Libmonster ID: SE-339
Author(s) of the publication: A. Y. YAKOVLEV


Candidate of Political Sciences

KeywordsIndia, the Naxalitesterrorism

On May 28, 2010, a horrific terrorist attack was committed in the state of West Bengal. 138 people were killed and more than 160 people were injured in the mangled carriages of a train traveling from Kolkata (Calcutta) to Mumbai (Bombay).

1explosion was caused by the so-called Naxalites, who are waging an armed struggle in the name of"social justice". Shortly before that, they set up 2 large ambushes. In one, more than 30 policemen and civilians were killed in an attack on a bus, while in another, 76 government troops were killed.

The radical social and political movement of the Naxalites, which emerged in the late 1960s in the Indian state of West Bengal, during the 30 years of its existence turned from the" movement for social justice", operating under the auspices of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (CPI-ml), into a terrorist organization. The movement spread rapidly and has now covered a significant part of the country's territory.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called naxalism "the most serious threat to the country's internal security"2. Moreover, according to him, the Naxalites are potentially "more dangerous than the militants of Jammu and Kashmir and the terrorists of the north-east of the country" 3.


The Naxalite movement emerged quite unexpectedly - in March 1967-after a large (about 150 people) group of members of the Communist Party of India "expropriated" the grain reserves of a local landowner in the village of Naxalbari, located near Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal. A small incident in a small village gave rise to a movement whose members began to call themselves "Naxalites", and the movement itself - "naxalism".

Indian researcher Sumanta Banerjee compared the events in Naxalbari to "throwing a stone that caused numerous ripples on the water" 4.

Naxalism is most widespread in the poorest areas of the country: in the state of Orissa, where almost half of the population lives below the poverty line, as well as in the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.5 Almost half of the poorest population is concentrated in three states: Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The 55 districts controlled by the Naxalites are the most economically backward, including 13 in Jharkhand, 8 in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, 7 in Chhattisgarh and Orissa, 4 in Maharashtra, 3 in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, and 2 in Madhya Pradesh.6 It was these areas that became the base for naxalism.

As Biplab Dasgupta, an Indian researcher of this phenomenon, noted, "naxalism has become one of the forms of manifestation of popular discontent with living conditions."7. Another Indian scholar, Prakash Louis, agreed with him, who argued that " the armed peasant movement led to the conquest of the poor and landless peasants of their place in society... Exhausted by the oppression, the destitute engaged in armed struggle with landowners, officials, and conservative politicians. The main reason for the prolonged peasant struggle is the reluctance of Indian landowners to compromise with agricultural workers. " 8

It would be useful to recall the words of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru: "If we ultimately do not solve the basic problems of providing the population with food, clothing, housing, etc., then... will be

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they will be swept away, and someone else will come in our place. " 9

The impoverishment of peasants, which is mainly caused by a slight increase in the number of jobs in agriculture, seasonal employment, permanent and unjustified fragmentation of land plots, environmental degradation and a reduction in the fund of public land (pastures, fields and forest lands), predetermined the fact that rural areas are primarily a nutrient medium for naxalism.

During the entire period of independent development of India, the country maintained a high level of land concentration in the hands of large and medium-sized owners. The main mass of rural residents either experienced a shortage of land, or did not have it at all and was forced to work on their land plots. The growing pressure on the earth led to its rapid depletion. The principle of land distribution remains an essential part of the agrarian question, and land reform is a serious test of the political system.10

The need to establish the maximum size of a plot of land that could be in private hands was noted in the program documents of the INC for 1947-1948. In the first years after independence, this issue was relegated to the background, but the wave of organized peasant movement that arose under the influence of the Communist Party of India and other leftist forces forced the government to return to the agrarian problem.

The central government's policy of limiting the size of land plots provoked active opposition in the state legislatures: the provincial authorities defended the interests of landowners in every possible way. Meanwhile, many loopholes remained in the adopted laws, and the long process of drafting the bill, which was usually delayed for several years, provided large land owners with enough time for its fictitious division between relatives and figureheads. As a result of the incomplete completion of the reforms, the peasants received almost nothing.

