1. Left Wing Extremism or what is popularly known as Maoism in India has drawn its inspiration from the teachings of Karl Max and the social revolutions engineered by Lenin in Russia and Mao in China.
2. The birth of Maoism (which is wrongfully known as Naxalism) in India can be attributed to, two landmark incidents which occurred in 1967. The movement derives its name from a small village Naxalbari in Siliguri District of West Bengal, where the oppressed landless farmers rose against the exploitation by the wealthy landlords. The movement was supported by the breakaway revolutionary group Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) under the leadership of Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal who are recognized as the founders of the movement in India. Simultaneously, though totally unconnected, a peasants’ revolution was launched in Telangana Region of Andhra Pradesh led by Chandrapulla Reddy. Both the incidents were violent in nature and were inspired by the success of the communist movement in China and Russia. While the Naxalbari movement in West Bengal collapsed after elimination of its leadership by the security forces coupled with pragmatic land reforms, the movement in Andhra Pradesh has continued to simmer ever since. These movements, however, succeeded in drawing the attention of the Nation to the total absence of development in these areas and the exploitation of the dalits, adivasis and landless farmers by the feudal system based on class and caste inequalities. The Government, however, classified these as socio-economic and law and order problem and not as possible internal security threats. Thus a myopic view of the issue was taken and long term effects or intentions of the movement were ignored.
3. The emergence of the movement in India can be attributed to a number of historical, social, political, economic and other causes.
4. The ideological inspiration for the movement was derived from the Chinese communist who also provided the moral support. Radio Beijing in one of its broadcast in 1967 stated that revolutionary struggle had been launched by Indian people in the Siliguri-Darjeeling areas of India.
5. Another imp cause was Social Inequalities. Oppression, atrocities and discriminatory treatment of dalits by the upper caste landlords was very common in most parts of the country. These inequalities in society force them to take recourse to violence and join Maoists.
6. The lack of development and Land Reforms in these areas, which are very rich in forest and mineral resources, has alienated the people from the government machinery. The Maoists have exploited these sentiments and hence have found favour among the Tribals.
7. Tribal and Forest Policies established to preserve the culture of tribals have led to creation of a separate class of people vis-à-vis other ordinary citizens of India. Further under these policies the Tribals have been denied their traditional means of livelihood and hence their only means of survival has been taken away from them. This in effect has led to neglect, under-development and exploitation of the Tribals.
8. Lastly Inadequate Governance in these areas has resulted in loss of faith by the local population which has allowed the Maoists to run a parallel government in these areas. Let us now take a view of the poor governance in the affected areas.
IDEOLOGY & SPREAD OF RED CORRIDOR
9. Having seen the birth of the Maoist movement let us now acquaint you with the Maoist ideology and track its spread through the years.
10. Maoist Ideology is inspired by the “Mass Line” concept as enunciated by Mao & the “Armed Struggle” concept as pronounced during the Russian Revolution. Broadly speaking Maoists are:-
(a) Against Democracy.
(b) Against Capitalist and Rich Industrialist.
(c) And advocate rule of the proletariats.
11. To trace the growth of Maoist movement let us now take you back in time. The1967 Naxalbari uprising in West Bengal was crushed by the State Government. However, the movement assumed larger dimension, when, the state units of CPI (M) in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh joined the struggle. In Nov 1967, comrades from all these states set up All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries or (AICCCR). Later in 1969, due to the ideological differences, Charu Mazumdar split from the CPI (M) to form CPI (Marxist Leninist) or CPI(ML).
12. Operation Steeplechase was launched in West Bengal in 1971 to suppress the Maoist insurgency, which, by now had assumed dangerous proportions. By 1972, the movement declined in West Bengal due to the death of Shri. Charu Mazumdar, the ideological differences between the groups and the reluctance of China to support the movement. Shri Chandrapulla Reddy succeeded Shri Charu Mazumdar and advocated departure from policy of violence. However he was far from successful in his endeavours. Never the less, Maoist menace was far from over and by 1973 fresh guerrilla struggles emerged in parts of central Bihar and Telangana. 1975 saw birth of CPI (ML) Peoples War Group under leadership of Shri. Kondapalli Seetharamaiya and many other splinter groups.
