This article is written by Ayushi Mahajan from Centre For Legal Studies, Gitarattan International Business School (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University). This article talks about the technologies used by Naxalites and the role of police in Naxalite areas.
A naxal or naxalite is a member of any political organization claiming the legacy of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) established in Calcutta in 1969. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) is today the largest existing political group of that dynasty in India.
Naxalites have often targeted tribal, police and government personnel for what they say is a battle for better land rights and neglected agricultural labourers and more jobs for the poor.
Naxalites originated as a result of the partition of Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1967. It formed the Communist Party of India (Marxist and Leninist). While West Bengal was initially the centre of the movement, Naxalism spread to less developed regions like Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. The CPI-ML is contesting in several states across India. The most prominent among these groups are CPI-ML (Liberation), CPI-ML (Kanu), CPI-ML (Manpower), CPI-ML (New Democracy) and others.
Origin of naxalism in India
The Naxalite movement started with the Naxalite incident in Bengai Jote village of Naxalbari located in Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district of West Bengal on 25 May 1967. Here, a tribal youth, who had a judicial order to mortgage his land, was attacked by goons of local landlords.
The tribals retaliated and refused to give part of their produce to the owner of the land and took out the entire stock from their reserves. It ignited a violent movement.
In order to maintain law and order, the state government (which was a united front called CPI, CPI (M), Bangla Congress and eight other party leaders) ordered police action against the rebels. Police opened fire on the villagers and 9 adults and 2 children were killed in the shootout.
The rebellion was crushed in a few months and a half but it gained tremendous support and leadership from the state units of the CPU (M) such as the Charu Mazumdar and the Communist revolutionaries’ belonging to Kanu Sanyal.
Charu Mazumdar was a Marxist-Leninist from India. Born into a progressive zamindar family in Siliguri in 1918, he later formed the militant Naxalite cause. He also wrote historical accounts of the Naxalbari uprising of 1967 and his authorship became an ideology guiding the Naxalite movement. Charu Mazumdar wrote various articles based on the Marx-Lenin-Mao idea. These articles were later known as the “Historical Eight Documents” and formed the ideological basis of the Naxalite movement. Charu Majumdar is now revered as the father of Naxalism in India and is also the first Maoist of India.
First phase of numerous splits
In 1972, Majumdar was arrested and died in custody. This was almost the end of the Naxalite movement, but became an inspiration for those who were interested in achieving social justice through violence. The CPI (ML) once again split into separate factions led by Vinod Mishra, Mahadev Mukherjee, Santosh Rana, Chandra Pulla Reddy, Tarimela Negi Reddy, Appalsuri and others. Thus, from its beginnings to the late 1980s, the Naxalite movement saw many divisions and some mergers. But this was the period of spread of the ideology of Naxalism. During these times, the movement attracted and inspired a large number of youth including students. During this period, about 200 revolutionary magazines and publications were brought to the fore. In the days that followed, the movement had ideological, moral, financial and intellectual support from China as the movement was inspired by China. In no time, the Naxalite movement spread in many states.
Second phase of merger and consolidation
In 2004, the People’s War and MCCI merged, resulting in the largest and deadliest Naxalite organization in India, known as CPI (Maoist). At that time, it had an estimated strength of 9,500 underground armed men and women. Ganapathi is its general secretary and is currently its leader. In 2014, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Naxalbari also merged into the CPI (Maoist). Currently, this party has been declared as a terrorist organization under the UAPA Act.
Causes of Naxalism in India
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 deprives tribals, who depend on forest produce for their livelihood, even by cutting a bark. Extensive displacement of tribal population in Naxalite affected states due to development projects, mining works and other reasons.
Gaps in Socio-Economic System of the Country
The government measures its success based on the number of violent attacks rather than the development carried out in Naxal-affected areas. For example, structural problems, some villages are not yet properly connected to any communication network.
No Follow Up From Administration
It is seen that even after the police capture a region, the administration fails to provide necessary services to the people of that area as there was approx no help provided from the administration angle. Usually the Naxals have no follow up from the administration.
The aim of Naxalism
Naxalites aim to seize or capture political/state power through prevailing armed struggle. All other demands are for achieving this goal. Major demands include rights over water, forests, land and mineral wealth (water, forests, land and minerals). Lack of political consensus, implementation and monitoring of development plans and programs, governance and security force preparedness are the challenges faced by the government.
Difference between Naxals and Maoists naxalite
- The difference between the Maoists struggle and the Naxalite movement is that both trace their origins to the 1967 Naxalbari uprising.
- But when the Naxalite movement thrives on the basic spirit of Naxalbari; The Maoist conflict is the result of the 1967 uprising.
- The Maoists operate with an agenda and use weapons to achieve their objectives.
- Naxalism focuses on mass organizations while Maoism is mainly dependent on arms.
- Maoism originated in China while Naxalism is derived from the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal. The terrorist is not related to any movement or party.
- The Naxalites are mostly in the Indian sub-continent and are members of an armed revolutionary group advocating Maoist communism.
Therefore, the two words (Naxalites and Maoists) should not be used interchangeably because they are not the same and their ideologies are different.
Steps taken by the government
- Operation Green Hunt: It was launched in 2010 and heavily deployed security forces in Naxalite affected areas.
- From 223 districts affected by Naxalism in the year 2010, this number has come down to 90 in nine years.
- The government also launched a ‘Relief and Rehabilitation Policy’ to bring the Naxalites into the mainstream.
