While the Maoist movement in India appears to be fairly contained for now, the rebel group's leaders and bombmakers could develop the "tradecraft for urban terrorism", a leading US strategic think tank has warned.
Taking a closer look at the Naxal threat, Stratfor said while "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has labelled the Naxalite issue the biggest threat to the country's internal security, incidents like the 2008 Mumbai attacks provide evidence to most Indians that Pakistan and the militants, who hide there, pose a greater external threat".
"In the end, Naxalism is fairly contained," it said noting, "Despite threats and indications from Naxalites that they will attack urban targets throughout India, the group has yet to demonstrate the intent or ability to strike outside of the Red Corridor" - in eastern India that experiences considerable Naxalite militant activity.
"But the group's leaders and bombmakers could develop such a capability, and it will be important to watch for any indication that cadres are developing the tradecraft for urban terrorism," it said.
"Naxalites are honing the capability to construct and deploy IEDs, conduct armed raids and maintain an extensive, agile and responsive intelligence network," Stratfor warned.
"Even if they do not expand their target set and conduct more 'terrorist-type' attacks, the Naxalite challenge to the state could materialise in other ways," it said pointing out that Naxalite organization relies not only on militant tactics, but also on social unrest and political tactics to increase its power.
"Naxalites have formed sympathetic student groups in universities, and human-rights groups in New Delhi and other regional capitals are advocating for the local tribal cause in rural eastern India," Stratfor noted.
"Instead of using violence, these groups stage protests to express their grievances against the state. And they underscore the Naxalite ability to use both militant violence and subtle social pressure to achieve their goals."
Cautioning against deploying the military as suggested by many Indian politicians, Stratfor said: "Even if the government did decide to deploy the military to combat the Naxalites in eastern India, it would face a tough fight against a well-entrenched movement - something New Delhi is not likely to undertake lightly or any time soon."