Most of us are an urban lot. We watch what the news feeds us with and conclude along the similar lines about such an issue. We often are devoid of thinking critically about such incidents because for us common folk, it is always about good vs right, there is no middle ground as we are not habitual of thinking in shades of gray. We pay our taxes, we protest, we vote and we are content with what is expected to be the role of an educated and informed individual.(Naxal movement explained)

This time, however, let’s make a small change in this routine. We must pledge to not just protest this time, but rather to educate ourselves about the Naxal movement troubling the southeast portion of India also known as Red corridor. If you can simply understand the issue then, believe me, you are among the 10% of our demographic who have achieved the necessary awareness. This frankly, is something to be proud of in a country of 1.5 billion people!

The Naxals are a people from the left radical communist ideology. Simply put, they are not merely a group of brainwashed foot-soldiers or terrorists for that matter, but essentially, are opposed to the democratic model of development the rest of the country follows.

naxal movement explained
India map showing Red Corridor, a region in the east of India that experiences considerable Naxalite–Maoist insurgency

Now, why is there such a violent conflict of ideas?

You have to understand that these people dwell in states with worst levels of human development indicators: social, economic and political. Thus, they are under-developed, under-funded and under-represented on the local, state and national level. This coupled with rampant corruption and mismanagement by previous governments has resulted in the famous Lal Salam movement i.e. their distrust and isolation has grown to such levels that they no longer co-operate with the government machinery that runs The Republic of India. They don’t search for employment, don’t avail welfare schemes, don’t vote and finally, don’t contest any elections. What is worse is, in the past, they have collided with law-enforcement on countless violent incident resulting in losses on both sides.

Recently, however (past half a decade), the government has paid genuine attention to their problems by adopting a model for the rapid development of necessary social infrastructure (mostly, rail and road networks and schools) in their area, so that they are exposed to visible countless benefits that they can avail by cooperating with the government rather than the alternatives of their fragile system, which only gives them a stagnated growth and is already showing signs of crack.

However, few members among them who are more literate, daring and willing to take the mantle of leadership, have established a self-styled system of their own in their community i.e. their own culture, own economy own constitution and finally, their own army. Since these leaders arise from their own community and similar background, villagers are more likely to trust them than the government. All this has made their community an echo-chamber of communist and anti-establishment ideas and this is why even the younger generation does not tread on the path of inclusion in our world.

Yet, even they have managed to survive and in some cases even thrive. How do you ask? They have mainly two modes of survival: Land and Loot. Their land constitutes a vast and dense network of the forest resources. This is where they dwell, eat, sleep and rebel. What they lack in their surroundings, they make up for in loot (weapons, food and ) plus similar activities such as illegal smuggling. They are specifically against the privatization of this very land that they hold dear. From the illegal mining Mafia to industrial construction, crony capitalism is essentially their bone of contention with the government.

Now, where they go wrong is, few leaders at top of their community have highly ambitious ideas i.e. they wish for the communist ideology to reach a wider audience and thus to slowly but surely move towards independence of their whole state from the Republic of India by violent measures. Thus, they oppose any sort of development which is even if spearheaded by the government itself seems as an attack on their way of life.

In such a dilemma, the government in turn, as a short term solution, stations our first line of defense i.e. CRPF near the chosen hubs of development. Often this means securing the constructional area and those involved in it and sometimes when this construction overlaps with the Naxalite’s own land then, even hunting them. This had resulted in the massive guerrilla attack of 300 Naxalites that killed 25 of our brave jawans recently. They were tipped off about the location and details (weapons grade and numbers) of CRPF by the local villagers who act on the behest of these separatists. Due to highly complex forest cover (which they know in and out), often a lack of necessary military equipment, inefficient counter-intelligence etc., our soldiers are constantly at a massive disadvantage against these Naxals.

Here are some of the images of guerrilla attack

Now, the big question: why can we not use the Indian Army against these folks?

Simply put, the policy of the government is that at the end of the day, they are a part of India that has had a bad blood and severe mistreatment in the past. They are not foreign agents or acting on behest of any foreign interest groups (barring few exceptions). Hence, they must be a restored people, not a conquered people, such that any strategy to bring them back into the fold does not result in any event similar to that of a genocide or ethnic cleansing because that can easily sow seeds for future home-grown terrorism.

This policy, however clearly needs change and in the coming days, we shall see how both the central and state government respond.

I hope that you most definitely feel more galvanized to contribute your bit towards this issue and a whole lot more content that, unlike other times we did not simply watch the world go by and actually informed ourselves about the nitty-gritty of the situation.

Thank You For Reading.