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India PM says development will counter Maoists

India PM says development will counter Maoists

India plans to speed up economic development across the country in an effort to counter the growing influence of Maoist rebels blamed for a string of recent attacks, the prime minister said Thursday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government needed to resolve the underlying problems that led the poor in villages across central and southwest India to support extremist groups.
"There is an alienation of the people, especially in tribal areas," he said.
While India's economy has steamed ahead, maintaining steady 8 to 10 percent growth over the past decade, large parts of rural India, where 70 percent of India's population lives, still suffer from poor education and health facilities, lack clean drinking water and have few employment opportunities.
The rebels, known as Naxalites, have been fighting the government for more than three decades in several states, demanding land and jobs for farm laborers and the poor. They frequently target police and government officials, whom they accuse of colluding with landlords and rich farmers.
Over the past month, the rebels have killed at least 40 people _ including 21 paramilitary troops _ commandeered an express train for several hours, abducted government officials and blown up two schools across central and eastern India, the government said.
The government has ordered hundreds of paramilitary troops to be sent to some of the areas worst-hit by rebel violence in an attempt to reinforce local police.
Singh said the government will push ahead with its crackdown on the rebels.
"Every state has to maintain and enforce law and order," he said, adding that stringent laws against violence were "the precondition of any sustained social and economic development."
According to India's home ministry, nearly 6,000 people have died in rebel violence since 1996.


Updated : 2021-04-12 05:39 GMT+08:00