The Indian government began “granting mining licences to private and multinational corporations as part of the liberalisation and privatisation of the economy in the early 1990s.” The current Maoist rebellion began in 2004 when People’s War Group (PWG) and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) merged to create the Communist Party of India (Maoist) — this group is banned in India.
Al Jazeera explains that in the 1920s a communist political movement was started in India as an anticolonial struggle while the country was under British rule. From the original movement, factions have been created over the years. By 1972 the movement had become quiet and localized.
Home to about 84 million Indigenous people, Central and Eastern parts of India are rich in mineral resources. The granting of renewed mining activity causes great harm to people’s livelihoods. People there are mostly subsistence farmers or landless, many live in extreme poverty — lacking basic infrastructures such as roads, healthcare, education, and clean water. Maoists helped local groups organize over land rights and displacement threats during the 1980s. While most of the recruits come from these areas, not everyone there is in support of the group. CNN reports that 90 districts across 11 states are affected by some form of Naxal or Maoist militancy.
The counterinsurgency was launched by the states affected and their efforts are supported by the federal government. The strategy has been a security crackdown -- while it has reduced the level of activity, Al Jazeera reports that “security forces have been accused of committing mass sexual and rights abuses, and extrajudicial killings of innocent [A]divasis.” They have also targeted human rights activists and journalists reporting on the abuse.
The Diplomat reports that while civil rights activists and Maoist watchers are divided over the insurgency’s use of violence, they agree that the movement is rooted in the “pushback against unscrupulous exploitation of forest lands and the displacement of tribal populations for the sake of mineral ore.” While the global mining economy booms, the land and the people in India continue to be exploited, and unemployment in mining regions rises.