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Relationship Between Naxalism and Psychology

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 5429 words Published: 19th Jun 2018

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Psychological operation is as old as war. It has formed a part of the conflict resolution process since the ancient times. CH Brewitt Taylor in his translation of a Chines text as San Kuo or Romance of the three kingdom, observes that, as early as in AD 2000 a group of pro Han loyalists combined basic elements of psychological instrument, in conflict resolution. Kautalya and Sun Tzu also enumerated the importance of psychology as an instrument of war. One could also postulate that the institution of reward and punishments, in amongst other things, as being a psychological motivator.

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Naxalism on the other hand is basically about convincing people by psychological means using violence or threat of violence as a tool. It belongs in the realms of psychological and mental attitude of all the people involved. Thus, when naxals perpetuate violence they expect reactions of all concerned. If reactions are not forthcoming, naxalism will collapse for want of effect. This is an oversimplification of a solution for naxalism. Actions, violent or otherwise, are bound to elicit reactions from the victims, the onlookers or the sate apparatus. The question than is what should be the reaction to naxal acts? While no single method is likely to yield results, psychological operations would have a major impact. The fact that naxalism is a problem in the psychological plane, the solution should also lie in the same plane.

The naxals uses violence for propaganda and in turn the government seeks to control naxalism through repressive means. The collateral consequence is the public displeasure. What needs to be considered is that the very nature of naxal violence often seems counterproductive in that it tends to strengthen resistance, provide public outrage and dislike, generate strong public perception of naxals to be inhuman, which undermines the naxals claims to legitimacy. Therefore, understanding the naxals, the victims, the onlookers and the counter terrorist force from the psychological point of view becomes important. Consequently, counter propaganda campaign and other psychological operations assume primacy to maintain or extend support to the regime and diminish that for the naxals.

Statement of the Problem

Naxalism has wide spread in last five years in a big way posing a major challenge to our national security. In addition to relentless anti Naxal operations being undertaken and development of affected areas there is a need for perception management of all key players involved by employing suitable psychological operation themes so as to cut off local support to the Naxalites there by forcing them to give up arms and join the national mainstream.

 This dissertation will seek to establish the linkages between naxalism and psychology with a view to analyse impact of psychological operations on dealing with naxalism

Justification for the Study

Naxalism today has gained universality. This social plague while physical in most of its manifestations is actually firmly entrenched in the mental plane. Responses to naxalism, particularly in the Indian context, have been unstructured without a long-term design. The issue has been viewed either as a law and order problem or in the other end of the spectrum, as a political problem.

Added to the complexity of naxalism, we have today in our country, on going war like low intensity conflict in J & K, insurgency in the Northeast and political groups of Naxalites and fundamental organisations like SIMI. However, our response to each of these groups has been identical repressive measures. No effort is made to understand the ideology of the groups. A clear understanding of the cause of the groups and characteristics of each would enable application of distinct strategy to combat them.


The dissertation will lay emphasis on naxalism and its field of influence. It is presumed that the dictates of psychological operations, with minor modifications would find application in all other forms of terrorism.


Employment of suitable Psychological Operation Themes for perception management of all key players in addition to relentless use of force and development activities is the key to solving the problem of Naxalism in India.


The dissertation will endeavour to establish the correlation of naxalism and psychological dimensions of naxals. Having done so, the impact and importance of psychological operations on combating naxalites will be crystallised. The study will encompass: –

(a) Analyses of reasons for spread of Naxalism.

(b) Current strategy of Government in dealing with Naxalism.

(c) Identification of Targets for conduct of Psychological operations .

(d) Suggested Themes.

Sources of Data

The data used in this dissertation has been obtained from books and magazines available in the College library and personal experiences of operating in Counter Insurgency environment.

The bibliography is at appendix.


“Step by Step, almost imperceptibly, mankind has descended into the age of terror”.

