Source - Reuters News Agency
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Police are ill-equipped and sometimes afraid to fight Maoist guerrillas whose growing strength poses the biggest internal security problem and threatens investment, experts said on Wednesday.
This week, 29 policemen were killed by the rebels in a forest ambush in mineral-rich Chhattisgarh, which experts described as a glaring example of policemen ignoring combat safety doctrine.
"If you don't follow the rules of the red light while driving, you will surely meet an accident ... if the police do not follow the basics of jungle warfare, they will continue to meet the same fate," B.K. Ponwar, head of a state-run jungle warfare institute in central India, told Reuters.
"Policemen are flouting the jungle warfare rules over and again."
The government banned the Communist Party of India (Maoist) last month, but experts say the ban will have little impact in the battle against the rebels.
While the economic impact may be small compared with India's trillion dollar economy, the insurgency and the sense that it is worsening signals that India does not fully control its own territory and adds to risks for companies mulling investments.
Nearly 500 people, mostly security personnel, have been killed in Maoist violence this year so far compared with 700 in all of 2008, government data says.
Senior officers who analysed more than 1,100 incidents of Maoist violence this year say police have often walked into traps laid by the rebels without carrying mine detection equipment, sniffer dogs or adequate firepower.