Naxalite-Maoist insurgency

Naxalite-Maoist insurgency
Date 1967– present
Location Red corridor
Result Conflict ongoing.

Right-wing paramilitary groups:
Salwa Judum
Ranvir Sena

Communist insurgent groups:

Communist Party of India (Maoist)
Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Janashakti
Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Naxalbari
Communist Party of United States of India
Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) New Democracy
Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) (Mahadev Mukherjee)
Centre of Indian Communists
People's Liberation Army of Manipur
Tamil Nadu Liberation Army
Communist Party of Bangladesh
Supported by:
 People's Republic of China

Commanders and leaders
Flag of India.svg K Vijaya Kumar, Dir. Gen. CRPF South Asian Communist Banner.svg Muppala Lakshmana Rao
South Asian Communist Banner.svg Kishenji
50,000 central police[2][3] 10,000 to 40,000 regular members and 50,000 to 100,000 militia members (2010)[4][4][5][6][7]
Casualties and losses
Since 2002: 1,654 killed Since 2002: 1,777 killed
10,000+ killed overall[8]
564 killed overall (2001)[9]
Since 2002: 4,351 civilians killed

The Naxalite-Maoist insurgency is an ongoing conflict[10] between Maoist groups, known as Naxalites or Naxals, and the Indian government.[11]

In 2006 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the Naxalites "The single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country."[11]. In June 2011 he stated that "Development is the master remedy to win over people" adding that the government was "strengthening the development work in the 60 Maoist-affected districts[12]

Naxalites claim to be supported by the poorest rural populations, especially Adivasis.[13] They have frequently targeted tribal, police and government workers in what they say is a fight for improved land rights and more jobs for neglected agricultural labourers and the poor[14] and follow a strategy of rural rebellion similar to that of the protracted People's War against the government.[15]

However frequent killings of villagers,[16][17][18] using women and children as human shields,[19][20] harassment of cadre,[21] illegal mining operations[22], attacks on schools & infrastructure projects[23][24][25] and using children as young as 6 years old[26] have undermined the Naxal claims of 'fighting for people'.

The Indian government's Home Secretary G K Pillai has said that he recognises that there are legitimate grievances regarding local people's access to forest land and produce and the distribution of benefits from mining and hydro power developments,[27] but claims that the Naxalites' long-term goal is to establish an Indian Marxist state. The Home Secretary stated that the government had decided to tackle the Naxalites head-on, and take back much of the lost areas.



Naxalites are a group of far-left radical communists, supportive of Maoist political sentiment and ideology. Their origin can be traced to the splitting in 1967 of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), leading to the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist). Initially the movement had its centre in West Bengal. In recent years, it has spread into less developed areas of rural central and eastern India, such as Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh through the activities of underground groups like the Communist Party of India (Maoist).[28]

In 2007, it was estimated that Naxalites were active across "half of the India's 28 states" who account for about 40 percent of India's geographical area[29] an area known as the "Red Corridor", where, according to estimates, they controlled 92,000 square kilometers.[29] In 2009, Naxalites were active across approximately 180 districts in ten states of India[30] In August 2010, Karnatka was removed from the list of naxal affected states[31] In July 2011, the number of Naxal affected areas was reduced to (including proposed addition of 20 districts) 83 districts across nine states.[32][33][34]

Region affected

The Naxalites operate in 60 districts in India, mainly in the states of Orissa (15 affected districts), Jharkhand (14 affected districts), Bihar (7 affected districts), Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh (ten affected districts), Madhya Pradesh (8 affected districts), Maharashtra (2 affected districts) and West Bengal (1 affected district).[35] In West Bengal areas west of Howrah are affected by the insurgency.[36] Chhattisgarh is the epicentre of the conflict (2007).[37]

Areas governed by the elected Communist Party of India (Marxist) in India such as West Bengal, specifically those of Jangalmahal and Lalgarh, are some off the worst affected by anti-state violence by Maoist groups who cite the accumulation of unaccounted for wealth in the hands of CPI-M leaders and specific failure to counter problems they were elected to address such as caste discrimination and poverty.[38]

There is a correlation between areas with extensive coal resources and impact of the insurgency.[39] Naxalites conduct detailed socio-economic surveys before starting operations in a target area.[10] It is claimed that the insurgents extort 14 billion Indian rupees (more than $US300 million).[4]

In Chhattisgarh, the militia group Salwa Judum (which the BBC alleges is supported by the state government,[40] an allegation rejected by the state[41][42]) was constituted in response to Naxalite activities, and has come under fire from pro-Maoist activist groups[43] for "atrocities and abuse against women",[44] employing child soldiers,[45][46] and looting and destruction of property.[44] These allegations were rejected by a fact finding commission of the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), appointed by the Supreme Court of India, who determined that the Salwa Judum was a spontaneous reaction by tribals against Maoist atrocities perpetrated against them.[47][48]

