Maoist Insurgency Still Simmers in Modi’s India
In an email
interview, P.V. Ramana, a research fellow at the Institute for Defence
Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, discussed the insurgency of Maoist
groups, also known as Naxalites, and the Modi administration’s response.
WPR: What is the current status of the Naxalite insurgency in India?
P.V. Ramana: The Communist Party of India (Maoist) was banned in 2009
under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967. The Maoist
insurgents have a presence to varying degree—intense to negligible—in
182 districts across 20 states. However, of the 182 districts where they
have a presence, only 76 districts have witnessed violence. The states
of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha account for an overwhelming
majority of the violence committed by the Maoist insurgents.....
WPR: What is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy toward the
Maoists and does it represent a shift from that of the previous
Ramana: According to Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren
Rijiju*, “the government believes a combination of calibrated police
action, focused developmental efforts and improvement in governance are
effective instrumentalities” in dealing with the Maoist insurgency.
Prime Minister Modi himself asked the Maoists to shun the path of
violence and join the national mainstream. During his Independence Day
address on Aug. 15, Modi called upon “misguided youth who had taken to
terrorism or Maoism to give up violence and return to the national
mainstream.” Before his election as prime minister, Modi said at an
election rally, “Don’t arm the gullible youth with guns . . . Instead,
pick up the plough and distribute it among youngsters for you need to
feed scores of people who sleep hungry in this country. Also ensure the
youth picks up the pen as only education can lead to progress and
development in the villages.
WPR: Does the election of Modi change the Maoists’ view of the Indian
government and are the Maoists likely to adapt their insurgency in
light of the new administration?
Ramana: The Maoists have consistently held that elections are a sham
and have never participated in any election at any level of government.
Their avowed objective is the armed seizure of political power. These
twin aspects of their ideology have never changed and will never change
irrespective of which political party heads the government. The Maoists
are quick to adapt their strategy and tactics depending upon the
government’s policies and actions. Presently, they are adopting a
wait-and-see strategy before planning their next moves. Hence, there is a
certain stalemate in the insurgency and counterinsurgency operations.