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  Armed Conflicts Report

India - Maoist Insurgency (1980 – first combat deaths)
Update: January 2008

Summary
Type of Conflict
Parties to the Conflict
Status of the Fighting
Number of Deaths
Political Developments
Background
Arms Sources

Economic Factors


Summary:

2007 Throughout 2008 clashes between Maoist insurgents and government forces resulted in the deaths of of 650. In March, over 400 Naxalites attacked a police station in Chhattisgarh, seizing arms and killing dozens. Civilians continue to be intimidated into choosing sides between the Maoists and the government, resulting in widespread fear and insecurity among local populations.

2006 Fighting continued between Maoist rebels and government security forces, resulting in 500-700 deaths. Government response toughened and expanded to include arming and training village groups to fight against rebels. Despite government efforts, Maoist influence appears to be growing and taking hold in a number of Indian provinces.

2005 Fighting escalated following a breakdown in peace talks between the People’s War Group and the Andhra Pradesh state government. In late 2004, the PWG merged with the Maoist Communist Centre of India to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist), now the largest Maoist rebel group operating in over nine states. Maoist rebels also increased cooperation with Nepalese Maoist rebels engaged in an insurgency against Nepal’s monarchy.

2004 Sporadic conflict between People’s War Group (PWG) rebels and government forces continued at a lower intensity than in recent years. The conflict resulted in the deaths of at least 40 people, the majority of whom were members of the police force and TDP party leaders. A three month ceasefire between the government and the PWG rebels led to negotiations but no peace agreement.

2003 The conflict between state security forces and the People’s War Group (PWG) intensified in 2003, resulting in approximately 300 deaths – the highest toll in three years. An assassination attempt on Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister by the PWG served to reinforce the government’s hard-line position against the rebels.

2002 Fighting between the People’s War Group (PWG) and government security forces claimed over 100 lives in 2002. The government renewed a ban on the PWG, jeopardizing a peace dialogue initiated in June.

2001 The PWG increased its attacks against the government in 2001 and some 100 people lost their
lives in the fighting. In July, the government of Andhra Pradesh called for talks with the rebels.

2000 The PWG continued its attacks in 2000 after three of its top commanders were killed in December 1999. Police officials estimated 3,000 armed leftist rebels were active in Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states. Although at least 50 people were killed in 2000, this was a considerable decrease from deaths in 1999.

1999 In 1999 attacks by rebel groups on government forces and civilians continued to be met with summary executions of suspected Naxalites by the police. Over 350 combatants and civilians were killed, a likely increase from 1998 deaths in the conflict

Type of Conflict:

State control

Parties to the Conflict:

1) Government:

State police supported by various local paramilitary groups.

"An Indian state government said on Wednesday it will begin supplying arms to tribes people who have formed vigilante groups to protect themselves from attacks by Maoist rebels." [Mustafa Qureshi, Associated Press, July 20, 2005]

Allied with

2) The Salwa Judum Movement: Created in 2005, Salwa Judum, or “peace mission” is a government-allied civilian militia group that is reportedly supported by the state of Chattisgarh. The group was responsible for a number of attacks on villagers throughout 2007. Reports of its involvement in coercion, human rights abuses and widespread displacement are rampant throughout the area.

“Last summer, an anti-Maoist village defense movement was born, calling itself the Salwa Judum, or Peace Mission. The group has coaxed or hounded thousands of people out of their forest hamlets and into the squalid tent camps, where suspected Maoist sympathizers are detained…The Chattisgarh government has begin to allocate land and money to villagers who agree to abandon their forest homes and build new houses along the road to Bhairamgarh. It also supports the “special police officers” who work arm in arm with the Salwa Judum. So far, 5 000 have been trained, given uniforms and offered what counts here as a generous salary, about $35 a month.” [The New York Times Online, 13 April 2006]

2) Rebels: The Communist Party of India (Maoist), created after the 2004 merger of the Peoples' War Group (PWG) and the Maoists Communist Centre, is the largest Maoist rebel group in conflict with the government. Members of the Communist Party of India and other smaller Maoist groups call themselves "Naxalites" after the Indian town of Naxalbari where their movement began more than 25 years ago. Naxalites are believed to number from 10,000-20,000, and are active on a large scale in as many as 13 of India’s 28 states, mainly Andhra Pradesh, Jharkand, Bihar, Karnataka, Orissa and Chattisgarh. The Andhra Pradesh state government banned the PWG in 1992 and renewed this ban in August, 2006. The Naxalite movement includes a number of other autonomous groups such as the Revolutionary Youth Forum, and the Parakala Dalam.

