Reds aiming at high-value targets, say analysts

NEW DELHI: Abduction is a much-preferred method of Maoists – what we are witnessing now is an increasing shift to selective, high-value targets, say security analysts who track leftwing extremism.

“The Maoists had their way after abducting then Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna in February last year. There was no inflicting of unbearable costs for such an act. So they have raised the bar, especially in states they consider to be weak in response,” says Ajai Sahni, executive director, Institute of Conflict Management.

In recent weeks, three high-profile kidnappings have taken place in Maoist areas. On March 18, two Italian nationals, Paolo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo, were abducted from the Daringbadi area of Kandhamal district. Five days later, Orissa’s Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka was abducted. The latest is Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon’s abduction in Chahattisgarh on April 21.

Sahni points out that a maximum number of Maoist leaders are in Andhra jails but there are few abductions in that state. Adds P V Ramana, research fellow, IDSA, “Abduction as a tactic has failed miserably in Andhra Pradesh. On many occasions, the Maoists had also shot dead leaders whom they had taken hostage. Together it brought them immense disrepute and also eroded their support base. Thereafter, as a policy, the Maoists stopped abductions in AP.”

Maoists abducted 1,554 people in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, AP, Bihar, Maharashtra, UP and other states between January 1, 2008 and November 14, 2011, according to statistics furnished by Union minister of state for home affairs Jitendra Singh in reply to a starred question in the LS on November 22, 2011. Of them, 489 were abducted from Chhattisgarh, 463 from Jharkhand and 137 from Odisha. Only 33 were abducted from AP. Overall, 328 were killed.

Sahni points out that Maoists are suffering from a crisis of leadership. Of the 16 members of the 2007 politburo, only seven are operating in the open. Seven are in jail and two are dead.

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