Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism
- October 22, 2020
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: MMN
GS3- Internal Security
Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism: Naxalism / Left Wing Extremism
Left wing Extremism (LWE)
Left Wing Extremism or Naxalism (as it called in India, because of its origin from a village called Naxalbari in West Bengal) is an ideology based on far left radical thoughts. It drives its thoughts from communism and emphasizes advancement of people’s social and economic life by establishing classless society through armed revolution.
The Naxalite movement is almost four decades old now. Beginning in a single State
(West Bengal), it has now spread over a wide area, affecting and influencing the lives of lakhs of people.
Genesis and evolution of LWE
- This movement was started in 1967 ,in West Bengal by an extremists’ break-away faction of the CPM, commenceda so-called agrarian revolution, The initial outburst was by groups occupying vacant lands in parts of Naxalbari, Khoribari and Phansidewaon the plea that lands were in excess of the permissible ceiling on land holdings or that these were supposed to have vested in the Government which the latter never cared to distribute among landless and marginal farmers as provided for in the West Bengal Estate Acquisition Act of 1953 and other allied laws.
- The first flush of the Left Extremist movement in the Naxalbari region was effectively controlled without much bloodshed and within a relatively short span of time.
- May,1968: Formation of the All India Co-ordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR) to carry forward the militant movement in different parts of India.
- April, 1969: Formation of a new Marxist-Leninist party to be known as the CPI (ML,)Overt acts of violence in the name of ‘annihilation of class enemies’ started surfacing t in parts of different States like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, UP besides Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.
- Various splinter groups of Naxalites started resurfacing in various parts of India during the early 1980s.
- the Naxalites of Andhra Pradesh regrouped as the CPI-ML (Peoples’ War Group) turned out to be the most active not only in Andhra Pradesh but also in Orissa, in the tribal belt (Bastar-Dandakaranya) of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra;
- in Bihar Naxalites rechristened themselves as the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC).
- The PWG in Andhra Pradesh succeeded in mobilising a fairly large section
- they held ‘Praja Courts’ (peoples’ courts) – complaints against land-owners, money-lenders and even against Government officials were being entertained and ‘swift justice’ meted out
- actions of the PWG squads (‘dalams’) in the shape of forcible collection of funds from land-owners, businessmen This was followed by strong police actions, which created a sense of insecurity among sections of the Maoist cadres which prompted them to resort to brutal murders and tortures of villagers
- the State Government commenced large-scale police operations, spearheaded by the specially-trained police units called Greyhounds, This forced the Andhra Maoists to vacate these areas and get dispersed in adjacent pockets in the Dandakaranya belt of Chhattisgarh and in some of the adjacent districts of Orissa.
- Meanwhile the Maoists developed some expertise in the use of landmines and IEDs which caused very significant casualties among police and other security personnel operating in Chhattisgarh. Another significant development was creation of resistance groups from amongst the tribal people known as the SalwaJudum. There were quite a few massacres of the Dalits who formed the backbone of the MCC, the skirmishes took the shape of caste warfare.
- Barring a few splinter groups; Naxalites have largely completed their process of merger and consolidation with the formation of the CPI (Maoist) in 2004,followed by their increasing militarisation and simultaneous acquisition of arms and ammunitions. (gained access to the technology of fabricating rockets and rocket launchers.)
- The threat from the Maoists has increased on account of their developing expertise in fabricating and detonating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). used by the Naxalites for well planned attacks on even high-security personalities .On a rough estimate, the Naxalites have so far been causing nearly 100 landmine explosions every year with considerable loss of lives of security personnel of state and central police, quite a disturbing phenomenon.
Causes for spread of LWE
Lack of development is one of the major factors for spread of LWE. Let see with an example. There are remote areas in the country where there is hardly any governance. For example, Abujmarh in Narainpur district of Chhattisgarh is one such area. Abujhmarh literally means ‘Unknown Highlands’. The area has a tribal population of 27,000 inhabiting some 260 far-flung villages over a sprawling area of 4000 sq. kms. The tribals here are primarily the Maria; they are the most backward tribals between the rivers Ganga and Godavari. Abujhmarh has a difficult terrain which remains cut off from the rest of the civilized world for about six months a year.
