India top Maoist military fighter likely killed in jungle

NEW DELHI Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:37pm IST

NEW DELHI Nov 24 (Reuters) - Security forces likely killed the top military commander of India's Maoist rebels in an eastern jungle on Thursday, the government said, striking a major blow to fighters who control large, impoverished but mineral-rich swathes of the country.

The government describes the guerrilla movement as India's biggest internal security threat.

Koteshwar Rao, known as Kishenji, was held responsible for the death of dozens of police. The interior ministry confirmed a man was killed in a fire-fight during an operation to capture the leader.

"Officers on the spot said it was Maoist leader Kishenji ... 99 percent sure it was Kishenji," Home Secretary RK Singh told the PTI news agency.

The rebel, who evaded capture during three decades of fighting to overthrow the state, often appeared with his back to the camera in news reports, his head covered by a scarf and a rifle slung over one shoulder.

The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers, and blame the federal government for doing little for the welfare of poor tribal people.

The rebels feed off the resentment of millions of poor people who have not shared the benefits of the boom in India's economy, which grew 8.5 percent last year.

They control a narrow forested, mineral-rich belt stretching over 22 of India's 28 states. But their influence remains largely restricted to the countryside and small towns. (Reporting By Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Sophie Hares)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

India-U.S. Talks

India-U.S. Talks

Kerry to woo Modi's India, but quick progress unlikely  Full Article 

Paring Debt

Paring Debt

Jaiprakash to sell hydro plants to Reliance Power  Full Article 

Mideast Conflict

Mideast Conflict

U.N. Security Council calls for humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza  Full Article 

Market Eye

Market Eye

Foreign investors prefer Indian cyclicals, utilities - Macquarie  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage