Insurgency map as of 2013.
|Commanders and leaders|
Mahendra Karma †
(leader of Salwa Judum)
Brahmeshwar Singh †
(leader of Ranvir Sena)
Sabyasachi Panda (POW)
Prashant Bose (POW)
Yalavarthi Naveen Babu †
Narmada Akka †
Shamsher Singh Sheri †
10,000–20,000 members (2009–2010 estimate)|
10,000–40,000 regular members and 50,000–100,000 militia members (2010 estimate)
6,500–9,500 insurgents (2013 estimate)
|Casualties and losses|
|Since 1997: 2,277–3,440 killed||Since 1997: 3,402–4,041 killed|
Since 1997: 6,035–8,051 civilians killed|
Since 1996: 12,877–14,369 killed overall
|Part of a series on|
|Part of a series on|
The Naxalite–Maoist insurgency is an ongoing conflict between Maoist groups known as Naxalites or Naxals, and the Indian government. The insurgency started after the 2004 formation of the CPI-Maoists – a rebel group consisting of the PWG (People's War Group) and the MCC (Maoist Communist Centre). Their origin can be traced when the Communist Party of India (Marxist) split in 1967, leading to the creation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist). In January 2005, talks between the Andhra Pradesh state government and the CPI-Maoists broke down and the rebels accused authorities of not addressing their demands for a written truce, release of prisoners and redistribution of land. The ongoing conflict had taken place over a vast territory (around half of India's 28 states) with hundreds of people being killed annually in clashes between the CPI-Maoists and the government every year since 2005.
The armed wing of the Naxalite–Maoists is called the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) and is estimated to have between 6,500 and 9,500 cadres, mostly armed with small arms. According to a study of the newspaper The Times of India, 58% of people surveyed in the state of Andhra Pradesh have a positive perception of the guerrilla, and only 19% against it. The Naxalites have frequently targeted tribal, police and government workers in what they say is a fight for improved land rights and more jobs for neglected agricultural labourers and the poor. The Naxalites claim that they are following a strategy of rural rebellion similar to a protracted people's war against the government.
In February 2009, the Indian central government announced a new nationwide initiative to be called the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for broad co-ordinated operations aimed at combatting and undermining support for the Naxalites in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. This plan included funding for grass-roots economic development projects in Naxalite-affected areas as well as increased special police funding for better containment and reduction of Naxalite influence. After the first full year of implementation of the national IAP program, Karnataka was removed from the list of Naxal-affected states in August 2010. In July 2011, the number of Naxal-affected areas was reduced to 83 districts across nine states. In December 2011, the national government reported that the number of conflict-related deaths and injuries nationwide had gone down by nearly 50% from 2010 levels.
The Naxalite–Maoist insurgency again gained international media attention after the 2013 Naxal attack in Darbha valley resulted in the deaths of around 24 Indian National Congress leaders, including the former state minister Mahendra Karma and the Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel.
Naxalites are a group of far-left radical communists, supportive of Maoist political sentiment and ideology. Their origin can be traced to the splitting in 1967 of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), leading to the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist). Initially the movement had its centre in West Bengal. In recent years, it has spread into less developed areas of rural central and eastern India, such as Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh through the activities of underground groups like the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Dalits and other lower-caste members have also joined the militant movement.
In 2007, it was estimated that Naxalites were active across "half of the India's 29 states" who account for about 40 percent of India's geographical area, an area known as the "Red Corridor", where according to estimates they had influence over 92,000 square kilometers. In 2009, Naxalites were active across approximately 180 districts in ten states of India In August 2010, Karnataka was removed from the list of Naxal-affected states In July 2011, the number of Naxal-affected areas was reduced to (including proposed addition of 20 districts) 83 districts across nine states.
The Naxalites operate in 60 districts in India, mainly in the states of Odisha (5 affected districts), Jharkhand (14 affected districts), Bihar (5 affected districts), Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh (ten affected districts), Madhya Pradesh (8 affected districts), Maharashtra (2 affected districts) and West Bengal (8 affected district). In West Bengal areas west of Howrah are affected by the insurgency. Chhattisgarh is the epicentre of the conflict (2007).
Areas governed by the elected Communist Party of India (Marxist) in India such as West Bengal, specifically those of Jangalmahal and Lalgarh, are some of the worst affected by anti-state violence by Maoist groups who cite the accumulation of unaccounted-for wealth in the hands of CPI-M leaders and specific failure to counter problems they were elected to address such as caste discrimination and poverty.
There is a correlation between areas with extensive coal resources and impact of the insurgency. Naxalites conduct detailed socio-economic surveys before starting operations in a target area. It is claimed that the insurgents extort 14 billion Indian rupees (more than $US300 million).
In Chhattisgarh, Salwa Judum, an anti-insurgency operation which was aimed at countering the naxalite violence in the region was launched in 2005. The militia consisting of local tribal youth received support and training from the Chhattisgarh state government. The state came under fire from pro-Maoist activist groups for "atrocities and abuse against women", employing child soldiers, and looting and destruction of property, allegations rejected by a fact finding commission of the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) in 2008. The commission, which had been appointed by the Supreme Court of India, determined that the Salwa Judum was a spontaneous reaction by tribals against Maoist atrocities perpetrated against them.
On 5 July 2011, the Supreme Court of India declared the militia to be illegal and unconstitutional, and ordered its disbanding. The Court directed the Chhattisgarh government to recover all the firearms, ammunition and accessories. In the court's judgement, the use of Salwa Judum by the government for anti-Naxal operations was criticised for its violations of human rights and for employing poorly trained youth for counter-insurgency roles. The Supreme Court of India, also ordered the government to investigate all instances of alleged criminal activities of Salwa Judum.
In Odisha, the number of districts affected by Maoist activities has been reduced from 17 to 9, as claimed by the Director General of Police (DGP), Prakash Mishra on December 30, 2012.
Similar paramilitary groups have emerged in Andhra Pradesh during the last decade. Some of these groups are Fear Vikas, Green Tigers, Nalladandu, Red Tigers, Tirumala Tigers, Palnadu Tigers, Kakatiya Cobras, Narsa Cobras, Nallamalla Nallatrachu (Cobras) and Kranthi Sena. Civil liberties activists were murdered by the Nayeem gang in 1998 and 2000. On 24 August 2005, members of the Narsi Cobras killed an individual rights activist and schoolteacher in Mahbubnagar district.
Public statements on the insurgency
In 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the Naxalites the "single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country". In June 2011, he said, "Development is the master remedy to win over people", adding that the government was "strengthening the development work in the 60 Maoist-affected districts.
In 2010 the Indian government's Home Secretary, Gopal Krishna Pillai, acknowledged that there are legitimate grievances regarding local people's access to forest land and produce and the distribution of benefits from mining and hydro power developments, but claims that the Naxalites' long-term goal is to establish an Indian Marxist state. He said the government decided to tackle the Naxalites head-on, and take back much of the lost areas.
In 2011, Indian police accused the Chinese government of providing sanctuary to the movement's leaders, and accused Pakistani ISI of providing financial support.
In 2018, A senior home ministry official says the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government sought to stem insurgency by earmarking development funds for revolt-hit areas and improving policing. “One of the major initiatives of the government was clearing implementation of a Rs 25,060 crore umbrella scheme to modernise central and state police forces over the next three years,” the official said.
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Few of the insurgencies mentioned below are not proved to be caused by the naxalites/maoists but the main suspects of the attacks are believed to be attached to the left wing extremist groups.
The People's War Group (PWG) intensified its attacks against politicians, police officers, and land and business owners in response to a July ban imposed on the group by the Andhra Pradesh government. The government responded by tightening security, allegedly ordering attacks on suspected PWG members by state police and the "Green Tigers". Police forces continued to have virtual impunity for the killing of PWG rebels during police encounters. The Maoist Communist Center rebels intensified their armed campaign against Indian security forces following the killing of their leader by police in December. An estimated 140 people were killed in fighting between the PWG and government forces throughout the year. According to government reports, 482 people have died during the conflict in 2002.
