August 26, 2007:
been fighting a Maoist rebellion for 40 years now. Statistics on how many armed
Maoist are out there are difficult to come by. The best estimates are that
15,000 armed Maoists are operating in eastern and southern India. The national
police report that about five percent of the 8,000 police stations report
problems with Maoist violence. The Maoists are mainly interested in starting a
nationwide social revolution, and establishing a communist dictatorship.
Progress has obviously been slow. The number of violent incidents has been
declining, from 453 for the first seven months of last year, to 399 for the
same period this year. The death toll from these encounters is also down, from
306 to 259.
The Maoists tend to avoid the
police and soldiers sent after them. For that reason, they actually operate
over a wider area than the police reports would indicate. Perhaps twenty
percent of India is subject to visits by Maoists, often armed with nothing but
rhetoric and radical ideas. The many leftist and communist politicians in the
national government have prevented the government from going after the Maoists
on a large scale. But patience is wearing thin with the leftists, who keep
calling for negotiations (which never get anywhere).