New Delhi, Apr 4 (efe-epa)- India on Monday paid homage to the 22 members of security forces who were killed on Saturday in an attack by Maoist insurgents in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, in one of the worst incidents of this kind in recent years.
Home Minister Amit Shah paid homage to the deceased personnel on behalf of the government at a ceremony in Jagdalpur, situated in the Bastar region, which has been synonymous with the Maoist insurgency for decades.
During the event, Shah said that the “sacrifice” of the soldiers would not “be in vain,” and even though the fight against the Maoists had already entered a “decisive phase” in recent years, pressure would be increased against the insurgents after this incident.
“This unfortunate incident has taken the fight (against the left-wing rebels) two steps forward,” the minister said.
The Naxalite movement, born out of a 1967 revolt in Naxalbari village in West Bengal, seeks to impose a Maoist agrarian revolution in India.
The insurgency continues to be active even after half a century of operations, particularly in the “red belt”, a mineral and resources-rich strip that runs through central and eastern India.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said that the attack took place in “one of the main bastions” of Naxalites during an operation by security forces in the Bijapur district.
On Apr. 2, during an operation against Maoists, more than 2,000 troops of five different companies of the security forces had entered forest areas around 60 kilometers way from the Bijapur district headquarters.
On Saturday, Maoists ambushed one of the five companies consisting of around 400 security personnel.
Baghel said that the insurgents had attacked from hidden positions and the forces had fought them “valiantly,” adding that the clashes continued for four hours with multiple weapons, with the rebels even using rocket launchers.
Five dead bodies of security personnel were recovered from the spot on Saturday, and 17 more were found on Sunday, while casualties among Maoists remain unknown.
Saturday’s attack was one of the worst carried out by left-wing rebels in India in recent years.
In 2019, at least 16 people, most of them police officers, were killed when a mine planed by Maoist insurgents exploded under their vehicle in western India. In 2017, 25 police officers were killed in a similar ambush in Chhattisgarh.
According to South Asia Terrorism Portal, in 2020, 239 people – including 61 civilians, 44 security personnel and 134 insurgents – were killed in incidents related to left-wing extremism in India. In 2010, as many as 1,179 people, including 630 civilians, had been killed in Maoist-related violence. EFE-EPA