India Insight

Police taking on India’s Maoists can’t shoot straight?

The killing of 76 police by Maoist rebels earlier this month in central India did not come as a big surprise to experts who know most of the forces that are deployed in the dense jungles are hardly trained in jungle warfare.

Security personnel in Lucknow pay their respects in front of a coffin of a policeman who was killed in the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh April 7, 2010. REUTERS/Pawan KumarMost of them undergo a short training course before engaging the rebels in inhospitable terrain is thrust upon their shoulders.

More than 1,000 fighters, armed with sophisticated weapons, ambushed the central police in insurgency-hit Chhattisgarh state, exposing a lack of intelligence and planning by forces who were totally unfamiliar with the rebel territory.

Only eight Maoists were killed in retaliatory fire, as most bullets hit trees instead of the rebels behind the forest cover.

Within days, Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram offered to resign taking full responsibility for the deaths, but will simply owning up help India’s fight against the Maoists at all?

India’s ‘amnesty’ to Pakistan-based Kashmiri rebels

The Indian government has for the first time offered amnesty to hundreds of Kashmiris who had crossed over to the Pakistani part of Kashmir and are now willing to surrender and return home.

Thousands of Kashmiris have slipped into Pakistan-administered Kashmir for arms training since an anti-India insurgency broke out twenty years ago.

A Kashmiri man rides a bicycle past a closed shop during a strike in Srinagar June 1, 2009. REUTERS/Fayaz KabliHundreds have returned and joined Muslim rebel groups, many died on a rugged military control line while sneaking into the Indian side and many more are still living in different parts of Pakistan or Pakistani Kashmir.

Does India need its army to tackle the Maoists?

I have been noticing a debate in newspapers and television channels about the need to call in the army to tackle the Maoists and wonder whether it is indeed time to turn towards them before the movement spirals out of control.

Last week, hundreds of Maoists, who are expanding their influence in India, chased away police from a tribal area based around the town of Lalgarh about 170 km (100 miles) from Kolkata, capital of West Bengal state.

By attacking Lalgarh and then keeping the police at bay for four days, the Maoists demonstrated their growing influence over poor villagers and their capability to strike close to a big city like Kolkata.

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