With everyone’s attention fixed on predicting the outcome of India’s upcoming elections, it’s easy to forget that this is a country with a militant insurgency raging in its heartland. On Tuesday, Maoist rebels killed 16 people in an ambush during a land mine clearing operation. The Guardian reports:
The rebels have operated for decades across a wide swath of central and eastern India, and grew in strength during recent times in areas where poor, tribal villagers came into conflict with mining companies seeking resources for industrialization.The Maoists seek the violent overthrow of the Indian state but have so far not managed to spread significantly into urban areas. Attacks picked up slightly for the first time last year peaking in 2010.“They attack us to demoralize us, they attack us to loot our weapons,” said the ministry official, who asked not to be named.
With varying levels of violence, the insurgency has been going on for a while. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called it India’s biggest internal security threat. Many fear the violence will pick up as the country heads to the polls next month.India, the world’s biggest arms buyer, is competing against China and Pakistan in South Asia and the Asia-Pacific Rim. But its internal security threats are worth remembering too.