Dialogue  April-June, 2005, Volume 6  No. 4

India’s Maoist Insurrection: ‘Advancing in Waves’

Ajai Sahni

For decades, now, the dominant discourse in the Indian policy and security establishment has sought to underplay the gravity of Left Wing extremism (‘Naxalism’), advancing a wide range of ‘false sociologies’ to explain away the state’s confusion, vacillation and impotence in the face of the widening sweep of Naxalite influence and violence in India.1 This propensity has governed perspectives at the highest level of the political executive and administration, both at the Centre and in the States, till a radical departure was made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, first, at the Annual Conference of Directors General of Police and heads of Police Organisations at New Delhi, on November 4, 2004, where he had warned that the cross-border linkages of the Maoists constituted “an even greater threat to India than militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.”2 He warned, further, that “Large swathes of tribal territory from Andhra Pradesh in the South to the border of Uttar Pradesh and Bengal in the North and East respectively have become the hunting grounds of Left Wing extremists.”3 More significantly, however, in an address that was astonishing in its sweep and clarity, the Prime Minister articulated his perspective on the larger issue of terrorism and anti-state violence, as well as on the Naxalite issue in particular, at the Conference of Chief Ministers at Delhi on April 15, 2005. As K.P.S. Gill expressed it, “the Prime Minister’s statement was crystalline in its clarity, sweeping aside the accumulated debris of discredited political rhetoric – much of it emanating from his own Party and Cabinet colleagues – to establish and impose the beginnings of a consensus on a fractious and opportunistic political community…”4 To the extent that this was possibly the clearest and most profound position on terrorism to be articulated by a political leader in India, it is useful to cite it at some length:

The challenge of terrorism must be faced squarely and resolutely by all shades of political opinion. There can be no political compromise with terror. No inch conceded. No compassion shown… There are no good terrorists and bad terrorists. There is no cause, root or branch, that can ever justify the killing of innocent people. No democratic Government can tolerate the use of violence against innocent people and against the functionaries of a duly established democratic Government…

Whatever be the cause, it is difficult to deny that extremism has huge societal costs. Investments are unlikely to fructify, employment is not likely to grow and educational facilities may be impaired… Delivery systems are often the first casualty. Schools do not run, dispensaries do not open and PDS shops remain closed. Public service providers can now ascribe all their inefficiencies to “extremism”…

…Talks and negotiations should always be welcomed. I have repeatedly stressed that we are ready to talk to any group that abjures violence.

But the basic issues regarding violence and the State’s obligations to curb it, should be clarified at the outset, so that there are no misunderstandings or a feeling of being let down at later stages. In our country, symbols and gestures matter. Nothing should be done which detracts from the authority of the Indian state and its primary role as an upholder of public order. The State should not even remotely be seen to back away in the face of threats of armed violence…

…we cannot ignore the inter-State and external dimension to Naxalism today. This requires greater coordination between State Governments and between the Centre and States. We have to take a comprehensive approach in dealing with Naxalism given the emerging linkages between groups within and outside the country… I also draw your attention to… the nexus between terrorist groups, organized crime syndicates, drug trafficking and external forces interested in destabilizing our polity. I strongly urge leaders of all political parties to ensure that such forces and groups are kept away from our political processes. We need to have zero-tolerance for criminalisation of politics in our country.5 

This very extended quote is necessary because this particular statement is of historic significance, and can, eventually, be expected to crystallize into a broad national policy on internal security and terrorism, even as it provides the seeds of a coherent approach to the problem of Naxalism; it is also crucial because the Prime Minster’s statement failed, in the immediate term, to quell the apologetics of extremism even within his own Cabinet.

