Friday, September 18, 2009

A very Indian insurgency

The greatest militant threat facing India comes not from the Islamists who attacked Mumbai but Naxalite Maoist rebels.

Last November's fedayeen-style attacks on Mumbai may have reminded the world that India was not immune to terrorism. But few outside the subcontinent are aware that the greatest source of militancy in this diverse country comes not from Islamists but Maoists.

Insurgencies by Naxalites (named after Naxalbari, a town in West Bengal where rural peasants took up arms against oppressive local landowners in 1967) have proliferated over a vast beltway stretching from the forests of Bengal in the north to Kerala in the south.

Astonishingly, there is believed to be a Naxalite presence in one-third of the Indian landmass, or 16 of India's 28 states. Authorities estimate that one-fifth of the nation's forests are under Naxalite control.


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