The Indian ‘Red Brigade’ is the Indian brand of Taliban. It assumes different aliases, the current favourite being ‘Maoists’. In the modern context, they stand for ‘insurgency, violence, terror and war’. In fact, they are more dangerous than the Taliban because of the multifold threat they pose to Indian nationhood. The Indian Taliban has, lately, handed over its remote control into foreign hands. The latest upsurge in their activity is a clear indication of China’s desire to break up India into ‘20-30 parts’. Undoubtedly the Maoists/Naxalites of India are the ‘proxy’ soldiers of our northern neighbor.
It is truism that initial concern of the so called revolutionaries for peasants, poor, downtrodden and tribal, is a façade for ultimately conquering their own country. Sympathy for the poor people is the mask that hides the ugly face of their satanic ambitions. The revolutionaries and their leaders no less exploit the masses as do the people they do accuse of. From Marshal Tito to Fidel Castro to Mao-Ze-dong to Dr Sukarno the script is the same. Even some of the initially popular dictators like Hitler, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Marcos, Allende and Latin American dictators played these populist themes to stir the public mood and sentiments. “Fight for the poor and downtrodden” is the magical ladder. This is also true of all the ‘Kishanjees’, ‘Koteshwar Raos’, ‘Kobad Ghandys’ and ‘Ganpathis’ who masquerade as leaders of the Maoists/Naxalites.
“¦ the Maoists do not believe in democracy. They do not accept our constitutional system and intend to establish “˜Peoples Republic through the use of terror.
As the name suggests ‘Maoists’ draw inspiration from Mao-Zedong of China, who believed in violent revolution to bring socio-politico change in his country. They go by the brand name of Communist Party of India (Maoists), which came into existence in 2004, with the amalgamation of Maoist Coordination Centre (MCC) of Kishanjee and People’s War group (PWG) of Ganpathi, the outfits functioning in Andhra Pradesh since 1975 and 1980 respectively. They were a break-away group of the Communist Party of India (Marxists-Leninists) formed in 1969.
The naxalites movement began in 1967 as a peasant movement in the small village of Naxalbari in West Bengal, as a revolt against the high handedness of landlords. The revolt was led by two leaders of Communist Party of India-Marxists or CPI-(M), namely Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal. It later broke away from CPI (M) to form All India Communist Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR) which, in 1969, turned into Communist Party of India (Marxists-Leninists) or CPI (M-L).
Most of the splinter groups of Naxalites/ Maoists ideologies owe their origin to CPI (M-L). In the south, we had a Dakshin Desh group in the 50s, which became Maoists Coordination Centre (MCC). As stated earlier, it later merged with the People’s War Group (PWG) to form Communist Party of India-’Maoists’ or CPI (Maoists) on September 21, 2004. In July 2001, Maoists groups all over South Asia formed a Coordination Committee of Maoists Parties and Organizations in South Asia (CCMPOSA).
Over the last three years, Naxalites/Maoists have killed some 2600 people including police and paramilitary force personnel in some 5800 incidents. The highest numbers of incidents of violence have taken place in the states of Chhatisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. As per the Home Ministry, some 222 people had been killed in these states between January 2006 and August 2009.
The hijacking of trains, first a passenger train in Jharkhand and then the more prestigious Rajdhani Express in West Bengal; beheading of a Jharkhand police officer; forcing of the West Bengal government to swap 22 Maoists for a kidnapped police officer; blowing up of a police station in Bihar; ambushing a police party in Chhatisgarh; firing on the Indian Air Force helicopter in Chhatisgarh during election duty in the parliamentary elections in 2009 and numerous other incidents of violence which have taken place in various states in the eastern and central regions of India, do give us an indication of the coming deluge of violence, chaos and disorder in the Red Corridor in particular and the country as a whole. (see map below). Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, rightly warned the nation that the biggest threat to Indian security emanated from the Maoists.
The latest upsurge in their activity is a clear indication of Chinas desire to break up India into “˜20-30 parts. Undoubtedly the Maoists/Naxalites of India are the “˜proxy soldiers of our northern neighbor.
The map indicates that the entire eastern coastal region along the Bay of Bengal is affected Maoist terror. It therefore poses a serious threat to the integrity and unity of India. Initially, the Maoists/Naxalites movement was confined to some 5-6 states only. Till about 2007, it affected some 190, out of 604 districts in about 10 states in India. At present, according to the Home Minister P Chidambaram, the menace has spread to more than 2000 police stations in 233 districts of 20 states. The Maoist menace has now engulfed some 40,000 square kilometers across the country and it is estimated some 25 Lakh people inhabit the areas wherein Maoists/Naxalites have a free run.
