On October 30, 2018, a journalist and two policemen were killed in an ambush in Eastern Indian state of Chattisgarh. This attack is particularly notable given that it was carried out by the Naxalites, a group who has been responsible for a series of deadly attacks carried out against the Indian government, including one in 2010 which killed 76 police officers.

Unlike many other insurgent groups that are fighting in the 21st century, the Naxalites see themselves as fighting a Maoist struggle for liberation. To understand why a communist insurgent group still exists in India, it is important to understand the story of the Naxalites. The Naxalites emerged in the 1960s, when an aristocrat turned revolutionary named Charu Majumdar lead a branch of the Indian Communist Party. Unlike the rest of the Communist party, which generally supported the Marxist Leninism of the Soviet Union, Majumdar looked toward Mao with an emphasis on organizing the peasantry into a fighting force capable of withstanding oppression. This was best exemplified with one of their major slogans: “China’s Chairman is our Chairman.”

These efforts of rural organization culminated in the Naxalbari uprising of 1967, when groups of sharecroppers rebelled against landholders over harassment in the famed tea growing area of Darjeeling. Majumdar was soon arrested and later died in prison. With his death, the hope of a unified movement was lost as well. With the death of Mao in 1971, the rebels also lost a strong pillar of moral, (and possibly material) support as the People’s Republic of China began the gradual process of economic liberalization. These factors lead to a splintering of the movement, with over 140 groups claiming to be the rightful representatives of Maoist thought in India in the 1980s.

Beginning in the 1980s, however, violent Maoism began seeing a resurgence in Eastern India, especially in the provinces of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. This is largely due to the importance of growth of mining in these areas. This has been driven by a booming demand for coal and iron ore to fuel factories in both India and China. Many of the inhabitants of these areas have failed to see the profits of the industry, and work in dangerous conditions for little pay.

This sense of alienation is furthered by the fact that many of the inhabitants of these areas are Adivasi, a general term for members of indigenous groups in India. The assortment of tribes who inhabited these areas long lived as subsistence farmers and were left relatively disconnected from the rest of India. The mining boom deprived them of their previous livelihoods and thereby forces them to work in the mines for low pay. This makes them especially vulnerable to the pull of organizations such as the Naxalites.

Rise to Peace

Recent Posts

What Veterans Day Means To Me

I had the honor to serve with the United States Armed Forces from an early age of 15. I fought…

2 days ago

Narcotics and Insecurity: How the Afghan-Tajik Drug Trade Derails Peace

A special field report by Rise to Peace.  Taliban makes 10 million Afghanis daily via drug trafficking in northern Afghanistan.…

2 days ago

Extremism Assessment Series: Earth Liberation Front (ELF)

Originally established in 1992 in Brighton, United Kingdom, ELF now operates in 17 countries and is thought to be a…

6 days ago

Iran’s Approach to Turkey’s Military Operation in Northern Syria

Iran joined numerous countries that scrutinized Turkey’s military operation (Peace Spring) in northern Syria. The operation has been discussed and…

1 week ago

A Profile of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: Origins to His Final Days

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a United States’ orchestrated raid on October 26. The well educated and self-made man…

2 weeks ago

Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: Consequences and the Future of the Islamic State?

On October 26, United States special forces conducted a raid in Barisha, in northwestern Syria, that concluded with the death…

2 weeks ago