Left Wing Extremism (Naxalism) and Urban Youth – Why Educational Institutes Are Emerging Battlefields?

Maoism - Naxalite

The year 2016 kept India occupied with shocking revelations on the campus of renowned Education Institutes. FTII, HCU, IIT Chennai, JNU, Osmania University, Jadhavpur University, Delhi University, Baghalpur University are just few names to highlight. The common thread in all these ‘Institutes turned Battlefields’ is protest against Indian  Government  in the name of Constitutional principles and Democratic Values. This was at students level. Few teachers too tried to escalate these protests through their active participation or supportive roles. Different Political parties, tried to exploit the situation. All this left the common man of this country wondering and guessing ‘How students turned anti India?’ ‘What is suddenly wrong with all these universities and institutes?’  A need is felt to analyse the factors that produced sporadic events which sustained or made to sustain discontent over a long period of time.  There are different dimensions of these incidents. The objective of this document is to analyse the dimension of Left Wing Extremism, particularly Maoism and Urban strategy of Maoists which is affecting Educational Institutes and Urban Youth.

Left Wing Extremism (LWE) –The threat:
‘This is a classical model of Fourth Generation Warfare-(4GW) – a warfare where the enemy is invisible and the battle is for the control of civil society – through coercion, controlling the hearts and minds of the people or delivering results by redressing grievances of the people.’ says NSA Ajit Doval.[1] The threat to Indian democracy from the Maoist terror is large and very serious. The nation has witnessed attacks after attacks by Maoists who have claimed many number of innocent lives. The government deems Maoists to be the greatest threat to internal security. Time and again, various Govt representatives mentioned that ‘Left Wing Extremism is the war thrust upon us as a Nation ‘. The CPI (Maoist) Party, is the major Left Wing Extremist outfit responsible for majority of incidents of violence and killing of civilians and security forces and has been included in the Schedule of Terrorist Organisations along with all its formations and front organisations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. ’ ‘Red flag on red Fort’ is their motto.

CPI(Maoist) ranks fifth in the Terrorist organisations globally, responsible for the most coordinated Terrorist attacks between 2000 and 2014, as per report by US State Department’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism(START).[2] In the year 2012[3], 2013[4], 2014[5] and 2015[6] the Communist Party of India (Maoists) has figured in the top five terror groups globally.

Maoism and Urban areas:
Urban Maoism & Govt of India 
Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil told the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) on December 5, 2006, that Maoists were now planning  to target important installations in major cities of India. Patil said “Like forests provide safe  hideouts to Naxalites in tribal areas, the cities also  provide them cover.[7] In Nov, 2013 MHA filed an affidavit[8]  before the Supreme Court acknowledging that ‘The ‘frontal’ organisations of CPI (Maoist), operating under the garb of human rights NGOs, have kept the Maoist movement alive and are more dangerous than armed cadres. These ‘mass organisations’ (‘frontal’) are generally manned by ideologues, who include academicians and activists, fully committed to the party line. Such organisations ostensibly pursue human rights related issues and are also adept at using the legal processes of the Indian state to undermine and emasculate enforcement action by the security forces . They also attempt to malign the state institutions through propaganda and disinformation to further the cause of their ‘revolution’. The state governments are required to initiate legal action against the Maoist front organisations in towns and cities, which are the main source of recruitment of underground cadres and also disseminate the unconstitutional and violent Maoist ideology to vulnerable sections of the population. However, initiating legal proceedings against them has often resulted in negative publicity for the enforcement agencies due to the effective propaganda machinery of the CPI (Maoist).’
‘At a time when our forces are fighting an extensive battle against the Naxals and are achieving success to a large extent, a new form of LWE (Left Wing Extremism) has entered the civil society. They are appearing as a decent face, but through them a propaganda to vitiate people’s mind is being run. Many universities are getting inspired by the so-called civil society of the Left wing. I feel activities of such elements need a special attention’ was statement by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis on Feb 25, 2016.

CPI (ML) (People’s War) and the MCCI merged into a single party, the CPI (Maoist), on 21st Sept,2004. Post their merger they drafted five basic strategy Documents of CPI (Maoist). The Maoists, at their Unity Congress held in January 2007, decided to spread their movement to urban areas. In this wake, the Congress also created a five member sub-committee –– known as Urban Sub-Committee (USCO) — with Kobad Ghandy as its head, and tasked it with preparing a plan. Perhaps, this was submitted to the all-powerful Central Committee in September 2007[9]. This plan is known as the Urban Perspective Plan. Study of those Documents reveal the reasons why ‘Urban Areas’ are important for Maoists. Maoists have articulated a new strategy to target urban areas in their “Urban Perspective Document”[10] and chapter 13 i.e. ‘Our work in Urban areas’ of ‘Strategy and Tactics Document of Indian Revolution ‘[11]. These strategies draw up guidelines for ‘working in towns and cities’, and for the revival of a mobilization  effort targeting students and the urban unemployed. As per their strategy, for gaining power, capturing cities is important. However, as the enemy i.e. Indian State, is strong in urban areas comparatively, that will not be feasible without mobilizing masses.

