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India points to rise of Hindu ‘saffron terror’ risk

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NEW DELHI – India’s home minister warned on Wednesday that Hindu extremists posed an increasing risk to national security, dubbing the threat as “saffron terror”.


Chidambaram also warned that the government faced a lengthy battle to defeat India’s worsening Maoist insurgency

The colour saffron is associated with Hindu nationalism in India, and some right-wing groups have been linked to militant attacks in the north and west of the country.

However, most major recent attacks, including those in Mumbai in 2008 during which 166 people died, have been blamed on Islamists.

“We have recently uncovered a new phenomenon of ‘saffron terror’ and I ask you to be vigilant,” P. Chidambaram told an annual meeting of police chiefs in New Delhi.

Hardline regional parties like the Shiv Sena, which is based in Mumbai, vow to defend Hindu rights in India, but deny they are behind any violent militant activity.

Chidambaram also warned that the government faced a lengthy battle to defeat India’s worsening Maoist insurgency in eastern and central states.

Maoist attacks have risen with scores of police and soldiers killed in ambushes since Chidambaram launched a nationwide security offensive last year.

“The people of India understand that the conflict will be a long-drawn one, that patience is the key, that mistakes will be made and that the security forces need material and moral support,” he said.

India has almost doubled its homeland security budget to 405 billion rupees (nine billion dollars) since 2008-2009, he added.

The Maoist rebels say they fight against federal and state authorities on behalf of landless tribal groups and poor farmers who have been left behind by economic development.

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