uly 13, 2008: The Indian state of Jharkhand has launched an Information War against the Maoist (communist) terrorists who have been fighting the government, local businesses and large landlords for decades. This is partly in response to the Maoists, who have been distributing their own CDs with movies depicting their heroic struggle to turn India into a communist dictatorship, and improve the lives of the poorest Indians. Now Jharkhand has replied with their own videos showing people killed (for not joining the revolution) and businesses destroyed (for not paying protection money, or "revolutionary taxes", to the Maoists. The Maoist side of the story is well know, as India still has lots of feudal practices out in the countryside, situations that cry out for reform. India tried to outlaw a lot of these things in the late 40s and early 50s. But customs that are centuries old, are difficult to change quickly. Less well known to people in Jharkhand are the details of how the Maoists operate. Those who have faced the Maoists up close and personal, tend to become anti-Maoist.
India has 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 about 20 percent a year for the past few years.
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 leftist politicians, who keep calling for negotiations (which never get anywhere). The Indian Communist Party has been losing a lot of its clout lately, and with it, the ability to restrain government response to Maoist violence.
This is timely, because the Maoists have become more aggressive of late, making greater use of landmines and mobility (massing lots of gunmen for attacks involving hundreds of armed Maoists). The government has sent in thousands of addition police and troops, and it's looking like some decisive battles are about to happen.