The Government of India has taken serious note of the Naxal problem in the recent past. The recent attacks by the Naxalites on State and Central Police Forces in Dantewada are very serious events wherein large number of lives have been lost and the Nation sits up to see as to what would happen and what should happen.
The CSA has been concerned about the developing Naxal problem for quite some time. The CSA organised a lecture on 21st November 2008 by Lt. Gen. (Retd) K.M. Seth, Former Governor of Chattisgarh on the subject at Chennai. His talk is summarised here.
Naxalism is a very important subject for India in so far as its internal security is concerned. The national mind set that existed earlier and continues to exist today is that Naxalism is a socio-economic problem. The nation continues to believe that it is a law and order problem of the State. Hence the Constitution prevails and prohibits the Central Government from getting involved in it. The result is that the problem has remained unattended and has grown to the extent that we are witnessing today. In March 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while addressing Chief Ministers of Nine naxal affected States, mentioned that Naxalism constitutes the biggest internal security threat to India. This was the first official recognition of the problem. This was followed by the Prime Minister’s address on 15th August in the same year where he mentioned that the country is facing serious challenges from terrorism and Naxalism. Thereafter the problem that Naxalism poses to India has been acknowledged on several forums. However, it is saddening to note that there has been no serious effort to quell the menace of Naxalism.
The Internal Security Environment
India has been facing an insurgency in the Northeastern States since 1950s and in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989. The Naxalite left wing extremism raised its head in 1967 and during the last few years has extended with phenomenal speed engulfing almost 16 States of India with varying degrees of violence and areas of operation. Over and above, this growing menace is the existence of terrorist sleeper cells within India. Often Indian authorities have blamed intelligence agencies from foreign countries for terrorist attacks and maintaining sleeper cells within India but the time has come that the authorities tackle with these sleeper cells more effectively than has been done earlier.
Having outlined the general internal security environment, I would like to emphasize the growth of left-wing extremism. Left wing extremism commenced in 1967 from a very small village of Naxalbari in the Silliguri district of the West Bengal. It spread very fast but was taken care of in an equally swift manner. Charu Majumdar, who was the leader of the movement in the ‘60s is considered the father of Naxalism. Around the same time in 1966-67, in Srikakulam, in Andhra Pradesh a farmer’s agitation raised its head which led to what is today the Naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh. It is now led by young dedicated and educated men and women who are fully indoctrinated with Marxism and its ideology. The movement in West Bengal as mentioned earlier was quickly tackled by all available means but the most important aspect of government response was land reforms, which went all the way to put the whole problem in place.
India’s Internal Security Environment Map
[pic]Over the last 3 to 5 years Naxalism has regained its strength and has grown to encompass 16 states and 170 districts. Of the 170 districts, 76 are severely affected. The speed with which Naxalism has spread across this vast area speaks volumes of the states’ inability to deliver basic services, drinking water, electricity, road and educational needs to the rural inhabitants of the tribal areas. This state of inability provides space for left wing extremism to step in and fill up the vacuum. Another failure on the part of the States is that...