Maoists Vs Former Maoists: A Peep Into Jharkhand’s Counter-LWE Policy – Analysis
Given that a force-centric policy, in which the states are inclined to use vigilante groups and former Maoists against the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), is largely seen to have taken precedence over the other identified components of the official anti-Left-wing Extremism (LWE) strategy, what sort of end game can one foresee in the next five years? Will the efforts of the Indian state result in a complete defeat of the CPI-Maoist, thereby resolving the problem of left-wing extremism? Or will the CPI-Maoist’s absence merely lead to an enabling environment for smaller extremist groups to thrive? Jharkhand’s experience points at the second possibility. An operationally convenient and yet shortsighted policy pursued by the state that encourages the smaller factions or vigilante groups to operate against the CPI-Maoist may end the bigger problem to a large extent. However, the resultant vacuum is likely to be exploited by these very agents of change to keep the fire of extremism, if not revolution, burning.
In Jharkhand, the ‘unofficial’ policy of using factions of the CPI-Maoist against the parent outfit was a direct result of the operational constraint of not having enough policemen on the ground to fight the extremists. The state had been carved out of Bihar in 2000. In 2002, the first year for which official data on police strength is available for the state, Jharkhand’s total strength of police personnel stood at a meager 10,493. For a state spread over 79,714 sq km, it meant a police density (policemen for a 100 sq km area) of 13. By 2005, the total strength had increased to 24,563, but still translated to a police density of 30. The state police establishment was in no position to resist the surge of the CPI-Maoist’s activities that had begun in 2004, immediately after the outfit’s formation. By 2010, the strength and density had increased to 46,613, representing a police density of 58. In comparison, geographically smaller states like Tripura, Punjab and Haryana had a police density of 231, 132, and 107, respectively.
Under an unofficial policy, Superintendents of Police in various LWE affected districts in Jharkhand started exploiting the fissures that had started appearing in the CPI-Maoist’s ranks along caste lines. Tribal versus non-tribal, tribal versus tribal, and upper caste versus lower caste divisions played out as the outfit desperately failed to use its ideology to unite its diverse array of foot soldiers and medium and low rank leaders. The People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), and the Jharkhand Jana Mukti Parishad (JJMP) were some of the prominent groups that emerged breaking ranks with the CPI-Maoist. Each of these outfits present a fascinating narrative of collusion with the state and the operational benefits they provided the state’s ineffectual police force…
‘90 killed in 6 months in Bastar fake encounters’
Senior Maoist leader Ganesh Uike has accused the security forces of killing over 90 people in fake and staged encounters in the first six months of this year in the restive Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.
A member of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) Danda Karanya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) and the head of its Bastar Sub Zonal Bureau, Mr. Uike has also alleged that the security forces have sexually assaulted 50 women in Bastar during the Chhattisgarh government’s anti-Maoist campaign ‘Mission 2016’.
“Over 90 people have been killed in the last six months in the name of ‘Mission 2016’ by security forces in Bastar. Over 50 women have been sexually assaulted and hundreds of tribals have been declared ‘warrantee Maoists’ and are being tortured in jail. In the name of anti-Maoist campaign, large-scale attacks are carried out on the common people of Bastar.
It’s a police raj in the BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh and human rights of the common public are being openly violated,” Mr. Uike said in a press statement.
“After Vijay Kumar’s [the special security advisor to the Union Home Ministry] visit, the security forces attacked Mandel, Gondod, Gampur Karka, Eramgonda, Pendam, Edasmetta, Pasnur, Todka and Palnar village of Bastar and committed atrocities on ordinary citizens like an invading foreign army.
The people of Chhattisgarh are battling inflation, drought, and unemployment but the State government is only concerned about anti-Maoist campaigns,” he said.
“On July 10, four of our men were killed by the police in Bijapur. There was no firing from our men. But the police opened heavy firing on our men and killed them and called it a major encounter,” he claimed.
Mr. Uike, however, accepted that all four were “active Maoists” and vowed to take “revenge”. He also owned up the killings of three BJP leaders in Bijapur.
