- V. Ramana
Naxalites of the Communist Party of India Maoist, CPI (Maoist), Maoists in short, have reportedly formed a global web of linkages. “… the CPI (Maoist) party [has] close links with foreign [M]aoist organisations in [The] Philippines, Turkey, etc.,” said the Minister of State for Home Affairs in reply to Question No. 248 in the Lok Sabha on April 26, 2016. The Minister also said that the Maoists are not “getting backing from [any] foreign agency / country.”
The external linkages of the Maoists are, indeed, wide. They stretch from Latin America to South East Asia. These linkages have, essentially, given them visibility and propaganda, and very occasionally weapons. According to an internal document of the Maoists, they have, or had, linkages with 21 fraternal groups abroad. Some of these include: Shining Path (Peru), Revolutionary Communist Party (USA), Maoist Communist Party (Italy), Marxist-Leninist Party (Germany), Revolutionary Communist Party (Colombia), TKP-ML (Turkey) and Communist Party of Philippines.
Way back in March 2001, Oken of TKP-ML of Turkey and Chandra Prasad Gajurel alias Gaurav of the present day Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) attended the Congress of the Maoists, in the latter’s earlier avatar as the Communist Party of India –– Marxist-Leninist (People’s War), or PWG as they were then popularly known.
Moreover, a well-known authority on the Maoists, K. Srinivas Reddy, told this author that, in 1996, Bert de Belder, an important leader of the Workers Party of Belgium (WPB), toured North Telangana, then the flagship guerrilla zone of the Maoists, and wrote articles in the European media praising the Maoist movement there as “the best people’s movement he saw anywhere in the world.”
In May 1996, Kobad Ghandy alias Rajan, Central Committee Member of the CPI (Maoist) and head of the Central Propaganda Bureau, who is presently under detention in Tihar Central Jail, New Delhi, participated in the annual International Communism Seminar hosted by the WPB and presented a paper entitled “Armed Struggle in India: Our Experiences”.
Ghandy also visited Canada and the United Kingdom for close to two months in 2005. He is believed to have visited Vancouver, Toronto, London, Birmingham and Bradford, and is said to have distributed 400 CDs containing two Maoist propaganda films –– Blazing Trail and Bhoomkal –– and a few documents of the outfit. The objective of the visit was to build support. The result was hardly encouraging.
Further, in 2004, the Maoists had organised a conference of like-minded organisations known as “Mumbai Resistance 2004” (MR 2004). Besides Indian groups, a total of 24 international outfits participated in MR 2004. Participants at the event and in the massive public rally were mobilised from Balaghat, Gondia and Gadchiroli districts, all relatively close to Mumbai, and where the Maoists claim to have established a guerrilla zone of domination.
Maoists are also said to have been associated with the founding of the International Association of People’s Lawyers in 2000 in The Netherlands and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, which too was founded, and is headquartered in, The Netherlands.
Maoists have also been the founding members of the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA) that was founded in June 2001, and which is, perhaps, defunct now. As the Minister noted in his reply to Question No. 248 mentioned earlier, “The Maoist parties of South Asian countries are members of this conglomerate.” The Minister also said that “[i]nputs indicate that some senior cadres of the Communist Part of The Philippines imparted training to the cadres of CPI (Maoist) in 2005 and 2011.”
Maoists have also had non-fraternal linkages which were entirely opportunistic and meant to procure weapons or receive training. As one senior Intelligence officer told this researcher, during 1989-90, renegade cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) trained the then PWG in fabricating landmines, something which they mastered later on with chilling lethality and stunning accuracy . Besides, on December 10, 1991, as a then Member of Parliament, Bandaru Dattatreya, the present Union Minister for Labour, said in the Lok Sabha that the then PWG had procured 60 AKs and 20 Sten guns from the LTTE.
All these external linkages have served one important purpose for the Maoists. It has given them visibility and propaganda in different parts of the world. Thus, they have been able to mobilize international political support from fraternal groups. Moreover, these linkages have only very occasionally brought in money and weapons. Nevertheless, it is important for all Indian Missions abroad to closely monitor these international groups to counter the propaganda campaign that they unleash from time to time and refute their false claims. Finally, it would also be useful to probe whether these linkages would, in future, help in establishing an arms supply chain.
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.