Originally Published 2005-02-07 12:44:00 Published on Feb 07, 2005
As in Nepal, in India too, the Maoists have been waging a People's War in 13 States of the Indian Union. Indian policy-makers and media refrain from calling them Maoists, possibly due to a fear that characterising them as Maoists might create negative perceptions of China in the minds of the public, at a time when the relations between the two countries are improving.
India's Silicon Valleys & Hunans
(As in Nepal, in India too, the Maoists have been waging a People's War in 13 States of the Indian Union. Indian policy-makers and media refrain from calling them Maoists, possibly due to a fear that characterising them as Maoists might create negative perceptions of China in the minds of the public, at a time when the relations between the two countries are improving. They, therefore, choose to refer to them as Naxalites, originating from the word Naxalbari, which is the name of a village in the State of West Bengal, where this movement was born four decades ago. )

The late Mao Zedong and his Thoughts have been responsible for more deaths of innocent civilians in acts of terrorism in Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and in Nepal than Osama bin Laden and his Thoughts as expressed in his periodic fatwas, broadcasts and telecasts.

Last year, there was no death in the Indian territory outside J&K as a result of acts of jihadi terrorism committed by pro-bin Laden Pakistani jihadi terrorist groups, belonging to the International Islamic Front (IIF). This stood in sharp contrast to the mayhem which the Maoists continued to cause under the pretext of waging a People's War against their class enemies and the Governments representing them.

According to the media, replying to a question in the Indian Parliament on December 14,2004, Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Government of India, stated that till November 30,2004, 420 civilians and 98 security forces personnel were killed in Naxalite violence in 10 States, as against 410 civilians and 94 security forces personnel during 2003. From the media reports of the reply, it is not clear whether the figures given for 2003 covered the entire year or only till November 30,2003.

According to the Minister, Bihar with 155 deaths reported the largest number of killings, up from 128 the previous year. It was followed by Jharkhand with 150 deaths as against 117 the previous year. The other States, which recorded an increase in the number of fatal casualties were Uttar Pradesh from eight to 23, West Bengal from one to 14 and Chattisgarh from 74 to 75.Andhra Pradesh recorded a steep decrease from 139 to 74. Other States, which recorded a decrease were Maharashtra from 31 to 15 and Orissa from 15 to eight.There were three deaths in Madhya Pradesh and one in Karnataka. In respect of individual States, the reply, as given in the media, did not indicate how many of those killed were civilians and how many were security forces personnel.

Of the five States, which recorded an increase, four----Bihar, Jharkand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal --- are in the proximity of India's international border with Nepal/Bangladesh. Only Chattisgarh is away from the border, but the increase there was marginal as contrasted with the steep increase in the remaining four . Of these five States, the general public perception is that the level of economic development, economic and social justice and the quality of governance are weaker in Bihar, Jharkand and Chattisgarh than in the other States of India.

What are the reasons attributable for the increase? Continuing economic and social backwardness and injustice. Poor governance. A State machinery insensitive to the grievances of the deprived sections of the population. An inadequately performing law and order machinery. External linkages in Nepal and possibly Bangladesh. Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, which are generally perceived as better governed with a better-performing state machinery, registered an increase too. From this, one can suspect that the impact of the external linkages factor in the spread of the Maoist movement is probably stronger than is generally believed to be.

All the five States, which recorded a decrease or where the violence was marginal, are away from the international borders. In Andhra Pradesh, the significant decrease could be attributed to the mutual suspension of operations by the State Government and the Maoists, which has since practically collapsed due to the refusal of the Maoists to lay down arms while negotiating with the Government for a political solution. 

How does one characterise the Maoist movement in India --- understandable though not justifiable political violence due to economic and social injustice against the deprived sections of the population? Ideological insurgency? Ideological terrorism? If it is just political violence, how does one explain instances of indiscriminate killing of civilians through the use of land-mines and improvised explosive devices and targeted assassinations of political leaders such as the attempt in 2003 to assassinate Shri Chandrababu Naidu, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh? It would be more appropriate to describe it as a mix of insurgency and terrorism as in the case of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an ethnic and not a Marxist or Maoist organisation. as one saw in the case of the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) of Sri Lanka, a Marxist organisation, and as one has been seeing in the case of the Maoists of Nepal.

