YSR’s success, Bengal’s bane – Flushed out of andhra, maoists flee to other states
Posted by Admin on September 4, 2009
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From: Rajeesh kollakkandi <email@example.com>
Sept. 3: Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy will be remembered for driving the Maoists out of Andhra Pradesh, but his success has been a curse for Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bengal where the fleeing rebels have built bases.
Senior police officers in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand told The Telegraph the guerrillas in their states were led by “Telugu-speaking” Maoists who had fled Andhra.
Among them are Kishanji alias M. Koteswar Rao — eastern chief of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) who oversaw the rebels’ Lalgarh activities — and Deepak Rao alias Deepak, who built the rebels’ Singhbhum base in 1998-99 and is now active in West Midnapore.
Although the Naxalites of four decades ago still evoke wide sympathy in Bengal, their current Maoist avatars made their first inroads into the state only in 1999-2000. This was the time the Andhra police were raising their Greyhound squad, trained specially to combat the guerrillas, which later met spectacular success in 2005-2006 under YSR’s rule.
“The Maoists realised they were wasting their efforts in Andhra and decided to develop their bases in other areas. The comrades from Andhra started coming to Bengal,” a senior Bengal officer said.
The People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) began setting up base in Bengal and later merged into the CPI (Maoist). Muppala Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathi, the Maoists’ all-India secretary, and Kishanji became regular visitors to Bengal to help the likes of Sushil Roy and Patit Paban Halder spread the movement.
“Given the deprivation in Andhra, Bengal could not have been a natural choice for them. Still, they came,” the officer said. “They focused on the tribal areas of poverty-stricken West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.”
The Maoists fled in bigger groups to Chhattisgarh and built a stronghold in Bastar, where Ganapathi is believed to be hiding. They kept avenging every action by the Greyhounds — not in Andhra but in other states.
“Last May, the Andhra police killed Maoist central committee member Sudhakar Reddy. The rebels protested with a bloodbath in Bastar and Jharkhand,” an intelligence official said.
Jharkhand inspector-general S.N. Pradhan said the Telugu-speaking Maoists dominated the higher and middle ranks, and most were based in Chhattisgarh and Orissa. Another officer said half the Maoists’ top leaders were from Andhra, 30 per cent from Bengal and the rest mainly from Bihar and Jharkhand. “The lower-rank Maoists are mostly from Jharkhand or Bengal.”
After becoming chief minister in May 2004, YSR had invited the rebels for talks in October. The PWG and MCC, however, merged in September and announced the move in Hyderabad the day before the talks began. The Centre objected to a state government talking to a “national” rebel outfit. The talks failed and the Maoists returned to their jungle hideouts.
The police, however, had apparently tailed them during their travels to and from Hyderabad. Then state police chief Swaranjit Sen led Greyhound commandos into the Nallamala forests, killing Maoist top guns, destroying hideouts, seizing arms dumps and prompting over 800 surrenders.
With the Centre gearing for a concerted attack on the guerrillas across several states, the Maoists have been trickling back to Nallamala over the past few months — a fact that caused anxiety when YSR’s chopper disappeared in the region.
A senior Bengal officer said YSR’s success wasn’t the only reason behind the Maoist consolidation in Bengal. Also to blame was the state administration’s inaction and the CPM’s initial, opportunistic alliance with the rebels in Keshpur and Garbeta to target the Trinamul Congress.
“The Maoists first aligned with forces like the Jharkhand Party (Naren) and whipped up anti-CPM sentiments in 1999-2000. Instead of cracking down on them, the police picked up ‘sympathisers’, helping the rebels make inroads.”
From Belpahari and Banspahari in West Midnapore, the Maoists spread their organisation to Purulia and Bankura. “Central intelligence sent alerts but the state sat idle,” the officer said. Other states banned the rebels but the Left Front wanted to fight them “politically”.
Today, the Maoists have a zonal committee that covers parts of Nadia, Murshidabad and Birbhum, another that oversees parts of Burdwan and Hooghly, and a third, the Greater Calcutta Committee, that includes Calcutta and its neighbourhood.