Police in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand shot and killed 12 people suspected of belonging to the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) late on Monday. The rebels -- also known as “Naxalites” in India -- were killed during a gun battle with security forces in the tribal-dominated state, which is part of the so-called “Red Corridor,” according to local media reports.
India's Maoist rebels say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong and that they seek to destroy the Indian state and establish a classless society through “protracted armed struggle.” Manmohan Singh, the former Indian prime minister, termed Naxalism as “the single biggest internal security challenge” for the country, and though the rebels' influence and operating capability have waned in recent years, they are still believed to be active in at least 10 states in the Red Corridor.
“When the encounter ended at 2am (on Tuesday), we found 12 bodies of the ultras during a search operation,” A Natrajan, a senior police official in the Palamau district of Jharkhand, told the Hindustan Times. “Eight arms and 200 rounds of ammunition besides other items were recovered from the spot.”
The police reportedly launched the operation in the heavily forested region after receiving a tip-off that the insurgents would be present in the area around midnight. No police casualties were reported in the encounter. It was the first major operation against the Naxalites -- whose name is derived from a village in West Bengal where the movement originated in the late 1960s -- in Jharkhand in over a year.
In April last year, eight people, including six police officials, were reportedly killed in a rebel attack in the state's Dumka district. In May 2013, 27 people including several politicians from the Congress party, were killed in an attack in the neighboring state of Chhattisgarh.