An Overview of Maoist Insurgency in India

India is fighting with the Maoist insurgency for a long time ago. But it is not over yet. Recent events have made it important again. Maoist insurgents have killed 22 security forces this year. The Maoists have been active for a long time because of their legitimate demands which are gotten support from local people also party structure, attrition style, recruitment process, and funding. The government also took a few initiatives. Some of them are successful. But there are few challenges also. In this article, those topics will be covered elaborately.



India is the largest democratic country in the world with 120 million people. Elected a national leader through mass people’s vote, which is a great sign for any democratic country & in India, almost 80 million people gave their vote to elect the national leader which is the highest in the world. But, the interesting fact is the largest democratic country India is still engaged with leftist insurgency groups. From 1967 to still today, almost 54 years Maoist insurgent group is still active. On 4th April Maoists killed 22 security forces, which is one of the bloodiest attacks this year.
Maoist is believed in far-leftist politics, where the Indian government believed in rightist politics. The Maoist insurgent group exists in 20 states within 29 states according to the ‘Red Corridor’2 map of the Indian government. They mostly exist in rural areas. They are mixed with local people. And their statement is, state try to make big industry or company on those areas. The state stole local people’s land for sake of that. Their fight against the state to protect their land. And ideologically they are believed in Maoist ideology. Where the Indian government is a democratic country and democratically privatization helped a country for its development on the other hand leftist party are fight in the rural area to cut all the development of government and protest against any privatization process, with this argument that state behave is imperialist behavior.


In this article, I will broadly discuss the Maoist insurgent group. How they born, their party structure, recruitment process, attacking style, their support bases, which weaponry they used? Through these questions, I’ll try to find out how they make themselves the greatest security threat in India?
Then I’ll discuss a few government strategies and evaluate some of the strategies. And at the end, I’ll discuss the solution.


In 1967 a political party was established to protect the land of tribal people from private companies & government. This party’s name is the Communist Party of India (CPI). Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, and also few other people together made this party. It was established in a village in West Bengal, which name is ‘Naxalbari’. These organization’s rebel groups are also called by this village named ‘Naxalist’, who is very popular in West Bengal. They believed they defeat the central government through armed revolution. In 54 years many ups and downs have happened but they still exist on the stage. And they still fight against the government in 20 states. Their military organization who are called Maoist insurgents they killed security forces, government officials, political leaders, and landlords, also destroy governmental infrastructure & cut down all development projects. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that ‘Maoist insurgency is the greatest security threat for India’. Indian national governments still fight with this insurgent group and the government takes many long-term initiatives to suppress the insurgent group. In the recent few years, the Indian security force death rate is lower than the Maoist insurgent group. It is tiny progress according to the security perspective. Because in previous time Indian security forces death rate was higher than Maoist insurgent group.
Now the question is why this conflict is still going on? First of all geographic advantages is the key point. Moist insurgent groups are sheltered in rural areas, where no significant development approach was not possible yet because of the state capacity. Now in those areas the conflict between the state and that insurgent groups for inequality, underdevelopment, land acquisition, etc. This is another key point, why conflict is still going on between states and the insurgent groups. To talk about all these things, they get the cooperation of the general public. And now it seems like it’s a never-ending conflict because of those groups’ strong organizational structure, which is also got well support by civil people.
Why those rebel groups are supported by local people? Because those rural areas people believe that, they are deprived by government. Some private company is forcefully graved their land with the help of the government. And sometimes local people are tortured by the security forces. Those are the key reasons why rebel groups are supported by local people. Because according to those leftist insurgent group’s demands, they are also fighting for those causes in the long term. There are many illegal ways to recruit local people in the rebel groups, but it also keeps in mind, those local people who think they are deprived, and later also joined the insurgent group. Party structure of Maoist group
Moist insurgent groups are spilled from the Communist Party of India (CPI) in 1967. They made a revolution against the government to protect their land. But scholars & the government took them as insurgents after 2004 but their activity always from the beginning. They have their many issue-based organization in a different area. And their organization’s structure was very strong, that’s why they are able to still fight against the government through their army. They don’t take part in the election because they believe the election was not the process to make their right. The process is the arms revolution. Standing committee, politburo committee, and central military commission is the key committee of the higher committee where the decision is taken.
Three major facts are getting high priority in the Maoist group. First of all, party. A strong structured underground organization. Through this organization, they maintain all communication with regional to international levels. Second, Military organization. They have their military force which named is the People Guerilla army (PWA). It is the key organization. Through military organizations, they motivated local people and spread their ideology. The military organization was also active in fighting against government forces and opposition people. The third is the United front. On this front, they linked with other organizations. They have also many issue-based organizations in different areas. They prepare those organizations for armed struggle.
They took shelter in rural areas, they connect with civilians, refers the people’s how government deprived the local people and they collect members from local people. Then they gradually captured the area. In this time they fight against local security forces, they also took armory from the government shell. Their ideological political father Mao Zedong said that ‘States armories are our armories’. And through their action they also proved it. It’s not the only way to collect their weaponry. Weapons also come from other sources also. So, after establishing their strong position in that particular area, then they gradually captured the region.

Recruitment Process

The Maoist insurgent group recruitment process is almost the same as any other insurgent group. Individual greed is the primary element for someone to join that group. And those individuals are not coming from urban society. They came from the rural area, where government development initiative was not still present, where people live in poverty. It is one of the key strategies of the Maoist insurgency group. They targeted the rural areas for their recruiting zone. After recruiting then they gradually go to the urban area. Apart from that people are joined their group for many reasons. Those people who are deprived by the government or tortured by security forces joined the insurgent group to take revenge. Local people’s relatives are somehow connected with insurgent groups. They also inspired other people to join the group. In rural areas, local people supported them greatly because the insurgent group’s demand was highly related to local people’s demand. So local people are worked for insurgent groups are kind of intelligent. Any secret governmental security activity against insurgent groups, this type of news is passed by insurgent groups quickly through local people.

