The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the life of yet another senior Maoist insurgent. According to the Chhattisgarh police, Yapa Narayana (52) a secretary of the North Telangana State Committee of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), died of a heart attack on June 21 in the Bastar forests of Chhattisgarh.He had tested positive for COVID-19.
Better known by his nom de guerre Haribhushan, he was handling the activities of the party along the Chhattisgarh-Telangana border. He had also been inducted into the Central Committee of the Maoists, the most powerful decision-making body, of the banned organisation and carried a reward of Rs 40 lakh for his capture. The news of his death was confirmed by the police in Telangana’s Bhadradri-Kothagudem district as well. The police claimed that his death was a major blow to the CPI (Maoist)’s activities in Telangana-Chhattisgarh region and to the movement itself.
Wanted across several States in connection with scores of cases, Haribhushan hailed from the hamlet of Madagudem in Kothagudem mandal in Telangana’s Mahabubabad district. Joining the People’s War Group (PWG) in 1995, Haribhushan climbed to the top echelons of the organisation, eventually taking over the reins of the outfit’s Telangana State committee.
Talking to mediapersons, Sundarraj P, Inspector General of Police (Bastar range), disclosed that the police had “received information from certain quarters that a few senior Maoist cadres, including Haribhushan, were seriously ill after getting infected with coronavirus”. Sundarraj said Haribhushan died near the Minaguram-Bhattigudam-Jabagatta jungles along the Bijapur-Sukma inter-district border. Also known as “Lakmu Dada” in the Usur-Poojarikanker-Pamed area along the Chhattisgarh-Telangana border, he was involved in more than 22 Maoist incidents in south Chhattisgarh, the police said.
Though the CPI (Maoist) Central Committee issued a statement on June 15 rebutting police claims that many of the senior cadres among the Maoists were afflicted with COVID-19, the police have cited reliable sources to say at least 16 senior- and middle-rung cadres, including Ganga and Sobhroi, Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) members, have died due to the infection during the last few of months. The DKSZC handles Maoist activities in the Bastar region, comprising seven districts of Chhattisgarh.
Citing reliable sources, Sundarraj claimed that the COVID-19 situation in Maoist camps in south Bastar was “very alarming”. Said the officer: “In the organisation’s Bastar region, between May 27 and June 11, four hardcore Maoist leaders have perished. Of these, three succumbed to COVID-19 while one was killed in an encounter with the police.”
Police sources have also disclosed that Sonu, the second-in-command in the Maoist battalion 1, is also unwell. Deputy to the most wanted Maoist Hidma, Sonu is wanted in more than 20 cases in Telangana and Chhattisgarh and has a reward of Rs.40 lakh on his head