Monday, Jul 23rd

Last update06:56:09 AM GMT

Font Size





Menu Style


Fifty years later, the ‘revolution’ is still on

  • PDF

Fifty years later, the ‘revolution’ is still on

Prakash Singh

It was March 1967. Poor farmers armed with lathis, bows and arrows raided the paddy granaries of jotedars at Naxalbari, situated at the tri-junction of India, Nepal and Bangladesh (then, East Pakistan). These were small incidents but with far-reaching implications. The People’s Daily of China hailed these attacks as “a peal of spring thunder” and that “the Chinese people joyfully applaud this revolutionary storm of the Indian peasants”. The movement was crushed by the police, but its sparks flew to distant parts of India. The State could never imagine that the movement would spread across states and, at its peak, affect 200 districts in 20 states.

According to latest estimates, 104 districts in 13 states are affected by the Maoist movement. With 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of the movement, security forces in the affected areas have sounded the alarm that recent attacks on the forces could signal the start of a resurgence of anti-State activity by the armed insurgents. The NDA claims to be winning the war against the Maoists. It is true that there has been significant shrinkage in the total area affected by Maoist violence and that several members of the party’s central committee and politburo have been neutralised.

Last year, however, witnessed a considerable escalation in Maoist depredations. There were 433 fatalities in 2016 as against 251 in 2015. What is worrying is that the proportion of security forces personnel killed to that of Maoists has dropped from 1:3.7 in 2016 to 1:1.55 in 2017 (to date). Home minister Rajnath Singh recently claimed that the Maoist threat would be eliminated in the next five years. It is true that the military capability of the Maoists has been dented, but let’s not be too optimistic. If we take a historical overview of the Naxalite/Maoist movement, we find that twice in the past, governments believed that they had knocked out LWE but they managed a comeback.

After the arrest of Charu Mazumdar, one the key leaders of the Naxalbari movement, in 1972 and the subsequent differences within the party, it was thought that the movement had run out of steam. However, it revived in 1980 with the formation of the People’s War Group (PWG) by Kondapalli Seetharamaiah. Effective counter-insurgency operations however decimated the PWG. Seetharamaiah was arrested. Again, the government thought the movement had been vanquished. However, in 2004, the movement resurrected in its third avatar the People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre merged to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

The objective of the party: To “carry on and complete the already ongoing and advancing New Democratic Revolution in India as part of world proletarian revolution by overthrowing the semi-colonial, semifeudal system.” The guerrilla outfits were reorganised as People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army, which is about 6,000 strong.

The movement keeps on reappearing like a phoenix because the basic socio-economic factors, which are responsible for it, remain unaddressed. Wealth is increasing, but its distribution is unequal. About 1% of the rich are said to own 58% of the country’s wealth. Unemployment is another area of concern. Land reforms have been forgotten. Tribals are an alienated lot, largely due to their displacement as a result of developmental activities in the forest areas. The state police forces unfortunately lean heavily on the shoulders of the Central Armed Police Forces. The great lesson of Punjab is that until the state police take the terrorists/extremists head-on, the battle against terrorism/ extremism will never be won. The state police are today in a shambles.

It is also disconcerting that the successes of the security forces are not followed up by the administration. Government departments do not establish themselves in areas when the Maoists have been driven away. In the course of time, Maoists fill the administrative vacuum and regain lost ground.

And so, the battle which started 50 years ago in Naxalbari goes on. It will continue to bleed the State until we improve governance and address the core issues, which sustain the movement.

Prakash Singh is a retired police chief and was member of an expert group appointed by the Planning Commission to study Maoism The views expressed are personal

Source: Hindustan Times

Latest Publications

India's National Security
Annual Review 2018
Edited by Satish Kumar

Contact us

Foundation for National Security Research

Z-24, (Ground Floor) Hauz Khas New Delhi – 110016

Tel: 91 (11) 41656842, 91 (11) 26531541, Fax : 91 (11) 46018144

Email: director.fnsr@gmail.com, foundation.nsr@gmail.com, info@fnsr.org


You are here: Home