Monday, December 28, 2020

COVID and intensified combing hit Maoists hard in AOB region

Greyhound constables of Andhra Pradesh Police at Jerrela, an interior tribal village in Visakhapatnam district, during their combing operation against Maoists.Greyhound constables of Andhra Pradesh Police at Jerrela, an interior tribal village in Visakhapatnam district, during their combing operation against Maoists. | Photo Credit: C_V_SUBRAHMANYAM
Sumit BhattacharjeeSUMIT BHATTACHARJEE 27 DECEMBER 2020 01:07 IST

They kill two tribals in the month to gain lost ground

The banned CPI (Maoist) in the Andhra-Odisha Border region has been facing a tough task to keep their movement afloat, as the COVID-19 pandemic and intensified combing by the security forces of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, have hit them hard.

During the initial days of the pandemic, they were forced to lie low and in April the Left Wing Extremists (LWE), even circulated a letter declaring an informal ceasefire.



But this was violated by them, when in July during the Martyrs Week, they placed landmines near Chintalaveedhi village in Pedabayalu mandal, and two innocent tribals were killed, when they accidentally stepped on them.

On the other hand, joint operations, aided by intelligence sharing, by the security forces of A.P., Odisha and Chhattisgarh, have pushed them on the back foot.

As a result of the joint operations, security forces of Odisha and A.P. had gunned down about 18 Maoists, including a couple of ACM and DCM ranked leaders, in the cut-off region of AOB. Odisha alone contributed close to 16 hits.

Both A.P. and Odisha have gained considerable foothold in the AOB region by setting up a number of Company Operating Bases and Armed Outposts, as deep as Jantapayi and Gurasethu on the Odisha side of the cut-off area.

This has pushed them back to a small tract of land in the Gumma region on the Odisha side and a few villages in Pedabayalu mandal on the A.P. side, said a senior officer from AP-SIB.

Waning support

There is a feeling that the popular support base is waning in the AOB region, with tribals coming forward for development activities such as construction of roads, PHCs, school and mobile towers.

Tribals had come out openly in many villages such as in Vakapalli, Balapam and Busuputtu which were once Maoist strongholds, supporting the development agenda of the government. This practically dried up the recruitment base, and to gain some lost ground through the element of fear, the Maoists in this month killed two tribals, Gemmeli Krishna in Vakapalli and Chikkudu Satish in Chintagaruvu in Pedabayalu, after branding them as police informers.

To beef up their depleting cadre strength, they have been importing manpower from Chhattisgarh, which again has become a problematic affair for the leaders in the AOB. “It is learnt that the Chhattisgarh cadres are not able to adjust to the terrain and are facing cultural issues with the local tribals. There are issues over acceptance and many of the imported cadres are opting to go back,” said a senior officer engaged in anti-Maoist operations.

The Galikonda Area Committee, which has been suffering setbacks since last couple years, was hit further in this year with a number of surrenders and arrests of hardcore cadres and militia members. In total, there were about 104 surrenders and arrests, with majority of them from Galikonda area.

From a point of time, when the Maoists boasted of maintaining companies in AOB with over 30 cadres in each company, they are now left with a few platoons with 15-odd men in each, said Superintendent of Police, Visakhapatnam, B. Krishna Rao.

Another area of concern is lack of tribal leadership in the AOB region. After the deaths of tribal leaders such as Bakkuri Venkataramana, Kudumula Ravi and Jambri, who were worshipped as heroes, there has been a dearth of tribal leaders. Now it is left to Kakuri Pandana alias Jagan, Sudheer and Kora Nageswara Rao, who do not enjoy that status as the former

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