Forgotten Crisis: India’s Maoist Rebellion

A rebel insurgency led by a group of leftist guerrillas has been terrorising civilians across central and eastern India since 2005. Thousands of villagers have been forced to leave their homes fearing torture and violence. The rebels are accused of forcibly recruiting children, of extortion and using landmines across the region. However the counter-insurgency mission ‘Operation Green Hunt’ by government security forces has provoked further violence, with accusations of using unnecessary force levelled at the government forces themselves.

The guerrilla war now poses a huge internal security threat to the country, with civilian deaths mounting as villagers get caught in the crossfire. The Maoists, also known as the Naxalites, insist they are fighting against the government in order to build a communist state, aiming to improve the quality of life for the rural poor. However, despite the government’s best intentions to fight the rebels, there has been little done to help the impoverished villagers who are directly impacted by the fighting. Some rights campaigners have warned that the ongoing violence could escalate into a civil war.

The government campaign to oust the rebels has been criticised for attempting to solve the problem using brute force, and has only fuelled more violence. The Naxalites are growing in numbers and power, and constitute a powerful threat to the current government. Government authority is called into question as they continually fail to bring the rebel groups under control.

Once likened to Robin Hood’s band of thieves, the Maoist rebels are fuelled by outrage at the poverty suffered by the rural communities. However, their violent tendencies are becoming more detached from their original ideals and have escalated into an armed offensive against the government oppression. Fear of attacks discourages villagers from voting, and without talks to bring the two sides together, the violence seems set to intensify.

“Life is very difficult,” the man said. “The Naxalites think we are helping the police. The police think we are helping the Naxalites. We are living in fear over who will kill us first.” (NY Times).

Published in: on February 3, 2010 at 3:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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