Why urban areas ? – Mao Tse Tung 
The following statement by Mao Tse -Tung is the guiding principle  for Maoist Urban strategy. ‘Thus it is clear that the armed struggle and the movement in the rural areas will play the primary role, and the work in the cities will play a secondary role, complementary to the rural work. However, while giving first priority to the rural work, we must also give due importance to the urban struggle. Without a strong urban revolutionary movement, the ongoing people’s war faces difficulties; further, without the participation of the urban masses, it is impossible to achieve countrywide victory. As Com. Mao says, “the final objective of the revolution is the capture of the cities, the enemy’s main bases, and this objective cannot be achieved without adequate work in the cities.” (Mao, Selected Works, Vol. II, Pg. 317).

Why urban areas ? – Strategy and Tactics of Indian Revolution 
Maoists’ document ‘Strategy and Tactics of Indian revolution‘[12] describes the role of Urban areas in following manner: “Work in the urban areas has a special importance in our revolutionary work. in our revolution, which follows the line of protracted people’s war, the liberation of urban areas, will be possible only in the last stage of the revolution. However, this does not mean that there is no need to concentrate on the building of urban revolutionary movement from the beginning. From the beginning we will have to concentrate on the organisation of the working class, which being the leadership of our revolution has to directly participate and lead the agrarian revolution and the people’s war and on building a revolutionary workers movement. Moreover, on the basis of revolutionary workers movement we will be able to mobilize millions of urban oppressed masses and build struggles against imperialism and feudalism, struggles in support of the agrarian revolution and struggles for democratic rights. We will be able to create the subjective forces and conditions required for building a countrywide , broad, anti-imperialist, anti-feudal united front during this course only. The urban movement is one of the main sources, which provides cadres and leadership having various types of capabilities essential for the people’s war and for the establishment of liberated areas… We should not forget the dialectical relationship between the development of the urban movement and the development of the people’s war. In the absence of a strong revolutionary urban movement, the people’s war will face difficulties.
“However, we should not belittle the importance of the fact that the urban areas are the strong centers of the enemy (Indian Govt). Building up of a strong urban revolutionary movement means that our Party should build a struggle network capable of waging struggle consistently, by sustaining itself until the protracted people’s war reaches the stage of strategic offensive. With this long term perspective, we should develop a secret party, an united front and people’s armed elements; intensify the class struggle in the urban areas and mobilize the support of millions of urban masses for the people’s war.”

Three objectives of Urban work 
The ‘Urban perspective’ Document clearly states that Urban work is important for Maoists for their Political as well as Military strategy. There are three objectives of Urban work[13] : Out of the above three, Maoists give more importance to ‘ Mass Mobilisation ‘as it will consequently lead to ‘party Building ‘ for them which will be proletarian vanguard in the revolution and through which they can build ‘ United Front ‘ and perform Military tasks for the Guerilla warfare in the areas surrounding cities where they have established their base or which is also known as ‘ Liberated Zone’.

Maoists’ mass organisations 
The following figure shows different types of Mass Organisations Maoists thought of for mass mobilisation in cities [14] . Maoists form own organisations such as Underground secret organisations which may not fit in the ambit of Democracy, Open Revolutionary Organisations and legal democratic mass organisations, which can work in the ambit of Democracy and are legal. They also intrude into existing mass organisations and try to get into leadership role to support their anti state ‘revolutionary’ role. They build several types of mass organisations simultaneously. From these mass organisations, individuals are selected, brainwashed for supporting and becoming member of Maoist party. Mass organisations is the fodder for party Building.