- Members of the Politburo, the Central Committee of the Communist Parties, were either killed or arrested.
- The Aspirational Districts Program: Launched in 2018, it aims to rapidly transform districts that have shown relatively little progress in key social sectors.
- The continuous efforts of the government have reduced the frequency of violent attacks in Naxalite affected areas.
Role of technology
Trackers in weapons and biometrics in smart guns are some of the new techniques that security forces fighting Naxalites may soon adopt to investigate the use of weapons looted by guerrillas. The idea was floated by Home Minister Rajnath Singh during a meeting of Chief Ministers in Naxal-affected states where they offered him help with state-of-the-art technology.
A tracker can detect a looted weapon where it is taken or used, while biometrics can make a smart gun useless for anyone else except the authorized user. Singh said the trackers should be fitted in shoes, bullet-proof jackets and more. In addition, the Home Minister said, unique identification numbers should also be used in gelatin and other explosive substances.
- Using highly sophisticated VHF sets which are not only transceivers, but also scanners, with scrambler facility.
- Recent interrogations reveal their plans to set up FM Radio Stations and their own communication base.
- Sophisticated communication equipments and laptops, data cards, PDA (Personal digital assistant).
- Extensive use of the internet for transmission of encrypted data like steganography, PGP (pretty good privacy).
- Use of satellite phones, mobile phones.
Role of police in Naxalite areas
Even before independence, the communists led a revolt against the feudal landlords in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. The peasants and farm labourers revolted against their oppressors and succeeded in liberating thousands of acres of land, distributing it among the landless peasants and sharecroppers. After the independence, the constitutional provisions of the Fifth and the Ninth Schedules giving rights to forest land for Scheduled Tribes did not come into force.
After independence, political power became comparatively rich and influential, rising from the upper strata of society. The underprivileged and the exploited, including the landless peasants, sharecroppers and labourers who depended on the rich for their welfare, hardly made a decision. These led to rebellion in various states like West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.
Basic Principles followed by Police
- Patrol and comb remote and interior areas aggressively.
- Mapping of water resources, shelters, caves, R.V. Point, campsite etc.
- Explosive and constant search for weapons
- Police keep their promises.
- Good informant network.
- Maintain contact with surrender cadres and UG cadre families provide more help.
- Selectively target Maoist leadership.
- All attempts to locate “major” killers.
- Always follow the NHRC guidelines.
Recent Chhattisgarh Naxal Attack
A senior official said that Chhattisgarh police, in collaboration with paramilitary forces, are carrying out “small surgical” operations against the Naxalites in the insurgency-hit Bastar region, which is a “major” exercise. The operation is based on specific intelligence inputs and the police plan to continue it even during the monsoon. Seven Maoists, including five women, were killed earlier this month in several clashes between security forces and ultrasound in the districts of Bastar region. IG, Bastar Range, SRP Kalluri told PTI, “Till now we are carrying out small (anti-Naxal) operations in various districts, which are running for larger operations.” The officer, however, declined to reveal the nature of the aggressive person, saying, “We have had success in our recent times”.
Police Station Security
The police will take care of the police stations in the following way:
- Separate funds for PS defence structures.
- Roof-top sentries introduced.
- Motorcycles, BP jackets, binoculars, High band VHF sets supplied to PSs
- Construction of PSs & quarters in the same premises.
- Augmentation & rationalization of PS strength.
- Redeployment of APSP by taking into consideration the vulnerability of PSs.
- Regular review of PS security by OSD etc.
- Sentry posts – Permanent, Bulletproof and sandbagged.
- Lighting (Inverters/ Generators).
- Stand-to drill.
- Weapons & weapon training.
- Intelligence sharing.
- Precautions against abduction.
- Defence and Contingency Plan.
- Keeping country/stray dogs.
- Rationalization of policeman: weapon ratio in PSs
- Creation of 5190 posts of Home Guards to be recruited from extremist-affected areas.
- Sanction of funds for fortification of Police Stations and for procuring of special equipment.
- Fully utilizing the GOI (Government of India) scheme of SPOs (Special Police Officers) for collection of intelligence and also for operations in extremist areas, without exposing them.
- Fully utilizing MOP (Maintenance operational protocol) and SRE (Surveillance radar Equipment) support MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs).
- Augmenting strength of Special Protection Force.
- Analysis of seized documents and computers.
- Locate and neutralize sources of weapon supply.
- Locate and neutralize accumulated extorted money/funds.
- Check and neutralize supply of explosives and technical equipment.
- Civil Liberties Groups.
- PIL asking registration of murder cases for every encounter death.
- Social problems.
- Govt. machinery – PDS and rest of developmental machinery.
- Maintenance of SC/ST hostels.
- Counter publicity and propaganda.
- Right to Information Act.
Naxalism has its origins against the marginalization of poor forest dwellers and gradually the lack of local development and poverty in rural parts of eastern India. It started in 1967 with an armed peasant uprising in Naxalbari village of Darjeeling district in West Bengal. The word ‘Naxal’ has come from the name of the village. The government needs innovative solutions to locate armed groups in dense forests of Naxalite affected areas. The local police know the language and topography of a region; It can fight Naxalism better than the armed forces. India has achieved some success in tackling Naxalism, but the root causes have not yet been addressed. The central and state governments should continue to follow a two-sided strategy i.e. to ensure the safety of people in Naxal-affected areas as well as to take initiative for the development of such areas.
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