Growing Maoist strength in Orissa
Posted by Admin on October 21, 2009
Friends, This article reads like a call to the Orissa authorities to take stronger action against the Maoists. In the course of doing so, it contains what appears to be a frank assessment of the “deteriorating” situation.
By Anurjay Dhal Orissa Diary
Bhubaneswar: The Red terror has spread its wings to 22 out of 30 districts in Orissa throwing a serious challenge to the state authority even as chief minister Naveen Patnaik has come back to power in Assembly poll marketing his king-size image of honesty and good governance.
The Leftwing insurgency has grown and the situation has gone out of control now because of the neglect of the deprived section by the state government over the years. The people, largely, have lost faith over state mechanism due to the factors like absence of civil administration in remote areas, collapse of the justice system, exploitation of tribals by contractors and rich people and failure of police to provide minimum security to civilians.
When Naveen led BJD Government banned CPI (Maoists) and few of its frontal wing including Daman Pratirodh Manch, the Revolutionary Democratic Front, the Chasi Mulia Samiti, the Kui Lawanga Sangh, the Jana Natya Mandali, the Krantikari Kisan Samiti and the Bal Sangam on June 9, 2006, the annoyance of Leftwing insurgency was very negligible.
But after 2006, the Red Ultras have expanded their network in at least 22 districts out of 30. The situation is almost alike an all-out war where both the State and the extra-constitutional forces seem to be interlocked in a deadly fight. In fact, BJD Government did not take any steps in the last two-terms to provide employment opportunity to the educated tribal youth, who are currently with the Maoists, resulting the entire situation more critical.
On September 21, 2004, the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCC), People’s War Group (PWG) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) had merged to form the outfit, which has since been wrecking havoc in Orissa and all its neighbouring States including Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. Likewise, the People’s Guerrilla Army and People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army – the two organisations also unified and became a strong People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army, the militant wing of the outfit.
Taking advantage of Naveen Patnaik Government’s easygoing response to the growth of the Left wing insurgency, the CPI-Maoist) has not only carried out a number of high profile attacks in the State, but has established a precise process of consolidation, what they called ‘Liberated Zone’.
Official data indicates that, while the total number of Maoist-related incidents in Orissa increased to 129 in 2008 from 67 in 2007, fatalities suffered by security forces rose sharply to 76, from just two in 2007. Six south-western districts – Malkangiri, Koraput, Raygada, Kandhamal, Nayagarh and Gajapati – accounted for almost 60 percent of all incidents in 2008. In 2009 till October 15, several attacked have been took place and dozens have been killed including security forces.
In 2006 and 2007, according to security experts of New Delhi based Institute of Conflict Management and Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis, the Leftwing ultras quietly went about with the tasks of political mobilization and expansion of their area of operation, in 2008 the Maoist ‘takeover’ of several areas in south-western Orissa had evidently been completed. This has allowed the extremists a corridor of easy transit between Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The movement of armed Maoists was noticed along the Ganjam-Kandhamal border in South Orissa.
The dense jungle and hilly terrain of this region proved conducive to Maoist movement. As a result, it was hardly surprising that, when pressure mounted on Maoists in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, they found it convenient to step up activities in Orissa. But reports of Maoist incidents from districts like Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Khurda, Angul, Dhenkanal, all along the eastern region of the State and far from borders along States like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, as well as the arrest of a substantial number of Maoists, points at a steady strengthening of their base in the State.
The augmentation of Maoist capacities in Orissa was most dramatically manifested in several high profile Maoist attacks in 2008, three of which targeted on elite anti-insurgency security forces. The first of these was the near simultaneous raids on the district Armoury and the Police Training College at the District Headquarters town of Nayagarh, at the Mahipur Police on February 15, 2008.
The second high profile attack occurred on June 29 when 38 security force (SF) personnel, including 36 belonging to the elite anti-Maoist Greyhounds from Andhra Pradesh, were killed in the Chitrakonda reservoir of Malkangiri District, close to the Andhra Pradesh border. The third major incident occurred on July 16, when CPI-Maoist cadres killed 17 personnel of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Orissa Police in a landmine blast, once again in the Malkangiri District in the same year.
