Maoist Rebel Attack Leads to Death of 15 Indian Paramilitary Officers
A bomb attack on two vehicles in Maharashtra led to the death of 15 paramilitary officers and a civilian driver on Wednesday, May 1. The state police suspect leftist Maoist rebels are behind the attack.
The rebel group lured security forces into the town of Gadchiroli after setting fire to over 20 vehicles. A senior police officer revealed that the Maoist insurgents used a landmine in the attack. Rebels set the device off after retreating into the forest once security forces arrived at the scene.
Maoist rebels, also known as Naxals, mainly orchestrate their attacks from forested areas in Central and Eastern India. Naxals are known to concentrate in some of the smallest villages in India where they recruit members for their group.
Gadchiroli is a town neighboring the state of Chattisgarh, where the Maoist group maintains a stronghold. Security forces have killed over 35 insurgents in Gadchiroli since 2018.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack in a tweet, describing the attack as “despicable.”
“I salute all the brave personnel. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. My thoughts & solidarity are with the bereaved families,” tweeted Modi. “The perpetrators of such violence will not be spared.”
Maoist insurgents have been at odds with the Indian government for the past 40 years. The group claims to fight for those who have been disregarded by the government, such as farmers and the lower class.
Violent clashes between the rebel group and Indian security forces have been on the rise since the early 2000s when the Communist Party of India (Maoist) allied itself with the People’s Liberation Guerilla Army. Since 2010, Maoist attacks across the country have led to the death of over 2,100 civilians.
Since the election cycle began, rebels have killed a state legislator and over ten civilians. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Maoist rebels are present in 11 states across the country, including Maharashtra and Odisha where Naxals maintain a strong influence. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh characterized the group as one of India’s greatest internal security threats.
During a press conference on Wednesday, the Director General of Police, Subodh Jaiswal promised a commitment of security forces to the area for counterinsurgency operations.
“Whether it is retaliation or not is not of much consequence to us,” explained Jaiswal. “What is important is that we lost 15 of our colleagues who have made the supreme sacrifice and for us, that is a very grievous loss.”