Attacking style

The Maoist insurgent group mainly attacked government security forces and governmental official people. If we see the number of security forces death rate and insurgent death rate in the previous year, it will very clear how insurgent group is dominated in those areas. Thou, recently insurgent death rate is higher than the security forces death rate in recent years because the Indian government increased its security forces in recent years. Maoists are killed many political members at various times. In those attacks civilian death rates also insignificant amount. They also destroy government infrastructure and development initiatives. Because they believed through those development projects government and a private company are made influenced in those areas. Their main attacking strategy was mine bombing. They also attack the police office and armory shell to collect the weapon. Their revolution was mainly divided into three phases-

Guerrilla war (establishment)
Mobile war (intermediary)
Positional war (final stage).

Support bases

The Maoist insurgent group has also strong support bases at the internal and external levels. They have linked with all Maoist insurgent groups in South Asia. The coordination committee of Maoist parties and organization of south Asia (CCMPO) is an organization of Maoist parties in south Asia. This organization’s last meeting was held in Nepal in 2005. Nepal Maoist insurgent group, Bangladesh sorbohara party, and also few other leftist ideological groups are joined in this meeting. They have also linked with Jammu and Kashmir insurgent groups. They also linked with the fundamental Islamist group in South Asia. Funding
Their funding came from mainly extortion for industrial houses, businessmen, landlords, and rich people. There are also related to timber and other natural resource trafficking. This was their main key source of money. They collect tax in their captured area. They collect taxes from private companies, landlords, and rich people. Their funding also came from natural resources like mining. In the late 2000s, their financing reaches 1,500 crores. And their money is mainly used for procuring weaponry & securitization. Weaponry The Maoist insurgent group has strong weaponry. They have their rocket launcher technology. Improved VHF sets and handmade mine triggering devices. Apart from that, they have national armories which are they stole from the government armory shell. They have also various kinds of
weapons which are: AK series assault rifles, 9mm carbines, 7.62 mm SLRs, grenade launchers, mine, etc.

Government Strategy

Previously government took only enemy-centric or people-centric counter-insurgency approaches. Both approaches didn’t work, because a lot of loopholes in those approaches. The later government had taken both these approaches together and it got successful. Here are the few initiatives of the government. These are the few initiatives that are taken by the government.
Panchayat Act (1996) it was the most effective strategy. In this act village, panchayat are given healthcare, education, clean drinking water, pucca house with sanitation facilities, electricity connection, and roads. Forest right act (2006) in this policy illegal forest capture was protected by the central government. Land Acquisition Act (2013) according to this act, companies, and landlords are not able to capture Adivasi’s land illegally. In the rural areas, the government gives legitimate protection of those land. Security-related expenditure Scheme (SRE) in this scheme Indian government modernization their police forces through the weapon, vehicles, and other necessary equipment. The Indian government made 445 police stations in the affected area. Rehabilitation & Surrender policy through this policy Indian government gives 1.5 lacks for any surrender and also gives employment. Deploy Paramilitary forces like COBRA Indian government make specialized paramilitary forces, which are able to tackle any insurgency issue. Development initiative it’s the key strategy of the Indian government. Government makes road, school, hospital in rural areas. The government also took some controversial policies like ‘Salwa judum’.


Now I’ll make few points, where I’ll discuss some challenges of the Indian government.
1. The main challenge is an ideological challenge. Where Indian government is structured by rightist politics on the other hand Maoists believe in radical leftist politics. So there is no way left for the Indian government without defeat insurgents. And completely destroy them is quite impossible.
2. the Second challenge is also an ideological challenge for a democratic country. And it’s a privatization process. The insurgent group is against the privatization process. But without privatization mass development is not possible.
3. Lacking monitored the private company, which are allowed to work in rural areas. As a result, those private companies behave like an imperial government through their capital and power, which makes local people angry.
4. Sometimes the state also behaves like an imperial government. The state has to behave like a state not like a company.
5. But the Indian government’s main challenge is to establish those counter-insurgency policies at the field level. Poor connectivity between the state and central government is the main obstacle in this context.
6. Central have to be Monitored the state-level policy because sometimes state took controversial policies which are against local people.
7. Still Indian government cannot make a proper map in the various rural areas. Without a clear map, it’s not able to identify the insurgent locations.
8. Internal corruption is also a great challenge for the Indian government. In the Red corridor area, many states makes them insurgent affected area, so that they’ll also gain the fund what insurgent affected area got.
9. Insurgents are spreading in another area. Maintain security in the insurgent-affected areas as well as increase security in the neighbor states and border areas. So that insurgents are not able to escape.


Now the most important question is, are those government initiatives enough to suppress the insurgency group. It has to be remembered, Maoist insurgency groups are different from other insurgent group. Their party structure, attacking style & support base make them a unique insurgent group. And they are moving very quickly from one state to another. So, the government has to give priority to all the states. Rehabilitation & surrender policies are very effective in that case. So, this kind of policy needs to raise more. Not only this, awareness should also be raised among the people. At the end of this very brought discussion, it will be understood that all insurgent groups are the same in their aim. It doesn’t matter what is the location. But, one thing is forced away to take sight, which is the largest democratic country still fight with the far-leftist group. One day the government of India will surely be able to suppress the Maoists. But one thing is clear through this discussion, which is, the philosophical line between right and left can never be bridged.



Shantanu Chowdhury 

Master’s student of Peace, Conflict & Human Rights

Bangladesh University of Professionals


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