2008: The police northeastern Indian state of Bihar are not pleased with their
performance against local Maoist (communist) rebels. In the last five years,
there have been 130 gun battles between police and Maoists, leaving 63 rebels
and 76 policemen dead. In the last few years, the federal government has also
grown tired of the Maoist violence, and devoted more resources to fighting
them. Thus this year, battles between police and Maoists in Bihar resulted in
29 rebels dead, and 20 police. In 2004, three rebels and 22 policemen died.
been fighting Maoist (communist) rebels for decades. The violence is mostly in
rural areas of eastern and southern India, where poverty is high and literacy
is low. Nationally, the illiteracy rate is 39 percent, and in the districts
where the Maoists operate, it is often much higher (its 53 percent in Bihar).
That makes it difficult to recruit local police, and in many of the areas with
the most Maoist violence, the police are under strength. The police have to be
literate, and too many potential recruits are not. Many who could qualify, have
better paying, and less dangerous, alternatives to choose from.
To help the
states like Bihar, the national government is recruiting 35,000 additional
police into a special security force (the "Police Reserve") to be
used against the Maoists. This is in addition to 26,000 Police Reserve cops
already raised. This is against shortages of about 100,000 police in the
affected states. The Maoists are, after all, a local problem and are taking
advantage of local grievances (feudal practices by landowners and
industrialists, and corrupt local government officials), which the government
finds more difficult to deal with, than simply hiring more cops.