Maoists take onus for Aurangabad encounter
Patna/Aurangabad: The CPI (Maoist) on Wednesday owned up responsibility for the Aurangabad encounter on July 18 at Dumaria Nala forest area in Aurangabad district, in which 10 CRPF personnel and three Maoists were killed. Paramjeet, spokesperson of the central zonal committee of the outfit, in a press statement admitted three members of the organization lost their lives. He said, “The three cadres who died in the encounter are Prince alias Jitender, Harinder alias Uday and Bipin alias Kisan. Our brave cadres killed 10 CoBRA jawans of the CRPF. We laid the trap by giving them misleading information over the telephone which was under their surveillance. The fourth body is of a villager, not of our cadre.”
He said the operation was carried out to shake the confidence of the security forces. A CRPF official said, “The area has dense forest and hundreds of landmines could be planted there by the ultras. The evacuation (of injured CRPF personnel) suffered as chopper could not land there. Despite the huge loss of lives that shocked the jawans in operation, we prepared another 50 men to evacuate the injured.” Sources said many sophisticated arms of the security personnel were damaged during the explosions. The Maoist spokesman demanded immediate withdrawal of Operation Green Hunt, saying their attacks would continue till it ends. “Our organization has enough arms and ammunition to take on security personnel. These will be used as per the requirement,” he added.
He also claimed security forces were torturing innocents villagers, alleging they were supporters of Maoists. Meanwhile, a core committee meeting of the top brass of Bihar Police and CRPF’s CoBRA wing was held at Gaya on Wednesday. “The officers are now trying to find out where the security forces went wrong on the day of encounter,” said an officer.
We may be down, but will bounce back, says Maoist leader Chalapati
Admitting that the Naxal movement has received serious setbacks in recent times in the form of encounter deaths and surrender of leaders, East Division secretary Pratapareddy Ramchandrareddy alias Appa Rao alias Chalapati said security forces have made quite a few strikes but claimed that the ‘people’s movement’ has not been suppressed and will bounce back. In an exclusive interview with TOI in the interiors of the Andhra Odisha Border (AOB) on the eve of the Martyr’s Week to be observed by the Naxals from July 28-August 3, Chalapati said like their comrades elsewhere in the country, the Naxals of the East Division too need to change the strategy to match the changing socio-economic, political and global scenario.
Where does the Maoist movement in AOB stand now? And why has it been facing such hard times?
n The multi-pronged attacks by the state government through its security forces as well as own mistakes has led to the Maoists being in the situation now. We have some weaknesses in waging the class struggle. Moreover, we have not actively mobilised the people as well as our own cadre to launch counter attacks against the security forces. We have to re-examine our guerilla warfare techniques as well as strengthen our underground network.
So would it be correct to say that the Maoists have totally failed in mobilising the masses?
n That is not true. If we have failed in all aspects, we would have ceased to exist. While admitting that we have faced setbacks, I would like to remind you that the party has faced difficult times in the past and regained its strength and lost glory. At the same time, I am willing to concede that we have constraints in attracting the people in all levels to the party ideology and policies. We shall do so now by strengthening our political and organisational setups.
There are allegations that some of the militia members have been misguiding the party for their selfish motives and causing the death of innocent people after branding them as police informers?
n Ours is a party of the masses. We will not take anybody’s word that so and so is an informer and kill him. The party has been strictly following the standard procedure laid down by the higher committees. However, I must add that in the conspiracy to eliminate the Maoists party, the ruling classes and the state government have been exploiting people in the tribal areas by converting them as police informer and agents. Such people are being given arms by the police and a special police officer (SPO) network created. It is such elements that we are eliminating.