"Today the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which exists solely as an underground armed movement with no political representation, is a rigidly hierarchical outfit with toeholds in 13 of 28 Indian states. It stretches from the tip of India through this east-central state to the northern border with Nepal, where the Maoists have set off full-scale civil war." ("In India, Maoist Guerrillas Widen ‘People’s War’", Sengupta, Sonia, New York Times online, April 13, 2006)

"The recent merger of the two largest and best organized groups – the Peoples Guerrilla Army of the People’s War Group, or PWG, and the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army of the Maoist Communist Centre of India, or MCCI – under the Communist Party of India, or Maoist, has created what one source described as ‘an unparalleled pan-Indian naxal network from South India to the Nepalese border.’" [JFK Special Warfare Center and School, February 2005]

"About 18 Naxal groups are active in the state [Andhra Pradesh]. They follow various ideological lines of Left extremism. People’s War Group is the most feared force and the most skilled in guerilla and jungle warfare among them. ... People’s War Group, formed by Kondapalli Seetharamaiah (KS) on April 22, 1980, is the most dominant naxalite force with about 54 dalams (forest squads) active in the state. According to police it has 1,100 full time ‘underground cadres’ besides over 5000 over-ground militants’." [HindustanTimes.com, May 9, 2003]

"The PWG, a Maoist-Leninist organisation, was created by a teacher turned communist leader - Kondapally Seetharamaiah - in 1980. It has been waging an armed rebellion for the creation of a communist state comprising tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Mahrashtra, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. The group targets feudal landlords whom they hold responsible for the exploitation of the poor." [BBC News, 1 November 2000]

Status of Fighting:

2007 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. Civilians are now wedged between joining the Maoist insurgence or supporting the Salwa Judum and face coercion from both sides.

“Security forces have armed poor farmers and tribals with guns while others are encouraged to counter the Maoists with bows and arrows. Scores of Salwa Judum activists were killed last year by Maoists, some massacred in attacks on their camps.” [The Christian Science Monitor, 01 May 2007]

“Instead of uniting the district, the movement, called Salwa Judum, has forced villagers to choose between two unforgiving opposites, unleashing an unprecedented cycle of killing and revenge as citizens bestowed with emergency police powers sweep through the countryside.” [The Christian Science Monitor, 01 May 2007]

“The threat posed by the Maoists is widely contested. Like many others, the leader of Salwa Judum, Mahendra Karma, calls them the greatest threat to Indian democracy. But the Naxalites’ capabilities are limited. They can carry out quick strikes from their jungle redoubts, experts say, but they cannot take a small district seat like Dantewada, much less Delhi.” [The Christian Science Monitor, 01 May 2007]

“The line has blurred between the police and the people, and citizens recruited as Special Police Officers (SPOs) attempt to match the Naxalites blow for blow.” [The Christian Science Monitor, 01 May 2007]

“Up to 400 Naxalite rebels launched 15 March attack on Chhattisgarh police station, killing dozens of officers and escaping with arms, raising fears of increased Naxalite violence.” [CrisisWatch, 01 April 2007]

2006 Maoists 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 crossfire. 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.

"India's Maoist insurgents, also called Naxalites, have expanded their area of operations from just four states 10 years ago to half of India's 28 states today. … Attacks on police forces, train hijacking, and brutal beheadings are common." (Maoist rebels spread across rural India, Chopra, Anuj. Christian Science Monitor, August 22, 2006)

"The Maoist menace continues to expand, except where it has been confronted by coherent use of force – as is presently and substantially the case in Andhra Pradesh, where area domination exercise under the leadership of the local Police, backed by the armed reserve forces and the Grey Hounds, and a well-developed intelligence network has succeeded in beating back the Naxalites to a large extent, and has forced their leadership into
flight." (India Assessment - 2006, South Asia Terrorism Portal)

2005 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.

"Hundreds of heavily armed Maoist rebels stormed a jail in eastern India, killing at least two people and freeing about 350 prisoners, including many fellow guerrillas, police said on Monday. The rebels entered Jehanabad town in impoverished and crime-ridden Bihar state on Sunday night in small groups, cut off power and raided the prison in one of the biggest ever attacks by Maoist guerrillas, a police officer said. The rebels, who were estimated to number 700, killed a prison guard and a member of a private army of upper caste landlords in a gunbattle with policemen. The guerrillas also abducted at least two dozen members of the Ranvir Sena, the private army of upper caste landlords, who were jail inmates." [Reuters, November 14, 2005]

"Succumbing to naxal threat, over 10,000 people in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh have moved to other areas in the past two months. ‘In the last two months, over 10,000 people have left their villages, leaving behind belongings. The villagers are being provided all facilities, including tents and medical aid by the state government,’ state's Revenue and Law Minister Brij Mohan Agrawal said. Over 100 people including 30 security personnel have been killed, in several incidents during the last two months." [The Times of India, September 14, 2005]

"Violence surged after peace talks with the Maoists broke down in January. The guerrillas have killed more than 175 people since the talks broke down." [Reuters, August 17, 2005]

"At least 20 people have been killed in a fierce gun battle between Maoist rebels and police in the Indian state of Bihar, police said. The dead are said to include 16 rebels, two police officers and two civilians. Police said the overnight fighting took place when nearly 100 rebels attacked a police station and two state-run banks in a village in East Champaran." [BBC News, June 24, 2005]

"After eight months of peace in the southern Indian state of Andhra-Pradesh, the guns have started booming once again and the body count is mounting with each passing day...The fatalities on both sides have been mounting – the rebels have killed four people including a policeman and a local leader of the state’s ruling Congress party. They also burnt several busses and targeted government property." [BBC News, January 18, 2005]

2004 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-fir, 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.

