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Security Related Matters

There has been an uptick in attacks by Maoists, indicating that their ability to strike remains strong. Last week, in two attacks in Chhattisgarh, five persons were killed in a blast in Dantewada district, and one BSF sub-inspector was killed in Kanker district. Maoists have also owned up responsibility for the killing of TDP MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and his predecessor Siveri Soma in Araku valley in Andhra Pradesh in September. These attacks, however, come amid a series of military setbacks to the Maoists in the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border regions. Clearly, the government’s strategy of using military force while earmarking funds for infrastructure and welfare programmes in the districts most affected by left-wing extremism has weakened the Maoists. Paramilitary and police actions have resulted in the death of senior leaders, including Cherukuri Rajkumar (‘Azad’) and Mallojula Koteswara Rao (‘Kishenji’). Welfare measures, even if they have been implemented haphazardly, have enabled outreach into tribal areas where the state was hitherto absent. These actions have forced the Maoists to retreat further into the forest areas of central and south-central India to use them as bases to launch attacks, seeking to invite state repression on tribal people and to get recruits. The change of guard in the CPI (Maoist) leadership also suggests that it has moved towards further militarisation to secure its guerrilla forces’ influence. General secretary Nambala Kesava Rao (‘Basavraj’), who has replaced Muppala Lakshmana Rao (‘Ganapathy’), is alleged to have led attacks on security forces and killings.

The tight and flowing structure of the Maoists

The CPI (Maoist) has sought to project itself as a revolutionary political movement led by peasants and tribals, seeking to rebuild after the failures of the earlier Naxalite movement. After the merger of the People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre of India into the CPI (Maoist) in 2004, the outlawed party managed to consolidate its presence across a “Red Corridor” spanning central and north-central India, marked by rural deprivation. Rather than focussing on socio-economic struggles to uplift peasants and tribals in this region, the Maoists relied on waging a military battle against the state with the intention of capturing power through violent means. This was largely due to a gross and mindless misreading of the nature of the Indian state and its democratic institutions. These actions have resulted in the militarisation of these areas, repression of tribal people both by state actions such as the creation of the Salwa Judum — disbanded by judicial order — and Maoist authoritarianism. The change in leadership of the CPI (Maoist) and its recent actions suggest there is no end in sight to this insurgency in the near term — a sad reality for tribals caught in the crossfire.

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