Counter-Terrorism: The Maoist Menace in Rural India

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January 10, 2008: India has 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 much higher. 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.

In one state, Andhra Pradesh, the local authorities managed to keep their police forces up to strength, and, as a result, are beating the Maoists. Last year, Maoist attacks were down over 50 percent (from 194 to 87), compared to 2006. Police believe they have reduced the number of Maoists from 850 to 400 in that period. There were 46 incidents where police and Maoists shot it out, and these resulted in four dead police and 39 dead Maoists. More importantly, 1,061 Maoists were captured, while 119 surrendered. Nearly 200 Maoist arms and ammo caches were found, making it difficult for the communist rebels to arm additional men.

To help the other states, that are not doing as well, 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.

 


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