"Suspected communist rebels have blown up a railway track and damaged railway stations in eastern India, officials said." [BBC News, February 27, 2004]

2003 The conflict in Andhra Pradesh intensified as Naxalite rebel groups, in particular the People’s War Group (PWG), continued guerrilla attacks on police and government targets while the security forces stepped up counter-insurgency efforts. An October assassination attempt on Chief Minister Naidu was consistent with the PWG’s practice of targeting government officials to draw attention to their cause.

"The activities of Maoist guerrilla groups registered an upsurge in Andhra Pradesh despite significant successes by the state police in their operations against the rebels, a top official said here Wednesday." [Indo-Asian News Service, December 31, 2003]

"The People’s War cadre went on the rampage killing five persons, including two who were accused of being ‘coverts’ ... The PW ... appeared to have launched an exercise to weaken the police intelligence network by killing the ‘covert operators’." [thehindu.com, November 23, 2003]

"An outlawed communist rebel group on Saturday claimed responsibility for setting up a land mine attack on the armored car of a state government head in southern India ... the People’s War Group said it launched the attack Wednesday against Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, the top elected official of Andhra Pradesh state and a partner in India’s ruling coalition." [Associated Press, October 4, 2003]

"The People’s War has suffered a major setback in Nalgonda and Rangareddy districts as well as in Hyderabad city [western Andhra Pradesh] with the death of Nomula Ramana Reddy [rebel leader] ... in an encounter on Sunday." [thehindu.com, April 20, 2003]

"Police on Sunday morning killed three Naxalites belonging to the People’s War Group after the latter triggered a landmine killing three policemen in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district." [www.rediff.com//news, January 5, 2003]

2002 The 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 enjoy virtual impunity for the murder and torture 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.

"Maoist guerrillas ambushed a police van in eastern India on Friday, killing 18 people, most police officers, officials said. ... Mr. Munda [home minister for the state of Jharkhand] blamed the Maoist Communist Center and said the ambush was in revenge for the death of the rebel group’s top leader. Police killed the leader, Ishwari Mahato, two days ago, he said." [Associated Press, December 20, 2002]

"The Maoists have stepped up their campaign against Andhra Pradesh's politicians and policemen following the fracture of a peace dialogue between the rebels and the government in July." [The Hindustan Times, October 14, 2002]

"In Andhra Pradesh, the Disturbed Areas Act has been in force in a number of districts for over 4 years. Human rights groups allege that security forces have been able to operate with virtual impunity under the act. They further allege that Andhra Pradesh police officers train and provide weapons to an armed vigilante group known as the ‘Green Tigers’, whose mission is to combat the Naxalite group in the state. Little is known about the size, composition, or activities of this group. Court action in cases of extrajudicial killings is slow and uncertain." [US State Department, Country Report on Human Rights Abuses, March 2002]

2001 The PWG increased attacks against the government, escalating the conflict.

"At least 17 people have died in clashes between an outlawed left-wing group and police in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Thirteen members of the People’s War Group were killed by police, while the rebels killed at least four civilians. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu, has strongly condemned the rebels in what is being described as one of the bloodiest periods in the groups history." [CNN, June 10, 2001]

"Leftist rebels in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh are reported to have attacked a police station killing two policemen and injuring two others. A police spokesman said around one hundred rebels of the People’s War Group attacked the police station with crude bombs and automatic weapons." [CNN, July 30, 2001]

2000 The PWG continued its attacks in 2000 after three of its top commanders were killed in December 1999. Police officials estimated 3,000 armed leftist rebels were active in Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states.

[Source: BBC, 1 November 2000]

"Seventeen years of guerrilla-style conflict have led to serious human rights abuses by both sides. Human rights groups allege that ‘encounters’ are usually faked by the police to cover up the torture and subsequent murder of Naxalite suspects, sympathizers, or informers. These groups cite as evidence the refusal of police to hand over the corpses of suspects killed in ‘encounters,’ which are often cremated before families can view the bodies. Villagers in PWG-dominated areas complain of regular harassment and arbitrary detention by police. Police officials rarely if ever are held accountable for human rights abuses." [http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/pwg.htm]

1999 In 1999 violent action by rebel groups against government forces and civilians continued to be met with summary executions of suspected Naxalites by the police.

"The spate of violent incidents perpetrated by the PWG, in retaliation to the killing of three of its top leaders in a police encounter on Dec. 2." [The Hindustan Times, January 14, 2000]

"Police in Andhra Pradesh continued to summarily execute suspected Naxalites in so-called ‘encounter killings.’" [Human Rights Watch World Report, 2000]

Number of Deaths:

Total: More than 6,000 people have been killed as a direct result of the conflict in the last twenty years, with an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 deaths occurring in the last decade.

