The Red Corridor is the region in the eastern, central and the southern parts of India that experience considerable Naxalite–Maoist insurgency.
The Naxalite group mainly consists of the armed cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). These are also areas that suffer from the greatest illiteracy, poverty and overpopulation in modern India, and span parts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, and West Bengal and eastern Uttar Pradesh states. As per Ministry of Home Affairs, altogether 1048 incidents of Left-wing extremism (LWE) violence took place in these 10 states in 2016.
All forms of naxalite organisations have been declared as terrorist organizations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of India (1967). According to the Government of India, as of July 2011, 83 districts (this figure includes a proposed addition of 20 districts) across 10 states are affected by left-wing extremism down from 180 districts in 2009.
The districts that comprise the Red Corridor are among the poorest in the country. Areas such as Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Telangana (formerly part of Andhra Pradesh), are either impoverished or have significant economic inequality, or both.
A key characteristic of this region is non-diversified economies that are solely primary sector based. Agriculture, sometimes supplemented with mining or forestry, is the mainstay of the economy, which is often unable to support rapid increases in population. The region has significant natural resources, including mineral, forestry and potential hydroelectric generation capacity. Odisha, for example, "has 60 percent of India’s bauxite reserves, 25 percent of coal, 28 percent of iron ore, 92 percent of nickel and 28 percent of manganese reserves."
The area encompassed by the Red Corridor tends to have stratified societies, with caste and feudal divisions. Much of the area has high indigenous tribal populations (or adivasis), including Santhal and Gond. Bihar and Jharkhand have both caste and tribal divisions and violence associated with friction between these social groups. Andhra Pradesh's Telangana region similarly has deep caste divide with a strict social hierarchical arrangement. Both Chhattisgarh and Odisha have significant impoverished tribal populations.
As of December 2017, 105 districts across 09 states are affected by left-wing extremism down from 180 districts in 2009. The districts affected by people's war stand at 106 in 10 states as on 12 February 2016.
|State||# of Districts in State||# of Districts Affected||Districts Affected|
|Jharkhand||24||18||Hazaribagh, Lohardaga, Palamu, Chatra, Garhwa, Ranchi, Gumla, Simdega, Latehar, Giridih, Koderma, Bokaro, Dhanbad, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Saraikela Kharsawan, Khunti, Ramgarh|
|Bihar||38||11||Aurangabad, Gaya, Rohtas, Bhojpur, Kaimur, East Champaran, West Champaran, Sitamarhi, Munger, Nawada, Jamui|
|Chhattisgarh||27||10||Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Kanker, Rajnandgaon, Sarguja, Jashpur, Koriya, Narayanpur, Sukma|
|Odisha||30||9||Malkangiri, Ganjam, Koraput, Gajapati, Rayagada, Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Deogarh, Kandhamal|
|Andhra Pradesh||13||8||Guntur, Prakasam, Anantapur, Kurnool, Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram|
|Telangana||10||8||Warangal, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Khammam, Medak, Nalgonda, Mahbubnagar, Nizamabad|
|Maharashtra||36||3||Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Gondia|
|Uttar Pradesh||75||3||Sonbhadra, Mirzapur, Chandauli|
|West Bengal||19||3||Bankura, West Midnapore, Purulia|
The Odisha gap
The Red Corridor is almost contiguous from India's border with Nepal to the northern fringes of Tamil Nadu. There is, however, a significant gap consisting of coastal and some central areas in Odisha state, where Naxalite activity is low and indices of literacy and economic diversification are higher. However, the non-coastal districts of Odisha which fall in the Red Corridor have significantly lower indicators, and literacy throughout the region is well below the national average.
- ^Rahul Pandita. Hello Bastar: The Untold Story Of India’s Maoist Movement. Tranquebar Press (2011). ISBN 978-93-8065834-6.Chapter VI. p. 111
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- ^"Bihar ranks third among 10 states hit by Maoist violence".
- ^::Ministry of Home Affairs::
- ^"Maoist Communist Centre - Left Wing Extremism, India, South Asia Terrorism Portal". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- ^"People's War Group - Left Wing Extremism, India, South Asia Terrorism Portal". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- ^Sukanya Banerjee, "Mercury Rising: India’s Looming Red Corridor", Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2008.
- ^ ab"Centre to declare more districts Naxal-hit". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- ^ ab"The Union Government of India to Bring 20 More Districts in the Naxal-hit states". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- ^ ab"Press Information Bureau". Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- ^Magnus Öberg, Kaare Strøm, "Resources, Governance and Civil Conflict", Routledge, 2008, ISBN 0-415-41671-X. Snippet: ... the general consensus is that the insurgency was started to address various economic and social injustices related to highly skewed distributions of cropland ...
