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Who are Naxalites and Maoists, what they want- Naxal attack on CRPF in Sukma highlights

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In one of the worst attacks on armed forces in the country, Maoist rebels attacked a CRPF patrol party in Burkapal area of Sukma in Chhattisgarh, killing as many as 26 CRPF troops and injuring several others. Till late in the evening, there were still many missing troopers, while the injured personnel were taken to health facilities in different hospitals.

It is being said that it was very well-planned and executed ambush by the red rebels with tens of female Maoist rebels among the ranks of attackers. An injured CRPF officer was quoted by a television network as saying that there were as many as 300 rebels who were armed to the teeth.

Reports also suggest that CRPF personnel were heavily outnumbered as there were fewer than 100 CRPF personnel in the patrol party. It must be kept in mind that Sukma is among the red hotspot in the region.

An NDTV report claimed that the attack took the CRPF personnel by surprise when the troopers from the 74th battalion of CRPF had emerged from their camp to secure an under-construction road in a Maoist stronghold in south Sukma.

While the attack is making headlines, it is not the first time that the CRPF and law enforcement agencies have come under attack. It has come merely over a month after 13 CRPF jawans were killed in a similar ambush on a road opening party on the Injeram Bhejji road, around 60 km from Monday’s ambush spot. In 2010, 76 CRPF personnel were killed in Sukma in a Maoist attack.

“There was construction taking place on the road and a massive number of Naxals, upwards of a hundred at least, opened fire. The exchange of fire began at 11.30 am and lasted for over two hours. The first reports were of 11 dead and seven injured, but given the heavy gunfire, we could not ascertain the location of the entire CRPF party. Twelve more bodies were recovered later. One of the seven injured, who was flown to Raipur in a critical condition, died later” media quoted a top police official in the state. The road being built is a crucial 56-km stretch from Dornapal on NH 30 to Jagargunda, considered one of the most sensitive zones in the country. While eight kilometres had been built from Dornapal to Gorgunda, the remaining 46-km stretch, being built by the Police Housing Corporation, is still ongoing, with “JCB work” complete.

Who are Maoists
The communist or rather Maoist insurgency in India is an ongoing conflict between Maoist groups, or Naxals, and the Indian government. The conflict in its present form began after the 2004 formation of the CPI (Maoist), a rebel group composed of the PWG (People’s War Group) and the MCC (Maoist Communist Centre). In January 2005 talks between the Andhra Pradesh state government and the CPI-Maoists broke down and the rebels accused authorities of not addressing their demands for a written truce, release of prisoners and redistribution of land.

History of Maoist rebellion
While the Maoist rebellion has become a common knowledge in recent years, the insurgency is around fifty year old.India’s bloody Maoist insurgency began in the remote forests of the state of West Bengal in the late 1960s. Maoists are also known as “Naxalites” because of the violent left-wing uprising in 1967, which began in the West Bengal village of Naxalbari. Although this was eventually quashed by police, over the years India’s Maoists have regrouped and asserted control over vast swathes of land in central and eastern India, establishing a so-called “red corridor”. Right now the Maoists have their stronghold in Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Maharashtra.

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