Ten police personnel and their driver were killed in India’s central Chhattisgarh state in an attack blamed on Maoist rebels. The incident occurred when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) while returning from an operation to investigate rebel movements in the remote Dantewada district. This is the worst casualties for security forces in more than two years, and it highlights the persistent Maoist insurgency that has plagued India since the 1960s.
India’s Maoist insurgency has claimed thousands of lives over the years, although violence has decreased considerably in recent times. The insurgency is predominantly concentrated in the “Red Corridor,” an insurgent-dominated region that spans several central, southern, and eastern states. Maoist groups, also known as Naxalites, say they are fighting for rural people and the poor. They operate primarily in areas where much of the population remains mired in poverty and lacks access to critical services.
The Indian government has deployed tens of thousands of forces to battle the rebels across the Red Corridor. Delhi has also invested heavily in infrastructure development in remote areas dominated by tribal communities and claims to have confined the armed insurgency to 53 districts in 2020, down from 96 in 2010.
Despite these efforts, Maoist rebels continue to launch attacks on security forces, civilians, and infrastructure. In March 2020, 17 police from a commando patrol were killed in an attack by over 300 armed rebels in Chhattisgarh. In 2019, sixteen commandos were killed in the western state of Maharashtra in a bomb attack that was also blamed on the Maoists in the lead-up to India’s election.
The recent attack in Chhattisgarh underscores the persistent threat of Maoist insurgency in India, despite Delhi’s efforts to counter it. The attack also raises questions about the effectiveness of the government’s strategies to combat the insurgency and whether more needs to be done to address the root causes of the conflict, such as poverty and lack of access to critical services.
The Maoist insurgency remains a significant challenge for India’s security forces, and attacks such as the recent one in Chhattisgarh highlight the continued threat posed by Maoist rebels. While the government has made efforts to counter the insurgency, it is clear that more needs to be done to address the underlying causes of the conflict and find a lasting solution to the insurgency.