Washington D.C. Wednesday July 23, 2008: Indian PM Manmohan Singh’s unread patroness, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, is going around making false promises to the ‘unwashed’ Indian public, (as she did in a public meeting in Nellore last week) that Nuclear ‘Bijli’, after signing of the Indo-US nuke deal, will light up ‘every home in every village in India’. In marked contrast the 40-years old violent Naxalite armed movement, has already spread like a prairie fire to more than half of India’s 602 Districts, (55% of India’s land area) and may soon rule the roost in ‘every village’ in rural India before the promised Nuclear ‘Bijli’ (electricity) ever makes its presence felt.
Readers should note that 55% of India’s land area of 1, 269, 346 sq. miles equals about 666, 000 sq. miles; this is much more than the areas of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka combined – 463, 745 sq. miles - in which the writ of the Indian government, at this point in time, does not exist.
The Naxalite movement’s relentless advance has taken place despite the fact that two years ago, on August 15th, 2006, in his National Day speech, from the ramparts of the Mogul-built Red Fort in Delhi, India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, linked Naxalism (Maoism) with terrorism as the two biggest threats to India’s internal security. There has been a lot of talk about counter measures since then but the different governments (states and center) have not been able to come up with any ready solution for the fast spreading Naxalite armed insurgency. Compared to such well-known horrors as the Mumbai serial bomb blasts, the Naxalite threat is low-key, insidious, and, to the city-dweller, largely invisible. A ‘red corridor’, dominated by the Naxalites, today runs from the Nepali border in the north to the state of Karnataka in the south where the government writ does not exist. It takes in some of the poorest parts of India, and in particular forests inhabited mainly by tribal peoples. In some places Naxalites have, in effect, replaced the state, running local affairs through their own councils, and administering their own rough justice.
For a background on the Naxalite movement read Khalistan Calling dated April 19, 2006, headlined, “International media finally pays attention to the on-going Naxalite Rural revolution in India,” by clicking at the following link: http://www.khalistanaffairs.org/home/khalistancalling/2006/april19.aspx
Also read Khalistan Calling of May 17, 2006, headlined, “Naxalite insurgency in rural India as seen through the eyes of correspondents of the Washington Post and Guardian newspapers,” by clicking at the following link:- http://www.khalistanaffairs.org/home/khalistancalling/2006/may17.aspx
The movement known as the “Naxalites”, is named after the district of Naxalbari in West Bengal where they staged an uprising in 1967. They have these days almost become a nationwide force after having been wiped out in the 1970s, as the Indian government repressed them, and Maoism went out of fashion, even in its homeland of China. In India the Naxalites despite splintering into various armed factions, of which the biggest were the People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre continued with their struggle against feudalism, landlordism and casteism. Some of these factions merged and formed the CPI (Maoist) party in September 2004. The Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, has estimated the Naxalites now have 9,000 to 10,000 armed fighters, with access to about 6,500 firearms. There are perhaps a further 40,000 full-time Naxalite cadres, both male and female, and increasing by the day.
The Naxalites do not, at this point in time, seriously threaten the government in Delhi or other large urban centers, but they do have the power to interdict the railways, roads and police systems and deter investment and development in some of India’s poorest regions, which also happen to be among the richest in some vital resources—notably iron and coal. The Naxalite movement itself has the effect of sharpening inequity, which many see as the biggest danger facing India in the next few years. This, according to a journal, is the Naxalites’ ‘recruiting sergeant’.
The last four weeks (of July and June, 2008) have seen a lot of action. The Naxalites have had the upper hand in particularly violent encounters with elite government anti-insurgency forces which clearly indicate that the Naxalites are getting stronger and bolder inside the country, by the day, while the Indian government is engaged in a mad race to acquire second-hand aircraft carriers and hundreds of fighter planes and scores of submarines, to be used against an imaginary foreign enemy, (who does not exist) but useless against the Naxalites who hold over 55% of India’s territory. Obviously these military purchases, worth billions of dollars, have been made just for the ‘under the table’ commissions the military purchases generate for dishonest politicians and officials.
According to a report in the Times of India, of July 16, 2008, the Maoists, in their second major strike in less than three weeks, killed 21 Orissa’s Counter Insurgency Special Operations (elite) Group, who were riding a ( http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Orissa_21_cops_feared_killed_in_Maoist_attack/articleshow/3241785.cms )mine-protected vehicle, with a landmine explosion and firing in the tribal-dominated Malkangiri district of Orissa. “The SOG personnel were ambushed by the Maoists who felled trees to block Kalimela-Motu road to block the vehicle. When some of them alighted to clear the road they were fired on by the Maoists and their vehicle was damaged by the landmine explosion triggered at about the same time”, police said. The Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel were going to the place where the house of a BJP leader was attacked by the Maoists on Tuesday night. This ambush, of the bullet-proof police vehicle, came 18 days after the Maoists carried out a similar audacious attack on a motorboat carrying elite anti-Naxal Greyhound police personnel of Andhra Pradesh in a reservoir in Malkangiri district. That incident left 35 dead and dozens injured with only one body recovered so far.
According to other media reports India’s top security officials met last week to discuss latest intelligence that Maoist rebels are encircling urban areas, upgrading their weapons and mounting frontal attacks on security forces. “While expanding their influence in the countryside, Maoist rebels are spreading to cities, including the capital New Delhi, through a web of front organizations to boost their network”, police was quoted as having said. Indian Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of the poor and the landless. According to a report published in DAWN newspaper, ( http://www.dawn.com/2008/07/15/int7.htm ) “The rebels have at least 22,000 combatants, armed with light machine guns, automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Some of the weapons are made in secret factories. Security analysts say the rebels, who have a presence in at least 13 of India’s 29 states, are consolidating in rural belts outside big cities and towns and building buffer zones. “Their whole philosophy is to start from villages and move towards cities,” B.K. Ponwar, head of a top counter-insurgency and jungle warfare school in India, told Reuters. “The red corridor is expanding and their influence is growing and not reducing at all,” he said, referring to a huge swathe of mineral-rich areas controlled by the Naxalites.
Compared with such well-known horrors, the Naxalite threat is low-key, insidious, and, to the city-dweller, largely invisible.Yet it now affects over half of India’s 602 districts: a ‘red corridor’, now runs from the Nepali border in the north to the state of Karnataka in the south. The corridor takes in some of the poorest parts of India, and in particular forests inhabited mainly by tribal peoples. In some places Naxalites have, in effect, replaced the state, running local affairs through their own councils, and administering their own rough justice. The Indian government estimates that the Naxalites, heirs to a 40-year old movement that splintered and then united in 2004, now have some 10,000 armed fighters, and a further 40,000 full-time supporters.
It is quite evident that the fast growing Naxalite movements in rural areas of Indian states (the Naxalite movement seems to have for some reason given a pass to the Sikh Homeland of Indian Occupied Punjab, so far) currently holding sway in nearly half the country, are proving every day that their area of influence in rural India is expanding at a very fast pace at the expense of the authority of the brittle, nuclear-armed, chaotic, feudalistic, caste-ridden Indian DemoNcracy.