The party declared that its primary task was to rouse the peasant masses to wage a guerilla war, to unfold agrarian revolution, build rural base strong enough to capture the cities and to liberate the whole country. The Chinese Communist Party welcomed the new party and the Marxist-Leninist groups of other countries like the UK, Alabania and Sri Lanka immediately extended their recognition.
Charu Mazumdar was the pioneering leader of the Naxalite movement in India. His leadership period stands as the first phase of the movement which ended with his death on 16 July 1972. During this period, the movement had the dominant strand of “annihilation of class enemies”. It witnessed a higher form of class struggle and the beginning of guerilla war.
He had the assessment that every corner of India was like a volcano ready to erupt and a tremendous upsurge was in the offing. He called upon his people to expand their scheme far and wide. Indian political leadership realised the emergence of a new force. The Indian government felt a threat not only to the internal security but to the very structure of the democratic system. Hence, a joint operation of the army and the police was organized by the government in the bordering states of Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa.
The operation was code-named ‘Operation Steeplechase’ and was carried out from 1 July to 15 August 1971. The operation was successful, but not to the extent of the administration had expected. The operation could jeopardize the organisational structure of the Naxalities and the activists had to flee in search of new hideouts. Mazumdar was arrested and he died in custody a few days later. His death marked the end of the first phase in the Naxalite movement.
In 1980, the People’s War Group (PWG) was formed in Andhra Pradesh under the leadership of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah. This was a continuation of the operations which were started by Charu Mazumdar, but its objectives had some variations. Its objectives included redistribution of land; enforcing payment of minimum wages to the farm labour; imposing taxes and penalties; abducting government officials; holding people’s courts; destroying government property; attacking police and enforcing a social code.
The PWG is believed to be instrumental in distributing over half a million acres of land across Andhra Pradesh. Also, they could ensure a hike in the daily minimum wages and the annual fee for ‘jeetagadu’ (year-long labour).
Due to the contributions of the PWG, the weaker sections started thinking what the politicians had been talking about for long and the government had been repeatedly promising year after year could be realized only with the initiative of the Naxalities. No wonder, the poorer sections among the villagers in the interior areas began to call the Naxal force ‘Goraicala dorsa’ (Lord of the Bushes).
It stands a milestone in the PWG operations in Andhra Pradesh when on 27 December 1987; they abducted 6 officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), including a principal secretary of the stage government and the collector of the East Godavari district. The kidnappings were to secure the release of PWG cadres and the Naxalities succeeded in their attempt when the state government decided to play it safe and released 8 Naxalities whom they had kept under incarceration.
The writers of the cultural front of the PWG, the Jana Natya Mandela, were instrumental in setting an acceptance background for the Naxalite ideology among the weaker sections. The guiding spirit of the intellectual movement was Gomati Vital Rao alias Gadara. By and by, the People’s War Group began to spread its organizational base to the Rayalaseema and coastal districts of the state. Over the years, the PWG extended its operations to the neighbouring states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. It could even extend its tentacles to the bordering districts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Posing a perceptible threat to the rule of law and the democratically mandated administrative apparatus, for the state government the PWG was to be countered at any cost and if possible be annihilated. Consequently, the state government initiated a crackdown on the PWG by banning it and its six front organizations. The state police force, assisted by the central paramilitary forces undertook massive counter operations and in the action, 3,500 activists were apprehended. This was a demoralizing setback to the PWG cadres which led to the surrendering of 8,500 Nasals before the authorities.
The Naxalite movement had its growth in the state of Bihar too, where the Maoist Communist Centre, another Naxalite formation, began perpetration of acts of violence. It began to extend to most of the central districts of Bihar. But the movement in Bihar evolved itself into a different course, because what began as a fight for social and economic justice degenerated into a caste conflict.
By the turn of the century, the Naxalities had entered their third phase of movement in India. This phase, which is still continuing, is characterised by a concerted attempt to militarize the armed component of the organization-the People’s Guerilla Army. The primary objective behind such an initiative is to launch attacks on the state administrative machinery. The organization constantly kept the administration on the tenterhooks with its audacious attempts.
The Naxalite threat is becoming multi-dimensional. It is a multi-faceted imbroglio having a host of intricate components which are spread over a large geographical area. It involves People’s War Group (PWG) and Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI)’s potential for violence; unification of plan to have a red corridor; and nexus with NE insurgents and Nepalese Maoists. The government’s concern is discernible as the Prime Minister has termed the Naxalite movement as the single biggest threat to the internal security of India. In fact, the finding of the Institute for Conflict Management has disclosed that the Naxal movement has actually spread to 160 districts in 14 states.
The Nasals are believed to be in possession of an abiding stock of arms and ammunitions which enables them to indulge in lethal violence. An estimated 6,500 regular weapons including AK47 rifles and SLRs, are believed to be in the Nasals weaponry.
The Nasal’s strength to overwhelm the administrative apparatus is one of the major worries for the government. In 2004, the Karafuto district headquarters in Orissa was overrun by the Nasals. In 2005, the Jahanabad prison in Bihar was attacked and its prisoners were freed. In 2006, the Udayagiri town in Orissa was overrun and in 2007, 55 policemen were killed in an attack in Rani Bodily village of the Chhattisgarh.
The movement got a fillip and considerable operational synergy on October 14, 2004, when through a formal announcement, the People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) merged into a single entity called Communist Party of India (Maoist). The merger has had multi-dimensional effects and implications. It not only emboldened the organizational base of the movement, but gave it the identity of a pan-Indian revolutionary group.
This unification is likely to streamline the organisational structure so as to facilitate their plan to have a Compact Revolutionary Zone stretching between Indo-Nepal border and Dandakaranyaka region. It is believed that PWG cadres have received training in the handling of weapons from some ex-LTTE cadres. The organization is understood to have some arrangements with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland for reciprocal help.
The cadres of the organization believed to have received training from United Liberation Front of Assam. Across the border, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is believed to have some strategic alliance with the Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The climate of poverty, destitution and deprivation and the resultant frustration created the ideal atmosphere for the Naxalism to take root in India. As an unfortunate reminder, this frustration rooted in poverty still remains the same even today. Poverty among the underprivileged, unemployment, corruption, agricultural failures, social injustice, etc. continues to afflict the country.
Agricultural failures have driven about 20,000 farmers to the extreme of committing suicide. Successive governments have failed to fulfil their promises and naturally, the prevailing frustration leads the people to these Naxal camps who swear to fight for their cause and build a new world order for them. The government has devised a 14-point Plan to tackle the situation and the state governments have been asked to implements the plan.
The plan particularly addresses the peculiar socio-economic situation of the affected areas and there is special provision for the development of these areas. There is also provision for land reforms in the affected areas. It is hoped that through proper implementation of 14-point Plan, radical change may be brought in the peace and security in the affected region.