The deaths of over 20 paramilitary personnel in an encounter with the Maoists in the Tarrem area near Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district once again puts the spotlight on the long-running conflict in this remote tribal region.
GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Linkages of Organized Crime with Terrorism, Left-Wing Extremism)
Is lack of development the real cause for the spread of left-wing extremism (LWE)? Briefly explain the Government of India’s approach to counter the challenges posed by LWE. (15 Marks)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Background to the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh
- Trend in Maoist / Naxalite insurrection
- Types of Radicalisation
- Left Wing Extremism (LWE)
- What is Naxalism in India?
- Causes of Naxalism in India:
- Government Initiatives to fight LWE
- Way Forward
Background to the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh
- Reports indicate a Maoist ambush of the paramilitary personnel from different units who had proceeded to perform combing operations in Maoist strongholds.
- The units had embarked upon their combing exercise at a time when Maoists were trying to disrupt the construction of a road near Silger-Jagargunda.
- The lack of road and telecommunications infrastructure in these remote areas has been one of the reasons for the Maoists being able to use the terrain to their advantage.
Trend in Maoist / Naxalite insurrection
- The Maoist insurrection which began first as the Naxalite movement in the 1970s and then intensified since 2004, following the merger of two prominent insurgent groups, remains a mindless guerrilla-driven militant movement that has failed to gain adherents beyond those living in remote tribal areas either untouched by welfare or are discontents due to state repression.
- The Maoists are now considerably weaker than a decade ago, with several senior leaders either dead or incarcerated, but their core insurgent force in south Bastar remains intact.
- The recourse to violence is now little more than a ploy to invite state repression which furthers their aim of gaining new adherents.
- While the Indian state has long since realised that there cannot only be a military end to the conflict, the Chhattisgarh government’s inability to reach out to those living in the Maoist strongholds remains a major hurdle, which has resulted in a protracted but violent stalemate in the area.
- Radicalization is a process by which an individual or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo or contemporary ideas and expressions of the nation.
- The outcomes of radicalization are shaped by the ideas of the society at large; for example, radicalism can originate from a broad social consensus against progressive changes in society or from a broad desire for change in society.
- Radicalization can be both violent and nonviolent, although most academic literature focuses on radicalization into violent extremism (RVE).
- There are multiple pathways that constitute the process of radicalization, which can be independent but are usually mutually reinforcing.
- Radicalization that occurs across multiple reinforcing pathways greatly increases a group’s resilience and lethality.
- Furthermore, by compromising its ability to blend in with non-radical society and participate in a modern, national economy, radicalization serves as a kind of sociological trap that gives individuals no other place to go to satisfy their material and spiritual needs
Types of Radicalisation
- Right-Wing Extremism – It is characterized by the violent defence of a racial, ethnic or pseudo-national identity, and is also associated with radical hostility towards state authorities, minorities, immigrants and/or left-wing political groups.
- Politico-Religious Extremism – It results from political interpretation of religion and the defence, by violent means, of a religious identity perceived to be under attack (via international conflicts, foreign policy, social debates, etc.). Any religion may spawn this type of violent radicalization.
- Left-Wing Extremism – It focuses primarily on anti-capitalist demands and calls for the transformation of political systems considered responsible for producing social inequalities, and that may ultimately employ violent means to further its cause. It includes anarchist, maoist, Trotskyist and marxist–leninist groups that use violence to advocate for their cause.
Left Wing Extremism (LWE)
- Left Wing Extremism (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 processes at ground level.
- These groups prevent the developmental processes in the least developed regions of the country and try to misguide the people by keeping them ignorant of current happenings.
- Left Wing Extremists are popularly known as Maoists worldwide and as Naxalites in India.
What is Naxalism in India?
- A Naxal or Naxalite is a member of any political organisation that claims the legacy of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist), founded in Calcutta in 1969. The term Naxal derives from the name of the village Naxalbari in West Bengal, where the Naxalite peasant revolt took place in 1967.
- It creates conditions for non-functioning of the government and actively seeks disruption of development activities as a means to achieve its objective of ‘wresting control’. It spreads fear among the law-abiding citizens.
- Naxalism is considered to be one of the biggest internal security threats India faces.
