News

Indian Troops Launch Offensive in West Bengal Against Maoist Insurgents

A battle has begun in a remote and heavily forested area in the Indian state of West Bengal. Government troops have been sent there after Maoist rebels seized a number of villages, began killing political rivals and torching government offices and police stations.

Para-military troops have marched into a zone declared liberated from government control by insurgents.

Witnesses say police fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse Maoist sympathizers attempting to block the advance of government forces.

Thirteen companies of Border Security and the Central Reserve Police forces are being backed by a newly formed squad of 200 elite personnel, known as COBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), trained specifically to fight the Maoists.  

Local media reports say gunfire is being heard 170 kilometers from the state capital, Kolkata, where hundreds of insurgents have placed women and children in front of them followed by men wielding axes, bamboo sticks, bows and arrows.

Ideological cousins

Although West Bengal has been under control of an elected Communist government for more than three decades, the ultra-left Maoists have declared war on their ideological cousins.

The Maoists say they are fighting on behalf of landless farmers and tribal members disenchanted with the Communist state government's attempts to push industrialization.

Communist Party politburo member Sitaram Yechury, speaking to reporters in New Delhi, is optimistic the Maoists can quickly be neutralized in West Bengal.

"We hope, as soon as possible, normalcy should be restored there," said Yechury. "And we've said that the central government, the central forces and the state government should act in unison given the fact the prime minister himself is on record to state that the Maoist violence is the single largest threat to our internal security."

Another politburo member Brinda Karat also told reporters here that the rebels do not represent any legitimate cause but rather are "gangs intent on violence."

Television channels carried an interview with the Maoist's purported military commander, Koteshwar Rao, known as Kishanji, his back to the cameras, claiming his forces are well-entrenched and will not be dislodged by the government.

The insurgent leader says 2,000 villagers support their fight against corrupt police and state government officials.  

Across India, there are believed to be as many as 20,000 rebels dedicated to Maoist ideology, known as Naxalites, who operate from jungle bases. They have attacked government centers in rural areas for decades. Concerns have grown recently amid indications the insurgents, inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, are expanding their influence and growing stronger.
 


This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs