In early July 2001, Naxalite groups all over
announced the formation of a Coordination Committee of the Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA). This is the first formal international coalition formed; an alliance between Naxalite groups in
had existed earlier. What has raised concern is that the most dreaded Naxalite groups in
, the People’s War Group (PWG) and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), are also part of the newly formed CCPMPOSA.
Of all the Naxalite groups in
, the PWG and MCC have gained prominence due to their ruthlessness, firepower and popular support. Large tracts are virtually under their control where they run a parallel government. Andhra Pradesh is the main area of operation for the PWG, though it is also found in
, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Orissa,
and Kerala. The MCC operates primarily in
The poor implementation of land reforms, misgovernance and ineffective police forces are responsible for the growth of these groups. Therefore, the state governments of Andhra Pradesh and
have initiated various developmental programs, and attempted to modernize their police forces to tackle the Naxal problem more effectively.
The government of Andhra Pradesh has adopted a multi-pronged approach to deal with Naxalite violence. It launched the Janmabhoomi programme aimed at social mobilization and community participation by strengthening village development committees and self help groups. Additionally, through SC Cooperative Corporation, it redistributed the land that had originally been grabbed by the Naxalites for distribution to poor peasants; only a portion of the 20,000 acres of grabbed land had been distributed and the rest was lying fallow. The central government’s national anti-poverty programme, Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojna (SGSY), is also working in tandem with the state governments’ policies to alleviate poverty in the Naxal infected areas. The Andhra Pradesh government has also launched the Andhra Pradesh Tribal Development Project (APTDP) with help from the UN’s International Food and Agriculture Development, and the Dutch Government. It has resulted in setting up 1029 Village Tribal Development Associations (VTDAs), 1231 Self Help Groups (SHGs) and 467 grain banks; the VTDAs, SHGs and grain banks have surpassed their original target, sometimes even four times the target set as for the VTDAs. A positive development is the emergence of many grassroots bodies, including NGOs, that complement the institutions set up.
In Andhra Pradesh, a decade of extremism has resulted in 2077 casualties; only 433 were from the caste structure targeted by the Naxalites. Precisely for this reason, the government views Naxalism as a law and order problem. In addition to banning the outfit, it has formed a 920 strong special Anti-Naxal police force named Grey Hounds, equipped with sophisticated weaponry and specially trained in guerilla warfare. This has led to the arrest of 4264 extremists, with a further 219 killed in encounters. Additionally, the government has initiated programs to lure the Naxalites into the mainstream by offering attractive rehabilitation packages. Since the program started in 1993, 3904 Naxalites have surrendered, and 1072 were rehabilitated at a cost of Rs. 10 crores. These initiatives have borne fruit and have given the government of Andhra Pradesh the hope that the Naxalite problem is coming under control. Areas totally under the control of Naxalites still exist; however, the situation is not as alarming as it was earlier.
In stark contrast, the situation in
is a cause for concern, as various initiatives taken by the government have not yielded the desired result. Worse, in some cases, they have actually benefited the Naxalites; Operation Siddharth, Jawahar Rojgar Yojna and Minimum Needs Programme, aimed at providing relief to the oppressed section and wean them away from providing a support base to Naxalites had just the opposite effect due to misgovernance and bad administration. The police force, too, is ill equipped to meet the challenge. Compounding the problem is the presence of caste armies like the Ranvir Sena, for whom violence is the only language known.
Ideologically, the Naxalites share the same platform. These groups could pose a formidable threat if they came under the same banner. However, this has been proved wrong in the case of
where both the MCC and PWG are present. Despite their shared goals, there is outright animosity between the two groups. An understanding was reached between them to demarcate their areas of operation; its violation has only resulted in violence and death. Under these circumstances, it is unlikely that the newly formed CCPMPOSA would pose any challenge; at best, it can only remain a chat forum between the various groups.