Hindu Rashtra: Will Modi's Hindutva Lead to Multiple Partitions of India?

Sheikh Alam, a Muslim leader of Mamta Banerjee's Trinamool Congress Party, has recently been quoted in the Indian media as saying: "We  (Muslims)  are 30% and they (Hindus) are 70% They will come to power with the support of the 70%, they should be ashamed. If our Muslim population moves to one side then we can create four new Pakistans. Where will 70% of the population go?"  

Quaid-e-Azam's Demand For Pakistan: 

TMC leader Sheikh Alam's words today are a reminder of the demand for Pakistan in 1940s. It arose from the majoritarian tyranny of the Hindu-dominated Indian National Congress after 1937 elections in India. Speaking in Lucknow in October 1937, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah said the following: 

"The present leadership of the Congress, especially during the last ten years, has been responsible for alienating the Musalmans of lndia more and more, by pursuing a policy which is exclusively Hindu; and since they have formed the Governments in six provinces where they are in a majority they have by their words, deeds, and programme shown more and more that the Musalmans cannot expect any justice or fair play at their hands. Whenever they are in majority and wherever it suited them, they refused to co-operate with the Muslim League Parties and demanded unconditional surrender and signing of their pledges."

Ex PM Manmohan Singh's Fears:

Former India Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh's fears of India's disintegration are much more tangible now than ever before. In an interview on BBC's Hard Talk with Indian journalist Karan Thapar in 1999, Mr. Singh: "Great Nations like the Soviet Union have perished. If we continue to mis-manage our economy and continue to divide our country on the basis of religion, caste or other sectarian issues there is a danger of that sort of thing happening".  

Today, the rise of Hindutva forces is tearing India apart along caste and religious lines as the country celebrates its Republic Day.  Hindu mobs are lynching Muslims and Dalits. A  Pew Research report confirms that the level of hostility against religious minorities in India is "very high", giving India a score of 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh's is 7.5.

Chart Courtesy of Bloomberg

Will India Break Up? 

In a book entitled "The Raisina Model",  British-Indian author Lord Meghnad Desai asks: "A country of many nations, will India break up?" The Hindu Nationalists who are blamed for deepening divisions are themselves divided on the key questions of caste, religion and trade.  Professor Walter Anderson, co-author of "The RSS: The View to the Inside" raises the specter of "a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism".



The Raisina Model:

In "The Raisina Model", Lord Meghand Desai says that India's breakup can not be ruled out. Specifically, he points to three issues that could lead to it:

1.  Cow protection squads are killing Muslims and jeopardizing their livelihoods.  The current agitation about beef eating and gau raksha is in the Hindi belt just an excuse for attacking Muslims blatantly. As most slaughterhouses in UP are Muslim-owned, owners and employees of these places are prime targets.

2. India has still not fashioned a narrative about its nationhood which can satisfy all. The two rival narratives—secular and Hindu nation—are both centred in the Hindi belt extending to Gujarat and Maharashtra at the most. This area comprises 51% of the total population and around 45% of the Muslims in India.

3. India has avoided equal treatment of unequal units. Representation in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) is proportional to population size. If anything, it is the smaller states that may complain about being marginalized, though so far none has. The larger states thus dominate both Houses of Parliament. It would be difficult for small states to object, much less initiate reform. In future, small states could unite to present their case for better treatment. Except for Punjab and Nagaland, there has been no attempt to challenge the status quo.

Map of India(s) on the eve of British conquest in 1764

Hindutva vs Hinduism:

In  "The RSS: The View to the Inside", the author Walter Anderson brings out several areas which could lead to a split within the Hindu Nationalists. These disagreements have to do with low caste Hindus, Muslims and  foreign trade and investment policies.

1. The leadership of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is drawn entirely from the upper caste Brahmins. The RSS founder Golwalkar never spoke against the caste system. The RSS opposes affirmative action, called reservations, to benefit low caste Hindus. At the same time, they want to integrate Dalits and OBCs (Other backward classes of which Prime Minister Modi is a member) into the organization to promote Hindu unity.

