It has rather transferred the conflict from one region to another due to unequal deployment of SF and lack of capacity building programs in the affected states/regions.

Displacement of the tribal people and other issues require special attention. Mere grant of monetary compensation does not guarantee the well-being of the affected people. What is required is dignified resettlement with long-term alternative livelihood guarantee for the people and a guaranteed share (minimum 10 per cent) in the benefits arising out of the development projects, especially in mining and industrial projects. There must be massive investments in agricultural infrastructure to make land redistribution effective. Regular employment generation programmes in tribal and rural areas could divert the youth attention from joining the Maoist ranks. Therefore, State sponsored vocational education needs to be available in the remote areas with guarantee of campus recruitment after completion of the degree. Instead of working as agents of the private sector, the State’s concern should be to monitor the industrial houses and ensure that the business houses stick to the conditions and commitments set forth in the MoU signed with the government beforehand.

Further, law enforcement agencies, particularly the police, face an acute shortage of staff and resources. At the same time, the federal structure in India has been ineffective to implement coordinated counter insurgency policy.  First, law and order is a State government subject and the Union government can only play the role of a facilitator in counter insurgency operations. Second, the state police forces has limitations to chase the Maoists beyond their jurisdiction. Although there is an arrangement of coordination between neighboring states, largely the arrangement is halted due to ideological differences between ruling parties at the provincial and Union level. For example, there have been occasions when anti-Maoist operations are delayed due to differences of opinion between chief ministers of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar and Chhattisgarh. The Maoists take advantage of such lack of understandings. Therefore, effective coordination between central and state forces depend on the commonality of views between the ruling parties at the Center and the provinces and also between the affected provinces. Third, the Maoists play divide and rule tactic by deliberately targeting only central government controlled installations like railway, telephone, mines, national highways, paramilitary forces, etc. Fourth, there is no consensus on the nature of conflict between the center and the affected states like Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Kerala. Lastly, the dispute over who would lead the negotiations with the Maoists, whether Delhi or affected States, still remains unresolved.

The high intensity of Naxalite activity and its periodical spread to new areas, or increase in areas of marginal activity, has created fresh challenges for enforcement agencies in the states concerned. Police forces in many of these states (Andhra Pradesh is an exception) are poorly equipped to handle the challenge and are enormously demoralized. In fact, the State (both the Union and state level) response to Naxalism remains incoherent and directionless. Since the Maoists have been using different tactics on the basis of local dynamics, the State should adopt a similar response policy rather than a uniform policy to tackle the menace. For example, caste could be a major issue in Bihar, but not necessarily in Orissa and Jharkhand, where the landholding patterns are different.

Moreover, left-wing extremism should not be treated as a law and order problem. The movement has been sustaining itself on social and economic issues. Hardly any honest efforts have been made by either the Union or affected state governments (except Andhra Pradesh) to address the governance problem in remote areas where civil administration has collapsed with endemic absenteeism of government officials.



[1] The Communist Party of India (Maoist) have been responsible for around 98 per cent of LWE related violence in India. Therefore, this study discusses on different aspects of CPI-Maoist’s involvement in the LWE movement in India.

[2] LWE division, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. The MHA website was consulted on January 28, 2015.  According to the Annual Report 2005-06, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. The conflict was spread to 200 districts in 13 States-Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. Maoist violence has affected 460 police stations in 13 States out of a total of 12, 700 police stations in India.

[3] “Naxalite Plan via Howrah,” Times of India, New Delhi, July 19, 2006.

[4] CPI (Maoist) general secretary Ganapathy interview to Maoist Information Bulletin (MIB). For detail see “Protracted People's War at Hand, Warns Top Maoist”, The New Indian Express, 17 March 17, 2015.

[5] Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s interaction with media personnel in Nagpur. For detail see “Naxal violence has come down in last decade, says Rajnath Singh”, dnaindia, May 14, 2015, available at http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-naxal-violence-has-come-down-in-last-decade-says-rajnath-singh-2085860 9 (accessed June 8, 2015).

[6] “Message to the Milan International Conference in Solidarity with the People’s War in India, Paper presented by the CPI-Maoist in Milan conference on 10 September 2014.