Paul Johnson


Naxalism derives its name from a small village Naxalbari in Siliguri District of West Bengal, where the oppressed landless farmers rose against the exploitation by the wealthy landlords. The Naxalites, despite their ideology, have over the years become just another terrorist outfit, extorting money from landowners. There are concerns that there is a plan to set up a Red Corridor or a Compact Revolutionary Zone extending from Nepal , Bihar , Jharkhand , through the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh to Andhra Pradesh.

Apathetic Government Policy; Consolidation and Spread of the Movement

The Government, however, classified these as socio-economic and law and order problems and not as possible internal security threats. Thus, a myopic view of the issue was taken and long term effects or intentions of the movement were ignored. The formation of The Communist Party of India (Maoist), an underground outfit on September 21, 2004, through the merger of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and the Maoist Communist Centre(MCC) was the biggest breakthrough in recent times.

The map below, displays the spread of Naxal activity in India from 55 districts in the middle of the year 2003.  In addition to the 131 districts currently under the influence of the Naxalites, and the additional 34 districts that are being targeted by them, there are at least another 63 districts in the country variously afflicted by different patterns of ethnic or communal terrorism and insurgency. This takes the number of districts afflicted by terrorism and insurgency to 228, out a total of 602 districts in the country. More than a third of the country is, consequently, suffering from high degrees of present or potential disorder.


Expansion and Consolidation

A total of 39 left wg extremist gps are known to exist, of which the PWG and MCC are the two main gps. These two gps have maj ideological differences, yet in order to have greater influence and bargaining power they announced the merger on 21 Sep 04 to form the Communist Party of India – CPI (Maoist). Naxalism has spread to 170 dists of 15 states in varying deg. It is esmt that CPI (Maoist) has approx 7000 cadres of which 3000 are hardcore and well trained in GW.

Dandakaryna and Abhujmadh

Naxalites op in the very heartland of India, known as the Dandakaryna region which spreads over Chhattisgarh, Orissa, AP, Maharastra and MP. The heart of this region is the thickly forested area of Abhujmadh which is approx 10,000 sq kms. This area till date has not been surveyed by the Svy of India. Nearly 20,000 tribal families live in this area in 237 vills in the most primitive manner. There are no rds or electricity in this area. The Naxalites treat it as a totally liberated area and a large No. of trg and lgs camps are loc inside. It is the nerve centre of all Naxalite activities to incl Central Committee and Politburo mtgs.

Compact Revolutionary Zone (CRZ)

The Maoist of Nepal, PWG and MCC are determined to carve out what they call as the CRZ extending from Nepal through Bihar and then to Dandakaryna region upto Tamil Nadu to give them access to Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. This Red corridor is characterized by thick jungles, tribal belts and under devp region spread over nearly 13 states of the country and Nepal. The Naxalites and Maoists of Nepal use this corridor for mov of arms and est of trg and rest camps.


In order to find a response to the problem of Naxalism, it is essential to understand the fundamental causes and the factors which are sustaining the mov.

Land Reforms. Majority of the people emp in agriculture are landless and poor, they aspire to possess land and this has resulted in a struggle against the rich and powerful landlords. Naxalites exploit this sentiment and have found favour among the tribals.

Ideology. The ideology works at two levels :-

(a) The Informed and Knowledgeable. The well educated and knowledgeable join the mov attracted by the Marxist, Leninist and Maoist philosophy. They provide the ldrship.

(b) The Instinctive Revolutionaries. Majority of the Naxals join the mov to find an escape from the oppression and expl at the hands of landlords, govt officials and police forces. These people constitute bulk of the cadre and are normally ignorant about ideology.

Tribal Policies. British adopted the policy of “Isolation of Tribals” in order to preserve their uniqueness and cultures but we continue to follow their policy in the name of preservation. This has led to neglect, under devp and expl of the tribals.

New Forest Policy. The forest areas have been notified under Forest Regulatory Act thus denying the tribals their traditional means of livelihood.

Lack of Infrastructure Devp. The areas affected by the naxal mov are very rich in forest and mineral resources and yet has not seen any infrastructure devp. The lack of rds, brs, power, industry etc has left the area under devp and poor.

