The latest atrocity from India’s 40 year old and rapidly worsening Maoist insurrection.
Hat Tip Once Upon a Time in the West
RAIPUR, India – Thousands of police poured into the dense forests of eastern India on Friday after Maoist rebels massacred 55 people in a makeshift police camp in the region.
The operation, involving about 8,000 police, was described by the Chhattisgarh state government as an act of revenge for the Maoist attack.
“Police have launched one of the biggest exercises in Chhattisgarh on Friday to avenge the killings,” the state’s Home Minister Ramvichar Netam told Reuters.
“The rebels have to pay the price.”
The attack was one of the deadliest in recent years by Maoist rebels, who are also called Naxalites after the village in east India’s West Bengal state where the group’s campaign on behalf of poor peasants and landless workers began in 1967.
Between 300 and 400 rebels attacked the camp in the state’s south in the early hours of Thursday, throwing grenades and petrol bombs and shooting people fleeing the burning buildings before escaping with weapons and explosives, police said.
The rebels killed 16 officers from the state’s armed forces and 39 members of local tribes recruited to a police militia, police said.
The state has recruited about 5,000 tribal people into its militia, paying each about 1,500 rupees ($35) a month. Most are armed only with bows and arrows.
“I never witnessed such a gruesome scene of killings,” said Netam, who visited the site on Thursday. “Some of the bodies were repeatedly axed and heads were smashed.“
Analysts say India’s response to the insurgency is under-staffed and under-resourced, with poor intelligence gathering leaving police camps in rebel areas easy prey for guerrilla tactics.
Last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the insurgency was the gravest threat to India’s internal security since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
The Naxalite movement has spread along a “red corridor” occupying much of India’s south and eastern flank and stretching up to the Nepal border.