Just one week into the Indian general elections and the Chhattisgarh bomb blasts, orchestrated by Maoist rebels, have already highlighted a major threat to the country’s security. 14 people are reported to have been killed on Saturday when two bombs exploded in central India. 75 to 100 Maoists are reported to have carried out the attacks.
Main casualties of the blasts were officials in charge of securing voters casting their ballots in one of the largest election the Indian subcontinent has ever seen. The cause of the explosions appeared to have been landmines set and activated by Maoist insurgents which triggered the explosion of a bus carrying election security personnel. Seven passengers were killed and 5 others injured.
In another explosion, just hours apart, also involving landmines planted by Maoist, an ambulance was targeted which resulted in 7 fatal casualties including the ambulance driver and a paramedic. The incident also injured 4 men, two of the four cases were critical injures. Officials stated that the blast were likely to have been set off just about 100 meters away. The Chhattisgarh bomb blast has also highlighted possible security threats in other Indian cities across the nation.
The circumstances related to the attack are said to be in sync with the way Maoist rebels operate; by targeting ambulances and security officials in order to garner attention. Just days before, 3 soldiers guarding election outlets were also killed in a gun battle with rebels. The rebels are also blamed for the killing of 16 security force members in an attack carried out last month, also in Chhattisgarh.
Current Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh of the ruling Congress Party, described the Maoist as one of India’s greatest security threats. A Union member spokesperson stated that the Maoists only kill teachers and civilians who are part of the democratic process, which proves they are none other than plain terrorists.
In 2013 insurgents killed 28 of Singh’s Congress Party members in Chhattisgarh, where there is strong opposition against the Congress Party. The area is ruled by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose candidate, Narendra Modi is expected to win this year’s general election to become the next Prime Minster of the Indian Republic.
The Indian Maoists, first established in West Bengal, are known has Naxals, and they have been in battles with the Indian government since the 1960’s. They are against what they refer to as India’s neo-colonial government. The Maoist would prefer the establishment of a socialist-communist government and the removal of the current Indian government in its current form. They wish to put an end to what they believe to be imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism. The Naxals claim that India has an undemocratic electoral policy set in place for the benefit of a feudal landlord based society and capitalism.
The Maoist grew stronger in 2004 with the formation of the Communist Party of India, which is the unification of two separate Maoist groups that has become impossible for the Indian Government to handle. The group has extended into 40 percent of India’s land mass, and has influence in over 20 of the country’s 28 states including Maharashtra where India’s economic lifeline, Mumbai, is located. The government claims that the Maoist has stifled economic activities in Central and Eastern India.
Since 1980 over 10,000 people including Naxals, civilians and Indian security forces have been killed, and the latest bomb blast in Chhattisgarh further highlights the impossible task Indian security forces have to undergo to combat the threats. With the expected win of Narendra Modi, all sides await to see if any new agreements will be put in place to lessen the ongoing hostilities.
By Humphrey Bennett