Sporadic, low-intensity fighting between the PWG and government forces continued for most of the year. Attacks on police and TDP party officials, believed to be carried out by the PWG, accounted for most major incidents and deaths. A three-month cease-fire, announced in late June, led to failed negotiations between the government and the PWG. A few days into the cease-fire, an attack attributed to the PWG placed the cease-fire in jeopardy. More than 500 people were killed in sporadic, low-intensity fighting, a reduction from previous years. Most victims were members of the police forces or the Telugu Desam Party (a regional political party).
Violent clashes between Maoist rebels and state security forces and paramilitary groups increased following the breakdown of peace talks between the PWG and the state government of Andhra Pradesh. Rebels continued to employ a wide range of low-intensity guerrilla tactics against government institutions, officials, security forces and paramilitary groups. For the first time in recent years, Maoist rebels launched two large scale attacks against urban government targets. Fighting was reported in 12 states covering most of south, central and north India with the exception of India's northeast and northwest. More than 700 people were reported killed this year in violent clashes. Over one-third of those killed were civilians.
Maoist attacks continued, primarily on government and police targets. Civilians were also affected in landmine attacks affecting railway cars and truck convoys. Clashes between state police and rebels also resulted in deaths of members of both parties, and civilians that were caught in the firing. Fighting differs from state to state, depending on security and police force responses. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, security forces have been somewhat successful in maintaining control and combating Maoist rebels. The other state that is most affected, Chhattisgarh, has seen an increase in violence between Maoist rebels and villagers who are supported by the government. In 2006, 500 to 750 people were estimated killed, fewer than half Naxalites, and approximately one-third civilians.
Fighting continued between Naxalite Maoists and government security forces throughout the year. The majority of hostilities took place in Chhattisgarh, which turned especially deadly when over 400 Naxalites attacked a Chhattisgarh police station, seizing arms and killing dozens.
In November 2007, reports emerged that anti-SEZ (Special Economic Zone) movements such as the Bhoomi Uchched Pratirodh Committee in Nandigram in West Bengal, which arose after the land appropriation and human displacement following the SEZ Act of 2005, have joined forces with the Naxalites since February to keep the police out. Recently, police found weapons belonging to Maoists near Nandigram. Civilians were forced to choose between joining the Maoist insurgence or supporting the Salwa Judum and face coercion from both sides. According to news reports, this conflict resulted in 650 deaths during 2007; of these 240 were civilians, 218 security personnel and 192 militants.
Civilians were most affected in the ongoing fighting between Maoist rebels and government security forces. Of the 16 states touched by this conflict, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were the most affected. One positive note for Chhattisgarh was that fatalities, although still high, were significantly down from 2007. Similarly, Andhra Pradesh, the state with the most Maoist activity a few years ago, has improved security with a corresponding drop in fatality rates. Unfortunately, as conditions have improved in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, the Maoist forces seem to have shifted their operations to the state of Orissa where conditions have worsened. South Asia Terrorism Portal's fatality count across the six states that saw the majority of the fighting (Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh) was 794. This included 399 civilians, 221 security force personnel and 174 insurgents.
In 2009, Naxalites were active across approximately 180 districts in ten states of India.
In September 2009, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted that the Maoists had growing appeal among a large section of Indian society, including tribal communities, the rural poor as well as sections of the intelligentsia and the youth. He added that "Dealing with left-wing extremism requires a nuanced strategy – a holistic approach. It cannot be treated simply as a law and order problem." In the first half of 2009, 56 Maoist attacks were reported. The South Asia Terrorism Portal reported 998 killed in the conflict: 392 civilians, 312 security forces and 294 rebels.
During February 2010, the Silda camp attack killed 24 paramilitary personnel of the Eastern Frontier Rifles in an operation the guerillas stated was the beginning of "Operation Peace Hunt", the Maoist answer to the government "Operation Green Hunt" that was recently launched against them. According to Crisis Watch and various news sources, between 500 and 600 people were killed this year. Of those killed, approximately 366 were civilians, 188 were government troops (including police) and 27 were Naxalites. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal and government sources, over 1,000 deaths occurred in the conflict this year. This includes 277 security forces, 277 Naxalites, and more than 600 civilian.
