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Left-wing extremism: Gadchirolli encounter a blow to Maoist

  • Category
    Security
  • Published
    23rd Nov, 2021

Context

The Gadchiroli encounter in which 26 members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), including key fugitives, were ‘neutralized’ was a severe blow to the Naxals’ urban and jungle networks in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra.

Background

  • The activities of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, building cadre strength, allegedly conducting weapons training, and always having an ear to the ground were major reasons for this encounter by security forces.
  • The Naxal insurgency in India originated in a 1967uprising in Naxalbari (West Bengal) under the leadership of Charu Majumdar, by the Communist Party of India (Marxist). 
  • They are the group of people who believe in the far-left radical communist's political theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong.
  • LWE organizations are the groups that try to bring change through violent revolution. They are against democratic institutions and use violence to subvert the democratic processesat the ground level.

Analysis

What is Left- Wing Extremism?  

  • Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) is recognized as one of the most serious and biggest internal security threats, not only to India’s internal security but indeed to the very basic values of the democratic, pluralistic political order enshrined in our Constitution.
  • LWE organizations are the groups that try to bring change through violent revolution. They are against democratic institutions and use violence to subvert the democratic processesat the ground level.
  • These groups prevent the developmental processes in the least developed regionsof the country & try to misguide the people by keeping them ignorant of current happenings.
  • Traditionally, during the early years of the movement, they handled weapons like bows and arrows, and country-made firearms, but now, they possess sophisticated weapons including rocket launchers and AK rifles.

What are the Left-wing affected states in India?

  • As many as nine Indian states are bearing the brunt of Naxalism.
  • Of these, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh are the worst-affected while Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal are partially affected.
  • Andhra Pradesh and Bihar remain the hotbed of PWG and MCC operations.
  • The ultra-leftist groups active in Bihar are – The most dreaded ‘Maoist Communist Centre’, CPI (ML) Liberation, CPI (ML) Peoples War, Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti, CPI(ML) Janashakti, CPI(ML) Towards New Democracy, and small groups like Santosh Rana group, Shantipal group, KanuSanyal group, and Jeetender group.
  • The People’s War Group, formed by Kondapalli Seetharamaiah (KS) on April 22, 1980, is the most dominant Naxalite force in Andhra Pradesh.

What are the major causes behind the sustenance of Left Wing Extremism in India?

  • Tribal discontentThe Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 deprives tribals of the authority to use forest produce.
  • Further, there has been a huge displacement of the tribal population in the Naxalism-affected states due to development projects, mining operations, and other reasons. 
  • It is apprehended that the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Amendment Bill,2021 will bring more misery to the tribals.
  • Gullible Targets: A huge chunk of the tribal population lives below the poverty line. They are also devoid of basic education and health facilities. Thus, Maoists are easily able to persuade them by offering to take up monetary incentives and a better future.
  • Absence of strong technical intelligence:There is poor technical intelligence when it comes to tackling Naxalism. For instance, some villages are not yet connected properly with any communication network which hinders action against Naxalites.
  • No Follow-Up from the administration:It is seen that even after the police take hold of a region, the administration fails to provide essential services to the people of that region.
  • Police AtrocitiesThe tribals are sometimes harassed by the security forces in the mistaken belief that they may be Maoists. Such instances create hatred against security forces and boost recruitment in Maoist camps.
  • Ideological Boost: Mao was able to oust the Chinese government and establish communism in China. To date, Communists are ruling the country, which gives a strong ideological boost to Maoist movements across the world.
  • Support from other actors:They are connected to various internal and external insurgent groups that provide them weapons, shelter, and finance. For instance, as per a few reports, CPI Maoists may have links with foreign Maoist organizations in the Philippines, Turkey, etc.

What are the impacts of rising Left-Wing Extremism in India?

  • Hampering Democracy:They threaten the locals before the conduct of elections and prevent them from voting. It violates the principle of participative democracy.
  • They resort to violence through their guerrilla tactics and attempt to set up their governmentin the local villages.
  • Infrastructural Damage: They destroy the roads, transport system, and government resources. Thereby they create hindrance in governance and last-mile connectivity.
  • Illegal Activities: They resort to extortion, abduction of important personalities like Politicians, bureaucrats, police, etc. They are also engaged in drug trafficking cartels.
  • Undermines Credibility of Government:The survival of LWE shows a failure of governance thereby eroding the faith of masses in governance set up and impacting the unity of the nation.
  • Isolating Tribal Villages:These extremist movements have disconnected several tribal villages from the national mainstream. 
  • Security threatsExtremism causes threats to the securityof the nation and assets of the country. It threatens the unity and diversity of the nation. Radicalization of youth poses a threat to internal security. It has impacted the development of the affected region leading to many people still living in poverty.