- The conflict is concentrated the Eastern part of the country, particularly an area known as the Red Corridor spread across the states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. o Some districts of Kerala, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh etc are impacted by Naxalism.
- Naxal violence is related to the intensity of the feeling of people of their deprivation and their commitment to take revenge against those who are believed to be responsible for such denial.
- Currently, the main supporters of the movement are marginalized groups of India including Dalits and Adivasis, who believe they have been neglected by the government.
- Further, Naxals support Maoist political sentiments and ideology.
Causes of Naxalism in India:
- Mismanagement of Forests: It is one of the main reasons for the spread of Naxalism. It started with the British government. The monopolization of the forest started with the enactment of various forest laws. The integration with the wider world led to an influx of a new class like moneylenders. The administrative machinery became more exploitative and extortionate at functional level.
- Tribal policies not implemented well: Even during the post-Independence era, the government was not able to stop the process of the tribal alienation and their displacement caused by large projects. Even the issues of food security were not fully sorted out. Consequently, Naxalism made inroads in Orissa and other states.
- The Growing inter and intra-regional disparities: Naxalism attract people who have poor livelihood like fishermen, farmers, daily labourers and bamboo cutters. The government policies have failed to stem the growing inter and intra-regional disparities. The poor people think that Naxalism can provide solutions to their problems.
- Absence of proper Industrialization and lack of land reforms: The half-hearted implementation of land reforms by the government has yielded negative results. The agrarian set up has not been defined in the absence of proper implementation of survey and settlement. This further damaged the agriculture production and the rural economy. Absence of proper industrialization has failed to generate employment for rural people leading to dissatisfaction with the government. It is also one of the causes behind Naxalism.
- Geographical Terrain: Naxalism thrives in areas covered with forests. It helps them fight against the police and the army by waging Guerrilla warfare.
- Middle Class Youth: The educated youths have been the largest supporters of the Naxalist movement as the maximum of the youths involved in the movement are medical and engineering graduates. Universities have turned up to be a pitch for the creation of radical ideologies.
Government Initiatives to fight LWE
- Greyhounds was raised in 1989 as an elite anti-naxal force.
- Operation Green Hunt was started in 2009-10 and massive deployment of security forces was done in the naxal-affected areas. It decreased Naxal affected areas from 223 to 90 districts in 9 years.
- LWE Mobile Tower Project envisioned to improve mobile connectivity in the LWE areas, the Government in 2014, approved installation of mobile towers in LWE affected States.
- Aspirational Districts Programme was launched in 2018, it aims to rapidly transform the districts that have shown relatively lesser progress in key social areas.
- Police Modernization Scheme plus fortification of police station in areas affected by Naxal movements. Assistance in training of State Police through the Ministry of Defence.
- National Policy and Action Plan 2015 is a multi-pronged strategy in the areas of security, development, ensuring rights & entitlement of local communities etc
- Special Infrastructure Scheme for funds to the States of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha to raise Special Task Force to combat LWE.
- Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme: Under this the central Govt. reimburses security related expenditure to the LWE affected state Governments.
- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 has been amended to strengthen the punitive measures.
SAMADHAN doctrine is the one-stop solution for the LWE problem.
It encompasses the entire strategy of government from short-term policy to long-term policy formulated at different levels.
- S- Smart Leadership,
- Aggressive Strategy,
- M- Motivation and Training,
- Actionable Intelligence,
- D- Dashboard Based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas),
- H- Harnessing Technology,
- Action plan for each Theatre, and
- N- No access to Financing.
- Good governance – Analyzing the loopholes in the present strategy and developing a coherent national strategy to end the menace.
- Dialogue – Between the Naxal leaders, and the government officials can be a way to work out a solution.
- Generate more employment and increase wages – insecure livelihood and unemployment in the areas have left the people with little option but to join the Naxals.
- Ending the political marginalization of weaker sections – Weaker sections of the society, the schedule castes and schedule tribes still face discrimination from the upper class making them a soft target for the Naxals.
- Remove disparity – Economic disparity and the growing distance between rich and the poor is one of the main problems that has contributed to the growth of Naxalism.
-Source: The Hindu