February 02, 2013

Maoists regrouping in West Bengal's Jangalmahal


Maoists are regrouping in West Bengal's Jangalmahal area, where peace prevailed for more than a year after their leader Kishenji was killed and several other top functionaries were arrested, according to the State Intelligence Bureau. 
  
Jangalmahal, which comprises three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, where killings and encounters between Maoists and security forces were almost the order of the day since 2008, saw relative peace since the middle of 2011.

 But the latest intelligence reports said the ultras in small groups were trying to regroup in the area and rebuilding their movement from a scratch.

 "We have specific inputs that Maoists are trying to regroup in the region. The squads of Maoist leaders Bikash in the Lalgarh area (W Midnapore), Ranjit in Ayodhya hills (Purulia), Madan Mahato in Jambani, Akash and Jayanto are trying to regroup and recruit new people," SIB ADG, Banibrata Basu, said.

 One reason why the Maoists are keen to come back to the area is the topography of the area which with its deep forets and hilly terrains provide an ideal backdrop for their clandestine activity. Another factor in their favour is the ready source of cadres among the long-exploited tribal people in the entire region which is underdeveloped in terms of job availability and infrastructure.

 The terrain also suits their methods of guerrilla warfare while taking on the security forces and police personnel.The area, which recorded 350 killings in 2010-11,witnessed none in 2012.

 According to sources, Maoist commanders Bikash's wife Tara, Madan's wife Jaba and Jayanto are engaged in reviving the movement and rebuilding the support base among the tribals.  

IG western range Gangeshwar Singh said the security forces were well prepared to combat any revival of Maoists insurgency in the area. "Bikash, Akash, Madan, Ranjit are moving with small squads in Junglemahal area. They are trying to regroup and establish contact with the people of the area," Singh told .

Reacting to the development, Maoist ideologue Vervara Rao said, "It is the natural process of an armed movement.Once you are back and once you strike back regrouping and retreating are part of any guerrilla movement. If the promised development doesn?t take place in Jangalmahal, people of the area will again rise in revolt."


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Maoists regrouping in West Bengal's Jangalmahal


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September 27, 2012

Anti-insurgency vehicles lying idle in Bengal


TOI| Sep 27, 2012, 05.12AM IST

KOLKATA: The state government had bought two carriers with Rs 90 lakh to counter Maoist insurgency in the districts. But for the past three years they have been lying idle because the vehicles were found unsuitable for use, states a latest report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

Bought for more than Rs 90 lakh to counter Maoist insurgency in the districts of West Bengal, two troop carriers have been lying idle for the past three years as they were found unsuitable for use.

According to a latest report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the West Bengal police had made the procurement in 2009 "without considering their suitability resulting in the vehicles not being used in anti-terrorist operations for more than two years and consequent blockage of funds".

The Home Department had "ignored the opinion of the district police authorities" while sanctioning the order.

"Scrutiny of records of SP Paschim Medinipur (West Midnapore) revealed that the vehicle was not utilized for a single operation since its deployment as it did not have bomb blast proof technology and due to its low fuel economy and inability to move in narrow roads and forests due to its large size," the CAG report said.

The Police Directorate had also expressed reservations about the suitability of the vehicle on account of high cost, inconclusive field trials and non-availability of technical certificate regarding the vehicle being mine-proof.

The auditors also flayed the government for making the purchase directly from Ural India Limited without calling for tenders. (PTI)

September 16, 2012

Kishanji met Mamata before polls, says Maoist leader


By Rakhi Chakrabarty, TNN | Sep 16, 2012, 02.52AM IST

NEW DELHI: Maoist leader Kishanji's streak of individualism and defiance hurt the party and led to his killing by the police, said Sushil Roy, ideologue and politburo member of the banned CPI-Maoist. In jail since 2005, Roy is currently undergoing treatment in Delhi's AIIMS hospital.

Speaking exclusively to TOI, 78-year-old Roy said, "He (Kishanji) did not obey party line. He thought he was next to Mao." Koteshwar Rao alias Kishanji was killed last November in Bengal. Ahead of 2011 assembly polls in Bengal, Kishanji had reached out to the Trinamool Congress keeping the CPI-Maoist leadership in the dark.

"The party did not know about his (Kishanji's) meeting with Mamata (Banerjee) before the polls. It was not the party's decision," said Roy, who has been an underground leader since 1967 after the Naxalbari movement, precursor to the Maoists, was launched. He said that indiscriminate killings in Bengal's Jangalmahal by Maoists was wrong.

Caste and regional bias, indiscipline and mobile phones are hurting the Maoists, said Roy. Kishanji, for instance, would call up all kinds of people, including journalists and political leaders. "He also kept in touch with RSP leaders, then party to the ruling Left Front in Bengal, though they never helped us. That was his weakness.

It harmed him," said Roy.

Use of mobile phones has hit the Maoists hard.

Calling Operation Greenhunt barbaric, he said, "The police could not get any of our leaders in a gunbattle. They could not have arrested our leaders had it not been for the use of mobile phones." Due to heavy losses, the Maoists are unlikely to hold the five-yearly party congress this year. "State plenums have been held and preparation is on for the central plenum," added Roy.

Lying in the emergency ward of the AIIMS hospital with his body riddled with catheter and needles, Roy mourned the loss of Maoist spokesperson Azad who was killed in police encounter in Adilabad forests of Andhra Pradesh in 2010. "He was killed in a barbaric manner by the police. His death was a big loss for the party."

Roy, who had declared the formation of the CPI-Maoist following the merger of MCC and PW on September 21, 2004, in the jungles of Chhattisgarh, was brought to AIIMS by the Jharkhand police after his health deteriorated. He was wanted in four cases in Bengal and eight cases in Jharkhand.

"I was supposed to walk out of the prison on August 18 last year, but Jharkhand police invoked the National Security Act and put me back in jail," said Roy suffering from a serious urinary bladder ailment.

He appealed to party leadership to lay down arms, opt for partial ceasefire in West Bengal and Jharkhand and talk to the government. In Chhattisgarh and Bihar though the banned party should continue its fight against the Indian state to keep up the morale of the cadres, he said.

Speaking exclusively to TOI, Roy said, "A large number of our comrades were killed or arrested in Bengal and Jharkhand. The party is in a bad shape. Many opportunists split from the party and formed outfits, especially, in Jharkhand.

The ceasefire would benefit the party and help in release of cadres from jail."

He had discussed ceasefire with Narayan Sanyal, senior Maoist politburo member lodged in Hazaribagh jail. "About two-and-a-half months ago, we wrote to the party from jail proposing ceasefire. I don't know if the letter reached them," Roy said.

He was not sure though if the government would accept the Maoist offer of a ceasefire. "The state wants Maoists to adopt ceasefire as a policy. That would mean surrender and death of revolution," said Roy. He wanted Maoists to offer tactical ceasefire.

September 04, 2012

CPI-Maoist Anxious Course Correction – Analysis by SATP


By Ajit Kumar Singh
August 6, 2012

After nearly eight years of its formation on October 14, 2004, the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), admitted that the party had ‘considerably weakened’. In a statement issued by its Central Committee (CC), dated July 5, 2012, the group acknowledged, “Our failures and shortcomings in studying the deceptive strategy of the enemy and taking up counter tactics by understanding the tactics taken by them to wipe (out) our leadership and subjective forces as part of that strategy are reasons behind the serious losses we are facing.”

Earlier, on June 12, 2012, in a press statement issued by Gudsa Usendi, the spokesperson of the Dandyakaranya [forest area situated between the borders of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Odisha] Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC), the rebels admitted that the party had lost 150 members, including senior leaders, cadres and guerrilla fighters, across the country in the preceding year, of which 40 were lost in Dandyakaranya alone.

The Maoists have lost several top leaders since the formation of the group. According to data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management, the outfit has lost at least nine members out of the 16-member Politburo of 2007, the highest decision making body, as well 18 members of its 39 member CC [including the 9 politburo members, who are also the members of the CC.] The most prominent losses include Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad (Politburo member and spokesperson, killed on July 2, 2010), Mallojula Koteswara Rao alias Kishanji (member of the Politburo and Central Military Commission killed on November 24, 2011), Kobad Ghandy (Maoist ideologue arrested on September 21, 2009). The Maoists have also lost at least 65 top leaders at various levels. The most recent of these losses was Mohan Vishwakarma, a senior member of the Maoist’s Central Technical Committee and Technical Research and Arms Manufacturing Unit, who was arrested in Kolkata (West Bengal) on July 26, 2012.