 Fig 3 : Types of Mass Organisation

United Front 
In its ‘Strategy and Tactics of Indian Revolution ‘, the Maoists clearly defines CPI(Maoist) party (i.e. Leadership at different levels committed to ideology of Maoist), United Front and People’s Army (Armed cadre of Maoists at different levels) as three Magic Weapons [15]. It is important to note here that Maoists’ movement is a structured political movement with rigid command and control mechanism in place and they want to usurp power through the barrel of gun.Mao explained that a correct understanding of the relationship between the Party, Army and the United Front is necessary for victory of the revolution:
“…… the UF and armed struggle are the two basic weapons for defeating the enemy. The UF is a UF for carrying on armed struggle, and party is the heroic warrior wielding the two weapons, the UF and the Armed Struggle to storm and shatter the enemy’s positions. That is how they are related to each other.”[16] As the Maoist work on party building, they give importance to united Front as that serves the broader mass base and coordinated actions can be ensured against the Govt. Their Document says: ’ It is essential that we unite with such struggling organisations and build up broad struggles against the ruling classes. Thus a significant part of the party’s work in the urban areas concerns joint front activity.’ The following figure gives structure of ‘United Front’[17] as per Maoist Document ‘ Urban Perspective’.

Party structure and Party Building
The following figure gives details of party structure and process of party building by Maoists. It is journey of an Individual from a participant of Mass protests to Party member. The interesting part is not all participants would know that they are part of the Activist Groups or party Fractions. Many times the participants keep on working with the misconception that it is better Democracy they are fighting for.

Aggressive, enthusiastic and active candidates are selected for activist groups. They are indoctrinated and become party members. ‘Activist Groups’ is the first level of selection and a transitory phase post which selected activists enter the party cell and start working as Party Member.

Internal Party Structure
The details of internal link within Mass Organisations in Urban areas was reportedly found in Documents seized from Delhi University English Language Prof G N Saibaba. In the year 1991, he was allegedly  sent from Andhra Pradesh to Delhi to spread the network of Maoist in urban areas.  In mass Organisations operating in urban areas, there are two wings i.e. Strategic Front and Tactical United Front. Strategic Front does not directly deal with mass population. It encompasses Central Committee and Polite Bureau of Maoist. Tactical United Front deals with mass Organisations directly. These mass organisations[18] are internally categorised from A1 to A7 basis the role they play and target population they mobilise.   Following figure 7 describes the code and target population. Organisations like ‘Kabir Kala Manch’ reportedly qualify to be A1 type of organisations which sing revolutionary songs and organise cultural Programs to mobilise people. A3 is Revolutionary Democratic Front which has 222 organisations empathising with Maoists and their ideology across India. RDF was banned in Andhra Pradesh and Orisa. A4 to A7 comprise organisations targeting and working on Women, Tribals, Project Affected People and for release of Prisoners respectively. Executive Body controls and coordinates these seven types of Organisations. One representative from each type out of A1 to A7 is part of Executive Body. It decides type of Programs or protests to be organised and location for it. Faction core Committee is only of five people and they control the Executive Body and all mass Organisations through Executive Body. The Faction Core Committee directly deals with Polite Bureau members and the five people in Faction Core Committee operates with different names. The important fact to note here is that most of these organisations are not registered. It also has exception of few organisations registered in the past but now working for Maoists. In each organisation, there are levels from Level 1 to Level 4 for participants  Based on aggressiveness, revolutionary traits, commitment and reliability for Maoist work Faction Core Committee decides the levels of participants  in the organisations. The ratio of Level 1 to Level 4 is 10:1 means if there are 100 individuals in Level 1, level 4 may have 10 or even less number of individuals. Once the individual is confirmed for Level 4, individuals interested in weapons and armed struggle are sent to jungles and rest from level 4 who have grudges against system are engaged in rest of the activities supporting the Maoist party  and Armed struggle such as Courier, propaganda etc.  The individuals do not come to know that they are being assessed or  which level they are in. As per reports, there are 46 such organisations operating in Maharashtra .

Urban Cadre and Military Tasks 
Urban areas are also important for Maoists to get cadre which has skill set to perform following Military tasks. These are enlisted in their strategy Document[19]. In addition to these military tasks, Urban areas are also important for developing International network, medical aid to rural Guerrilla force and as transit facility.

