NAXAL THREAT AND STATE RESPONSE by Prakash Singh

The Naxalite movement, starting from a small village on the tri-junction of India, Nepal and what was then East Pakistan in 1967, spread like wildfire to different parts of the country. The movement had a meteoric phase for about two years from the formation of the CPI (ML) in 1969 till the end of 1971. These early stirrings were however easily crushed by the Government of India through police action. Following Charu Mazumdar’s death in 1972, there were divisions and fragmentations in the movement. The formation of People’s War Group in Andhra Pradesh in 1980 under the leadership of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah gave a new lease of life to the movement. For about ten years, the PWG remained strident. The Andhra Pradesh government banned the PWG and its front organizations in 1992, and the state police undertook well-organized counterinsurgency operations. The arrest of Kondapally Seetharamaiah and other important leaders marked the end of this phase. The current phase, which commenced in 2001, is marked by a conscious attempt to militarise the armed component of the party - the People’s Guerrilla Army with a view to launching attacks on the state apparatus. The PWG demonstrated its lethal capabilities by an audacious attempt to assassinate the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N. Chandrababu Naidu, on October 1, 2003. The Ninth Party Congress, held in early 2007, “reaffirmed the general line of New Democratic Revolution with agrarian revolution as its axis and protracted people’s war as the path of the Indian revolution”, and resolved to “advance the people’s war throughout the country, further strengthen the people’s army, deepen the mass base of the party and wage a broad-based militant mass movement against the neo-liberal policies of globalization, liberalization, privatization.” Violence has ever since taken a high trajectory, as the following figures show: Total Incidents 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 1,208 1,465 1,597 1,533 1,608 1,509 1,565 Deaths 564 482 515 566 677 678 696

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, admits the spread of Naxalite movement to thirteen states of the Union, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Haryana and Tamil Nadu.

purchasing them from smugglers. has given it the character of a pan-Indian revolutionary group. which amounted to challenging the authority of the State. The Prime Minister described Naxalite movement as the single biggest threat to the internal security of the country. though a formal announcement was made on October 14. They have built this arsenal essentially by looting weapons from police/landlords. the movement has actually spread to 194 districts in 18 states. The merger. Chandrababu Naidu (October 01. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has close fraternal relations with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) also.000 rounds of ammunition. acquiring from insurgent groups like the NSCN (IM) and ULFA and also obtaining some weapons from Nepal. on a road between Tirupati and Tirumala in Chittoor district while he was proceeding to attend the Brahmotsavam celebrations. The attempt to assassinate the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. the People’s War (PW) and the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI). N. when the extremists overran several government establishments and decamped with about 200 weapons including SLRs and carbines and about 60. The Naxals’ potential for violence has increased substantially with their acquisition of sophisticated weapons and expertise in the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).Main Features The disturbing features of the movement are h h h h h Spread over a large geographical area Increase in potential for violence Unification of PW and MCCI Plan to have a Red Corridor Nexus with other extremist groups The Government of India have already expressed concern over the spread of the Naxalite movement over a huge geographical area. demonstrate the growing confidence of the Naxals: a. well organized attacks on the government apparatus. The Naxals’ plan to have a Compact Revolutionary Zone stretching from Indo-Nepal border to the Dandakaranya Region is likely to get a fillip with the unification of their ranks. They are said to be in possession of at least 6. The Naxalite groups’ nexus with the other extremist organizations has added to the complexity of the problem. According to the Institute for Conflict Management. 2004. 2003). The raid in Koraput district of Orissa (February 07.500 regular weapons including AK 47 rifles and SLRs. 2004). The movement got a tremendous boost when its two major components. The following incidents. Some batches of CPML-Party Unity also appear to have received arms training under the guidance of United Liberation Front of Assam. 2 . They have also some understanding with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (I-M) to support each others’ cause. The unified party was called the Communist Party of India (Maoist). b. apart from augmenting the support base of the movement. decided to merge on March 21. Small scale isolated attacks have been replaced by large scale. There are indications that the PWG cadres received training in the handling of weapons and IEDs from some ex-LTTE cadres. The nature of Naxal violence has undergone a subtle change in the recent years. 2004 only.