It will be appalling to be told that the area has not been surveyed to date and that it has hardly any revenue or police presence on a regular basis. No wonder, the Naxals have made it one of their strongholds. Even in areas which are not so much in the interior, the absence of adequate public intervention, especially in education, health and employment has allowed the non-state actors to push their agenda among the people. Let now see the other factors that causes spread of LWE
Land related factors
Below are the some of the factors that are related to land that have led the landless people to get empathized with LWEs propaganda.
- The origin of the popular slogan “land to the tiller” is in absentee landlordism, where the landlord would merely take the lion’s share of the produce without contributing anything to the production of the crop.
- The focus of the Naxalite movement is on trying to provide land, whether the land of landlords or government land, to the landless.
- In occupying landlords’ land, the Naxalites have not taken law as their reference point. It is not the ceiling-surplus land of the landlords that they have sought to put in the possession of the landless. Rather, they have targeted land holders whose holding is sizeable as they see it, or who are otherwise oppressive or cruel in their conduct, or hostile towards the Naxalite movement, even if they are not big landlords. Such landholders have in many cases been driven away from the villages and the irland sought to be put in the possession of the landless poor.
- It is a fact that in some cases the Naxalite movement has succeeded in helping the landless to occupy a substantial extent of government land whether for homesteads or for cultivation
- In the case of forest land, occupation by the adivasis with the encouragement and assistance of the Naxalites, has taken place on an extensive scale in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, Orissa and Jharkhand. In fact much of it is not fresh occupation but reassertion of traditional usufructory rights declared by the law to be illegal. Properly conducted forest settlement proceedings should have protected at least the pre-existing rights, but much of forest settlement proceedings has taken place behind the back and over the head of the adivasi forest dwellers.
Displacement and forced evictions
- Internal displacement caused by irrigation / mining / industrial projects, resulting in landlessness and hunger, is a major cause of distress among the poor, especially the adivasis. It is well known that 40% of all the peopledisplaced by dams in the last sixty years are forest-dwelling adivasis. The law and administration provides no succour to displaced people, and in fact often treats them with hostility since such internally displacedforest-dwellers tend to settle down again in some forest region, which is prohibited by the law. The Naxalite movement has come to the aid of such victims of enforced migration in the teeth of the law. The victims have received that help from the Naxalites. The trauma of displacement for which the state does not provide succour creates space for violent movement.
- Displacement caused by major projects is not the only cause of migration. Landlessness, extremes of poverty and social oppression can also be causes of displacement. Through this process of forced migration, many tribals have left their villages and even State and migrated into neighbouring States. This involuntary displacement and migration has caused further distress among the tribals and created administrative problems for the host State. In the State of Bihar, through social oppression, many dalits had to move from their traditional habitat and moved Elsewhere . They were victims of upper casteatro cities. New habitats of such migrant dalits have become a source of further social tension. Often the displaced persons look on hopelessly and sometimes they seek support of the naxalite groups. Such situations create space for naxalite interventions.
- The Minimum Wages Act remains an act on paper in much of rural India. Agricultural labour is governed by the Act but the minimum wage rates under the Act are not implemented, except where the prosperity of the farmers and the demand for labour makes it unavoidable. In the areas of their activity, it is reported that Naxalites have ensured payment of decent wage rates. Their orientation to rights is in general not governed by statutory entitlement but what they regard as just and fair, taking all factors that they believe to be relevant into consideration.
- There are also large areas of labour not governed by the Minimum Wages Act. Since the Naxalites are in any case not bothered whether or not there is a law governing the right they are espousing, they have intervened and determined fair wage rates in their perception in all labour processes in their areas of influence.
- Enjoyment of common property resources as a traditional right by cattle-herds, fishing communities, toddy toppers, stoneworkers, has become vulnerable due to the appropriation of these resources by the dominant sections of society or by the others with their support. The Naxalites have tried to ensure the protection of this right wherever they are active. This is an area where there is in general no legislative protection at all of traditional rights, though some States have some policies which tend in that direction. Legislative protection of an umbrella nature should be considered by the Central Government
- The fight against the social oppression that the dalits and the lower among the OBCs have been regularly subjected to is perhaps the most significant among the issues used by the Naxalite movement.
