India has registered large economic growth figures since it liberalized economic policy. At the same time, the violent Maoist insurgency has filled a void in the villages and hinterlands of India, as the poorer members of society failed to get much benefit from good governance or economic prosperity. As the gap between the rich and poor widens, Naxals may continue to gain a foothold in the eastern states, and it could become a problem the government cannot afford to ignore.
The government of India wants to establish its sovereignty over use of rich minerals and natural resources opposed by the who advocate sovereignty of local people over their land and its resources.
In recent years, India’s biggest corporate houses have moved stealthily into the forest areas, buying up land and acquiring the rights to extract the natural wealth, efforts deemed necessary by the government to enhance economic growth and create new jobs. It is seen as an attempt to ensure economic gains foe few at the cost of further marginalizing the poor local.
Attempts of the government to counter the Naxals through force only seem to be feeding the problem – it alienates the very people it need to reach. These are people who live in semi-destitute and isolated conditions and have never seen the face of government. They, however, recognize the Naxals who speak their language and know them better than government’s men who come from outside and talk of issues strange to them.
The struggle between the Naxals and the Indian government is illustrative of the tug-of-war between efforts for national economic growth and ensuring health, sustenance and advancement of the local people. The tension between the Naxal movement and the Indian government clearly highlights the importance of integrating national development strategies with local practices. It clearly underscores that national economic growth at the cost of those already neglected is not a viable or smart option.
|“While other movements seem to attack the Indian state at its strong points (its secularism, its inclusiveness, or its democracy), the Naxals attack India’s weakest point: the government’s failure in delivering basic government services to those who need them the most.”|
Ties with Other Extreme Groups
Emboldened after the formation of CPI (Maoist) in 2004, these insurgent groups have also endeavored to foster ties with other insurgent groups to spread their areas of operations and influence.
A major ‘Unity Congress’ was held in January 2007 in the jungles on the Jharkhand-Bihar border to mark the complete merger of the major Naxal groups, intensify their struggles and chalk out their future strategies against the Indian state. This gathering reportedly had delegates from 14 states including from the Northeast and J&K.
In this congress, the Maoists have called for strengthening the “nationalities struggles of Kashmiris, Assamese, Nagas, Manipuris and Tripuris”. Besides many anti-national resolutions having been passed, the congress also opined that the special economic zones which are coming up all across the country are nothing “but foreign economic enclaves”. Some reports also link the Nandigram unrest to Maoist penetration in West Bengal.
There are also reports of growing linkages of Indian Maoists organizations with those in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Turkey and Nepal. Nepalese Maoists have reportedly also set up bases in the Indian border districts of Champaran, Sitamarhi and Madhubani. The likely linkages of Naxal with the LTTE, Pakistan’s ISI and Bangladesh’s DGFI need to be strictly monitored.
The Nepal Question
Particularly worrying for the Indian government is the long-standing Maoist insurgency in Nepal and the Maoists’ dominant position in Nepal’s Constituent Assembly and political influence have raised deep concerns in India about the possibility of the Naxal insurgents finding sanctuary and other forms of support across the border. There are indications that some arms transfers and training in guerrilla warfare tactics may have taken place between the two groups, but at this point there do not appear to be close organizational links. Indian Maoists have been critical of the electoral approach taken by their Nepali counterparts.
Latest State Initiatives
Lately, Naxalism has invited attention from the highest quarters. A Monitoring Committee of the affected states, headed by the Union Home Secretary has been created with the Home Minister personally coordinating the efforts. A special combat school to train the police has been set up in Chhatisgarh under an Army Brigadier. More battalions of para military forces have been created and more battalions are being deployed to fight the Naxals.
But at the same time, government wants to include a socio-economic dimension to it. By making a distinction between the hardcore revolutionary, who had to be dealt with severely, and the foot-soldier, who ought to be weaned off from the path of violence through socio-economic packages.