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What Is Left Wing Extremism (LWE) Or Naxalism?

  • Left wing extremism (LWE) is primarily a tribal insurgency. Only12 per cent of the Indian tribal population lives in the Northeast. The Northeastern tribal insurgencies had broken out in 1956 and are yet to be fully resolved. These have tied down two to six divisions of the Indian Army and huge numbers of paramilitary and police forces. A rebellion by 85 per cent of the Indian tribal populations that live in the central Indian heartland, therefore, has very serious security implications.
  • LWE organizations are the groups that try to bring change through violent revolution.
  • There are several left-wing extremist organisations in the country operating in many areas.
  • They are against democratic institutions and use violence to subvert the democratic processes at ground level.
  • These groups prevent the developmental processes in the least developed regions of the country & try to misguide the people by keeping them ignorant of current happenings.
  • Some groups also engage in parliamentary politics while at the same time, maintain underground cadres. Examples of such groups: Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Janashakti.
  • Traditionally, during the early years of the movement, they handled weapons like bows and arrows, and country-made firearms, but now, they possess sophisticated weapons including rocket launchers and AK rifles.


Before independence

  • The roots of the problem are historical as it dates back to the faulty land revenue policies of British era which in the course of time became so deep rooted that even an independent “Indian” government could not resolve it.
  • Land, which is the mainstay of Indian agrarian economy has historically been owned by community and therefore the concept of private ownership in land is something which is alien to Indian people.
  • During the medieval times Mughals never owned the land themselves but only controlled it through collecting land revenue via revenue agents, who in return shared a part of their earnings as revenue with Mughal rulers.
  • With the advent of Britishers, private ownership in land was brought to India.
  • The class of people who were earlier entrusted with collecting revenue that is Zamindars were now made the “owners” of the land by the British.
  • The famous PERMANENT SETTLEMENT policy of revenue collection which was mainly introduced in Bengal province under British is the classic example of this change in land relations.

After independence

  • At the time of Independence Zamindars owned the majority of land in India while millions of poor peasants either remained as marginalized farmers or much worse were forced to become landless labourers. Thus naturally one major task before the government after independence was to initiate land reforms and redistribute the excess land to the landless or marginalized farmers.
  • However, this great hope was belied by the nexus between Zamindars and corrupt government officials.
  • Two important legislations were passed by the Union government namely the “State Acquisition Act 1953” and the “Land Reforms Act 1955” to equalise land relations.
  • Under these, authority was granted to the State governments to first identify those who had excess land and subsequently acquire it (under the State Acquisition Act) and then redistribute it to the poor farmers (under the Land Reforms Act).
  • But, unfortunately due to rampant corruption and bribery land records were often manipulated by the local Patwari thereby leading to the failure of land reforms.
  • This failure was most evident in Orissa (now Odisha) and Bihar while in Bengal it was initially successful but later degenerated along the lines of the other two states mentioned above.
  • Thus all in all, land reforms which could have elevated the economic and social status of poor farmers failed terribly in almost all Indian states.
  • In such a situation the Communist party of India (CPI) decided to organize “Kisan Sabhas” in 1959 in the states of Bihar, Orissa and Bengal. The idea behind these meetings was to find a political solution to the problem of failed land reforms as the grievances which were raised in the meetings by farmers were conveyed to the CPI MPs who then took up the issue before the Parliament. Unfortunately after the Sino-India conflict of 1962, CPI in 1963 split into two factions, the CPI and the new CPI (Marxist). Those radical within the CPI joined the latter and now both started to organize their own Kisan Sabhas. It must be noted that CPI (M) was radical only in ideology, in practice it was similar to the former.

Charu Mazumdar – Father of Naxalism in India

  • Charu Mazumdar was the intellectual and the first leader of Naxalite movement in India.
  • During one of the Kisan Sabhas organized by the CPI (M) in Siligudi in West Bengal in 1965, the leader of the meeting Charu propounded the idea of “snatching away” the land back from the oppressors.
  • He believed that nothing could be done through taking the problem to the parliament hence the peasants should now resort to a revolution and sought back the land which rightfully belonged to them.
  • This interpretation found its first manifestation in the Naxalbari village in Bengal where over 100 peasants led by Kannu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal attacked the house of the most prominent Zamindar, who was killed and his house burnt and the land redistributed.
  • This brute show of inhuman mob behaviour which killed an innocent man was known as the Naxalbari incident marked the beginning of Left wing extremism in India and also shook the soul of the country. Charu, who was heavily criticised and expelled from the party later in 1969 floated his own organization the CPI (ML), with letters ‘M’ and ‘L’ being abbreviations for Maoism- Leninism.


