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Left Wing Extremism (LWE)

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Challenges to Internal Security


Source: IE

 Context: Ten personnel of the Chhattisgarh Police’s District Reserve Guard (DRG) were reported killed in an IED attack by Maoists in the state’s Dantewada district.


The left-wing extremism (LWE) or Naxal insurgency in India:

  • It originated in a 1967 uprising in Naxalbari (West Bengal) by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
  • Naxals are a group of people who believe in the political theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong.




Causes: Inequitable development, Displacement of people (eviction from lands traditionally used by tribals), etc.


Strategy: They believe that the solution to social and economic discrimination is to overthrow (by force) the existing political system.


Govt. measures to solve LWE:

  • The Home Ministry came up with the –
    • The strategy of
    • The LWE Division to implement security-related schemes aimed at capacity building in the LWE-affected States.
  • Modernising the police force (SMART, CCTNS, NATGRID)
  • Social Integration (surrender and rehabilitation policy, skill development)
  • Development (Infrastructure – mobile towers)
  • The state governments have also launched several counter-insurgency measures. For example, Andhra Pradesh established an elite force called Greyhounds to successfully crack down on Naxal leaders.


Current situation:

  • The influence of Maoists and associated violence has been falling consistently (gone down by 77% since 2010 and resultant deaths by 90% to 98 in 2022) in the country.
  • A general disenchantment with the Maoist ideology among the youth has deprived the insurgent movement of new leadership.
  • The government has cut the number of districts declared to be Naxal-affected from over 200 in the early 2000s to just 90 now.
  • The presence of Naxals is said to be minimal to zero in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Bihar.
  • The Home Ministry has vowed to rid the country of the Maoist problem by 2024.


A widely accepted principle in counter-Maoist strategy:

  • The war against Left Wing Extremism can only be won by the state police and not central forces.
  • This is because the state police have local knowledge, understand the language, and have local networks that are essential for the generation of intelligence.


Situation in Chhattisgarh:

  • It is the only state in the country where Maoists continue to have a significant presence.
  • In the last five years (2018-22), 1,132 violent incidents, in which 168 security forces personnel and 335 civilians lost their lives, accounted for over a third of all Maoist-related violence.


Why did the Maoists attack in Chhattisgarh at this time?

  • The onset of the monsoon makes it difficult to conduct offensive operations in the jungles.
  • Almost all major attacks by Maoists on security forces have taken place during the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaigns (TCOCs) period in the summer.
  • The TCOC period this year has been characterised by increasing improvised explosive device (IED) attacks.


Why does Chhattisgarh continue to remain troubled?

  • The counter-insurgency measures started late in Chhattisgarh.
  • By this time, the police of neighbouring states had pushed Maoists from their states to Chhattisgarh, making it a concentrated zone of Maoist influence.
  • The special unit of the Chhattisgarh Police, the DRG, was raised from the local tribal population and trained to fight Maoists and has become active relatively recently.
  • The absence of roads and minimal presence of the administration in the interiors of Bastar has stymied the operations of security forces and ensured Maoists’ influence through a mix of fear and goodwill.


How has the Centre responded?

  • Apart from supporting LWE states through Security Related Expenditure (SRE), the Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS) aims to strengthen local police and intelligence setups.
  • Through the Special Central Assistance for building infrastructure (roads), the Centre has maintained a massive presence of the CRPF in the affected states.
  • The Centre has also unleashed the Counter-terrorism National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate on CPI(Maoist) cadres.


Conclusion: The Chhattisgarh experience demands an urgent revisiting of the existing counter-insurgency strategy → a security-centric approach. The most appropriate thing at this juncture would be to open the channels for political dialogues with Maoists.


Insta Links:



Mains Links:

What are the determinants of left-wing extremism in the Eastern part of India? What strategy should the Government of India, civil administration and security forces adopt to counter the threat in the affected areas? (UPSC 2020)