NAXALITES TERRORISTS OR PROTESTORS
“I have been saying for the last three years that Naxalism remains the biggest internal security challenge facing our country.”
The aforementioned statement was stated by our former Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2010. Basically, he wasn’t bragging then when he stated the fact that Naxalism is the major internal security threat to the nation because there have been continuous drizzling of the Naxal attacks in different regions of the Naxal affected states in the country.
On 30th October two policemen and a cameraperson of Doordarshan were killed and two others were injured when around 100 Naxals attacked a security patrol party in poll-bound Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, as stated by the police.
The police further mentioned that it is also believed that in the retaliatory action two-three naxals were also killed by the security forces after the ambuscade in a forest area near Nilawaya village, around 450 km from here.
7. ALL ABOUT THE INCIDENT
D.M. Awasthi, Director General (anti-Naxal operations), told that the surprise attack was to target the CRPF patrolling team and create fear among road contractors and workers engaged in road construction works in the area.
“Unfortunately, the media team reached there and was caught in the cross-fire. Road construction work between Sameli and Nilawaya villages (where the attack took place on Tuesday) has been going on for past couple of months. Maoists have been opposing the construction.” –D.M. Awasthi
D.M. Awasthi further gave the details saying the incident took place when a Road Opening Party (ROP) of the CRPF was sanitizing the area. At the same time to cover the news related to development works and poll preparations, a three-member team of Doordarshan, along with police personnel, was also heading towards Nilawaya on motorcycles.
From past couple of days, the DD team from New Delhi was camping in the area to cover development works and polling-related news.
Moving just ahead of Nilawaya Village the media team noticed a Maoist poster put up on a tree branch and to record it Achyutanand Sahu, cameraperson stepped down from the motorcycle and moved closer towards the tree.
“Suddenly, Maoists, numbering around 100, opened fire on police team. Sahu was hit in the first round of fire. I would like to clarify once again that these two incidents — one which took place this morning and another which took place three days back — do not have any direct or indirect connection with the ensuing elections in the state.” –D.M. Awasthi
Raman Singh, Chief Minister described the attack as a “cowardly” and “shameful” act.
“The martyred personnel and a camera person were discharging their duties for a national work like election. The attack on them is an attack on democracy and it is highly condemnable.” –Raman Singh
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister criticized the attack through a tweet.
“Strongly condemn the Naxal attack on a @DDNewsLive crew in Dantewada. Deeply saddened by the demise of our cameraman Achyuta Nanda Sahu and two jawans of @crpfindia. These insurgents will NOT weaken our resolve. We WILL prevail.” –@Ra_THORe
6. TRACING ROOTS OF NAXALISM
Naxalism roots go back to the peasant uprising of 1967 in Naxalbari, West Bengal’s feudal society. Jotedars were the oppressive feudal lords, who owned land and for little, to no reward, landless peasants and farmers worked on them. Jotedars tried to manipulate land records to deceive farmers that led to the uprising but the major change took place when Bigul Kisan, a sharecropper, on March 23 was beaten up by the local Jotedar for cultivating a patch of land.
Inspector Sonam Wangdi was killed the next day with the sea of arrows. The struggle intensified on May 25th, and the police in an attempt to quell the situation reportedly killed nine women and children.
Later to these incidents in the coming months, the struggle engulfed West Bengal and peasants took up firearms and looted Jotedars and used force to occupy the land. A similar sort of peasant uprising led by C. Pulla Reddy followed in Srikakulam of Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh.
Both the movements bagged their inspiration from the success of the Communist Movement in China and Russia.
But that inspired other revolutionaries across the country.
By 1972, the first phase of what the government called Left-Wing Extremism, popularly called Naxalism – deriving its name from the Naxalbari village was identified.
For the next two decades, the armed movement remained dimed and localized until the government in the early 1990s started granting mining licenses to private and multinational corporations as part of the liberalization and privatization of the economy.
In 1976 The People’s War Group (PWG) was established that was active in Andhra Pradesh, while Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) held meetings away in the eastern state of Bihar.
The current running phase of Maoist rebellion started in 2004 when PWG merged with the MCC to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist) or CPI (Maoist). The group is banned in India.
5. GREATEST THREAT TO LAW AND ORDER
Since then, it is perceived, within Indian as the greatest threat to law and order. The movement has now moved to the hilly and forest regions of approx eight different states, with more than 150 districts are believed to be under its direct influence. Mainly it is active in the tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, and also covering few parts of Karnataka, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Tamil Nadu.
Since 1980 to 2015 Naxal violence has resulted in the death of over 10,000 civilians and displaced 12 million people, with a crucial rise in the number of killings Naxal hit states. Furthermore, more than 200 of India’s 640 districts are indirectly under Naxal control.
