The Naxalites, or Naxals, are a group of far-left, radical Communists in India, supportive of Maoist political ideologies and armed violence. What began as a revolutionary peasants movement in Naxalbari, West Bengal, 1967, evolved into an ongoing armed uprising of mostly tribal inhabitants. Militant activity became concentrated along state borders in an area known as the ‘Red Corridor’, which runs through West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh. Districts within this region are among the poorest in the country and have large indigenous tribal populations.
This conflict between Naxal insurgents and the Government of India (GOI) poses a grave threat to India’s peace and security. By 1980, disputing communist factions increased to 30 different militant groups with more than 30 000 official members. India’s Ministry of Home Affairs asserts that more than 6,000 civilians died in the crossfire, during more than 20 years of violent conflict.
Since 2002, IAHV’s sister organisation, Art of Living Foundation (AOL), has delivered peacebuilding programming to engage different layers of Naxalite society in order to develop a culture of sustainable peace. Trainers have been actively involved in providing trauma relief, healing and reconciliation programming as well as conflict resolution skills training throughout Naxal affected areas of India.
From 2002 to 2010, more than 500,000 people benefited from AOL trauma relief techniques. This resulted in restored peace and security in more than 1,000 villages in Naxal affected areas throughout 9 states. In addition, our team facilitated the rehabilitation of war-affected relationships through highly effective trauma relief programs for all actors engaged in Naxal related violent
conflict, including: Naxal militia cadre, members of the Central Reserve Police Force, tribal villagers caught in the crossfire of conflict, as well as tribal villagers living in Government Relief Camps who were forced to migrate from their villages as a result of the violent conflict.
AOL trainers facilitated the reintegration of ex-Naxal militia cadre into society, encouraging political participation and positive action. The implemented programs aimed to demilitarize minds, break down negative thought patterns and reconcile adversarial relationships thereby strengthening social cohesion and conflict resilience. Recurrence of violence was further prevented through human values based peace education that provided practical skills in conflict resolution and encouraged harmony in diversity. Results suggest that deeply embedded attitudes of hatred and fear dissipated and transformed into non-violent behavior.
This peace is largely sustained by selected AOL facilitators providing mediation between the GOI and ex-Naxal militants, facilitating high-level policy and peace agreement negotiations that seek a resolution to the ongoing Naxal insurgency.