The situation in the country began to escalate. A new upsurge in the peasant movement has begun. At the end of 1969, a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the states was held in Delhi, where a special memorandum on the situation in rural areas prepared by the Ministry of Internal Affairs was presented. This widely publicized document directly pointed out the failure to implement the adopted program of agrarian reforms, which was one of the reasons for the sharp increase in social tension in the countryside, fraught with a revolutionary explosion. The then Minister of Internal Affairs, Ya. B. Chavana, uttered the soon-to-be famous words that the "green revolution" could change its color11.

Among other reasons for the popularity of the Naxalite movement, one can note the dissatisfaction of peasants with numerous shortcomings and failures in the implementation of socio-economic policies.

Thus, there are practically no effective programs in the country to overcome the backwardness of agricultural areas and combat unemployment in rural areas. In addition, there is insufficient financial assistance to deal with the consequences of frequent natural disasters. The supply of potable water and electricity to rural areas remains a serious problem; hospitals, schools and other social facilities are not enough, and the existing transport infrastructure does not meet the need for movement between districts. The problem of security in rural areas has also not been solved, owing to the insufficient number of police stations and their weak staffing, equipment and weapons; this is partly why government representatives rarely visit remote regions.

Thus, the popularity of the movement in rural areas is due to the unresolved main socio-economic problems, poverty, backwardness and the hope that the situation can be changed through armed struggle.


In the mid-1960s, spontaneous protests increased

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rural poor under the leadership of the Naxalites in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and other states.

During the same period, the influence of Maoist ideology on the Naxalite movement increased. The Naxalite leader Charu Mazumdar claimed, in particular,that "the great victories of the revolutionary masses of India" in the 1960s were achieved thanks to "the leadership of Chairman Mao Zedong through radio broadcasts from Beijing." 12

On April 22, 1969, on the anniversary of Lenin's birth, the new Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of India (CPI/ml/) was formed on the basis of the Maoist faction and the Naxalite movement that broke away from the CPI. Soon, the leaders of the" Naxalite Communist Party " began to establish guerrilla zones in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, as a result of which they were subjected to severe government repression. Seven Naxalite leaders were killed in May and several more in late 1969.

In 1971, the Government sent troops to West Bengal to destroy the movement in that state. As a result, thousands of Naxalites and their supporters were killed, more than 50 thousand were jailed, and many leaders were killed. The failure of the first attempts to start a "people's war" led to serious ideological contradictions and chaos in the party, and since 1971-to many splits in its ranks. The situation became particularly acute after Ch. Mazumdar was killed in 1972.

At first, the Chinese government promised them all possible support, inciting the Naxalites to take action, but soon, due to limited resources and unwillingness to go to a new conflict with its neighbor, it offered to rely on its own forces. In addition, naxalism was seen by Beijing as a hopeless movement, so only the separatist groups of the border areas, whose activities promised China immediate strategic and political benefits, received direct material assistance.


The existence of many left-wing organizations in India prevented the formation of a national left-wing movement that could operate within the framework of legislation and bring the discussion of acute socio-economic and political issues to the parliamentary level. Within the CPI, there was also a tendency for some factions to act independently.

At the same time, slogans aimed at the poorest segments of the population allowed communists and Naxalites, as the Indian researcher B. Sen Gupta rightly argued, to attract "new cadres" to the movement, which, however, mostly tended to extremism.13

The Naxalites have declared their main political goal to be building a just society, which they believe requires mass mobilization to fight against the" reactionary"," pro-imperialist " policies of the central government. The Naxalite revolutionary ideology is based on the teachings of Mao Zedong about organizing a peasant uprising, which is the first stage of the struggle that, according to the Great Helmsman, should begin all over the world.

One of the activists of naxalism, T. Mitra, who has participated in the movement since its inception, claims that it turned the people into a political force, brought to life the expression "rifle gives birth to power", confirmed "idealism, courage and the ability of young people to sacrifice", presented " brilliant examples of innovation

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and tactical flexibility" and "unmasked the existing political regime" 14.

