Naxalism: An Underestimated Challenge
Posted on September 15th, 2009

Written by: Mamoona Ali Kazmi

Recently, Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram admitted, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-For Many years we did not assess the Left Wing extremism challenge correctly. I think we underestimated the challengeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. This statement indicates that up till now India has not taken the Naxal problem seriously and consequently has not done anything sincerely to curb that menace. This is not the first time that such a statement regarding Naxal problem comes from the Indian government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself declared the Naxal problem graver than Kashmir and Northeast insurgency. What is new is the confession that Indian establishment underestimated the challenge and took it as a law and order problem and then tried to counter it through force. Force is not a solution to any problem. Some times using force becomes counter-productive and enhances any movement. Same thing happened in the case of Naxal violence. Instead of looking into the reasons and factors which brewed Naxalism, every Indian government took it as a rebel movement and tried to curb it through force. As violence begets violence, use of force against Naxals increased the gravity of situation.

Ever since 2005, India has been witness to an average of 1,500 incidents of Naxal violence, resulting in the death of over 750 people i.e. five incidents of Naxal violence every day and sixty killings every month. Naxal movement is gaining momentum with the passing time. It has spread to both urban and rural areas, ranging 160 districts of India. Indian Home Minister wants to raise 26,000 men to curb the Naxal violence. It is quite surprising that no other way except force is foreseen by Indian administration. Naxal movement is a result of failure of governance. According to ShankkerAiyar, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Each of the 80 worst Naxal affected districts have no schools, poor heath care, exploitative feudalism, no employment opportunities, pathetic social infrastructureƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. Over three lakh villages have no road connectivity. For example Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh is on the list of 100 worst districts list for the past two decades. So despite well aware of the reasons that are behind the rise of Naxalism Indian government is only depending upon force to end that problem. It is paying no heed to the problems that gave rise to Naxalism. In fact in the mind of Indian administration Naxalism is a war that has to be tackled through force. It most of the time forgot that Naxals are alienated Indian citizens and once their grievances will overcome Naxal movement will come to an end.

The question that arises is why the Naxals have been able to extend their area of influence over the years to become a serious threat to the countryƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s internal security. This is due to different factors. The failure of the administration to make sure that the benefits of development percolate down to the common man, especially tribals is a main factor. The Naxal infested states have large tribal populations with poor infrastructure. Corruption, displacement due to large scale projects, inability to avail of benefits from mining of mineral resources, and exploitation by local officials add to increased resentment and increased reception to Naxal ideology. Another thing is that Naxals have become more organized rather than a scattered force. Naxals in India model themselves on the Indian army, from training manuals to undercover training. The manuals translated into Hindi from Telugu by the security forces give a chilling insight into PeopleƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) planning military skills and motives. This is very similar to the training of a Jawan or even a JCO. The PLGAƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s basic military courses begin with handling automatic weapons, compass and map reading, defensive and attack formations. The manual analyses Naxal operations since 1997 and suggests means to increase enemy casualty. It discusses how to collect intelligence, stalk the enemy, and lay an ambush and attack. It also instructs how to retreat when attacked, regroup later using coded communication and how to raid protection installations. The fighting forces of Naxals are divided into three categories. The primary force is of extremely well trained personnel who spearhead any attack with superior weapons. The secondary force forms the bulk of a large group with less sophisticated weapons. Finally, the peopleƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s militia comprising farmers, labourers and others. Naxals have over 80 training camps, each training between 200 to 300 people at any point of time. There are 84 training camps which are operating in several states such as Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Jharkhand.

In practicality the Indian government is tackling the issue as a law and order problem. As the Naxal issue is deeply rooted in the social and economic disparities in the remote and tribal areas so using force is only aggravating the problem. These areas are deprived of fruits of development which the rest of India is enjoying. So the sentiments of these people are hurt as they see others enjoying the luxuries of life and they deprived of basic necessities. In such circumstances supporting Naxals is far better option for them. 200 districts out of 600 are under Naxalite rule. They rule there because the people in these places support them in a majority and believe in them; because the Naxalites give them food, money and land snatched from the rich land owners and exploiters. Naxlites do kill when these rich protest; and at times are involved in atrocities as well. But on the whole, they are the only revolutionary group in this country at the centre of whose agenda are the poor and deprived. Their methods may involve violence, but then worldwide, all uprisings and revolutions have been violent. To the people against whom they fight are villains and terrorists but the people for whom they fight are the heroes.