Dr. B.K. Mahakul, author of ‘Political Violence: A Study of the Naxal Movement in India’, mentions that the movement went down the violence path because political violence is rooted in deep-seated frustration of the masses as they perceived injustice and so walk towards violence in hopes of changing the status quo.
“Naxal violence is in fact directly related to the intensity of the feeling of people of their actual or perceived deprivation and their commitment to take revenge against those who are believed to be responsible for such denial.” –Dr. B.K. Mahakul
4. NAXAL AGAINST DEPRIVATION & ALIENATION
The CPI (Maoist) aims to capture the state power but through people war. The rebels’ military strategy is partially based on the Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. Basically, Naxalites aren’t so much against the state as much as they are against deprivation and alienation. Presently the main supporters of the uprising are marginalized groups of India including Dalits and Adivasi’s, who believe they have been neglected by the government.
“The immediate aim of the party is to accomplish the New Democratic Revolution in India by overthrowing imperialism, feudalism and comprador bureaucratic capitalism only through the Protracted People’s War … The ultimate aim of the party is to bring about communism.” –party statement
However, in 2012 it was admitted by the Home Ministry that Naxalites’ presence has spread almost across half the country and mentioned they have also established bases on the Assam-Arunachal border.
People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) is the armed wing of the CPI (Maoists), or Naxals, as they are popularly called in India. Their exact numbers are not known but various estimates state the numbers to be
- PLGA – 8,000 to 10,000
- Maoist – 10,000 to 15,000, even as high as 25,000
But governments’ estimation is quite low as told by Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home in 2017 to the parliament.
“As per available reports, the estimated armed cadre strength of the left-wing extremist groups is around 8,500. However, their support base is in larger numbers.” – Kiren Rijiju
3. HOW GOVERNMENT TACKLED?
Raman Dixit noted in a Journal of Defence Studies namely ‘Naxalite Movement in India’, that over the years the government has stopped looking at the Naxalite movement as a law and order problems and more as a problem that evolves from socioeconomic issues such as poverty as is responded by the state. An “Empowered Group of Ministers” has been formed by the government to counter the Naxalism problem and also launched a Police Modernization Scheme to tackle violence.
The specific fund has also been allocated to experiment with the social integration approach for the development of villages affected by Naxalism.
Other government schemes include:
- Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY),
- The National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP),
- Bharat Nirman, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM),
- Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA),
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
- Other income generating and social security schemes.
Indeed there are reported atrocities against the tribal people in the country, however, as over the years violence is seen, and is not a good option. It only adds on to the dead bodies and minimizes the trust between the state and its citizens.
2. ENDING INDIA’S NAXAL REBELLION
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Maoist influence in the country has been shrinking. Earlier this year MHA redrew the red corridor, marking the number of districts affected with Naxal Violence from 106 to 90, scattered across 11 states. The list also mentions the 30 worst affected districts, six down from the previous one.
The NDA Government in 2015 adopted the ‘National Policy and Action Plan’, which aimed at addressing Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in the country. Although in the last couple of years Maoists have managed to carry out big killing numbers of policemen. Over two dozen policemen were killed in separate incidents in 2017 in Chhattisgarh; in a similar attack, at least 9 CRPF personnel were killed in Sukma in March this year.
The reports mentioned that Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Bihar as states that are severely affected by LWE. West Bengal, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh that were the earlier a part of the severely affected category are considered partially affected now. And Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are classified as states that are slightly affected.
According to the report, now Maoists are suddenly attacking Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and planning to link the Western and Eastern Ghats through these states. Not only they are planning to raise their activities in these areas, but also carve out a base for themselves in the tri-junction. The reports also noted that the Maoists are making attempts to make inroads into Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, and their success in doing so can have long-term strategic implications.
The total number of LWE-affected districts increased from 106 in 2015 to 126 in 2017, including bifurcation of states and districts, and the expansion of Maoists activities. All expenses sustained by the affected areas are covered under the MHA scheme of the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme, which provides funds for transportation, communication, the hiring of vehicles, the stipend for surrendered Maoists, and temporary infrastructure for security forces.
Out of 106 districts, 36 accounted for 80 to 90% of the nationwide LWE violence, and were categorized as “Worst Affected Districts”. The Home Ministry earlier this year gave a review in which it noted that 44 out of 126 districts reported negligence violence, and they were removed from the list. Eight new districts which noticed Maoist movements were added to the SRE list. Presently, 30 instead of 36 of the worst affected districts report for 90% of the LWE violence.