On 6 April 2010, Naxalite rebels killed 76, consisting of 74 paramilitary personnel of the CRPF and two policemen. Fifty others were wounded in the series of attacks on security convoys in Dantewada district in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The attack resulted in the biggest loss of life security forces have suffered since launching a large-scale offensive against the rebels. On 17 May, a Naxalite landmine destroyed a bus in Dantewada district, killing up to 44 people including several Special Police Officers (SPOs) and civilians.
On 28 May 2010, the derailment of a Kolkata–Mumbai night train killed at least 150 persons. Police alleged that Maoists had caused the derailment by removing a short (46 cm or 1½ft) piece of track, but the Maoists denied this.
On 29 June 2010, at least 26 policemen are killed in a Maoist attack in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
On 29 August 2010, a joint team of BSF and district police was attacked by the rebels in Bhuski village (Chhattisgarh) under Durg Kondal police station in the district while they were conducting routine search operations in the wee hours. Following the attack, the forces retaliated and in the action they lost five security personnel, including three BSF jawans.
On 29–30 August 2010, rebels ambushed a joint paramilitary-police team in Bihar, killing 10, wounding 10 more, taking 4 prisoners and robbing more than 35 automatic rifles from the state forces. The Naxalites later freed 3 of the policemen after Naxal leader Kishenji met with worried family members.
On 12 September 2010, Naxalites killed 3 policemen and took 4 more hostage in an ambush in Chhattisgarh. The 4 policemen were later released without conditions after Naxal leaders listened to the appeals of family members. The freed policemen also promised the Naxals to never take up arms against the insurgency again.
On 8 October 2010, Naxalites triggered a landmine in the border area between Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. The attack killed 3 Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) jawans, wounded 2 more and destroyed a military jeep.
During May 2011, Naxalites killed and dismembered ten policemen, including one senior officer in the Gariyaband, Chhattisgarh area on the border with Orissa. In June 2011, the total fatalities of both the police and the paramilitary was 43.
On 21 July 2011, Maoist rebels in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh blew up a bridge, killing four people and wounding five others. The attack happened when the Congress party chief of the state, Nandkumar Patel, was returning from a party function.
Despite the continued violence in 2011, the most recent central government campaign to contain and reduce the militant Naxalite presence appears to be having some success, the 2011 toll of 447 civilians and 142 security personnel killed having been nearly 50% lower than the 2010 toll. Some states experiencing this sharp reduction in Naxalite hostilities, such as Madhya Pradesh, attribute their success to their use of IAP funds for rural development.
In mid-March, Maoist rebels kidnapped two Italians in Orissa. They later released one, while the government of Orissa negotiated for the release of the second. The Maoists released the second hostage in the middle of April. The Member of the Legislative Assembly(MLA) of Laxmipur constituency (Orissa), Jhin Hikka, was abducted by the Maoists in March, who demand the release of 30 Maoist cadres (presently in jail) in exchange for the freedom of the MLA. The Orissa Government is negotiating with the cadres with the help of arbitrators to free the MLA.
The 2013 Naxal attack in Darbha valley resulted in the deaths of around 24 Indian National Congress leaders including the former state minister Mahendra Karma and the Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel.
- 28 February 2014: 6 police personnel, including a SHO, killed in Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh.
- 11 March 2014: 2014 Chhattisgarh attack: 15 security personnel and 1 Civilian were killed in Chhattisgarh Naxal attack in Tongpal village, close to the Darbha Ghat area, of Sukma district in south Chhattisgarh, while they were engaged in a road opening exercise in the area.
- 11 May 2014: 7 police commandos killed in a Maoists landmine blast in the forests of Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.
- Four (CAF) Jawans were killed in a Maoist ambush near Kirandul, Dantewada, Chhattisgarh.
- 22 March 2017: 6 suspected Maoists were killed in a gunfight with security forces in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh
- 24 April 2017: 25 CRPF Jawans were killed in Sukma, Chhattisgarh, in an attack by Maoists.
