Internal Security Issues 103 – Naxalism | Part 2

In the second part of the series on Naxalism, we analyse the ideology and objectives of Naxalites and the factors responsible for the rise and spread of Naxalism in India. (The first part of the series is here.)

Ideology and objectives of Naxalites:

From their ideology, it appears that naxalites are fighting for the rights of the poor and want to establish a people’s government, but the facts are quite contrary. Social uplifting of the downtrodden is not their real aim, rather it is political power.

They study the local problems and issues and use them as fodder to foster their end game which is clearly the seizure of power through violent means.

Maoists have vested interest in keeping poverty alive because it enables them to expand their territory. They don’t allow district administration to do any development work like building roads, improving electricity and water supply in these areas etc.

Modus Operandi

  • Frontal Organisations of LWE

The Maoists use their front organisations like Revolutionary Democratic Front, Democratic Student Union etc to generate people’s sympathy through persistent pursuance of propaganda on issues like human rights violations by the security forces.

  • Guerrilla warfare tactics
  • Powerful propaganda machinery which is active in all major towns as well as in the national capital. They even have their supporters in the media.
  • Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC):

Maoists carry out violent activities called TCOC which run from March to early Monsoon in July. The Maoists usually resort to TCOC every year to put the security forces in disarray so that they can go on a recruitment drive.

  • Fresh strategy of Maoists is to expand outside forests into the urban areas to win over non peasant classes and other social groups.
  • The Maoists have also maimed and murdered those they suspect of being ‘informers’.

Sources of funding and linkages with organized crime:

The main source of funding of the LWE movements is extortion from government projects as well as from corporate companies working in their areas of influence. Most of the time, it is in the form of protection money. LWE is most intense precisely in areas which are rich in mineral resources. It therefore provides them enough scope for extortion.

Sometimes, they also resort to kidnapping and killings to terrorise and extort money.

Factors responsible for the rise and spread of LWE:

1. India’s Land Reform Policy

 Post independence, the land reform policy of India could not be successful in some parts of the nation, leading to the birth and growth of naxal movement in India.

2. Development Projects and Tribal Alienation

The tribals are driven by grievances with the Indian Government over decades long resource mismanagement and systematic marginalisation beginning with a series of development projects in the 1980s that removed tribals from their lands in the name of public good. The conflict between economic progress and aboriginal land rights continues to fuel the Naxalite’s activities.

Arundhati Roy, a Naxalite sympathiser said that the tribal forestlands should be called a “MoUist Corridor” instead of the “Maoist Corridor” as the people of these tribal forest lands have been wrestling with “memorandum of Understanding” (MoUs) of the mining companies.

The sociologist Walter Fernandes estimates that about 40% of all those displaced by government projects are of tribal origin.

3. Forest Protection Act of 1980

Although the legislation was an attempt to protect country’s natural resources from exploitation, the law essentially outlawed the existence of many tribal villages that had been in place for centuries. As areas were delineated as reserve forests, traditional occupations of even gathering twigs were forbidden. People who earned their livelihood through access to forest resources in a sustainable manner suddenly found themselves outside the law.

It was only in 2008 that amendment to forest rights act recognised the tribals’ rights over forest land and forest produce but animosity towards the government had already grown substantially exacerbated by the lack of basic development support to tribal villages.

4. Developmental Deficit and economic inequality

Tribal poverty today is worse than that of Scheduled castes and on par with those of sub-Saharan African countries.The districts that comprise the red corridor are among the poorest in the country.

A key characteristic of this region is non diversified economic activity solely dependent on primary sector. The region has significant natural resources, including mineral, forestry and potential hydroelectric generation capacity E.g. Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Jharkhand account for approximately 85% of India’s coal resources. Exploitation of the natural resources for the economic progress of the country, ironically, has led to displacement and deprivation of the tribals, further leading to a feeling of alienation.

5. Social Conditions:

The area encompassed by the red corridor tends to have stratified societies, with caste and feudal divisions and violence associated with friction between different social groups.

6. The governance deficit:

  • Lack of education facilities and basic sustainable employment
  • Lack of basic healthcare facilities
  • Infrastructure deficit
  • Issues related to law and order, grievance redressal
  • Lack of routine administration and poorly motivated public personnel
  • Mismanagement and corruption in government schemes like Public Distribution System.
  • Poor implementation of special laws
  • High handedness of the local administration

7. Geographical factors:

The terrain in these areas is suitable for guerrilla tactics.

It is also because of the terrain that the reach and spread of governmental programmes has been slower in these areas.  In these remote upland areas, public officials are unwilling to work hard, and often unwilling to work at all and these postings are often termed as ‘punishment postings’. On the other hand, the Maoists are prepared to walk miles to hold a village meeting, and listen sympathetically to tribal grievances.

The Maoists live among, and in the same state of penury as, the tribals. Also, some of their actions have sometimes helped the adivasis. This is especially the case with rates for the collection of non-timber forest produce, such as tendu patta, which have gone up by as much 200% in areas where the Naxalites are active and the contractors fearful of their wrath.

8. Inability of the tribal leaders to get their grievances addressed by the formal political system. [The reasons behind this have been separately analysed here.]

Thats it for this part!

In the next part, we will analyse the security threats posed by Naxalism and the challenges faced in dealing with it. (Click here for part 3). This is supposed to be one of the most comprehensive series in Internal Security related Issues. Your feedback is welcome ?

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