Anderson believes that it will be extremely difficult to reconcile Hindutva embrace of lower castes with the entrenched Hindu caste system. He says the following:

"..there will eventually be a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism. Hindutva emphasizes the oneness of Hindus, whereas ground realities are very different. Let me give an example. Following the egalitarian ideology, Tarun Vijay, an RSS ideologue and former editor of Panchjanya and Organiser, once led some Dalits into a temple in central India, where they had not been before. He was beaten up, but few in the RSS family vocally supported him. They kept mostly quiet. As one important RSS functionary put it to me, the key question is: how do we keep our organisation intact if we do move towards an egalitarian Hindu society?"

2. When RSS leader MD Deoras invited Indian Muslims to join the RSS, he argued that Muslims were mostly India-born, and therefore Indian. But he made the Muslim entry into the RSS conditional upon accepting India’s “historic culture”.  RSS leaders argue that South Indian Muslims, or Indonesian Muslims are ideal Muslims. South Indian Muslims speak the regional languages; and Indonesia, a primarily Muslim country, has the Ramayana as its national epic.

3. Many RSS ideologues oppose Prime Minister Modi's policies of promoting foreign trade and investment. They view Modi's economic policies with great skepticism.


Summary:

Sheikh Alam's talk of carving "four Pakistans" out of India is a reminder of Quaid-e-Azam's words after 1937 elections during the British Raj. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's fears of War on Indian Muslims are also becoming reality. Former India PM Manmohan Singh has warned: "Great Nations like the Soviet Union have perished. If we continue to mis-manage our economy and continue to divide our country on the basis of religion, caste or other sectarian issues there is a danger of that sort of thing happening". The rise of RSS and its affiliates in India is deepening divisions in the country along multiple fault lines, the most important being caste and religion. The RSS leadership itself is not unified on how to deal with the divisions they have created and promoted. This situation has raised the social hostilities in India to very high levels. Pew scores social hostilities against minorities in India at 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10.  Professor Walter Anderson, co-author of "The RSS: The View to the Inside" has raised the specter of "a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism". And it has caused Lord Meghnad Desai, author of The Raisina Model, to ask the question: Will India break up?
Here's ex PM Manmohan Singh on Hard Talk with Karan Thapar: 

Views: 230

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 27, 2021 at 2:30pm

Holy Cow a Myth? An Indian Finds The Kick Is Real


https://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/17/books/holy-cow-a-myth-an-indian-...

''Holy Cow: Beef in Indian Dietary Traditions,'' is a dry work of historiography buttressed by a 24-page bibliography and hundreds of footnotes citing ancient Sanskrit texts. It's the sort of book, in other words, that typically is read by a handful of specialists and winds up forgotten on a library shelf.

But when its author, Dwijendra Narayan Jha, a historian at the University of Delhi, tried to publish the book in India a year ago, he unleashed a furor of a kind not seen there since 1989, when the release of ''Satanic Verses,'' Salman Rushdie's novel satirizing Islam, provoked rioting and earned him a fatwa from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

As Mr. Jha's book was going to press last August, excerpts were posted on the Internet and picked up by newspapers. Within days the book had been canceled by Mr. Jha's academic publisher, burned outside his home by religious activists and -- after a second publisher tried to print it -- banned by a Hyderabad civil court. A spokesman for the World Hindu Council called it ''sheer blasphemy.'' A former member of Parliament petitioned the government for Mr. Jha's arrest. Anonymous callers made death threats. And for 10 months Mr. Jha was obliged to travel to and from campus under police escort.

After months of legal wrangling, Mr. Jha's lawyers succeeded in having the ban lifted this spring. And now his book has been published in Britain and the United States by Verso, with a new preface and a more provocative title: ''The Myth of the Holy Cow.'' But though copies have been shipped to India, few bookstores there are likely to stock it.

---------

In this context, even food has become politicized as Hindu nationalists use their vegetarianism to distinguish themselves from the nation's beef-eating and implicitly immoral Muslim minority.

Mr. Jha's book, Ms. Doniger wrote in her review, ''contradicts the party line, which is that we Hindus have always been here in India and have Never Eaten Cow; those Muslims have come in, and Kill and Eat Cows, and therefore must be destroyed.''

From a scholarly point of view, she said, what's shocking about ancient Indian history is not that some people ate meat but that some did not: ''Since the human species is by nature carnivorous, what is surprising is that there ever were vegetarians.''