Leaders of the Naxalites and other left-wing extremist organizations have often played on the inexperience, illiteracy, and nationalist sentiments of potential followers in order to replenish their ranks. Taking into account the specifics of the audience, they developed a kind of propaganda techniques. So, to attract the curious, rallies are usually held in the open air and in the most crowded places. Events usually last for several hours, with speakers taking turns delivering long and emotional speeches... As a rule, speakers are proficient in public speaking and are able to attract the attention of listeners. On the eve of the rally, activists drive around the village by car and use a megaphone to inform the population about the upcoming action, its goals, the program of the event, tell about the speakers, etc. Before the rally, there is a demonstration of " supporters "(often unemployed people hired for the day), whose columns move from different parts of the city to the place of its holding. The march is accompanied by chanting of slogans.

Oratorical techniques have also been worked out. At first, the speaker speaks slowly and relatively quietly, talking about the features of the "current moment". Then, when he begins to describe the mistakes and negative actions of competitors, his speech becomes louder and faster. When it comes to specific calls, it reaches maximum speed and deafening volume. At the end of the speech, the words are shouted out in a broken voice. Various techniques (music, shouting, clapping, chanting, etc.) are borrowed from ritual temple actions and are used to attract and excite the listener, inspire him with the desired ideas, influence his subconscious, and cause an emotional upsurge...

Oral propaganda plays a significant role in recruiting new Naxalites. For the most part, they have never read Maoist literature and receive revolutionary ideas from the mouth of speakers.

Among the factors contributing to the movement's expansion, it should also be noted that in the territories controlled by the Naxalites, a society based on equality, non-caste discrimination and fair solution of local problems is being built. To implement these goals, some kind of "government" structures (territorial, subterritorial, regional and village committees) and people's courts are being created, which have even appropriated the right to impose death sentences. For example, in areas controlled by one of the movement's factions, the Maoist Communist Center-India (MCC-I), mainly in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand, there are more than 100 people's courts that sentenced 15 people to death in 2004 alone. 15 MCC-I is involved in the construction of hospitals and schools and water wells. The Center has more than 3,500 members operating on a legal and illegal basis, as well as sympathizing with 16.

Part of the" cultural revolution " inspired by the Naxalites was caused by the desire to divert the attention of the police from acts of terrorism in rural areas, as well as to avoid withdrawing from the active activities of those members of the movement who, having gone to the countryside for propaganda purposes, failed, however, to gain the confidence of the peasants and were forced to return to the cities. The leaders of the Naxalites believed that the youth attracted by the ideas of the "cultural revolution" would rush to the provinces and serve as a tool of the Naxalite policy there.

The Naxalites also sought to earn political capital and gain financial support from Beijing through the implementation of the cultural revolution and attracting media attention to it. Indeed, acts of vandalism were widely reported in the press, which was full of photos of destroyed schools and destroyed statues.


Armed guerrilla warfare is the main tactical method of the Naxalites. They believe that the Indian peasantry has long been ready for an immediate uprising, and that fighting can be " learned in the course of battle." They consider the use of any legal forms of counteraction to the authorities to be ineffective 17.

From the very beginning, the Naxalite movement was characterized by a structure that allowed individual militant groups to maintain relative independence, while generating personal rivalry between leaders.

It must be said that the personality factor of the leader plays an important role in the practice of naxalism, perhaps even more than in any other political movement in India. Thus, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, contradictions and conflicts between factions in the movement, which often led to the failure of certain actions, were largely related to the character of the leader and ideologist of naxalism. Mazumdar, who relied solely on his own experience in solving strategic tasks, ignored other people's opinions and was never "in the thick of the masses". Indian researcher B. Dasgupta notes that Mazumdar "was difficult to work with, and he suffered from inflexibility in his views and positions" 18. The Naxalites widely use the tactics of "individual terror", that is, the abduction and elimination of individuals. This type of terrorism is considered by them as an important element of the guerrilla struggle and a means to overcome the "economic domination of the class enemy".

