India’s Lesser Known, yet Dangerous Maoist Groups
Dr Uddipan Mukherjee

The Maoist movement in India is known by the violent activities of the Communist Party of India-Maoist [CPI-M] – the organization which took shape in September 2004 with the merger of the People’s War Group based in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh and the Maoist Communist Centre of the eastern states of Bihar-Jharkhand. CPI-M is the modern avatar of the five decades long Naxalite-Maoist movement in India which begun in 1967 at a little known hamlet of Naxalbari in West Bengal.

Though the CPI-M is the major face of left-wing extremism in the country, yet for that matter, they are not the only one. Recently, a report might have gone unnoticed or at least, less noticed. On 13 June 2019, officers of the National Investigation Agency [NIA] along with the personnel of Assam Rifles conducted searches at Lamlai area of Imphal-East in India’s north-eastern state of Manipur. NIA reported that during the search, the following articles were recovered:-

  • One AK-56 along with three Magazines and 180 live rounds.
  • One 0.38 Pistol (Russian made Makarov) along with 4 live rounds.
  • One 0.32 Pistol (Foreign made).
  • Two live Hand Grenades.
  • 10 Rounds of 9 mm Pistol.
  • Five pairs of camouflage uniforms.

The NIA believes that the recovered arms and ammunition belong to associates of self-styled Chairman of Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), Moirangthem Rana Meitei alias Paikhomba alias Suchikar. The KCP was formed on 13 April 1980, under the leadership of Y. Ibohanbi. The group is christened after the historical name of Manipur, i.e. Kangleipak. It has been more concerned with the preservation of Meitei culture and demands secession of Manipur from India.

After the death of Y. Ibohanbi in 1995, KCP split into several factions such as the ones headed by City Meitei (KCP- City Meitei), Prithvi (KCP-P), Mangang (KCP-M) and Noyon (KCP-N) and other groups. Following a decision taken during a central committee meeting held in May 2006, the KCP factions are reported to have merged together.

However, this was not the first time the group was pursued or nabbed by the NIA. In September 2018, the NIA seized Rs 48 lakh in cash from a woman during an investigation into the activities of KCP. The NIA found out that the amount was handed over for the purpose of concealing the terror funds as part of activities in support of KCP. Towards the end of 2017, the NIA had arrested a militant of KCP in Delhi on charges of raising terror funds, supply of arms, ammunition and explosives for the Manipur-based banned outfit.

So what does this indicate? Is the KCP an isolated group with more to do about secession or does it have sufficient Maoist/Communist leanings? Can KCP form an alliance with the CPI-M and extend India’s communist insurgency into the north-eastern part of the country? Another pertinent question that crops up is if the KCP is alone in this communist landscape in the North-East? The answer is a sure no.

On the occasion of May Day 2019, a press release signed by coordinator (Standing Committee) of Maoist Communist Party-Manipur [MCP-Manipur] mentioned that a joint statement was issued by international Maoist groups about the worldwide proletariat [workers’] movement. The release stated that MCP-Manipur will be undertaking a vital role in formulating a general programme for the International Communist Movement and that another 12 Maoist organisations based in Latin America have also conveyed the message of the Maoist movement through a joint statement issued on May Day. The so-called general programme was issued by organisations that included communist parties from Spain, Afghanistan, Nepal, Turkey, Britain, France, Italy, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Canada and Malaysia, among other countries.

On the other hand, the joint statement titled “Dare to Struggle, Dare to win” issued by 12 Maoist organisations from Latin America included Communist Party of Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Chile and Columbia, among others. The MCP-Manipur was of the firm opinion that the statements issued on ‘May Day 2019’ were a clear indication that there would be a global Maoist movement. Most interestingly, the MCP-Manipur release also cited the influences of Maoist leaders including India’s annihilation-theory mogul Charu Mazumdar, in leading the development of Maoist movements in their respective countries. They further reiterated that from 2019 onwards, the outfit will be undertaking a vital role in arranging bilateral discussions among the global Maoist outfits in order to formulate a general programme for the International Communist Movement.

Interestingly, the MCP-Manipur was formed in August 2011 as a splinter group of KCP, after amending the constitution of KCP and by vowing to strictly adhere to the path of Marxism–Leninism–Maoism. After the party's first conference, it issued a statement declaring that the MCP-Manipur has decided to carry out the New Democratic Revolution and would conduct the Protracted People's War [PPW] in collaboration with other Maoist revolutionary parties. The most alarming issue as reported in the Imphal Times on 03 May 2013 was that CPI-M had termed the establishment of MCP-Manipur as "an event of historical significance in the annals of the history of revolution in South-Asia", and had stated that "it would fight shoulder to shoulder with them in the fight against the common enemy – the Indian state”.

What do analysts opine on this issue of penetration of the Maoist ideology into the North East of India? In a February 2014 piece, Dr Bibhu Prasad Routray wrote that it was hard for the CPI-Maoists to penetrate into the North-East since the insurgent outfits in the region consider the territory their exclusive zone of operation. In this specific case nonetheless, two outfits of the North-East are coloured in the Maoist ideology. In this context, it may be germane to re-iterate what this author wrote in 2011 for the Centre for Land Warfare Studies. Way back in the early 1970′s during the Bangladesh Liberation War, a number of Manipuri activists and leaders, ended up in prison; especially in Tripura, where they came into contact with Naxalite prisoners who also were being arrested at that time. This had a profound influence on the Manipuri groups as a number of key leaders were released from prison in the mid 1970′s with the ideology of Mao Zedong’s thought and the military strategy of PPW.

Further, it is noteworthy to mention that the NIA is presently investigating a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, regarding the ‘interdiction of five sophisticated weapons on 7th February 2019 by Bihar police, including Under Barrel Grenade Launchers and a large number of AK-47 ammunition being smuggled allegedly from across Myanmar border’. This was reportedly being carried out with the help of some Naga underground elements. The arms and ammunition were supposedly to be supplied to the Maoists and gangsters in India. Gleaning from the facts as delineated here, the North-East-Maoist nexus as far as arms smuggling and ideological connect; can be said to have been established.

The upshot is that the Maoist ideology is an ‘old wine’ in the North-East, especially in Manipur. Moreover, the region has been a melting pot of insurgencies. So to ignore the Maoist groups in the region could be at the cost of compromising security not only in the North-East but also in the CPI-M based red corridor in India’s hinterland; a symbiotic relationship between the two outfits is not wholly unnatural with the North-East being a natural gateway of smuggling in small arms from across the border, especially China. The only ray of hope however is the differing ideologies of the groups existing in the North-East which makes it difficult for them to pose a unified insurgent wall.

(The paper is the author’s individual scholastic articulation. The author certifies that the article/paper is original in content, unpublished and it has not been submitted for publication/web upload elsewhere, and that the facts and figures quoted are duly referenced, as needed, and are believed to be correct). (The paper does not necessarily represent the organisational stance... More >>

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