Beginning around A.D. 500, Mr. Jha writes, killing cows became increasingly taboo -- according to the religious texts, a sinful practice associated with the lowest social order, the untouchables. In part, he speculates, the change in official attitude may have coincided with the explosion of agriculture. The cow, on whose strength (for plowing), dung (for fuel) and milk the community depended, was just too valuable to slaughter.

Other scholars, however, say the taboo probably owed more to factors increasingly integral to Hindu, Buddhist and Jainist thought: the belief in reincarnation, which blurred the lines between humans and animals, and the doctrine of ahimsa, or nonviolence.

''The feeling that people have about killing animals and taking lives, that's the basis of it,'' Ms. Doniger said. ''Obviously, people were feeling guilty. Anytime you eat beef, that meant someone had slaughtered a cow.''

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 28, 2021 at 8:08am

Modi’s party seeks big win as 2 key Indian states (Assam and West Bengal) vote

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/modis-party-seeks...

"The BJP’s success depends on if it is able to polarize Hindu votes to a huge extent, and get half of the 70% of Hindu votes (in West Bengal and Assam),” said Subir Bhowmik, a political analyst.

-----------
In West Bengal and Assam, the BJP is banking on its strong Hindu nationalist ideology to draw votes. The party is trying to galvanize Hindu support by promising to deport hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims who fled their homes decades ago. In 2018, Home Minister Amit Shah described them as “termites” eating into India’s resources.

----------

Two Indian states with sizeable Muslim populations began voting in local elections Saturday in a test of strength for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Hindu nationalist agenda is being challenged by months of farmer protests and a fresh wave of the pandemic.

Top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Modi, have campaigned heavily to win West Bengal for the first time and dislodge the state’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, as well as retain power in northeastern Assam state.

The BJP has for years been accused of stoking religious polarization and discriminating against minorities, and faces stiff challenges in both states with populations that are nearly 30% Muslim. Nationwide, Muslims comprise nearly 14% of the 1.4 billion people, while Hindus make up 80%.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 29, 2021 at 11:09am

The rise of the Muslim middle class — and the challenges


https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/read/the-rise-of-the-mus...


The emergence of a substantive number of educated and professional Muslims has contributed to the small measure of assertiveness visible among the members of the community today
* Muslims going on holiday is part of the change that has been underway

* Until a few years ago, Indian Muslims were either very rich or very poor

* When I was in school, for several years, I was the only Muslim in my class

* With the increasing visibility of Muslims, especially in urban areas, a perception has grown that economic liberalisation and the growth of the Indian private sector have opened doors to educated Muslim youth

--------------------

As a result, even in the private sector, among middle level to senior employees (from senior executives to director), only 2.67 per cent are Muslims. According to the ET Intelligence Group Analysis of 2015, of 2,324 senior executives in BSE-500 listed companies, only 62 were Muslims. Even more worrying was the finding that in places where Muslims were employed in very senior positions, their remuneration was comparatively lower than that of their peers.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 29, 2021 at 11:34am

nearly 8 million Muslims crossed over to Pakistan during and immediately after Partition;19 a sizeable proportion of these migrants comprised the elite or the educated class of Indian Muslim society. In a paper for Yale University, scholars Prashant Bharadwaj, Asim Khwaja, and Atif Mian have offered a very interesting statistic. Exploring the changing demographic profile of India and Pakistan, they write that the outflow of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and the inflow of Muslims from India only marginally affected the literacy ratio of Pakistan because even though the migrating Hindus and Sikhs were far more literate than the resident Muslims of Pakistan, this deficiency was offset by the emigrating Muslims from India who were also highly literate. Using Karachi as an example, they write: The district of Karachi received a large influx of migrants—in 1951, nearly 28 per cent of the population population was migrant…. Hindus and Sikhs in Karachi in 1931 were also much more literate than the resident Muslims—21 per cent as opposed to just 3.7 per cent. After partition, nearly all Hindus and Sikhs left Karachi (only 1.5 per cent of the population in 1951 was composed of minorities). Yet, the aggregate effect on Karachi’s literacy is very small—this was due to the highly literate migrants who moved into Karachi. In the city of Karachi, 91 per cent of the literate population were migrants! What is important here is while overall literacy rates remained largely unchanged, who the literate population was composed of certainly changed. Partition thus replaced existing minority-majority literacy differences with within majority literacy differences.20

This wasn’t simply a case of brain drain from India. This created an intellectual deficit which continues to have a cascading effect on the community. education is not about literacy alone. It’s about exposure to diverse ideas, being challenged by new concepts, and learning to go beyond inherited wisdom. Above all, education adds to confidence and encourages people to overcome insecurities.

