Another day, another Maoist atrocity. Only this time, the fanatical communists targeted members of India’s ruling Congress party. The gun-and-mine attack happened in a remote corner of the underdeveloped Chhattisgarh state and led to the deaths of at least 23 people, including the state Congress party chief and his son.
True to form, the Congress, even in this hour of despair, could not refrain from a bout of politicking, saying that it was incumbent on state governments – in this case the opposition BJP – to protect those who fight far-Left extremism.
Few outside India – indeed many within the country – realise that the Maoist insurgency in the central and eastern states has been going on since the late 1960s. The rebels are now present in 20 of India’s 28 states. Their ultimate goal is to overthrow the democratic Indian state and replace it with a totalitarian Maoist regime. While that is clearly unacceptable, the government needs to look into some very legitimate demands the Maoists make on behalf of the people they claim to represent, mainly the dirt-poor farmers and the landless labourers.
But it should not hesitate on the security front: the strategy of using the poorly trained police force and paramilitaries has definitely not worked. The attacks are only getting more brazen. Perhaps the time has come to bring in the country’s army and special forces to take back large swathes of rural territory from the rebels and restore the writ of the state.