Are India’s Maoist rebels winning the war?

Title of an article in today’s BBC News online by Soutik Biswas.

The fact that the question can even be asked tells you the answer.

As the article notes, the Naxelite insurgency follows the classical pattern identified by Boyd:

They feel ignored and deprived by the Communist government [CR note:  “Communist government” !!!?] which has been ruling the state since 1977. Most live in abject poverty. The only visible signs of “development” I spotted during a trip to the area some years ago were cheap liquor shops.

As a result, more than a third of India’s political districts are officially “Maoist affected,” up from less than 10% six years ago. And Biswas also notes that India’s primary counter-strategy isn’t working any better in the forested Junglemahal region than it is in Afghanistan:

Analysts say that the strategy of “clearing, holding and developing” rebel-affected areas evidently inspired by the US strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan is not working.

But then Biswas makes the following conclusion:

The government is now in a “visible retreat” after a spree of rebel attacks, says security analyst Ajai Sahni.

He believes that a lack of adequate forces, training and intelligence is leading to these “disasters”.

“Unless local capacities for intelligence and operations are enormously augmented, this [offensive] can go nowhere, and lot of lives are going to be lost for no useful purpose,” Mr Sahni says.

But the under-equipped local police and intelligence-gathering networks remain Indian security’ s weakest link, and there no visible efforts to bolster them.

In other words, if force isn’t working — perhaps because development has been limited to a few liquor stores? — the answer is … more force!  Biswas concludes that until more force is employed:

the rebels will be seen to have an upper hand in what promises to be long drawn out and bloody conflict, the like of which India has never seen.

This conclusion is probably correct, particularly if the Indian government follows the prescriptions in the article.

Incidentally, Biswas speculates that the attack today on the Calcutta – Mumbai train, which the Indian government is blaming on the Maoists but which they deny, will cost the Maoists support in the rest of India. This may be true, but it’s probably also true that few of the Maoist’s tribal supporters are riding high speed trains.

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