Because of extensive linkages with both state and non-state actors within and without India, Left Wing Extremism (LWE) fails to strictly qualify as an “indigenous” movement. Major drivers for these linkages are arms, training, finance, ideology, drugs trade, and the plan to forge a broad front against the “common enemy” – India – in achieving the overall objective of capturing power. The actors with which Naxals have linkages include Maoists of Nepal, militant groups operating in the northeast India, anti-India terror groups based in Pakistan, and organisations like Coordinating Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA), Friends of Indian Revolution (FOIR), International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations (ICMLPO) and International Communist Movement (ICM). These linkages are increasing in depth and quality, but also turning deadly.
Naxal dominated areas are not only rich in minerals and inhabited by tribals, but also popular drug cultivating tracts in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. India is also sandwiched between ‘Golden Crescent’ and ‘Golden Triangle’, the two major drug producing and trafficking regions of the world. This geo-economic factor has not only helped Maoists to collect protection money from drug cultivators, traders and traffickers, but also to involve themselves directly in drug-trafficking. Involvement of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) in facilitating the drug trade is noted. The ISI is also using the Naxals’ local network in pushing counterfeit currencies all over India. Interestingly, Maoists are found more than suitable for the ISI’s “Karachi Project” that aims to carry out terror attacks on “fair targets” in India using local militant groups. The intention is to give an impression to the outside world that all terror attacks in India are home-grown. The ISI also has facilitated contacts between Maoists and anti-India terror groups based in Pakistan like Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Harkat-ul-jihad-al-Islami and those in India like Indian Mujahideen and Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). These contacts have opened a wider world for the Naxals in terms of new ways of fund raising, arms procurement and training.
Naxals have deep linkages with their counterparts of Nepal not only on ideological basis but also for arms procurement, drugs trade, training and resource mobilisation. Indian Maoists also get arms and training from northeast militants like National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), Gorkha Liberation Tiger Force (GLTF), and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). Chinese small arms find their ways to the ‘Red Corridor’ mainly through these two routes. Till recently, Naxals had working relations with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) especially on training. Nearly 100-200 LTTE cadres, who escaped from Sri Lanka during Eelam War IV, are said to be hiding in the jungles of central India training Maoist cadres inter alia in suicide tactics.
External linkages of Naxals also exist in the form of umbrella organisations at regional and global levels. Prominent among them is CCOMPOSA, formed in 2001, with a purpose to unify and coordinate the activities of “genuine” Maoist parties and organisations in South Asia. The CCOMPOSA members have agreed to share each others’ experiences and strengthen one another in “fighting back the enemies in the respective countries.” FOIR is another umbrella organisation whose representatives abroad seek to raise finances in several countries, especially that of the West, for the ‘cause’ of the Indian ‘revolution’. Then there are bodies like ICMLPO and ICM that link LWE groups located all over the world stretching from Peru to Philippines. They sustain fraternal ties and jointly conduct programmes that are mutually beneficial.
To break these linkages should be part and parcel of India’s counter-Naxal strategy. India has to commit its full diplomatic energy in a serious way both at bilateral and multilateral levels to make sure that external sources of support to Maoists are disrupted permanently. India has set up more than 25 Joint Working Groups on counter-terrorism with various countries and regional organisations. These Groups should be enhanced to target Naxals as well. At the same time, more vigilance should be mounted on Naxals interactions with other militant groups in India to identify and disrupt them. New Delhi should push aggressively for a global cooperation to ensure that no state or its agencies offer its territory to any terrorist group.
Dr. N Manoharan is a Senior Fellow at CLAWS
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the views either of the Editorial Committee or the Centre for Land Warfare Studies).