India: Police Prepare for Retaliatory Action against Maoist Rebels

Jhumur Deb
Guwahati, India
170313-IN-ambush-620.jpg Indian police walk ahead of students during a protest march outside Delhi University in New Delhi, Feb. 28, 2017.

Indian police plan to launch a retaliatory strike on Maoist rebels after suspected left-wing extremists killed 12 security personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in a deadly ambush in Chhattisgarh state over the weekend, an official said Monday.

The attack occurred Saturday when suspected Maoists guerrillas triggered a blast and opened fire on CRPF personnel in the Sukma district of the insurgency-torn central Indian state, police spokesman B.K. Singh told BenarNews.

“It was a pre-planned strike,” Singh said, adding that security forces were “gearing up for a befitting reply.”

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh earlier warned of heavy retaliation following Saturday’s attack.

“Maoists have executed a cowardly act on security forces who were doing their duty. Security personnel were patrolling an area where a major road construction project is under way when they were ambushed,” the minister told reporters.

“I want to assure the nation that the martyrdom of our soldiers will not go in vain. There will be heavy retaliation,” he said.

Maoists, also known as Naxalites, have been fighting Indian security forces since the late 1960s from jungle hideouts in more than a third of central and eastern India’s 600 districts.

The armed rebels, who are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have accused successive governments of uprooting poor and landless people to exploit mineral-rich forests scattered throughout the region, known as the “Red Corridor.”

Although the level of violence has declined sharply in recent years, with the government offering cash incentives for rebels who surrender, the group continues to stage occasional attacks on security forces and police informers.

“The attack on security forces is a direct result of the aggressive approach adopted by India’s right-wing government to counter insurgency in the Maoist-infested belt,” said security analyst S.K. Srivastava, referring to the country’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s zero-tolerance stance against Naxalites.

“You can expect stiff resistance from Maoists as the government continues to push development in regions that once belonged to them and the tribals they claim to be fighting for,” he told BenarNews.


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