PATNA, India – Communist rebels set fire to vehicles, dug up roads and damaged railroad tracks in eastern India on Monday as part of a two-day protest against an expected government crackdown on their activities, officials said.
The rebels called the protest in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Orissa.
In Jharkhand, rebels dug up roads and set three trucks on fire, state police spokesman S.N. Pradhan said. They also used explosives to blow up a stretch of railroad tracks, he said.
In Bihar, buses stayed off the roads in rebel-dominated areas, said Neelmani, a senior police official who uses only one name.
The government plans to use special troops, police and paramilitary soldiers in a major offensive against the rebels, though it is not clear when the operation will take place.
The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor. They frequently target police and government officials, whom they accuse of colluding with landlords and rich farmers to exploit the poor.
Thousands of people, including police, militants and civilians, have died in the violence in recent years.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has repeatedly called the rebels India's biggest internal security threat. The rebels have sharply increased their activities this year, killing about 250 police and paramilitary soldiers between January and August.
On Thursday, hundreds of rebels surrounded a police patrol in the western state of Maharashtra, killing at least 17 troops.