India has been dealing with three variants of the Internal Security challenge for decades and each has its own complexities — a proxy war and terrorism in Kashmir, sub-national separatist movements in the Northeast and the Naxal-Maoist insurgency (aka LWE) in the Red Corridor.
The left-wing extremism (LWE) or Naxal insurgency in India originated in a 1967 uprising in Naxalbari, West Bengal by the Communist Party of India (Marxist). They are the group of people who believe in the political theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong. The Naxals strongly believe that the solution to social and economic discrimination is to overthrow the existing political system.
The latest ambush by Maoist rebels on a large contingent of security personnel in Bastar is yet another well-planned and ruthlessly executed attack in a long line of similar attacks in the Maoist-infested regions of central India. Nearly 22 jawans were martyred in the attack.
This tragic incident is a major and embarrassing setback to the IS (internal security) capability of India at many levels and highlights the challenge that LWE (left-wing extremism) continues to pose.
LWE organizations are the groups that try to bring change through violent revolution. They are against democratic institutions and use violence to subvert the democratic processes at ground level.
The movement has spread across the Eastern India in less developed areas of states such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Causes of left-wing extremism in India
- Inequitable development:
- The failure of land reforms especially land redistribution after independence.
- Socio-economic inequities, unemployment, despair about the future.
- Dishonest and self-serving dominant groups.
- Political deprivation leading to hopelessness or a sense of powerlessness.
- Lack of title to public land cultivated by the landless poor.
- Governance deficit in the remote parts of Red Corridor regions.
- Lack of food security – corruption in the Public Distribution System (which are often non-functional).
- Disruption of traditional occupations and lack of alternative work opportunities.
- Displacement of people: Eviction from lands traditionally used by tribals.
- Forced Displacements caused by mining, irrigation and power projects without adequate arrangements for rehabilitation. As a result, livelihoods were lost.
- Large scale land acquisition for ‘public purposes’ without appropriate compensation or rehabilitation
- Discrimination against tribals: Poor implementation of laws prohibiting transfer of tribal land to non-tribals in the Fifth Schedule areas.
- Non-regularisation of traditional land rights under FRA, 2006.
- Hasty rejections of land grants to tribals.
Measures and change in strategy needed to solve Maoism
Home Ministry came up with the strategy of Samadhan. It is a strategy to frame short term and long-term policies to tackle LWE. It includes: S- Smart Leadership; A- Aggressive Strategy; M-Motivation and Training; A- Actionable Intelligence; D- Dashboard Based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas); H- Harnessing Technology; A- Action plan for each Theatre; N- No access to Financing.
In lieu of this, governments must pro-actively tackle left wing extremism.
- Modernizing the police force: The scheme focuses on strengthening police infrastructure by construction of secure police stations, training centres, police housing (residential) and equipping police stations with required mobility, modern weaponry, communication equipment and forensic set-up etc.
- On the administrative side, changes include separation of investigation from law and order, specialized wings for Social and Cyber Crimes are initiated in several states.
- Various technological reforms are pushed including modernization of the control room, fast tracking Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS), pushing for National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and pushing for incorporation of new technology into policing.
- Social Integration: State Governments have surrender and rehabilitation policy, while the Central Government supplements the efforts of the State Governments through the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme for LWE affected States.
- Additional incentives are given for surrendering with weapons/ammunition.
- The surrenderers are also imparted vocational training with a monthly stipend for a maximum period of 36 months.
- Skill Development: Skill Development in 34 Districts affected by Left Wing Extremism” under implementation from 2011-12 aims to establish ITIs and Skill Development Centres in LWE affected districts.
- Infrastructure Development: Road Connectivity, communication needs to be rapidly scaled up in LWE affected districts. Eg: Mobile towers being set up in remote areas.
- Major counter-insurgency measures in states
- Andhra Pradesh established elite force called Greyhounds to successfully crack down on naxal leaders. It also squashed mass organisation activities through civilian “vigilante” groups that had been encouraged through the surrender and rehabilitation package.
- West Bengal government implemented confidence building measures with the people living in the Maoist infested Jangalmaha region. It created a linkage between people and the institution.
- Odisha and Chhattisgarh trained many local tribal youths as Special Police Officers against Maoist insurgency.
- Bihar had set up a 400-member special task force and Special Auxiliary Police for counter insurgency operations. Currently the naxal influence has come down from 22 districts to 4.
- Maharashtra created a district level force called as C-60 Commando.
- Salwa Judumwas a militia that was mobilised and deployed as part of anti-insurgency operations in Chhattisgarh, aimed at countering Naxalite violence in the region.
- SMART Policing: Smart policing paradigm promotes integration & interoperability of information & communication systems.
- Broadly, smart policing involves interventions incorporating application of evidence-based and data-driven policing practices, strategies and tactics in order to prevent and control crime.
- Recruit specialized personnel: Specialized crimes require specialized approach and personnel to deal with them. There should be core technical team to handle modern technology related crimes.
- Community policing improves interface with citizens and makes police more sensitive. E.g. (i) Janamaithri Suraksha Padhathi, Kerala (ii) Friends of Police Movement (FOP), Tamil Nadu (iii) Suraksha Setu – Safe City Surat Project
- Improve communication network: There should be sharing of information & knowledge to improve the functioning of police force.
- Better Surveillance and Monitoring with standardisation, deployment and integration of private security surveillance system.
- It promotes pro-active policing by preventing criminal activity through enhanced police visibility and public engagement.
Left Wing Extremism (LWE) Division
- The LWE Division of Ministry of Home Affairs implements security related schemes aimed at capacity building in the LWE affected States.
- The Division also monitors the LWE situation and counter-measures being taken by the affected States.
- The States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are considered LWE affected, although in varying degrees.
Need of the hour
- Central and State governments, the administration and the security establishment need to recognize that the movement cannot be approached from a purely law and order point of view.
- The process of improving the conditions of the poor and the tribals clearly need to be speeded up if the movement is to be effectively checked.
- Winning the hearts and minds of the tribal population and other marginalised groups will lie at the core of the counter-insurgency strategy.
- Development of road and rail infrastructure will not only enhance economic growth and development but will also help in countering Maoist propaganda.
- The improved road connectivity will also have a multiplier effect on the effectiveness of the security forces in carrying out operations.
- Providing incentives and alternate life support system to those surrendered.
An ideology based on violence and annihilation is doomed to fail in a democracy which offers legitimate forums of grievance redressal. Through a holistic approach focusing on development and security related interventions, the LWE problem can be successfully tackled.