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Communist Party of India (Maoist)

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Muppala Lakshmana Rao

Political position

21 September 2004

Communist Party of India (Maoist)

Merger of
• Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) People's War,  • Maoist Communist Centre of India,  • Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Naxalbari

Paramilitary wings
• People's Liberation Guerrilla Army: 80,000 – 90,000 (September 2015)  • People's Militia (armed with bows, arrows, and machetes): 100,000


The Communist Party of India (Maoist) is a Maoist insurgent communist party in India which aims to overthrow the government of India through people's war. It was founded on 21 September 2004, through the merger of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) People's War (People's War Group), and the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI). The merger was announced on 14 October the same year. In the merger a provisional central committee was constituted, with the erstwhile People's War Group leader Muppala Lakshmana Rao, alias "Ganapathi", as general secretary. Further, on May Day 2014, the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Naxalbari merged into the CPI (Maoist). The CPI (Maoist) are often referred to as the (intellectualsNaxalites in reference to the Naxalbari insurrection conducted by radical Maoists in West Bengal in 1967. CPI(Maoist) is designated as terrorist organisation in India under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.


In 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh referred to the Naxalites as "the single biggest internal security challenge" for India, and said that the "deprived and alienated sections of the population" forms the backbone of the Maoist movement in India. The government officials have declared that, in 2013, 76 districts in the country were affected by "left wing extremism", with another 106 districts in ideological influence.


It was formed by merging of various communist groups such as CPI(ML)(Peoples War Group), Maoist Communist Centre, CPI (ML) Party Unity.


The CPI (Maoist) believes that the Indian state is being "run by a collaboration of imperialists, the comprador bourgeoisie and feudal lords." According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, the two factions of the Party adhered to differing strands of communism prior to their 2004 merger, although "both organisations shared their belief in the 'annihilation of class enemies' and in extreme violence as a means to secure organisational goals." The People's War Group (PWG) maintained a Marxist-Leninist stance, while the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) took a Maoist stance. After the merger, the PWG secretary of Andhra Pradesh announced that the newly formed CPI-Maoist would follow Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as its "ideological basis guiding its thinking in all spheres of its activities." Included in this ideology is a commitment to "protracted armed struggle" to undermine and to seize power from the state. On May Day 2014, Ganapathy and Ajith (Secretary of the CPI (ML) Naxalbari) also issued a joint statement stating that "the unified party would [continue to] take Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as its guiding ideology."

The ideology of the party is contained in a "Party Programme." In the document, the Maoists denounce globalisation as a war on the people by market fundamentalists and the caste system as a form of social oppression. The CPI (Maoist) claim that they are conducting a "people's war", a strategic approach developed by Mao Zedong during the guerrilla warfare phase of the Communist Party of China. Their eventual objective is to install a "people's government" via a New Democratic Revolution.

Draft document and Party Constitution

The present draft document has been finalised by Joint CC of the erstwhile CPI (ML)[PW] and the MCCI in September 2004 after extensive discussions. Five draft documents were prepared after intense discussions in a series of bilateral meetings held between the high-level delegations of the two erstwhile parties between February 2003 and September 2004. The Joint CC meeting deeply studied these five draft documents, freely exchanged the rich experiences acquired through the revolutionary practice during the past three decades and more, and arrived at a common understanding on several vexed questions confronting the Indian revolution in the backdrop of the international developments.

The present document – Party Constitution – is the synthesis of all the positive points in the documents of the two erstwhile parties, as well as their experiences in the course of waging the people's war, fighting against revisionism, and right and left opportunist trends in the Indian and international communist movement, and building a stable and consistent revolutionary movement in various parts of the country.

Views on Islamic upsurge

Vinod Anand says that the CPI (Maoist) views Islamic (religion of peace) upsurge as a struggle towards national liberation against imperialism, rather than as a clash of civilisations, and he claims that in the past, some of the party members have described it as "a progressive, peaceful anti-imperialist force in the contemporary world." Kishenji said, "The Islamic upsurge should not be opposed as it is basically anti-US, peaceful and anti-imperialist in nature. We, therefore, want it to grow". In the words of Ganapathy:

"Our party supports the struggle of Muslim countries and people against imperialism, while criticising and struggling against the reactionary ideology and social outlook of Muslim fundamentalism. It is only Maoist leadership that can provide correct anti-imperialist orientation and achieve class unity among Muslims as well as people of other religious persuasions. The influence of Muslim fundamentalist ideology and leadership will diminish as communist revolutionaries and other democratic-secular forces increase their ideological influence over the Muslim masses. As communist revolutionaries, we always strive to reduce the influence of the obscurantist reactionary ideology and outlook of the mullahs and maulvis on the Muslim masses, while uniting with all those fighting against the common enemy of the world people – that is, imperialism, particularly American imperialism."

