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Since the mid-1960s, the term Naxalite has been used for Maoists and militant groups in some parts of India. The name comes from Naxalbari, a small town in North Bengal, Northeastern India, where tribal people revolted against local landlords. The revolt calmed for a while, but later, it became the center of communist-led movements against the government, led by the Naxalites. The term—often given as Naxalism or the Naxal movement—has been applied to the communist insurgency itself.3


Naxalites are a group of radical communists who follow Maoist ideas. They started in 1967 when the Communist Party of India (Marxist) split, leading to the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist). Originally in West Bengal, the movement expanded to rural areas in central and eastern India, like Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, through groups like the Communist Party of India (Maoist). People from lower castes, including Dalits, have joined the movement.

In 2007, Naxalites were active in about half of India’s states, covering 40% of the country’s land. They called the region under their influence the “Red Corridor,” spanning around 92,000 square kilometers.By 2009, they were active in about 180 districts across ten states. In 2010, authorities no longer considered Karnataka as Naxal-affected. In 2011, the number of affected areas decreased to 83 districts across nine states, with a proposed addition of 20 more districts.

Factor Responsible to the Naxalism

The rise of Naxalism did not occur overnight; it evolved from a combination of long-standing issues that India’s history overlooked. This movement resulted from several factors that highlighted problems that were often neglected.

Forest Mismanagement: The mismanagement of forests traces back to the British colonial era when laws were introduced to monopolize forest resources. Post-1990, the Indian government’s handling of natural resources exacerbated the situation. This sparked discontent among forest-dwelling communities, fueling their resistance against the government.

Disorganized Tribal Policies: Post-independence, the detachment of local groups from the government was expected to be resolved. However, the lack of proper implementation of policies meant for these communities led to projects that displaced them from their homes, pushing them to join the Naxalite movement, even from other states.

Intraregional and Interregional Discrepancies: Historically, individuals with low income in India faced neglect from the government. Naxalites became the voice of the less privileged, attracting those from the lower economic class who believed the movement could address their issues. This led to widespread support for Naxalism among the economically disadvantaged.

Absence of Land Reforms and Industrialization: Half-hearted attempts by the government at land reforms and industrial policies left a significant impact on backward societies. The failure to organize agriculture in rural India resulted in a struggling economy, near-zero employment, and widespread dissatisfaction. People turned to the Naxal movement to voice their concerns against the government.

Forest Cover in India: The extensive forest cover in rural India provided Naxalites with a strategic advantage. They established camps and groups in the forests, making it challenging for law enforcement and the government to counteract their movement.

Indian Youth Unemployment: Insufficient job opportunities for recent college and university graduates contributed significantly to the rise of Naxalism. The idealism associated with the Naxal movement resonated with fresh graduates, leading to a significant increase in their involvement over the years.

Steps Taken by Government

The government has adopted a multifaceted approach to address the Maoist insurgency, with foundations laid by both the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) governments from 2004 to 2014. Central to this strategy is the ‘Law and Order Approach,’ evident in the deployment of over 532 companies of central paramilitary forces across affected states. Special institutional mechanisms, such as the high-level ‘Review Committee’ and an Inter-Ministerial Group, focus on coordinating development and security efforts.

The Union government’s approach revolves around four key elements: Security, Public Perception Management, Development, and Rehabilitation. Delving deeper into policy guidelines, the government has implemented several initiatives.
  1. Intelligence and Networking: The establishment of Multi-Agency Centers at the central and state levels, along with strengthened State-Intelligence Bureaus in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas, has proven effective in gathering intelligence in hotbeds like Jagdalpur and Gaya.
  2. Deployment of Central Paramilitary Forces: The creation of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) for counterinsurgency strategies, along with the formation of Specialized Commando Battalions (CoBRA), has seen the deployment of over 70,000 personnel in Naxal-affected states.
  3. SAMADHAN: Launched by the NDA government in 2017, SAMADHAN focuses on Smart Leadership, Aggressive Strategy, Motivation and Training, Actionable Intelligence, Dashboard-Based KPIs and KRAs, Harnessing Technology, Action Plan for Each Theatre, and No Access to Financing to target critical points in Maoist networks.
  4. Infrastructure Schemes: Initiatives providing funds for mobility, weaponry, and critical infrastructure, including fortified police stations and road-connectivity projects, aim to improve conditions in LWE-affected states.
  5. Ban on CPI(Maoist) and UAPA Act, 2009: The central government imposed a nationwide ban on CPI(Maoist) in 2009 and enacted the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2009, empowering police and paramilitary forces with increased autonomy.
Laws made to tackle Naxalism include:
  1. National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007: Aimed at reducing displacement and providing alternatives for those affected by land acquisition for industrial growth.
  2. Forest Rights Act, 2006: Acknowledges the rights of forest dwellers and scheduled communities living in forest areas.
  3. Chhattisgarh Special Public Securities Act, 2006: Defines unlawful activities and provides the government with powers to form advisory boards and take preventive measures.
  4. Chhattisgarh Special Public Securities Bill of 2005: Grants unconditional power to District Magistrates to notify places used for unlawful activities, with limited scope for revision petitions, emphasizing High Court jurisdiction.

These initiatives collectively reflect the government’s comprehensive and evolving approach, recognizing the need for diverse strategies tailored to the complex challenges posed by Maoist insurgency across different regions in India.

But now the question emerge are these policies or laws are enough?

Urban Naxalism: One of the significant emerging trends is the spread of Naxal ideology and activities into urban areas.

External Support and Funding: Naxal groups have been receiving support and funding from external sources, both within and outside India.

Way Forward

  • Government needs innovative solutions for locating armed groups in the thick forests of the naxalism-affected regions.
  • Local Police knows the language and topography of a region; it can fight naxalism better than the armed forces.
  • Andhra Police rose ‘Greyhounds’; special forces to deal with naxalism in the state.
  • Government needs to ensure two things; security of the peace-loving people and the development of the naxalism-affected regions.
  • State governments need to understand that naxalism is their problem also and only they can tackle it effectively. They can take help from central government if required.
  • India has achieved some success in containing Naxalism, but it has not yet addressed the root causes.The central and the state governments should continue to follow the two pronged strategy i.e. ensuring safety of the people in the naxal-affected regions as well as taking initiatives for the development of such regions.

Read Also: Chhattisgarh Maoists Attack

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