f. 2008). g. 2008). upgradation of police posts. 3 . when the Naxals overran 3 police stations and killed 13 policemen and 2 civilians and decamped with 1100 weapons. h. when 628 Dn. Babu Lal Marandi. 2007). Government of India’s Policy Government have prepared a 14-Point Plan to deal with the problem. d. training. when about 200 cadres of the united Communist Party of India (Maoist) assisted by about 800 sympathisers freed 389 prisoners which included quite a few Naxals while 20 activists of the Ranvir Sena were taken away. out of whom nine were subsequently murdered. e. resulting in the killing/drowning of 35 security forces personnel belonging to the elite ‘Greyhounds’ force of Andhra Police. The attack on Nayagarh town in Orissa (February 15. The attack on the Jehanabad District Jail in Bihar (November 13. The attack on a police base camp at Rani Bodli village of Bijapur District in Chhattisgarh (March 15. security and development fronts in a holistic manner ¾ ensure inter-state coordination in dealing with the problem ¾ accord priority to faster socio-economic development in the Naxal affected or prone areas ¾ supplement the efforts and resources of the affected states on both security and development fronts ¾ promote local resistance groups against the Naxals ¾ use mass media to highlight the futility of Naxal violence and the loss of life and property caused by it ¾ have a proper surrender and rehabilitation policy for the Naxals ¾ affected states not to have any peace dialogue with the Naxal groups unless the latter agree to give up violence and arms The following administrative measures and arrangements have also been initiated at the highest level: i) Security related expenditure scheme (SRE) – The SRE scheme envisages reimbursing the expenditure incurred by the state on ammunition. 2007) in which 55 persons including 16 personnel of Chhattisgarh Armed Force and 39 SPOs were killed. At present 76 districts in 9 states badly affected by Naxal violence are covered by this scheme. The interception and capture of a train in the Latehar district of Jharkhand (March 13. 2006). Passenger was stopped between Mughalsarai and Barkana stations. The salient features of the policy are as follows: ¾ deal sternly with the Naxals indulging in violence ¾ address the problem simultaneously on political. though 400 rifles were subsequently recovered by the police. 2005). The attack on the combined Andhra Pradesh and Orissa Police parties in Chitrakonda reservoir of Malkangiri District in Orissa (June 29. along with 18 other persons while they were watching a cultural programme in Giridih district of Jharkhand (October 27. The killing of the son of former Chief Minister.c. etc.

The scheme should accelerate socio-economic development in these 250 districts. communication equipment and other infrastructure. The BRGF scheme covers a total of 250 districts and is to be administered by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. This affects the preparation of plans. 2006. scrutiny. Forest Rights Act. approval. scholarships for children and housing benefits including houses to affected families in rural and urban areas are some of the benefits under the new policy. However. 4 . Task Force – A Task Force has been constituted in the Home Ministry to deliberate upon the steps needed to deal with Naxalism more effectively and in a coordinated manner. There is lack of adequate administrative and technical manpower at the block and gram panchayat levels. (popularly Forest Rights Act) is a significant step in recognizing and vesting the forest rights of scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded. The members of the Task Force comprise Nodal Officers of the Naxal affected states and representatives of the IB.This includes raising India Reserve Battalions to strengthen the security apparatus at the state level and also releasing funds under the Police Modernization Scheme to the states to modernize their police forces in terms of weaponry. 2006 . 2006 – The NREGA is the largest ever employment programme visualized in human history.The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act.The Government of India announced a new rehabilitation policy on October 11. vocational training. It holds out the “prospect of transforming the livelihoods of the poorest and heralding a revolution in rural governance in India”. Coordination Centre – A Coordination Centre was set up in 1998 headed by the Union Home Secretary with Chief Secretaries and DGPs of Naxal affected states as its members. it was decided to set up an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by the Home Minister and comprising select Union Ministers and Chief Ministers to closely monitor the spread of Naxalism and evolve effective strategies to deal with the problem.ii) Strengthening of law enforcement . It reviews and coordinates the steps taken by the states to control Naxal activities. Land in return for land for displaced families. National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. as brought out by the CAG report. 2007 to make the displacement of people for industrial growth a less painful experience. preference in project jobs to at least a member of each family. It provides a framework for recording the forest rights so vested. iii) iv) v) vi) Recent Initiatives Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy. Empowered Group of Ministers – At a meeting of the Chief Ministers held on September 5. monitoring and measurement of works. 2006. 2007 . there are “significant deficiencies” in implementation of the Act. and maintenance of the stipulated records at the block and gram panchayat levels. CRPF and the SSB. Backward Districts Initiative (BDI) and Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) – The government has included 55 Naxal affected districts in 9 states under the Backward Districts Initiative (BDI) component of the Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY).