The most voluble dissonance emanated from the Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, who, within ten days of the Chief Minister’s Conference at Delhi – which he had also attended and addressed – declared, at a meeting in Bangalore on April 24, 2005,

The Government is not interested in using weapons. They (the Naxalites) are our brothers and sisters and we know that this is a socio-economic problem rather than one of law and order. We can solve these problems through dialogue and discussions… Whatever the political difficulties, force should be used only if nothing else works and only to protect innocents. Let us deal with Naxalism as a socio-economic problem, not a law and order problem…6 

This position is entirely consistent with the line Patil has held from the moment of his installation as Home Minister in May 2004, and it is clear that the Prime Minister’s statements have had little impact on him. Thus, on September 17, 2004, Patil had stated, “They (the Naxalites) are our children. They are angry and we have to show them the right path with affection. We have the forces to deal with violence but that is not the only approach.”7 Nor, indeed, was the Home Minister alone in his myopic affliction. On January 28, 2005, after the US Ambassador to India, David Mulford, had expressed his apprehensions regarding the impact of growing Naxalite violence on the inflow of foreign investment in the country,8 Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee responded with the comment that, “Naxalite activity in Andhra Pradesh and other parts has caused some concerns but it is manageable and there is no need for anyone to panic. The problem is being dealt with.”9

This last statement, it is useful to note, followed not very long after the Prime Minister’s letter to mediators in the abortive talks with the Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh, stating that there had been “a virtual collapse of law and order in view of extortion demands, display of arms, encroachments on public and private property and the militant rhetoric of Naxal leaders at rallies and meetings;”10 and after his recognition that Naxalism constituted potentially the greatest internal security threat in the country.11

The mainstream apologetics on Naxalism – and opportunistic alliances by dominant political formations with the Naxalites – constitute a long tradition, albeit one that has alternated regularly with harsh attacks on the movement.12 These have continuously created the political spaces for the survival of the Naxalites when they have come under extraordinary SF pressure, and have aided their consolidation over extended periods of time under particular political dispensations. It is precisely in line with this perverse ‘political tradition’ that a pre-election ‘understanding’ was evidently reached between the Congress Party and the Telengana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS) on the one hand, and the Naxalites, on the other, on the eve of the State elections in April 2004, and that resulted in the abortive ‘peace process’ once Y.S.R. Reddy was installed as Chief Minister of the State.13 Such collusive relationships are not unique to Andhra Pradesh and have, in fact, been in evidence in other areas of Naxalite activity and dominance as well.14

This extended and continuing tradition of political ambivalence and sporadic indulgence has historically undermined the Indian state’s capacity to objectively assess the actual risks and magnitude of the Naxalite menace, as well as in a considerable impairment of SF capacities to deal with the dangers. It is useful, consequently, to arrive at a rational assessment of the real dangers posed by this movement.

‘A Single Spark can Start a Prairie Fire’15

The magnitude of the threat constituted by the Naxalite movement must be derived from a multiplicity of factors. The most obvious is, of course, the rate and patterns of their growth, and the sheer geographical expanse of the regions that they have come to dominate, or in which they are active. More fundamental and abiding than transient movements of their tactical fortunes, however, are the character and intent of the Naxalite leadership and ideology, on the one hand, and the peculiar vulnerabilities of the Indian state and society, on the other.

At the outset, it is necessary to acknowledge that the Naxalite ideology has remained consistently and irreducibly hostile to India’s constitutional democracy. Even during the ‘peace process’ in Andhra Pradesh after the 2004 Assembly Elections in the State, the leaders of the newly unified Communist Party of India – Maoist (CPI-Maoist) repeatedly emphasized that they would not relinquish their cadres’ ‘right to bear arms’, or their ‘revolutionary objectives’, including the forcible redistribution of land, extraction of ‘revolutionary taxes’, ‘political mobilization’, and recruitment and training of cadres. Nor, indeed, did the Maoist leadership make any secret of its abiding commitment to secure the larger goals and objectives of the ‘people’s war’, which incorporate the destruction of India’s ‘bureaucrat, comprador bourgeois’ Constitutional democracy. Addressing a public gathering on October 11 at Guthikonda Bilam in Guntur District, Akkiraju Haragopal aka ‘Ramakrishna’, the ‘State Secretary’ of the CPI-Maoist, declared that ‘the people’ were prepared to “wage a relentless struggle” against the state, and that the Party would continue to maintain the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army, the armed wing of the CPI-Maoist, to capture political power in different regions of the country. Ramakrishna also declared, ahead of the first direct talks with the State Government on October 15, “Our ultimate goal is to capture power region-wise and establish people’s rule. Now, we have an army of people and are on firm ground in 13 States.”16 Despite tactical negotiations with the state, there is no evidence that the Maoists – or the MCC and the PWG in their earlier avatar – have ever shown any willingness to dilute their ideological and political objectives.