Location and Prominence

They claim to be fighting for the rights of the tribes in the forest belt around central India in the states of Chattisgharh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and West Bengal. Currently, the Party has a presence in remote regions of Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh, as well as in Bihar and the tribal-dominated areas in the borderlands of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Odisha. The CPI (Maoist) aims to consolidate its power in this area and establish a Compact Revolutionary Zone from which to advance the people's war in other parts of India. A 2005 Frontline cover story called the Bhamragad Taluka, where the Madia Gond Adivasis live, the heart of the Naxalite-affected region in Maharashtra. Recently, the Indian government has claimed that in 2013, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal were in [ideological] "influence" of what it term as "Left Wing Extremism"; while claiming that armed activity by the "Left Wing" extremists was noticed in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal.


The current General Secretary of CPI (Maoist) is Muppala Lakshmana Rao, who uses the alias "Ganapathy". The party hierarchy consists of the Regional Bureaus, which look after two or three states each, the State Committees, the Zonal Committees, the District Committees, and the "dalams" (armed squads). Jan Myrdal notes that the CPI (Maoist) also organises events like "The Leadership Training Programme", as a measure to outlive the fierce offence by the State.


The highest decision making body of the CPI (Maoist) is the Politburo, with thirteen or fourteen members, six of whom were killed or arrested between 2007 and 2010. Prashant Bose alias "Kishan-da" and Katakam Sudarshan alias Anand, are the two most prominent Politburo members of CPI (Maoist). Sudhakar alias "Kiran" is another Politburo member of CPI (Maoist). Shamsher Singh Sheri alias Karam Singh, who died of Cerebral Malaria-Jaundice on 30 October 2005, was also the party's Politburo member. Between 2005 and 2011, the State captured several Politburo members of the party, which includes – Sushil Roy, Narayan Sanyal, Pramod Mishra, Amitabh Bagchi, Kobad Ghandy, Baccha Prasad Singh and Akhilesh Yadav. Ashutosh Tudu and Anuj Thakur are another two of the arrested Politburo members of the party. Among those assassinated, Cherukuri Rajkumar alias "Azad" and Mallojula Koteswara Rao alias "Kishenji", were the two momentous members of the CPI (Maoist)'s Politburo.

Central Committee

The Central Committee of the CPI (Maoist) takes command from the Politburo and passes on the information to its members, and has 32 members. During an interview in 2010, Anand told media personnels that out of the 45 members of the Central Committee of CPI (Maoist), 8 has been arrested and 22 has been killed by the agencies of the Indian government. Anuradha Ghandy, who died on 12 April 2008, was an eminent member of CPI (Maoist)'s Central Committee. Kadari Satyanarayan Reddy alias "Kosa", Thippiri Tirupathi alias "Devuji" and Mallojula Venugopal alias "Bhupati" are another three cadres and Central Committee members of the party. As of 22 September 2011, nine of the Central Committee members were jailed, which includes – Moti Lal Soren, Vishnu, Varanasi Subramanyam, Shobha, Jhantu Mukherjee, Vijay Kumar Arya. One more Central Committee member, Ravi Sharma, was also captured later. Chandramouli, Patel Sudhakar Reddy and Narmada Akka, who were killed by armed forces, were another Central Committee members of the party.

Publication division

The CPI (Maoist) has a "publication division". Besides volunteering as a Politburo member of the party, Sudhakar alias "Kiran" also works for its publication division.

Military Commissions

The Central Military Commission (CMC) is the main armed body of the CPI (Maoist), and it is constructed by its Central Committee. In addition to the CMC, the party has also raised state military commissions. The CMC is headed by Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavaraj. Anand and Arvindji are another two members of the organisation's CMC. Anuj Thakur is an arrested member of the CMC of the party. Kishenji and Chandramouli were also the members of the CPI (Maoist)'s CMC.

