Counter Terrorism Perspectives: CTP

TM: "Indian Counter-Insurgency Operations and COVID-19 Limit Maoist Insurgency"

July 18, 2021


Once considered the biggest internal security challenge for the Indian state, Maoist militants, also known as Naxalites, have witnessed a steady decline over the last decade. The insurgency covered almost all central and eastern Indian states and is often referred to as the “Red Corridor,” but it is now restricted to nearly 90 districts in 11 states, with Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Odisha as major epicenters for the Maoists’ activities. According to an official assessment, incidents of Maoist violence have declined by 70 percent, from 2,258 in 2009 to 665 in 2020. The fatality figures of civilians and security forces have been reduced by an even greater 80 percent from 1,005 in 2010 to 183 in 2020 (Ministry of Home Affairs, March 17).

History of Protracted Conflict

Their steady decline notwithstanding, Maoist militants in India have managed to regularly stage violent attacks against security forces. In early April, Maoists armed with light-weight machine guns and rocket launchers ambushed paramilitary forces along the Sukma-Bijapur border in Chhattisgarh, killing 22 soldiers and injuring 30 others (India Today, April 4). Similarly, on March 23, five District Reserve Guard (DRG) personnel were killed, and 13 others sustained injuries after their vehicle was hit by a Maoist-planted landmine in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district (Indian Express, March 24). One year before the Narayanpur incident, on March 21, 2020, 17 security personnel and 23 Maoists were killed in a major encounter in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh (Hindustan Times, September 12, 2020). This sporadic violence suggests that the Maoists are seeking to maintain their dominance in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, which is one of the group’s few remaining strongholds.

What started in 1967 as a small peasant and tribal rebellion from the remote Naxalbari village of Darjeeling district, West Bengal, the Maoist insurgency has mutated into a violent anti-India movement over the years. Initially, the activity centered around impoverished parts of central and eastern India, including West Bengal, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh states. Soon this movement organized as the Communist Party of India–Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML) and adopted various violent tactics, including guerrilla war and fueling peasant unrest against landlords and ultimately the government. The whole movement was inspired by the revolutionary ideals and agenda of Mao Zedong, the Chinese communist revolutionary and founding father of the People’s Republic of China (Hindustan Times, May 28, 2017). Other Communist and Marxist ideologues, of course, also inspired the movement in India, such as Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Lin Biao and CPI-ML founding father Charu Majumdar, a sculpture of whom can be still found in Naxalbari.

For the Complete Article, Read, "Indian Counter-Insurgency Operations and COVID-19 Limit Maoist Insurgency," Terrorism Monitor, (Jamestown Foundation), Volume XIX (14), July 16, 2021