India to deploy 75,000 troops to fight Maoist rebels

INDIA IS soon to deploy more than 75,000 federal paramilitary and elite commando troops against Maoist rebels who dominate a third of the country’s 603 administrative districts.
This decision by the cabinet committee on security, headed by prime minister Manmohan Singh, follows a series of well-planned and ruthlessly executed Maoist attacks in western Maharashtra during one of which 17 policemen were killed.
The anti-Maoist operations scheduled for launch within days aim to “wipe out the top rebel leadership” and secure massive tracts of territory controlled by them across 20 of India’s 28 states.
Mr Singh has reiterated that the Maoists, who run parallel administrations in their areas of dominance, levying taxes, dispensing justice through kangaroo courts, dictating the educational syllabi and even launching moral rearmament campaigns, was India’s “biggest internal security challenge ever”.
“It is a matter of concern that despite our efforts, the level of Maoist violence continues to rise,” Mr Singh said in New Delhi last month at a meeting of provincial police chiefs. “We have not achieved as much success as we would have liked in containing this menace.”
Since 2007, Maoist violence has claimed almost 2,000 lives, among them 700 security force personnel and more than 550 rebels.
Security agencies claim there are fewer than 20 top Maoist leaders, some 30 commanders and about 12,000 to 15,000 cadres with varying degrees of influence in more than 220 administrative districts across central, eastern and parts of western India.
AS Gill, who heads the paramilitary central reserve police force, which would be in the vanguard in the fight against the rebels, said: “The [anti-Maoist] action plan, approved by the federal government will be set in motion very soon. The operations will be focused.”
The administration is also working on a new policy that offers financial assistance to Maoist cadres which surrender. The proposed payment is estimated to cost Rs4 billion (€58.4 million) if 10,000 of them accept the government’s proposal.
Maoists dominate in regions populated mostly by illiterate and underprivileged tribal people living in areas that have not benefited from India’s new prosperity.
Sixty-two years after independence land is still unfairly distributed in these regions, resulting in abject poverty, large scale unemployment, ineffective policing and corrupt governance.
Maoist cadres have filled this “power vacuum” with their “Jan Adalats” (people’s courts) and in some states have even been known to kidnap absentee health workers, teachers and lowly district officials, forcing them to perform their legitimate duties.
Their well-knit and ideologically committed members, who have successfully adopted Mao Zedong’s guerilla warfare tactics, claim to be waging an armed struggle to “annihilate class enemies” in order to economically, socially and politically empower tribals, low-caste Dalits, peasants, landless labourers and the dispossessed. The insurgents recruit among these marginalised people.
The Maoists eventual aim is to establish a “people’s government” in their areas of control by progressively dominating the countryside through coercion and indoctrination.
Over the years that the movement has proliferated, the Indian government’s response has been a poorly applied and often harsh use of force, and abuse of anti-terror legislation.