The impact of the loss of these leaders is evident, for instance, in West Bengal, where the insurrection had experienced a surge under the leadership of Koteshwar Rao in 2009-10, but has ground to a standstill in the aftermath of his killing in November 2011. West Bengal had registered 636 fatalities in Maoist-related violence in just under three years, since 2009, till the time of Koteshwar Rao’s death, but has recorded just three killings in more than eight months since.

Overall fatalities in Maoist violence across the country have also decreased considerably over the past two years, at least partly due to the impact of leadership losses within the Party, though also, in some measure, due to the winding down of the Centre’s so-called “massive and coordinated operations” against the Maoists after the Chintalnad massacre of Security Force (SF) personnel in April 2010. Thus, just 232 fatalities have been recorded through 2012 (till August 5) as against 602 in 2011, a peak of 1,180 in 2010, and 997 in 2009.

The loss in leadership has also affected party unity, with increasing evidence of rising dissent within the organization, particularly as the Telugu (Andhra Pradesh)-dominated leadership coming under increasing challenge. In Odisha, one of the prominent Maoist leaders, who dominated the ‘Banshadhara Divison’ – Rayagada, Gajapati and Kandhamal Districts – Sabyasachi Panda, Secretary of the Odisha State Organizing Committee (OSOC), has announced his defection from the party and has in a 60 page letter (including a 20 page ‘Basadara Report’ dating back to 2003) criticizing the leadership, recent strategic failures, growing ‘deviations’ – ideological, tactical and cultural, including an increasing proclivity to autocratic command, regional partisanship (in favour of Telugu cadres and leaders), the absence of grievance redressal, ‘cultural hegemony’, intolerance of dissent, “financial anarchy” and sexual improprieties. Reports indicate that Suresh, a ‘unit commander’ belonging to Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC), backed by about 30 cadres, has been searching for Panda across the tribal hamlets in this relatively inaccessible region. An undated letter, signed by ‘Subhash’ of the ‘Banshadhara Divisional Committee’, notes that “senior Maoist leaders of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh have taken note of the anti-organisational activities of Sabyasachi (Panda). He is suspected of being a mole working for the Intelligence agencies of the government… There is evidence suggest(ing) that he has embezzled party fund and has deposited money in different banks in the name of his wife and children… All his supporters will be given due punishment at an appropriate moment.” In his letter to “comrades in Jail and outside” Panda had voiced his fears that he would be ‘annihilated’ by the Party.

In another index of declining morale, 145 Maoist militia members surrendered before Police in the Khammam District of Andhra Pradesh, at one time, among the ‘heartland’ areas of the Maoist insurrection, on July 24, 2012. The militia members were from 30 villages on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

With a visible weakening of the movement, even in ‘heartland’ areas, SFs have, for the first time, begun to venture into the Maoist ‘central guerilla zone’ in the Abujhmadh Forest, which extends across roughly 4,000 square kilometers, between Gadchiroli in Maharashtra and Narayanpur in Chhattisgarh. Though the SFs failed to record any major successes, and have conducted at least one botched operation, resulting in the death of 18 persons, most of them civilians, at Sarkeguda in Bijapur District on June 28, 2012, the mere penetration of SFs in the jungles of Abujhmadh symbolizes diminishing Maoist prowess. Inspector General of Police (Operations) in Chhattisgarh, Pankaj Singh, disclosed that 33 Maoist cadres were arrested during an operation carried out through March 5 to 20, 2012.

The Maoists have clearly recognized the crisis within the movement, and have initiated efforts towards course correction. The July 5, 2012, statement notes:

A change must occur in our work methods in accordance with the material conditions, level of the movement and our tasks. Our methods must be improved such that the three magic weapons for victory of revolution — party, people’s army and united front — get consolidated and strengthened. (We must) guard against losing manpower by amending flaws that have crept into the outfit.

In an effort to unite separate groups fighting for the same ideology, the CPI-Maoist has decided to call off violence against various Left Wing Extremist (LWE) factions and splinter groups for three months. The Bihar-Jharkhand-North Chhattisgarh Special Area Committee (BJNCSAC) spokesman, Gopal, in a statement issued on June 24, 2012, disclosed that the decision for a ‘unilateral ceasefire’ against other armed groups was taken to invite them to work from a unified and stronger front for the common people, instead of expending their energies in working in their individual capacities: “We can set aside our personal differences in ideology for the betterment of common people and when the government is harassing villagers and trying to suppress their movement for new democracy, all the groups must understand the need of the hour and join hands.”

