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#4187, 22 November 2013
Naxal Violence: Is the CPI (Maoist) Fading?
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Officer, IReS, IPCS
Email: deepak@ipcs.org

The CPI (Maoist), in its endeavour to increase its cadre strength, is now inviting police personnel to join their cadre. The Jharkhand police have recovered posters from several places in which the Maoists have appealed to the police, especially constables,to join their outfit and desert the police. The posters read, "Policemen keep away from the green hunt and try to be friends of poor. Police jawan, do not obey orders of the senior officials, instead join the people's army.''(The Times of India, 10 October 2013). The Maoists have also begun to distribute pamphlets and put up posters in the interiors of the Maoist affected districts of other states to ask people to join their organisation.

Does the clarion call of the CPI (Maoist) to join them indicate that the strength of the organisation is waning? Or is this admission just a deception for rejuvenation?
The killing of Cherikuri Rajkumar aka Azad in July 2010, Mallojula Koteswara Rao aka Kishenji in November 2011, and the arrest of senior leaders like Kobad Ghandy, Amitabh Bagchi and Saheb Chatterjee, has weakened the organisation over the past four years. In order to revitalise the Naxal Movement in the country, Muppalla Lakshmana Rao aka Ganapathy, the CPI (Maoist) general secretary, called on his comrades to free the Maoist leaders in custody through any legal or illegal means.

Since their inception, the CPI (Maoist) admitted for the first time that they were facing a cadre crunch. Even while celebrating the ninth anniversary of their foundation day and the merger of the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCC) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People's War to form CPI (Maoist), the Maoists further revealed that their mass base, fighting abilities of their People's Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA), and recruitment had all taken a significant hit. They admitted that the number of cadres deserting the party had also increased. An 11-page document prepared by the Maoists after their central committee meeting earlier this year stated, "Under the present conditions our country-wide movement is weakened and facing a critical situation."

Numerically speaking, of the 16 members of the party’s politburo of 2007, two have been killed, and seven others have been arrested and are in jail. And of the 25 central committee members, twelve have been neutralised (eight in custody, two killed, one dead and one surrendered). The loss of important leaders has definitely caused a setback to the movement. It is also a fact that the PLGA strength is by and large still intact.A Home Ministry report states that the Maoists are paying attention to preserving their core leadership, the 13-member Central Committee, which guides them. The Central Committee leaders of the CPI (Maoist) have been asked to stay inside the Dandakaranya forest which the Home Ministry officials admit is still beyond the reach of security forces.

It would be unwise to see this as an admission of defeat by the Maoists. The CPI (Maoist) is well known for its tactics of deception. The security agencies may be buoyant over the recruitment crunch that the Naxalites are facing, but reality presents a different perspective. While the security agencies are highlighting the depleting strength of Naxal dalams in the forests, a half yearly review of the Naxal movement by this author indicates that there a progressive consolidation of the movement took place during the first half of the year 2013. The review revealed that the first six months of 2013 were marked by Maoist resurgence through recruitments, holding of training camps, new geographical spread, and change of tactics in their approach.

Over the past four years, a decline in the number of Maoist affected districts has been noted. Also, the Maoists have had to face defeat in several of the newer ‘extension’ areas. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in October 2013 acknowledged that Naxalism has been on the decline since 2010, and claimed that the past year has seen a 28.48 percent reduction in violent incidents of Naxalism.“The number of incidents has declined from 2213 (with 1005 fatalities) in 2010 to 1415 incidents (with 415 fatalities) in 2012. In the current year (till 30 August 2013), there has been a 27.48 per cent reduction in number of incidents (with 14.10 per cent reduction in fatalities) in comparison to the corresponding period of 2012,” he added.

Despite these admitted defeats, reports of Maoists exerting efforts to set up bases in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been revealed by intelligence agencies.The Maoists, who are still India’s greatest internal security threat, have off-late intensified their operations in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and some areas of West Bengal, in their effort to rejuvenate the movement. Incidents like those in Latehar and Dumka districts of Jharkhand, Gaya district of Bihar, Darbha valley in Sukma district, Chhattisgarh and Koraput district, Odisha, somewhat indicate that future face-offs between the Maoists and the security forces will maintain the status quo.

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