[7] Buhaug, Halvard, Scott Gates, and P¨aivi Lujala. 2009. Geography, Rebel Capability, and the Duration of

Civil Conflict. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 53(4): 544569.

[8] Patrick B. Johnston and Brian R. Urlacher, “Explaining the Duration of Counterinsurgency Campaigns,” February 25, 2012, pp. 4-15.

[9] Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, said while addressing a day-long meeting of six Naxalite affected states’ chief minister in New Delhi on April 13, 2006.

[10] “CPI (Maoist) does self Assessment,” The Times of India, New Delhi, October 21, 2006.

[11]Kanchan Laxman, Darkness and Light, South Asia Intelligence Review, Vol 5, no. 25, January 1, 2007.

[12] Interview of Ganapathy and Kishen, General Secretaries of the Erstwhile CPI(ML)(PW) and MCCI, on the Occasion of the Merger of the Two Parties and the Formation of the Communist Party of India (Maoist)

People’s March, Vol. 5 (11-12), November-December 2004.

[13] Central Committee, Communist Party of India (Maoist), September 1, 2014, CPI (Maoist) 10th anniversary commemorative volumes, collected interviews September 2004 - August 2014, p. 5.

[14] “Message to the Milan International Conference in Solidarity with the People’s War in India, Paper presented by the CPI-Maoist in Milan conference on 10 September 2014.

[15]According to K. Srinivas Reddy, The Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) means Maoists would resort to intensified attacks on security forces and enemies of the revolutionary movement to spread as much confusion as possible, ” see “Maoists from A.P. may have planned it”, The Hindu, April 7, 2010. Also see Giridhari Nayak, “Neo-Naxal Challenge: Issues and Options”, Pentagon, New Delhi, 2011, p. 191.

 

[16] “Naxalites setting up support centers in urban areas,” Times of India, New Delhi, October 6, 2006

[17] “Naxals may target important facilities” Hindustan Times, December 05, 2006.

[18] Kanchan Laxman, Darkness and Light, South Asia Intelligence Review, Vol5, no. 25, January 1, 2007.

[19] Maoist Document on “Strategy & Tactics of the Indian Revolution”, Central Committee (P) CPI (Maoist).

[20] Maoist Document on “Strategy & Tactics of the Indian Revolution”, Central Committee (P) CPI (Maoist).

[21] P. V. Ramana, “Maoists in Delhi: Is the Police Prepared?” IDSA comment, May 3, 2010.

[22] CPI (Maoist) official document on “Urban Perspective: Our Work in Urban Areas”.

[23] Compiled from English media.

[24] Compiled from English media.

[25] Press Release, Joint Declaration Between the CPI (Maoist) and the Revolutionary People’s Front on 22nd October 2008, People’s Truth, no. 4, January-March 2009.

 

[26] Press Release, “Hail the formation of Maoist Communist Party of Manipur”, Communist Party of India (Maoist) Central Committee, October 1, 2012.

[27] Press Release, “Azad Kashmir is the birth-right of every Kashmiri! Arrests and massacres cannot crush the right to national self-determination!” , Central Committee, CPI-Maoist, August 27, 2008.

[28] “Support for Naxals goes global” The Times of India, February 20, 2011.

[29] “Message to the Milan International Conference in Solidarity with the People’s War in India, Paper presented by the CPI-Maoist in Milan conference on 10 September 2014. The strategy was to “Bolshevise the party aimed at becoming capable of overcoming the present difficult condition and achieving it by educating the entire party in MLM, political and military line and basic policies, tactics, style of work of the party and fighting style of the PLGA, lessons learnt from practice, rectifying its mistakes and shortcomings and thus strengthening the party, PLGA and mass base and paving the way to advance the movement.” Also see Giridhari Nayak, “Neo-Naxal Challenge: Issues and Options”, Pentagon, New Delhi, 2011, p. 42.

[30] “Naxals were planning ‘big operations’, The Times of India, May 11, 2007.

[31] Naresh C. Saxena, Draft National Policy on Tribals: Suggestions for Improvement, available at <www.nac.nic.in>.

[32] Compiled from English media published from Delhi. Also see “State police forces to lead anti-Naxal operations”, The Times of India, October 18, 2014.

 

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Author: Dr. Nihar Nayak