Your party has lost the stronghold areas such as Narayanapatna, Bandugaon in Odisha and many more places in Visakha and East Godavari districts. Party leaders are not in a position to visit many villages in both the Visakha Agency and AOB now as they have no support. Did the party analyse these conditions?
n Learning lessons from mistakes and failures is a continuous process. The Naxalbari and Srikakulam armed struggles were formed through the lessons learnt from the Telangana armed struggle. Likewise, the Dandakaranya, Bihar and Jharkhand movements were based on the lessons learnt from the Naxalbari and Srikakulam struggles. Losing or gaining the dominance of areas or places would depend on the relative strength of the movement as of its rivals. Therefore, you need to examine the overall strength of the movement. For example, in China, the revolutionaries had lost their strongholds several times before finally taking over the entire country. The lessons from these struggles will guide the future agitations.
Any particular reason why the party has lost its grip over its so called bastions in the AOB?
n The state through its security forces has launched a massive repression on the movement since 1996 with a clear strategy. We failed to counter it by involving people in large numbers. As a result, by 2006, the movement began growing once again after receiving many setbacks in the AOB. We reduced the number of squads and converted them into platoons to counter the increasing strength of the enemy. Since then, the people of AOB are very much with us.
If the movement is strong and is being backed by the people, why is it seeing so many leaders surrendering to the police and coming overground?
n Many of those who surrendered did so for health reasons. You need to recall that the movement gained new strength in 2004 after the merger of three parties. We lost many people and strongholds due to Operation Greenhunt, an all-out offensive by paramilitary forces and the state forces in 2009 along the borders of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Following that, our Central Committee meeting in 2013 analysed the present conditions and changed our strategy. These hard times are only temporary. I can confidently say that the party will overcome this situation. The movement will sustain till the oppressed sections get the living rights and ownership of the land.
Police keep a hawk’s eye on ferry points
The ferry points on Pranahita river in Koutala and Bejjur mandals are in focus as they are known for extremists crossing over into Adilabad from Maharashtra
Though a month has passed since the dreaded Maoist Athram Shobhan alias Charles got killed in an encounter in the neighbouring Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra, the expected surrenders by his comrade extremists have not materialised in Adilabad.
There is no naxal movement in the district either since then, which constitutes whatever tangible impact that is seen after the June 19 encounter.
The police, nonetheless, have not relaxed their vigil on the long border that the eastern side of the district shares with Maharashtra’s naxal affected Gadchiroli district. The ferry points on Pranahita river in Koutala and Bejjur mandals are especially in focus as they are known for extremists crossing over into this district from the neighbouring State.
The two mandals form part of the Sirpur Assembly constituency which shot into prominence owing to the money spinning development activity being witnessed here. The activity is said to have attracted the attention of Maoists who are allegedly looking to extort money from contractors.
“We are also keeping an eye on some relatively unknown river crossing places like the Gundaipet ferry point in Koutala. The likelihood of large dalams crossing over from such places is remote though chances of two members of an action team carrying weapon cannot be ruled out,” observed Koutala Inspector of Police S. Acheshwara Rao as he delved into the subject.
Usually, it is in June and July that naxalite dalams cross over into this district as is evident from their movements reported in previous years. They apparently take advantage of the camouflage offered by increase in greenery during monsoon.
As the ferry points are located even as far as 15 to 20 km from mandal headquarters, the only way of keeping an eye on the activity on the shores of the rivers is through increased combing operations, which is being done by the police. The police, however, anticipate that their efforts will be strengthened owing to an improved informant network as a consequence of Janamythri, the mass contact programme launched by Superintendent of Police Vikram Jeet Duggal a few weeks ago.
“The programme has certainly had an impact on people in that their perception of police is changing fast. In any case, I appeal to the Maoists to surrender and join the mainstream,” Mr. Duggal stated.
North Andhra on high alert
Visakhapatnam: Cops in East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam are on a high alert in view of the CPI Maoists observing Martyrs Week from July 28 to August 3.
According to sources, Maoists, who had lost many cadres in the recent encounters, surrenders and arrests by the cops, are desperate to show their prowess in the Andhra Odisha Border (AOB). Not wanting to take any chances, security forces including the elite force – Greyhounds – have been deployed for combing operations in north Andhra along with the CRPF and district armed reserve forces. As a prelude to Martyrs Week, the naxals recalled the contribution of comrades like Azad, Anand, Kamala and Kudumula Ravi a couple days ago in the interiors of AOB.
