A prominent deputy of top Maoist leader Kishenji has quit the CPI (Maoist) with several of his followers, accusing the banned Naxalite outfit of harming tribal interests.
The “defector”, Gurucharan Kisku aka Marshal, is one of the most wanted and dreaded tribal guerilla leaders. A long-time aide of Kishenji, he is now planning to float his own organisation.
“I decided to quit the party when I realised that it does nothing for Adivasis. In fact, the party is using them as instruments. The movement in Bengal is not a tribal movement as claimed by Kishenji, it is anti-tribal. Kishenji is an outsider who does not know anything about tribals here,” Kisku told The Indian Express over phone from an undisclosed location in the Bengal-Jharkhand border.
Kisku was a member of the Kharsawan-Purulia-West Midnapore-Bankura sub-zonal committee, the body responsible for any armed raid in the area. Apart from a number of cases including waging war against the state in three West Bengal districts, Marshal is also the prime accused in the murder of OC Bandowan, Nilmadhab Das, who was killed by the Maoists in a landmine blast in 2003.
According to Kisku, since 2005 he started realising that the Maoists were not working for the tribals. “Tribals are a social entity, with distinct customs, religion and language. The party is destroying this tribal system and way of life in Jungalmahal and other areas. It is following the proletariat line where distinctness is not recognised. There is no development of tribals under CPI-Maoist. There is only 20 per cent representation of tribals in the leadership of the party at all levels,” said Kisku.
He regretted that in the Jangalmahal area, Maoists are now breaking down the tribal ethnic village committees and replacing them with their own. “I raised the matter several times with the state committee leaders and also to Kishenji. But instead of listening to me, they slowly sidelined me. It was at the end of last year that I decided enough is enough.”
Kisku said he is now always on the move as he figures high on the hit list of his former party. “My followers are being threatened by my former party. I am aware that I am on their hit list and there have been attempts to kill me. I have many others from my party who are joining me and I plan to make a new organisation,” he said.
According to sources, Kisku has already gathered 200 youths in Jangalmahal area, many of them former Maoist squad members who followed him when he broke away. “The people in the tribal areas are gradually showing signs of resistance to the Maoists and I am with them. I am also in touch with tribal leaders who have supported my stand,” added Kisku.
He, however, has no plans to surrender. “There is no question of surrendering to police as of now. I am a revolutionary and will keep fighting. But I plan to denounce arms and fight through democratic ways,” said Kisku.