A second point that requires recognition is that violence in general and terrorism in particular, are integral elements of the Maoist ideology and not mere tactical expedients. “Political power”, as Mao expressed it, “grows out of the barrel of a gun.”17 And terrorist violence, even more specifically, is at the heart of this paradigm.

To put it bluntly, it is necessary to create terror for a while in every rural area, or otherwise it would be impossible to suppress the activities of the counter-revolutionaries in the countryside or overthrow the authority of the gentry. Proper limits have to be exceeded in order to right a wrong, or else the wrong cannot be righted.18 

And in case the idea takes root that this is only to be a rural phenomenon, the efficacy of terror in the urban setting is elaborated in another context:

Established societies have become more vulnerable because technology has made more advanced weapons available to insurgent or terrorist groups. Large urban industrial and commercial areas present attractive targets. They depend on support facilities such as telecommunication and automation centers for their existence. These are easily sabotaged. In addition, advanced electronic communications media bring the full impact of political violence into homes worldwide. The result is instant recognition for formerly unknown or little-known insurgent or terrorist groups. Insurgents and terrorists recognize the importance of the public affairs arena to their struggles.19 

The Maoist ideology and strategy finds fertile ground in the administrative and political vacuum that extends over vast areas of the country, where the state is systematically and chronically failing to provide the public goods and services that it is obliged to – including the security of life and property, criminal justice and opportunities for social and economic growth. In such circumstances, it is inevitable that other individuals and agencies will step in to fill the vacuum. It is inevitable, also, that in most such cases, these individuals and agencies will not be constrained by the limits of law or any established procedure, in their interactions with local populations, and, consequently, that these interactions will tend to be unacceptably violent, exploitative and even tyrannical.

The fact is that the entire structure of rural administration in the Naxalite-affected areas has been wholly emasculated, or has simply not evolved beyond the primitive structures of colonial governance, or has, through a combination of factors, including primarily the incompetence, corruption and criminalisation of the political leadership, deteriorated to the point of paralysis. The problem is compounded manifold in tribal and forest areas by an ill-conceived policy of isolation that, under the influence of possibly well-intentioned European social-anthropologists, was adopted throughout the country shortly after Independence, with the intention of ‘protecting’ the culture and interests of the tribal population. This policy has, regrettably, failed comprehensively, and is now overdue for a thorough re-examination, as the system has kept the tribals poor and outside the ambit of development, failed entirely to protect them from exploitation and abuse, and deepened conditions of economic deprivation through a progressive alienation of their rights over forest produce and wealth. The vulnerabilities of the Indian state have been compounded further by decades of mis-governance in ever-widening areas of the country, and the steady erosion of the integrity and efficacy of established institutions of administration and justice.

It is within these broad circumstances that the Maoist rampage has augmented, and this growth has been exponential in recent times. At the meeting of the Central Coordination Committee of Naxalite-affected States at Bhubaneshwar on November 21, 2003, the then Union Home Secretary had disclosed that a total of 55 districts in nine States were affected by varying degrees of Naxalite violence. Just ten months later, on September 21, 2004, an official note circulated at the meeting of Chief Ministers of Naxalite-affected States indicated that this number had gone up to as many as 156 Districts in 13 States (of a total of 602 districts in the country) by September 2004,20 and is estimated to have expanded further to 170 districts in 15 States by February 2005.21 