Estimated strength

The military wings of the founding organisations, the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army (the military wing of the MCCI) and the People's Guerrilla Army (the military wing of the PWG), also underwent a merger. The name of the unified military organisation is the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA), and it is grouped into three sections — the Basic, the Secondary and the Main squad. All the PLGA members are volunteers and they do not receive any wages. During his stay in the guerrilla zones, Jan Myrdal noted that the female cadres of CPI (Maoist) constituted about 40% of its PLGA, and held numerous "command positions"; but currently, the female members comprises 60% of the Maoist cadres, and women commanders heads 20 of the 27 divisions of the guerrilla zones.

P.V. Ramana, of the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi, estimates the Naxilities' current strength at 9,000–10,000 armed fighters, with access to about 6,500 firearms. The analyses, as of September 2013, suggested that the estimated number of PLGA members has decreased from 10,000 − 12,000 to 8,000 − 9,000. But, Gautam Navlakha has suggested that the PLGA has strengthened over the past few years, and has mustered 12 companies and over 25 platoons and a supply platoon in 2013 as compared to 8 companies and 13 platoons of 2008. The People's Militia which is armed with bows, arrows, and machetesis and is believed to logistically assist the PLGA is estimated to be around 38,000.

Medical units

The Maoists had structured "medical units" in the villages of Bastar, and the CPI (Maoist) operates "mobile medical units." Rahul Pandita writes:

"In the field of health as well, the Maoists often fill in large gaps left by the state. Their mobile medical units cover large distances to offer primary health care to tribals.... Various training camps are held regularly on preventive measures against diseases such as diarrhoea or malaria. The grass-root doctors in the medical squads can administer vaccines, identify a number of diseases through symptoms, and treat injuries that are not severe. Some can even conduct simple blood tests to arrive at a diagnosis. This is a significant advantage in such areas."

Furthermore, the CPI (Maoist)'s medical services squads also move from village to village and provides "basic medical training" to selected young tribal people which enables them to identify frequently occurring diseases through their presages so that they can also distribute vaccines to the patients.

Frontal organisations

The frontal organisations of the party include the Radical Youth League, Rythu Coolie Sangham, Radical Students Union, Singareni Karmika Samakya, Viplava Karmika Samakhya, Janakeeya Manushyavakasha Prasthanam kerala, Porattam kerala, Ayyankali pada Kerala, Njattuvela Kerala and All India Revolutionary Students Federation, Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangathan, and Chetna Natya Manch.

Governance tactics

The "organising principles" of the Maoists are sketched-out from the Chinese revolution and the Vietnam War. The CPI (Maoist) has organised Dandakaranya into ten divisions, each comprising three area committees; and every Area Committee is composed of several Janatana Sarkars (people's governments). The party says that a Janatana Sarkar is established by the election procedure involving a group of villages, and has nine departments — agriculture, trade and industry, economic, justice, defense, health, public relations, education and culture, and jungle. The Janatana Sarkar provides education up to primary level in the subjects of mathematics, social science, politics, and Hindi, in the "camp schools" using the textbooks published by the party in Gondi. They also use DVDs to educate the children in the streams of science and history.

In their efforts to intimidate their political adversaries and consolidate control, the Naxalites tax local villagers, extort businesses, abduct and kill "class enemies" such as government officials and police officers, and regulate the flow of aid and goods. To help fill their ranks, the Maoists force each family under their domain to supply one family member, and threaten those who resist with violence.

The organisation has been holding "Public Courts", which have been described as kangaroo courts, against their opponents. These "courts" function in the areas under de facto Maoist control. The Maoists have also taken care to demolish government institutions under their de facto jurisdiction. They have been allegedly involved in several cases of blowing up schools and railway tracks, and accused of keeping the areas under their control away from modernity and development, typically the uneducated rural populace.

Military strategies and tactics

The CPI (Maoist) rejects "engagement" with what it terms as the "prevailing bourgeois democracy" and focuses on capturing political power through protracted armed struggle based on guerrilla warfare. This strategy entails building up bases in rural and remote areas and transforming them first into guerrilla zones, and then into "liberated zones", in addition to encircling cities.

The military hardware used by Maoists, as indicated through a number of seizures, include RDX cable wires, gelignite sticks, detonators, country-made weapons, INSAS rifles, AK-47s, SLRs, and improvised explosive devices. The Maoists condemn the accusations that they manage arms through China, Myanmar and Bangladesh. On the subject, Ganapathy says, "Our weapons are mainly country-made. All the modern weapons we have are mainly seized from the government armed forces when we attack them."