The post-Word War period saw the eruption of Marxist/Maoist insurgncies and terrorism in a number of countries in Asia, West Europe and South America. Among the Asian countries affected were the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Barring the case of the JVP in Sri Lanka, it was largely an insurgent movement mainly directed against the State machinery and those associated with it. The insurgency has since withered away in Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. The withering-away in Malaysia and Thailand could be attributed partly to effective counter-insurgency by the security forces and partly to the general economic progress in these countries. 

Myanmar is a remarkable case of the withering away of the insurgency despite the lack of any economic progress in the country. This was partly due to ruthless suppression of the insurgents by successive military governments and partly due to the drying -up of sustenance from China post-1979. In Sri Lanka, the insurgents-cum-terrorists of yesterday have become the mainstream political players of today. This transformation from insurgency to the political mainstream came about after the JVP apparently realised the futility of violence to achieve its ideological objectives, following a ruthless suppression of the insurgents/terrorists by the State.

In West Europe, what one saw was pure and simple ideological punishment terrorism practised by organisations such as the Baader-Meinhof and the Red Army Faction of the then West Germany, the Red Brigade of Italy, the Action Directe of France, the Carlos' group of International Revolutionaries etc. They had no pretensions or illusions of being able to capture political power through terrorism. They just wanted to punish their perceived ideological adversaries.The movement withered away after the rapid economic progress of the countries affected and the drying-up of external sustenance following the collapse of the USSR, Yugoslavia and other Communist States of East Europe.

In South America and in the Philippines, India and Nepal in Asia the violent Marxist/Maoist movement---whether one calls it political violence, insurgency, terrorism or a mix of insurgency and terrorism--- still thrives. In Nepal, the Maoists' motivation and determination to achieve their objectives show no signs of declining despite ruthless counter-insurgency measures by the Government. In India, over the years, there has been a geographical spread of the areas affected by the Maoist movement.

There are certain common characteristics of the Maoist movements in India and Nepal:

An educated leadership, not necessarily coming from the deprived classes, and often motivated by the ambition to achieve political power through the barrel of the gun. To what extent is their motivation genuinely due to their sense of outrage over the prevailing economic and social injustice and their perception of an uncaring State and to what extent is their outrage merely a facade for their political ambition? 

A cadre largely drawn from the deprived classes---many littile educated----- motivated by genuine economic and social grievances, but without any political ambitions. 

Networking to achieve their political ambitions. 

The continuing influence of Mao Zedong's Thoughts on the thinking of the leadership even though China itself has discarded them, while pretending not to have done so. 

In India, we are rightly concerned over the continuing jihadi terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory and over the depredations caused in J&K by the jihadi terrorists belonging to the IIF. There is considerable public knowledge on this subject and attention has been paid by the Government to strengthening the capability of our Police and other security agencies to deal with them.

There was not similar articulation of our concerns over the spreading Maoists' Peoples' War infrastructure right across India till February 12,2005, when the Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, gave open expression to his concern. Talking to journalists at Bangalore, he reportedly stated: " The Union Government is concerned, particularly as the Naxalites have emerged in the hilly areas of central India, where are our mineral and hydel resources. The Naxalite movement is gaining momentum and the Centre (the Central Government) is concerned."

What made him come out with such an open and clear-cut expression of concern was a worrisome attack by the Maoists on a police camp in Karnataka on the night of February 10,2005, which spoke disturbingly of their motivation, capability and infrastructure. One needs to reproduce in full a report on the attack carried by the "Hindu", the prestigious daily, on February 12:

"Six Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) personnel and a civilian were killed and five injured when a group of 200 Naxalites, which included about 50 women, attacked a KSRP camp in a school at Venkatammanhalli in Pavagada Taluk of Tumkur District late on Thursday night. The village borders Andhra Pradesh and the 9th Battalion of the KSRP had been stationed there for a year in the wake of reports that Naxalites were active in the area. The attack comes within days of the police shooting dead a top Naxalite leader, Saketh Rajan, and his associate in Chikmagalur District. Police said that the Naxalites arrived at the camp a little before midnight in five vehicles---three mini lorries, a van and a jeep. They shot dead the sentry at the gate and fired at another sentry on the roof of the building who was not hit. The gang threw bombs on the roof of the two class rooms where the KSRP personnel were sleeping, killing one poiceman. Four others were shot dead when they came out of the rooms. It is said that the women in the gang shone powerful torches on the policemen while their comrades targeted them from behind the compound wall of the building with guns and grenades. Six unexploded bombs and some grenades were found inside the compound. One unexploded bomb had been placed next to a ground-level water tank. A landmine was spotted by a police rescue team under a bridge on the main road leading to the spot, where a tractor had been parked to block the rescue teams."

What do the details speak of the Maoists? Good training. Good tactics.An ability to operate in such large groups. An ability to move by road in vehicles undetected by the police. A good stock of arms and ammunition of different kinds. An ability to retaliate at short notice while concealing their preparations from the police. Good local knowledge of the village where the police camp was located.

What do the details speak of the police? Failure to anticipate a reprisal attack. Consequent lack of alertness in the camp and failure to look for intelligence about possible preparations for a reprisal attack. Poor intelligence. Lack of public support. During the entire duration of the Maoist raid, not a single villager ( the village has about 400 families) dared to come out to help the police.

The Maoist attack, the most spectacular in Karnataka territory carried out from bases in Andhra Pradesh, came almost five months after the Communist Party of India (Maoist) came into existence on September 21,2004, through the merger of the Maoist Communist Centre of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist--People's War ). A statement issued by the CPI (Maoist) on October 14,2004, said: " We hereby declare that the two guerilla armies of the CPI(ML) and MCCI-the PGA (People's Guerilla Army) and the PLGA-have been merged into the unified PLGA (Peoples' Liberation Guerrilla Army). Hereafter, the most urgent task i.e. principal task of the party is to develop the unified PLGA into a full-fledged People's Liberation Army (PLA) and transforming the existing Guerrilla Zones into Base Areas, thereby advancing wave upon wave towards completing the New Democratic Revolution. The formation day of the PLGA is to be December 2." 

The statement also said: " The new party will also continue to support the struggle of the nationalities ( My comment:the Kashmiris and the tribals of India's North-East) for self-determination including their right to secession and condemn the brutal state repression on these movements. It will pay special attention to mobilizing and organizing the women masses as a mighty force of the revolution, and will fight against all other forms of social oppression, particularly untouchability and casteism. It will continue to expose, isolate and defeat the more dangerous Hindu fascist forces, while exposing all other fundamentalist forces. It will continue to do so while keeping the edge of the people's struggles directed against the new Congress rulers in Delhi along with the CPI(Communist Party of India)/CPM (Communist Party Marxist) and their imperialist chieftains.

"It will continue to expose and resist the expansionist designs of the Indian ruling classes along with their imperialist chieftains, particularly the US imperialists. It will more actively stand by the side of the Nepali people led by the CPN(Maoist), and vehemently oppose the Indian expansionists and US imperialists from intervening in Nepal with their military might. It will also continue to support the people's war led by the Maoist parties in Peru, the Philippines, Turkey and elsewhere. It will continue to support all people's struggles directed against imperialism and reaction. It will also support the working class movement and other people's movements the world over. It will continue to stand by the side of the Iraqi and Afghan people in their mighty struggle against the US imperialist-led aggression and occupation.:"

It further said: "The Unified Party will continue to hold high the banner of proletarian internationalism and will continue to contribute more forcefully to uniting the genuine Maoist forces at the international level. Besides, it will also establish unity with the oppressed people and nations of the whole world and continue to fight shoulder to shoulder with them in advancing the world proletarian revolution against imperialism and their lackeys, thereby paving the way towards realizing socialism and then Communism on a world scale."

A document on "Strategy & Tactics of the Indian Revolution" adopted by the CPI (M) at its founding conference on September 21,2004, inter alia said:"The character of Indian society is semi-colonial, semi-feudal. The Indian revolution would have to pass through two stages. The task of the first stage is to change the semi -colonial semi -feudal society into an independent new democratic society.