"More than 6,000 people have been killed in the violence." ('Indian rebels kill 18 villagers', The Associated Press, New Delhi, Monday, July 17, 2006)

"The leftist insurgency has cost more than 4,500 lives in Andhra Pradesh since 1990, according to the South Asia Intelligence Review." [The Christian Science Monitor, October 29, 2003]

"According to police, during the last ten years, the PWG and other extremist groups killed as many as 1,960 people, including 1,615 civilians and 345 policeman in the state. ... During the last ten years, 932 naxals were killed in encounters." [The Hindustan Times, January 14, 2000]

"Statistics of Naxalite violence in the new guerrilla zone showed a sharp increase. Till August end there were as many as 27 murders (including killing of 17 policemen) and 36 other offences while last year there were only six murders (including killing of one policeman) and 36 other offences; in 1995, 13 murders and 27 other offences took place. In 1994, the PWG violence was negligible." ["AP police gearing up as Naxals open new front," R Akhileshwari, DH News Service, Hyderabad, September 8, 1997]

2007 According to news reports, this conflict resulted in 650 deaths during 2007. Included are 240 civilians, 218 security personnel, and 192 militants. [Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP)]

“Of the 144 people killed in Naxalite-related violence during the first three months of the year, 70 percent were from Chhattisgarh.” [The Christian Science Monitor, 01 May 2007]

“10 policemen killed in mine attack by Maoists in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh 29 November.” [CrisisWatch, 01 December 2007]

“Attack by Naxalites on cultural festival in Jharkhand 27 October killed 17.” [CrisisWatch, 01 November 2007]

“24 policemen killed in 9 July clash with Maoist fighters in Chhattisgarh.” [CrisisWatch, 01 August 2007]

“Maoists called 2-day strike 26-27 June in Bastar, Chhattisgarh state, to protest fuel and resource exploitation. Maoists also blamed for July 1 attack on 2 Bihar police stations and blew up railway station 27 June in West Bengal state.” [CrisisWatch, 01 July 2007]

“Bombing by Maoists in Chhattisgarh killed 10 policemen 29 May.” [CrisisWatch, 01 June 2007]

“Naxalites in Jharkhand state killed 8 members of breakaway faction in gun battle 10 April. In Chhattisgarh, Maoists killed 2 farmers apparently for selling land to steel company; police killed 2 Maoists in targeted 15 April; state extended ban on Maoist party.” [CrisisWatch, 01 May 2007]

2006 500-750 people were estimated to have been killed this year. Just under half of these were Naxalites, and approximately one-third were civilians.

"So far this year, the conflict has killed nearly two Indians a day." ("In India, Maoist Guerrillas Widen ‘People’s War’," Sengupta, Sonia, New York Times online, April 13, 2006)

"This year alone, fighting between rebel and government forces has claimed more than 500 lives - many civilian." ('Maoist rebels spread across rural India', Chopra, Anuj. Christian Science Monitor, August 22, 2006)

"According to official figures, 374 people—298 civilians, 34 police officials and 42 rebels—have been killed this year till September." ('Women Maoists blast Raipur govt buildings', Indo-Asian News Service, Raipur, October 18, 2006)

2005 Over 700 people were reported killed this year in violent clashes. Over a third of those killed were civilians.

"At least 12 paramilitary soldiers have been killed in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand in a mine blast, the authorities say." [BBC News, October 8, 2005]

"Maoist guerrillas shot dead five people in India's central Chhattisgarh state in fresh rebel violence that has forced thousands of tribespeople to flee their homes, police said on Saturday." [Reuters, October 1, 2005]

"Suspected Maoist rebels killed at least 13 villagers in a pre-dawn attack on Monday in India’s eastern state of Jharkhand, police said. The dead were members of a village defence committee, one of hundreds formed by the state government to fight the Maoist insurgency, deputy inspector-general of police Neeraj Sinha said." [Reuters, September 12, 2005]

"Maoist rebels set off a landmine under a security vehicle, blowing it high into the air and killing at least 23 policemen and a civilian in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, officials said on Sunday." [Reuters, September 4, 2005]

"The guerrillas, who say they are fighting for the rights of landless labourers and peasants, have killed more than 175 people – 150 of them civilians – since peace talks with the state government broke down in January." [Reuters, August 15, 2005]

2004 More than 500 people were killed in sporadic, low-intensity fighting, a reduction from recent years. Most victims were members of the police forces or the TDP party.

"At least six policemen have been killed in a landmine attack in eastern India…They suspect the attack was carried out by rebels of the banned People's War Group, who have been fighting for 20 years for a communist state…In a separate incident, suspected rebels killed two villagers in Jharkhand on Tuesday, reports a BBC correspondent." [BBC News, June 23, 2004]

"At least 26 policemen have been killed in a landmine attack in eastern India, officials say." [BBC News, April 6, 2004]

"Police are blaming the rebel People's War Group (PWG) for the attacks - the PWG has called for a boycott of the state and federal elections…They say at least 16 political activists have been killed in the past two months, 13 of them members of the TDP." [BBC News, March 18, 2004]
"Five were killed immediately and a further three died of their injuries after being taken to a nearby hospital…Police have blamed the attack on an outlawed Maoist organisation, the People's War Group." [BBC News, February 25, 2004]

2003 According to independent media reports, as many as 500 people may have been killed in the conflict throughout the year, with Maoist rebels comprising over half of this figure.

