by Harsha Walia
Building traditional irrigation systems, practicing forest conservation and cooperative farming, and providing educational and medical facilities in the isolated rural forests of India. This could apply to any NGO or charity, but is actually the work of armed Naxalite Maoists. In addition to community development, Naxalites have organized politically to self-govern and have claimed responsibility for numerous killings of government officials, security personnel, and alleged informers. Today, many of the Naxal cadres are Adivasis (tribal indigenous) and 40% are women. Naxalites have been operating since the 1970s in 20 states around the jungles of Central and Eastern India.
Naxalites recently made headlines as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared them “the most serious internal threat to India’s national security” and unleashed Operation Green Hunt. Under Green Hunt 250,000 police, armed forces, and counter-insurgency teams have been deployed, while the US provides military intelligence and tactical guidance. The jungles are under a heavy siege: checkpoints, army patrols, helicopter missions, gunfire battles that kill 40 civilians per week. Based on the counterinsurgency model of soft power alongside military might (charity from the barrel of a gun), government-sponsored agencies are setting up rehabilitation camps for the 200,000 already-displaced villagers.