- ^Debal K. SinghaRoy, "Peasant Movements in Post-colonial India: Dynamics of Mobilization and Identity", Sage Publications, 2004, ISBN 0-7619-9826-8.
- ^Fernando Franco, "Pain and Awakening: The Dynamics of Dalit Identity in Bihar, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh", Indian Social Institute, 2002, ISBN 81-87218-46-0. ... Land deprivation is the major cause of mass poverty especially in view of the low level of economic diversification in rural areas. Amongst all major states, Bihar has the second highest proportion (55 per cent) of landless or quasi-landless households in the rural population ...
- ^Dietmar Rothermund, "An Economic History of India: From Pre-colonial Times to 1991", Routledge, 1993, ISBN 0-415-08871-2. Snippet: ... Eastern India has been bypassed by the 'Green revolution' to a great extent ... Instead of urbanization, we can find rural areas with an amazing degree of overpopulation ...
- ^Rabindra Nath Pati, National Organization for Family and Population Welfare, "Population, Family, and Culture", Ashish Publishing House, 1987, ISBN 81-7024-151-0.
- ^"Forbes India: Orissa's war over minerals". IBNLive. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- ^"Bihar: Caste, Politics & the Cycle of Strife". Mammen Matthew, SATP. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- ^"Bihar caste clashes kill six". BBC. 2002-10-26. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- ^Smita Narula, "Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's untouchables", Human Rights Watch, 1999, ISBN 1-56432-228-9.
- ^A. Satyanarayana, "Land, Caste and Dominance in Telangana", Centre for Contemporary Studies, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, 1993.
- ^Tulja Ram Singh, "The Madiga: A Study in Social Structure and Change", Ethnographic & Folk Culture Society, 1969.
- ^Ajit K. Danda, "Chhattisgarh: An Area Study", Anthropological Survey of India, Government of India, 1977.
- ^Gyanendra Pandey, "Routine Violence: Nations, Fragments, Histories", Permanent Black, 2006, ISBN 81-7824-161-7.
- ^Oliver Springate-Baginski and Piers M. Blaikie, "Forests, People and Power: The Political Ecology of Reform in South Asia", Earthscan, 2007, ISBN 1-84407-347-5.
- ^"LWE affected districts". pib.nic.in. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
- ^"83 districts under the Security Related Expenditure Scheme". IntelliBriefs. 2009-12-11. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
- ^ ab"National Family Health Survey". International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, Maharashtra. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
- ^B. B. Jena and Jaya Krishna Baral, "Government and Politics in Odisha", Print House (India), 1988. Snippet:... The literacy rate of the four coastal districts is much higher than that of other districts ...
- ^Sanjoy Chakravorty and Somik V. Lall, "Made in India: The Economic Geography and Political Economy of Industrialization", Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-568672-1. Snippet:... and Punjab are considered advanced regions, while Bihar and Odisha are considered lagging regions. With the district level data used here, it is possible to create new data driven definitions of advanced and lagging regions that are distinct from politically defined regional ...
- ^Sevanti Ninan, "Headlines from the Heartland: Reinventing the Hindi Public Sphere", Sage Publishers, 2007, ISBN 0-7619-3580-0. Snippet:... This one state (Madhya Pradesh) alone, taken together with Chhattisgarh, accounted for 17.9 percent of the total decadal decrease in illiteracy in India in the 1990s ...
Areas with Naxalite activity in 2007 (left) and in 2013 (right).
"Naxal" redirects here. For other uses, see Naxal (disambiguation).
A Naxal or Naxalite is a member of Communist Party of India (Maoist). The term Naxal derives from the name of the village Naxalbari in West Bengal, where the movement had its origin. Naxalites are considered far-leftradical communists, supportive of Maoist political sentiment and ideology. Their origin can be traced to the split 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 later years, it spread into less developed areas of rural southern and eastern India, such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana through the activities of underground groups like the Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The term Naxalites comes from Naxalbari, a small village in West Bengal, where a section of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) led by Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, and Jangal Santhal initiated an uprising in 1967. On 18 May 1967, the Siliguri Kishan Sabha, of which Jangal was the president, declared their support for the movement initiated by Kanu Sanyal, and their readiness to adopt armed struggle to redistribute land to the landless. The following week, a sharecropper near Naxalbari village was attacked by the landlord's men over a land dispute. On 24 May, when a police team arrived to arrest the peasant leaders, it was ambushed by a group of tribals led by Jangal Santhal, and a police inspector was killed in a hail of arrows. This event encouraged many Santhal tribals and other poor people to join the movement and to start attacking local landlords.
These conflicts go back to the failure to implement the 5th and 6th Schedules of the Constitution of India.[neutrality is disputed] In theory these Schedules provide for a limited form of tribal autonomy with regard to exploiting natural resources on their lands, e.g. pharmaceutical and mining, and 'land ceiling laws', limiting the land to be possessed by landlords and distribution of excess land to landless farmers and labourers.
