Naxalites: Wikis


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Map showing the districts where the Naxalite movement is active (2007)

Naxalite or Naksalvadis (name from the village of Naxalbari in the Indian state of West Bengal where the movement originated), are a group of far-left radical communists, supportive of Maoist political sentiment and ideology. Their origin can be traced to the split in 1967 of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), leading to formation of Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist). Initially the movement had its centre in West Bengal. In recent years, it has spread into less developed areas of rural central and eastern India, such as Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh through the activities of underground groups like the Communist Party of India (Maoist).[1] They lead the Naxalite-Maoist insurgency. As of 2009, Naxalites are active across approximately 220 districts in twenty states of India[2] accounting for about 40 percent of India's geographical area,[3] They are especially concentrated in an area known as the "Red corridor", where they control 92,000 square kilometers.[3] According to India's intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, 20,000 armed cadre Naxalites were operating apart from 50,000 regular cadres working in their various mass organizations and millions of sympathisers,[4] and their growing influence prompted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare them as the most serious internal threat to India's national security.[5] The Naxalites are opposed by virtually all mainstream Indian political groups.[6]. In February 2009, Central government announced its plans for simultaneous, co-ordinated counter-operations in all Left-wing extremism-hit states—Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, to plug all possible escape routes of Naxalites.[7]



The term Naxalites comes from Naxalbari, a small village in West Bengal, where an extremist section of Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) led by Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal led a violent uprising in 1967, trying to develop a "revolutionary opposition" in opposition to the CPI(M) leadership. The insurrection started on May 25, 1967 in Naxalbari village when a farmer was attacked over a land dispute. Maoists in the guise of farmers retaliated by attacking the local landlords and escalated the violence.[6] Majumdar greatly admired Mao Zedong, and advocated that Indian peasants and lower classes follow in his footsteps and overthrow the government and upper classes whom he held responsible for their plight. He strengthened the Naxalite movement through his writings, the most famous being the 'Historic Eight Documents' which formed the basis of Naxalite ideology.[8] In 1967 'Naxalites' organized the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR), and later broke away from CPI(M). Violent 'uprisings' were organized in several parts of the country. In 1969 AICCCR gave birth to Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI(ML)).

Practically all Naxalite groups trace their origin to the CPI(ML). A separate tendency from the beginning was the Maoist Communist Centre, which evolved out of the Dakshin Desh-group. MCC later fused with People's War Group to form Communist Party of India (Maoist). A third tendency is that of the Andhra revolutionary communists, which was mainly presented by UCCRI(ML), following the mass line legacy of T. Nagi Reddy. That tendency broke with AICCCR at an early stage.

During the 1970s the movement was fragmented into several disputing factions. By 1980 it was estimated that around 30 Naxalite groups were active, with a combined membership of 30,000.[9] A 2004 home ministry estimate puts numbers at that time as "9,300 hardcore underground cadre… [holding] around 6,500 regular weapons beside a large number of unlicensed country-made arms".[10] According to Judith Vidal-Hall (2006), "More recent figures put the strength of the movement at 15,000, and claim the guerrillas control an estimated one fifth of India's forests, as well as being active in 160 of the country's 604 administrative districts."[11] India's Research and Analysis Wing, believed in 2006 that 20,000 Naxals are currently involved in the growing insurgency[4]

Today some groups have become legal organisations participating in parliamentary elections, such as Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation. Others, such as Communist Party of India (Maoist) and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Janashakti, are engaged in armed guerrilla struggles.

Violence in Bengal

The Naxalites gained a strong presence amongst the radical sections of the students movement in Calcutta.[12] A few students left their education to join violent activities of the Naxalites. Taking note of this important development Majumdar adjusted the tactics of CPI(ML), and claimed that the revolutionary warfare was to take place not only in the rural areas but everywhere and spontaneously, to entice more students into his organisation. Thus Majumdar's 'annihilation line', a dictum that Naxalites should assassinate individual "class enemies" as a part of the insurrection was put into practice against landlords, university teachers, police officers, politicians and other common people.[citation needed]

Throughout Calcutta, schools were shut down. Naxalites took over Jadavpur University and used the machine shop facilities to make pipe guns to attack the police. Their headquarters became Presidency College, Kolkata. The Naxalites soon found ardent supporters among some of the educated elite, and Delhi's prestigious St. Stephen's College, alma mater of many contemporary Indian leaders and thinkers, became a hotbed of Naxalite activities.