Wahab, Ghazala. BORN A MUSLIM: Some Truths About Islam in India (pp. 60-61). Kindle Edition.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 30, 2021 at 7:39am

Hate Male:

By Audrey Truschke, Professor of South Asian History

I have a folder on my laptop titled “Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail hate mail.” That virtual folder bears no measurable weight, but it has exerted demonstrable force in shaping my life as an academic over the last five years. Since the fall of 2015, I have received hate mail in response to my scholarship, which is primarily on sixteenth-century and seventeenth-century India, and my tendency to comment on modern Indian politics based on my knowledge of South Asian history. My insights about India’s diverse, multicultural past have aroused the ire of Hindu nationalists who claim that past to be monolithically Hindu in a brazen attempt to erase India’s rich Muslim heritage. The BJP, a Hindu nationalist party, has controlled India’s central government since May 2014, and they have pursued an aggressive agenda of transforming India from a secular democracy welcoming of all faiths into a fascist state meant for martial-minded Hindus alone. During the last six years, anti-Muslim violence has risen sharply, freedom of the press has declined ruinously, and universities have been subjected to relentless assaults. History is a primary battleground for Hindu nationalists who want to rewrite India’s diverse past to justify their present-day oppression and violence, and historians like me get in their way.


https://therevealer.org/hate-male/

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 30, 2021 at 10:43am

Characters in a Sartre play
Jawed Naqvi

https://www.dawn.com/news/1615434/characters-in-a-sartre-play

"THE search for petty advantages has been the bane of larger quests — as true of politics as of any other public sphere. The Nazis, as everyone knows, rose on the rubble of a small-minded opposition, be they social democrats, socialists or communists fixated on a delusional tiny gain that may have seemed critical to them at the time but proved to be the collective undoing of German democracy and at what cost. Pakistan clearly lost its eastern half to personal squabbling at the cost of the big picture. India’s fractious opposition criminally created the ground for Narendra Modi to sidle close to seizing absolute power"


---------------

"Neither the left nor Kejriwal has formally identified the crisis facing India as resembling fascism, something writer Khushwant Singh had noted in 2003 in a small book called End of India.

“Those of us today who feel secure because we are not Muslims or Christians are living in a fool’s paradise. The Sangh is already targeting the leftist historians and ‘Westernised’ youth. Tomorrow it will turn its hate on women who wear skirts, people who eat meat … prefer allopathic doctors to vaids, kiss or shake hands in greeting instead of shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’. No one is safe. We must realise this if we hope to keep India alive.” Are Garcin, Inez and Estelle listening?"

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 31, 2021 at 7:40pm

Narendra Modi is everything apart from what he seems
Hologram and holy man, sectarian and seer, the Indian prime minister is a trick of the light

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/narendra-modi-is-everyt...

By Andrew Adonis

Modi knows India, socially and geographically, better than perhaps any other Indian alive, and from the bottom up. He has mastered modern democratic arts and his ubiquitous social media presence includes a Modi app, flashing up every speech, event and opinion to millions with a professionalism that leaves Trump in the gutter. “India saved itself with a timely lockdown, travel restrictions, shows recent study. Read more here!” runs the latest notification on my phone, the fourth of today.

“Speaking in Hindi, Modi is the finest speaker I have ever heard; his oratory is mesmerising,” one opponent who does not wish to be named tells me. To my surprise, given his dictatorial reputation, he is a considerable parliamentarian, capable of graceful tributes to opponents, albeit only when they are retiring or have been defeated. “We stand for those who trusted us and also those whose trust we have to win over,” he declared after his 2019 landslide. His bitterest political critics typically pay tribute to his skill and crave his attention even as they attack him.

Each day features another socially distanced mass Modi event, typically in a different state. Whether launching a toy festival in Delhi or a railway scheme in West Bengal, the white-bearded sage declaims an impassioned homily combining a political message with spiritual guidance and lifestyle advice. Addressing newly graduating doctors, after thanking them for their efforts in the pandemic, he urges them to “keep a sense of humour, do yoga, meditation, running, cycling and some fitness regime that helps your own wellbeing,” and invokes Hindu saint Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s mantra that “serving people is the same as serving God.” “In your long careers, grow professionally and at the same time, never forget your own growth. Rise above self-interest. Doing so will make you fearless,” he preaches.

