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The Naxalite Movement: From Naxalbari

to Dantewada
Written by Karamchand Kandasamy and Elakkiya, July 2017


The Union of India has been facing continuous threats from various armed militant groups
since its independence from the British Crown in 1947. The Naxalites are one among the
armed militant groups challenging the Indian state and the Naxalite movement is considered
to be the gravest threat to the internal security of the Indian state. The Naxalite movement is
based on the ideology of Maoism and it gains popular support by mobilizing the poor and
underprivileged population of rural India. In spite of various other armed conflicts, the
Naxalite movement has a crucial importance because the fight between the rebels and the
government forces is fought in the heartland unlike the Kashmir and North Eastern conflicts
that are located in the country's periphery. India is facing the left-wing extremist violence for
more than 4 decades since the late 1960s. The Naxalite movement is widespread throughout
the country and Naxal operations are active in various states of the country (around 20 states).
This has lead to a situation where the Naxalites control certain regions of India and their
armed fight against the government's military forces questions the sovereignty of the Indian
state. In response to the Naxal challenge, the Indian state launched a massive armed operation
against the Naxals is to take back control of the Naxal regions and to re-establish law and
order. The government has deployed various battalions of the central paramilitary forces to
combat and kill the Naxalites. The government should try to understand the root cause of the
Naxalite movement that lies in failure of the Indian state's constitutional and institutional
frameworks to deliver social and economic justice and equality to the underprivileged and
marginalized population of the country and without addressing the root cause of the
movement and satisfying the social and economic needs of the people, the government can
never solve the issue. The main objective of this paper is to give an overview of the 40 year
old Naxalite movement and to outline the steps that should be taken by the government to
tackle the Naxal challenge faced by the Indian state.