By Shashank Chouhan and Sankalp Phartiyal
WHO ARE THE MAOISTS?
The Maoists, also known as Naxals in India, are inspired by the political philosophy of China’s late Chairman Mao Zedong. They say they are fighting for the rights of poor farmers and landless labourers. In 2004, several Maoist groups merged to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which is now the largest left-wing extremist organization in the country. Their aim is to overthrow the state and usher in a classless society. The Maoists are banned in India. They are not to be confused with the mainstream communist parties in India who regularly get elected to legislatures and parliament.
ARE THEY GETTING STRONGER?
The May 25, 2013 ambush was perhaps their most brazen attack on politicians. On June 13, 2013, Maoists attacked a passenger train in Bihar, killing three people. On April 6, 2010, the rebels killed at least 75 policemen in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. The same year, Maoists were blamed for a sabotaging a crowded train in West Bengal, with around 100 passengers killed when it derailed. Maoists have also kidnapped bureaucrats and foreigners to force their demands on the state. Government data shows they have also destroyed hundreds of schools and infrastructure such as telephone towers.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE DIED SO FAR?
It is difficult to arrive at an exact number but government data shows nearly 8,000 people have been killed between 2001 and 2012.
HOW DID THIS MOVEMENT BEGIN?
The peasant movement in Andhra Pradesh just after India’s independence was a precursor to the rise of Maoist thought. But it was an attack on a tribal man in the Naxalbari village of West Bengal on March 2, 1967 that sparked the violent, extremist left-wing movement. A police research paper says the movement was subdued for two decades till 1991.
ARE MAOISTS GETTING FOREIGN HELP?
Media reports suggest the Maoists may be getting training and support from China. There are also reports of their links with Maoist cadres in Nepal, the Philippines and Turkey.