Naxalite disorders, moreover, need to be located within the larger context of the loss of control in wider areas within India. In addition to the 170 districts estimated to be under the influence of the Naxalites by February 2005, there are at least another 63 districts in the country variously afflicted by different patterns of ethnic or communal terrorism and insurgency (Jammu & Kashmir: 12; Assam: 22; Tripura: 4; Meghalaya: 6; Manipur: 9; Arunachal Pradesh: 3; and Nagaland: 7). This takes the number of districts afflicted by terrorism and insurgency to 212, out of a total of 602 districts in the country. More than a third of the country is, consequently, suffering from high degrees of present or potential disorder. This, moreover, is not the sum of the threat, as abysmal governance, divisive politics, continuous external and internal subversion, opportunistic terrorist attacks, increasing criminalization and other patterns of mass violence sporadically disrupt the rule of law in widely dispersed locations across the length and breadth of the country. It is useful to note, moreover, that India’s record of recovering areas from persistent disorders is, at best, equivocal. These rising disorders, further, will not be lost on India’s enemies in the neighbourhood, and an intensification of their efforts to disruption is a matter, essentially, of time.22 There is already some evidence that the Maoists are receiving support from Pakistan, particularly in the acquisition of arms and ammunition, and in strategic planning.23

The dramatic expansion of Naxalite activities is the more spectacular when seen against the slow, painstaking and uncertain struggle that went into the seizure of the 55 districts that had fallen under their shadow by the end of 2003. The current movement traces its genealogy back to the insurrection of 1967 in the Naxalbari area of North Bengal, but that insurgency – after a wildfire spread in its early years – had been comprehensively defeated by 1973, with the entire top leadership of the Communist Party of India – Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML) either jailed or dead. What little remained of its splintered survivor organizations was destroyed during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency of 1975.

It was in 1980, with the formation of the People’s War Group (PWG) under the leadership of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah (an erstwhile Central Organising Committee Member of the CPI-ML) in the Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh, and the reorganization of the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) in Bihar in the mid-1980s, that the movement resurfaced in some strength. Initial successes were, again, rapid, and by the mid-1980s, 31 districts in seven States were afflicted by Naxalite violence. By the early 1990s, however, the problem had been eliminated from at least 16 of these districts, bringing the total number of affected districts to just 15 in four States.24 

The reconstruction, thereafter, has been more continuous and systematic, with wider areas being gradually targeted and consolidated, building up slowly to the 55 districts that had been brought into the ambit of the movement by late 2003, and to the 170-plus districts that have come under the influence of Maoist activities by 2005.

The security threat resulting from expanding Maoist activities is amplified further by the progressive political and geographical consolidation of the movement – certainly within the country, and potentially across international borders as well.25 It has long been known that the Maoists have established the objective of ‘liberating’ a Compact Revolutionary Zone (CRZ), extending from Nepal, through Bihar in the North, and down to Andhra Pradesh in the South of India, all along the country’s eastern board, and this has now been recognized at the highest policy levels.26 It is significant that the overwhelming majority of the Districts in which the Naxalites are currently active lie squarely along this conceptualized ‘corridor’. Nihar Nayak notes:

Large parts of this territory have already been brought under the extremist influence with only some link-ups now necessary in the remaining pockets to make the CRZ a reality. Once achieved, the CRZ will virtually drive a wedge through the vital areas of the country, and would help crystallize linkages with other Maoist groups operating in South Asia.27

Ominously, the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Annual Report, 2004 – 2005 notes:

Despite strenuous efforts by the security forces, there has been no letup in the effectuation of CRZ with the gaps in North Bihar and North Chhattisgarh being steadily plugged by the naxalite outfits to link up their strongholds in AP/Dandakaranya with those in Bihar/Jharkhand. Coupled with the steadily increasing Naxalite influence in North Orissa/South East Jharkhand, it is apparent that the naxalite groups remain steadfast in their efforts to realize the CRZ.28

But the dangers of the Maoist consolidation are not restricted to the CRZ, and reports of Maoist mobilization are now emanating from widely dispersed locations as well.29 Further, the proposed CRZ is only a ‘base’ for an universal ideology of ‘liberation’, and expansion is at its very heart. Indeed, even now, Bangladesh is witnessing a cycle of violence and repression centred around the activities of the Purba Bangla Communist Party (PBCP), largely in that country’s western districts bordering India. The PBCP is a member of the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA) formed on July 1, 2001. Bhutan has also seen activities of the newly created Bhutan Communist Party – Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (BCP-MLM), which was formed with support from both the Nepalese and Indian Maoist groups at an undisclosed location in Bhutan, on April 22, 2003. The original CCOMPOSA declaration was signed by ten organisations drawn from four countries – Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.30 

