Saturday, October 08, 2005

Maoist Alert in India

I argued on October 1, 2005 that the Maoist insurrection in Nepal posed a security threat to India. I highlighted the lack of judicial responsiveness to Dalit issues in another posting dated October 4. The inability of the state to address the persistent pockets of poverty in scheduled caste and scheduled tribe areas, and the continued marginalization of these segments of the population have fuelled an incipient Maoist insurrection in India. This can spiral out of control if unaddressed.

There is an urgent need for development programs targeted at the disenfranchised and impoverished. A concerted mopping-up operation is needed to restore law and order. Police excesses, quite rampant during the earlier state administration in Andhra Pradesh, need to be reined in.

The hi-tech focus of the previous administration of Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh had ignored the drought prone areas of Telengana. Telengana had been earlier subject to misadministration under the Nizams unlike Andhra proper that was part of the "Madras Presidency". Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Telengana suffer from geographical remoteness, lack of access to capital, inadequate integration into the broader economy and leakages in public welfare transfers. This is a problem confronted by other remote areas in the world such as Gansu in China and the Mezzogiorno in Italy. An initial solution would be targeted subsidies i.e. seed capital, public works, health care and more importantly an education to give the population the tools to move out.

The Maoists call for an independent communist republic that includes the predominantly tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Orissa. It is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 armed Maoist insurgents in India today. Some sources assert that the rebels raise between US$ 3 to US$10 million a year in extortion.

There are three strands to Indian Maoism i.e. the (i) People's War Group (PWG) in Andhra Pradesh; (ii) Communist Party of India - Maoist (CPI-Maoist) in Bihar; and (iii) Maoist Communist Center (MCC) in Bihar. The PWG was formed in 1980. It merged with the CPI-Maoists in 1998 and coordinates efforts with the MCC. The Maoists staged a daring attack on the motorcade of the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in October 2003. He narrowly escaped death. The current Congress-led administration in Andhra Pradesh made peace overtures to the Maoists in 2004. This failed to deliver results and might have even detracted from ongoing security operations.

The Maoists killed 250 persons in Andhra Pradesh this year. This included the death of 10 officials in a land mine blast in August, 2005. A state legislator lost his life in the attack. A land-mine blast attributed to the Maoists led to the death of 24 policemen in Chhattisgarh in September, 2005. 13 civilians were also killed in a remote village in Jharkhand that month. The Maoists killed 12 paramilitary soldiers in a mine blast in Jharkhand today. While these still represent sporadic incidents of violence, attention to the pressing development issues and threats to domestic security highlighted by the insurrection need to be addressed at the earliest.

1 comment:

Afzal said...

Relevant alert that is overlooked by the press as a mere police issue in the boonies. This needs greater coverage. There has been too much emphasis on Islamic fundamentalism leaving out other violent movements.

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