Naxalites insurgency in India

Dr. A. Z. Hilali

India is a Hindu dominant country and its society is pluralistic and its political history is full from a rash of spiteful religious and ethnic clashes. There are over 200 different languages, customs and more than one dozen different religions and seven of them being very prominent ones including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism and Zoroastrians. Imagine a nation where the majority of population does not understand their national anthem or the President’s address to the nation but surprisingly still called one nation. Since long the country is under the grip of severe ethnic tension and socio-cultural violence is common in several corners and continues clashes between Hindus, Muslims, Christians and other minorities presenting the worst scenario of the country. The India’s Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens but it has failed to dismantle the Hindu caste system and in particular to erase centuries of discrimination against the “untouchable” Dalit caste. The ethnic and communal tension is totally indigenous in India and many internal security threats are purely home grown and numbers of secessionist and revolutionary movements born because of grave economic and socio-cultural deprivation. They are against the federal structure and New Delhi’s discriminatory treatment with the small states and struggling for secession from the Indian Union. So, since independence (1947), India is facing variety of violent conflicts based on religion, caste, language, ethnicity and regional loyalties. The world media reported that India is the home of largest number of domestic terrorist organizations in the world and according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the CPI (Maoist) as 34th terrorist organization under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention). In this regard, the small states of India’s northeast are ethnically and culturally distinct from the rest of the country. They are fighting to expand their social and political autonomy and to protect their land against encroachment from India’s expanding Hindu population. Historically, the Naxalites are from West Bengal and have taken an informal name given to communist groups based on India, inspired by China’s leader Mao Tse-Tung. They have popular support from the poor tribal and rural masses and fighting for their legitimate rights for jobs and land ownership. They have expanded their insurgency to 220 districts out of 630, targeting landowners (feudals) and central government institutions. The most recent figures also shows that the strength of the movement is around 25,000 and claimed the guerrillas control an estimated one fifth of India’s forests, as well as being active in 160 of the country’s 604 districts. The states of Maharashtra in the west, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in the north, the eastern state of West Bengal and the southern state of Andhra Pradesh are the main areas of Naxalites activities. They are around 40,000 and have a loose connection with the Maoist insurgents of Nepal, who are now the leading party in the post-royal government. In the beginning, the Naxalite movement had its centre in West Bengal but in recent time they revolutionary spread into backward tribal areas and in rural central and eastern India particularly in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh areas through the activities of underground groups such as the Communist Party of India (Maoist). They are conducting an insurgency under the umbrella of the Naxalite or Maoist movement and have great influence in northeast of India, especially concentrated in an area known as the “Naxal Belt” (approximately 92,000 square kilometers). The term Naxalites comes from Naxalbari, a small village in West Bengal, where a Communist Party of India (Marxist Group) led by Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal against the domination of New Delhi rule. The leadership started movement on May 25, 1967 from Naxalbari village where a peasant was attacked by hired hands over a land dispute. The local peasants retaliated by attacking the local landlords and the violence escalated and Majumdar advocated Indian peasants and lower classes that they must follow Mao’s footsteps and overthrow the government and upper classes whom he held responsible for their plight. Majumdar formed Naxalite movement through his writings and the now this is a one of the most organized party in the country. The Naxalites have gained a strong presence amongst the radical sections of the students movement in Kolkata (Calcutta) and large number of students have divorce their education and joined revolutionary activities. Naxalites claimed that the revolutionary warfare have been taken place not only in the rural areas but also in the urban places. They have entirely indigenous movement and have been trained by volunteers of Indian ex-army personnel. They are actively involved to provide training and guidance about weapons against Indian army. They have high-altitude warfare equipments and hundreds of young women and men have given training about anti-air and tank attack against the Indian army and paramilitary forces. So, it is normal for the Naxalites guerrillas to attack on Indian army barracks, storage depots and power plants. According to Western sources, many fascist militant organizations based on India are involved to provide funds, training methods and special guidance to the volunteer fighters. According to Anasuya Ray (researcher for an NGO based in Pune, India), writes about her recent fieldwork in India’s tribal belt, where grinding poverty and malnutrition are driving villagers to support the Naxalites and rebel group seeking to overthrow the government. She also mentioned that the Naxalites are an assortment of violent Maoist rebel groups who stage internecine attacks on Indian government targets to bring attention to region’s blight. Varavara Rao (the renowned communist author and Naxalite sympathizer based in the southern city of Hyderabad) also indicated that hundreds of thousands of poor people, particularly from India’s tribal belts, are joining the Naxalite militia to conduct raids and participate in attacks for their struggle of freedom from New Delhi’s imperialistic rule. There are also reports that the New Delhi government have been accused of gross human rights violations and for each alleged government abuse, the Naxalites have responded with double the level of violence. In fact, the day indigenous Naxakites freedom movement has been extended in different parts of Karnataka, Kerala, Uttaranchal, Tamil Nadu, Chotanagpur, Maharashtra, and Orissa, the New Delhi security establishment has deployed around 110,000 military and para-military troops to eliminate indispensable spirit of freedom but completely failed to control the situation. They initiated chronic war crimes and thousands of people are imprisoned for political reasons, often without charges of trials. Torture and ill-treatment are common, and hundreds have died in custody. Hundreds more are victims of extra-judicial executions or forced disappearances. Military groups under the planned programme are involved for grave human rights violations, including killings, tortures and rapes, with impunity. In reality, human rights abuses have been a part of a campaign by the Indian military against Naxakites and it is continues to be a major instrument of Indian repression against the northeast freedom fighters. Nonetheless, Naxakites are determined to fight for freedom struggle and they have commitment that they will continue to fight against Indian illegitimate occupation. In this connection, Naxal leader Varghese described that Naxal struggle is an ideal movement to seek inspiration to carry their struggle for freedom to its logical end. The movement is also a message for New Delhi that if the Naxakites did not bow down their heads before the tyranny of British empire, as to how they will succumb to the despotic Indian rule. However, the Naxakites are determined that struggle against India’s occupation will continue because it is a struggle for the basic rights of freedom and democracy.