  • The objective of the Naxalites is to wage an armed revolution, modeled on the lines of the Chinese Revolution, which they call New Democratic Revolution (NDR), and usher in their own form of government.
  • The Naxalites state their main political purpose as establishing an alternative state structure in India by creating a “red corridor” in Naxalite-affected states, stretching from the border of Nepal to central India to Karnataka in the south through violent struggle.

Maoist Modus Operandi

  • Modus operandi is a Latin term used in English-speaking circles to describe an individual’s or group’s habitual way of operating, which forms a discernible pattern. The term is primarily used when discussing criminal behavior, but it is not exclusively uttered in this context. Modus operandi can also be defined as a specific method of operation.
  • The LWE organisations, in pursuit of their stated goal of overthrowing the government, resort to armed violence against anyone they perceive to be their enemy, and this includes innocent civilians also.
  • LWE operates in following way:
    • They indulge in murders, abductions, extortions, etc.
    • Guerrilla warfare tactics
    • Frontal Organisations of LWE: The Maoists use their front organisations like Revolutionary Democratic Front, Democratic Student Union etc to generate people’s sympathy through persistent pursuance of propaganda on issues like human rights violations by the security forces.
    • Powerful propaganda machinery which is active in all major towns as well as in the national capital. They even have their supporters in the media.
    • Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC): Maoists carry out violent activities called TCOC which run from March to early Monsoon in July. The Maoists usually resort to TCOC every year to put the security forces in disarray so that they can go on a recruitment drive.
    • Fresh strategy of Maoists is to expand outside forests into the urban areas to win over non peasant classes and other social groups.
    • The Maoists have also maimed and murdered those they suspect of being ‘informers’.


Naxalite Effected Areas

  • The Naxalites-Maoists are currently active in about 62 districts of India. These involve the states of West Bengal (eight districts), Odisha (five), Bihar (five), Jharkhand (14), Madhya Pradesh (eight), Maharashtra (two), Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (10 each). Since 2007, Chhattisgarh is considered to be the epicentre of Maoist insurgency.
  • Kidnappings and extortion are some of the ways in which these ultra-Left insurgent groups are believed to raise funds. According to one unofficial estimate, until 2010, these groups had accumulated illegal funds to the tune of Rs14 billion (around Dh709.31 million). According to a BBC report, between 1990 and 2010, close to 6,000 people had lost their lives in Maoist violence. However, according to unofficial estimates, the death toll is in excess of 13,000 for the said period.


Red Corridor

  • The Red Corridor is the region in the central, eastern and southern parts of India that experience severe Naxalite–Maoist insurgency.
  • The districts affected by this and part of the Corridor are among the poorest in India.
  • Most of the region has a high tribal population. The region is also marked by severe caste and economic disparities.
  • Roughly, the Corridor stretches from the Indian border with Nepal and extends to the northern fringes of Tamil Nadu.
  • The region also has a significantly lower literacy rate compared to the national average.  LEFT WING EXTREMISM: A WAR UPON THE STATE