Figure 8: Military Tasks of Urban Maoists

Miscellaneous reasons for focus on Urban areas 
One more important dimension for Maoists’ focus on urban areas in last few years is the recruitment ebb they are facing in tribal areas as tribal realised the hollowness of Maoists ideology due to the violence and harassment they experienced over last 40 years. Maoists are not getting recruits for their dalams (i.e. small unit in Armed Guerilla Force) The number of surrenders has gone up manifolds. In last 10 years, from 2006 to 2016, 6580 Maoists surrendered[20]. Parents of local children in Maoist affected areas  keep their children away from home otherwise Maoists forcefully make children join Dalam. If parents refuse, they kill parents.
CPI-Maoist decided to intensify the people’s war by increasing its mass base across the country and strengthening its presence in urban areas. The decision, taken at a leadership conclave held in the forests along the Jharkhand-Orissa border sometime in January–February 2007, was unanimous. The conclave resolved to expand the armed struggle from “guerrilla war” to “urban and mobile warfare”, focusing on industrial areas. It also created a five-member Urban Sub-Committee (USCO) with Kobad Ghandy as its head and tasked it to prepare the urban plan. This plan is guided by the Peru Communist Party’s (PCP) model on warfare in cities.[21] The document was reportedly being revised in 2008 by a five-member Urban Sub-Committee (USC), formed some time in January 2007. The new document was to focus on past successes and failures at ‘mass mobilisation and party building’ in organised and unorganised economic sectors in the urban areas.[22]

Role of youth in urban mass organisations:
The history of students’ and teachers’ association with Maoism is as old as the movement itself. Youth and Labour are backbone of Maoist movement. The Strategy and Tactics of Indian Revolution mentions the following about students role in Maoist movement.
‘Among the urban petty bourgeiosie students and youth constitute important category. They react to the events and historically from the anti-British movement they played a significant role. In the wake of Naxalbari their role is exemplary. Our party has good experience in organising them. While working in urban areas, we must pay necessary attention to organise them. There is a need to emphasize the necessity of uniting with intellectuals. We need to allot sufficient cadre to work among them and some special effort be put in to unite and organise them.’[23]

In the days after the Naxalbari uprising in 1967, youths formed the backbone of Maoists. It is evident from the History of Maoism that youth especially students from urban and semi urban areas have always provided leadership to the Naxalite movement, which is Indian version of Maoism.
Charu Mujumdar, Ganpathi, Anuradha Ghandy, Kobad Ghandy, Sabhyasachi Panda and several such leaders joined Maoist movement as College students from urban or semi urban areas and have been leading from front . They were actively propagating the Naxalite ideology and influencing tribals and youth from semi urban or urban areas. Maoists indoctrinate the youth by pretending to be concerned about social issues. However, the observation is, they will never give or try to find solution to social problems. They just exploit the situation by organizing protests and mobilizing masses which  can be used for party building. These students take admission in different colleges and fail  so that they can continue longer on the college campus.

Their Document ‘ The strategy and Tactics of Indian Revolution’ (chapter 13, Work in Other Fronts ) states :‘Apart from the working class and the urban poor, we have also to pay special attention to our work among women, students, youth, teachers and middle class intellectuals in other professions who have grown considerably in recent decades. Youth and cultural organizations also play a good role in the activities of the city movement.
A section of the student community has imprinted their death-defying advanced role in the history of the country’s revolutionary struggles. They again and again played a role of fore-runner of revolutionary struggles/ movements. They have shouldered the responsibility of spreading revolutionary politics. They have also been playing an important role in the ongoing PPW. It is our task to further deepen our activities within the student community. Considering the present situation we should develop suitable organizational forms to imbue them with revolutionary politics, and organise and mobilize the vast majority of them politically. They can be mobilised politically on both domestic and international issues.’ 

It is evident from the Maoist Documents that their multi-directional attacks are planned to uproot Democracy . Urban Maoism is a unique  threat to India . This problem can not be tackled with security Forces alone . Citizens and especially Urban Youth  play an important role in dealing with this issue and this battle can not be won without their  participation, alertness and awareness.


[1] Ajit Doval, Former Director, VIF, 2010
[2] START, Nov 2015,
[3] START, Annex of Statistical Information, Country Reports on Terrorism 2012, May 2013
[4] START, Annex of Statistical Information, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, April 2014
[5] START, Annex of Statistical Information, Country Reports on Terrorism 2014, June 2015
[6] START, Annex of Statistical Information, Country Reports on Terrorism 2015, June 2016
[7] Hindustan Times, Dec 5, 2006
[8] Indian Express, Nov 16, 2013
[9] P V Ramana, May 03,2010
[10] Urban Perspective
[11] Strategy & Tactics Document 
[12] Ibid ,at 11
[13] Urban Perspective , 3.2
[14] Urban Perspective , 3.3.1
[15] Strategy & Tactics Document 
[16] Strategy & Tactics Document Chapter 8
[17] Urban Perspective , 3.4
[18] Statements by Concerned Officers
[19] Urban Perspective  3.5
[20]Surrenders of Left Wing Extremists,
[21] Dr Nihar Nayak, 2015-06
[22] Beyond Spillovers
[23] Urban Perspective Other Sections of the Petty Bourgeoisie

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