Districts that were excluded:
As many as 44 districts have been removed from the list. Among them the majority belongs to the following states:
* Telangana: 19 districts
* Odisha: 6 districts
* Bihar: 6 districts
* West Bengal: 4 districts
* Chhattisgarh: 3 districts
* Jharkhand: 2 districts
* Maharashtra: 1 district
1. CRITERIA TO REMOVE
The primary criterion was based on ‘incidents of violence’. The 44 districts, which have been removed, did not report any crucial incidents of violence cause of LWE in the last three years.
Likely, three new districts in Kerala were included in the reports Naxal movement. Incidents of violence have seen a decline of 20% with a 34% reduction in related deaths in 2017 as compared to 2013. The geographical spread of LWE violence also reduced from 76 districts in 2013 to 58 districts in 2017. Centre will give the SRE funds to the new districts, which will monitor development and security-related projects. Last year, Rs 445 crore was the combined SRE expenditure in LWE-affected districts.
THE 30 MOST AFFECTED LWE DISTRICTS NOW
Andhra Pradesh: Vishakhapatnam
Bihar: Aurangabad, Gaya, Jamui, Lakhisarai
Chhattisgarh: Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Rajnandgaon, Sukma
Jharkhand: Bokaro, Chatra, Garhwa, Giridih, Gumla, Hazaribagh, Khunti, Latehar, Lohardaga, Palamu, Ranchi, Simdega West, Singhbhum
Odisha: Korapur, Malkangiri
Telangana: Bhadradri, Kothagudem
COUNTING THE AFFECTED BY MENACE
Surprising Maoist attacks that killed 25 soldiers in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma might have shocked the nation but it might be a surprise to know that violence by left-wing insurgent groups is declining across the country as revealed by the data of 12 years.
ACCUSATIONS OF ABUSE
The Adivasis have been caught in the middle of a conflict that has grappled the Maoists against the government.
People have accused Security Forces of committing mass sexual and rights abuses, and extrajudicial killings of innocent Adivasis. For reporting the abuse and unlawful killings, human rights activists and journalists have been targeted.
Villagers are recruited by Maoists for their operation and after that become vulnerable to arrest and torture by government forces. Accusations have also been imposed on Maoists for killing and torturing villagers after accusing them of being police informers. In most cases, they have turned to kidnapping for ransom.
“A situation of civil war still prevails in the Bastar district in Chhattisgarh state but the Indian government refuses to declare this ‘internal armed conflict’, perhaps to avoid monitoring by the UN.” –Dr. Lakhan Singh, president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties
More than 100,000 troops – a third of them paramilitary forces have been deployed by the government to sweep out the five-decade-old armed rebellion in Chhattisgarh. Since 1995 more than 2000 people have been killed.
“In the Bastar region alone, there are 36,000 security forces, which means one soldier for 55 people. In Afghanistan, there is one soldier for about 150 people.” –Dr Lakhan Singh
No doubt democracy came with a blessing for few but still there few others, within whom democracy settled with hatred. Democracy always gave us the right to protest against something that’s not preferable but in a peaceful manner. Evolution of Naxalism happened on the grounds of protest but later reincarnated as a violent group.
One thing is definitely clear that people who are against the construction of roads and buildings in the area are definitely against the development in the country. We can’t say that whether it was coincidental or intentional that the moment elections are on the doorstep the incidents and attack related to Naxalites take a rise.
Today the real meaning of Naxalism has changed, people of slightly older generation know that Naxalism sees its origin in a West Bengal village called Naxalbari in Siliguri sub-division of Darjeeling district but for younger people, Naxalism is more synonymous with Maoism and terrorism.
If we give an overall view to Naxalism today it has completely diverted from the main cause it was started. Earlier Naxalites were opposing violence and discrimination of jotedars on poor peasants and now currently they have picked the path of violence. Some say that they are no less than the terrorists within the country and Ajit Doval, former chief of Intelligence Bureau gave a proper definition to it plus he also explained that from where these poor tribal’s cum Naxalites get funds.
“There is no accepted definition of terrorism. If they use violence to achieve their political objectives then why do you say they are not terrorists? Terrorists are denounced because their means are unaccepted in civil society and their ends are therefore vitiated.” –Ajit Doval
“It’s a 100 percent political movement. The Maoists want to usurp power through the barrel of the gun. Not from jihadis but they do have tactical linkages. They had tactical linkages with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for some kind of training. The government’s development funds are their major source. They siphon off these funds because of poor governance. From the patwari to top government officials to local politicians, all keep quiet.” –Ajit Doval
If we look at it from the high angle we know that it is a major threat to the countries democracy and law and order. And we are also aware about the fact that there is nothing that’s impossible for a country as big as India to achieve. But it’s hard for the government to do it on the sake of lives of the poor Adivasis and civilians.