IDSA COMMENT

Linkages between Indian and Nepalese Maoists

November 9, 2010

The Nepalese Maoists –– Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), or UCPN (M) –– are apparently training their Indian counterparts, rebels of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), or CPI (Maoist). The CPI (Maoist) is an amalgam of the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) and the Communist Party of India –– Marxist-Leninist (People’s War), or CPI-ML (PW).

According to a media report of November 6, 2010 the Indian embassy in Kathmandu wrote to Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala and Home Minister Bhim Rawal, as well as to the Foreign and Home Secretaries of Nepal, claiming that two Nepalese Maoist leaders, Barshaman Pun Ananta and Haribol Gajurel, both commanders of the People’s Liberation Army of the Nepalese Maoists, signed a secret agreement with three leaders of the CPI (Maoist). According to the agreement the Nepalese Maoists would impart political and military training to the Indian rebels. Further, according to these reports, 300 Indian rebels have already been trained inside Nepal and the Nepalese Maoists have agreed to send some more trainers to the bordering Indian state of Bihar to conduct training camps for a larger number of Indian rebels.

On the other hand, the Nepalese Maoists have refuted these claims and alleged that it was Indian propaganda to hamper, if not derail, the ongoing peace process in Nepal. Whatever the claims, and their veracity, these reports are not new. There have been several such reports in the past, and the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) too had attested to the existence, at least at that point in time, of such linkages. Sample the following:

  • Annual Report, 2003-2004: “The symbiotic relationship between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and naxal groups like the MCCI and CPI – ML (PW) continues to prosper.” Further: “The MCCI is reported to have provided logistic support including arms, shelter and manpower to the [U]CPN (Maoist) … [and] [U]CPN (Maoist) cadre has reportedly received military training in MCCI camps.”
  • Annual Report, 2004-2005: “The symbiotic relationship… continues to grow with the MCCI and CPI - ML (PW) extending their military training camp facilities to [U]CPN (Maoist) cadres and availing arms training by senior cadres of the latter.”
  • Annual Report, 2005-2006: “Available reports indicate continued fraternal and logistic links between the [Unified] Communist Part of Nepal (Maoist) and Indian Naxalite groups.”

However, at some other points in time, the MHA claimed that there were no strategic linkages between the two outfits. For instance, speaking in Hyderabad on July 4, 2006, the then Union Home Secretary, V.K. Duggal said, “There is no physical link between Maoists in Nepal and India. However, there is an ideological link.”

Nevertheless, there have been numerous reports on the nexus between the Nepalese and Indian Maoists. The earliest documented information on the linkages between them dates back to 1995, a year before the Unified CPN-M launched its ‘people’s war’, when a CPI – ML (PW) leader by name ‘Suresh’ issued a signed-joint statement, in English, with Prachanda, the UCPN (M) supremo, condemning Indian hegemonism, etc.

It has also been reported that the two top leaders of the UCPN (M), Prachanda and Babuarm Bhattarai, had visited North Telengana, in Andhra Pradesh, ahead of launching their own people’s war in Nepal, to study and learn first-hand how the then CPI-ML (PW) was spreading the movement there, which it showcased to the world as its ‘flagship’ guerrilla zone. Also, though there is no documented evidence, it is said that Prachanda had played a pivotal role in the merger of the CPI-ML (PW) and the MCCI that resulted in the founding of the CPI (Maoist). As one Naxalite-watcher noted: “Over the years, this association has evolved into a strategic alliance with a steady exchange of men and material, extension of training facilities and safe havens and facilitation and procurement of arms and explosives.”

Indeed, as Ranjit Kumar Gupta, who was the Police Commissioner of Calcutta, now Kolkatta, during the height of the Naxalite movement in the 1970s, noted in his book, The Crimson Agenda (New Delhi, 2004), “[o]f the two Indian Maoist parties, the association of the [Unified]CPN (Maoist) has been mainly through the [then] MCC[I] on the Indian areas bordering Nepal.”

The two outfits are also linked through a pan-South Asian conglomerate known as the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA), which was founded on July 1, 2001, and whose formation was announced a few days later, on July 21. When last known CCOMPOSA members met in 2006. A September 29, 2006 media report claimed that in the political resolution adopted at the 4th Conference of CCOMPOSA, which concluded in mid-August 2006 at an undisclosed location in South Asia, members reportedly declared: “CCOMPOSA vows to beat back the attacks (on Maoist groups by the) … reactionary rulers, the Indian Expansionists and kick the US and all imperialists out of South Asia.”

While further declaring that the region should “turn into a flaming field of people’s revolutionary upsurges and burn to ashes imperialism (particularly US imperialism), Indian expansionism and all reaction(aries) in the region” the resolution “vow(ed)… to deepen and advance the new democratic revolutions in … South Asia…” Separately at that time, the CCOMPOSA press release said the “conference has decided to enhance co-ordination and co-operation among the Maoist forces in its various fields of activity…”

Thus, there is some fuzziness about the linkages between the Nepalese Maoists and the Indian rebels. But the fact is, there are linkages and these have been either admitted or downplayed by all sides –– the Nepalese Maoists, the Indian Maoists and the Indian government.