"The rebels committed 908 [criminal] offences, including 151 murders, during 2003. The PWG [People’s War Group] alone was responsible for 713 offences, including 128 murders. Fourteen policemen and 55 politicians ... were among those killed by the guerrillas. ... During the year, police killed 172 Maoists as against 87 killed during 2002. They also arrested 1,051 Maoists while 865 rebels surrendered." [Indo-Asian News Service, December 31, 2003]

"Six of the seven security personnel, including an Assistant Platoon Commander, were killed in the naxalite attack on the convoy of Congress candidate from Bijapur Assembly constituency in Chhattisgarh." [IndiaExpress Bureau, November 30, 2003]

2002 An estimated 140 people had been killed in fighting between the PWG and government forces throughout the year.

[Sources: indianexpress.com October 2002; South Asian Intelligence Review, October 2002]

"Three police personnel and a civilian are killed in a landmine blast triggered by PWG Naxals near Charpalli village, Dantewada district, Chhattisgarh." [South Asian Intelligence Review, October 12, 2002]

"Two naxalites of banned People's War Group (PWG) were killed in an encounter with police in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh early on June 8." [indiainfo.com, June 8, 2002]

2001 According to media reports, an estimated 100 people were killed.

"Hundreds of People’s naxalites raided Kalimela and Motu police stations, killing five police personnel and snatching away over 40 sophisticated weapons." [The Times of India, August 11, 2001]

"The authorities in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh say nine policemen and a civilian have been killed by a land mine. Police have blamed the attack on the outlawed People’s War Group." [BBC, August 20, 2001]

2000 Although at least 50 people were killed in 2000, this was a considerable decrease from 1999.

"Police in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh say two policemen were killed in an attack by nearly sixty guerrillas of the leftist People's War Group. One of the guerrillas was also killed in the assault on a police station at Tirumalgiri about two hundred kilometres north of Hyderabad." [BBC News, 8 July 2000]

"On April 26, PWG guerrillas opened fire on a police search party at an unspecified location in Gonda District, Andhra Pradesh State. At least six guerrillas were killed in the ensuing firefight. On April 27, 2000, ten People's War Group guerrillas were killed in a six-hour firefight with police officers in Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh State, 100 miles from Hyderabad." [http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/pwg.htm]

"Police in India say seven police officers were killed and eight others wounded in an attack by left-wing guerrillas in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. One rebel also died." [BBC News, 19 February, 2000]

1999 Over 350 combatants and civilians were reported killed in 1999, a likely increase from the 1998 deaths in the conflict. [212 Naxalites killed. 151 (including 36 police) killed by Naxalites.]

"Since 1980 clashes between police and Naxalite Maoist revolutionaries of the Peoples' War Group (PWG) have occurred in northwestern Andhra Pradesh. Over the past few years, hundreds of policemen and suspected Naxalites have been killed, according to press reports and human rights organizations. According to local human rights groups, 135 persons were killed in police ‘encounters’ in the first 6 months of the year."[India Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1999, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department, 2000].

1998 At least 300 according to a combination of police and press figures.

"As many as 160 people, including 42 policeman, were killed in extremist violence till July this year while 110 ultras died in encounters with police, he [the state director-general of police] said." [Andhra Pradesh Times website (www.aptime.com/fnews.html), November 2, 1998]

1997 At least 350 according to one report.

"As of September police had killed 102 Naxalites in approximately 80 ‘encounters.’ ... As of September, Naxalites had killed 44 police personnel and 202 civilians." [India Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department, January 30, 1998]

1996 Police reported 156 deaths from 800 "violent incidents."

"Police said the Naxalites were behind nearly 800 violent incidents in Andhra Pradesh last year, killing 156 people." ["Rebels kill 16 at police station in India," CNN, (cnn.com), January 10, 1997]

"Prior to 1995, Andhra Pradesh police engaged in numerous encounter killings of Maoist Revolutionary Naxalites. Few such incidents were reported in 1995 and 1996, when the state unilaterally refrained from many enforcement actions. This restraint ended in August when, in response to continued Naxalite violence, the state reimposed a ban on the group." [India Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department, 1997]

Political Developments:

2007 Civilians continue to be caught in the crossfire between Maoist insurgents and government security forces. Intimidation on both sides has caused widespread fear amongst local populations of the Chhattisgarh state. Conflict over resources continues, as 85% of India’s coal reserves come from the five states most affected by the Naxalite uprising.

