India: peace talks or air-strikes as Naxalites gain ground?

The Indian government has offered to hold talks with the Naxalite insurgents following a series of audacious attacks that have hardliners calling for air-strikes on their strongholds in the country’s eastern jungles. The offer is dependent upon the Maoists agreeing to a 72-hour ceasefire, and has been met with no response from the rebels. (The Telegraph, May 20)

On May 20, a Naxalite landmine blew up a vehicle carrying Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troops in Lalgarh, West Bengal, leaving five dead and two injured. Naxalites also blew up a panchayat (village council) office in Malkangiri district of Orissa that day, concluding a 48-hour bandh (strike) called by CPI-Maoist leader Kishenji across much of eastern India. Three days later, guerrillas and joint security forces exchanged heavy firing in Lalgarh, although no casualties were reported. (IANS, May 23; IST, May 20

On May 17, Naxals blew up a bus with both civilians on and a contingent of Special Police Officers onboard near Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, leaving 36 dead, including 12 police. In the wake of the attack, even many public sympathists of the rebels were harshly critical. Singer and Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman, a vocal opponent of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act under which the Naxalites’ CPI-Maoist is outlawed, stated: “I strongly deplore this act of violence as strongly as I deplore state-sponsored violence on the tribals in the name of tackling the Maoists.” (NDTV, Hindustan Times, May 18)

On April 6 in Dantewada, a Naxalite bomb killed 76 CRPF troops in the bloodiest attack since the insurgency emerged in 1967. The CPI-Maoist is said to be distributing a video CD of the attack and its grisly aftermath in jungle communities of Chhattisgarh as a propaganda and recruiting tool. (IANS, April 27)

See our last post on India and the Naxalites.

Please leave a tip or answer the Exit Poll.

  1. Naxalites behind Indian train disaster?
    Some 100 passengers were killed and over 200 injured when suspected Naxalites sabotaged rail tracks in Midnapore district, West Bengal, May, 28, derailing 13 coaches of a Mumbai-bound express train, five of which were hit by a speeding freight train. The government has called it “Maoist sabotage,” and the Press Trust of India reported that a presumed Naxalite front, the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), had claimed responsibility. However, a PCPA spokesperson denied any involvement. (BBC News, AFP, May 28)