Maoist rebels celebrate Christmas
RANCHI: It is Christmas time and instead of guns booming in the jungles, Christmas bells are jingling in the Maoist hit districts of the state, more so in Khunti (south) and Gumla which has seen a lot of bloodshed in the recent past. Though the CPI (Maoists) are synonymous with violence and bloodshed cadres who are tribal Christians specially in the Jharkhand regional committee actually offer prayers in Churches during the midnight and morning masses on Christmas .
Although their ideology brushes religion aside there is a carte blanche from the Maoist leadership for the cadres to celebrate the various festivals either with their families or individually if they so wished. “In fact there a lot of support from other non Christian cadres too and if in a platoon of 20 there are half a dozen Christian tribals the others will wait outside the Church keeping vigil while they go inside the Church to offer prayers,” said IG police S N Pradhan.
However even though the Maoists are also at liberty to go to their native villages to celebrate the festival they usually refrain from doing so for fear of arrest. Maoists like on the occasion of Eid or Chhath festivals when they come forward to help villagers to celebrate the festival with devotion and fervour- during Christmas too they join the locals in their prayers and celebrations. ” Though bursting crackers are almost prohibited at certain pockets where they rule the roost, they do not create any kind of impediment in the festivities.
Rather they come forward and mingle with the villagers and even contribute to the feast on the occasion, said a source in Chainpur block of Gumla district. In fact he said they at times have also distributed blankets among villagers and text books, copies and slates among the children as Christmas gifts. Experts believe that the cadres of the rebel outfit join the festivities with a purpose. A police official said, “The cadres who live in the villages or adjoining forests have to show that they are one with them and share their joy and sorrows.
Living in the villages they cannot afford to isolate themselves during festivals as this is likely to antagonise the locals who are their sympathisers and provide them shelter.” Moreover the Maoists who always seek a chance to vent their angst against the system would never miss an opportunity to address the huge congregation during the festival. ‘”After the celebrations, the Maoists hold meetings with the villagers to spread their message about their movement among them,”‘ a villager said.
Officials fear Naxal resurgence
The arrest of three persons, including the manager of an infrastructure company from Andhra Pradesh, by Gadchiroli police on Saturday has again sparked apprehensions about a possible Naxal resurgence in the southern state. Maoists were believed to have been wiped out in the Andhra districts bordering Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Orissa. However, officials believe that in the wake of the Telangana agitation, the Maoists may be regrouping and clandestinely resuming operations. A senior police officer who has worked closely with the Andhra Police for a long time said: “After all these years of retreat, Naxals are trying hard to regain their hold once again. They are silently recruiting in districts like Adilabad, Warangal and Karimnagar.
Extortion and civilian murders are now showing an upward incline. A lot of Congress leaders from many villages have run away. Apparently, Telangana agitation and sentiment are in a way helping the Maoist resurrection in AP and nobody is talking about it yet.” The officer also believes that the long Maoist silence in 2012 shouldn’t be seen as a sign that they have been beaten. “They have concentrated on consolidation in 2012 and hence not got into any major action. Resurgence in Andhra could well be one of their focal activities this year,” the officer said.
The infrastructure company whose manager was held last week is working on a canal of a proposed inter-state irrigation project, and officials said Venkatramma Reddy was on a “clandestine” mission to help Maoists in Gadchiroli when he was arrested. The two held along with him were Chinmaya Soyam, a former sarpanch of a village in neighbouring Adilabad district of Andhra, and a local NCP leader and the former chairman of Sironcha Panchayat Samiti, Suryanarayan Parpatwar. Reddy is the manager-cum-supervisor for Sushee Infra Pvt Ltd, a firm based in Hyderabad, according to Deputy Inspector General (Gadchiroli range) Ravindra Kadam.
The firm is working on the Pranhita-Chevella inter-state irrigation project which is expected to be a soother for the strife-affected Telangana region. However, the company doesn’t yet have environmental and forest department clearance. “It’s an irony that a project that is coming up for Telangana should be used by Naxals for extracting logistical support from managers of companies working on the project,” said an official on condition of anonymity. The Telangana agitation is often seen as having Maoist support.