Left Wing Extremism


To prepare for INTERNAL SECURITY for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about Left Wing Extremism. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the Economy syllabus (GS-III.). Left-Wing Extremism terms are important from Economy perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams. Even these topics are also highly linked with current affairs. Almost every question asked from them is related to current events. So, apart from standard textbooks, you should rely on newspapers and news analyses as well for these sections.

Left-Wing Extremism or Naxalism: Introduction and Origin

  • Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is recognised as one of the most serious and biggest internal security threats, not only to India’s internal security but indeed to the very basic values of the democratic, pluralistic political order enshrined in our Constitution.
  • Spread to 17 states in India, including Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal to name the few main one.
  • The Naxal insurgency in India originated in a 1967 uprising in Naxalbari (West Bengal) under the leadership of Charu Majumdar, by the Communist Party of India (Marxist). They are the group of people who believe in the far-left radical communists political theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong.
  • LWE organizations are the groups that try to bring change through violent revolution. They are against democratic institutions and use violence to subvert the democratic processes at ground level. These groups prevent the developmental processes in the least developed regions of the country & try to misguide the people by keeping them ignorant of current happenings.
  • It considers industrial-rural divide fundamental to capitalist exploitation and hopes to overcome it by a violent mass struggle.
  • Naxal violence is related to the intensity of the feeling of people of their deprivation and their commitment to take revengeagainst those who are believed to be responsible for such denial.
  • Currently, the main supporters of the movement are marginalised groups of India including Dalits and Adivasi’s, who believe they have been neglected by the government. The presence of Naxals in the country reveals the loopholes in the law and order of the country which has failed to curb the menace.




Terrorism is a complex and contested issue, as are the associated labels of extremism, violent extremism and radicalisation.


Violent extremist ideologies have found fertile ground in fragile communities characterised by little access to development.


Radicalisers work by pointing to social, political and economic injustice around their followers.


  • Maoism is a form of communism developed by Mao Tse Tung. It is a doctrine to capture State power through a combination of armed insurgency, mass mobilization and strategic alliances.
  • The Maoists also use propaganda and disinformation against State institutions as other components of their insurgency doctrine. Mao called this process, the ‘Protracted People’s War’, where the emphasis is on ‘military line’ to capture power.


Central theme of Maoist Ideology:

  • The central theme of Maoist ideology is the use of violence and armed insurrection as a means to capture State power.Bearing of arms is non-negotiable’ as per the Maoist insurgency doctrine.
  • The Maoist ideology glorifies violence and the ‘People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army’ (PLGA) cadres are trained specifically in the worst forms of violence to evoke terror among the population under their domination. However, they also use the subterfuge of mobilizing people over issues of purported inadequacies of the existing system, so that they can be indoctrinated to take recourse to violence as the only means of redressal.
  • They use violence as their primary tool to destabilise the state through various communist guerrilla groups.


Philosophical Background of Naxalism/Maoism/LWE:

  • The ideological basis for violent movements was provided by the writings of Karl Marx Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. This ideology is known as Communism/Marxism.
  • These leftish ideologies believe that all existing social relations and state structures in an elite/capitalist society are exploitative by nature and only a revolutionary change through violent means can end this exploitation.
  • Maoism’s political orientation emphasises the ‘revolutionary struggle of the vast majority of people against the exploiting classes and their state structures’.
  • The key slogan of Maoists – “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”



Phases of Naxalism:

The theory and practice of revolutionary warfare has three distinctive phases. These are:




Organization, consolidation, and preservation of regional base areas situated in isolated and difficult terrain;
SECOND Progressive expansion, which includes attacks on police stations, sabotage, terror tactics, elimination of persons with alternate viewpoints, and procurement of arms and ammunition from the enemy.
THIRD Destruction of the enemy through conventional battles including mobile warfare, protracted conflicts, negotiations, and unified command and control structures.


Evolution of Naxalism in India:


First Stage (1967-75) · Incident of Naxalbari

· Formation of All india Coordination Committee Of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR)

· Foundation of CPI Marxist – Leninist (1969)

· Arrest of Charu Mujumdar (1972)

Second Stage (1975-2004) · Continued their struggle under the “Strategy of Protracted War”.