The power of the Maoist ideology, and its capacity to secure the unification of socially, politically, and, in some measure, even ideologically disparate individuals and groups was dramatically demonstrated by the merger of the PWG and MCC, at a time when the PWG was engaged in ‘peace talks’ with the State Government in Andhra Pradesh. The two extremist formations, which only years ago were engaged in bloody turf wars (the ‘Black Chapter of the Indian revolution” in which “Large numbers were killed from both sides”31), and that intelligence agencies had long (wishfully) believed could never come together because of ‘fundamental’ differences in perspective and social composition, merged to form the Communist Party of India – Maoist (CPI-Maoist) on September 21, 2004. The creation of the CPI-Maoist is intended to set in motion a process to “pursue unity measures with all the genuine Maoists in the country”, that is, an estimated 40 ‘Naxalite’ groups – to bring them under a single banner, with the objective of ‘overthrowing’ the “imperialists, the comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie and the big landlord classes”.32 The historical significance of the merger can be assessed by the fact that the merging parties claim it comes at the end of a process that commenced as far back as 1981, when the first contacts are claimed to have been established between the MCC and the PWG.33 The process, however, descended into bloody rivalry in the late 1990s, and talks on unification were only restored in August 2001.34 As the geographical consolidation of the movement progressed dramatically, the two most powerful groups united under the banner of the CPI-Maoist, and it would be unrealistic to believe that petty concerns of the distribution of ‘revenues’, caste configurations and leadership strains will suddenly undermine this unity in a phase of the most extraordinary successes of the movement, where they believe they ‘Pursue the Tottering Foe’.35 The Ministry of Home Affairs concedes:

The initial analysis suggests that the merger is likely to amplify the naxal menace particularly in the states of West Bengal, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh where both the erstwhile CPML-PW and MCCI enjoyed organizational as well as military influence, combining the mass activities of the MCCI with the military prowess of the CPML-PW to their advantage.36

Throughout this period, the state’s ‘policy pendulum’ has swung regularly from one extreme to the other, relying alternately on brute force or on extreme conciliation, both in the affected States and at the Centre:

Each new incumbent in the North Block – from where India’s internal security is ‘managed’ by the Ministry of Home Affairs – sets about reinventing the wheel, with little apparent concern for history. The cycle is almost invariable – with ‘peaceful’ and ‘political’ resolution passionately advocated in the early days of incumbency, yielding gradually to an eventual return to the use of force, as Naxalite depredations mount. The same pattern is replicated at the level of State Governments with successive Chief Ministers advocating ‘sympathy and understanding’ for varying periods, and then lapsing once again, to a reliance on the police and paramilitary forces, rushing constantly to the Centre for more funds and more men to strengthen their armed capacities of response.

The interregnums of ‘sympathy and understanding’ have, however, been the periods of the most rapid consolidation for the Naxalites, who exploit ceasefires and ‘peace processes’ to their potential limits for the propagation of their cause, and for recruitment, training and expansion. Each period of political conciliation has, consequently, seen a widening of the geographical reach of the movement.37 

There are powerful constraints to devising an effective and comprehensive strategy to contain the Maoist menace in India, even if the necessary political will and long term commitment – of which there is little present evidence – were to be found. The Maoist insurgency and mobilization today covers territories across as many as 15 States, and there are cumulative indications of a continuous spread. India has little experience of success in inter-State cooperation on law and order or security issues – as was amply demonstrated in the protracted and often farcical ‘joint action’ between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu’s Special Task Forces (STFs) created to deal with a petty brigand, Veerappan. Various inter-State fora and ‘coordination committees’ of Naxalite-affected States are already in existence, but these largely have the character of periodic talk-shops, where little of worth is ever produced. There are, moreover, powerful constitutional constraints on the Centre’s capacity to impose unified action or policy in all Maoist-affected States, since law and order remains a ‘State subject’. The very legal and constitutional framework, consequently, will prove extraordinarily obstructive to unified command and action across State boundaries, unless unprecedented and voluntary cooperation between State Governments – often ruled by politically polarized parties – is miraculously manifested.