The CPI (Maoist)'s General Secretary says that they keep on appealing to the "lower-level personnel" in the paramilitary and police forces not to attack them, but rather "join hands with the masses" and "consciously" point their guns towards whom the Maoists view as "real enemies." They further claims that "only when the government forces come to attack us [Maoists] carrying guns do we attack them in self-defence." In Jharkhand, the police have also clutched posters from various places which read, "Policemen keep away from the green hunt and try to be friends of poor. Police jawan, do not obey orders of the senior officials, instead join the people's army."


Some sources claims that the funding for the Maoists comes from abductions, extortion and by setting up unofficial administrations to collect taxes in rural areas where official government appears absent. Poppy cultivation is another major source of funding for Maoists in the Ghagra area of Gumla district in Jharkhand and in parts of Gumla, Kishanganj and Purnia districts in Bihar. Naxalites have been charged by the government with running an extortion economy in the guise of a popular revolution, extorting vast amounts of money from local branches of mining companies and other businesses. Security forces claim that opium fields are hidden among maize crops. Reports from Debagarh district in Odisha indicate that the Naxals also support hemp cultivation to help fund their activities. According to a 2008 report titled 'Naxalite scenario in Jharkhand State' prepared by the Jharkhand Police, Maoists were using illegal mining as a tool to fund their campaign. At that time, Maoists were involved in illegal mining in 18 districts.

Ganapathy has rejected these claims as false accusations, stating that "Maoists were fighting hard to keep mining companies out of areas under Maoist control and that the party mainly collects donations from the people and funds from the traders in our guerrilla zones... [We] also collect rational levy from contractors who take up various works in our areas."

The party is regarded as a "left-wing extremist entity" and a terrorist outfit by the Indian government. Several of their members have been arrested under the now-defunct Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act. The group is officially banned by the state governments of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh, among others. The party has protested these bans. The Indian government, led by the United Progressive Alliance, banned the CPI (Maoist) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) as a terrorist organisation on 22 June 2009. On 22 June 2009, the central home ministry, keeping in mind the growing unlawful activities by the group, banned it under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Earlier, the union home minister, P. Chidambaram had asked the West Bengal Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, to ban the Maoists following the Lalgarh Violence. Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and all its formations and front organisations have been banned by the Government of India.

Following the ban, the Maoists are liable for arrest under the UAPA. After the ban, they are barred from holding rallies, public meetings and demonstrations, and their offices, if any, will be sealed and their bank accounts frozen.


The Party is regarded as a serious security threat and the Indian government is taking countermeasures, pulling the affected states together to co-ordinate their response. It says it will combine improved policing with socio-economic measures to defuse grievances that fuel the Maoist cause. In 2005, Chhattisgarh State sponsored an anti-Maoist movement called the Salwa Judum. The group, which the BBC alleges is "government backed", an allegation rejected by the Indian government has come under criticism for "perpetrating atrocities and abuse against women", using child soldiers, burning people alive, and the looting of property and destruction of homes. These allegations were rejected by a fact-finding commission of the National Human Rights Commission of India, appointed by the Supreme Court of India, who determined that the Salwa Judum was a spontaneous reaction by tribes against Maoist atrocities perpetrated against them. The camps are guarded by police officers, paramilitary forces and child soldiers empowered with the official title "special police officer" (SPO). However, on 5 July 2011, the Supreme Court of India declared the Salwa Judum as illegal and unconstitutional. The court directed the Chhattisgarh government to recover all the firearms given to the militia along with the ammunition and accessories. It also ordered the government to investigate all instances of alleged criminal activities of Salwa Judum. But, the state government did not abide by the Supreme Court's decision. In August 2013, the Supreme Court of India asked the state government to explain that "why its failure to execute the July 2011 order of disbanding the SPOs not considered as contempt of court."

International connections

The CPI (Maoist) maintains dialogue with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre) who control most of Nepal in the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA), according to several intelligence sources and think tanks. These links are, however, denied by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre)

While under detention in June 2009, a suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative indicated that the LeT and the CPI (Maoist) had attempted to co-ordinate activities in Jharkhand state. But, Ganapathy has denied any links between CPI (Maoist) and LeT, stating that the allegations are "only mischievous, calculated propaganda by the police officials, bureaucrats and leaders of the reactionary political parties" to malign the Maoists' image with the aim of labeling them as terrorists in order to justify "their brutal terror campaign against Maoists and the people in the areas of armed agrarian struggle." Kishenji also criticised LeT for having "wrong" and "anti-people" policies; though he said that the Maoists may consider backing up a few of their demands, if LeT will halt its "terrorist acts".