· CPI (ML) converted into People’s war group in 1980

· At the same time Moist Communist Centre of India strengthen in Bihar (MCCI)

Third Stage (2004 onwards) · People’s War Group combined with Moist Communist Centre of India and Formed CPI (Moist)

· CPI (Moist) listed as Terrorist organisation under the unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009.



Aims and objectives of LWE and Modus operandi of the Naxalism:

  • It aims to overthrow the government through people’s war.
  • It creates conditions for non-functioning of the government and actively seeks disruption of development activities as a means to achieve its objective of ‘wresting control’. It spreads fear among the law-abiding citizens.
  • The ultimate objective is to attain political power by violent means and establish what they envisage as “The Indian People’s Democratic Federal Republic”. They attack government symbols like police stations and other establishments.
  • While impeding development works and challenging state authority, the Naxalites simultaneously try to derive benefit from the overall under-development and they try to fill the governance gap by providing basic facilities to tribal peoples.



The Naxalite movement prominently focused on major issues like:-

  • Reallocation of land resources;
  • Ensuring minimum wages for the labour working in the farms;
  • Running a parallel government and impose tax and penalties;
  • Run parallel Kangaroo Courts;
  • Destruction of government property and abduct its officials;
  • Attacks on police and law enforcing machinery;
  • Enforce its own social code of conduct .


Frontal Organisations:

  • The Front Organizations are the off-shoots of the parent Maoist party, which professes a separate existence to escape legal liability.
  • The Front organizations carry out propaganda/disinformation for the party, recruit ‘professional revolutionaries’ for the underground movement, raise funds for the insurgency, assist the cadres in legal matters and also provide safe houses and shelters to underground cadres.
  • The functionaries of Front Organizations provide intellectual veneer to the inherent violence in the Maoist ideology. In other words, they sanitize the bloodletting, and attempt to make the Maoist world-view palatable to urban audiences and the media. The Front organizations exist in 20 States of India.



Powerful Propaganda Machinery:

Naxalites have their roots spread in media, NGOs, and almost every city of the country. They use powerful Propaganda war against any government step that aims to check the Naxalite movement. They have a strong lobby of intellectuals which continuously shape public opinion in their favour.



Role of state actor and non-state actor and their link with Naxalism:

  • The CPI(M) has close fraternal ties with many North-east insurgent groups especially the RPF/PLA of Manipur and National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) for sourcing arms. Most of these outfits have linkages with external forces inimical to India.
  • The CPI(M) has also shown solidarity with the terrorist groups of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • These ties are part of their “Strategic United Front” against the Indian state.
  • CPI(M) also has close links with foreign Maoist organisations.
  • The Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA) is an umbrella organization of various South Asian Maoist parties and movements and its purpose is to coordinate their activities throughout South Asia. Its main aim as resisting not only US imperialism and globalisation, but also the Centralised Indian state and its internal repression of minority people.


Sources of funding and linkage with organised crime:

  • Extortion from government projects as well as from corporate companies working in their influence area is the main source of funding of left-wing extremist movements.
  • Kidnapping and killings
  • Protection money from the organised crime groups for providing safe transit facilities to drug dealers and paddler.
  • Loot government treasuries and banks
  • Monopolistic control over the forest produce and government contracts in their areas of dominance.
  • Funding from fraudulent NGOs and fake societies.


The connection between the Naxalites and Downtrodden:

  • Maoists ideology tries to establish people’s government, while the facts are quite contrary. Social upliftment of the downtrodden is not their real aim, rather it is political power.
  • They use the local problems as fodder against the government so that they can seize power through violent means.
  • Maoists have vested interest in keeping poverty alive because it enables them to expand their territory.


Factors Responsible for Rise of Naxalism:

Many remote areas of the country still lack basic facilities like roads, water etc and there is no sign of development. These regions are mineral-rich regions of the country along with socio-economic problems contributed towards the rise of Naxalism in India. These factors can be broadly categorised as follows:


Political Factors:


· Nature and apathy of the political system towards Tribals remained one of the most important factors that led to such uprisings.