“Generally, Maoists will not indulge in any violent activity during Martyrs Week. But the changing scenario may push them to such activities. So we don’t want to take any chance. We have already taken various measures in the Visakha agency. Our security personnel have been deployed at various locations,” the Visakha Rural SP Rahul Dev Sarma told TOI.
Sources said Maoists were planning to observe Martyrs Week to show their dominance in the Visakha agency as they lost three main cadres at the Marripakalu-Palasamudram encounter in Koyyuru on May 4 this year and PLGA main leader Kudumula Venkata Rao alias Ravi due to illness. “They will not leave any opportunity in observing martyrs week. The movement of naxals was visible at Galikonda and even Korukonda, besides Pedabayalu and Munchingput border areas,” police sources said.
Cops suspect that big leaders are likely to participate in programmes in the Vizianagaram district of AP and Koraput district in Odisha. Anticipating such a development, CRPF personnel have been deployed in Makkuva and Parvathipuram mandal. After merger of four mandals including Chintoor in East Godavari from Khammam district, Maoists activity has increased in the zone as Chintoor shares borders with Chhattisgarh. Besides, the East Godavari police department has established a sub-division at Chintoor and posted an ASP for the division to deal with anti-naxal operations, a senior police officer said.
Naxal chiefs flee after clash with CRPF men
New Delhi: Three top CPI (Maoist) members – Sandeep Yadav, Arvindji alias Dev Kumar Singh and Kundan Yadav who were holding a meeting with 50-60 of their followers in the Maoist hotbed of Chakarbanda forest in Bihar’s Aurangabad district, narrowly escaped the CRPF’s CoBRA commandos on Monday…
Naxal suspect Rupesh chargesheeted
Madikeri: A suspected Maoist leader and Naxal Rupesh was on Thursday produced before Madikeri court amidst tight security. While alighting from the police bus near the court building, Rupesh raised slogans like ‘Naxalbari zindabad’, ‘Maoist zindabad’ and ‘Maoists are patriots’. He was brought from Coimbatore jail, where he is lodged, and produced before the JMFC court here. His advocate Vidyadhar told reporters that Kodagu police have filed a chargesheet against him. He is requesting the court to consider him as a political prisoner. JMFC munsiff Srikanth heard his plea and told his advocate to move the sessions court to place his appeal…
3 alleged women Maoists arrested in Tamil Nadu
CHENNAI/KARUR: Three alleged Maoist women cadre were arrested by the Q branch police on Thursday from Karur and Kancheepuram districts. Police sources identified them as Reena Joyce Mary (32), Kala a.k.a Janaki (53) and Chandra (52).Reena was a suspect in a 2008 encounter between the police and the Maoists at Kodaikanal. She was also one of the Maoists arrested in an operation at Uthangarai in 2002.
Sources said a police team traced Reena, who was found working in a textile factory at Padapai on Thursday evening. Based on the information given by her, another police team traced Kala and Chandra living in a rented house at Vengamedu in Karur district. One of the duo swallowed a piece of paper on seeing the police, onlookers said adding she shouted pro-Maoist slogans.
Police are trying to find out how long they were residing in Vengamedu and their links with the house owner in Karur. The two women have been taken to an undisclosed location for interrogation. They are likely to be produced before a judicial magistrate on Friday. Police officials said these suspects had contacts with Maoists in other states and some of them had jumped bail.
Two women suspected to be Maoists held in Chennai
CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu ‘Q’ branch sleuths have arrested two women suspected to be Maoists involved in an attack on Uthangarai police station in Krishnagiri in 2002. Based on a specific tip, a police team led by the ‘Q’ branch Villupuram police inspector and a Coimbatore police inspector nabbed the suspects who were identified as Reena Joy Mary, 35, and Kala, 38, from a hideout in Manimangalam near Chromepet on Thursday.
