In response to the dastardly Maoist attack that claimed the lives of 25 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Sukma district, Chhattisgarh, earlier this week, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that the Centre would review its strategy to tackle left-wing extremism. Describing the Sukma attack as a "cowardly act", he said the Centre and states would work together against left-wing extremism. "It is an act of desperation. Such groups are anti-development," Singh said.
There is some truth to Singh's assertion, as the Indian State makes further ground into the Maoist heartland, opening up villages that have until recently remained cut off from the world and relegating Naxals further into the dense forests of these regions.
The construction of roads and mobile towers under heavy security cover on a war footing by the Indian State is a definite sign of the changing circumstances. In fact, the slain CRPF personnel were part of a unit overseeing the construction of a road. The Maoists have grown so desperate that they've begun to target villages where they once held sway, killing or torturing suspected 'police informants'. It's not as if the Indian security forces have their hands clean, especially as reports emerge of heinous human rights violations against tribal communities.
Monday's attack isn't the first time the CRPF has incurred significant casualties in the fight against Maoist groups. It's a battle that the Indian State has been engaged in since the late 1960s. Although the details of what went down on Monday are still not very clear, observers in the know have once again raised serious questions about the institutional and strategic failures on the Indian State's part that have led to such massacres.