- Apart from the concrete issues undertaken by the Naxalites against social oppression, the fact that the cadre and also most of local leaders of the Naxalite organisations consist of poor villagers of castes looked upon as lowly has endowed the oppressed with much strength.
- A sense of powerlessness is a characteristic of the psychological make up of oppressed classes. The typical Naxalite cadre, however, is a confident (most probably gun-wielding) teenager from those very classes. To see young boys and girls of their own villages and their own class/caste active in the Naxalite movement, and wielding power over the ‘big’ men of the village and the high and mighty tahsildar has given a sense of empowerment to the oppressed that has inestimable value
Issues arising out of mal-governance or non governance
- Dissatisfaction with improper and often mal-governance created anger among the suffering population. The Naxalites exploit the situation for their own political gain by giving the affected persons some semblance of relief or response. Thereby they tend to legitimise in the eyes of the masses their own legal or even illegal activities.
- In the matter of physical infrastructure like roads, school buildings, etc., the Naxalite movement has on certain occasion’s exerted pressure for its improvement, but in many places they have themselves obstructed the laying of roads for the reason that it would increase police and paramilitary raids. In Chhattisgarh they have demolished pucca buildings such as schools so that the police and paramilitary may have no shelter in the forests. All said and done, it cannot be said that there has been any general improvement in the administration in the areas of Naxalite influence.
- There is in general no administrative or judicial mechanism in our country for resolution of day-to-day conflicts and disputes. The people have been traditionally taking these disputes to local dispute-resolution mechanisms. In the best case the entire community sits and hears the dispute. Disputes between persons of different castes are decided by the two sides getting their respective caste elders (or persons they trust) to sit together. In some places disputes are commonly taken to the dominant person or persons in the village, whether or not justice is done. Sometimes there is acompulsion that all disputes must be brought to the village landlord, where the dispensation of justice is usually in favour of the strong. There is need for quick, fair and effective dispute resolution mechanism remains.
- The Naxalite movement has provided a mechanism (usually described as a ‘Peoples Court’) whereby these disputes are resolved in a rough and ready manner, and generally in the interests of the weaker party. It has the two elements of speed and effectiveness.
- Efficient and impartial policing is an important requirement of good administration .But the fact is that the weaker sections of the people do not have much faith in the police. They have no faith that justice will be done to them against the powerful. The movement does provide protection to the weak against the powerful, and takes the security of, and justice for, the weak and the socially marginal seriously.
- However, the Naxalite movement itself brings further police repression on the poor as a matter of State policy. Any agitation supported or encouraged by the Naxalites is brutally suppressed without regard to the justice of its demands. The search for Naxalite cadre leads to severe harassment and torture of its supporters and sympathisers, and the kith and kin of the cadre. What is to be pointed out here is that the method chosen by the Government to deal with the Naxalite phenomenon has increased the people’s distrust of the police and consequent unrest. Protest against police harassment is itself a major instance of unrest, frequently leading to further violence by the police, in the areas under Naxalite influence. The response of the Naxalites has been to target the police and subject them to violence, which in effect triggers the second round of the spiral.
It has been widely acknowledged that the Naxalite movement is the single biggest threat to the internal security of the country. The salient features of government policy to deal with the Naxal problem, as outlined in the Ministry of Home Affairs Status Paper brought out in May 2006, are summarized below:
- deal sternly with the Naxalites indulging in violence;
- address the problem simultaneously on political, security and development fronts
- in a holistic manner;
- ensure inter-state coordination in dealing with the problem;
- accord priority to faster socio-economic development in the Naxal affected or
- prone areas;
- supplement the efforts and resources of the affected states on both security and
- development fronts;
- promote local resistance groups against the Naxalites;
- use mass media to highlight the futility of Naxal violence and the loss of life
- and property caused by it;
- have a proper surrender and rehabilitation policy for the Naxalites; and
- affected states will not have any peace dialogue with the Naxal groups, unless
- the latter agree to give up violence and arms.