· Inability of political authority in India to provide avenues for structural uplift to the deprived sections of society in the affected states.

· Lack of political participation by the tribal community.

Economic Factors: · Poverty and economic inequality and underdevelopment in the naxal affected regions.

· Entry of mining companies in Tribal lands and forests, posing threat to the livelihood of the tribals.

· Indigenous tribal population deprived of their lands, uprooted from their traditional source of livelihood.

· The benefits of the resource exploitation are not passed on the tribals.

Environmental Degradation: · Environmental degradation in the form of destruction of land and water resources due to mining and industrial activates.
Lack of basic facilities:


· Lack of basic facilities like education, freedom, sanitation and food.

· The socially backward tribals form the major support base for Naxalites because of inequality, illiteracy and lack of opportunities.

Governance Deficit: · Lack of routine administration

· Incompetent, ill-trained and poorly motivated public personnel

· Mismanagement and corruption in govt. schemes

· Poor implementation of special laws

· Perversion of electoral politics and unsatisfactory working of local govt.

Jal-Jangal-Jameen · Evasion in ceiling laws

· Encroachment and occupation of govt and community lands

· Non-regularisation of traditional land rights

· Land acquisition without appropriate compensation and rehabilitation

· Disruption of the age old tribal-forest relationship.


Urban Naxalism:

  • Urban naxalism is also posing a threat. It is an old Maoists strategy to focus on urban centres for leadership, organise masses, build a united front and engage in military tasks such as providing personnel, material and infrastructure.
  • Urban naxalism is a product of CPI(M) “Urban perspective: Our work in urban areas”. It is aimed to mobilise urban poor like industrial work etc and other like-minded organisations.
  • A systematic approach was initiated by the CPI-M to mobilise resources and achieve the following objectives through urban mobilisation, taking advantage of their anonymity in the urban centres:-
    • Mobilise masses and strengthen organisational structures – Under this programme, the Maoists mainly targeted students, workers, middle-class employees, and focused on social issues like women’s rights, the grievances of Dalits, and religious minorities and politicised issues in accordance with the communist ideology.
    • Develop a United Front – Another component of the above strategy was to unify like-minded organisations of workers, students from urban localities, organisations opposing globalisation, etc and to consolidate them.
    • Military Task – The military wings of CPI-M, PGI and PLGA, were to carry out the military tasks in the rural and least developed regions of the country while the urban Naxals were to complement their efforts by recruiting cadres and sending them into the countryside, infiltrating ‘enemy’ ranks, creating unions in crucial industries, sabotaging actions with the support of armed cadres, arranging financial and logistical support for armed cadres hiding in the remote localities, etc.


Government approach towards Naxalism in the country:

  • The National Policy and Action Plan implemented by MHA since 2015 is a multi-pronged strategy in the areas of security, development, ensuring rights & entitlement of local communities etc. to combat Left Wing Extremism (LWE).
  • Major Sub – Schemes under Scheme Modernization of Police Forces for 2017-20:
  • Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme (approved in 2017): aims at strengthening the capacity of the LWE affected States to fight against the LWE problem in an effective manner.
  • Special Central Assistance (SCA) for 35 most LWE affected districts.
  • Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS) including construction of 250 Fortified Police Stations in LWE affected states.
  • Assistance to Central Agencies for LWE management Scheme
  • Civic Action Programme (CAP) to bridge the gaps between Security Forces and local people through personal interaction.
  • Media Plan Scheme: to counter the Maoist propaganda
  • For improving the operational performance of the CAPFs in the LWE affected region, the MHA approved the use of cutting edge technology by the CAPFs in LWE theatres, like trackers for weapons, bio-metrics for smart guns and a Unique Identification Number (UID) for gelatine sticks and explosives.
  • Infrastructure development initiatives: Road Requirement Plan-I (RRP-I) is being implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, since 2009 for improving road connectivity in 34 LWE affected districts of 8 States.
  • Road Connectivity Project for LWE affected areas (RRP-II): It was approved in 2016 for further improving road connectivity in 44 districts of 9 LWE affected States. The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) is the nodal Ministry for this project.
  • LWE Mobile Tower Project to improve mobile connectivity in the LWE areas.
  • Approval of Projects under Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) supported scheme to provide mobile services in 96 districts of LWE-affected states.
  • The National Technical Research Organization (NTRO) is assisting the Security Forces in anti-Naxal operations by providing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
  • Skill Development related Schemes:
  • ROSHNI Scheme (Ministry of Rural Development) is a special initiative under Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana which envisages training and placement of rural poor youth from 27 LWE affected districts.
  • Skill Development in 34 Districts affected by Left Wing Extremism” under implementation from 2011-12 aims to establish ITIs and Skill Development Centres in LWE affected districts.
  • Institutional measures:
  • Black Panther combat force – A specialised anti-Naxal combat force for Chhattisgarh on the lines of Greyhounds unit in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Bastariya Battalion – A newly formed battalion of CRPF with more than 534 tribal youth from four highly naxal infested districts of Chhattisgarh along with adequate female representation in sync with the Government’s policy of 33% reservation for women making it the first composite battalion in any of paramilitary forces.
  • A process has also been initiated to create a separate vertical in the NIA for investigating important cases relating to Left Wing Extremism (LWE).
  • Multi-disciplinary groups to check funding of Naxalites – Union ministry of home affairs has formed multi-disciplinary groups with officers from central agencies, including from the IB, NIA, CBI, ED and DRI, and state police to choke the financial flow to Maoists.
  • Employment Initiatives: Along with several infrastructural schemes, the Government of India is also executing several schemes under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) that are empowering the citizens with the required skill sets to earn their livelihood. Under this programme 47 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and 68 Skill Development Centres (SDCs) are to be established by March 2019.
  • Aspirational District Scheme (ADP) of NITI Aayog: ADP is based on 49 indicators from the 5 identified thematic areas, which focuses closely on improving people’s Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure.
  • Surrender and rehabilitation policies: State Governments have their own policy, while the Central Government supplements the efforts of the State Governments through the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme for LWE affected States. Additional incentives are given for surrendering with weapons/ammunition. The surrenderers are also imparted vocational training with a monthly stipend for a maximum period of 36 months.
  • Constructively engaging youth through education: Seeing the success of educational hub and a livelihood centre in Dantewada district, the government has now opened up livelihood centres, known as Livelihood Colleges, in all the districts.
  • Other measures: More bank branches have been opened to ensure financial inclusion. All India Radio stations in the three southern districts of Bastar will now broadcast regional programmes to increase entertainment options. And a new rail service in Bastar is set to throw open a new market for wooden artefacts and bell metal.

Successful implementation of various development initiatives focusing on critical issues of Jal (water), Jamin (land) and Jungle (forest), has been perhaps the single most important factor in making it difficult for the LWE movement to attract large numbers of fresh recruits.


Bell curve of insurgency:

Some experts are of the idea that insurgency will follow the Bell curve in Long term. A ringing endorsement of this received wisdom, arguing that insurgencies “follow a pattern pretty much like a bell curve,” “The graph of violence,” he argued, “rises in the initial period, producing more and more casualties on both sides. But at some stage the rebels come to the realisation that the state and its people are too strong and resolute to be ever defeated, no matter what the score, in a particular day’s battle in a long war. That is the point of inflexion when rebels see reason. There is no reason why the Maoist insurgency will not follow that same pattern.”


Issues in handling LWE:

  • Negligence of established Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) at times leads to loss of valuable lives of security personnel.
  • Certain vulnerabilities remain such as poor planning, inadequate numbers, insufficient intelligence backup etc.
  • Structural deficits and deficiencies such as putting IPS deputationists into almost every senior position in CRPF ignoring the decades of experience within the Force.
  • Sluggish Capacity building of police forces, for example – in Chhattisgarh, there are about 10,000 vacancies in different ranks in state police and 23 sanctioned police stations have yet to be set up.
  • Laundering of funds: Naxal leaders operating in Bihar and Jharkhand are laundering extorted money through acquiring movable and immovable assets.
  • LWEs are well trained in guerrilla warfare.
  • Inefficient technology of mine detection: Present technology is unable to detect deep planted mines under the road.
  • Delay in acquisition of technology: For example- Out of the 157 sanctioned MPVs, only 13 have been supplied by OFB to CAPFs so far.



