Monday afternoon at 12.30 pm in the jungles of Sukma, rebels of Communist party of India (CPI) commonly known as Naxalites or Maoists, attacked paramilitary troops of 74th battalion of the CRPF. The attack was one of the deadliest in recent Indian history. At Least 26 Indian soldiers lay dead & 7 injured. The battle was so decisive in Maoist favour that they even had time to loot the battlefield for weapons, ammo & gear. It has been reported at least 150 soldiers were present at the site.
Who are these Naxalites/Maoists & what do they want?
They are considered an enigma by different entities, but Former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh explained them the best “deprived and alienated sections of the population” explains the Maoist movement in India.
Most of these rebels are local tribesmen & tribeswomen, known as adivasis. Chhattisgarh is their strongest turf, Sukma district even more so. The Maoist insurgency is spread over what most analysts call, the Red Corridor of India. The Red Corridor consists of states suffering from extreme poverty. Chhattisgarh ranked lowest among other Indian states on Human Development Index in 2011, but on illiteracy was just below the national average. On health, it again ranks among the lowest in India which show the neglect the CPI points towards.
Their main aim is to destroy ‘class enemies’ or in other words capitalists & imperialists, who they blame for their neglect, through protracted armed struggle & self education. It considers Hindu Caste system as social oppression imposed as a subjugation tool against the poor.
CPI have also been opposed to multi-national companies, as most of the land given to them for construction has been bought on cheap prices from local tribes under boots of Indian state.
War isn’t the only weapon CPI uses, communist schools are a must in every major rebel base. When they are not out ambushing Indian state, they are studying marx & lenin in the dense jungles of the Red corridor.
Maoists also provide to the tribal people what Indian state does not, healthcare.
Indian state’s response
The response hasn’t been that of a reconciliation with CPI nor relief to the tribals through
India has resorted to fighting militants, with militants. India has sponsored and unleashed a brutal militia called Salwa Judam (Purification Hunt in Gondi language) or as India calls them “Special Police Officers”, to combat CPI.
Salwa Judam is famous for their human right’s violations & Child Soldiers, who aren’t hard to recruit in poverty stricken states of Red corridor, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Raman Singh said the “Salwa Judum is the answer to get rid of the Naxal menace in the state.”
Salwa Judam went on a rampage against the tribes they suspected of working with CPI. Their properties were robbed, villages looted. Mass kidnappings of tribals took place so they that later they could be concentrated in relief camps. Those who did not comply, found themselves at the end of an axe. This Indian state sponsored brutality has caused the locals to work with CPI. One of CRPF survivor reports that “First Naxalites sent villagers to trace our location, then almost 300 Naxalites attacked us.”
The other response was more “roads in the jungle”, no hospitals, no jobs, rather roads in a
jungle. Indian Army has found it extremely hard to fight on equal ground with CPI without losing huge amount of men. In 2010, more than 70 security personnel were killed in the area in a CPI attack. India can’t use aerial superiority as thick forest limits visibility. But it can transport armor to accompany its troops if it builds a better road network that will facilitate combing the jungle. CPI is well aware of the Indian plan & have been targeting CRPF building these roads, repeatedly.
The 26 CRPF soldiers killed yesterday were posted in Sukma to protect a similar road project & were part of the so called “road opening party”.
India has also launched an “all out offensive” against CPI, Code named ‘Operation Green Hunt’. In which 1885 security personnel & 2571 alleged CPI rebels have been killed. The civilian death toll caused by the offensive stands at 2989. (figures between 2005 & April 16, 2017).
For an army to have this kind of performance is at best a stalemate, not to mention an army with the 5th biggest budget.
The CPI rebels may be weakened by increased Indian firepower in near future, even then the rebellion will be far from over. As Manmohan Singh said, they are products of Indian state oppression & brutality. As long as that remains, the rebellion in the Red Corridor will be alive & thriving. No amount of firepower can end genuine grievances of locals.