This is incomprehensible and is inconsistent with government’s stand vis-à-vis other militant groups in the country. there could be no agreement. Enough was enough. Large groups of people held rallies where they expressed their vehement opposition to the aggressions of the Naxals. This was denied to them. Congress (I) Leader. Traditional celebrations at the time of marriage were discouraged. Ghotuls were closed. reflecting the resentment of the tribals against the activities of Naxals interfering with their social customs.People’s Support – Salwa Judum Mobilising the support of the people is absolutely essential to weaken the support base of the Naxals. Peace talks were again held from October 15 to 18. The government’s Status Paper on the Naxal problem appropriately mentions a holistic approach and lays emphasis on accelerated socio-economic development of the backward areas. Images of Budhadev (Lord Shiva) were damaged and the tribals were asked to worship Mao only. they started showing insensitivity to the feelings of tribals. The government has been having peace talks with the Naga rebels of the NSCN (IM) faction for the last more than ten years even though the rebels have not only not surrendered their weapons but continue to build up their arsenal. 5 . though it is also a fact that at present the camps are being maintained and financed by the state government. police and forest officials and were exploited by the traders from plains areas who never gave them fair price for their products. In fact. It was against this background that the tribals rebelled against the Naxals. in due course. Village priests were driven away. The Naxals presented an 11-point charter of demands. Peace Talks Peace talks were held between the People’s War Group and the state government of Andhra Pradesh during June-July 2002 at the initiative of Committee of Concerned Citizens. cultural practices and hurting their economic interests. most of them have sought shelter in the safety of the urban centres or the state capital The circumstances in which Salwa Judum evolved in the state of Chhattisgarh must be clarified in this context. To start with.10. protecting and upholding their interests. The resultant economic hardship proved to be the proverbial last straw. gave them the leadership.000 to 15. It was a spontaneous movement. Again. the tribals felt. This was a regular source of income for them and every family earned Rs. The political parties. There was a strong feeling of resentment. Mahendra Karma. The most important point related to land reforms. All this deeply hurt the tribals. They interfered with the social customs and cultural practices of the local tribals. Weekly bazaars were looted. are not playing their role in this regard. 2004 at Hyderabad. The Naxals did not allow the tribals to pluck tendu leaves also. In relation to ULFA also. The Naxals appeared as the benefactors. The representatives of major political parties have virtually abdicated their responsibility of engaging in any kind of anti-Naxal propaganda in their constituencies. the Naxals were welcomed by the Bastar tribals because they were harassed by corrupt revenue. However. Three rounds of talks were held but there was no agreement on the substantive issues. This was the beginning of Salwa Judum. clause 4 (v) of the Status Paper states that “there will be no peace dialogue by the affected states with the Naxal groups unless the latter agree to give up violence and arms”. However. with the possible exception of CPM. as the Naxals entrenched themselves in the region.000 from the trade.

The present situation of tribals in the country was comprehensively analyzed by an Expert Group on Prevention of Alienation of Tribal Land and its Restoration constituted by the Ministry of Rural Development. However. neglect of land reforms.the government is prepared to have a dialogue without insisting on the insurgents surrendering their weapons. It says that even though India has enough food to feed its one billion people. rising unemployment and tribals getting a raw deal . The area has a tribal population of 27. No wonder. Why a different approach to the Naxals? The relevant clause in the ‘Status Paper’ deserves a second look. The Expert Group noted with anguish that land belonging to the tribal people was being alienated in all the states despite the existence of an umbrella of protective legislation. Economists agree that uneven growth often leads to social unrest. Government must keep the option of talks open without giving any impression of weakness or conceding any unreasonable demands. (The Author was Director General of Border Security Force and also DGP UP and DGP Assam. very much present today also. a populist slogan for the politician. uneven development. Unless these basic issues are sincerely addressed. a security-centric approach by itself would not be enough to deal with the problem. the government has more than once conveyed its willingness to hold talks with any group which is prepared to come to the negotiating table. unfortunately. He is also the architect of Police Reforms in the country. The situation is compounded by the mismatch between growth and its distribution resulting in accentuation of economic disparities. He was awarded Padmashri for his contribution to national security. according to an all India survey. registered an increase during the period 1993-94 to 2004. poor governance. And yet it has not been surveyed to date and has hardly any revenue or police presence on a regular basis. and a persistent source of hope for the landless. Disaster Response in India and Kohima to Kashmi: On the Terrorist Trail. According to the latest findings of the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO). Prospects The government plans to combat the Naxal problem appear generally sound on paper.15% in 2004-05. hunger and household level food insecurity have increased since the latter half of the 1990s. a slight improvement over 26. Books written by him include: Nagaland. Land reforms unfortunately remain “a romantic theme for the intellectual.” Unemployment. The latest UN report on the Extent of Chronic Hunger and Malnutrition is also critical of India on several counts. There are remote areas where there is hardly any governance. It would thus appear that the factors which gave rise to Naxalism – the extent of poverty.are. Government of India. the Naxals have made it one of their strongholds. The Naxalite Movement in India.09% in 1999-2000. kms.” The Tenth Five Year Plan admitted that “the record of most states in implementing the existing laws is dismal.) 6 . The report also slams India for the rising number of farmer suicides and says that sustained economic growth in the 1990s made the country a more market-oriented economy but did not benefit all Indians equally. Abujmarh in Narainpur district of Chhattisgarh is one such area.000 inhabiting some 260 far-flung villages over a sprawling area of 4000 sq. there is a huge gap between the formulation of policies and their implementation at the ground level. In J & K. the number of people living below the poverty line (BPL) stood at 22.

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