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Naxalism is an instance of left-wing terrorism, severely or slightly affecting almost 9 out of total 28 states of India, and is an acknowledged potential threat for internal peace and security of this country[1]. It all started with the communist political and economic thought put forward by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels[2] in the later half of the nineteenth century; after which a plethora of variegated forms of communism or socialism including left-wing extremism started to spurt regionally and geographically all over the globe. The term Naxalism or Naxal or Naxalvadi is intrinsic to the country of India however it heavily borrows its ideology from Maoism, a form of Marxism-Leninism developed by Mao Tse Tung or Mao-Zedong, the person responsible for anti-capitalist revolutionary regime specific to China, which means that the modus operandi of Naxals or Maoists includes glorifying violence and capturing State power through armed insurrections or guerrilla warfare. The Maoist Insurgency Doctrine makes ‘bearing of arms a non-negotiable’ feature of their ideology alongside another tactic which involves mobilizing people over issues of inadequacies of the existing system thus making them firmly believe that violence is the only possible recourse to redress their problems[3].


The roots of Naxalism in India dates back to the year of 1925 with the establishment of Communist Party of India. Multiple uprisings particularly characterised by peasant movements against the atrocities of the landlords, like the Tebhaga movement[4], gave an impetus to a firm establishment of left-wing extremism in the eastern states of India. And finally the year of 1967 witnessed the Naxalbari incident, in a small village of West Bengal, under the leadership of Charu Mazumdar yet again characterised by the peasantry presenting a united front against the Zamindars. The pinnacle of Naxalism in India is the Communist Party of India (Maoist) (hereinafter referred to as CPI (M)) formed in 2004 by an amalgamation of various small fragments like People War, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and Maoist Communist Centre of India[5], which religiously comply with the policies of left-wing extremism; and almost all such organisations of the front including CPI (M) is banned by the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of 1967. Interestingly, CPI (M) has established itself in an elaborate hierarchal structure percolating over the central, state, divisional and regional levels, which forms a major reason why the naxal network is so durable, almost impossible to infiltrate and receives support from the local regional and tribal population of eastern states of India like Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, etc.


Amidst other conspicuous political, economic and social reasons that one could think of, it is to be noted that the tribal population is the biggest supporter of Naxal regime and there is only one reason that can be attributed for the same, a sense of security and a feeling of having a voice of one’s own, though false yet existing. Owing to their adept knowledge of the terrain, the naxals are often the first ones to offer a lending ear to the hue and cry of the tribal population whenever the latter feels that the government has done or is doing something wrong to them, especially in cases where tribal individuals get killed in cross-firings or they are asked to relocate themselves because of economic interests of the government in the former’s lands. Sadly, the exploitation still exists even when the tribal communities side with the naxals though the intensity of exploitation can differ. Also, it no more remains a matter of choice between the government and the naxals when the tribal community do not have some or any connection to the legally established rule of administration and all they know is the naxals governing them.

Lack of political will of different State governments is yet another reason for persistent naxal interference. It is observed that governments come and go yet the issue persists, other than blaming and claiming that the present government has outperformed the previous governments in curbing Naxalism in India, there haven’t been many instances of pro-active steps being taken to tackle this situation once and for all. A major side-effect of adopting a long term solution plan rather than short term solutions is that the naxalite fragments get enough time to consolidate their plans, organise their hold more strategically and discover more stealthy locations and pockets for escape.


  • A Dialogue: the fact that the naxalites are being betrayed more often than not because of certain outstanding government policies and also that they are running out of contemporary weaponry, forces us to ponder that a suitable time for setting up a dialogue between the government and the naxals is not far from sight. Favourable terms and conditions can be decided upon after suitable negotiations.
  • A Representative from Amongst Them: the longest problem of improper administration can be solved when the naxalites are given a chance of electing from their own. Elaborate hierarchal structure and governance is nothing new to the naxalites and what can be better than incorporating them formally along the democratic lines of our country.
  • Providing Economical Encouragement to the Tribal Communities: A feasible solution for inclination of the tribal community towards the naxalites can include providing the tribal people with a much higher level of economic and political security as compared to what the naxalites have to offer. In this way, a major chunk of naxalite strength can be displaced along with reduced exploitation.  
  • Locally-guided Scrutiny of Naxalite Movement: It is common observation that naxalite attacks are seasonal uprisings. Since the naxals restrict themselves to forest covered areas, the nature does not always plays out in their favour and they have to limit their revolts as and when permitted by nature. The local population understands these restrictions easily and can help in scrutinizing a pattern inherent to these Maoist uprisings. Projects like Salwa Judum were executed on similar lines where an anti-naxalite militia comprising of young tribal population was mobilised but it lead to undesirable consequences. Such old and obsolete tactics which failed due to improper execution can be certainly moderated and implemented.


While the eastern states of India suffer severely from left wing extremism, both the central and the state governments realise that it is a deep rooted problem which forces families to flee their homes. A series of steps taken by the government in the last decade have turned out to be effective, yet more has to be done in order to curb the seasonal uprisings. Urbanisation through setting up of mobile towers and development of roads in the affected region seems like a feasible solution only until no more CRPF Jawans are killed while guarding the construction sites.

“An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind” as rightly said by Mahatma Gandhi; it is to be noted that the most possible recourse for the previous governments was to challenge the armed naxals physically, however this strategy has failed over time because of the vast expansion and minute perforation of the naxals in the specific difficult terrain. Therefore fighting the extremism with brain power rather than muscle power can be a better approach towards cracking the naxalite movement in India.

Author’s Name: Somya Singh (NMIMS Bengaluru)

[1] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Naxalism-biggest-threat-to-internal-security-Manmohan/article16302952.ece

[2] Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1858

[3] https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/LWE_FAQS_22012016.pdf

[4] http://www.cusb.ac.in/images/cusb-files/2020/el/his/01MAHIS4003C_04_History_of_Resistance_MA_History_Sem4.pdf

[5] Link (n 3)

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