Radical leftists, including the Naxalites, actively use the mass media to promote their ideas. By the end of the 1970s, the number of printed publications reached 200.19

page 33

The main press organs of the Naxalites were the newspapers Deshabrati (in Bengali) and Liberation. In one of his articles published in Liberation entitled "A few Words about guerrilla Warfare", Mazumdar considered terror as "the highest form of class struggle". This " printed work "is rightly called the" guide for murderers", because it gives detailed instructions on the preparation and conduct of terrorist attacks. "He who has not sprinkled the blood of his class enemies on his hands," wrote the head of the Naxalites, "can hardly be called a communist." 20

Mazumdar considered the use of bladed weapons to be most preferable, as they require physical contact with the victim and thus increase "revolutionary hatred of exploiters." Firearms, he believed, held back the revolutionary initiative.

The Naxalites 'terrorist actions are directed not only against large landowners, i.e. "class enemies", but also against communists, who, according to the extremists, make deals with state bodies and pro-government parties, as well as activists of other parties, government officials and police officers. Police stations are often attacked by Naxalites.

Trying to influence the mood of young people, back in the 60s of the XX century. The Naxalites began to organize various actions in educational institutions. By analogy with the" cultural revolution "in China, similar" activities " of the Naxalites in India received the same name. The Naxalite "cultural revolution", which was launched by radical students and schoolchildren, was expressed in attacks on educational institutions and their destruction, the destruction of images of national heroes and prominent cultural figures, as well as in the boycott of exams. Interestingly, aristocratic schools where teaching was conducted in English were not attacked.

An important part of the Naxalite tactics is the creation of so-called "revolutionary bases", most of which are located in remote mountain or forest areas, or on the borders between states. This geographical distribution is due to the fact that the work of the police is most difficult in rough terrain. In addition, its effectiveness is reduced due to poor coordination of the actions of the law enforcement agencies of neighboring states.

Meanwhile, the number of militants is growing. Only one of the Naxalite factions-the People's War group (GNV), created in 1980, has about 3 thousand "underground workers" and 3 - 4 thousand. Sympathizers 21. The goal of the HNV is to move the "front line" from rural areas to urban areas.

As for the Naxalite weapons, in the last decade they have been actively updated and meet the requirements of a "modern insurgency", whether Asian, African or Latin American. If back in the late 1990s, the Naxalite arsenal was dominated by single-shot rifles produced at underground enterprises in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, now many Naxalites are owners of the most popular weapon among the "self - respecting" rebels-the Kalashnikov assault rifle. The movement has reliable channels for transferring weapons and explosives from abroad. And the creation of the" red corridor "(or, as it is also called, the" compact revolutionary zone"), which begins in Nepal and runs through Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, should ensure the unhindered transportation of weapons and other goods across the border, the relocation of Naxalite units and the basing of detachments in the forests of central India. According to some estimates, the creation of the "corridor" is completed by 75%, according to others-by 60% .22 Some action movies-on-

Figure 1. Dynamics of Naxalite terrorist activity (1990-2007)

Sources: Singh P. The Naxalite Movement in India. New Delhi, 2006, p. 164, 299; Ministry of Home Affairs, Annual Report, 2006 - 2007. New Delhi, 2007; Ministry of Home Affairs, Annual Report, 2007 - 2008. New Delhi, 2008.

page 34

Xaliths were trained in foreign terrorist training camps, including at the bases of the Tamil rebel movement-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, where they were mainly trained in mine demolition.


The number of Naxalite victims is estimated in the thousands. The peak of Naxalite terrorism occurred at the beginning of the 70s of the XX century. - the period when the leader of the movement was Ch. Mazumdar. In 1971, the Naxalites carried out more than 3,650 terrorist attacks and killed 850 "class enemies" (landowners, loan sharks, police informants and activists of other parties).23. However, the movement did not weaken its terrorist activities in the following years (see Figure 1).

The number of regions where the Naxalites ' influence is growing is constantly growing: in 2003, they controlled 55 districts in 9 states; in 2004, they controlled 156 districts in 13 states24. At the beginning of 2007, naxalism was already widespread in 162 districts in 14 states25 (see Table 1).

