UPSC Mains 2019: Dangerous tactics: on recent Maoist attacks

Maoist attacks


Topic: Dangerous tactics: on recent Maoist attacks

Topic in Syllabus: GS Paper 3 : Security Issues

Maoist attacks



There has been an uptick in attacks by Maoists, indicating that their ability to strike remains strong. Last week, in two attacks in Chhattisgarh, five persons were killed in a blast in Dantewada district, and one BSF sub-inspector was killed in Kanker district.


More about on news:

  • Maoists have also owned up responsibility for the killing of TDP MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and his predecessor Siveri Soma in Araku valley in Andhra Pradesh in September.
  • These attacks, however, come amid a series of military setbacks to the Maoists in the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border regions.
  • The government’s strategy of using military force while earmarking funds for infrastructure and welfare programmes in the districts most affected by left-wing extremism has weakened the Maoists.
  • Paramilitary and police actions have resulted in the death of senior leaders, including Cherukuri Rajkumar (‘Azad’) and Mallojula Koteswara Rao (‘Kishenji’).


Left Wing Extremism (Naxalism) in India:

Origin and Evolution:

  • The roots of LWE in India lie in the leftist/Communist political movements, labour and agrarian unrests, the revolutionary societies and the tribal revolts that erupted during various phases of colonial rule in India.
  • The independence of India from the clutches of foreign rule raised immense hopes among the landless, tribals and other downtrodden sections within the country.
  • It didn’t take too long for the masses to realize that independence had brought nothing new for them and almost everything had remained the same. Neither was there any hope of change in the future. Electoral politics was dominated by the land owners and the land reforms that were promised were not being taken up in the expected spirit.
  • The old exploitative structure had continued in a different garb. This led to a lot of disillusionment and frustration among the masses.
  • They could recollect the prophesies of the early leftist leaders and revolutionaries that the political independence of India from British rule would in effect mean a change of exploiters and the socio-economic structure would remain the same and that an armed revolution will be needed to end the exploitation.
  • This disillusionment found expression in the increased support in favour of the left parties in second general elections in Kerala.
  • At the same time, the Communist Party of India (CPI) in Bengal was also gaining strength and the United Front (of which it was a part) was the main opposition party. The radicals within the party accused the party leadership of being “revisionists” as they opted for parliamentary democracy.
  • The growing dissensions within the party ultimately led to the split of the CPI. The newly formed party, i.e. Communist Party of India (M) also participated in the United Front governments in Bengal and Kerala in 1967. But nothing substantial was realized on the ground.
  • The discontentment grew and the radicals within the CPI (M) began to doubt the revolutionary zeal of the leadership. They were convinced that an armed revolution was the only way out. Since they were deeply inspired by Mao’s success in China, they wanted to replicate the same in India.
  • They lost patience and started mobilising the tribals, the landless and the share-cultivators and began what is termed as the revolutionary “armed struggle” in certain pockets of Bengal.
  • The movement crystallised into an organised armed movement in the aftermath of a police firing incident in Naxalbari village in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal on May 25, 1967.


Different Phases of LWE

The first phase of Naxalism:

  • In response to the crackdown by the Government, revolutionary leaders fled the area and declared armed struggle against state of India. Under the leadership of Charu Majumdar, they formed a new party Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) in 1969 which was motivated and influenced deeply by Communist Party of China.
  • After Charu Majumdar’s death, the CPI (M-L) was deprived of any credible central leadership and the party withered away to be finally reborn as CPI (M-L) Liberation in 1974.
  • The movement faced a severe blow during emergency when around 40,000 cadres were imprisoned in 1975.

The Second Phase of Naxalism:

  • The movement arose again in a more violent form after the emergency. It continued to widen its base as per the strategy of ‘protracted war’. Their base grew from West Bengal to Bihar to Odisha and also to Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
  • CPI(ML) was converted into People’s War Group (PWG) in 1980 which had its base in Andhra Pradesh and struck heavy casualities among police personnel.
  • Simultaneously, Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) grew in strength in Bihar and carried out large scale attacks on landlords and other upper caste outfits.