The strategy of individual terrorism soon proved counterproductive. Eventually, the Chief Minister, Siddhartha Shankar Ray, began to institute counter-measures against the Naxalites. The officers and constabulary of the West Bengal police fought back to stop the terror unleashed by the Naxalites. After suffering losses and facing humiliation on the public rejection of Majumdar's 'annihilation line' the Naxalite alleged human rights violations by the West Bengal police.

In a matter of months, the Naxal violence was stopped by the efforts of the police. They argued that the state was effectively fighting a civil war and that democratic pleasantries had no place in a war, especially when the opponent did not fight within the norms of democracy and civility.[6]

Moreover, the violent movement was torn about by internal disputes. Large sections began to question Majumdar's line of struggle. In 1971 CPI(ML) was split in two, as Satyanarayan Singh revolted against Majumdar's leadership. In 1972 Majumdar was arrested by the police and subsequently he died in Alipore Jail. After his death the fragmentation of this violent movement accelerated.

Lalgarh, West Bengal had emerged as a region close to coming completely under control of the Naxalites after the group threw out the local police and staged random attacks against ruling communist government in late May 2009. The region became increasingly under assault by Maoist guerrillas. The state government initiated a huge operation with central paramilitary forces and state armed police to retake Lalgarh in early June. Maoist leader Kishenji claimed in an interview that the mass Naxalite movement in Lalgarh in 2009 aimed at creating a 'liberated zone' against "oppression of the establishment Left and its police" has given them a major base in West Bengal for the first time since the Naxalite uprising was crushed in the mid-1970s and that "We will have an armed movement going in Calcutta by 2011". [13]

Cultural references

Organizations listed as terrorist groups by India
Northeastern India
National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM)
Naga National Council-Federal (NNCF)
National Council of Nagaland-Khaplang
United Liberation Front of Asom
People's Liberation Army
Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL)
Zomi Revolutionary Front
Al-Badr Mujahideen
Al Barq (ABQ)
Al Fateh Force (AFF)
Al Jihad Force (AJF)/Al Jihad
Al Mujahid Force (AMF)
Al Umar Mujahideen (AUR/Al Umar)
Awami Action Committee (AAC)
Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DEM)
Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HUM)
Ikhwan-ul-Musalmeen (IUM)
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM)
Jammat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM)
Jammat-ul-Mujahideen Almi (JUMA)
Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP)
Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front (JKIF)
Jammu and Kashmir Jamaat-e-Islami (JKJEI)
Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET)
Kul Jammat Hurriyat Conference (KJHC)
Mahaz-e-Azadi (MEA)
Muslim Janbaaz Force (MJF/Jaanbaz Force)
Muslim Mujahideen (MM)
Hizbul Mujahideen
United Jihad Council
Students Islamic Movement of India Tehreek-e-Jihad (TEJ)
Pasban-e-Islami (PEI/Hizbul Momineen HMM)
Shora-e-Jihad (SEJ)
Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TUM)
North India
Babbar Khalsa
Bhindranwala Tigers Force of Khalistan
Communist Party of India (Maoist)
Dashmesh Regiment
International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF)
Kamagata Maru Dal of Khalistan
Khalistan Armed Force
Khalistan Liberation Force
Khalistan Commando Force
Khalistan Liberation Army
Khalistan Liberation Front
Khalistan Liberation Organisation
Khalistan National Army
Khalistan Guerilla Force
Khalistan Security Force
Khalistan Zindabad Force
Shaheed Khalsa Force
Central India
People's war group
Balbir militias
Ranvir Sena

The British musical group Asian Dub Foundation have a song called "Naxalite", which also featured on the soundtrack to the 1999 film Brokedown Palace. A 2005 movie called Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, directed by Sudhir Mishra, was set against the backdrop of Naxalite movement. In August 2008, Kabeer Kaushik's Chamku, starring Bobby Deol and Priyanka Chopra, explored the story of a boy who is brain-washed to take arms against the state.

In the novel The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, there is a reference to a character joining the Naxalites.

The 1998 film Haazar chaurasi ki Maa (based on the novel, Hazar Churashir Maa[14] by Mahasweta Devi) starring Jaya Bachchan gives a very sympathetic portrayal of a Naxalbari militant killed by the state. The 2009 Malayalam movie Thalappavu portrays the story of Naxal Varghese, who was shot dead by the police during the 70s.

