Anil Kamboj, IG (Retd.)
The Naxalites or the Communist Party of India (Maoist), or Maoists, in short have been identified as the biggest internal security threat to India by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The movement is the biggest threat because it affects several areas including the economy, security and foreign affairs, its citizens and rule of law. It highlights various underlying weaknesses of India’s governance, political institutions and socio-economic structure. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) describes the objectives of Naxalites as destroying “state legitimacy…with the ultimate object of attaining political power by violent means”. The Maoists are now a formidable wider movement with vastly improved military capability, an effective chain of command, and brutal and repressive personnel known to commit abuses and atrocities. This once near moribund struggle has resurrected itself and has now spread to 182 Districts.
The Maoist uprising is a result of deprivation, inequality, failure of the state to ensure that all segments of society are able to enjoy their basic entitlements and needs, safeguarded by the Constitution and other legislation. This form of movement has all along been sustained by India’s wide and deep rooted inequality with conflict over land ownership, struggles for the rights over mineral and forest wealth, poverty, and denial of justice and human dignity, which plays a pivotal role in alienating a large segment of the poor working class.
Under these circumstances, it is easy to see how the Maoist’s ideology is popular among the rural poor and indigenous tribes, and why the tribal view the guerrillas as their “saviours”. The tribal do not feel like they have any political power to voice their grievances legitimately and therefore they have joined their band wagon and taken up arms. The Naxalites are not concerned about the social or economic welfare of the tribals but simply use them as a means to its end goal of seizing political power.
The Naxalite threat is the biggest security problem as its effects are multi-layered. The Maoist movement highlights India’s interior weaknesses, which makes India also vulnerable to external threats. As part of globalisation, threats such as the Naxalite movement can no longer be viewed as simply internal as it also affects external security. Besides this, Naxalites are the biggest threat to security is because of the way the issue affects India’s economic development. Internal order and stability are necessary for a nation’s economic development.
The Maoist rebels are no longer just focussing on remote jungles but on urban centres. Besides this they are also spreading their wings to the North-east Indian States. The Upper Assam Leading Committee, affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Maoist), is operating in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and has been involved in looting of weapons and extortion from local villagers. The Assam-Arunachal border has emerged as another theatre of Maoist activity. The outfit is also establishing separate channels in the North-East, particularly in Nagaland for procurement of ammunition. The Central Committee of CPI (Maoist) had extended all its support to the newly formed Maoist Communist Party of Manipur (MCPM). Earlier Maoist had already established its links with the PLA insurgent group of Manipur. PLA is the oldest insurgent group which had been following Maoist teachings. The Maoists are also getting assistance from across the border. Some groups in Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh are also extending their support to them. Groups in the North-East have been getting support from terror groups from the neighbouring countries. With the Maoists working closely with the N-E insurgent groups, now they too have made contacts outside the country. Matter of grave concern is SIMI joining hands with the Maoists. SIMI has sleeper cells which could be used as desired. Now it would be possible for both of them to share their networks to carry out their tasks.
Likely State's Responce: The complexity of the causes of the Naxalite problem, calls for a synergy between the Central Governments and the states. Socio-economic alienation and the dissatisfaction with the widening economic and political inequality will not be solved by military force alone. There is a requirement for conducting proactive and sustained operations against Maoist extremists; and, addressing the development and governance issues in Left Wing Extremism affected areas. It should be ensured that people residing in Left Wing Extremist affected areas are able to live in an environment of peace and security and derive full benefits of the development efforts. The authorities have to go to the people at the grass roots level to know their difficulties and expectations. Thereafter the requirements have to be prioritised and accordingly the development of the area is to be carried out.
There is a need to adopt a uniform strategy to deal with this Left Wing Extremist (Maoist) insurgency by all the affected states as the Left Wing extremism affected areas are inter-linked have a uniform insurgency doctrine. There is a need to strengthen the basic policing at the grass-roots level which apparently has collapsed in the Naxal affected areas. Only intelligence based operations should be carried out and continuously target the top leadership of the Maoists. The special trained forces of the states should also counter the capabilities of the military companies of the Maoists.
The Maoists have been operating in the areas where there is a security and political vacuum; there is an immediate need to fill the security vacuum by adequate deployment of security forces. After dominating the area the development process should immediately commence in that particular area which has been cleared of the Maoists and side by side, the political process should begin. There is an immediate requirement for road connectivity so that the authorities can approach the people conveniently. The funds provided for the development should be utilised effectively. There should be a proper monitoring process. A recruitment drive should be carried out in the Naxal affected areas to discourage the youth from joining the LWE movement.
The main source of funds for the Maoists includes extortion from tendupatta contractors, development work contractors, businessmen, corporate houses. In addition, they even rob banks and public property. This money is utilised for purchase of arms, equipment, explosives and to carry their activities. They even purchase gold and this gold is properly concealed in the deep jungle. Proper counter-measures should immediately be taken to check this illegal collection of funds. The Maoists are even carrying out civic actions as a counter strategy. To counter this, an aggressive psychological operations be carried out against the Maoists as ideological battle has to be won ideologically.
Attractive surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy should be worked out by the Central and State Governments to encourage the Maoist cadre to surrender.
This menace calls for a three-pronged solution: social and economic development, multi-lateral dialogue and military force. In addition to this the most important is good governance and a political will.
(The writer is Inspector General (Retd.) is a former officer of Border Security Force. At present he is Professor at New Delhi Institute of Management Approved by AICTE & AIU.)