Thursday, September 03, 2020

Indifferent Centre, Nosey Agencies: What Foiled Maoist Leader Ganapathy’s Surrender to YSR Govt

Peoples War Group (PWG) founder Ganapathy's deputies returned to the forests when details of the 2004 deliberations were leaked to the Intelligence Bureau and R&AW.

Indifferent Centre, Nosey Agencies: What Foiled Maoist Leader Ganapathy’s Surrender to YSR Govt
In this April 13, 2007 file photo, Maoist rebels raise their arms during an exercise at a temporary base. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi, File)
  • UPDATED ON: SEPTEMBER 3, 2020, 7:43 PM IST

Maoist outfit Peoples War Group (PWG) founder Ganapathy is likely to surrender before the Telangana police, claim reports from Hyderabad. Muppala Lakshmana Rao, 74, known by his nom de guerre “Ganapathy”, is reportedly critical and wants to surrender for better medical care.

According to some insiders, Ganapathy, who was removed from the PWG chief’s post in 2018, is no longer in a position to survive in the jungles and wants to lay down arms with which he disappeared into the forests to create “an equal society” almost 50 years ago.

However, there is no official confirmation on his likely surrender both from state and Centre.

Before he took up arms, Ganapathy was a school teacher in Warangal and was attracted towards armed struggle after witnessing the exploitation of poor and landless in what is today Telangana state. Incidentally, Ganapathy hails from the feudal, landowning caste “Velama” in Karimnagar district. Ganapathy is known to be a brilliant military strategist

Sixteen years ago, in 2004, he had almost “surrendered” to undivided Andhra Pradesh government of the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy. His deputies had held several rounds of peace talks with the YSR government and a ceasefire was declared.

The PWG ideologue Ramakrishna, with his close associates, had come to Hyderabad to lead the talks. Ganapathy’s aged parents were also waiting for their son to return home one day, even though there was no such proposal of him surrendering or returning to the mainstream.

In the run up to the 2004 assembly and Lok Sabha elections, YSR had toured the entire state on foot and had promised a peace deal with the Naxals, if he came to power. The Naxals, who had fought Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP government for almost 10 years, were elated when Naidu suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of YSR in both state and central elections.

Civil society activists SR Sankaran, G Kannabiran, Kalyana Rao, Balladeer Gaddar and senior journalist P Venkateshwara Rao had acted as interlocutors. Several rounds of talks were held at the state government-run Manjira guesthouse in Hyderabad. Though ⭕Andhra police, who had fought the Naxals for decades, were not enthusiastic about the peace deal, they had to fall in line because of YSR’s clout. But, leading civil rights activist Dr K Balagopal had stayed away from the peace talks.

There were strong rumours that Ganapathy would also come out of the forest once the final peace deal was signed. But, his close circle had denied that possibility.

The Congress-led UPA government at the Centre was wary of peace talks taking place in Hyderabad. Then Union home minister Shivraj Patil was against brokering a peace deal with PWG on the grounds♦️ that it was an interstate outfit and other states should also be taken on the board.♦️

To their horror, all details of deliberations taking place at Manjira guesthouse were leaked to central agencies like IB and R&AW by some insiders. It had upset both the PWG and YSR.

After several rounds of talks, they signed an agreement to meet again and continue peace talks. It was a face-saver for both sides. An upset and angry PWG leaders returned to forests, escorted by the police.

 📌Back in the forests, they regrouped and took up arms again. The Naxals did not know that the AP police had used the ceasefire to gather information on the PWG and others. According to some top police officers, who are retired now, it had helped them immensely in fighting the Naxals later.

⭕Some argue that the entire peace talk with the PWG was a ploy by the intelligence agencies and the police to understand the strength and weaknesses of the Maoists.

Sometime in early 2005, the AP police commandos had surrounded the top Naxal leadership in Nallamalla forest. They sought permission from police headquarters to shoot. A panicked Naxal leadership contacted the government, seeking safe passage. According to some top sources, then Union minister, the late S Jaipal Reddy, had persuaded the Centre, and YSR ordered the police not to shoot. The PWG leaders later crossed into neighbouring Chhattisgarh to fight another day.

After that, Naxal activities were crushed by the same YSR government and they are now confined to a small area on the Andhra and Odisha border.

It is also a well-known fact that Naxals had backed separate Telangana state movement and during that period, many had returned to the mainstream. They have not gone back to the forests after that.

Some top internal security experts feel that the surrender of Ganapathy will not have much impact on the movement as he is already a spent force.

But, Muppala Lakshmana Rao’s homecoming is certainly a big event, if it happens. Because Ganapathy is still an enigma.

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