Ways to end Naxalism in India:

  • Good governance:
  • The presence of Naxals in the country also reveals the loopholes in the law and order of the country which has failed to curb the menace.
  • The central government needs to implement a coherent national strategy to end Naxalism.
  • Dialogue:
  • Dialogues between the Naxal leaders, and the government officials can be a way work out a solution.
  • The government should initiate sincere dialogue with Naxalites.
  • Generate more employment and increase wages:
  • Insecure livelihood and unemployment in the areas have left the people with no option but to join the Naxals.
  • If we are actually thinking of ways to end Naxalism, we’ll first have to provide the people of the area with proper employment opportunities with increased wages
  • Rehabilitation and resettlement:
  • mining grounds, irrigation areas, industries, etc., in the area without any provision for the resettlement of the displaced people has only added to the woes of the poor
  • There needs to be more emphasis on rehabilitation of these affected population
  • Prevent environmental degradation:
  • Environmental degradation in the form of destruction of land and water resources due to mining and industrial activates
  • The locals are left with disrupted lives and adversely affecting tourism
  • Stop the political marginalization of weaker sections:
  • Weaker sections of the society, the schedule castes and schedule tribes still face discrimination from the upper class.
  • These downtrodden sections don’t enjoy equal participation in casting and contesting politically, making them soft targets of Naxals.
  • Remove disparity:
  • Economic disparity and the growing distance between rich and the poor is one of the main problems that has contributed to the growth of Naxalism
  • This distance needs to be filled to an extent hastily to stop Naxalism
  • Let ordinary citizens have access to basic resources:
  • One of the major reasons for unrest is the exploitation of forest and lands of the tribal people for industrial purposes.
  • The loss of land and the lack of basic facilities like education, freedom, sanitation and food
  • Take steps for welfare of the tribals:
  • The socially backward tribals form the major support base for Naxalites because of inequality, illiteracy and lack of opportunities.
  • It’s important to prevent these people from falling in the Naxal trap.
  • Modernize law enforcement agencies:
  • The major policing lies in the hands of the state governments
  • At federal level, many agencies are under the command of Union Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Central government must inroads into these disturbed states with their agencies well-equipped with modern artillery and assist the usually poorly-equipped agencies of the state.


Way forward:

Government need to break this vicious cycle and convert it into a virtuous cycle of development.

  • Eliminating the root cause of the problem that is leading to the alienation of tribals in this area. The focus should now be on building roads, increasing administrative and political access of the tribals, improving reach of government schemes etc.
  • Learning from Chhattisgarh police: As the Chhattisgarh police have experience in tackling Maoists in Bastar, they are now coordinating with the bordering States to strengthen intelligence and ground presence. Such measures can be taken in new areas as well where Maoists are trying to establish themselves.
  • Centre-state cooperation: Centre and states should continue with their coordinated efforts where Centre should play a supportive role with state police forces taking the lead.
  • Undertaking technological solutions: such as use of micro or mini-UAVs or small drones to minimize loss of lives of security personnel.
  • Psychological operations -Build trust: Winning a psychological war against the Maoists remains an unfinished task. To bridge this trust deficit, civil society must join hands with the government in realising the villagers’ right to development.
  • Awareness generation: Government should undertake awareness and outreach programmes and inclusive developmental programmes.
  • Forest Rights: Effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006.
  • Financial empowerment: Introduce measures to encourage formation of ‘Self Help Groups’ (SHGs) to improve access to credit and marketing and empower the disadvantaged.
  • Choke funding: The nexus between illegal mining/forest contractors and transporters and extremists which provides the financial support for the extremist movement needs to be broken through establishment of special anti-extortion and anti-money laundering cells by State Police.
  • Special efforts are needed to monitor the implementation of constitutional and statutory safeguards, development schemes and land reforms initiatives for containing discontent among sections vulnerable to the propaganda of violent left extremism.
  • Infrastructure development: For implementing large infrastructure projects, particularly road networks that are strongly opposed by the extremists need to be undertaken with the help of specialised Government agencies like the Border Roads Organisation instead of local contractors.


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