“The Naxalites’ ability to harass and terrorize, however, does have an effect on India’s development. They can shut down certain roads at night and make a few districts like Dantewada off-limits for security reasons. But the greatest impact could be yet to come, as a growing thirst for electricity leads power companies toward the Naxalites’ remote strongholds.” [The Christian Science Monitor, 01 May 2007]

“Some 85 percent of India’s coal reserves come form the five states most affected by Naxalites. Since India is still heavily reliant on coal, “Naxalism puts almost half of India’s total energy supply at serous political risk,” says a report by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington.” [The Christian Science Monitor, 01 May 2007]

2006 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the Naxalites "The single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country." Government response to the rebels has toughened, and now includes supporting vigilantes with arms and training to fight against the rebels. The state of Chhattisgarh has seen the formation of a village-defense group called the Salwa Judum which recruits villagers to fight against the rebels, and has government support. The government of Andhra Pradesh extended its ban on the Maoists by another year, to August 2007. The Maoist leadership was substantially weakened this year, with the arrest of one major party leader, and the death of two others.

"To tackle the threat, Delhi is planning to deploy 11 battalions of paramilitary police and is sponsoring opposing vigilante groups who espouse violence… The Indian government's tougher approach to the growing Naxalite problem includes arming thousands of villagers with guns, spears, and bows and arrows." ('Maoist rebels spread across rural India', Chopra, Anuj. Christian Science Monitor, August 22, 2006)

"Last summer, an anit-Maoist village defense movement was born, calling itself the Salwa Judum, or Peace Mission. The group has coaxed or hounded thousands of people out of their forest hamlets and into the squalid tent camps, where suspected Maoist sympathizers are detained…The Chhattisgarh government has begun to allocate land and money to villagers who agree to abandon their forest homes and build new houses along the road to Bhairamgarh. It also supports the “special police officers” who work arm in arm with the Salwa Judum. So far, 5,000 have been trained, given uniforms and offered what counts here as a generous salary, about $35 a month."
("In India, Maoist Guerrillas Widen ‘People’s War’", Sengupta, Sonia, New York Times online, April 13, 2006)

"A top Maoist leader and his wife were shot dead in a gun battle with the police in Andhra Pradesh, officials said on Thursday. The slain Maoists have been identified as Chandramouli alias Devanna, a central committee member of the Communist Party of India-Maoist, and Jyotakka, also a party member." ('Top Maoist leader, wife killed near Hyderabad', Indo-Asian News Service, 28 December, 2006

"A top leader of India's main Maoist group has been killed in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, police say. Police say the Maoist leader, Ravi Kumar, was shot dead in an exchange on Friday night.”" ('Top Indian Maoist rebel killed' BBC News, Saturday, 17 June 2006)

"Police in the Indian state of West Bengal say a man arrested earlier this week has been identified as a senior Maoist leader. They named the man as 68-year-old Narayan Sanyal, a member of the top decision-making body of the Communist Party of India (Maoist)." ("India police identify ‘top rebel’ "Bhaumik, Subir. BBC News, Calcutta. Friday 6 January 2006)

2005 Peace talks between Maoist rebels and state officials in Andhra Pradesh broke down early in the year due largely to ongoing police attacks on rebels. In late 2004, the two largest Maoist groups, the People’s War Group and the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army of the Maoist Communist Centre of India, merged to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Maoist rebels in India and Nepal also increased cross-border cooperation. In response to an increase in the intensity and territorial reach of rebel activity, the Indian federal government announced a counter-strategy which included plans to increase inter-state police cooperation and funding for poverty reduction in rural India where extreme socioeconomic inequality and poverty provide recruits for the rebels.

"The Indian government has said it will tackle rising Maoist violence through better police coordination and poverty reduction plans." "The Indian Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, who chaired the meeting, said the federal government will help set up joint regional task forces to share intelligence on Maoist activity across state borders. Mr Patil said the government will spend nearly $366 million a year to modernise the police forces, the Associated Press news agency reports." [BBC News, September, 19, 2005]

"Maoist rebels in Nepal and India have vowed to join together to promote communism, reinforcing fears that the bloody insurgency in the Himalayan kingdom could spill over into its huge southern neighbour. Nepali Maoist chief Prachanda and his Indian counterpart Ganapathy accused the governments of the two countries of trying to crush their movements." [Reuters, September 2, 2005]

"India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh banned a violent Maoist rebel group on Wednesday, two days after rebels killed 10 people, including a lawmaker and bureaucrat." [Reuters, August 17, 2005]

"Maoist rebels this week announced their withdrawal from peace negotiations with the state government following a series of encounters with police." "Mediators appointed to arbitrate between the government and the Maoists say the government is at fault for the recent downturn, as it failed to restrain the police." [BBC News, January 18, 2005]

2004 A government decision to lift a ban on the PWG and a three month cease-fire failed to lead to a formal peace agreement. An attack on police forces just a few days into the cease-fire may have added to problems for the talks.