Mao Zedong provided ideological leadership for the Naxalbari movement, advocating that Indian peasants and lower class tribals overthrow the government and upper classes by force. A large number of urban elites were also attracted to the ideology, which spread through Charu Majumdar's writings, particularly the 'Historic Eight Documents' which formed the basis of Naxalite ideology. Using People's courts, similar to those established by Mao, Naxalites try opponents and execute, beat, or permanently exile them.
At the time, the leaders of this revolt were members of the CPI (M), which joined a coalition government in West Bengal just a few months back. Leaders like land minister Hare Krishna Konar had been until recently "trumpeting revolutionary rhetoric, suggesting that militant confiscation of land was integral to the party's programme." However, now that they were in power, CPI (M) did not approve of the armed uprising, and all the leaders and a number of Calcutta sympathisers were expelled from the party.
Subsequently, In November 1967, this group, led by Sushital Ray Chowdhury, organised the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR). Violent uprisings were organised in several parts of the country. On 22 April 1969 (Lenin's birthday), the AICCCR gave birth to the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI (ML)).
Practically all Naxalite groups trace their origin to the CPI (ML). A separate offshoot from the beginning was the Maoist Communist Centre, which evolved out of the Dakshin Desh group. The MCC later fused with the People's War Group to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist). A third offshoot was that of the Andhra revolutionary communists, mainly represented by the UCCRI(ML), following the mass line legacy of T. Nagi Reddy, which broke with the AICCCR at an early stage.
The early 1970s saw the spread of Naxalism to almost every state in India, barring Western India. During the 1970s, the movement was fragmented into disputing factions. By 1980, it was estimated that around 30 Naxalite groups were active, with a combined membership of 30,000.
Violence in West Bengal
Around 1971 the Naxalites gained a strong presence among the radical sections of the student movement in Calcutta. Students left school to join the Naxalites. Majumdar, to entice more students into his organisation, declared that revolutionary warfare was to take place not only in the rural areas as before, but now everywhere and spontaneously. Thus Majumdar declared an "annihilation line", a dictum that Naxalites should assassinate individual "class enemies" (such as landlords, businessmen, university teachers, police officers, politicians of the right and left) and others.
The chief minister, Siddhartha Shankar Ray of the Congress Party, instituted strong counter-measures against the Naxalites. The West Bengal police fought back to stop the Naxalites. The house of Somen Mitra, the Congress MLA of Sealdah, was allegedly turned into a torture chamber where Naxals were incarcerated illegally by police and the Congress cadres. CPI-M cadres were also involved in the "state terror". After suffering losses and facing the public rejection of Majumdar's "annihilation line", the Naxalites alleged human rights violations by the West Bengal police, who responded that the state was effectively fighting a civil war and that democratic pleasantries had no place in a war, especially when the opponent did not fight within the norms of democracy and civility.
Large sections of the Naxal movement began to question Majumdar's leadership. In 1971 the CPI(ML) was split, as the Satyanarayan Singh revolted against Majumdar's leadership. In 1972 Majumdar was arrested by the police and died in Alipore Jail. His death accelerated the fragmentation of the movement.
See also: Operation Green Hunt
In July 1971, Indira Gandhi took advantage of President's rule to mobilise the Indian Army against the Naxalites and launched a colossal combined army and police counter-insurgency operation, termed "Operation Steeplechase," killing hundreds of Naxalites and imprisoning more than 20,000 suspects and cadres, including senior leaders. The paramilitary forces and a brigade of para commandos also participated in Operation Steeplechase. The operation was choreographed in October 1969, and Lt. General J.F.R. Jacob was enjoined by Govind Narain, the Home Secretary of India, that "there should be no publicity and no records" and Jacob's request to receive the orders in writing was also denied by Sam Manekshaw.
Situation during 2000–2011
Between 2002 and 2006, over three thousand people had been killed in Naxalite-Government conflicts, and by 2009, the conflict had displaced 350,000 members of tribal groups from their ancestral lands.
In 2006 India's intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, estimated that 20,000 armed-cadre Naxalites were operating in addition to 50,000 regular cadres. Their growing influence prompted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare them to be the most serious internal threat to India's national security. Naxalites, and other anti-government militants, are often referred to as "ultras".
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 dealing with the Naxalite problem in all affected states (namely Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal). Importantly, 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 in these areas.