"The targets of the revolution would be the imperialists, the comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie and the big landlord classes. The enemies of the revolution are imperialism, feudalism and comprador bureaucrat capitalism. The motive forces of the revolution are the workers, peasants and petti-bourgeoisie, with the national bourgeoisie being vacillating allies.

"The immediate basic programme is to overthrow the semi-colonial, semi-feudal rule of the big landlord-comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie classes, and imperialism that backs them, through armed struggle and to establish a people's democratic state under the leadership of the proletariat- by smashing the reactionary autocratic state.

26."The new democratic revolution is to be achieved through the path of protracted people's war. To carry on and advance the people's war, the basic, principal and the immediate task of the present stage of the revolution would be to arouse and organize the people, in a planned way, for an agrarian revolutionary guerrilla war in the countryside - specially in the remote countryside (which is most favourable for the building up of the guerrilla war, the people's army and the base areas), and to build up the people's army and the rural red base areas through guerilla warfare. In this process, the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) will advance and develop into a full-fledged People's Liberation Army (PLA) while the guerrilla zones will transform into Base Areas.

"In India the parliamentary system was imposed by British imperialism from above. Moreover, the bourgeois democratic revolution too has not been completed here. Hence no bourgeois democracy ever came into being here. Actually, no viable solution of the fundamental problems of the people can be sought through using any parliamentary institution. Besides this, the experience of the last 55 years has amply confirmed the fact that whoever tried to participate in the elections in the name of tactics of using it, most of them got entrenched in the mire of the parliamentary system and revisionism, sooner or later. In fact, the tactics of participation in the election in the name of using it is tantamount to abandoning the tasks of building and advancing the armed struggle. 

"The three weapons of the revolution will be the Party, the Army and the United Front. A correct understanding of these three questions and their mutual relations will give the accurate direction for the entire Indian revolution. It is extremely imperative for us to grasp the importance of the construction of each of these weapons from the very beginning as well as the masterful application of these to the concrete practice of the Indian revolution based on the teachings of MLM (Marxism-Leninism-Maoism)." (End of citation)

29.On December 5,2004, about 60 to 100 members, both men and women, of the CPI (Maoist)'s People's Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) triggered landmine blasts at Kokrajhore in Belpahari of the Midnapore District in West Bengal blowing up three guest houses meant for tourists.Leaflets left behind at the scene by the attackers alleged that the guest houses were being used for the sex-trade. However, there were no fatalities in this daring operation, which reportedly caused considerable confusion in the local police, which allegedly reached the place of occurrence 18 hours after the blasts. 

The Communist Party(Marxist),the ruling party in West Bengal, which supports the Congress (I) led Government in New Delhi, accused the Maoists of trying to create an atmosphere of terror to make their existence felt and described them as anti-development and anti-people. It alleged that the Maoists were worried that the development of tourism would improve the standard of living of the people and thereby prevent the flow of unemployed youth to the ranks of the Maoists. Ridiculing its contention, the CPI (Maoist) replied: "The so-called 'terror', which the CPM deplores, is in response to the white terror of the State machinery and the CPM party that have spread in the countryside. It is the revolutionary Red Terror to counter the counter-revolutionary white terror- the Red Terror hailed by Mao in 1927 in his Hunan Report and throughout the period of revolutionary struggles.In reality, a spectre is haunting the Indian ruling classes - the spectre of a People's War. This war is to be led by the revolutionary party of the people - the Communist Party of India (Maoist) by unleashing the creativity of the masses and forging unity among the peasants, workers, petty bourgeoisie, national capitalists and other toiling people oppressed for ages. It is the politically-conscious People's Liberation Guerrilla Army or the 'People's Army' - led by the CPI(Maoist)--- that would make India free from feudal oppression and imperialist domination. The New Year truly holds the promise of still greater victories."

