NAGPUR: The recent Naxal press release confirming the deaths of their three cadres that also appealed to the security forces not to fight them has surprised many. More so because the communication also expressed sympathy for the slain jawans who fought them.
The Central Reserve Police Force that engaged the Naxals in Gadchiroli’s Khobramenda jungle in Korchi area in April had lost one jawan while five were injured. There was no confirmation of Naxal deaths. The Naxal communication, confirming the casualties, served as morale booster for security forces who were trying to corner the rebels with little success. Naxals always managed to spirit away their injured and dead leaving security forces guessing about true extent of casualties on the other side.
“We knew security forces can hit targets. The confirmation of three deaths would certainly work as a confidence builder,” said S Vireesh Prabhu, superintendent of police, Gadchiroli. “The press release was one of its kinds that mentioned the names of the slain Naxals,” he said.
But, the communication informing the deaths of Commander-in-chief Nagesh Pungati, Manju and Manglu has surprised a section of security agency. The authenticity of the communication has been viewed with suspicion. They are considering whether it was a deliberate Naxal strategy to mislead security forces or work of pseudo-Naxals playing a prank.
In the past, Naxals have rarely confirmed casualties on their side unless the bodies were recovered by the security forces. This time they not only admitted the casualties but also mentioned names to lend it authenticity. Some in security forces believe this could be a tactic to lull the security forces into complacence.
The incomplete release that did not have the second page and was without signature raised the doubt. The uncertainty was underlined by the recent confusion over senior cadre Diwakar’s death. There was a strong rumour that Diwakar was either killed or had committed suicide. It is yet to be confirmed.
The senior officer of Gadchiroli police argued the communication from the Naxal’s Communist Party of India, Maoist, was genuine. “The first page of the communication was found near Malewada market. We feel that second one would be soon traced,” said Prabhu. He added, “The content of the communication corroborates with the evidence found by police.”
A senior source from Anti-Naxal Operation ( ANO) cell said Naxals’ appealed to the security forces to “disobey their corrupt seniors” matched their strategy. The communication said the Naxals wanted the security forces to refrain from an armed combat with them. Prabhu, however, warned against concluding that Naxals had mellowed down against an upbeat security forces. “They also voiced their aggression,” he pointed out.
The security forces have also found a Naxal pamphlet demanding Rs 200 per day as wage for Tendu leaf collectors in the tribal district. The wage ranges between Rs 130-150 today. Police sources said that Naxals are trying to counter the increasing police pressure.