INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

A Sort of Homecoming

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For once, the Naxalites have been garnering the media attention which they deserve. Both the Indian and the international media (in particular the BBC) have had extensive coverage of the Maoist takeover of Lalgarh in West Bengal. This is largely a consequence of the significance of this weeks brazen show of strength by the rebels. Within a matter of days, the Naxalites were able to completely seize control of a large district in one of India’s most populous and important states.

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Not that it wasn’t  predicted. As I wrote back in April, the Maoists have successfully been exploiting the seething resentments against West Bengal’s communist government and have steadily been increasing their influence in the state.

While it seems that the state security forces, primarily composed of the CRPF, have re-taken much of the self-declared ‘Liberated Zone’ , the story is far from over. The Naxalites have demonstrated their power and their ability to out-think and out-fight the state. In spite of all of the warnings that the Maoists were moving to support adivasi unrest in the state, the government did little. And once the governmen was forced to act, the Maoists proved that they could more than hold their own in direct confrontations with the paramilitary police. By all accounts, the CRPF has sustained more casualties than have the Naxalites.

And finally, perhaps most importantly, they have also demonstrated their tactical sophistication. The declaration of a liberated zone was a brazen act of defiance. But it was not reckless. The government has not encircled the insurgents. They will simply be able to melt back into the jungles of West Bengal and Orissa having made their point.

Banning the CPI (Maoist) simply revelealed the divisions within the various levels of the Indian state. While it’s still early days, the Maoists have just scored a major coup against the government. They are forcing the state to react to them. They are setting the rules.


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