- 13 March 2018: 2018 Sukma attack: 9 CRPF personnel were killed in Sukma, Chhattisgarh after their mine protected vehicle (MPV) was blown up by Maoists.
- 24 April 2018: 34 militants were killed by Indian authorities in central India.
- 23 September 2018: Araku MLA Kideri Sarveswara rao and ex-MLA Siveri Soma gunned down by Maoists.
- 1 May 2019: 2019 Gadchiroli Naxal Attack: 16 policemen, including a driver, killed in an IED blast carried out by Naxalite's in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. Naxals targeted an anti-Naxal operations team.
- 21 March 2020: 23 Maoists and 17 CRPF personnel were killed in a attack in Sukma, Chhattisgarh. 15 CRPF members were injured.
Attacks by the state
Soni Sori, an Indian activist and political leader, went on a hunger strike after being denied access to visit Hidme's district or her family members. She has been a vocal voice against instances of gender-related violence. The Delhi Police's Crime Branch for Chhattisgarh arrested her in 2011 on charges of acting as a conduit for Maoists.
In May 2016, three Naxals were gunned down in an encounter with security forces in Chhattisgarh's insurgency-hit Bastar region in May. They were identified as LOS (local organisation squad) ‘commander’ of Darbha ‘division by the police.
In June 2016, Madkam Hidme, an Adivasi woman from the Sukma district, was found dead with multiple injuries, allegedly in a Naxal uniform and a gun next to her. The police held that she was a member of Naxal Platoon 8 where she was killed in a police encounter. Her family members said that Hidme was dragged out of her home by men dressed in police uniforms and beaten up by them. Hidme's mother was apparently hit until she was knocked out. Hidme's body was returned under plastic, hours later, and reportedly displayed signs of a brutal rape. A protest took place outside the Chhattisgarh Tourism Board office in the city of Kolkata, where activists demanded justice. Hidme's mother also filed a petition with the Chhattisgarh High Court pushing for an inquiry into the case. The court finally ordered the exhumation of the victim's body, which was apparently buried with salt and sand to conceal evidence of the torture inflicted.
Shobha Mandi, a former Maoist militant who was in command of about 30 armed Maoists writes in her book Ek Maowadi Ki Diary that she gave up arms and she was repeatedly raped and assaulted by her fellow commanders for more than 7 years. She also claims that wife-swapping and adultery are the norm amongst the Maoists.
The first combat deaths of the insurgency were in 1980. Around 1,100 people are known to have died during 2009. The number includes 600 civilians, 300 security personnel and 200 rebels.
There were more than 40,000 displaced people in 2006.
According to the Institute of Peace and Conflict studies, Naxal groups have recruited children in different capacities and exposed them to injury and death. However the same accusation has been levelled at the state-sponsored Salwa Judum anti-Maoist group, and Special Police officers (SPOs) assisting the government security forces. Seven personnel of Special Task Force (STF) were killed and eleven others injured in an encounter with outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) rebels at a village near Chhattisgarh's Bastar region on Saturday.
Additional director general of police (anti-Naxal operations) Rajinder Kuamr Vij said that the encounter took place at Pidmal village between Dornapal and Chintagufa when the rebels tried to attack the security personnel. The forces retaliated leading to a fierce encounter during which seven security personnel died and eleven others injured. The team of 49 STF men which ventured into the Maoists’ liberated zone on Saturday morning, had reportedly not informed senior police officers based in Bastar and Sukma before embarking on an operation which eventually proved “suicidal.” Seven personnel, including the Platoon Commander, Shankara Rao, were gunned down by the Maoists.
|Period||Civilians||Security forces||Insurgents||Total per period|
The above displayed statistics estimate that more than 13,000 people have been killed since 1996.
- Chhatradhar Mahato
- List of Naxalite and Maoist groups in India
- Naxalbari uprising in 1967
- Insurgency in Northeast India
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But that was till Maoists, in an act fraught with dangerous retaliation, abducted 41 Ranvir Sena men, and reportedly killed nine of them.
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