“Modernisation not westernisation” is another Modi slogan—he has a slogan for everything—yet his political packaging, including that hologram, is done with the help of slick BJP professionals trained in Britain and the US. He plays the west, using the right language and commandeering the wealthy and influential Hindu diaspora like an army. Britain’s populist Home Secretary Priti Patel, a fellow Gujarati, jokes with her friend “Narendra” in Gujarati. He calls virtually every western leader “my friend,” and they reciprocate. Whatever their concerns about sectarianism, western leaders desperately want the Indian leader onside. After his inauguration, Biden called Modi before Xi Jinping: escalating crises in Myanmar, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea give the prime minister leverage, which he shrewdly exploits.

But is Modi within or beyond the pale? In his personal language generally within—although under his rule an anti-Muslim and anti-secular culture war has been stoked, amplified by Amit Shah and BJP activists. Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu priest cloaked in saffron robes and the BJP chief minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, infamously proclaimed: “If Muslims kill one Hindu man, then we will kill 100 Muslim men.” Modi himself doesn’t go there: modernisation and Hindu ancestor worship are his public rhetoric, and he rarely attacks opponents for much more than being divisive and unpatriotic, which is pretty much what British Tories have been doing for two centuries. And yet, in front of parliament in February, Modi called the farmers encamped in Delhi protesting the new laws “people who cannot live without protests,” and—more chillingly—“parasites.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 31, 2021 at 7:40pm

Loud #bigotry of our times under #Modi is no great break from the past. #Indian “liberalism” had to do with #Muslims “knowing their place”. Muslims were to act as mascots of #Hindu #India’s tolerant culture, not assert #equality with majority #Hindus by Sanjay Srivastava

https://scroll.in/article/955374/indian-liberalism-is-a-historical-...

The good Muslim syndrome
The most fundamental aspect of our recent past is that our parents were not particularly committed to the values of religious tolerance that they are frequently credited with as a pre-Modi phenomenon. Their relationship with their Muslim co-citizens was premised on a specific set of circumstances.

Firstly, it had to do with Muslims “knowing their place”. Muslims were to act as mascots of Hindu India’s tolerant culture, rather than exercise an identity that might assert equality with members of the majority community. This was the condition of Hindu contextualism where “secular India” was deeply rooted in the values and public symbolism of Hinduism. Our public functions began (and still begin) with lighting lamps, ships were launched by breaking coconuts and we sang (and now sing with greater fervour) Sanskrit hymns at various national occasions as if these were areligious markers of post-colonial identity.

That is the world our parents grew up in and subscribed to: the “good Muslim” was the one who knew his or her place in a society marked by Hindu contextualism. Even Nehru, perhaps one of the very few who might have understood the meaning of genuine multiculturalism, was not able to counter these tendencies.

Eliding caste
Secondly, there was no India of our parent’s generation that seriously engaged with the caste question. Rather, if we have now come to believe that our parents decried casteism – and that its resurgence is linked to the break-down of their culture of liberalism – this is an entirely spurious view, nurtured by a very Indian culture of filial obligation.

Men and women of an earlier generation – the first and second generation of post-Independence parents – were as deeply casteist as their apparent antithetical contemporary counterparts. What was true of the earlier generation was that – like the Left parties – they pronounced that “in their circles” caste was not a problem.

---

A soft bigotry

The fact of the matter is that neither was our parents’ time one of a golden age of tolerance and constitutional morality nor is it the case that we have now – in a space of six years! – dramatically changed. The first perspective is misplaced filial obligation and the second is a simplistic understanding of social and cultural change.

Our parents practised bigotry of a quiet sort, one that did not require the loud proclamations that are the norm now. Muslims and the lower castes knew their place and the structures of social and economic authority were not under threat. This does not necessarily translate into a tolerant generation. Rather, it was a generation whose attitudes towards religion and caste was never really tested.

