Failure of India’s Anti-Maoist War
By Sajjad Shaukat
Although under the mask of democracy and secularism, Indian subsequent regimes dominated by politicians from the Hindi heartland—Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) have been using brutal force ruthlessly in suppressing the wars of liberation in more than six states, yet failure of India’s anti-Maoist war needs special attention.
In this regard, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram, while contending the parliamentary consultative committee, said that the chief ministers of the four states worst hit by Maoist violence—Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal and Jharkhand, and they have agreed on July 14, 2011 to set up a unified command centre for joint operations. The centre would help strengthen the police infrastructure and provide helicopters. He further claimed, “The government is confident that the problem of left-wing extremism will be overcome very soon.”
An Indian annual report of 2010 had exaggerated, “the overall counter-action by the affected states in terms of left-wing extremists killed, arrested and surrendered has shown much better results.” While this time, the annual report has held out no similar words of reassurance. Even though Chidambaram’s anti-Maoist war has disappeared off our television screens, the evidence shows that it has run into big trouble, showing his wishful thinking.
On the other side, last year, India’s Maoist insurgency became progressively more lethal—1003 people were killed in 2010, 908 in 2009 and 721 in 2008. Particularly in 2010, new operations of the Indian security forces have exposed the failure of India’s anti-Maoist war. Faced with frustration, on May 18 last year, Home Minister P. Chidamabram said that the Indian government “welcomes peace talks with Maoist rebels.” On the other hand, Ramanna, a Maoist leader in Chhattisgarh state rejected the offer, saying that the government should first withdraw thousands of paramilitary soldiers, and create peaceful conditions for talks.
However, peace talks were offered by the New Delhi after the Maoist insurgents ambushed a bus on May 17, 2010 that killed 45 police officers and civilians who were returning after an operation, killing two Maoists. The event highlighted the Maoists’ strength despite a government offensive aimed at ending one of Asia’s longest militancy. Besides, on May 26, Maoist militants sabotaged a high-speed train in eastern India, killing at least 65 people.
In fact, Maoist uprising which has taken the form of armed struggle is indigenous. It has become an unending insurgency due to the injustices and state terrorism perpetrated by the rich Hindus and Indian security forces.
Maoist movement initially started by its leader, Mupala Luxman Rao in 1969 in the form of peasant uprising in West Bengal, protesting against big Hindu landlords who left no stone unturned in molesting the poor people through their mal-treatment such as forced labour, minimum wages, maximum work, unlawful torture and even killings—the evils one could note prior to the Frech Revolution of 1789 when fedual lords had practised similar injustices on the farmers. But, instead of redressing the grievances of the peasants and workers, Indian security forces in connivance with the rich-dominated society used the forces of state terrorism in crushing the Maoist movement. The Maoists had no choice, but to launch an armed struggle for their genuine rights.
The Naxalite-Maoists, as they call themselves, are the liberators, representing landless farmers and the downtrodden masses who have been entangled into vicious circle of poverty, misery and deprivation. The Indian indiscriminate social order treats them resentfully, setting aside human dignity. Owing to these inequalities, Maoists have appealed to the sentments of the helpless poor, who found their future dark under the susequent regimes led by so-called democratic forces of India. According to a report, “Out of total 1.17 billion populations, over 39% of dispossessed Indians, living below poverty line are hopeful that Maoists would bring a change in their wretched lives.”
Ideologically, the Naxalites believe that Indians have yet need freedom from hunger and deprivation, and from the exploitation of the poor by the rich classes of landlords, industrialists and traders who control the means of production. Due to these reasons, Maoists target all representatives of the state like politicians, the police and other officials. At local level, they target village functionaries and landlords.
Having its voice unheard, Maoist movement which had been raging in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, has expanded to Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In the recent months, Maoist insurgency has intensified enveloping new areas. Now, it is a popular movement which has massive support of people for its ideology.
Notably, Maoist movement has become a violent struggle because of the use of undue force by the Indian security forces. In this regard, on October 31, 2009, The New York Times wrote, “India’s Maoist rebels are now present in 20 states and have evolved into a potent insurgency. In the last four years, the Maoists have killed more than 900 Indian security officers…violence erupts almost daily.” The Times explained, “Indian leaders are now preparing to deploy nearly 70,000 paramilitary officers for a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign to hunt down the guerrillas in some of the country’s most rugged terrain…India’s rapid economic growth has made it an emerging global power but also deepened stark inequalities in society. Maoists accuse the government of trying to push tribal groups off their land to gain access to raw materials and have sabotaged roads, bridges and even an energy pipeline.”
BBC had reported on October 12, 2009, “In response to the atrocities of the Indian police, Maoist rebels had blown up culverts and cut electricity to railways in various regions during two-day strike.”
Naxalite insurgency known as Red Corridor has become so popular that India is actively considering shifting 23 battalions of para-military forces from occupied Kashmir to the Maoist affected areas.
While on the one hand, Indian rulers realise the real causes of Maoist uprising, but still accuse China of backing the Maoist guerrilla warfare. Some Indian high officials misperceive that China supplies armes and ammuniton to the Maoists. With the covert support of Indian secret agency, RAW, Indians also propagate that there are secret training camps in China, which teach tactics of guerrilla warfare to the Maoists, and then they are being despatched to India.
It is mentionable that Maoist guerrilla commanders have been providing basic military training to local youths in West Bengal. They use weapons which they have snatched from the installations of Indian security forces. Since their struggle, they have kidnapped a number of personnel of the armed forces. Some poor persons, serving in the Indian forces have also provided them with arms and ammunition.
It is noteworthy that in the autumn of 2009, Chidambaram had initiated a sweeping offensive against Maoists when many security forces were mobilized to displace the insurgents from their strongholds. Former Home Secretary GK Pillai had announced that “within 30 days of the security forces moving in, we should be able to restore civil administration.” But that claim also proved fruitless.
Surprisingly, on September 21, 2009, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had admitted, saying, Maoist “insurgency is the single biggest threat to India’s security…his country is losing the battle against Maoist rebels…violence is increasing…affects a third of all districts” and “Maoists have growing appeal among a large section of Indian society including tribal communities, the rural poor and the intelligentsia.”
Nevertheless, every hope to win the battle against Maoist uprising has shattered. Finding themselves lacking the combat skills and intelligence needed to outmanoeuvre insurgent units in the forests—a lesson hammered home that Indian central forces have been doing little more than protecting their camps.
Experts predicts unsuccessful outcome of this conflict. In this respect, the former Director-General of Punjab Police KPS Gill warned that New Delhi was chasing a chimera. There was, he noted, a pattern: “months of State denial, appeasement and progressive error; paralysis in the face of rising Maoist violence.”
Nonetheless, every claim of successful counter-insurgency has resulted in failure of India’s anti-Maoist war.
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