Reports in 2010 indicate that the Communist Party of the Philippines, Southeast Asia's longest-lived communist insurgent group, has been reported to have engaged in training activities for guerrilla warfare with Indian Maoists.

The Indian Maoists deny operational links with foreign groups, such as the Nepalese Maoists, but do claim comradeship. Some members of the Indian government accept this, while others argue that operational links do exist, with training coming from Sri-Lankan Maoists and small arms from China. China denies, and is embarrassed by, any suggestion that it supports foreign Maoist rebels, citing improvements in relations between India and China, including movement towards resolving their border disputes. Maoists in Nepal, India, and the Philippines are less reticent about their shared goals.

Indian Government's paramilitary offensive against the CPI (Maoist)

The "all-out offensive" by the Government of India's paramilitary forces and the state's forces against the CPI (Maoist) is termed by the Indian media as the "Operation Green Hunt". According to the Daily Mail, by July 2012, the Indian government had already deployed about 100,000 paramilitary personnel in its anti-Maoist operations from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA), and it is further considering to "clone" new forces on the likes of Andhra Pradesh's Greyhounds and induce them in the ongoing operations against the Maoists in five other states – Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Maharashtra and Orissa. On 3 January 2013, the government of India issued a statement that it is deploying 10,000 more central paramilitary personnel in Bastar, Odisha and some parts of Jharkhand. On 8 June 2014, the Minister of Home Affairs officially approved the deployment of another 10,000 troops from the paramilitary forces to fight against the Maoists in Chhattisgarh. The count of personnel from State Armed Police Forces involved in counter-Maoism operations in the Red corridor is estimated to number around 200,000. Along with firearms, the armed forces' personnel use satellite phones, unmanned aerial vehicles and Air Force helicopters.

In 2011, the Indian Army while denying its direct role in the offensive operations accepted that it has been training the paramilitary personnel to fight against the Maoists, however, the Maoists have objected to the Army's stationing in the Red corridor. On 30 May 2013, the Indian Air Force's Air Chief Marshal declared that apart from the currently operating MI-17 helicopters, the Indian Force has decided to induce a unit of MI-17V5 helicopters to "provide full support to anti-Naxal operations." Recently in August 2014, the Ministry of Home Affairs has stated that it is "sending" 2,000 personnel from the Naga Battalions of the Nagaland's Indian Reserve Battalions (IRB) to attack the Maoists in Bastar.

Notable ambushes

  • On 15 February 2010, several of the guerrilla commanders of CPI (Maoist), all of whom are believed to be female, killed 24 personnel of the Eastern Frontier Rifles at Silda in West Bengal. The attack was directed by Kishenji, and after the Naxalites' raid at the paramilitary camp, Kishenji addressed the news media saying, "We have not started it (violence) and we will not stop it first. Let us see whether the central government is honest about a solution and we will definitely co–operate.... This is the answer to Chidambaram's 'Operation Green Hunt' and unless the Centre stop this inhuman military operation, we are going to answer the Centre this way only."
  • On 6 April 2010, the Maoists ambushed and killed 75 paramilitary personnel who felled out to the trap laid by the lurking Maoists. The CPI (Maoist) described the incident as a "direct consequence" of the Operation Green Hunt stating that "We have been surrounded by paramilitary battalions. They are setting fire to the forests and making adivasis (tribals) flee. In this situation, we have no other alternative (but to stage attacks)."
  • On 25 May 2013, the CPI (Maoist) ambushed a convoy of the Indian National Congress at Bastar, and killed 27 people including Mahendra Karma, Nand Kumar Patel and Vidya Charan Shukla. While regretting the death of a few "innocent Congress [INC] functionaries" during the incident, they hold the Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian National Congress' policies which they view as "anti-people" in nature, as directly responsible for the attack. Later, 14 Maoist who had allegedly participated in the ambush were gunned down in Odisha by the Special Operation Group with the assistance of Border Security Force.
  • References

    Communist Party of India (Maoist) Wikipedia

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