India is known today for growing Hindu extremism: there are other forms of political violence however.
CHHATTISGARH, INDIA – When you look at India through the lens of a terrorism analyst a few trends come to mind:
- Sikh extremism was a huge challenge in the 1980s following the Indian army siege of the Golden Temple;
- India is faced with Islamist terrorism originating largely from its Muslim neighbour, Pakistan;
- Under current Prime Minister Narendra Modi Hindu terrorists have been attacking Muslims and Christians.
For a country of more than a billion people, however, terrorism is a relatively rare occurrence in India. That may strike many as surprising, but it is true. I will leave it to others to determine why that is.
India has been fighting an implacable foe in the ‘Naxalites’ for decades. A Naxal or Naxalite is a member of any political organisation that claims the legacy of the Communist Party of India, founded in Calcutta in 1969. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) is the largest existing political group in that lineage today in India. It is most active in the eastern part of the country.
Naxalite groups generally have claimed to represent the poorest and most socially marginalised members of Indian society (notably tribal peoples and Dalits – formerly untouchables) and to adhere to the Maoist doctrine of sustained peasant-led revolution. They have been behind hundreds of attacks over the years.
On this day in 2013, 250 Naxals in civilian clothes struck a convoy of Indian Congress Party leaders during a rally in Chhattisgarh, killing at least 25 people, including state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and senior party leader Mahendra Karma. The attack was preceded by a landmine that stopped the convoy.
It may seem odd to talk about Maoist terrorism in the 21st century. Wasn’t Maoism something we worried about decades ago? Apparently not: India still has its hands full today.
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