December 11, 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.

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