Inadequate Governance. In many of these areas there is no governance at all. The civ adm just do not exist. The govt officials do not vis these areas and hence the grants, funds and schemes announced by the govt are never implemented. This has allowed the Naxalites to run a parallel govt in these areas. The prac of holding Jan Adalats, land distr, constr of irrigation facilities, tax collection by the Naxals is very common.

Favourable Trn – Jungles and Hills. The area selected by the Naxalites spreading from Nepal to Tamil Nadu is a thickly forested. This makes the task of the police forces that much difficult.

Financial Sp. The CPI (Maoist) genr approx Rs 500 to Rs 700 crores annually. This money is spent on payment to its cadres, purchase of arms and amn, running of frontal org and institutions. The main source of funds is through extortion of wealthy industrialists, contractors, govt agencies and officials, looting of banks and by collecting taxes.


Naxalism has the potential to become a major IS threat to India in the next four years, say by 2014, if serious efforts are not undertaken to challenge and eliminate it. The main reasons are:-

(a) Effects of Merger – Fmn of CPI (Maoist). The merger will have following implications :-

(i) Larger Foot Print. CPI (Maoists) has now emerged as the dominant LWE gp. It is forcing the other 37 LWE gps to either join CPI (Maoist) or be prepared to be eliminated.

(ii) Enhanced Bargaining Power. As a dominant gp, it will have a far greater bargaining power with the govts in states and centre and try to legitimize its existence, policies and representation.

(iii) Credible Mil Wg. It is estimated that the merger would increase the cadre str from 7,000 to approx 12 to 14,000.

(iv) Financial Str. The merger would have great impact on finances of the org taking it from 150 to 200 crores to nearly 700 crores annually.

(b) Recognition and World Wide Visibility. The Naxals are trying desperately to find a voice in international forums so as to get world wide recognition and acceptance.

(c) North – South and East – West Corridor. A disturbing, pattern emerges if one were to look at the districts currently under the influence of the Naxalites. They might soon gain a continuous presence along the length and breadth of the country and thus carve out a north-south and east-west corridor. 

naxalitPART 3 : se Current strategy of Government in dealing with Naxalism.

“To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence, supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”

SunTzuezpolicy comprise the following the Government will deal sternly with the naxalites n(ii) Keeping in view that naxalism is not merely a law & order problem, the policy of the Govt., is to address this menace simultaneously on strategy


The Government has a clearly defined policy to combat the challenge posed by the naxalite menace. This policy comprises the following components: –

(i) The Government will deal sternly with the naxalites indulging in violence.

(ii) Keeping in view that naxalism is not merely a law & order problem, the policy of the Govt., is to address this menace simultaneously on political, security, development and public perception management fronts in a holistic manner.

(iii) Naxalism being an inter-state problem, the states will adopt a collective approach and pursue a coordinated response to counter it.

(iv) The states will need to further improve police response and pursue effective and sustained police action against naxalites and their infrastructure individually and jointly.

(v) There will be no peace dialogue by the affected states with the naxal groups unless the latter agree to give up violence and arms.

(vi) Political parties must strengthen their cadre base in naxal affected areas so that the potential youth there can be weaned away from the path of naxal ideology.

(vii) The states from where naxal activity/influence, and not naxal violence, is reported should have a different approach with special focus on accelerated socio-economic development of the backward areas and regular interaction with NGOs, intelligentia, civil liberties groups etc. to minimize overground support for the naxalite ideology and activity.

(viii) Efforts will continue to be made to promote voluntary local resistance groups against naxalites but in a manner that the villagers are provided adequate security cover and the area is effectively dominated by the security forces.

(ix) Mass media should be extensively used to highlight the futility of naxal ideology and violence and loss of life and property caused by it and developmental schemes of the Government in the affected areas so as to restore people’s faith and confidence in the Government machinery.

(x) The states should announce a suitable transfer policy for the naxal affected districts. Willing, committed and competent officers will need to be posted with a stable tenure in the naxal affected districts. These officers will also need to be given greater delegation and flexibility to deliver better and step up Government presence and above all improve governance in these areas.

