Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Experts warn of revenge by Maoists

New Delhi, July 5: The killing of Maoist spokesperson Cherukuri Rajkumar aka Azad could provoke a “spectacularly violent reaction” from the rebels, analysts in the security establishment are warning.

The response of the Maoists so far has been to doubt the circumstances in which Azad and party activist Hemachanrda Pandey was killed.

In a statement the CPI(Maoist) has alleged that he was picked up by the Andhra Pradesh Special Intelligence Branch in Nagpur, taken across the state border to Adilabad and shot in cold blood.

Rebel sympathiser and poet Vara Vara Rao has appealed to court to carry out a second post-mortem on the bodies and has sought action against the Andhra Special Intelligence Branch that the rebels have described in their statement as “the Indian Mossad”, their take on the Israeli intelligence outfit that neutralises Palestinian activists.

The rebels’ response to Azad’s killing is almost a repeat of the events surrounding the killing of Patel Sudhakar Reddy (also known as “Comrade Vikas”), a central committee member, in May 2009.

In that case too, the Andhra police claimed that the senior Maoist was killed in an encounter in the jungles of Warangal district. The Maoists alleged their leader was picked when he had gone to meet a contact in Nashik, also in Maharashtra, tortured and killed in the Warangal jungles after being flown there by helicopter.

With the elimination of Azad, the number of Maoist politburo and central committee members either in jail or killed has risen to 16 since 2006.

In an interview to Open magazine in October 2009, Maoist general secretary Mupalla Laxman Rao (Ganapathy) admitted this was causing them concern.

“Well, it is a fact that we lost some senior leaders at the state and central level in the past four or five years. Some leaders were secretly arrested and murdered in the most cowardly manner. Many other leaders were arrested and placed behind bars in the recent past in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Haryana and other states. The loss of leadership will have a grave impact on the party and Indian revolution as a whole,” Ganapathy said.

But this loss of leaders is taking place simultaneously with the rise in violent reprisals — mostly of security personnel or citizens suspected by them to be “informers” — by the Maoists.

“This (Azad’s killing) is a very, very big loss for them,” says P.V. Ramana, research fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, who tracks the Maoist insurgency. “From what I understand about how they function, there is bound to be a spectacular attack by them,” he says.

In describing the Andhra Pradesh Special Intelligence Branch as the “Indian Mossad”, the Maoists have put the police establishment in their cross-hairs. The Special Intelligence Branch and the police have had a hand in almost all big catches and/or killings of Maoist leaders.

They tipped off the Delhi police on the whereabouts of Khobad Ghandy, politburo member, now in Tihar jail, last year. In 2008, they engineered the surrender of central committee member Lanka Venkata Papi Reddy, who had fallen from grace in the party, but was a prize catch for the state government that gave the Maoist leader the reward of Rs 12 lakh that was put on his head. The rebels will be wondering if Papi Reddy is singing.

Earlier this year, the Andhra Greyhounds interrogated Maoist leader and accomplice of Kishan identified as Telugu Deepak, who was arrested in Calcutta last year and is now in jail. A Greyhounds officer also visited the Bengal police headquarters and exchanged notes and video images to advise them on dealing with the Maoists in Lalgarh.

It is within this context that the Maoist threat to avenge Azad’s death is being seen. The immediate response of the Maoists on the ground has been to call a two-day bandh (a similar call was issued after Patel Sudhakar Reddy’s killing).

By describing Azad as “mind and soul of Indian revolution through his consistent and efficient work”, it is evident that the CPI(Maoist) has put revenge high on its agenda. The nature of a Maoist attack this time could well be different from the violent actions in which about 200 security personnel have been killed in separate attacks in the last three months.

“We just have to be on our toes but there is only so much that we can do,” a senior security official says. The accent is on protecting “high value targets” (senior police officers and politicians). When, where and how the Maoists will strike is what is keeping the security agencies guessing.

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1 comment:

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