India: Maoist insurgency gains ground

Almost completely overlooked by the world media, the insurgency of the Naxalites, India’s Maoist guerillas, has been simmering since the 1960s, and now shows signs of gaining ground, as indicated by this June 17 report from the Indian news agency Rediff:

Naxalism: 13 states discuss strategy
A one-day meeting of top officials of 13 Maoist-affected states to chalk out strategies to tackle Naxalism commenced in Hyderabad on Friday.

The conference assumes importance in the wake of the spread of Maoists to new states.

The Centre has added four new states to the list of Naxalite-affected areas. The final list — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Naxalite violence is characterised by jan adalats (kangaroo courts), targeted attacks on police, police informers, ruling political class and soft targets such as the railways.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (People’s War) and the Maoist Communist Centre of India, which merged in September 2004 to form the Communist Party of India-Maoist, spearhead the violence.

The Congress government in AP had initiated peace talks with the Maoists last year but it was abandoned this year after Maoists resumed their attacks following resumption of encounter killings by the police.

The Union Home Ministry has mooted a proposal to start a centralised school on the model of Greyhounds Academy to train special commandos for undertaking anti-extremist operations.

It has also positively responded to the affected states’ requests for deployment of additional central para-military forces, induction of mine-proof vehicles and provision of helicopters for combing operations against Naxalites.

“While the states have distinct borders, the Maoists do not. Hence, the police have to face challenges and find ways and means to deal with such specific law and order problems,” AP Director-General of Police Swaranjit Sen said.

Moves by Burma against Indian guerillas who have operated from Burmese territory explains Delhi’s recent raprochement with the junta in Rangoon. The shared Maoist threat also explains why India continues to arm Nepal, despite Katmandu’s close relations with Delhi’s regional rivals China and Pakistan.

For more on the Naxalites, see WW4 REPORT #s 63 & 49