Are the kidnaps a diversionary tactic?

Are the recent kidnaps by Maoists meant to divert the attention of security forces from counter-insurgency operations in left-wing extremism-affected States?

Intelligence agencies are veering round to the view that Maoists could be resorting to abductions to possibly deflect the attention of security forces from a meeting of top Maoists. The meeting could possibly be held in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand or on the borders of these States, senior officials suspect.

Knowledgeable sources surmise that Maoists could have convened the meeting to discuss organisational and political issues and to review the recent high-profile losses inflicted on them.

There was also a possibility of Maoists convening the meeting to elect members to the central committee. The committee used to have 31 members and the number had dwindled to 19 following the recent arrests and killings.

The current spell of abductions began on March 14, when Maoist cadres whisked away Italians Bosusco Paolo and Caludio Colangelo. Even as the Odisha government began negotiations with rebels to get them released, another Maoist unit abducted BJD legislator Jhina Hikaka on March 24.

Immediately after the release of the legislator from custody, rebels in Chhattisgarh abducted Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon on April 24.

The three incidents forced the Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments to put on hold the movement of security forces, let alone combing operations.

Though Maoists have been using kidnap as a tactic to checkmate the government initiative, there appears to be divergent opinions among Maoists themselves about the use of this tactic, not to speak of the general and widespread opposition from civil society.

The repeated use of this tactic would certainly distance the intelligentsia and the middle class and the Maoist documents indicate that they had decided not to use this tactic, said a seniormost police officer monitoring the Naxalite activity.

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