Police said the women were hiding intermiteently in Villupuram and Chennai. Inquiries revealed that Mary and Kala were regularly travelled to Chhattisgarh to meet Maoist leaders. They were also involved in training youngsters in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, police said…
..Reeta Mary (32), Kala alias Janaki (53) and Chandra (52) were taken into custody by ‘Q’ branch personnel in plain clothes after keeping them under surveillance for nearly 10 days. The three were suspected to be Maoists. Speaking to ‘News Today’, a senior ‘Q’ Branch official said that the arrested Maoists were senior level leaders and were engaged in recruitment and setting up of base camps here.
The police have seized cell phones and manuals from the spot, which would be examined later. The official said, the police would ask for their custody for further interrogation. The police sources said, they were already into ‘Maoist activities’. The spouses of all three women are Maoists as well and are active in the ‘tri-junction’ areas. In the guise of quarry workers, the women, were leading low-profile lives in Karur and Kanchipuram areas, a police source said. They intended to initiate college-goers, trade unions and others into the Maoist ideology.
Mary is the wife of Kannan, who is lodged in jail. She lived in the Erumaiyur area in Manimangalam from where she was arrested. The couple were allegedly involved in the Uthankarai police encounter in 2002. She also has other pending cases against her. Sundaramoorthy, husband of Chandra was arrested for bombing a prison in Kharagpur in 2007. He is currently in Puzhal jail. Janaki and Chandra resided in Vengamedu in Karur. The former’s husband Manivasagam is a proclaimed offender still on the run. The police will further investigate if the women have already initiated anyone in the surrounding areas into the ideology.
Joint operation: Maoist fort captured in north Chattisgarh
Bilaspur: In a joint operation, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand police busted a stronghold of Maoists in Balrampur district bordering Jharkhand. Security forces claimed to have killed six Maoists in the operation that lasted for about two weeks and have recovered a huge cache of IEDs, electric wires and detonators from the spot.
The operation was carried out at Budha Pahad in Chunchuna-Pudang area of Balrampur district of north Chhattisgarh. Budha Pahad of Chunchuna-Pudang area has been a shelter of Maoists for long time. Recently, Balrampur police received tip off about presence of hundreds of Maoists in Jokari hills of Budha Pahad. IF Surguraja Himanshu Gupta, Balrampur SP Sadanand Kumar, SPs of Gadhva and Latehar in Jharkhand along with six companies of 62 and 81 battalion of CRPF, STF and SAF decided to launch a joint operation against the Maoists…
Cop from four states vow coordinated action against Maoists
Top police officials from four states — Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal — Wednesday decided to work on better inter-state coordination and information sharing, particularly in the inter-state border areas, to curb the menace of left-wing extremism…
Police conduct intensive search for Maoists
The District Police in The Nilgiris on Thursday conducted an intensive search for a Maoist leader Vikram Gouda and three other members of the movement, following a rumour that they have entered the district. Police conducted a search at check posts with the pictures of the four persons.
A senior police officer in that district said that the search was based on an alert to police in The Nilgiris and Coimbatore around 8 a.m. on Thursday. The officer said there were rumours that they could have intruded through Mettupalayam or the bordering villages in Kerala.
All the vehicles crossing the border were thoroughly checked. Vehicles were also checked at the towns in the district. While no Maoists were spotted by the searching teams, the police, special task force and forest personnel continued intensive combing operation till the late hours of the day.
Superintendent of Police (SP) of The Nilgiris, Murali Rambha, told reporters that the search was based on an alert from their source and that there was no such movement of Maoists in the district. He also said that they are planning to have five more check posts on the district’s border with Kerala, in addition to the existing 10 check posts.
Maoist posters surface in Bhadrachalam
Maoists have put up wall posters at Laxmi Colony in Charla mandal headquarters urging people to observe “martyrs week” from July 28 to August 3.
According to sources, a bunch of printed wall posters have surfaced in the name of CPI (Maoist) State committee at a culvert near Laxmi Colony on the outskirts of Charla in Bhadrachalam division in the early hours of Thursday. The posters contained slogans denouncing the alleged attempts by the State government to suppress people’s movements against displacement of adivasis, farmers and poor people owing to opencast and other major projects.