It is, nevertheless, useful to make an assessment of the broad contours of response that will be necessary if the Maoist danger is to be neutralized. It must first be clearly conceded that the present model of conflict and containment that is being applied to the Naxalite problem cannot yield any permanent solution. The first and most immediate tasks that Government agencies, both State and Union, have to confront is to fill the administrative vacuum that currently exists in vast areas of the country. These areas cannot be abandoned – as they presently are – to the depredations of the Naxalites or of the criminal co-operative of petty contractors, businessmen and forest officials, and will have to be systematically recovered, re-occupied, and brought under the institutions of civil and democratic governance. It is only after this pre-condition is satisfied that any abiding gains can be made in development, welfare, and the quality of life of the people in these areas. This requires, before all else, that these territories be recovered from the arc of anarchy. If any permanent resolution to the problem of terrorism in these areas is to be secured, it cannot be brought about by the temporary allocation of armed police or ‘special’ and para-military forces. The solution lies in the restoration, strengthening and extension of the permanent institution for the maintenance of law and order – the police station.38 The capabilities of each such police station, moreover, would have to be strengthened, not only to confront the Naxalite terror, but to deal with the whole range of law and order problems, conflicts, disputes and complaints that arise within its jurisdiction.39

The police station, however, is only the first and most visible element in the restoration of the state's authority. Each police station’s jurisdiction must have proximate and convenient access to, and easy and open links with, both the executive and judicial magistracy or its agents, as well as with the entire paraphernalia of developmental, welfare and other service agencies of the State government. The officering of all afflicted areas is an issue of extraordinary importance, and the best men will have to be selected for the most difficult tasks and posts. Moreover, these agencies and officers must be located – and protected – where their work is most needed. And such work must, then, commence at a war footing providing immediate benefits to local populations. This would, of course, include the usual range of developmental activities, but the building of model schools and significant community works must be an overwhelming priority. A certain and high level of accountability and review would also be needed in all such projects and interventions.

Evidently, this cannot be achieved at once for all the Naxalite affected areas. Such measures will also, naturally and immediately attract strong retaliatory action from the extremists. It will, consequently, be necessary to undertake this process block by block, district by district, till the entire target areas are recovered. In the initial phases, the newly strengthened police stations and administrative jurisdictions will require some support from para-military agencies as well. But if the experiments succeed even in the first few instances, the demonstration effect and the impact on the general population in all contiguous areas can provide the impetus for accelerated change, and a progressive withdrawal of such deployment.

I have noted elsewhere that the failure, both of the state and of the Naxalites is that both these have focused excessively, even exclusively, on the seizure of power. The seizure of power, however, is only a beginning. It is the exercise of power that is the greatest challenge for all creeds of social and political transformation – including the revolutionary and the democratic – and it is here that both the government and the rebel have failed the large mass of the people, the circumstances of whose lives are often tragically defined by the actions of these agencies.40 

The sheer scale and spread of Naxalite violence and activity in India, and in its neighbourhood, has tremendous potential to undermine the country’s ambitious quest for dramatic economic growth and the alignment of the Indian economy and political-administrative system with a rapidly transforming global order. Growing insecurity and lawlessness, as well as wide inequalities and distress among large sections of the population, cannot be reconciled with these ambitions, and such circumstances also constitute an abiding betrayal of the Constitutional mandate. The Maoist movement is the single largest – though still not the bloodiest, though this may change soon enough – insurgency in the country, covering the widest geographical area for any movement of political extremism or violence in the region. The enveloping lawlessness and growing disorders of virtually the entire eastern board of the country constitute a grave and urgent threat to the nation’s stability, integrity and development.41 The steady erosion of state authority will have to be reversed – and urgently – or it will come to constitute an existential threat to constitutional democracy and to the unity and integrity of the country.


     1.   For a relatively detailed analysis of these ‘false sociologies’, see Ajai Sahni, “Naxalism: The Retreat of Civil Governance”, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict & Resolution, Volume 5, New Delhi: ICM-Bulwark Books, May 2000, esp. pp. 79-89.

         2   Prime Minister’s speech at the Annual Conference of DGPs/ IGPs and heads of CPOs, New Delhi , November 4, 2004, Prime Minister's Office, http://pmindia.nic.in/speeches.htm

      3   Ibid.

      4   K.P.S. Gill, “A Prime Minister Speaks: Finally, a Clear Voice on Terror,” South Asia Intelligence Review, Volume 3 Number 40, April 18, 2005, http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/sair/Archives/3_40.htm.

      5   Prime Minister’s Address at the Chief Minister’s Conference, New Delhi, April 15, 2005, Prime Minister’s Office, http://pmindia.nic.in/speeches.htm.

      6   Union Minister’s statement at a meeting with representatives of political parties and voluntary organisations in Bangalore, The Telegraph, April 25, 2005, http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050425/asp/nation/story_4658169.asp

      7   For a detailed analysis of the context and significance of this statement, see Ajai Sahni, “Bad Medicine for a Red Epidemic”, South Asia Intelligence Review, Volume 3, Number 12, October 4, 2004,


      8   Ambassador Mulford, during a visit to Andhra Pradesh. See “India rejects Mulford remarks on Naxal violence”, The Times of India, January 29, 2005, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1004832.cms

      9   Ibid.

    10   “Manmohan allays fears over peace process,” The Hindu, January 4, 2005, http://www.hindu.com/2005/01/04/stories/2005010405050400.htm.

    11   op. cit. Footnote 2.

    12   For a partial analysis of the cycle of opportunistic alliances and pre-election deals between mainstream political formations and the Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh, and the manner in which these have assisted the progressive consolidation of these forces, see Ajai Sahni, “‘Naxalism’: The Retreat of Civil Governance,” Faultlines: Writings on Conflict and Resolution, Volume 5, May 2000, esp. pp. 89-95.

    13   On March 19, 2004, after the assassination of M.Venkataraju, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) worker and husband of the then Minister for Tribal Welfare M. Manikumari, the then Andhra Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, had alleged that the Congress was trying to liquidate its political rivals in connivance with the PWG and pointed out that 33 TDP functionaries had been killed by the Naxalites after the announcement of elections. http://www.andhranews.net/state/2004/mar/19.asp.

           Later, in November that year, he Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, L.K. Advani stated, “I am of the view that the Union Government’s attitude towards the problem in Andhra Pradesh is not a well-thought out attitude… Simply because the Congress took the support of the Naxalites in the Assembly elections, it gave an assurance to them. In fulfilment of that assurance the Government had endangered the internal security of the country.” The Telegraph, November 7, 2004, http://www.telegraphindia.com/section/jharkhand/index.asp.

           Similarly, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) General Secretary, Dipankar Bhattacharya alleged that the PWG and the Congress in Andhra Pradesh had a “tacit understanding” before elections and that the subsequent dialogue between them was a result of that understanding. The Statesman , November 9, 2004.

           http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid= 2&theme=&usrsess=1&id=59802.

           In January 2005, The Hindu, reported that as many as 40 Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) members figured in a list of 62 political workers with ‘militant background’ identified by the intelligence wing of the Police. The report added that all those in the list hailed from Telangana and represent the Telegu Desam Party, the Congress, the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML New Democracy), CPI-Marxist and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), apart from the TRS. http://www.hindu.com/2005/01/22/stories/2005012207980400.htm

    14   See, for instance, P.V. Ramana, “Sleeping with terrorists,” The Pioneer, October 30, 2004.

    15   The title derives from Mao Tse-tung’s letter of January 5, 1930, ‘in criticism of certain pessimistic views then existing in the Party’, see Mao Tse-tung’s Selected Works, http://www.chairmanmao.org/eng/wen/wen21.htm.

    16   “Talks between naxals, AP Govt begin”, Press Trust of India, October 15, 2004,


    17   Mao Tse-tung, “Problems of War and Strategy”, (November 6, 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 224.