13. Efforts to unite these factions failed and by mid 1980s some groups regained their ascendancy in backward areas such as :-
(a) Peoples War Group (PWG) in Andhra Pradesh.
(b) And CPI (ML) & Maoist Communist Committee (MCC) in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
14. 1983 showed signs of revival of peasant revolution with formation of People's Democratic Front (PDF) in Karbi Anglong district of Assam. PDF subsequently fought elections with the main stream political parties and won a seat in the legislative assembly in 1985. Maoist also tried to consolidate their sphere of influence by wooing the Sikh extremists after the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. In 1989 CPI (ML) (Liberation) recorded its first electoral victory from Ara sending the first ‘Maoist’ member to the Parliament. In 1991 general elections however CPI (ML) lost its seat but maintained its presence in Parliament through PDF which by now had been rechristened as Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC).
15. Consequent to Shri. VP Singh's implementation of Mandal Commission, Chief Minister Chenna Reddy lifted ban on Maoist groups in Andhra Pradesh. The ban was reimposed in 1992 to be relaxed again in 1995 by the then Chief Minister NT Rama Rao. This enabled the Maoist to strengthen their hold and induct new members. The 1990s also saw Maoism spread to not only underdeveloped and Tribal areas but also to the urban centers. The Maoists also increased their presence in both the state legislature and the Parliament with members of CPI(ML) and PDF getting elected to state assemblies, Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha, from Bihar & Assam in the 1995 general elections. Interactions among various Communists and Left parties also intensified in wake of the Soviet collapse. In 1996 CPI (ML) joined hands with CPI and the MCC and formed Indian Institute of Marxist Studies. With the growing clout of the CPI (ML), armed clashes between ultra-leftists and upper caste private armies (like Ranvir Sena) had started assuming enormous proportions in Bihar. By 1999 Maoism had spread to Madhya Pradesh and North Bihar adjoining Nepal.
18. With the turn of the century Maoists attacks on policemen, government official and politicians became more and more daring. The Maoists also claim to have established complete domination over Abujhmadh & Dandakaryna area, which comprises of tribal areas of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Orrisa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Both these areas total up for more than the combined area of Punjab, Haryana and Tripura. The resentment of tribals of these area is aptly portrayed in this video.(movie to be played on left screen). In Dec 2000 PWG launched People's Guerrilla Army (PGA) to counter security forces offensive. Maoist groups from all over South Asia got together to form first international coalition of Maoists called Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA). MCC and PWG also established links with LTTE, Nepali Maoists and Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence to receive arms and training. The Maoists now aim at creating a liberated zone which they term as the Compact Revolutionary Zone, colloquially called 'the CRZ'. Symbolically the zone would extend from Pashupati Temple in Nepal to Tirupati Temple in Andhra Pradesh and further extending to Sri Lanka . Effectively this would split the country in two parts.
19. As you would have realized, the movement has grown from an indigenous peasant movement to an elaborate network of well org arms struggle spanning across international borders. Having its roots right through the length of the country overflowing into Nepal and Sri Lanka, Maoists are the biggest challenge to the Indian Union.
LINKAGES 1. Despite the efforts to resolve the 35 years long Maoist movement in the Indian Subcontinent the violence has been continuing and we are witnessinga gradual but perceptible incr.
NEXT : PART 2 - EXTERNAL SUPPORT TO MAOISM
About Brig. Hemant Mahajan
Brigadier Hemant Mahajan (YSM) joined armed forces since 1973. Started his military life as an officer with the ‘7 Maratha Light Infantry’. Brig. Mahajan has served in the most sensitive areas like Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, North Eastern states. Importantly Brig. Mahajan had an experience of serving his duty in highest and tough warzone like Kargil, handling peace situation in furious Punjab after the ‘Operational Blue Star’ and the Ayodhya region. Along with ‘Youth Seva Medal’, Brig. Mahajan is recipient of various Military awards for his excellent track record.