The Third Phase of Naxalism:

  • 2004: Andhra Pradesh’s PWG and Bihar’s MCCI merged to form CPI(Maoist). CPI (Maoist) is the major Left Wing Extremist outfit responsible for most incidents of violence and killing of civilians and security forces. It has been included in the Schedule of Terrorist organisations under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.Over 13 LWE groups are currently operating in the country.
  • The movement’s capacity to challenge the state has increased enormously considering the incidents of violence and casualities resulting from them. E.g. the 2010 Dantewada ambush in which 76 CRPF armed personnel were killed.
  • 2013: The LWE movement made international headlines when naxalists killed 27 people, including some high level politicians, in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.
  • But violence cannot be the only yardstick to measure Maoist expansion. Maoists are also expanding in terms of indoctrination and consolidation. They are also trying to spread their ideology in the Bhil and Gond tribes dominated area, the ‘golden corridor’ stretching from Pune to Ahmedabad.
  • As of February 2016, 106 districts in 10 States have been identified by the Government of India as Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts in the country. More details regarding the same can be found here.
  • Estimated to be 40,000 strong, the Naxalites have been a strain on the country’s security forces and a barrier to development in the vast mineral rich region in Eastern India known as the ‘red corridor’. It is a narrow but contiguous strip passing through Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
  • July 2016: The Union government plans to reduce the number of Maoist-affected districts by about a fifth. This decision has been taken on the basis of the districts’ violence profile, an assessment of the kind of logistical and other support provided to armed Maoist cadres by their sympathisers and “over ground workers”, and the kind of positive changes brought about by development work that these districts have seen.


Objective of LWE in India

  • The core objective of the LWE movement is the establishment of People’s Revolutionary State, which is supposed to be achieved by establishing a ‘Red Corridor’, stretching from the Nepal border through Central India till Karnataka in the South.
  • This objective is to be achieved by using armed struggle as the prime tool to garner the support of the oppressed and the exploited.
  • Violent protracted struggle is therefore expected to continue to help the movement consolidate and extend the Corridor.
  • Naxal leaders support various issues like protecting people’s rights of Jal (water), Jungle (Forest) and Jamin (Land) (JJJ).
  • These are prominent concerns of the people mainly in the rural India as most of the people depend on agriculture and forest for their livelihood.
  • Thus, any threat to these three elements is seen as a threat to their livelihood and triggers a high level of anxiety.
  • In addition to the building up an effective web of armed operatives to spread terror, Naxals also recruit influential local tribal leaders to maintain their firm grip over villagers in remote locations, like in the dense forests of Chhattisgarh and eastern states of India. All available literature on the Maoist movement including their internal policy papers, confirm this assessment.


Strategy of the Naxal Movement

The theory and practice of revolutionary warfare has three distinctive phases. These are:

  • first, organization, consolidation, and preservation of regional base areas situated in isolated and difficult terrain;
  • second, progressive expansion, which includes attacks on police stations, sabotage, terror tactics, elimination of persons with alternate viewpoints, and procurement of arms and ammunition from the enemy, and
  • Third, destruction of the enemy through conventional battles including mobile warfare, protracted conflicts, negotiations, and unified command and control structures.


Causes for Spread of Left Extremism

While the goal of the left extremists was to actualise their own vision of the State through ‘revolution’, they chose to usher that revolution by enlisting the support of the deprived and exploited sections of society particularly in areas where such sections constituted a significant part of the population. Breeding grounds are most glaring in forest areas predominantly inhabited by tribal populations who thus become the main instruments and victims of left extremist violence. Few causes triggering the masses are as under:


Land Related Factors:

  • Evasion of land ceiling laws.
  • Existence of special land tenures (enjoying exemptions under ceiling laws).
  • Encroachment and occupation of Government and Community lands (even the water-bodies) by powerful sections of society.
  • Lack of title to public land cultivated by the landless poor.
  • Poor implementation of laws prohibiting transfer of tribal land to non-tribals in the Fifth Schedule areas.
  • Non-regularisation of traditional land rights.