In 2009, Naxalites were active across approximately 180 districts in ten states of India. In August 2010, after the first full year of implementation of the national IAP program, Karnataka was removed from the list of Naxalite-affected states. In July 2011, the number of Naxalite-affected areas was reduced to 83 districts in nine states (including 20 additional districts). In December 2011, the national government reported that the number of Naxalite-related deaths and injuries nationwide had gone down by nearly 50% from 2010 levels. Maoist communist groups claimed responsibility for 123 deaths in 2013, which was nearly half of all deaths from terrorism in India. The movement is described as “terrorist” by the Indian authorities but it is however popular in the regions where it is present. 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, against only 19 % against it.
In a 2004 Indian Home Ministry estimate, their numbers were placed at that time at "9,300 hardcore underground cadre ... [holding] around 6,500 regular weapons beside a large number of unlicensed country-made arms". In 2006, according to Judith Vidal-Hall, "Figures (in that year) put the strength of the movement at 15,000, and claim the guerrillas control an estimated one fifth of India's forests, as well as being active in 160 of the country's 604 administrative districts." India's Research and Analysis Wing believed in 2006 that 20,000 Naxals were involved in the growing insurgency.
Today, some Naxalite groups have become legal organisations participating in parliamentary elections, such as the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Janashakti.
Situation post 2010
- 6 April: Naxalites launched the most deadly assault in the history of the Naxalite movement by killing 76 security personnel. The attack was launched by up to 1,000 Naxalites in a well-planned attack, killing an estimated 76 CRPF personnel in two separate ambushes and wounding 50 others, in the remote jungles of Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district in Eastern/Central India.
- 17 May, Naxals blew up a bus on Dantewda–Sukhma road in Chhattisgarh, killing 15 policemen and 20 civilians. In the third major attack by Naxals on 29 June, at least 26 personnel of the CRPF were killed in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh.
Despite the 2010 Chhattisgarh ambushes, the most recent central government campaign to contain and reduce the militant Naxalite presence appears to be having some success. States such as Madhya Pradesh have reported significant reduction in Naxalite activities as a result of their use of IAP funds for rural development within their states. The recent success in containing violence may be due to a combination of more state presence, but also due to the recent introduction of social security schemes, such as NREGA.
- Late 2011:, Kishenji, the military leader of Communist Party of India (Maoist), was killed in an encounter with the joint operation forces, which was a huge blow to the Naxalite movement in eastern India.
- March: Maoist rebels kidnapped two Italians in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, the first time Westerners were abducted there.
- 27 March: 12 CRPF personnel were killed on in a landmine blast triggered by suspected Naxalites in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.
- 11 March 2014, Naxalites in Chhattisgarh ambushed a security team, killing 15 personnel, 11 of whom were from the CRPF. A civilian was also killed.
- 1 December 2014 Monday killed 14 CRPF personnel and 12 injured in south Chhattisgarh's Sukma district 
- 11 April 2015 : 7 Special Task Force (STF) personnel were killed in a Maoist ambush near Kankerlanka, Sukma, *Chhattisgarh.
- 12 April 2015 : 1 BSF Jawan was killed in a Maoist attack near Bande, Kanker, Chhattisgarh.
- 13 April 2015 : 5 Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) Jawans were killed in a Maoist ambush near Kirandul, Dantewada, Chhattisgarh.
- 24 October 2016 : 24 Naxalites were killed by Andhra Pradesh Greyhounds forces in encounter that took place in the cut-off area of remote Chitrakonda on Andhra-Odisha border.
- In November, 2016, three naxalites were killed near Karulai in an encounter with Kerala police. Naxalite leader Kappu Devaraj from Andhra Pradesh is included in the list of killed in the incident.
- Late November: In Jharkhand, six Naxals were killed in a gun battle with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commandos. The CRPF recovered 600 bullets of various calibre, about 12 IEDs, an INSAS rifle, an SLR, a carbine and three other guns.
- 24 April 2017: In the 2017 edelbeda attack twenty five CRPF officers were killed in encounter with 300 Naxals. The encounter with 74 battalion of CRPF was reported from Kala Pathar near Chintagufa in Sukma District of Chattisgarh.
- 13 March 2018:9 CRPF personnel were killed and two injured after a powerful IED blast that destroyed their mine-protected vehicle in Sukma, Chattisgarh.
According to Maoist sympathisers, the Indian Constitution "ratified colonial policy and made the state custodian of tribal homelands", turning tribal populations into squatters on their own land and denied them their traditional rights to forest produce. These Naxalite conflicts began in the late 1960s with the prolonged failure of the Indian government to implement constitutional reforms to provide for limited tribal autonomy with respect to natural resources on their lands, e.g. pharmaceutical and mining, as well as pass 'land ceiling laws', limiting the land to be possessed by landlords and distribution of excess land to landless farmers and labourers. In Scheduled Tribes [ST] areas, disputes related to illegal alienation of ST land to non-tribal people, still common, gave rise to the Naxalite movement.
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Areas with Naxalite activity in 2007 (left) and in 2013 (right).