AAP's Prashant Bhushan created quite a flurry when he sought for referendum on naxal-hit areas on Sunday.
Media seems to be confused with the terms and uses Maoists and Naxalities quite inter-changeably. This creates confusion in the readers' minds over the actual meaning of individual terms.
The actual difference between the terms is as follows:
The difference between Maoists struggle and the Naxalite movement is that both trace their origin to the Naxalbari uprising of 1967.
But while the Naxalite movement thrives on the original spirit of Naxalbari; the Maoist struggle is an outcome of the 1967 uprising.
Maoists work with an agenda and use weapons to achieve their aims.
Naxalism focuses on mass organisations while the Maoism relies mainly on arms.
Naxalism originated as a rebellion against marginalisation of the poor forest dwellers and gradually against the lack of development and poverty at the local level in rural parts of eastern India. It began in 1967 with an armed peasant uprising in Naxalbari village of Darjeeling district in West Bengal. The term ‘Naxal’ came from the name of the village.
The origin of the Naxals was a result of the split that took place in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1967. It led to the formation of Communist Party of India (Marxist and Leninist). West Bengal being the centre of the movement initially, Naxalism spread to the lesser developed areas like Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
The CPI-ML has been fighting elections in several states across India. Most prominent among these groups are the CPI-ML (Liberation), CPI-ML (Kanu), CPI-ML (Jan Shakti), CPI-ML (New Democracy) and others.
Maoism originated in China as a form of communist theory derived from the teachings of Chinese political leader Mao Zedong.
Maoists were the loyal believers of the Chairman Mao’s philosophy that "Power flows from the barrel of the gun."
When the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) was born out of the Naxalbari uprising, a section of communist rebels retained a distinct identity. Along with Marxism and Leninism, a new concept, which is of Maoism, started emerging in India.
Around 1966, Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) was formed in West Bengal. Keeping a low profile in the earlier years, the group shot into prominence in Bihar in mid-1980s when they killed 54 Rajputs in Dalelchak-Bhagaura village of Aurangabad.
In other words, there are two fundamental differences between the Naxalites and Maoists. While the Naxalites take part in elections and many of them are registered parties with the Election Commission of India, Maoists do not support the elections at all.
Also, the Naxalites may have an armed wing, but the existence of the Maoists depend on their armed militia.
Maoism originated in China while Naxalism is derived from Naxalbari village of West Bengal. Terrorist, does not belong to any movement or party.
Naxalite is mostly in the Indian sub-continent and is a member of an armed revolutionary group advocating Maoist Communism.
Terrorism is use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.
Naxalites believe in Maoism and practice terrorism.
Therefore, the two terms (Naxalites and Maoists) should not be used interchangeably as they are not same and their ideologies have different roots.