They have killed dozens of police informers in Rayagada and Malkangiri districts in recent months. Moreover, the new tactic is being adopted in Malkangiri because Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee secretary, Sudhakar, has taken the leadership of the Mottu armed squad, which operates in Mottu region of Malkangiri district for the past several months. The rebels have been virtually running parallel Government by creating political vacuum either by killing village headmen or driving out influential persons from the villages.
Interestingly, the leftwing ultras also do not allow Construction of Bridge on the Sileru River which will connect Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh and Malkangiri. The rebels have been prohibiting construction of these two bridges because of police access to the Chitrakonada region, one of the ‘Liberated Zones’ of the leftwing guerrillas. The entire game plan reported to have been prepared by Sabhyasachi Panda aks Sunil, who heads the outfit in Orissa.
Maoist movement is gaining momentum gradually also in various industrial hubs of the State.”The Maoists use “pandemonium in South and assault in North” tactics,” Around 70-80 Naxalites in three groups are roaming around in K Bolang border areas of Sundargarh district and Karampada area close to Sarenda forests of Jharkhand.
Similarly, another group has been moving around Baunsjor area of Jharkhand closer to Biramitrapur police station of Sundargarh. The third group is camping near Raikera of Jharkhand just 10 kilometers away from Nuagaon area of Sundargarh district. It is believed that the Maoists may capture the Mohanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) mines, sources close to CPI (Maoists) reveal.
Interestingly, the Jajpur division was formed near the industrial corridor. There are around 15 armed cadres in that division. Similarly, the Sambalpur division manages operations in Sudargarh and Keonjhar districts, where both the POSCO and Mittal groups have applied for their proposed steel plants captive area. Apart from Mittal more than 48 mining companies are also active in Keonjhar district. Recently, Maoists activity has also increased in many places like-Anadapur, Ghasipura, Ghatagaon, Badbil, Harichandanpur, Daitari, Telkei and Joda area of Keonjhar district. Out of 20 police stations in the districts, Maoists have presence in nine police stations. The rebels’ organized a meeting at Atei and Rebna forests in April, 2008. Strategically, the rebels have identified Keonjhar districts as funding zone.
“It seems the situation is out of control now. Over the years, Leftwing insurgency violence growing because of the failure of the State Government,” alleged former Orissa DGP Amiya Bhusan Tripathy. The Government must ensure sustainable development in tribal areas, he added.
Another former State Police chief Sarat Chandra Mishra said the police while maintaining balance between security and human rights put in back foot as the rebels did not care for the Human Rights while referring to the historic judgment of Andhra High Court, which says any encounter by police would be, treated a murder.
The issue needs a deeper sociological study to find out a solution, he suggested. “I am admitting that the situation is very tough but steps have been taken to challenge the Leftwing guerrillas,” present DGP Manmohan Praharaj added. Undoubtedly, these incidents reflect strong support base of the CPI-Maoist vis-a-vis poor intelligence of Orissa police . The state police has been consistently failed to collect intelligence in southern Orissa due to complete lack of police- public relationship.
The CPI-Maoist took a decision at the 9th Congress in January 2007 to develop the movement to from present guerilla warfare to mobile warfare and urban warfare as central policy. It is learnt that the central committee has deputed around two hundred Maoist cadres from Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh to Orissa for organization building in Malkangiri, Koraput, Kalahandi, and Nawarangpur. They have been trying to set up a corridor from Kalahandi-Nuapada and Bastar.
Hence, it is clear that Maoists are consistently working overnight to tighten their hold in the state of Orissa. The State government should not treat this issue as a merely law and order problem. Instead, it should be first considered a social and economic problem. A holistic development of the State both in terms of geography, individuals and groups can only offer a permanent solution to this problem.
[The writer is a Bhubaneswar based journalist. You can send your comments and suggestions at janatavikasmanch and visit www.jvmonline.com for more information.]