Indian left-wing rebels continue violence amid reported plan of gov't offensive

19:26, October 13, 2009      

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Amid reports of government planning an offensive against them, India's extreme left-wing Naxal rebels launched fresh attacks midnight Monday, blowing up communication towers, railway tracks, a village council office, and a school building on the second day of a two-day strike, in the eastern states of Bihar and Jharkhand.

"Around 150 armed Naxals stormed a rail office at Banshipur station in Bihar's Lakhisarai district and put it on fire, disrupting railway traffic for nearly six hours. In neighboring Munger district, another guerrilla group blew up a village council office, destroying furniture and setting ablaze land revenue related documents. However, no one was there when the rebels carried out the attacks to support their strike against police atrocities," a senior police official said.

Likewise, the Naxalites blew up a school building in Jharkhand's Chhatra district by detonating powerful explosives, he said, adding that no casualty has however been reported in both the states.

"Police teams have been sent to arrest those responsible for violence in the two states," the official said.

The two-day strike called by the rebels has had a mixed affect on life in the Naxal-infested areas.

"While life has largely remained unaffected in urban areas, government offices, educational institutions and transportation has been brought to a standstill in the Naxal strongholds," the official said, claiming that "only fear is holding people to come out against the left-wing guerrillas who even did not spare the common people".

The latest attacks in the two eastern states came barely a week after the Naxal rebels killed at least 17 policemen in a gun battle in the western state of Maharashtra, and days after India contemplated the use of armed forces, including the para-military Border Security Force and the Indian Air Force, to control the menace.

"Though India is not officially saying it's a full-fledged war against the Naxals, the country has been favoring an all out offensive to flush out the rebels who are a killing spree, attacking common man and the security forces, to create a terror, since the country went to polls last April. But a plan is being chalked out to launch anti-Naxal operations soon to put an end to the menace that has gripped the country," Home Ministry sources said.

In fact, the Naxal menace is no more confined to the jungles as the rebels are increasingly penetrating Indian cities to gain widespread publicity for their so-called "revolution" -- from setting up new urban bases to recruiting members to carrying out guerrilla-style attacks on citizens and security forces, say political analysts.

"The insurgents pose as India's biggest security threat. They have a presence in more than 223 of India's 600-odd districts across 20 states. It is now estimated that Naxalites have 9,000 to10,000 armed fighters, 6,500 firearms and about 40,000 full-time cadres. And, the states most affected are Jharkhand, Bihar, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh," political analyst Professor Ajay Singh contended.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently admitted that the country's security forces are failing to curb a growing Naxal insurgency.

"I have consistently held that in many ways, left-wing extremism poses perhaps the gravest internal security threat our country faces. I would like to say frankly that we have not achieved as much success as we would have liked in containing this menace," he said while addressing the country's top police officials in the national capital recently.

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