Thursday, July 23, 2009

Andhra rebels call the shots in state attacks

Satyanarayan Pattnaik, TNN 23 July 2009, 10:15pm IST

KORAPUT: Spilling the beans on Maoist attacks in Orissa, a surrendered rebel has told police that the state leadership prepares the blueprint, but
the execution is left to their counterparts from Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The former Maoist, Surendra alias Vasu, also said the Orissa cadres are kept in the dark about attacks till the last moment.

"The Orissa State Committee of the CPI (Maoist) prepares the blueprint for a major attack. The proposal is sent to the central committee for approval," Surendra said. "Once the central leaders give their nod, top ranking Maoists from Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh sneak into Orissa and hold camps in the deep forests to train cadres for the planned attack," he said.

The former Maoist added that such camps were the only indication that some major attack was in the pipeline. "Those of us hailing from Orissa were never told about anything. We were kept in the dark till the last moment about the venue, date and timing," he said.

Surendra told his interrogators that this "lack of transparency" was driving a wedge in the rebel ranks in Orissa. "Maoists from Orissa are displeased over the lack of power and responsibility given to local leaders. All the key posts are held by our counterparts in the neighbouring states, while local tribal cadres have to remain satisfied with low level positions," he said.

Surendra claimed to be part of the core team that led the attack on Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, whose killing triggered unprecedented communal riots in Kandhamal district last year.

In Surendra's admission, the blueprint for Saraswati's murder was prepared by the Maoists' Orissa committee. "A team of seven top Maoists, including four from Chhattisgarh and one from Andhra Pradesh, was formed to execute the whole operation. Surendra along with another Oriya cadre was part of this core team," a senior police officer said, quoting Surendra. "This group of seven had swooped down on Jalespeta ashram and open fired on Saraswati and his followers. They were responsible for all the mayhem that took place inside the ashram. The other cadres involved in the attack were entrusted with blocking roads and providing logistics support," the officer said. "But after the seer's murder, a section of the rebels, including Surendra, expressed displeasure because they were kept in the dark over the whole operation," the cop added.

On the Nayagarah attack in 2008, the officer said as many as 175 cadres from Orissa were involved but the leadership comprised senior Maoists from Chhattisgarh. Prior to the attack, a month-long camp was held in a forest in Ganjam district.

Quoting Surendra, the officer said, "The Oriya cadres knew that some major attack was being planned but leaders from the central committee holding the camp did not tell us about our target till the last moment."

Surendra, along with his wife, Jaya, surrendered before SP (Rayagada) Asish Kumar Singh on Wednesday. The two are tribals and belonged to the rebels' Basadhara division. Police said Surendra joined the Maoists in 2004 and Jaya in 2007. They are both residents of Rayagada district and got married in 2008. belongs to and married in 2008.

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