One of about 300 people said to be captured by members of the Communist Party of India in the village of Marenga was killed Saturday by the group, which allowed the rest of its hostages to go free. The Communist Party members, also known as Maoists, may have undertaken the action to protest the continuing construction of a bridge in the village, as well as other development work in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh state, the Times of India reported.
The action took place just hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. Police say the incident was unrelated to the prime minister's visit.
The Maoists apparently took the villagers to a nearby forest Friday night for a meeting about boycotting development work in the region, the Times of India reported. After killing one of their captives, they released the remaining hostages Saturday, the newspaper said.
The state's chief minister, Raman Singh, said rebels have used this approach in the past as a negotiating tactic. They usually release the villagers unharmed. He also told reporters negotiations had taken place. "This happens routinely. They will let the villagers go in a day or two," said S.R.P. Kalluri, inspector general of police in Sukma, according to the Associated Press.
The government has attempted to improve road conditions in the jungles of Chhattisgarh, in part because the poor travel conditions prevent security forces from pursuing the rebels.
The Maoists have said they are inspired by the Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. They have been fighting for more than 30 years in eastern and central India, organizing attacks against authorities. They want more money from the area's natural resources and more jobs for farmers and poor people.
Prime Minister Modi told local citizens that violence had no place within a democratic society. "Guns cannot bring development," he said while visiting Raipur, the state capital. "There is no future for violence. The future is only of peaceful means."
With thousands of members, the Maoist group has been called India's biggest internal threat.