To counter LWE a multi-pronged approach is needed
Effective implementation of protective legislation:
It is necessary to build up an impregnable protective shield of the State, against multi-faceted exploitation of these communities. This should be done by effective implementation of the existing constitutional provisions, protection of civil rights and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act laws and programmes in place for this purpose. National Commission of SC and ST should be made effective, they should be given power of investigation and to pass orders which they could enforce. This is because the recommendations are not carried out by different authorities. So the commission will implement.
Land Related measures
It is important to effective implement the land ceiling laws so that the ceiling surplus land thereby obtained is made available for distribution amongst the most vulnerable sections of the landless poor. The various loop holes in the respective state to ceiling legislations have resulted in bogus claims aimed at evading the law. Such loopholes should be done away with and all cultivable land, irrespective of the legal form in which it is held, should be brought under ceiling laws. The ceiling limit of lands which were earlier unirrigated but have become irrigated after the coming into effect of ceiling laws should be re-determined as per their existing status. At the same time interest of small and marginal farmers and tribal peasants would have to be protected against reverse tenancy. All types of agricultural tenancies should be recorded and rights of tenants should be secured and the rights of such tenants should be fully secured through enforced land to the tiller policy and ensure accessibility of tenants to non-land inputs
Universalization of basic social services:
The area affected by extremist’s movement in central India has concentration of tribal population, hilly topography and undulating terrain. The area has much less density of population than the plains. The failure to provide infrastructure and services as per national norms is one of the many discriminatory manifestations of Governance here. These disparities therefore result in non-available/poorly provided services. Universalisation of basic services to standards among the people in this area should be given top priority to remove this disparity.
The government should saturate the entire rain-fed and dry farming area with Participatory Watershed Development Projects for conservation of soil and water and development of natural resources with suitable changes in cropping pattern under the common guidelines issued by Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development for National Watershed Development Projects for Rainfed areas.
strengthening subsidiary and supportive activities in animal husbandry, fisheries, horticulture, sericulture and poultry through establishment of quality infrastructure, supportive technical services and efficient market linkages at the village or a cluster of village level.
Good governance and socioeconomic development: This would necessitate high priority being given to development work and its actual implementation on the ground for which a clean, corruption-free and accountable administration at all levels is an imperative necessity.
Respect for rule of law: Governmental agencies must not be allowed to transgress law even in dealing with critical situations caused by insurgency or terrorism. If an extraordinary situation cannot be dealt with by the existing laws, new laws may be enacted so that law enforcement agencies are not provoked or tempted to resort to extra-legal or illegal methods. Police and all other governmental forces must adhere to some basic codes of conduct.
Countering the subversive activities of terrorists: Government must give priority to defeating political subversions (e.g. by terrorists and Maoists). The emphasis should be on civil as opposed to military measures to counter terrorism and insurgency. Psychological ‘warfare’ or management of information services and the media, in conjunction with the intelligence wing of the police, can play an important role in achieving this objective.
Building capacity: The capacity building exercise should extend to the intelligence gathering machinery, security agencies, civil administration and the society at large. As was highlighted in the Report on Crisis Management, the strategy should encompass preventive, mitigation, relief and rehabilitative measures.
If the above basic countermeasure principles are built into the national strategy, the end results will be
- Government =legality +construction + results
- LWE/insurgents = illegality +destruction + promises.
- SAMADHAN doctrine is the one-stop solution for the LWE problem. It encompasses the entire strategy of government from short-term policy to long-term policy formulated at different levels. SAMADHAN stands for-
- S- Smart Leadership,
- Aggressive Strategy,
- M- Motivation and Training,
- Actionable Intelligence,
- D- Dashboard Based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas),
- H- Harnessing Technology,
- Action plan for each Theatre,
- N- No access to Financing.
- Some of theameliorative measures like National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), 2005,The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, National Rehabilitation & Resettlement Policy, 2007 have been introduced
- The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 is a significant step in dealing with discontent, unrest and tension arising out of widespread forcible displacement. There is an urgent need to implement it justly and with empathy to all by requiring authority /agencies / bodies to remove the trauma suffered by displaced person.
- The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is an important element in providing livelihood support and protection to the poorest of the poor. However, the experience so far suggests that in backward and remote districts with poor administrative structures the implementation is not at all satisfactory. There has been inadequate focus on systems, mechanisms and capacity in these areas, which need to be strengthened so that NREGA fulfil sits promise to enhance livelihood support.