(xi) The Government of Andhra Pradesh has an effective surrender and rehabilitation policy for naxalites and has produced good results over the years. The other states should adopt a similar policy.

(xii) The State Governments will need to accord a higher priority in their annual plans to ensure faster socio-economic development of the naxal affected areas. The focus areas should be to distribute land to the landless poor as part of the speedy implementation of land reforms, ensure development of physical infrastructure like roads, communication, power etc. and provide employment opportunities to the youth in these areas.

(xiii) Another related issue is that development activities are not undertaken in some of the naxalite affected areas mainly due to extortion, threat or fear from the naxalite cadres. In these areas, even contractors are not coming forward to take up developmental work. Adequate security and other measures would need to be taken to facilitate uninterrupted developmental activities in the naxal affected areas.

(xiv) The Central Government will continue to supplement the efforts and resources of the affected states on both security and development fronts and brings about greater coordination between the states to successfully tackle the problem.


While the overall counter action by the affected states in terms of naxalites killed, arrested, surrendered and arms recovered from them has shown much better results in 2005, there is an urgent need to further improve and strengthen police response particularly by the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra by improving actionable intelligence collection and sharing mechanisms and strengthening their police forces on the pattern of Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh. Even as the states of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to some extent, need to sustain their present momentum of effective counter action against the naxalites and their infrastructure.

The Government has taken the following measures to control the naxal problem.

  • Modernization of State Police

Funds are given to the States under the Police Modernization Scheme to modernize their police forces in terms of modern weaponry, latest communication equipment, mobility and other infrastructure. The naxal affected States have also been asked to identify vulnerable police stations and outposts in the naxal areas and take up their fortification under the Scheme. However, some of the States need to improve the level of utilization of funds under the Scheme.

Revision of Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme in February, 2005.

The level of reimbursement under the Scheme has been raised from 50% to 100% and new items like insurance scheme for police personnel, community policing, rehabilitation of surrendered naxalites, expenditure incurred on publicity to counter propaganda of naxalites, other security related items not covered under the Police Modernization Scheme etc., have been covered. The Scheme also allows release of funds to the naxal affected States as advance. It is hoped that the revised scheme will enable higher level of utilization of funds under this Scheme.

  • Supply of Mine Protected Vehicles

Keeping in view the increased casualties of police personnel due to IED/land mine blasts, the naxal affected States have been provided Mine Protected Vehicles (MPVs) under the Police Modernization Scheme. Their supply has been streamlined by taking up the matter with the Chairman, Ordinance Factory Board.

  • Long-term deployment of Central Para Military Forces

In order to supplement the efforts of the States in providing an effective response to the naxal violence, Central Para Military Forces have been deployed on a long-term basis as requested by the affected States. The Central Government has also exempted the states from the payment of cost of deployment of these forces for a period of three years from 1-7-2004 involving an amount of nearly Rs. 1,100 crores.

  • India Reserve Battalions

The naxal affected States have been sanctioned India Reserve (IR) battalions mainly to strengthen security apparatus at their level as also to enable the States to provide gainful employment to the youth, particularly in the naxal areas. Recently, additional IR battalions have also been approved for the naxal affected States. The Central Government will now provide Rs. 20.75 crores per IR battalion as against the earlier amount of Rs. 13 crores per battalion. The States have been asked to expedite raising of these battalions.

  • Deployment of SSB along Indo-Nepal Border

In order to ensure that there is no spillover effect of the activities of Nepalese Maoists to our territory, SSB has been given the responsibility to guard Indo-Nepal Border. The Government has also recently sanctioned new raisings for the SSB to further improve management of borders in these areas. A modernization plan involving an outlay of Rs.444 crores has also been sanctioned for the SSB.

  • Recruitment in Central Para Military Forces

In order to wean away the potential youth from the path to militancy or naxalism, recruitment guidelines have been revised to permit 40% recruitment in Central Para Military Forces from the border areas and areas affected by militancy or naxalism.

