Friday, March 12, 2010

340) Last bunch of maoists (but not in China)

Indian minister: Maoists are a greater threat than Islamic terrorists
Foreign Policy, March 12, 2010

The Indian government is preparing to deploy thousands of soldiers to defeat the country's growing Naxalite Maoist insurgency. Home minister P Chidambaram's description of the threat posed by the Naxalites was striking:

The Home Minister told a media conclave in Delhi that the Maoists and Islamic militants represented the two biggest threats to India’s national security, but the former was the more serious.

“Jihadi terrorism can be countered, usually successfully, if you are able to share information and act in real time,” he said. “But Maoism is an even graver threat.”

The numbers back up Chidambaram's claim:

India has suffered only one attack by suspected Islamist militants - a bombing in the western city of Poona which killed 12 people last month - since the devastating one on Mumbai in November 2008.

By comparison, Maoist violence claimed 908 lives in India in 2009, the highest since 1971, according to the Home Ministry.

Chidambaram pledged that the Maoist threat would be eliminated in two to three years, which seems ambitious given that they're operating in 200 of India’s 626 districts. As a internal rather than transnational threat, the Naxalites don't get much attention in the West. But it stikes me that their potential to damage the credibility of India's democratic government or provoke it into overreaction is probably a serious cause for concern.

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