Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Naxalism has already become the most important internal security threat to India। Poverty and lack of education were the traditional causes of this extremism. In Naxalism, there is also a sense of deprivation and injustice, that the lowest sections of society are not empowered and need to agitate for their rights. There is a great need to improve the standards of governance in Naxal-affected tribal areas. At the same time, the right to freedom of speech and expression should not be misused.

Violence backed by ideology tends to legitimize these abnormal situations and leads to a total disrespect for the legal system। Naxal extremism should be included in the category of terrorism. In the areas severely affected by Naxal violence there are a minimum of five violent incidents per day primarily involving the killing of civilians.

On policing, it is essential to assess the psychology of the local people। A reverse case scenario exists as the police are trained to deal with criminals and not civilians. A different method of training is necessary in this scenario. A special police force, trained to deal with armed civilians, is required and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has been raised to meet precisely this demand but the results are not so encouraging.

Building roads, railways and telecom infrastructure are significant signs of development। However, this infrastructure has been attacked by the Naxals causing hindrance to all development.

The lessons learnt from this case of extremism are several। First, the political leadership needs to become stronger to tackle the situation in the affected areas. Second, the people mobilized by the Naxals have imbibed their ideology and the Naxal chain of command has been firmly established. Moreover, civilian organizations like the People's Democratic Front support this movement. Third, there should be improved coordination between central and state authorities to control the situation. Finally, a proper analysis of the Naxal threat is very important given that while some of them are mercenaries and others are ideologues, a vast majority enter the movement because they have no other choice. Respect for human rights should not be sidelined by the state.

By sending 37,000 armed personnel to Dantewada, the Naxal movement is becoming a security issue, rather than being visualized as a holistic issue। The state has a monopoly over the legitimate use of force. However, it also allows certain kinds of private violence and rejects others. If the government's responsibility is to uphold the rule of law, it should not allow any private violence.

Dantewada is the most backward area in Chhattisgarh। This is one reason why the Maoists have found an easy foothold here and they coexist with the government at all levels. The way to capture an area is not by military means but by ensuring good health services and better governance. The civilians in the campaign suffer innumerable cases of police harassment. The coercion by Maoists for an alternative state structure has brought a large number of people into the movement. The result of the Naxal movement and government's counter-action has been a militarization of the tribal areas.

People have been displaced, with many people escaping to Andhra Pradesh while life in the Salwa Judam camps is extremely bad। Schooling has collapsed and villages have been shattered. There is a complete collapse of the rule of law with the root cause of violence in the area being the Salwa Judum and Naxal counterattacks.

If the situation has to improve, both sides need to engage in dialogue। The issue of land acquisition should be taken up. Steel plants set up in the region have displaced many civilians. The breakdown of law and order, cases of murder, rape and arson have crushed local society and culture. This area is governed by the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution; hence the Executive power of the Union should be used to give directions to the state on its administration.

On the issue of countering the Naxals, the Government of India has conceded time and again that the problem cannot be dealt with militarily। The states meanwhile, have barely managed to finalize an Action Plan that was introduced almost five years ago. The surrender and rehabilitation policy of the states is abysmal. For instance, in Madhya Pradesh, there have only been 16 surrenders between 1990 and 2006.

Another crucial problem is an active Naxal-politician nexus in the country. Unless this nexus is broken, the government will not be able to find a solution to the problem and continue to simply rely on a military solution to root out the problem. But if the military option were effective, then the problem should not have resurfaced after the initial Naxalbari uprising was suppressed.
Since the launch of Salwa Judum, an anti-Naxalite campaign, in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh in June 2005, the Adivasis, who constitute 78।51% of the total population of Dantewada, have become victims of the conflict between the Naxalites and the State government of Chhattisgarh. Though majority of the cadres of the Naxalites are Adivasis, they are not the decision makers. “Commander” Kosa, the secretary for the Naxals in Chhattisgarh hails from Andhra Pradesh. The apology by the Maoists for the killings of innocent Adivasis on 28 February 2006 at Darbhaguda was also issued from Andhra Pradesh.

In nutshell naxalists are ruling more than twenty districts of the country। There intelligence system, commitment, strategy and planned ambush are far too ahead of the police force, who normally try to hide themselves in safe places instead of making a gun to gun reply and counter ambush. Consider the following :

a) More than five incidents of counter fire where no support reached the security forces for more than five hours।

b) Every time policemen are killed and naxal went back with their ammunitions as rewards।

c) Do we have a information system?

d) Whether the MLAs are khadi clad naxalite sympathizers?

e) When it comes to gun action, naxalism is no social/ economical or people may call anything problem, it is an open terrorist rebellion, where thousands of police personnel and civilians have already died and several thousands are awaiting death till the decisive authorities finally decides how to tackle the situation।

Suggestions :

1. There should be a uniform central policy against naxalism। It is not a state problem.

2. Union should establish a central command to counter the naxal thread in Chattisgarh, MP, AP, Maharashtra, Bihar and Jharkhand।

3. A special law to bring the police personnel’s and law officers under direct control of the Central Government in all the naxal effected districts is unavoidable। The interstate joint mechanism has proved futile and with different approach of the politicians and bureaucrats towards naxalism will not let any joint operation successful.

4. The central law shall prudently match the human right concerns while removing operational hurdles for security forces।

5. Helicopter gunships and medical relief based at strategical locations, so as to reach the conflict ground within 15-30 minutes।

6. A dialogue must be initiated with the Maoist.