  • Backward Districts Initiative (BDI)

Since the naxalite menace has to be addressed on the developmental front also, the Central Government has provided financial assistance of Rs. 2,475 crores for 55 naxal affected districts in the 9 States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh & West Bengal under the Backward Districts Initiative (BDI) component of the Rsahtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY). Under this Scheme, an amount of Rs. 15 crores per year has been given to each of the districts for three years so as to fill in the critical gaps in physical and social development in the naxal affected areas. The Planning Commission has been requested to include other naxal affected areas under their proposed Scheme of Backward Regions Grant Funds (BRGF) for which an outlay of Rs. 5,000 crores has been set apart from this fiscal year (2005-06) onwards.

  • Tribal and Forest elated issues

In order to address the areas of disaffection among the tribals, the Government has introduced the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005, in Parliament on 13.12.2005. Further, to facilitate social and physical infrastructure in the forest areas, Ministry of Environment and Forests has, as requested by the MHA, issued general approval to allow such infrastructure by utilising upto 1 hectare of forest land for non-forest purposes. That Ministry has also permitted upgradation of kutcha roads constructed prior to 01.09.1980 into pucca roads.

  • Effective implementation of land reforms and creation of employment opportunities in the naxal areas

Naxal groups have been raising mainly land and livelihood related issues. If land reforms are taken up on priority and the landless and the poor in the naxal areas are allotted surplus land, this would go a long way in tackling the developmental aspects of the naxal problem. The States have been requested to focus greater attention on this area as also accelerate developmental activities and create employment opportunities in the naxal affected areas with special focus on creation of physical infrastructure in terms of roads, communication, power as also social infrastructure such as schools, hospitals etc.


The Central Government accords a very high priority to review and monitor the naxal situation and the measures being taken by the states on both security and development fronts to control it. Several monitoring mechanisms have been set up at the Center to do so. These include a periodical review by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) Of the naxal situation, Standing Committee of the Chief Ministers of the naxal affected states chaired by the Union Home Minister, Quarterly Coordination Center meetings chaired by the Union Home Secretary with the Chief Secretaries and the Directors General of Police of the affected states and the monthly Task Force meetings of Nodal Officers of naxal affected states/Central agencies chaired by Special Secretary (IS), MHA. The states have also been asked to hold a monthly review by the DGP and the naxal situation and the measures and strategies to contain the naxal problem .

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The Central Government views the naxalite menace as an area of serious concern. The Government remains firmly committed and determined to address the problem. The current strategy is (i) to strengthen intelligence set-up at the state level; (ii) pursue effective and sustained intelligence driven police action against naxalites and their infrastructure individually and jointly by the states and (iii) accelerate development in the naxal affected areas. The Central Government will continue to coordinate and supplement the efforts to the state governments on both security and development fronts to meet the challenge posed by the naxal problem.


“The essential function of psychological operation is to insure peace and avoidance of human suffering due to war”.

Raj Narain


Liuebarger states that Psychological Warfare is waged before, during and after war, it is not waged against the opposing psychological warfare operators, it is not controlled by the laws, usage and customs of war and it cannot be defined in terms of terrain, order of battle, or named engagements. It is a continuous process. Success or failure is often known only months or years after the execution of the operation. Yet, success, though incalculable can be overwhelming and failure, though undetectable can be mortal. Statecraft instruments of economic and military interventions are physical and measurable. The instrument of diplomacy and psychology are obstructs which dwell in the realm of intellectual and emotional state of mankind. These instruments are used to win the hearts and mind.

History of Psychological Operations

One of the earliest know application of the art of psychological warfare was Gideon’s use of the lamp and pitchers in the battle against Midianites in 1245 BC. This type of use of unfamiliar instruments to incite panic in the enemy is common in the history of warfare. In China, Empire usurper Wsng Mang tried to destroy the Hunnish tribes. Han military emperor used animals to scare away the enemy. In about the same time, AD 2000, a group of loyalist pro Han rebels issued a proclamation on the eve of a military operation, which is even today the essence of psychological operation. The proclamation included: –

  • Naming the specific enemy.
  • Appeal to the better people.
  • Sympathy for the common people.
  • Claim of support for the legitimate government.
  • Affirmation of one’s own strength and high morale.
  • Invocation of unity.
  • Appeal to religion.