Table 1

Number of areas under the influence or control of the Naxalites (2007)

State name

Number of affected areas

Number of controlled areas

Andhra Pradesh









West Bengal









Madhya Pradesh









Tamil Nadu



Uttar Pradesh















Источник: Ramana P.V. Spreading Naxalism Napping Government // Indian Defense Review, Vol. (22)1, Jan.-March 2007.

The number of Naxalites in the country is quite high and is constantly growing. If in 1979 there were about 15 thousand people in India. If there are 26 activists of the movement, then by 2005 the number of militants who are constantly ready to participate in the armed struggle reached 23 thousand. 27

Thus, the Naxalite movement, which began as a peasant movement for socio-economic reforms, under the influence of Maoism, left-wing radicalism and extremism, transformed into a militant organization that poses a threat to the security of both ordinary citizens and representatives of the ruling elite. The goals and objectives proclaimed by him predestined the movement to receive mass popular support, and the orientation towards armed methods of struggle-to turn into a terrorist organization based on the poorest segments of the population. Most likely, the small number of active participants in the movement and their dispersion in remote areas of the country will not allow the Naxalites to turn into a factor threatening the existence of the regime. At the same time, the intensity of their terrorist activities suggests that they represent a serious destabilizing political force.

1 New York Times, 29.05.2010.

2 Cit. by: Hindustan Times, 05.10.2007.

3 Cit. по: Reddy M.S. A Political Approach to the Left Problem - in: The Naxal Challenge. Causes, Linkages, and Policy Options. New Delhi, 2008, p. 40 - 41.

Banerjee S. 4 In the Wake of Naxalbari. A History of the Naxalite Movement in India. Calcutta, 1980, p. 18.

Singh P. 5 The Naxalite Movement in India. New Delhi, 2006, p. 230.

Singh P. 6 Op. at, p. 232.

Dasgupta B. 7 The Naxalite Movement. Bombay, 1975, p. 211.

Louis P. 8 The Naxalite Movement in Central Bihar. New Delhi, 2002, p. 259.

9 Cit. by: Gandhi I. Sharing with the Have-Nots // Years of Endeavour. Selected Speeches of Indira Gandhi. August 1969 - August 1972. New Delhi, 1975, p. 359.

Kotovsky G. G. 10 Land Reform in India in the 50s-60s and the problem of limiting private land use - in: India: Society, Power, Reforms: In Memory of G. G. Kotovsky, Moscow, 2003, p. 239.

Malaviya H.D. 11 Implementation of Land Reforms: A Review and Immediate Programme. A Memorandum Submitted to the 73rd Session of the Indian National Congress at Bombay, Dec. 26 - 29, 1969. Delhi, 1969, p. 44.

12 Cit. by: Liberation. Kerala, 1970, N 4.

Sen Gupta B. 13 Communism in Indian Politics. New Delhi, 1978, p. 401.

14 Stateman. Kolkata, 24.09.1990.

15 Ministry of Home Affairs, Annual Report, 2004 - 2005. New Delhi, 2005, p. 44.

Mallika J. 16 Left Extremism in India: From Red Corridor to Red Land - in: Armed Conflicts and Peace in South Asia. New Delhi, 2006, p. 72.

17 Liberation, 1970, N 4.

Dasgupta B. 18 Op. cit, p. 4.

19 Indian Express. Bombay, 25.07.1979.

Mazumdar C. 20 A few words about guerilla actions // Liberation, 1970, N 4.

21 Ibid., p. 69.

Singh K.P. 22 The Trajectory of the Movement - in: The Naxal Challenge. Causes, Linkages, and Policy Options. New Delhi, 2008, p. 16.

Singh K.P. 23 Op. cit., 2008, p. 11.

Jha S.K. 24 Political Bases and Dimensions - in: The Naxal Challenge. Causes, Linkages, and Policy Options. New Delhi, 2008, p. 67.

Ramana P.V. 25 Spreading Naxalism Napping Government // Indian Defense Review. Vol. (22)1, Jan.-March 2007.

26 Indian Express, 25.07.1979.

Singh K.P. 27 Op. cit., 2008, p. 15.


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