Links With Other Terrorist Organisations And Foreign Countries

  • The Naxalites have fraternal ties among themselves in India and with other groups in some other parts of the world.
  • Broadly, these could be classified as internal, regional and extra-regional.
  • The internal ties are more in terms of defining regions of activities, where by through a range of informal understandings the various Naxalite groups have divided the ‘turf’ among themselves.
  • It is the external linkages that are, indeed, worrying for more than one reason. To explain, the Maoist insurgents of Nepal, who have been waging a ‘people’s war’ since 1996 and whose chief demand is turning the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal into a Republic, have been making a relentless effort to bring closer the PWG and the MCC. A further consolidation of these ties would, thus, strengthen the Left-wing extremist movement in India and emerge as a grave threat to its internal security.
  • Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA):
    • The Nepalese insurgents and a few other India-based Left-wing extremist groups are members a broad front known as the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA).
    • At a meeting in 2001, 11 extreme Left-wing groups belonging to India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka announced the formation of CCOPMPOSA.
    • The objective of founding CCOMPOSA is to “coordinate and consolidate the unity among Maoist parties and organizations in South Asia”… as well as to “Lend mutual assistance and exchange experiences and deepen bilateral and multilateral relations amongst Maoist forces in the sub-continent” .
  • The insurgents are working with a well thought out strategy of unifying the Left-wing extremist groups in the region. They have achieved some success in that direction.
  • For instance, between the inaugural meeting and the second annual meeting held in the year 2002, another Maoist outfit of Bangladesh joined hands with CCOMPOSA member and was formally admitted into the grouping at the second annual meeting.
  • Further, the Nepalese insurgents have played a significant and crucial role in the emergence of another Maoist party in the sub-continent, the Communist Party of Bhutan–Marxist-Leninist-Maoist.

Factors Responsible For Rise Of Naxalism

  • Inequality in rural India based on unequal distribution of land
  • Low literacy levels along with poverty & unemployment
  • In 2006, Forest Rights Act was enacted. But Forest Bureaucracy continued its hostility towards it.
  • Politically the tribals are very poorly represented in the democratic process
  • Mining contributed to misery of tribals – 40% of the total population displaced post independence due to development of mines.  LEFT WING EXTREMISM: A WAR UPON THE STATE

Government’s Response To The Situation

  • 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.
  • Ban on CPI Maoist, along with all its formations and front organizations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
  • The media has proved to be a potent instrument in creating awareness among the target population about the socio-economic developmental schemes of the Government and their rights & entitlements. The media has also helped to highlight LWE activities to make people aware as to how LWE violence is preventing implementation of the welfare and development schemes, policies and initiatives of the Government.
  • SAMADHAN doctrineis the one-stop solution for the LWE problem. It encompasses the entire strategy of government from short-term policy to long-term policy formulated at different levels. SAMADHAN stands for-
    • S- Smart Leadership,
    • Aggressive Strategy,
    • M- Motivation and Training,
    • Actionable Intelligence,
    • D- Dashboard Based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas),
    • H- Harnessing Technology,
    • Action plan for each Theatre,
    • N- No access to Financing.
  • Roshani Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development): It is a placement linked skill development scheme for rural and tribal population, in worst affected districts. It emphasizes on special efforts to proactively cover the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) on a priority basis.
  • Assistance to LWE States: ‘Police’ and ‘Public order’ being State subjects, action with respect to maintenance of law and order lies primarily in the domain of the concerned State Governments. However, the Central Government closely monitors the situation and coordinates and supplements their efforts in several ways to deal with the LWE problem. These include:
    • Providing Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (CoBRA),
    • Setting up of Counter Insurgency and Anti Terrorism (CIAT) schools;
    • Modernization of the State Police and their Intelligence apparatus etc.
  • Strengthening the intelligence mechanism: This includes intelligence sharing through Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) at the central level and State Multi Agency Centre (SMAC) at the subsidiary level on 24×7 basis.  LEFT WING EXTREMISM: A WAR UPON THE STATE

Development of LWE Affected Areas

Few schemes being implemented by the government for LWE affected areas are:

  • Special Central Assistance (SCA)- for filling critical gaps in public infrastructure and services of emergent nature.
  • Road Connectivity Project- for construction of 5,412 km roads.
  • Skill Development- for construction of 47 ITIs (01 ITI per district) and 68 Skill Development Centers (02 SDCs per district) by 2018-19.
  • Education Initiatives- for building new Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) & Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) where they are not present. It is also planned to open more schools under the Eklavya model.
  • Installation of Mobile Towers- for endless telecom connectivity.
  • Financial inclusion- for ensuring the presence of banking facilities within 5 km to all citizens residing in LWE affected areas.  LEFT WING EXTREMISM: A WAR UPON THE STATE


  • Naxalism is not merely a law and order issue.
  • To truly eliminate naxalism, we must undercut its raison d’être, its reason for existence. While the methods of Naxalites may be abhorrent, most of their goals (apart from overthrowing the government) are not.
  • The government must fulfill these goals for them so that they have nothing to fight for.


Internal security

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