Army should take on Maoists, say officials


Afp May 10, 2010

RAIPUR: An Indian state hit by worsening Maoist violence called for the government to reverse its policy and deploy the nation’s armed forces against the rebels on Monday.

Chhattisgarh state in central India has suffered years of unrest as the Maoists, who claim to be fighting for the rural poor, battle with police and paramilitary troopers. Last month, insurgents in Chhattisgarh killed 76 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) men in the worst ever massacre of security forces, and on Saturday they killed eight more security personnel in a road mine attack.

“The current situation means the government of India should consider using the army’s help to deal with violence unleashed by the left-wing extremists,” Chhattisgarh home minister Nanki Ram Kanwar told AFP on Monday. Kanwar rejected holding peace talks with the guerrillas. “Maoists do not want peace or development and that is confirmed by uninterrupted violence they commit,” he said.

Since 2005 about 460 security forces and more than 900 civilians have been killed by the Maoists, according to police. Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram has said that the national army and air force would not be used against the Maoists, adding that the government was open to talks if the rebels renounced all violence.

The Maoists, who first emerged in West Bengal state in 1967, have waged an armed struggle against national and state rulers, and are now active across much of central and eastern India. Tribal groups and many rural communities have been left behind by the country’s economic development, and poverty and discontent with official corruption are seen as a major source of Maoist support.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 11th, 2010.

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