---

The great problem with all this is that we continue to believe that what is happening today is simply an aberration and that we will, when the nightmare is over, return to the Utopia that was once ours. However, it isn’t possible to return to the past that was never there. It will only lead to an even darker future. And, filial affection is no antidote for it.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 1, 2021 at 6:08pm

“What our (#Indian) textbooks don't tell us: Why the #Rajputs failed miserably in battle for centuries. They were defeated by Ghazni, Gloria, Khilji, Babur, Akbar (#Mughals) the #Marathas and the #British”. #Hindutva #Modi #BJP #India http://scroll.in/article/728636/what-our-textbooks-dont-tell-us-why...


Girish Shahane

What’s astonishing is that centuries of being out-thought and out-manoeuvred had no impact on the Rajput approach to war. Rana Pratap used precisely the same full frontal attack at Haldighati in 1576 that had failed so often before. Haldighati was a minor clash by the standards of Tarain and Khanua. Pratap was at the head of perhaps 3,000 men and faced about 5,000 Mughal troops. The encounter was far from the Hindu Rajput versus Muslim confrontation it is often made out to be. Rana Pratap had on his side a force of Bhil archers, as well as the assistance of Hakim Shah of the Sur clan, which had ruled North India before Akbar’s rise to power. Man Singh, a Rajput who had accepted Akbar’s suzerainty and adopted the Turko-Mongol battle plan led the Mughal troops. Though Pratap’s continued rebellion following his defeat at Haldighati was admirable in many ways, he was never anything more than an annoyance to the Mughal army. That he is now placed, in the minds of many Indians, on par with Akbar or on a higher plane says much about the twisted communal politics of the subcontinent.

There’s one other factor that contributed substantially to Rajput defeats: the opium habit. Taking opium was established practice among Rajputs in any case, but they considerably upped the quantity they consumed when going into battle. They ended up stoned out of their minds and in no fit state to process any instruction beyond, “kill or be killed”. Opium contributed considerably to the fearlessness of Rajputs in the arena, but also rendered them incapable of coordinating complex manoeuvres. There’s an apt warning for school kids: don’t do drugs, or you’ll squander an empire.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 4, 2021 at 11:42am

#Maoistattack Kills 23 #Indian Forces in Ambush, Officials Say. The four-hour battle in a forested area of central #India has revived concerns about a decades-old insurgency that had appeared largely contained. #Modi #Adivasi #BJP https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/04/world/asia/india-maoist-insurgen...

At least 23 Indian security forces were killed in an ambush by Maoist militants in the central state of Chattisgarh, officials said on Sunday, reviving concerns around a decades-old insurgency that appeared to have been largely contained in recent years.

A large force of Indian security personnel had been carrying out a clearance operation in a densely forested area on the edges of the Bijapur district when they were ambushed by the insurgents on Saturday in a firefight that lasted four hours.

Avinash Mishra, the deputy superintendent of police in Bijapur, said an additional 31 security personnel were wounded in the attack.

He said that the militants, often referred to as Naxalites, also suffered heavy casualties, adding that one insurgent’s body remained at the site while the rest were cleared by tractors. Mr. Mishra said the insurgents had managed to seize the dead soldiers’ weapons.

Amit Shah, the Indian minister of home affairs, the official responsible for domestic security matters, confirmed the deaths, and cut short election campaigning in northeastern India to fly back to New Delhi and lead the response, including a search for the attackers.

“The blood of our soldiers, in defense of the nation, will not go to waste,” Mr. Shah said. “Our fight against the Naxalites will continue with more determination and vigor.”

The insurgents, who trace their roots to communist politics in the 1960s, use violence against the state in the name of championing the cause of India’s poor and marginalized. Their reach was once so widespread, and their attacks so frequent, that in 2006, India’s prime minister declared them the country’s “single biggest internal-security challenge.”

However, the Indian government has shrunk the space where the insurgents operate over the past decade by combining military operations involving tens of thousands of paramilitary forces with economic packages to the areas the insurgents used as a base for activity and recruitment. Where the insurgents once operated in about 200 districts at their peak, they are were confined to less than 50 districts last year, according to official figures.

The government has hunted insurgent leaders, killing a large number or forcing them to surrender, and insurgent attacks have declined in frequency and potency.

Nevertheless, the group continues to launch hit-and-run attacks, ambushing security forces in friendly terrain and inflicting casualties in deadly battles. Before the attack on Saturday, 56 people, including security forces, insurgents and civilians, had been killed in Maoist violence this year, according to data by the South Asia Terrorism portal.

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