On the strategic front, the Maoist leadership is reported to have sent key leaders to the AOBSZ from Chhattisgarh to strengthen the party and lift the sagging morale of cadres, to counter losses in the interior forests of Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Gajarla Ashok aka Ranganna aka Janardhan aka Aitu, in-charge of the ‘South Bastar Division’ in DKSZC, has been assigned the crucial responsibility of reviving the party in the AOBSZ, and is to replace current AOBSZ ‘military chief’ Pratapareddy Ramachandra Reddy alias Anjaneyulu who, according to the party, has ‘failed miserably’.

The Maoists continue to insist that the socio-political-economic environment in India creates an ‘excellent revolutionary condition’ in the country, arguing:

Material conditions in our country are increasingly turning favorable to the revolution. All kinds of social contradictions are sharpening. The most reactionary ‘Saranda Action Plan’ is part of this. Adivasi and other oppressed masses are advancing forward in the revolutionary path under the leadership of the party and the PLGA [People’s Liberation Guerilla Army] by valiantly fighting back such repressive policies of the government. All comrades martyred in B-J [Bihar-Jharkhand] laid down their lives in battles with the enemy while preserving the natural riches that rightfully belonged only to the local people…. If we have to advance the revolution towards victory by utilizing this excellent revolutionary condition, then we must fulfill the following immediate tasks… developing guerilla warfare into mobile warfare and developing PLGA and to turn Dandyakaranya and Bihar-Jharkhand into liberated areas.

The Maoists gained significant momentum in West Bengal during the course of the Nandigram and Singur agitations of 2008-09, but appear to have entered a phase of stasis since 2011. They have created a foothold in Arunachal Pradesh in India’s troubled Northeast, instigating the locals to join anti-dam movements in eastern part of the State, even as reports indicate a consolidation in parts of Assam and Manipur. Andhra Pradesh, which had seen the Maoists virtually expelled from their traditional heartland in the Telangana region, has seen some efforts at restoration, on back of the Telengana agitation for separate statehood. The State recorded its first SF fatality after 2008, on April 26, 2012. While there is evidence of a retraction of the strategy to “extend the people’s war across the country”, in the wake of leadership losses, efforts for consolidation in ‘heartland’ areas, and extension into vulnerable areas, are in evidence along faultlines across the nation, even as the infirmities of governance continue to provide ample opportunities for the resurrection of their ‘dwindling movement’.

Union Minister of State for Home, Jitendra Singh, thus observed, on May 27, 2012:

The Government and the political system is to be blamed for the Maoist problem in India… (There has been a) lack of communication between the government and the people in different areas of the country, which has led to impoverishment. People with vested interest are now taking advantage of the underdevelopment and negligence and instigating the poor to take up arms leading to the Maoist movement in India.

Despite reverses, the Maoists appear to have initiated a course correction. The Government, on the other hand, appears to remain clueless. Despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram repeatedly stressing the enormity of the internal security threat posed by the Maoists, many, both in the States and at the Centre, continue to articulate the position that the Maoists are “misguided youth who have to be dealt with a soft hand”. Reports indicate that several members of the National Advisory Council (NAC), headed by ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, which ‘guides’ the Government in policy making, remain committed to this notion and approach. Several State leaders also advocate the line of ‘negotiating’ with the Maoists to restore ‘peace’. The Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, on May 21, 2012, thus stated, “I appeal again to my misguided young brothers and sisters who have gone to the Maoist cause… to return to the mainstream.”

The Maoists still have an estimated 46,600 armed cadres – 8,600 ‘hardcore’ armed squad members and 38,000 jan militia carrying rudimentary weapons and providing logistics support to the core group of the PLGA. If the present and whimsical approach of clueless state agencies and Governments persist, the Maoist ‘course correction’ is likely to create new dangers in the foreseeable future. 

Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management 

CPI (M) in Lok Sabha on Maoist Violence


August 17, 2012

New Delhi: CPI (M) group leader in Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharia today initiated a discussion on effective steps to curb rising incidents of violation of human rights in the country. Initiating the discussion on the increase in Naxalite and Maoist activities in the country over nine states, Acharia said, this threat is the greatest threat to internal security. The situation is very bad in two or three states where the state governments are not in a position to tackle the Maoist threat. More than 3000 people were killed between 2008 and 2011 in Maoist violence.

Acharia said, In West Bengal there was no Maoist activity prior to 2005. But from 2006 these started in three districts with organisation of squad. These Maoists were utilised in Nandigram and Singur. In West Bengal, there were 26 deaths in 2008 but they increased to 158 in 2009. Then in 2011, these further increased to 258. Nearly 500 people were killed during 2008-11 in Maoist violence. Some 90 per cent of them were poor people. A so-called People’s Committee against Police Atrocities was formed in 2008 and the then home minister said in this house that this committee was nothing but the frontal organisation of the Maoists. Now Maoist violence is increasing in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Acharia also said there was rise in incidents of human rights violations from 82,233 in 2006-07 to 90,446 in 2008-09.

The CPI (M) leader hit out at the West Bengal Chief Minister, without naming her, for arresting a farmer for questioning her at a public rally on rise in fertiliser prices. Acharia said the Chief Minister dubbed the farmer as a Maoist and immediately got him arrested.

He pointed out that the Press Council of India Chairman Markandeya Katju had described the Chief Minister as "dictatorial, intolerant and whimsical". Maintaining that the right to expression was a fundamental right, Acharia said this was a violation of human rights. He also recounted the incident where in a Jadavpur University professor was arrested for circulating a cartoon. Acharia said when the professor was manhandled by "TMC hoodlums", the police picked him up and not the miscreant. He pointed out that the State Human Rights Commission had made certain observations against the incident. 

He said, Often it is said that Maoists spread their tentacles where there is no development. But this is not based on facts, Acharia said. As for the government’s strategy, this cannot be tackled only by use of police or paramilitary. An Expert Committee constituted by the Planning Commission on why this problem is getting accentuated, said that commitment to land reforms has weakened and it remains an unfinished agenda. Mostly the tribals and dalits have been affected in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia areas of West Bengal and in Jharkhand. Whenever there is a mining project, tribals have been affected and uprooted, with no rehabilitation. They have no right to land. The Forest Rights Act has not been implemented in spirit.

Acharia said, the second important point is that there is a need for a re-look into our policy. We have opened our minerals, mines and natural resources. These natural resources should be re-nationalised. Tribals have become land oustees. Alternative employment is not being given them. So there is a need to change the neo-liberal policy of the government. The constitutional mandate to prevent concentration of wealth in a few hands is being ignored in policy-making. Because of the neo-liberal economic policy being pursued since 1991, the gap between the rich and the poor has sharply widened. Therefore the government would not be able to tackle this problem unless it addresses it sincerely and seriously. There is need for land reforms so that the poor landless labour can get land. Without it, the problem of Maoist violence cannot be tackled.

He said there was no need for the resolution as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was empowered to deal with such incidents. Acharia, however, refused withdraw the resolution, which was later put to vote and negated.

Winding up the debate, Minister of State for Home Affairs Jitendra Singh said structures and institutions were in place to deal with all kinds of human right violations. 

December 11, 2011

Isolate ‘Maoists’ Politically for Enduring Peace in Jangal Mahal


By Nilotpal Basu 

ULTIMATELY, the truth has come out. Not that it was not known;  but now that it has come straight from the, so to say, horse’s mouth;  the chief minister of West Bengal and the Trinamool Congress supremo has eventually lashed out at the ‘Maoists’ for their heinous crime of engineering the Ganeshwari Express tragedy  which took the toll of 148 innocent lives. Contrary to what she has been claiming all this while that the CPI(M) and the Left was responsible for the tragedy to defame her and the Railway ministry – she has ultimately conceded that it was clearly the handiwork of the ‘Maoists’. 

What is the provocation for this belated ‘discovery’? Two activists of the Trinamool Congress had been gunned down by a ‘Maoist’ squad in a hamlet on the foothills of Ajodhya in Purulia district – an integral part of the jangal mahal area in West Bengal which continues to remain infested by ‘Maoist’ activity. There is no doubt that these were murders most vile and all right thinking people would condemn these with all the strength that one can muster.  The bodies of these hapless victims were brought to Kolkata and in front of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi – the `apostle of peace’ – that the chief minister blurted out her ‘pearls of wisdom’.     

The travails of the TMC and its maverick supremo are not only bizarre as one would think. It is at the same time extremely sinister. The growth of the ‘Maoists’ – obviously, not in terms of popular support but its depredations and mindless violence in the districts adjoining the Jharkhand and Orissa borders – was quite strange. Any avid reading of the history of Left adventurism in the country makes one to come to an interesting conclusion. While Naxalbari was the cradle of the Left adventurist movement in the country and the CPI(M) and  the Left suffered most due to its violence in the late sixties and early seventies, the movement completely petered out, particularly after the Left Front assumed office in West Bengal in 1977.  The agrarian reforms and the protection and consolidation of the democratic rights of the working people completely isolated the Naxalites in the state.  The resumption of their activities in early parts of the first decade of the new century started as armed incursions from Jharkhand initially and later on from Orissa. The thickly forested jungles on the borders of these states provided the natural cover, as well as, the strategic base that the ‘Maoists’ needed to move on to West Bengal. 

The Left had from the very beginning, maintained that the ‘Maoist’ movement cannot be treated merely as a challenge to law and order.  Their involvement in these forest fringe areas was not because of their compassion for the poor and the tribals who suffered from locational disadvantage and consequent comparative lack of development.  Despite this, the agrarian reforms and other benefits of decentralisation had expanded social sector development.  It is because of this, the Left had always been politically strong in these areas.  Premised on these experiences, the Left, therefore, argued for facing the challenge of ‘Maoist’ violence through a three pronged response; first, on the question of targeted socio-economic development, secondly on the question of political-ideological offensive to isolate them from the people- and finally, based on these two, to initiate administrative actions of the security forces that would finally be successful in containing the violence.

As opposed to this, the central government had always pitched for all out administrative confrontation.  The home minister, P Chidambaram, the fountainhead of such an exclusively confrontationist approach even mooted the idea of deploying the military and the air force to snuff out the ‘Maoists’. 

However, the maverick TMC supremo was totally opposed to the very idea of taking on the ‘Maoists’.  Because she understood that in order to undermine and weaken the Left in these areas which have traditionally been the bastion of the Left, the ‘Maoists’ could prove to be her hatchet men.  The ‘Maoists’ – the opportunists that they are – found these to be extremely convenient.  Their complete ideological bankruptcy and penchant for military strategy created conditions for the coming together of these two forces. West Bengal’s recent history – from the ‘Maoists’ involvement in the Nandigram agitation and the present West Bengal chief minister’s open dalliance with the ‘Maoists’ in Lalgarh - the alliance was eventually made official.  The media savvy ‘Maoist’ Polit Bureau member Kishanji announced from behind his masked face that the ‘Maoists’ would love to see the TMC supremo as the next chief minister of West Bengal in an interview to Ananda Bazar Patrika before elections. 

This was music to her ears.  This made her to claim that there are no ‘Maoists’ in West Bengal.  And, she was not even acknowledging the killings of hundreds of CPI(M) and Left activists and leaders who were being snuffed out by these ‘Maoist’ marauders.  And, she did everything possible to politically delegitimise the operation of the state and central joint security forces to protect the life and livelihood of innocent citizens who were at the receiving end of the mindless ‘Maoist’ violence. 

The complicity was so complete that while the ‘Maoists’ had hijacked a train, the Rajdhani Express, the Railways under her charge did not even mention the ‘Maoist’ involvement in the complaint that the department filed.  And, finally, came the shocking allegation in the wake of the Gyaneshwari tragedy. Not only did she claim that these gruesome deaths of the Ganeshwari passengers were not the result of ‘Maoist’ depredation but actually they have been done by the CPI(M) and the Left to discredit the Railway Ministry! The intellectuals – the `civil society’ her close band of trumpeters for `political change’ in fact went a step further.  They actually called a press conference on the eve of a crucial municipal election in Kolkata and directly charged the CPI(M) of engineering the tragedy.  These intellectuals – of whom some are now even part of the cabinet of the present West Bengal government – justified their position by claiming that ‘Maoists’ did not explicitly take the responsibility for the incident. 

Now that the TMC supremo has assumed the chief minister’s office, she has to reconcile with the harsh cold reality. She thought that the zeal with which the ‘Maoists’ had worked overtime to see her in the office that she holds today would continue to do so even after the objective has been secured.  But, as we know, the ‘Maoists’ show extreme opportunism in siding with this or that bourgeois political party for carrying on with violent methods to physically eliminate all political opposition.  The ‘Maoists’ clearly had an agenda that they would use the TMC to ensure the physical elimination of the CPI(M) and the Left  to facilitate their own physical stranglehold over a region which had remained a bastion of the Left.

CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST
But, now the chickens have come home to roost.  The latest dramatic turn of events saw the felling of that very ‘Maoist’ leader who once wanted to anoint the TMC supremo as the incumbent chief minister of West Bengal.  This is the real irony.  The operation of the joint security forces which was held back for almost five months had to be ultimately allowed since the ‘Maoists’ were not sparing the TMC functionaries once they had been able to regroup with the relief that the new government had provided.  The process of the so-called negotiations which was bound to fail because of the pan Indian nature of the ‘Maoist’ activity also further emboldened them. 

It is in this background that the gun battle ensured in the forests of Burisole which has by now become a household name – as the site which marked the elimination of Kishanji.  In a way, this was inevitable.  Far from being a revolutionary movement, which the ‘Maoists’ claim to lead, apparently he found himself thoroughly isolated and encircled – that is what the security forces had claimed. 

But strangely, neither the chief minister nor any of her top ranking officials from the police or the general administration had come out with any authentic version over the sequence of events which led to the elimination of Kishanji immediately after the announcement of the incident. More than anybody else, it is their supporters – particularly those sections of liberal persuasion – some of them even sympathetic to the ‘Maoist’ cause have come out quite sharply against the same government and the security forces for having done what they did. 

In doing this, they seem to have taken a leaf out of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s book of records. She did exactly this in questioning the elimination of Azad – the spokesman of the ‘Maoists’. She had actually demanded enquiry into Azad’s `murder’ not only outside but also in the parliament itself. In fact, directed by the court, an inquiry is still going on about this incident.

Now that Kishanji has been eliminated, the same charges are being leveled.  It is being alleged that the security forces had him in custody and this amounts to a `cold blooded murder of a prisoner in custody’.  It is now for the state government to clarify the real course of development transparently.  Rule of law would require that of her government.

However, in a public meeting recently, the chief minister has claimed that the security forces had encircled Kishanji for three continuous days.  The forces had also made an announcement over a public address system that he would be allowed a safe way out . But according to her, he did not respond positively and fired back.  This is what led to the armed confrontation which saw her one time `well wisher’ dead.

SINISTER RELATIONSHIP
The convergence of purpose which brought the TMC and the ‘Maoists’ together to eliminate the Left – does no longer exist.  The functional alliance appears to have come unstuck.  And, therefore, this belated admission over Gyneshwari Express tragedy and this renewed restoration of the joint security forces’ operation leading to the elimination of Kishanji. 

But the tenuous exercise to try and balance the relationship between these two sinister forces had continued for the last few months since the new government in West Bengal had assumed office, now seems to be finally over.  The group of interlocutors who had been officially appointed by the state government to carry out the discussions with the ‘Maoists’ have finally thrown up their hands. And, in the statement issued recently expressing their inability to carry on the process, they have squarely blamed the state government for having killed Kishanji `in cold blood’.

The course of the sinister alliance has really come to complete its vicious circle.  Sadly, the TMC and some of their grassroot level activists who are also poor and vulnerable have also now come to suffer from the mindless violence of the ‘Maoists’. 

But the chief minister is not prepared to accept the reality. While she has lambasted the ‘Maoists’ and their liberal sympathisers who don the mantle of  the human rights organisations for failing to condemn the death and killings of hapless victims of the mindless ‘Maoist’ violence – even going to the extent of pointing out that a large number of activists of the Left had  suffered – she failed to concede that she herself had shown similar proclivities.

To compound her almost criminal negligence in shielding the ‘Maoists’ – she is actually still maintaining that the CPI(M) and the ‘Maoists’ are in league.  This is not withstanding the fact that after the Lok Sabha elections alone almost 250 CPI(M) activists and leaders mostly poor and tribals laid down their lives in the course of taking on the political and ideological challenge of the ‘Maoists’.  But still there is time. The  threat that ‘Maoist’ violence poses to the life and livelihood of the most downtrodden sections of the society in the remotest jungles of West Bengal can only be repulsed by the joining of forces. The unity of all political parties who believe in the rule of law and securing life of the people must act together to isolate the ‘Maoists’.  It is the only enduring way to establish peace.   And, elimination of a single individual – however important he may be – cannot mark the end to the mindless violence which the ‘Maoists’ had been perpetrating.  The restoration of legitimate political activities of all political forces in the affected areas of jangal mahal area is the only rational course to achieve that objective.