In Bihar, the Ranvir Sena, a caste-supremacist paramilitary of the upper-caste landlords and proscribed terrorist organisation by the Indian government, has been known to kill Dalit civilians in retaliation for Naxalite activity.[49]

Similar paramilitary groups have emerged in Andhra Pradesh during the last decade. Some of these groups are Fear Vikas, Green Tigers, Nalladandu, Red Tigers, Tirumala Tigers, Palnadu Tigers, Kakatiya Cobras, Narsa Cobras, Nallamalla Nallatrachu (Cobras) and Kranthi Sena. Civil liberties activists were murdered by the Nayeem gang in 1998 and 2000.[50] On 24 August 2005, members of the Narsi Cobras killed an individual rights activist and schoolteacher in Mahbubnagar district.[51][52]



The People's War Group (PWG) intensified its attacks against politicians, police officers, and land and business owners in response to a July ban imposed on the group by the Andhra Pradesh government. The government responded by tightening security, allegedly ordering attacks on suspected PWG members by state police and the "Green Tigers". Police forces continued to have virtual impunity for the killing of PWG rebels during police encounters. The Maoist Communist Center rebels intensified their armed campaign against Indian security forces following the killing of their leader by police in December. ..


The conflict in Andhra Pradesh intensified as Naxalite rebel groups, in particular the PWG, continued guerrilla attacks on police and government targets while the security forces stepped up counter-insurgency efforts. An October assassination attempt on Chief Minister Naidu was consistent with the PWG’s practice of targeting government officials to draw attention to their cause.


Sporadic, low-intensity fighting between the PWG and government forces continued for most of the year. Attacks on police and TDP party officials, believed to be carried out by the PWG, accounted for most major incidents and deaths. A three-month cease-fire, announced in late June, led to failed negotiations between the government and the PWG. A few days into the cease-fire, an attack attributed to the PWG placed the cease-fire in jeopardy.


Violent clashes between Maoist rebels and state security forces and paramilitary groups increased following the breakdown of peace talks between the PWG and the state government of Andhra Pradesh. Rebels continued to employ a wide-range of low-intensity guerrilla tactics against government institutions, officials, security forces and paramilitary groups. For the first time in recent years, Maoist rebels launched two large scale attacks against urban government targets. Fighting was reported in 12 states covering most of south, central and north India with the exception of India’s northeast and northwest.


Maoist attacks continued, primarily on government and police targets. Civilians were also affected in landmine attacks affecting railway cars and truck convoys. Clashes between state police and rebels also resulted in deaths of members of both parties, and civilians that were caught in the crossfire. Fighting differs from state to state, depending on security and police force responses. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, security forces have been somewhat successful in maintaining control and combating Maoist rebels. The other state that is most affected, Chhattisgarh, has seen an increase in violence between Maoist rebels and villagers who are supported by the government.


Fighting continued between Naxalite Maoists and government security forces throughout the year. The majority of hostilities took place in Chhattisgarh, which turned especially deadly when over 400 Naxalites attacked a Chhattisgarh police station, seizing arms and killing dozens. Civilians are now wedged between joining the Maoist insurgence or supporting the Salwa Judum and face coercion from both sides.

In November 2007 reports emerged that anti-SEZ (Special Economic Zone) movements such as the Bhoomi Uchched Pratirodh Committee in Nandigram in West Bengal, which arose after the land appropriation and human displacement following the SEZ Act of 2005, have joined forces with the Naxalites since February to keep the police out.[53] Recently, police found weapons belonging to Maoists near Nandigram.


Civilians were most affected in the ongoing fighting between Maoist rebels and government security forces. Of the 16 states touched by this conflict, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were the most affected. One positive note for Chhattisgarh was that fatalities, although still high, were significantly down from 2007. Similarly, Andhra Pradesh, the state with the most Maoist activity a few years ago, has improved security with a corresponding drop in fatality rates. Unfortunately, as conditions have improved in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, the Maoist forces seem to have shifted their operations to the state of Orissa where conditions have worsened.


