India's Maoist insurgents have a long, brutal history. In 2009 they notched more than 800 fatalities, making them perhaps the nation's "gravest internal security threat," as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in September. The rebels, known as Naxalites, have been waging a guerrilla war against the government since 1967. Their influence has grown in recent years: they now have a presence in 223 of the country's more than 600 districts, up from 51 in 2001. In October, following violence that included the Taliban-style beheading of a police informer, cabinet member Mamata Banerjee demanded that the army be deployed to Naxalite strongholds. The government chose not to send troops. Instead, Singh said in November, curbing the violence will require giving the marginalized Naxalites a stake in the country's social and economic fabric. "We have to win the battle for their hearts," he said.