31. The CPI (Maoist), which projects Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Shri P.Chidambaram, the Finance Minister, as stooges of the World Bank, is determined to intensify the People's War and spread the revolution and the Red Terror all along central India's tribal belt, the source of much of India's mineral wealth and water resources in order to asphyxiate India's urban centres by surrounding them with hundreds and thousands of Hunans and unleash from there the final march to their victory.

Its analysis of the prevailing situation in India's rural areas and particularly in the tribal belt, marked by abject poverty, misery and literal servitude of the landless and the lower castes of Hinduism, is frighteningly lucid and the strategy and tactics, which it has formulated for itself, are drawn from the experiences of China. The Maoists are convinced that what worked in China before 1976 can be made to work again in India and that they could make the India-Nepal region the beacon of Maoism to guide the toiling masses in the rest of South Asia and then the world.

It would be suicidal to underestimate their motivation and determination and to dismiss their political analysis and strategy and tactics as empty rhetoric. By their success in keeping their movement sustained and in spreading it to 13 States, they have shown that they mean business and have convinced themselves that they can succeed. 

Unfortunately, the Maoists' analysis and strategy have not been matched by a superior analysis of the threat posed by them by the State and by the formulation of a workable strategy by the State to counter them. Our newly-emerging Silicon Valleys, industrial centres and booming stock markets have become the opium of our ruling class, which is unable to comprehend that beyond the dazzling shine of an urban India awake, there are vast tracts of poverty, misery and economic and social injustice, which are the spawning grounds of a new breed of revolutionaries, inspired by the thoughts of Mao and Lin Biao.

India, which has been able to effectively counter the Pakistani jihadi terrorists sponsored and infiltrated by Pakistan, finds itself clueless before its own sons and daughters of the soil, who have taken to the Red Terror not for the sake of a territory or religion as the Pakistani jihadis have done, but for their right to have two meals a day, to have a plot of land, which they can call their own and to have a job and for their liberation from the servitude under the feudal landlords and rural money-lenders.

Unless the State attends to their wants, it would not be able to counter the Maoists' People's War effectively. Fortunately, even in the tribal belt, not all people have been won over by the Maoists and have joined the People's War. There are still millions, who have kept away from them, despite their poverty and misery and continue to stay on the right side of the law. The first priority of the State has, therefore, to be a crash programme for the economic development of the rural areas and those sections of the tribal belt, which have not yet come under the sway of the Maoists.

How to deal with the Maoists in the areas which they already control and how to wean the people in those areas away from their influence? How to spread the fruits of economic development to those areas when the State's law and order machinery has an ineffective presence in those areas?

Ideas there have been in plenty, but workable ones have been scanty. Engage the Maoists in a political dialogue, instead of confronting them with arms and ammunition and make them take the parliamentary road to power, say many. A beautiful idea, but will it work when one sees the cynical and contemptuous attitude of the Maoists themselves to parliamentary democracy? Their attitude to parliamentary democracy is as contemptuous as that of the jihadi terrorists though the two cite different reasons for their contempt.

As pointed out earlier, the CPI (Maoist) says: "The experience of the last 55 years has amply confirmed the fact that whoever tried to participate in the elections in the name of tactics of using it, most of them got entrenched in the mire of the parliamentary system and revisionism, sooner or later. In fact, the tactics of participation in the election in the name of using it is tantamount to abandoning the tasks of building and advancing the armed struggle. "

To what extent one can trust them when they offer to suspend their operations and enter into a political dialogue with the Government?Are such offers genuine or tactical pauses to win for them time to further strengthen their terrorist and insurgent infrastructure?

Use the law and order approach and make it clear to them that they will never be able to win through recourse to arms, say others. Easier said than done. The law and order approach can be effective only if the political class is prepared to give the necessary powers and capability to the security forces and does not follow a policy of on again, off again. 

The bane of our counter-Maoist strategy is the lack of lucidity in analysis and the lack of consistency in formulating and implementing a viable strategy based on a national consensus and a national determination to deal with this problem before it becomes uncontrollable as it has in Nepal.

Our politicians should not be under any illusion that India is not Nepal and that this cannot happen here. It can, if we do not wake up in time and act. (13-2-05)

* Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Observer Research Foundation.
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