- Transparency in the functioning of the government is an essential requirement of good governance. The initiative taken by the Government in enacting the Right to Information Act of 2005 and will go a long way in promoting transparency, provided the factors that impede its enforcement are removed, especially in so far as its use by the weaker sections is concerned.
- Arc reccomendations to overcome developmental challenges
- A long-term (10-year) and short-term ( 5-year) Programme of Action based on the ‘14-Point Strategy’ shall be formulated by the Union Government in consultation with concerned State Governments to identify State specific action to be taken to implement the ‘Strategy’,parallely negotiations with the extremist outfits should be an important mode of conflict resolution.
- There is a strong case for ‘back to the basics’ in the matter of administrative monitoring and supervision. The system of periodic official inspections and review of organisational performances needs to be revitalized
- There is need to enhance the capacity of the security forces to act effectively, Training and reorientation including sensitising the police and paramilitary personnel to the root causes of the disturbances that they are seeking to curb,
- Establishing and strengthening local level police stations, adequately staffed by local recruits, in the extremist affected regions should be an important component of the policing strategy
- For effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006, multidisciplinary Oversight Committees may be constituted to ensure that the implementation does not adversely affect the local ecosystems.
- Special efforts are needed to monitor the implementation of constitutional and statutory safeguards, development schemes and land reforms initiatives for containing discontent among sections vulnerable to violent left extremism.
- To facilitate locally relevant development adequate flexibility of implementing agencies in the affected areas as regards centrally sponsored and other schemes,
- Performance of the States in amending their Panchayati Raj Acts(PESA) and implementing these provisions may be monitored and incentivised by the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
- Special anti-extortion and anti-money laundering cell should be established by the State police/State Government. To break the nexus between illegal mining/forest contractors and transporters and extremists which provides the financial support for the extremist movement
- Other suggestions
It has to be recognized, however, that no State could agree to a situation of seizure of power through violence when the Constitution provides for change of government through electoral process. Hence strengthening and reorientation of the law enforcement apparatus is a necessity to ensure justice and peace for the tribal for this and other reasons. The law enforcement machinery in the affected areas would need to be strengthened. Some of the suggested measures could be:
- Additional police stations / outposts in the affected areas;
- Filling up the police vacancies and improving the police-people ratio;
- Sophisticated weapons for the police;
- Personnel to be given training including in matters relating to Fundamental right of the citizen and Human Rights;
- Incentive allowance for staff posted in affected areas;
- Leadership of a high order for the forces deployed; and
- Specific ban on extra-judicial killings and “encounter” killings.
- Since the goals of the movement are political it has to be addressed politically. Negotiation is the only political instrument of such a response in a democracy. An ameliorative approach with emphasis on a negotiated solution helps to generate greater confidence of alienated people in governance. This approach is used the world over to tackle insurgencies democratically. It will cause the least possible injury to the people caught in the conflict. Special fund allocations are justified by a huge lag in development and inequality in distribution of resources and benefits. Though belated, it would rectify a historical wrong.
In many ways, development and internal security are two sides of the same coin. Each is critically dependent on the other. Often, the lack of development and the lack of any prospects for improving one’s lot provide a fertile ground for extremist ideologies to flourish. A large proportion of the recruits to extremist groups come from deprived or marginalized backgrounds or from regions which somehow seem disaffected by the vibrant growth in many other parts of the country.
Often we see unevenness in our development process and the various development divides that are opening up in the country – the inter-regional divide, the rural-urban divide and the inter-sectoral divide. These divides and disparities lead to disaffection, large-scale migration, and also to discord. I notice that in many cases, internal security problems arise out of the uneven development and we also need to address this issue if we are to make any long-term headway in combating extremist ideologies and extremist elements.
It needs to be clearly understood that socio-economic development and providing a secure environment have to go hand-in hand as one cannot survive without the other.
Note:*Inputs are taken from
- Planning commission report of ‘Development Challenges in Extremist Affected Areas’
- 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission Report
- Ministry of Home Affairs Annual Report