Almost all the governments of India didnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t bother to address the real issues which are causing such a mass alienation and retaliation. India canƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t tackle this menace through coercive methods and it needs to tackle the causes of rebel movement such as poverty, landlessness and unemployment. There is a direct correlation between extremism and poverty. The social, political, economic and cultural discrimination faced by scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, who are among IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s poor people, has resulted in discontented people finding succor in immediate justice provided by the Naxalites. Rahul Gandhi toured insurgency-hit areas of the eastern state of Chhattisgarh. Gandhi asked why Maoism was on the rise in the area. Congress sources told that nongovernmental organizations and party local tribal youths informed Gandhi that decades of total neglect of local tribal masses by various governments in welfare schemes and governments failure to work out a proper plan for the social and economic development of tribal have nurtured Maoism.

The Indian government is blindly following the rule of Paul Wilkinson that ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-rebellions do not generally just fade away. They have to be put down ruthlessly and effectively if normal life and business are to be restoredƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚.

Indian government can not stop the growth of Naxalites through police, Salwa Judum or army. It can only do so by erasing the reasons of Naxal movement. The Naxal belt is trapped in a vicious cycle of underdevelopment and violence. The foot soldiers of the movement believe that the Naxalite movement will bring about development and prosperity. So the government can reduce peopleƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s appeal for the movement by providing opportunities to the people of Naxal belt through sound economic and infrastructural development programmes. The 2006 status report on Naxalism made it clear that the government should address the problem in a holistic manner. That include ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-political security, development and public perception management frontsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ A lot many measures need to be taken to make the fight against Naxalism effective. On top of this is improving governance in the affected areas by moving corrupt officials who exploit the local people. It must also be ensured that large scale projects in these areas do not lead to displacement of people, who in any case, live a life of penury.

One Response to “Naxalism: An Underestimated Challenge”

  1. Sri Rohana Says:

    Namaste Mr Minister Palaniappan Chidambaran!
    Naxalite movement cannot defeat by war!No where in this universe any terrorist movement defeated by an army!!!! Your masters America,Britain and whole NATO messed up in Afganistan so you guys cannot think even defeat a terrorist movement. Please have peacetalks with them.Either in Timpu, or Oslo or Geneva.
    Eric Solheim is the best choice and he will facilitate peace talks.Recognise the naxalite movement and leaders.Treat them with VIP facilities.Provide them helicoptors to travel between Delhi and Bihar.Appoint Norway,Iceland and other Scandinavians as a peace monitoring mission.Allow every NGO’s and INGO’s to fund and operate in Naxalite area.Allow American,British,German, French, Norway,Japan and other EU spies to train Naxalites.Allow them to smuggle weapons,communication equipments.Train them how to use human bombs.Adela Balasingham is free now she can help in this matter.Let Eric Solheim donate satelite antennas and TV’s to Naxalite leaders.Allow all the western embassaders and ministers to visit and have secret talks with Naxalite leaders/Freefom fighters/Rebels. Allow Hilary Clinton, David Milliband, and Bernard Couchner to visit Naxalite area if not face for the sequences. Eric Solheim can build a peace secretariat to Naxalite freedom fighters.Norway will propose Naxalite leader and Manmohan Singh for the Noble peace award in 2010. Allow western media and free media personals to report against Indian Government.

    Let Naxalites have their own Army,Police,Navy, Airforce and Judiciary system.But Indian Government has to provide food, health facilities,education to civilians in Naxalite control area and has to do other infrastuctures and other administration work plus pay government servents salaries.If Indian army wants to go to Naxalite area get the approval from Naxalites.Before your army goes there inform to monitoring mission.
    Amend your constitution and have a provincial councils elections.There should be a seperate provincial council for the Naxalites.Accept the self determination of naxalites provincial councils.In future if they want a seperate country has to recognise it.

    Good luck Mr Minister Palaniappan Chidambaran

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