Terrorism & Insurgency

Declining Naxalite militant attacks indicate lowering risk in India but promotion of military commander likely to prolong conflict

12 February 2018

Key Points

  • Attacks by Naxalite militants have significantly reduced in India from about 768 in 2010 to 340 in 2017. More than half of attacks were aimed at security forces and government assets, and approximately 18% targeted industrial assets such as mining, construction, and cargo.
  • In late 2017, Nambala Keshav Rao (alias Basavraj), the military commander of the foremost Naxalite group – the Communist Party of India (Maoist) – was promoted as the group’s leader. Rao’s promotion implies a branching-out of Naxalite leadership, increasing the likelihood of a prolonged conflict.


The number of states affected by significant Naxalite activity has been reduced from seven in 2011 to five as of 2017.

Marked fall in activity

According to Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC) there were 768 Naxalite (Maoist militants) attacks in 2010, falling to between 340 and 380 from 2014–2017. The area affected by Naxalite activity has also shrunk: according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, in 2011 seven Indian states reported significant Naxalite activity compared with five in 2017 (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Odisha); Naxalite activity has been virtually eliminated from Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. For the third consecutive year, the majority of attacks were recorded in the thickly forested state of Chhattisgarh, followed by Jharkhand.

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