"Maoist rebels belonging to the People's War Group have held their first open political gathering in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh." [BBC News, July 28, 2004]

"The government in India's southern Andhra Pradesh state has lifted a ban on a Maoist rebel organisation, the People's War Group (PWG)." [BBC News, July 21, 2004]

"The outlawed left-wing People's War Group in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has announced a three-month ceasefire." [BBC News, June 21, 2004]

"The government of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has offered a three-month ceasefire to a banned rebel group so that peace talks can start." [BBC News, June 16, 2004]

2003 The peace process initiated in 2002 proved to be short-lived as relations between the Naxalites and the state government of Andhra Pradesh worsened, as reflected in the attempted assassination of Chief Minster Naidu in October. Naidu subsequently announced his intention of "crushing" the Naxalites if he were re-elected in state elections in early 2004. The rebels further disrupted the political process by hindering the movement of election officials in remote areas. Meanwhile, the government of the state of Bihar indicated a willingness to hold talks with the People’s War Group, an invitation welcomed by the group.

"The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, announced on November 14, 2003 that the forthcoming mid-term elections to the State Legislature would be fought on the issue of ‘crushing’ the Naxalites." [Observer Research Foundation; www.orfonline.org/analysis/A049.htm, accessed on January 6, 2004]

"A day after the convoy of Congress candidate Rajendra Pambhoi was attacked, leaving six policemen dead, Naxalites today planted landmines in Kanker and Dantewara districts of Chhattisgarh to stop the movement of polling parties ..." [Global News Wire - Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, December 1, 2003]

"The CPI-ML People’s War (PW) has ruled out the possibility of holding talks with the Andhra Pradesh Government while rejecting the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu’s call to lay down arms and join the mainstream." [thehindu.com, November 6, 2003]

"For the first time in three decades since the naxalite movement took roots in the State, the Bihar Government has decided to hold talks with the banned outfits. The main naxalite group, the People’s War (PW), has welcomed the initiative though with reservations." [thehindu.com, October 14, 2003]

2002 In May, the PWG agreed to a month-long ceasefire to facilitate a peace process launched in early June. However, in July, the Andhra Pradesh State Cabinet extended a ten-year ban on the PWG for another year, a move that seriously jeopardized the progress of the peace talks.

"The government of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has welcomed a month-long ceasefire announced by the communist rebel organisation, the People's War Group. The authorities say they're ready to begin talks, and have agreed to provide safe passage to the rebel delegation -- although they have ruled out sending government representatives into the group's jungle hideouts to negotiate." [BBC News, May 9, 2002]

"Talks between the authorities in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and a Maoist rebel organisation, the People's War Group, (PWG), are deadlocked. Both sides said the stumbling block was the government ban on the PWG." [BBC News, June 10, 2002]

2001 In response to an upsurge in violence, in July the government of Andhra Pradesh said it was willing to hold talks with the outlawed Maoist People’s War Group. The government also stated that issues surrounding the violence needed to be addressed, such as rural poverty and unemployment.

"The government in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has said for the first time that it is willing to hold talks with the outlawed Maoist People’s War Group. The announcement follows an upsurge of violence in recent months by the PWG – which is the prominent among several Maoist rebel groups in the region. The authorities say they are now evolving a new strategy to fight rural poverty which, they believe, is the main cause of the violence. Andhra Pradesh Home Minister Devender Goud said the government believed the problem could not be tackled by the police force alone, and that several other departments would have to be involved. He said the core issues such as poverty and unemployment have to be urgently addressed. The aim of the new strategy would be to distribute land among the poor, ensure speedy functioning of various agencies and departments in remote villages." [BBC, July 31, 2001]

Background:

Taking their name from the Indian town of Naxalbari and inspired by Chinese leader Mao Zedong, “Naxalites” have advocated peasant revolt against India’s caste system and oppression by landlords and government officials in the state of Andhra Pradesh since 1968. In 1980 the insurgents, especially the militant Peoples War Group (PWG), began guerrilla-style attacks on police who responded with extra-judicial executions of suspected Naxalites in “encounter” killings. Incidents of the latter declined in 1995 and 1996 when the state government unilaterally refrained from many enforcement actions. Following continued Naxalite violence, the state renewed counter-insurgency operations in August 1996, reintroduced a ban on the PWG first imposed in 1992, and allegedly established the “Green Tigers” armed vigilante group to combat Naxalites. In recent years, conflict casualties have escalated as combatants target not only rivals but also civilians suspected of supporting rivals. In late 2004, the PWG merged with the Maoist Communist Centre of India to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and fighting has spread to most of rural India outside Kashmir and the north-eastern Indian states, with significant conflicts in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar. In large parts of rural India the rebels form a parallel government including a parallel justice system and taxation that in many rural areas enjoys significant legitimacy. The rebels count on popular support among India’s numerous rural poor who sympathise with their anti-caste and anti-landlords politics.

In response to rebel attacks, a government-allied civilian militia group called Salwa Judum, or “peace mission” was created in 2005. Reportedly supported by the state of Chattisgarh, the group was responsible for a number of attacks on villagers throughout 2007.

