An update on left wing extremism in India
India versus the Maoists - Status update
- The story: The Ministry of Home Affairs informed in September that the geographical influence of Maoists (Left Wing Extremists - LWEs) had contracted from 96 districts in 10 States to 41 districts in 2010. That seemed impressive.
- Maoists in India: Naxalism (violent Maoism) started from Naxalbari in West Bengal, in the 1980s. It took many shapes, and finally, the People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre of India merged into the CPI (Maoist) in 2004.
- It managed to consolidate its presence across “Red Corridor” spanning across the central and north-central India, marked by rural deprivation.
- The CPI (Maoist) has sought to project itself as a revolutionary political movement that sought to rebuild after the failures of the earlier Naxalite movement.
- Rather than focussing on socio-economic struggles, Maoists relied on waging a military battle against the state to capture power resulting in militarisation of these areas.
- It led to repression of tribal people both by state actions such as creation of Salwa Judum (disbanded by judicial order) and Maoist authoritarianism.
- Red Corridor region: The Red Corridor area is the area under the influence of Left Wing Extremists (LWE) or Maoists. It is spread across 10 states — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and some northern fringes of Tamil Nadu. These Maoist-affected areas were first classified in 2006. The districts were assessed on parameters like - (i) Violence profile, and (ii) The kind of logistical and other support provided to maoist cadres.
- Governments’ measures: The state governments deployed additional resources and are trying their best to check Maoists’ expansion. A number of awareness campaigns were organised in remote areas which are most vulnerable to Maoist influence. Arrangements for villagers’ training were made and government employment facilitated.
- Financial aid of around Rs.30 crore annually is given to the districts for various developmental works.
- Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism (LWE) Affected Areas has been undertaken by the government.
- After the killing of 25 CRPF personnel in Sukuma district of Chhattisgarh in 2017, “SAMADHAN doctrine” has been formulated to counter naxalism.
- Fortified Police Station Scheme was launched by the central government in 10 States to enhance the security of police personnels.
- Under the Special Infrastructure Scheme, around 120croreswas given to strengthen the special forces.
- The Home Ministry has provided support to security forces for other facilities such as Helicopters, UAVs etc.
- The Maoist insurgency still has potency in South Bastar in Chhattisgarh, Andhra-Odisha border and in some districts in Jharkhand.
- Effects of LWE: Frequent skirmishes have affected the security forces, and left many tribal civilians in the crossfire. Human rights violations were reported in naxal prone areas, frequently. It added to the alienation among the poor in these areas, and also affected the government exchequer. The LWE widened the backwardness in terms of social and economic development, and affected the democratic setup by hindering the elections.
- Solutions: The origin of LWE was in a revolt against the iniquitous social structure. Empowerment of tribal people and civil society activists to promote peace in these areas can work wonders. Expansion of welfare and rights paradigms to limit the LWE movement is crucial. The surrendered LWE cadre should be used for intelligence collection. Trade in minor forest produce needs a closer look in Maoist-affected areas to break the contractor-Maoist nexus. The country’s best weapon against ultras is extending the welfare state to areas it hasn’t quite reached.
- EXAM QUESTIONS: (1) Explain the idea of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in India. Where was its genesis? Why? (2) What can be a long-term solution to tackling the LWE in India? (3) Why has the Indian state not able to completely eradicate LWE from all states despite a four-decade long effort? Explain the various reasons.