People’s Democracy, December 04, 2011 

Kishanji Betrayed By Inner Circle


Caesar Mandal, TNN | Nov 26, 2011, 06.04AM IST

WEST MIDNAPORE: Why did Kishanji risk coming out of hiding when he knew that security forces were on the offensive in Bengal?

It appears that the Maoist politburo member was alarmed by the cracks in the ranks. The state rebel leadership had varying perceptions about the new government and of their own tactics. There was a growing disillusionment among second generation Maoist leaders. Besides, the federal functioning of the rebel organisation may have forced Kishanji's hand.

He had no choice but to get drawn into the quagmire of Jangalmahal. It was the last decision he ever took.

There was a growing lack of coordination between Bikash - known to be one of the closest to Kishanji - and Akash, who was not in the best of terms with the politburo member. Sashadhar Mahato's widow Suchitra, who got close to Kishanji after Sashadhar's death, also had her differences with Akash. The bitterness and confusion trickled down to the Maoist-led mass organisations and also their fringe connects in Kolkata. This was quite apparent from the text and tenor of the press releases issued from time to time.

Those following the developments can easily distinguish between the positive attitude of Akash towards the "peace process", and the combative ones issued by Baha Tudu. Though Akash repeatedly claimed that his view was approved by the CPI(Maoist) central committee, the zonal commanders and frontal leaders were eager to hear from Kishanji. In fact, Kishanji's silence to Mamata's peace offer was quite perplexing. If the Maoists had agreed to talks, why wasn't the media savvy Kishanji talking?

That's not all. The Maoist camp was divided on organisational tactics as well. For instance, senior CPI(Maoist) state committee members were not unanimous on the decision to kill intelligence branch inspector Partha Biswas and NGO activist Samarjit Basu, who were abducted from a Jangalmahal village.

A series of encounter killings and arrests had shaken up the Maoist ranks. Kishanji knew it would take his direct intervention. The cracks in the state leadership were already impeding the regrouping of Maoists in Bengal and their political expansion.

According to Maoist sources, Kishanji entered West Midnapore a fortnight ago to iron out the differences. He met front ranking Maoists in Bengal and was preparing to meet zonal commanders, such as Jayanta and Ranjan Munda, to explain to them the party strategy.

But little did Kishanji realise that the cellphone he once used to send across messages to the PLGA or his comrades to dodge police could also be used against him by members of his inner circle. This apprehension was growing within the Maoist ranks following Sasadhar Mahato's death in a police encounter. Leading Maoists had started to suspect moles within the ranks, who might be passing on vital information to security forces.

The fact that Maoists are not invincible is apparent from the series of surrenders, starting with Sobha Mandi and more recently the feared Jagori Baske. Even if they were removed from Maoist squads years ago, the police have already established contacts with some of the men within the squads. The renegades, who are yet to surrender, have been feeding police with specific information about Kishanji like they did when Sasadhar Mahato was in hiding. They have also ratted on Kishanji's core team and their way of functioning - vital clues to anyone trying to second guess his moves.

A section of the Maoists, however, has started suspecting the peace process itself. They argue that the Centre and state governments have earlier used this tactic to track high-profile Maoist leaders. They took lesson from Andhra Pradesh, where politburo member Azad was killed in an encounter while returning from peace negotiations with the Centre.

Kishanji's death also came at a time when the state government was in peace talks. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been earnest about bringing about peace in Jangalmahal and has repeatedly urged Maoists to surrender. She even refused to disband the state-appointed band of mediators when they offered to resign because of the continuing security operations.

But how could the security forces track Kishanji when he was nowhere in the peace initiative? Organisers close to the Maoists have started suspecting Akash. They maintain that the state appointed interlocutors got in touch with Akash who gave his views after consultations with Kishanji. This might have helped security forces track Kishanji's location. The forces also started cultivating moles within the Maoist squads and the local sources to zero in on the fugitive. The renegades in police contact might have then given additional inputs about Kishanji's defence and suggested ways to break the layers of his security.