Probably, this was the first authentic structured psychological operations dictum. These forms a part of a text in Chinese, titled “Chung, San Kuo Chih Yen-I” by Lo Kuan translated as “San Kuo or Romance of the three kingdom”, by Brewitt Taylor. The concepts of psychological warfare are found in the writings of Herodotus the Greek historian. Ghenghis Khan during his campaign into South Eastern Europe used agents to propagate stories of the size of the army to magnify his strength in the minds of the enemy. In the Byzantine Empire, whole battalions were made to change uniforms and appear in front of select audiences in an attempt to exaggerate numbers. Closer home, the Ramayan and Mahabharat have vivid example of Psychological Warfare in the form of misinformation and guile, the killing of Abhimanyu and Drona being two such examples.

The publication of Heberts’s “The Psychology of the Battlefield” (1897) though still born, was the forerunner of modern psychological warfare. It was in World War I, to incite the challenge of soldiers leaving the battlefield, that psychological warfare saw its true advent in the modern battlefield. During the inter war period the study in this field continued. Particularly, the Germans effort in establishing a Psychological Genera Staff Group which worked on themes such as leadership, selection, indoctrination, relation between officer and soldiers, homesickness, suicide, sex, the treatment of eccentrics, cowardice, desertion etc. The psychology of combat included work on aggression, morale, fear isolation and panic. During World War II military psychology was in centre stage. It saw application in the battlefield, on own troops as also on the warring nations civilian population. All this time, application of psychological operation in terrorism and other forms of low intensity conflict have been unstructured. While a lot of work in this field is being carried out, no formalised stratagem has evolved.

Definition of Psychological Operations

Liuebarger defines psychological warfare as the use of propaganda against an army, together with such other operational measures of military, economic or political nature as may be required to supplement propaganda. Indian Army glossary is more apt in defining psychological operations –

“It is the planned use of propaganda and other measures, designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitude and behaviour of enemy, neutrals or friendly groups, in support of current policy and aims, or of a military plan”.

Need for Psychological Operations

Even in territorial states the menace of terrorism cannot be wiped out by state muscle power alone, but reconciling with the political, cultural, economic aspirations of minorities. It would only than be feasible to isolate the misguided terrorist from public sympathy and social mainstream. West German GSG 9 strategy to hunt down ‘Boader Mainboff’ group was “kill the killer” and it failed. The lack of success of GSG 9 was mainly due to the fact that Boader-Mainboff Group was small with little or no mass support, however, GSG 9 also did not find public acceptance of the strategy adopted. Terrorism uses the plank of psychology to gain acceptance of their cause. Therefore, countering the psychological impact of terrorism and strengthening the fortitude of the people to resist and fight terrorism are the most significant aspects of overall operations against terrorism. In the grand strategy of a campaign against terrorism, success in this sphere is more vital than even the police operations.

The very nature of anti terrorist operations results in a number of counter productive consequences: –

  • Disproportionate use of force levels.
  • Repressive methods leading to loss of civil liberties and in some cases fundamental rights.
  • Injury and even loss of life of innocents.
  • Extensive physical damage and more harmfully damage to the very socio-economic fabric of a society.

The alternative strategy is the use of psychological operation as a compliment to reduce the virulence of military operations. Psychological operations have some distinct advantages in combating terrorism. As enumerated by Liuebarger, these are:-

(a) Bring to attention of the soldier those elements of the human mind, which are usually kept out of sight. Convert lust to resentment, friction to distrust, prejudice to fury.

(b) Set up techniques for finding out how the enemy really feel. Some of the worst blunders of history have arisen from miscalculation of the enemies state of mind.

Help in maintaining sense of mission and of proportion.

Examine the best media, timing and tone.

Psychological operations are non-aggressive and non-lethal in nature. Unlike p


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