Displacement and Forced Evictions:

  • Eviction from lands traditionally used by tribals.
  • Displacements caused by irrigation and power projects without adequate arrangements for rehabilitation.
  • Large scale land acquisition for ‘public purposes’ without appropriate compensation or rehabilitation.


Livelihood Related Causes:

  • Lack of food security – corruption in the Public Distribution System (which are often non-functional).
  • Disruption of traditional occupations and lack of alternative work opportunities.
  • Deprivation of traditional rights in common property resources.


Social Exclusion

  • Denial of dignity.
  • Continued practice, in some areas, of untouchability in various forms.
  • Poor implementation of special laws on prevention of atrocities, protection of civil rights and abolition of bonded labour etc.


Governance Related Factors:

  • Corruption and poor provision/non-provision of essential public services including primary health care and education.
  • Incompetent, ill-trained and poorly motivated public personnel who are mostly absent from their place of posting.
  • Misuse of powers by the police and violations of the norms of law.


The Government of India’s Approach:

The Government’s approach is to deal with Left Wing Extremism in a holistic manner, in the areas of security, development, ensuring rights and entitlements of local communities, improvement in governance and public perception management. In dealing with this decades-old problem, it has been felt appropriate, after various high-level deliberations and interactions with the State Governments concerned, that an integrated approach aimed at the relatively more affected areas would deliver results. With this in view, a detailed analysis of the spread and trends in respect of Left Wing Extremist violence has been made and 106 districts in ten States have been taken up for special attention with regard to planning, implementation and monitoring various interventions.


However, ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ being State subjects, action on maintenance of law and order lies primarily in the domain of the State Governments. The Central Government closely monitors the situation and supplements and coordinates their efforts in several ways. These include:

  • providing Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (CoBRA);
  • sanction of India Reserve (IR) battalions, setting up of Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorism (CIAT) schools;
  • modernisation and upgradation of the State Police and their Intelligence apparatus under the Scheme for Modernization of State Police Forces (MPF scheme);
  • re-imbursement of security related expenditure under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme;
  • providing helicopters for anti-naxal operations, assistance in training of State Police through the Ministry of Defence, the Central Police Organisations and the Bureau of Police Research and Development;
  • Sharing of Intelligence; facilitating inter-State coordination; assistance in community policing and civic action programmes etc.
  • The underlying philosophy is to enhance the capacity of the State Governments to tackle the Maoist menace in a concerted manner.



During the recent review meeting of the Chief Ministers of the LWE affected States in May, 2017, the Union Home Minister enunciated an integrated strategy through which the LWE can be countered with full force and competence. The new strategy is called Samadhan, which is a compilation of short term and long term policies formulated at different levels. The meaning was well defined by the Home Minister as:

  • S- Smart Leadership
  • A-aggressive Strategy
  • M- Motivation and Training
  • A-actionable Intelligence
  • D- Dashboard Based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas)
  • H- Harnessing Technology
  • A-action plan for each Theatre
  • N- No access to Financing


Important Schemes for LWE Affected States:

  • Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme: Under it assistance is provided to 106 LWE affected districts in 10 States for recurring expenditure relating to operational needs of security forces, training and insurance and also for Left Wing Extremist cadres who surrender in accordance with the surrender and rehabilitation policy of the concerned State Government, community policing, security related infrastructure by village defence committees and publicity material.
  • Road Requirement Plan-I (RRP-I): for improving road connectivity, the Government approved the Road Requirement Plan PhaseI (RRP-I) in 2009 covering 34 LWE affected districts of 8 States i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. The scheme envisages 5,422 km road lengths ;4,290 km roads have been completed.08 critical bridges are also being constructed under RRP-I in 6 LWE affected States. The progress is being reviewed regularly. Out of 8 bridges, 2 have been completed in Telangana (1) and Maharashtra (1), while other 6 are under progress at various stages.
  • Road Connectivity Project for LWE affected are s (RRP-II): The Government approved this scheme in 2016 for further improving road connectivity in 44 districts of 9 LWE affected States. This Scheme envisages 5412 km roads and 126 bridges. Ministry of Rural Development is the nodal Ministry for this project. The roads included under the scheme have been identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the State Governments and the security agencies.
  • LWE Mobile Tower Project: To improve mobile connectivity in the LWE areas, the Government in 2014 approved installation of mobile towers in LWE affected States, namely: Andhra Pradesh (227), Bihar (184), Chhattisgarh (497), Jharkhand (782), Madhya Pradesh (22), Maharashtra (60), and Odisha (253). The Department of Telecommunication, has been implementing this Scheme. 2187 mobile towers have been installed and the project stands completed.
  • Scheme of Fortified Police stations: The Ministry has sanctioned 400 police stations in 10 LWE affected States under this scheme. A total of 373 of PSs have been completed, work at 27 PSs is under progress.
  • Civic Action Programme (CAP): This scheme is under implementation from 2010-11 in LWE affected areas. Under this scheme funds are provided to CAPFs (CRPF, BSF, ITBP and SSB) @ Rs. 3.00 lakh per company per year for conducting various civic activities for welfare of local poor peoples in LWE affected areas. This is a very successful scheme to bridge the gap between the Security Forces and the local people and also helpful for winning their hearts and minds.
  • GIS Mapping: LWE Division initiated a new proposal of GIS mapping of the essential services in the 35 most affected LWE districts. A project has been initiated for mapping of financial services, school, post offices, health facilities, mobile towers, PDS services, Road and security features etc. in time bound manner. This will help to the stakeholder to take informed decision on the developmental and security related issues.
  • Unified Command: A Unified Command has been set up in the States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. The Unified Command has officers from the security establishment, besides civilian officers representing the civil administration and it will carry out carefully planned counter LWE measures.
  • PESA implementation: The Left Wing Extremism affected States have been asked to effectively implement the provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) on priority, which categorically assigns rights over minor forest produce to the Gram Sabhas.
  • Clear, hold and develop’ strategy: it uses development as a tool to win back the support of the tribal population, who overwhelmingly appear to sympathize with the extremists.
  • Skill Development in 34 Districts of LWE under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna’ (PMKVY).


Challenges for government:

  • The government’s strategy of using military force while earmarking funds for infrastructure and welfare programmes in the districts most affected by left-wing extremism has weakened the Maoists.
  • Paramilitary and police actions have resulted in the death of senior leaders, including Cherukuri Rajkumar (‘Azad’) and Mallojula Koteswara Rao (‘Kishenji’).
  • Welfare measures, even if they have been implemented haphazardly, have enabled outreach into tribal areas where the state was hitherto absent.
  • These actions have forced the Maoists to retreat further into the forest areas of central and south-central India to use them as bases to launch attacks, seeking to invite state repression on tribal people and to get recruits.
  • The change of guard in the CPI (Maoist) leadership also suggests that it has moved towards further militarization to secure its guerrilla forces’ influence.
  • General secretary Nambala Kesava Rao who has replaced Muppala Lakshmana Rao, is alleged to have led attacks on security forces and killings.
  • The CPI (Maoist) has sought to project itself as a revolutionary political movement led by peasants and tribals, seeking to rebuild after the failures of the earlier Naxalite movement.
  • After the merger of the People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre of India into the CPI (Maoist) in 2004.
  • The outlawed party managed to consolidate its presence across a “Red Corridor” spanning central and north-central India, marked by rural deprivation.
  • Rather than focusing on socio-economic struggles to uplift peasants and tribals in this region.
  • The Maoists relied on waging a military battle against the state with the intention of capturing power through violent means.


Sample Question:

What do you understand by left-wing extremism? Discuss the reasons for spread of left wing extremism? And enumerate the steps taken by the government to address the issue.