“Last summer, an anti-Maoist village defense movement was born, calling itself the Salwa Judum, or Peace Mission. The group has coaxed or hounded thousands of people out of their forest hamlets and into the squalid tent camps, where suspected Maoist sympathizers are detained…The Chattisgarh government has begin to allocate land and money to villagers who agree to abandon their forest homes and build new houses along the road to Bhairamgarh. It also supports the “special police officers” who work arm in arm with the Salwa Judum. So far, 5 000 have been trained, given uniforms and offered what counts here as a generous salary, about $35 a month.” [The New York Times Online, 13 April 2006]

"The naxal movement, which was inspired by Chinese leader Mao Zedong, took its root in tribal dominated Srikakulam agency in Andhra Pradesh in December 1968. It started basically as a revolt against the oppression of the landlord class on poor peasantry .... It soon spread to coastal areas and then to Telengana and Rayalaseema districts." [The Hindustan Times, January 14, 2000]

"As of September, Naxalites had killed 44 police personnel and 202 civilians.... In areas under their control, Naxalites dispense summary justice in ‘people's courts’ which in some cases condemn to death suspected police informers, village headmen, and others deemed to be ‘class enemies’ or ‘caste oppressors.’ The Naxalites extort money from business firms, and railway services in one area had to be canceled in July and August due to PWG destruction of stations, track and signaling equipment. The MCC and the CPI(M-L) Party Unity and Liberation factions are essentially engaged in caste warfare. Their victims, in addition to police and local government officials, include suspected police informers, village headmen, and landlords whom they accuse of oppressing scheduled caste members." [India Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department, 1998].

"The Disturbed Areas Act has been in force in a number of districts in Andhra Pradesh for more than a year. It gives police extraordinary powers of arrest and detention. Human rights groups allege that security forces have been able to operate with virtual impunity in parts of Andhra Pradesh under the act. They further allege that Andhra police have contributed to the establishment of an armed vigilante group known as the ‘Green Tigers,’ whose mission is to combat Naxalite groups in the state. The NHRC is investigating some 285 reported cases of so-called ‘fake encounter deaths’ allegedly committed by the Andhra police in connection with anti-Naxalite operations." [India Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department, 1997]

Arms Sources:

Government: see Kashmir.

The Rebels: some reports suggest that the rebels steal the majority of their weapons from the police and the government and obtains the remainder from other sources, including Maoist rebels in Nepal.

"In February, here in Chhattisgarh, rebels attacked a warehouse of a state-owned mining company, killing nine security officials and making off with 19 tons of explosives. They build their own weapons, including crude pistols and mortars." ("In India, Maoist Guerrillas Widen ‘People’s War’", Sengupta, Sonia, New York Times online, April 13, 2006)

"The Naxalites have become even more daring, seizing police posts overnight and robbing weapons, holding a train hostage, and recently seizing 20 tonnes of high explosive from a mining concern." ('India steps up drive against Maoists', Lyon, David.
BBC News, 10 May 2006

"There are concerns that Maoist rebels in Nepal are finding common cause with groups here. India’s two main leftist insurgent groups have increased cooperation with Maoist rebels who control much of Nepal, sharing arms, training sites, and sanctuary. [The Christian Science Monitor, October 29, 2003]

"Suspected PWG Naxalites loot approximately nine tonnes of explosives being transported in a truck from Uttar Pradesh's Lalitpur to a copper project in Malajkhand, near Laungur Udghati, Balaghat district, Madhya Pradesh." [South Asian Intelligence Review, October 6, 2002]

"The PWG has an awesome arsenal. According to state Director General of Police H.J. Dora, it possesses a total of 1,690 weapons including 90 AK-47 rifles, 650 revolvers and pistols and 950 other weapons such as carbines, DBBL (double barrel) and SBBL guns, tapanchas and country guns." [The Hindustan Times, January 14, 2000]

Economic Factors:

Both government and rebel representatives suggest that the roots of this conflict are primarily economic. Andhra Pradesh is one of the poorest regions in India and suffers from extreme wealth inequality. Conflict over resources is growing with India’s increasing demand for coal-fired electricity. 85% of India’s coal reserves come from the five states most affected by the Naxalite uprising.

“Some 85 percent of India’s coal reserves come from the five states most affected by Naxalites. Since India is still heavily reliant on coal, “Naxalism puts almost half of India’s total energy supply at serous political risk,” says a report by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington.” [The Christian Science Monitor, 01 May 2007]

"The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of millions of India's poor labourers and landless peasants in an insurgency that has killed thousands of people in India." ('Indian state orders probe into Maoist surrenders', Reuters, Mon 8 Jan 2007 )

"The leftist insurgency ... is fueled by ineffective and corrupt governance, entrenched feudalism, and militant ideology, analysts say. ‘At the heart, it’s a land war between the upper class and the lower classes,’ ... The rebels survive through extortion of landowners and businessmen. They have ‘redistributed’ 350,000 acres of farmland ..." [The Christian Science Monitor, October 29, 2003]

"Leaders cutting across party lines say that solution to the naxal problem could only come by accelerating development in the region, considered one of the most backward areas in the country." [The Hindustan Times, January 14, 2000]

 

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