CHHATTISGARH: MIGHT OF A FRAGILE REVOLUTION – ANALYSIS
On the morning of 18 October 2014, Shiv Kumar, a personnel belonging to the Chhattisgarh Armed Police was pulled out of a passenger bus in Sukma district by a group of Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres and killed. Kumar was ill and was on his way to the hospital when the bus he had boarded was waylaid by extremists. On the previous day, Raghunath Kisku, Founder Member, Nagarik Suraksha Samity (NSS), an anti-Maoist organisation, was killed by Maoists in Ghatshila sub-division of Jharkhand’s East Singhbhum district. Kumar was the 69th security force personnel and Kisku, the 164th civilian, to be killed by Maoists in 2014.
Other activities perpetrated by the Maoists till 15 September include 125 attacks on the police; 40 occasions of snatching of weapons from the security forces; and holding of 25 arms training camps and 46 jan adalats in areas under their influence. While the occurrence of larger attacks have substantially decreased, the number of extremism-related incidents roughly remain the same compared to the corresponding period in 2013 – indicating the continuation of the challenge. And yet it is a hard time for the Maoists. Till 15 September, 1129 CPI-Maoist cadres were neutralised, including 49 who were killed in encounters, and 1080 cadres, arrested.
While the outfit can take pride from the sacrifices made by these men and women, what continues to trouble it is the perpetual desolation creeping into its ranks and files, leading to a large number of surrender of its leaders and cadres. Among the 395 who have surrendered till 30 September are leaders like Gumudavelli Venkatakrishna Prasad alias Gudsa Usendi, Secretary, Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC), arguably the outfit’s most potent military division based in Bastar and his wife Raji; GP Reddy, Member, the DKSZC, and his wife Vatti Adime; and Bhagat Jade and his wife Vanoja. According to the Chhattisgarh police, over 140 cadres have surrendered between June and September 2014 in Bastar alone, partly due to the disillusion with the outfit’s ideology and partly convinced by the police’s method of highlighting the discrimination suffered by the local Chhattisgarh cadres at the hands of those drawn from Andhra Pradesh.
Press statements of the CPI-Maoist, while condemning these surrenders as demonstration of opportunism and desertion of the movement by corrupt and politically degenerated persons, admit that the revolution is currently undergoing its most difficult phase. The CPI-Maoist has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in New Delhi of launching the third phase of Operation Green Hunt, a ruthless war aimed at annihilating the Maoists who are the “biggest threat” to its “pro-reform” policies.
Asserting that it has merely only engaged in a “war of self defence,” the outfit has called for a “widespread struggle to fight back the threat by uniting all the revolutionary and democratic forces.” Its progressively declining capacity to annihilate enemies since 2010 – in spite of the ability to pull off some of the most spectacular attacks on security forces and politicians in recent years – has remained a matter of worry for the CPI-Maoist. Its failure to disrupt the parliamentary and state assembly elections coupled with a regular desertion of its cadres has descended as an existential threat on the outfit that once controlled one-third of the country’s geographical area.
Even with the persisting bureaucratic inertia and unimaginative security force operations, most of the affected states have gained in their fight against the extremists. However, the outfit’s domination over large swathes of area in Chhattiagrh, Odisha and Jharkhand with significant presence in states like Bihar provides it with the ability to continue with its small ambushes. Its recruitment and fund raising ability appears to have shrunk. And yet, the outfit harps about a people’s militia “now in thousands” united by apathy of the state and carefully calibrated image of the government being a representative of the exploitative industrial houses.
Hence, a scenario in which surrenders and killings of the Maoists would push the outfit into oblivion is remote. The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), after months of deliberation, is now armed with a new policy to counter the Maoists. The policy, subject to cabinet approval, would remain open to use “any element of national power” against the extremists. Although it does not rule out peace talks with the extremists, it makes the peace process conditional to the CPI-Maoist renouncing violence. It plans to make the state police the lead counter-insurgent force against the extremists while assigning the central forces, especially the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the responsibility of holding the counter-insurgency grid together “like a glue.”
While impressive in its nuances, the approach is guided by the belief that it is possible to wipe out the Maoists by force alone. The impact of the new official counter-Maoist policy remains to be seen. However, in the clash between a militarily ‘down-and-not-yet-out’ CPI-Maoist and the official security apparatus that has its own set of serious problems, little more than persistence of the logjam can be expected.
Cops claim duo indoctrinated youths in ‘Mumbai-Surat Golden Corridor’ under aliases Comrade Rajan and Comrade Bhoomi; Bhelkes say there is no evidence.
A month-and-a-half after the arrest of two alleged Maoists in the city — Arun Bhelke and his wife Kanchan Nanaware — the state anti-terrorism squad (ATS) has opposed the duo’s September 30 bail plea, claiming that confirmed information has been received that they were working as area commanders of the ‘Mumbai-Surat Golden Corridor’, handling the key posts of ‘Comrade Rajan’ and ‘Comrade Bhoomi’ respectively. Investigators claim they indoctrinated many youths with the Maoist ideology in this zone and that money recovered from them was meant to spread their ideology and recruit more.
Assistant commissioner of police of the ATS Aurangabad unit, Shantaram Tayade, submitted that during interrogation, Arun alias Comrade Rajan revealed that he was the area commander of the ‘Golden Corridor’ from Gujarat to western Maharashtra, operating between Pune and Mumbai. Bhelke admitted that his primary objective was to recruit men aged between 18 and 22 years for the cause. Tayade added, “Maoist Naxalites have reportedly established a strong base in this industrial town stretch. Both were experts in altering their identity and address using fake IDs and PAN cards. There are several cases pending against them. Releasing them on bail may hamper investigations.”
The court is expected to deliver its order on October 31, the next hearing date, on the bail application filed through lawyers Wajed Khan-Bidkar and Tosif Shaikh. Advocate Shaikh said, “After they were sent to judicial custody on September 26, we filed a bail application requesting the court to consider that there is no evidence against them. In the Binayak Sen case, the recovery of Naxalite literature was not deemed an offence.” While requesting that the bail application be rejected, ATS Pune submitted that police are yet to obtain reports from the Kalina forensic laboratory on laptops, hard disks, pen-drives and data cards recovered from the accused. They reiterated that the duo are core members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
At the same hearing, 33-year-old Kanchan also submitted an application before additional sessions judge N P Dhote, urging that she not be kept isolated in the ‘anda cell’ of Yerwada Central Jail where they are currently housed, as she is suffering from heart-related problems and hasn’t been treated for a long time. Kanchan further submitted that only hardened criminals are housed in this cell, not undertrials like her; according to the jail manual, she ought to be incarcerated in the main jail. After going through her application, the judge has asked for a detailed report from the jail authorities. Khan-Bidkar added, “ATS has made no fresh arrests after these two. It is twisting details of recovered items to seek further custody and has no evidence to prove Maoist links. Besides, Kanchan is a heart patient. So, both are liable to be free on bail.”
Revised central policy flags new southern theatre on Maoist map
NEW DELHI: Maoists have a presence in as many as 15 states across India, including a new “southern theatre” in the tri-junction of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, while their front organisations exist in 21 states, according to the Centre’s assessment under the policy unveiled last week to tackle Left-wing extremism. The new tri-junction, particularly the Sathyamangalam forests where sandalwood smuggler Veerappan once held sway, is government priority as it feels the Maoist situation…
Cane Bombs Recovered from Maoist Hideout in Munger District
MUNGER: Security forces today recovered two powerful cane bombs and fuse wire from a Maoist hideout in the Bhimbandh forest in Munger district. Carrying out a search operation against the Maoists in the Bhimbandh forest, the security forces, comprising CRPF and police, recovered two cane bombs, weighting 20 kg each, and a 100 meter fuse wire from Patthadiha locality, Superintendent of Police Varun Kumar Sinha said. The search operation against the ultras is on, he said.