The Kannada movie Veerappa Nayaka directed by S. Narayan portrays Vishnuvardhan, a Gandhian whose son becomes a Naxalite. The 2007 Kannada movie Maathaad Maathaadu Mallige, directed by Nagathihalli Chandrashekhar, again portrays Vishnuvardhan as a Gandhian, who confronts a Naxalite Sudeep and shows him that the ways adopted by Naxals will only lead to violence and will not achieve their objective.

Eka Nakshalwadya Cha Janma, (Marathi: The birth of a Naxal), a novel written by Vilas Balkrishna Manohar, a volunteer with the Lok Biradari Prakalp, is a fictional account of a Madia Gond Juru's unwilling journey of life his metamorphosis from an exploited nameless tribal to a Naxal.[15]

Deaths related to violence

Violence has peaked in India from Maoist or Naxalite separatist violence being more dangerous to India's national security, as declared by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs estimates the following yearly death tolls from the violence:

  • 1996: 156 deaths [16]
  • 1997: 428 deaths[16]
  • 1998: 270 deaths[16]
  • 1999: 363 deaths[16]
  • 2000: 50 deaths[16]
  • 2001: 100+ deaths[16]
  • 2002: 140 deaths[16]
  • 2003: 451 deaths[16]
  • 2004: 500+ deaths[16]
  • 2005: 700+ deaths[16]
  • 2006: 750 deaths[16]
  • 2007: 650 deaths[16]
  • 2008: 794 deaths[16]
  • 2009: 1,134 deaths[17]

According to the BBC, more than 6,000 people have died during the rebels' 20-year fight.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Ramakrishnan, Venkitesh (2005-09-21). "The Naxalite Challenge". Frontline Magazine (The Hindu). Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  2. ^ Handoo, Ashook. "Naxal Problem needs a holistic approach". Press Information Bureau. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  3. ^ a b "Rising Maoists Insurgency in India". Global Politician. 2007-01-15. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  4. ^ a b Philip Bowring Published: TUESDAY, APRIL 18, 2006 (2006-04-18). "Maoists who menace India". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  5. ^ "South Asia | Senior Maoist 'arrested' in India". BBC News. 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  6. ^ a b c Diwanji, A. K. (2003-10-02). "Primer: Who are the Naxalites?". Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  7. ^ Co-ordinated operations to flush out Naxalites soon The Economic Times, February 6, 2009.
  8. ^ Hindustan Times: History of Naxalism
  9. ^ Singh, Prakash. The Naxalite Movement in India. New Delhi: Rupa & Co., 1999. p. 101.
  10. ^ Quoted in Judith Vidal-Hall, "Naxalites", p. 73–75 in Index on Censorship, Volume 35, Number 4 (2006). Quoted on p. 74.
  11. ^ Judith Vidal-Hall, "Naxalites", p. 73–75 in Index on Censorship, Volume 35, Number 4 (2006). p. 74.
  12. ^ Judith Vidal-Hall, "Naxalites", p. 73–75 in Index on Censorship, Volume 35, Number 4 (2006). p. 73.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Mother of 1084" - the number assigned to her son.
  15. ^ "Who's who of Indian Writers, 1999 By K. C. Dutt, Sahitya Akademi". Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Armed Conflicts Report - India-Andhra Pradesh". Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  17. ^ 600 civilians, 317 members of security forces and 217 rebels died in Maoist-related violence.
  18. ^ Bhaumik, Subir. Maoist rebels set precondition for talks. BBC News. 10 February 2010.

Further reading

  • Naxalite Politics in India, by J. C. Johari, Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies, New Delhi, . Published by Research Publications, 1972.
  • The Naxalite Movement, by Biplab Dasgupta. Published by , 1974.
  • The Naxalite Movement: A Maoist Experiment, by Sankar Ghosh. Published by Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, 1975. ISBN 0883865688.
  • The Naxalite Movement in India: Origin and Failure of the Maoist Revolutionary Strategy in West Bengal, 1967-1971, by Sohail Jawaid. Published by Associated Pub. House, 1979.
  • In the Wake of Naxalbari: A History of the Naxalite Movement in India, by Sumanta Banerjee. Published by Subarnarekha, 1980.
  • India's Simmering Revolution: The Naxalite Uprising, by Sumanta Banerjee. Published by Zed Books, 1984. ISBN 0862320372.
  • Tribal Guerrillas: The Santals of West Bengal and the Naxalite Movement, by Edward Duyker. Published by Oxford University Press, 1987.
  • The Naxalite Movement in India, by Prakash Singh. Published by Rupa, 1995. ISBN 8171672949.

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