“It would not be an exaggeration to say that the problem of Naxalism is the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country” – Dr. Manmohan Singh, Indian PM
Internal security of India is in disarray. Insurgencies in India are gaining momentum, making things worse for the Indian government. India is facing serious insurgencies in the Northeast, Kashmir and other parts. Northeastern India consists of 7 states: Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland. More than 30 armed groups are continuously challenging the Indian government’s writ in these areas. The insurgency which started in the northern part of West Bengal has now spread to Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The Indian government has been failed to overcome this issue. Hundreds of people have lost their lives in this insurgency, but still there is no end to this uprising. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) more than 1,897 people have lost their lives in northeast India in last two years. These numbers are alarming for India.
Lack of Political dispensation, health facilities, schools, hospitals, electricity, roads, communication, injustice, inequality and basic necessities compelled tribal people of these areas to revolt against the largest democracy in the world. Some groups in these areas want a separate state, and others want total independence from India. Both these demands have never been considered by the Indian government. Despite a huge army and paramilitary force India is unable to defeat insurgency in northeast India.
The most violent insurgency is going on in the Eastern part of India. The Maoist Naxal insurgency is controlling a large area in the East of India. Naxalite insurgency is based on communist principles on which the movement was founded. Fighting for land reform, the rebels gained support from the impoverished rural populations of Eastern and Central India. They are undeniable force. This is considered to be the most dangerous internal security threat for India.
The communist party of India (CPI) Maoist was formed on September 21, 2004, with the merger of two prominent Naxalite outfits, the People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC). According to the Indian Home Ministry’s estimation, they have 9,300 hardcore underground cadre and they hold around 6,500 regular weapons besides a large number of unlicensed country-made arms. The Naxalite infrastructure includes sophisticated weapons such as Kalshanikov rifles and Claymore landmines, modern wireless equipment and electronic gadgets. It has also been assessed that the Naxalites’ sphere of influence has spread in the past year and a half from 76 districts across nine States to 118 districts in 12 States. Maoist’s movement has widened to nearly 40% of the country’s geographical area. Naxalites control almost 92,000 square kilometers of the country.
The Indian PM last year stated that the country was losing the battle against Maoist rebels. With a body count last year of nearly 600 civilians and 300 security personnel killed in areas dominated by the Naxal terrorists. This rise in violence is source of concern for India. Indian security forces are unable to control this insurgency which is posing severe security threat to India.
The Maoist related violent activities resulted in 998 deaths in 2009. They are in possession of more area than in the past. According to Indian Home Minister Chidambaram, 223 Districts across 20 States, out of a total of 636 Districts in 28 States and 7 Union Territories, are variously afflicted by Maoist activities. This is a grave internal security threat to India. It would be difficult for India to overcome this threat in the near future. The spreading out of Maoist networks and the attune expansion of their violence reflect a significant strategic failure for the Indian security forces.
The greatest concentration of Naxalite-sponsored violence has been in the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand Orissa and Bihar, in the Eastern part of the country. These regions are all key sources of mineral and energy resources. A significant part of India’s coal, considered vital to both energy and steel production, is located in the five states with the greatest Naxalite presence, posing a serious challenge to the industrial development in India. Most affected states by the Naxalite insurgency are West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. These areas contain 85% of India’s coal reserves.
These states have presented insurgents with an opportunity both to strike at the heart of national interests and to seek economic profit of their own. In such conditions rebels in these areas can easily generate huge amount of funds for their struggle against Indian Government. According to Indian Home Secretary G. K. Pillai, the Maoist insurgents extort 14 billon Indian rupees (more than $300 million) each year. By brandishing the threat of violence, the Naxalites make advantageous use of the power vacuum in rural Indian territories. Fees are collected from rural business owners, landowners, and local politicians. Funding is partially redistributed among the military cadres and goes directly toward the purchase of arms and the financing of operations against the state, making things difficult for Indian paramilitary troops.
Naxalite movement is posing severe security challenges to the Indian state. Indian government has been failed miserably to counter Naxalite movement. It has lost hundreds of security personnel in poorly coordinated operations against Maoist. Now Indian government has decided to bring army in, because its police and other paramilitary forces are unable to counter the Maoist insurgency. There are two major reasons of the Indian security force’s failure in operations against Maoists; first India has limited human intelligence available in the Maoist dominated areas, secondly its paramilitary troops are not aware of the jungle warfare and thirdly Indian security forces does not enjoy the support of the local people.
After lots of failures and huge set backs by the poorly trained and equipped paramilitary troops now there are reports that Indian government has decided to deploy Indian army in these areas. Almost up to five divisions of the Indian Army will be deployed in the insurgency affected areas to dismantle their network and clear the area from Maoist rebels. After the deployment of such force it is expected that there will be increase in the violence. Civilian and military casualties will increase. Indian army will be overstretched because it has already deployed a major chunk of its forces in Jammu and Kashmir, along the border with Pakistan, China and other neighbouring countries.
Indian Maoists holds and area of 92,000 sq km. They are in almost total control of these areas. To curb this insurgency in such a vast area India has deployed almost 50,000 of its poorly equipped and demoralized paramilitary troops. On other side of the border, Pakistan has deployed almost one hundred and fifty thousand (1, 50,000) troops in FATA to cover almost twenty-seven thousand, two hundred and twenty (27,220 km) area. In addition to that, Pakistan military has also carried out successful operations against militants in Swat, South Waziristan, Orakzai, Bajaur and other volatile agencies. But India has been miserably failed in its efforts to root out insurgency from Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
According to for Strategic and International Studies- (CSIS) estimates the Maoist movement has strengthened their militia which is comprises up to 40,000 permanent armed cadres and 100,000 additional militia members. Such a huge level of insurgency can never be tackled with meager 50,000 paramilitary troops. Indian paramilitary troop’s failure is evident from their performance in the recent past. In an attack, the Maoist rebels killed 76 paramilitary troops in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. This was the most ferocious attack on Indian paramilitary troops by the Maoist. This attack shows capability, credibility and reach of the Maoist group and weaknesses of the Indian paramilitary force. Other important factor is public support/opinion, which played an important role in the success of Pakistan army against militants in Pakistani tribal areas. Such public support is elusive in Indian areas controlled by the Maoists rebels. Tribal people of these areas widely support the rebels and provide intelligence to the Maoists against Indian paramilitary troops. Freedom struggle in Kashmir is also a source of concern for the Indian government. Indian government is unable to control the recent uprising in Kashmir. Almost whole India is sitting on a time bomb of freedom struggles and insurgencies. Indian dream of a regional power will be shattered. Internal subversions will compel India to accept the right of self determination and freedom of Nexalites and Kashmiris.
About: Mr. Masood-Ur-Rehman Khattak
Mr. Masood-Ur-Rehman Khattak is working at the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) Islamabad as Research Fellow. He did his M.Phil in Defence and Strategic Studies from Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad. His major research areas are Nuclear Deterrence in South Asia, Terrorism, Non-Proliferation issues, FATA, Afghanistan and Regional Security issues. Mr. Khattak is author of a book, US War on Terrorism: Implications for Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has been published by German Publishers, Lap Lambert Academic Publishing on 31st August, 2010. Mr. Khattak has also written a Research Paper on “Indian Military’s Cold Start Doctrine: Capabilities, Limitations and Possible Response from Pakistan” – 2011, published by SASSI. He has organised/presented in scores of international conferences/workshops.
Email: [email protected]