New Delhi (UPI) Jul 16, 2010
India will plow more money and resources into fighting Maoist insurgents operating in several eastern states known as the Red Corridor, the government said.
No details were given of the amount of money New Delhi is prepared to spend to improve equipment and boost personnel numbers of the security forces, state paramilitary forces and local police.
But around 400 police stations will be upgraded, some being completely rebuilt and more helicopters will be provided.
Also, security operations will be coordinated by a new joint command to be set up by the police in the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
The government announcement comes as the death toll this year from Maoist attacks surpasses 200 security forces personnel and 300 civilians.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist insurgency as India's biggest internal security challenge.
Last week there were eight attacks within 24 hours, including a deadly attack on a police station and the house of a local politician in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district. The insurgents killed two and injured two of the politician's relatives. Police said they killed six Maoists in the Dantewada attack and another attack.
At the end of June, Maoists killed 26 members of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force in attack about 190 miles south of the Chhattisgarh state capital Raipur. The police were ambushed when returning to their base after clearing roadblocks set up by Maoist units.
New Delhi blamed Maoists, also called Naxalites, for a train derailment in West Bengal in May in which 73 people died.
The central government has been fighting the insurgents since the late 1960s when organized communist-led groups from from the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal
State first started their attacks.
Many Naxalites are members or former members of various legal communist splinter groups. They demand more of the wealth from the region's natural resources, especially from new mining projects, be spread among the mainly rural poor.
Since 2004 an average of nearly 600 people have been killed each year.
More than 1,100 violent incidents have been registered so far this year, the government's home ministry said. Around 210 security forces personnel have been killed and more than 1,340 insurgents have been arrested.
A surge in deaths to 1,134 in 2009 prompted the government to launch Operation Green Hunt, an ongoing military offensive by 50,000 Central Reserve Police Force soldiers backing tens of thousands of regular policemen.
Since November they have been tracking down Naxalites within the Red Corridor.
The government has entered into peace talks with several groups but with limited success. Despite an increasing frustration by central government, the military has held back from expanding their strategy against the Naxalites to include airstrikes.
But airstrikes in some form may be coming, security analyst Brahma Challeny said.
"The fight against the Maoists is not going well," he said in May.
"In fact, the tide has turned against the government. Therefore, the government has to revamp the strategy. Using air power or air support will be one of the elements in the fight against Maoists."
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