    18   “The Question of ‘Going too Far’”, Mao Tse-Tung’s Selected Works, http://www.chairmanmao.org/eng/wen/wen33.htm.

    19   “Fundamentals of Low Intensity Conflict”, Mao Tse-tung’s Military Thinking, http://www.chairmanmao.org/eng/jun/jun2.htm.

    20   Ajai Sahni, “Naxalites: While We Were Sleeping”, South Asia Intelligence Review, Volume 3, Number 19, November 22, 2004, http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/sair/Archives/3_19.htm#assessment1) Nihar Nayak, “Naxalites: The Economy at Risk”, South Asia Intelligence Review, Volume 3, Number 31, February 13, 2005, http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/sair/Archives/3_31.htm.

    21   Nihar Nayak, “Naxalites: The Economy at Risk”, op.cit.

    22   Ajai Sahni, “Bad Medicine for a Red Epidemic”, op. cit.

    23   “Maoists ‘admit’ to Pakistani links”, Indo-Asian News Service, January 10, 2005.

    24   Ajai Sahni, “Bad Medicine for a Red Epidemic”, op. cit.

    25   See, for instance, Nihar Nayak, “A Compact of Fire”, South Asia Intelligence Review, Volume 3, Number 14, October 18, 2004.

    26   M.K. Narayanan, then Special Advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office, and subsequently National Security Advisor, has acknowledged the grave danger the CRZ poses, as have others in the security and intelligence community. See, “Do it together”, The Hindu, September 24, 2004.

    27   Nihar Nayak, “Naxalites: A Compact of Fire”, op. cit.

    28   Annual Report 2004-2005, New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, p. 43.

    29   There presence is already recorded in Uttaranchal, and reports of activity have emanated from Punjab, Himachal and Gujarat, among other States. See, P.V.Ramana, “Left wing extremism in India”, Observer Research Foundation, http://www.observerindia.com/analysis/A072.htm; “Is a Naxal movement brewing in tribal Dangs?”, The Times of India, December 22, 2004, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/968270.cms); Pratibha Chauhan, “Police set up surveillance for Nepalese”, The Tribune, October 6, 2004, http://www.tribuneindia.com/2004/20041006/himachal.htm#11.

    30   Co-ordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA), Press Statement, July 1, 2001, http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/southasia/documents/papers/CCOMPOSA.htm.

    31   “The Communist Party of India (Maoist) – Born in India”, People’s March, Volume 5, No. 11-12, December 2004. http://www.peoplesmarch.com/archives/2004/nov-dec2k4/Born%20in%20India.htm.

    32   Ibid.

    33   Ibid.

    34   Ibid.

    35   A line from a poem by Mao Tse Tung, “The People’s Liberation Army Captures Nanking”, April 1949, Mao Tse-Tung’s Shi, http://www.chairmanmao.org/eng/shi.htm#.

    36   op. cit., p. 44.

    37   Ajai Sahni, “Bad Medicine for a Red Epidemic”, op. cit.

    38   I base this observation on extended conversations with K.P.S. Gill, and on his various published and unpublished writings on the subject, including "The Dangers Within: Internal Security threats" in Bharat Karnad (Ed.), Future Imperilled: India's Security in the 1990s and Beyond, New Delhi: Viking, 1994, pp. 116-131, and esp. pp. 127-131.

    39   The various components of such a process of restoring the integrity of the police station as the first and primary responder to the challenge of Naxalism have been dealt with in some detail in Ajai Sahni, “Naxalism: The Retreat of Civil Governance”, op. cit., pp. 99 – 103.

    40   Ibid., p. 103.

    41   Ajai Sahni and Saji Cherian, “Naxalites: What, Me Worry?”, South Asia Intelligence Review, Volume 3, Number 29, January 31, 2005, http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/sair/Archives/3_29.htm#assessment1. See also, Nihar Nayak, “Naxalites: The Economy at Risk”, South Asia Intelligence Review, Volume 3, Number 31, February 14, 2005, http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/sair/Archives/3_31.htm#assessment1.

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