Mr P Chidambaram has stated that the centre and state governments had not paid attention to this issue for the last 10-13 years. Therefore, it is imperative to address the genuine problems of the people before we think of any solution to this menace.
Mr Ashok Sahu, a retired IPS officer of Andhra Cadre with extensive experience in handling the PWG, has brought out the real causes of the rise of Maoists. In his article “Maoist Menace; Naxalite Offensive”, in the South Asia Intelligence Review of October 2009, he lists the root causes as poor governance, want of social justice, lack of electoral reforms, corruption in the judiciary and bureaucracy, poor state of rural roads, absence of primary health care, education and employment opportunities. He warns that so long as the basic causes persist, the Maoists cannot be stopped from expanding in the rural areas and then forming front organizations in urban areas. The front organizations are the recruitment points for selection of their future leaders. At present, the district level guerrilla commanders and party leaders get handsome remuneration and are technologically well equipped. In their perspective plan for urban expansion, technological up-gradation and access to the mining belt and industrial towns in Orissa, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are given top priority. The Maoists are also reported to be creating a huge arms storage facility in Kolkatta. Revolutionary graffiti can be seen on the walls of police stations in the city. A large number of students of Kolkatta and Jadhav University are active Maoist cadres. We need these issues into account while formulating our strategy to combat this menace.
It is therefore imperative to understand the philosophy of Maoists and their stated strategy. Many wrong notions of our peaceniks need to be dispelled. The Maoist leader Kishan Ji, addressed the media the day he released Mr. Dutta, a kidnapped police officer of West Bengal. He called him a ‘Prisoner of War.’ Therefore, let us be clear that Maoists think it is war they are fighting against the Union of India.
The Constitution of India is very clear-anyone who picks up the arms against the Indian Union is to be treated as an enemy. Therefore, purely in military terms, we must shed this notion of “our misguided innocent boys”. They were neither innocent nor misguided when they raided a police station in Naugachhia in Bihar or ambushed a CRPF patrol in Chhatisgarh or even when they beheaded a Jharkhand police officer. These were calculated acts towards the achievement of their aim. One of their stated objectives is to spread terror in the areas they control by deliberate acts of violence.
According to Mr. Ashok Sahu, the Maoists do not believe in democracy. They do not accept our constitutional system and intend to establish ‘Peoples’ Republic’ through the use of terror. Mr. Ashok Sahu further states that the organization believes in the ideology of ‘annihilation of class enemy’. The organization advocates a ‘protracted people’s war’ to seize power. In a press statement on October 14, 2004, the leaders of the newly formed CPI (Maoists), made it clear as to how this war was to be conducted. Mr. Ashok Sahu observes that the protracted people’s war of Maoists aims at armed seizure of power, as its central and principal task, encircling the cities from the countryside and thereby finally capturing them. Hence, the countryside as well as the Protracted People’s War will remain as the “center of gravity” of the party’s work, while urban thrust will be complementary to it.
The person who kills his own countrymen most brutally and flaunts his weapons openly can not be “innocent and misguided”. No half-hearted measures can yield results.
The Maoists consider state power as a weapon in the hands of the rich and the ruling classes. So their primary aim is to destroy the state power in all its forms and create their sum power structure. As the state power is based on the might of its armed forces their sole aim is to paralyze the police and the paramilitary forces. The second target is the people’s representatives on the state assemblies and the parliament. They attack and kill democratically elected leaders and also the common people to create terror and panic in order to marginalise the state administration.
Further, their naked dictatorship does not have any concern for the public opinion or peoples well-being. Coteries of ideological fanatics are dictating the people and have reduced them to slaves. The Maoist rule of has compounded their miseries of the tribal as they have to leave their home and hearth off and on.
Therefore, violence and terror is the primary ideology of the Maoists. They have launched a war on India. To call them ‘misguided’ is to wish away the evil and prolong India’s ordeal and endanger its integrity.
The Maoists have established links with foreign militant groups. On October 02, 2009, one of the Maoist commanders, Srinivasan, made an admission to LEMON TV Channel that Chinese and Nepalese trainers have been coming to India to impart training to their cadres. Similarly, in the last week of October 2009, the Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal revealed that Maoists of Nepal were the conduit for providing arms to Indian Maoists.