Steps taken to contain Left Wing Extremism in India

  • A dedicated left-wing extremism divisionwas established in 2006 under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It aimed to effectively address the LWE insurgency
  • CPI (Maoist) Party is designated as a terrorist organizationunder the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. This gives the forces greater power and autonomy to deal with Maoists.
  • National Policy and Action Planto address the LWE problem has been put in place that envisages a multi-pronged strategy involving
  • Security-related measures–  Providing Central Armed Police Forces battalions, training, funds for modernization of State police forces, equipment & arms, sharing of intelligence, etc. 
  • Developmental interventions– construction of roads, strengthening of communications network, installation of mobile towers, improving the network of banks, post offices, health and education facilities, etc.
  • Operation ‘SAMADHAN is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)’s initiative to deal with the Naxal problem. The acronym SAMADHAN stands for Smart leadership, Aggressive strategy, Motivation and training, Actionable Intelligence, Dashboard Based KPIs (key performance indicators) and KRAs (key result areas), harnessing technology, action plan for each theater, and No access to financing.

What is the Counter-Insurgency (COIN) Strategy of India?

  • India began using the COIN strategy with its first full-blown insurgency in Nagaland in the 1950s.
  • People-centric approach: One strategy says that given the Maoist insurgency posturing itself as a “people’s war”, the mandate is for a people-centric approach of “winning hearts and minds” that is built on the notions of competitive state-building to address economic and governance deficiencies.
  • Enemy-centric approach: The other strategy argues that an enemy-centric approach predicated on kinetic operations is best suited for the Maoist insurgency, where the fear of the population seceding from India is remote.
  • Most of the states have raised special forces on the lines of Greyhounds, and are being given rigorous training in “counter-guerrilla” tactics and jungle warfare
  • Greyhounds: It was raised in 1989 as an elite anti-naxal force.
  • Mixed strategy: But the Andhra government based its COIN strategy on a judicious mix of the enemy-centric and population-centric approaches.
  • The successes achieved by the Greyhounds, Andhra’s elite special forces, could only be consolidated through the robust implementation of short-gestation-period developmental works in the Maoist-affected rural areas.
  • Moreover, the erstwhile state is also the first state to have a comprehensive surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy.
  • Surrender and rehabilitation policies: After the 2014 guidelines of the central government were brought out, many states have crafted attractive surrender and rehabilitation policies.
  • A surrender and rehabilitation policy only works when there is sustained military pressure on the Maoists.

Red Corridor

  • The Red Corridor is the region in the central, eastern, and southern parts of India that experience severe Naxalite–Maoist insurgency.
  • The districts affected by this and part of the Corridor are among the poorest in India.
  • Most of the region has a high tribal population. The region is also marked by severe caste and economic disparities.
  • Roughly, the Corridor stretches from the Indian border with Nepal and extends to the northern fringes of Tamil Nadu.
  • The region also has a significantly lower literacy rate compared to the national average.

Issues in Government Measures: 

  • Intelligence inputs:The traditional method of gathering intelligence through police receivers placed on hills is not delivering optimum results. The recent April attack exposed this lacuna as Maoists deliberately gave false information over it.
  • Large troop operations: It is believed that larger forces give better protection but the recent attack exposed their vulnerability. The 1000 personnel movement wasn’t able to maneuver secretly and hence exposed themselves to the Maoists. 
  • Existence of Trust Deficit: The common masses don’t trust the forces/administrative authorities due to varied cultures and external appearance. This automatically reduces the impact of tribal-friendly measures. 
  • Lacunas in protecting state informers: The people who give information to security forces are often tortured and killed by Maoists. The state has not done enough to protect them.
  • Approach in Tackling: More emphasis is placed on looking at LWE as a security problem. However, in reality, it is more of a socio-economic and political issue.
  • Lack of Conviction:Some local politicians covertly support the conduct of Naxals that impairs the intensity of anti LWE operations. 

Suggestions to tackle Left Wing Extremism

  • Firstly, the government of India and the Maoists should try to sign Peace agreementsthat would be a win-win situation for all. In this regard, learnings from Mizo Accord can be taken that have delivered desired results.
  • Secondly, Ensure all-around development of the Naxal-affected It would involve strengthening the rights of local communities, improving governance, and augmenting public perception management.
  • Thirdly,employ more local people in the administrative process which can act as a bridge to curtail the trust deficit. Further support of civil society can be taken for awarding tribals. 
    • Eg- A peace march was organized in March 2021 where about 150 tribals from Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Telangana participated under the slogan of ‘Bastarmaangehinsa se Azadi’.
  • Fourthly, the forces should be used in small groupsfor maintaining greater efficiency. For instance, one of the most successful operations (the Greyhounds) involved the use of small teams that operate on solid human intelligence.
  • Fifthly, policy measures thatprovide indirect benefits should be implemented with due care. For instance, effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act can ensure better control of local communities over Minor Forest Produce. This can reduce their attraction towards LWE.  

Conclusion

Though the number of incidents of LWE violence has come down in the recent past, continued efforts and focus are needed in eliminating such groups.

Innovative measures are required to be employed in preventing IED (Improvised Explosive Device) related incidents which have caused significant casualties in recent years.

States should rationalize their surrender policy to bring innocent individuals caught in the trap of LWE into the mainstream.

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