Homeland Security

Tackling Maoists : the Andhra paradigm
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Issue Vol 25.2 Apr-Jun2010 | Date : 25 May , 2013

“The armed Threat from within is more dangerous than any external Threats.”

-Leon Trotsky


Today the greatest danger to India’s independence and flourishing democracy is the danger posed by the ever widening zones of Maoist influence. The Maoists want to turn back the clock of history by a hundred years and engulf India in flames, thereby ceding great advantages to our predatory adversaries who are playing a waiting game like the hungry wolves of the highlands. The Maoists are even prepared to split India in order to seize power over whatever parts they can effectively control.

This danger will get magnified if ever the Indian Army gets involved in the political game to drag it into anti Maoist operations. We cannot let the same error committed by the KMT regime in China during the last century be repeated in India. Since ‘law and order’ is normally a State subject, many of the States having large proportion of poor and tribal population have been turning a blind eye, and the politicians-contractors-elites have been desperately trying to work out temporary arrangements to buy peace.

Today the Maoists dominated areas already cover the vast coal, iron ore, and alumina rich mining areas, as well as many vital hydroelectric and irrigation dam project areas of the country, thereby directly threatening swift national development and vital investments. As the Maoists can freely move from one State to another through the adjacent forested areas, they are able to concentrate their cadres and strike with dreadful effect even on very large targets like Jails, District HQs, large raw material factories, hijack trains, or disrupt national rail and road corridors with impunity. These acts cause a further telling demoralizing effect on the affected State’s Police Force, while the other neighbouring States watch and think themselves to be lucky this time.

The Maoists are even prepared to split India in order to seize power over whatever parts they can effectively control.

The Central Government has been busy keeping statistics and occasionally taking political mileage in opposition ruled States, while its Home Ministry’s Paramilitary Forces remains divided as several separate entities without any central unified controlling, coordinating and internal security operations directing HQ. Had this situation existed in say Iran, all the PMFs would have been merged into the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and would have emerged as an elite force dreaded by their opponents even more than their country’s Army. In this quagmire of political rivalries, bureaucratic inaction, police empires, and lack of support for imaginative, effective policing coupled with simultaneous government supported developmental schemes, the shining example of Andhra Pradesh stands out within the Indian Union – in tackling the Maoists’ violence head on and winning the war hands down. The Andhra Pradesh Police have borrowed the motto of the famous Selous Scouts (of Rhodesia), “The Bush War has to be Fought in the Bushes” and lived up to it.

Background to the Maoist Movement in India

The first armed Communist movement in India took place in the Telengana region of present day Andhra Pradesh during the early fifties. It was brutally put down after great loss of life and unleashing of oppression against the poor peasants. The movement’s leaders included several idealists, though they too committed heinous and unpardonable crimes. The Telengana region even today has produced the most dedicated and committed Maoist cadres and leaders in India.

During the late sixties and early seventies the Naxalite movement started and spread in many parts of India, most notably in West Bengal and Kerala. But within a matter of five to six years, this dangerous and anarchist ideology was effectively tackled by the State Police forces and many of those who had taken up arms were eliminated. Generally peace prevailed from the mid seventies onwards. Leftist ideologues continued their activities using democratic means and formed many regional splinter groups. However their mass influence and acceptance was minimal.

The States abdicated their authority over vast regions, as long as the semblance of normalcy could be maintained and the electoral interests of the dominant political party could be taken care of.

From the mid nineties many armed radical Communist Dalams became active in the common underdeveloped and adjacent forested areas of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, Chathisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. However it was the leaders from Andhra Pradesh who took the lead to unify these groups, formulate their common dogma and policies, start centralized armed training of core cadres, ensure an efficient arms and explosives procurement network, coordinate the intelligence gathering by over ground workers and sympathizers, and develop operational capabilities based on hitting weak targets with overwhelming local superiority followed by quick dispersal. They worked amongst the poor and dispossessed and acted frequently against the exploiters thus gaining a strong local following and acceptability.

Their morale also got a tremendous boost when the Nepali Maoist movement became very strong and entrenched against the oppressive and corrupt Royal rule there. Thus a great swathe of Maoist dominated influence came into being by the first decade of this century. Funds flowed into their coffers from the mining interests, contractors, and from illegal octroi collections. The States abdicated their authority over vast regions, as long as the semblance of normalcy could be maintained and the electoral interests of the dominant political party could be taken care of. However this facade had to crack one day, as the doctrine of power dictates that the superior entity has to keep on expanding in order to ensure its very survival, until a balance of power and human failings combine to dictate the limits.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Col JK Achuthan (Retd.)

8 GR was commissioned in June 1980. 

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