In September 2009 India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted that the Maoists had growing appeal among a large section of Indian society, including tribal communities, the rural poor as well as sections of the intelligentsia and the youth. He added that "Dealing with left-wing extremism requires a nuanced strategy - a holistic approach. It cannot be treated simply as a law and order problem." In the first half of 2009, 56 Maoist attacks have been reported.[54]


During February the Silda camp attack killed 24 paramilitary personnel of the Eastern Frontier Rifles in an operation the guerillas stated was the beginning of "Operation Peace Hunt", the Maoist answer to the government "Operation Green Hunt" that was recently launched against them.[55]

On 6 April, Naxalite rebels killed 76, consisting of 74 paramilitary personnel of the CPRF and two policemen. Fifty others were wounded in the series of attacks on security convoys in Dantewada district in the central Indian state of Chattisgarh.[56] The attack resulted in the biggest loss of life security forces have suffered since launching a large-scale offensive against the rebels.[56]

On 17 May, a Naxalite landmine destroyed a bus in Dantewada district, killing up to 44 people including several Special Police Officers (SPOs) and civilians.[57]

On 28 May the derailment of a Kolkata–Mumbai night train killed at least 150 persons. Maoists were responsible for the sabotage which caused the disaster.[58]

On 29 June, at least 26 policemen are killed in a Maoist attack in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.[59]

On 29 August, a joint team of BSF and district police was attacked by the rebels in Bhuski village (Chhattisgarh) under Durg Kondal police station in the district while they were conducting routine search operations in the wee hours. Following the attack, the forces retaliated and in the action they lost five security personnel, including three BSF jawans.[60]

On 29 and 30 August, rebels ambushed a joint paramilitary-police team in Bihar, killing 10, wounding 10 more, taking 4 prisoners and robbing more than 35 automatic rifles from the state forces.[61][62] The Naxalites later freed 3 of the policemen after Naxal leader Kishenji met with worried family members.[63]

On 12 September, Naxalites killed 3 policemen and took 4 more hostage in an ambush in Chhattisgarh. The 4 policemen were later released without conditions after Naxal leaders listened to the appeals of family members. The freed policemen also promised the Naxals to never take up arms against the insurgency again.[64][65]

On 5 October, rebels killed 4 Police officers as they were on their way to a market in Maharashtra.[66]

On 7 October, Naxalites attempted derailment of Triveni express ,a train of Singrauli-Bareilly route, by removing 4 fishplates and 42 sleeper clips.[67][68]

On 8 October, Naxalites triggered a landmine in the border area between Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. The attack killed 3 Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)jawans, wounded 2 more and destroyed a military jeep.[69]


During May, Naxalites killed and dismembered ten policemen, including one senior officer in the Gariyaband, Chhattisgarh area on the border with Orissa.[70] In June, the total fatalities of both the police and the paramilitary was 43.[71]

On 21 July 2011, Maoist rebels in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh blew up a bridge, killing four people and wounding five others. The attack happened when the Congress party chief of the state, Nandkumar Patel, was returning from a party function.[72]

Human toll

The first combat deaths of the insurgency were in 1980.[11] Around 1,100 people are known to have died during 2009. The number includes 600 civilians, 300 security personnel and 200 rebels.[73]

There were more than 40,000 displaced people in 2006.[74]

According to the Institute of Peace and Conflict studies, Naxal groups have recruited children in different capacities and exposed them to injury and death. However the same accusation has been levelled at the state-sponsored Salwa Judum anti-Maoist group, and Special Police officers (SPOs) assisting the government security forces.[75]

Deaths related to violence

Period Civilians Security forces Insurgents Total per period
1989-2001 1,610 432 1,007 3,049[76]
2002 382 100 141 623[77]
2003 410 105 216 731[77]
2004 466 100 87 653[77]
2005 524 153 225 902[78]
2006 521 157 274 952[78]
2007 460 236 141 837[78]
2008 399 221 214[79] 834[80]
2009 586 317 217 1,120[81]
2010 713 285 171 1,169[82]
2011 150 84 162 306[83]
TOTAL 6,132 2,157 2,958 11,247
Period Civilians Security forces Insurgents Total per period
1996 N/A N/A N/A 156[80]
1997 202 44 102 348[80]
1998 118 42 110 270[80]
1999 115 36 212 363[80]
2000 N/A N/A N/A 50[80]
2001 N/A N/A N/A 564[9]

According to the BBC, more than 6,000 people have died during the rebels' 20-year fight between 1990 and 2010.[84]

Based on the above displayed statistics, it can be determined that more than 10,000 people have been killed since the start of the insurgency in 1980, of which more than half died in the last ten years.

See also


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  31. ^ The Times Of India. 
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  36. ^ "West Bengal: Districts Affected by Naxalite Activity". Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
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  39. ^ 9 August 2006 (2006-08-09). "Asia Times Online :: South Asia news - Hidden civil war drains India's energy". Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  40. ^ "Indian state 'backing vigilantes'". BBC News (BBC). 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  41. ^ Hearing plea against Salwa Judum, SC says State cannot arm civilians to kill Indian Express, Apr 01, 2008.
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  43. ^ dnaIndia
  44. ^ a b "Report recommends withdrawal of Salwa Judum". The Hindu (Chennai, India: The Hindu Group). 2007-01-19. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
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  70. ^ "Indian Maoists 'kill and dismember' 10 policemen". BBC News. 2011-05-24. 
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External links

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