Monday, May 5, 2008

64 District Politicians Resigned in Bihar

PATNA, India (Reuters) - At least 64 district politicians in one of the country’s poorest states have resigned en masse, citing threats from Maoist insurgents, officials said on Monday.

Officials from the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar quit their party posts on Sunday after 37 of them were kidnapped and then released last week by insurgents, who accused them of failing to check police abuses on local inhabitants.

"Many of them have cited threats to their lives as reasons behind their resignations," senior government official Deonandan Prasad Sinha told Reuters from Gaya, a district a few hours drive south of the state capital Patna.

Thousands of tourists visit Gaya every year to see where Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment under a pipal tree.

Maoist rebels say they are fighting for the rights of the poor and landless villagers. They operate in a large swathe of India stretching from the east to some southern states, mostly in the countryside, and attack government officials and property.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the four-decade-old Maoist rebellion as the single biggest threat to India's internal security. It has killed thousands of people.

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