On November 02, 2009, a news item appeared in The Tribune, which claimed that Nepalese Maoists have truck with the Indian Maoists. This was despatched by Bishnu Budhathoki from Kathmandu, who gave reference to a news item in a Nepalese news paper ‘Rajdhani Daily’ which had disclosed that the meeting of the two parties had taken place in central India on October 08, 2009.
President Rajpakshe of Sri Lanka rightly kept all these human rights organizations at bay and succeeded in demolishing the supposedly invincible LTTE “¦
In the same edition of The Tribune, another news item from a Tribune Correspondent, Mr. Suresh Dharur revealed that LTTE remnants have been providing training to Maoists of India in the forests of central India. The news item had attributed reference to this disclosure by Director General of Police of Andhra Pradesh, Mr RR Girish Kumar.
The Maoists of India have laid a well charted course to demolish the Indian Union. A soft approach will spell disaster for the unity and integrity of India. Eminent political commentator Mr. Harsh V Pant, in his article, “The War Within”, published in ‘The Tribune on November 02, 2009, advises the political leadership that it is time for India to assert itself as well as expose the intellectual vacuity of the Maoist ideology. He concludes that the Maoist insurgency was a blatantly illegal and a no-hold-barred war against the country, against the idea and existence of Indian democracy, and that includes the poor tribal and farmers in whose cause the Maoists claim to fight. He cautions that it is not only ignorant but also extremely dangerous to romanticize the Naxalites cause. This must be understood by some of our politicians who take the help of these organizations for their short term political gains.
Violence and Maoism are as inseparable. This must be realized by those who think that peace can be heralded through talks and negotiations alone. We need a two pronged policy of carrot and stick to deal with this menace.
At the outset we must be clear that it is not going to be a matter of months and days. It is going to be a long drawn battle on the socio-economic and military platforms. Two-pronged pincer would be required to not only contain and neutralize the Maoists but also to assuage the sense of neglect and indifference.
In modern military parlance this kind of warfare has been named as Sub-conventional Warfare or even Fourth Generation Warfare. I would prefer to call it as ‘War by Other Means’ (WOM). This appropriately describes the conditions we are facing. Indian Maoists have suddenly become very active after the success of Maoists of Nepal. There is no denying the fact that they have chosen to confront the nation with active assistance from China. Even the home secretary, Mr. GK Pillai, confirmed this in a media conference on November 08, 2009, after his visit to Nepal. So, we are in a state of war, thrust upon us by our northern adversary. Dr Man Mohan Singh has rightly pointed out that no sustained development activity can take place as long as there was fear of the gun. It must be silenced or neutralized to usher the age of growth and development. One can not say, “What First”? Both must start concurrently. Operations by security forces have to be extensive and all-encompassing to allow foothold for growth and development.
All operations must be “™small scale, target- based and unorthodox. These three tenets are the key to successful conduct of operations. Large scale operations are predictable and cause a lot of hardships “¦
The best medicine for ‘terrorism’ is ‘terrorism’. Put the fear of God in the terrorists. Siege the initiative and let them be hunted and be on the run. Terrorism does not provide a level playing field for the security forces. A lot of restrictions are laid by the authorities in conduct of operations. It not only prolongs the ordeal but also allows militants and terrorists to regroup and reorganize. A number of actors, such as media, human rights organizations and local politicians have vested interest in slowing down operations. Even international pressure is built to prevent total elimination of the insurgent organisations.
It is the duty of the authority who orders security forces to conduct anti-militant/anti-terrorist operations to prevent such unwanted interference. It must be realised that, as a diversionary tactics, the militants would use such ruses to exaggerate the alleged cases of violations of human rights, molestation and rape.
The successful conduct of anti-militancy/ insurgency operations, whether in Indian Punjab in the 90s or recently in Sri Lanka, bears testimony. Even Malayan insurgency in the 50’s was put down by British forces with a heavy hand. Moralistic posturing is unwarranted once security forces are given the mandate to destroy the enemy. At times people call these kinds of operations as illegal. It might be so but there is no alternative, as the other side does not accept the country’s laws. They openly challenge the Constitution. There are front line organizations who cry aloud in the name of human rights. President Rajpakshe of Sri Lanka rightly kept all these human rights organizations at bay and succeeded in demolishing the supposedly invincible LTTE and its supremo Prabhakaran.
The person who kills his own countrymen most brutally and flaunts his weapons openly can not be “innocent and misguided”. No half-hearted measures can yield results. If we treat anti-Maoist operations as war, some bloodshed some mistakes are inevitable. The first principle of fighting this war successfully is to exonerate security forces of the collateral damage that would take place when they use force against the ‘enemy’. If the Maoists are treating it as war, why should the security forces operate with their one or both hands tied at their backs.
The ‘Peace Brigade’ of Maoist apologists in the form of their frontline political organisations, foreign-backed NGOs and their Indian beneficiaries, human rights organisations and misinformed Indian legal luminaries must be kept at bay. Security forces should be allowed to legally sue journalists and media for false publication of reports of rape, molestation and extortion. Willful distortion of facts by media persons should be made a non-bailable offence.
Once the problem is resolved the government must provide immunity from legal harassment to officers and men from flimsy charges. There have been cases in the past when police officers had to commit suicide. The case of Ajit Singh, a retired police officer of Punjab, comes to mind. At the height of militancy in Punjab, he was the hero of anti-militancy operations in Tarn Taran. This was the region where militants’ writ ran and it was a ‘Free Zone’ for them. He eliminated them with a heavy hand. But after the normalcy returned, he was so badly harassed by legal cases that he committed suicide.
Military strategy against the Maoists must be based on centralized coordination but decentralized execution. Intelligence apparatus must be effective to provide actionable, and intelligence.
One fails to see all these legal bodies and human rights organizations being active when terrorists/ militants play havoc with normal civil life. Do policemen and security forces have no human rights? Our legal system is a big dampener on the security forces operations.
Police, all over India, has become ineffective because of such lacunas in our legal system. Cases keep lingering on for decades. Witnesses and investigating officers are eliminated or compromised. There are for too many temptations, allurements, inducements and encouragements for the police officers to let the cases procrastinate. It is a time for the country to seriously ponder about police reforms and also distinguish between ‘law and order’ and internal security. Law and order must become part of internal security, which must be the Central Government responsibility. The state police ought to be vested with the responsibility of only crime investigation and law implementation.
Military strategy against the Maoists must be based on centralized coordination but decentralized execution. Intelligence apparatus must be effective to provide actionable, and intelligence. At tactical and strategic levels, half the battle is won if the information is precise, accurate and timely. Intelligence must be coordinated through a single agency.
In fact intelligence operations must be a part of the ‘Unified Command’ for anti-militancy/insurgency operations. Unified command would include military, paramilitary, police and other governmental resources of the central and state governments. Even the agencies conducting developmental activities must be dovetailed into Unified Command. This command must be the answerable to the Home Minister of India. The Defence Ministry should be left to deal with only external threat and security.
Counter-Militancy Grid (CMG) should be established in the Maoist infected areas. Once the CMG is created, there will not be easy interaction between the Maoists and the local populace. This will curtail the movement of the Maoists and contain them maoists into specific areas. CMG must also launch certain developmental activities to wean local population them away from the Maoists and their leaders.
CMG must begin its operations at low key initially to identify the militants and gain information. It is generally seen that any insurgent outfit has only 20-25 percent hard core cadres, who are generally the leaders. 75-80 percent are either wage earners for their families or they are coerced to join the militants. But the leaders, over a period of times get so much intoxicated with the powers they enjoy that they lose touch with the general public. Their contact is through these ‘errand boys’ who make 75-80 percent of their strength. The initial operations must be aimed at creating the wedge between these two classes of militants.
All operations must be ’small scale, target- based and unorthodox’. These three tenets are the key to successful conduct of operations. Large scale operations are predictable and cause a lot of hardships to the local people which lead to resentment against the security forces. The targets must be the leaders and not the small time cadres and operatives. Cadres should be arrested and released and to create suspicion about their future loyalty. This will create divisions amongst the militants.
Target-based operations are akin to ’searching a needle in the hay-stack’. There are two ways of doing it. One is to turn the hay stack upside down and put your men to locate it. It is time consuming, laborious and causes inconvenience to the general public. The other way is to have pin-pointed information of the needle’s location in the hay stack.
There would be lot of interference by visible and invisible organizations both Indian and foreign, to stall the security forces operations. The government of the day must stand up to it.