Originally Published 2005-02-05 12:40:23 Published on Feb 05, 2005
The Communist Party of India (Maoist), or CPI-Maoist, is the most lethal Naxalite group in the country. On September 21, 2004, the People's War (PW), popularly known as the PWG, and the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) merged to form the CPI-Maoist.
Revolution and Crime: Illegitimate violence
The Communist Party of India (Maoist), or CPI-Maoist, is the most lethal Naxalite group in the country. On September 21, 2004, the People's War (PW), popularly known as the PWG, and the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) merged to form the CPI-Maoist. The armed, underground strength of the outfit has been variously estimated to be between 6,000 and 12,000. At the end of 2004, it was estimated that the CPI-Maoist has a presence-intense to marginal-in 159 districts in 13 States across India.

The ultimate objective of the CPI-Maoist rebels is to capture political power. But, they do not subscribe to parliamentary politics. Consistently, they have maintained that they are unflinchingly committed to waging a protracted armed struggle, on the lines of the Chinese revolution, in order to capture political power, and herald what they call is a New Democratic Revolution. Announcing the formation of the CPI-Maoist in a statement issued on October 14, 2004, "Ganapathy" and "Kishan", the general secretaries respectively of the erstwhile PW and MCCI, said: "The immediate aim and programme of the Maoist party is to carry on and complete the already ongoing and advancing New Democratic Revolution... This revolution will be carried out and completed through ... protracted people's war with the armed seizure of power remaining as its central and principal task..."

As a result, it is likely that the Maoists would aim to escalate levels of violence and expand into virgin territories, in order to bring them under their hold and sway. Its expansion to districts such as Nainital, Almora, Champawat, Pithoragarh, Udham Singh Nagar in States such as Uttaranchal should, thus, be viewed in this light.

Indeed, while there has been a merger at the highest level in the erstwhile PW and the MCCI, and they have announced that the armed cadres of the two outfits would function under the single unified command of the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army, considerable disunity among filed-level cadres in the common areas of their operation is reportedly palpable in Bihar and Jharkhand. Moreover, there is growing evidence of the criminalisation of Naxal groups. In a number of cases, particularly in Bihar, it has been noted that the squad members at the ground level disregard the directives of the higher units. Cadres, who have very little education and lack proper indoctrination, are more involved with local issues that are against the core Naxalite ideology. In May-June 2003, in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh, when the Naxalite leadership had to find a replacement for the district committee secretary the most "talented" person they could find was a Gond who was semi-literate, poor in articulation and could barely manage to prepare reports to be sent to the higher leadership.

Weak in ideological moorings and commitment, these local-level commanders and cadres have struck unprincipled deals with public representatives of different political parties, cutting across party lines. In Andhra Pradesh, one former Telugu Desam Legislator actually used the Naxalites to liquidate his rivals. Naxalite representative and "revolutionary poet" P Vara Vara Rao admitted this on February 2, 2005, and said "Ravi managed... to give an impression that the movement must take care of Ravi and his family since they had two martyrs for our cause-his father and brother... he used the movement to plant a TV bomb to wipe out his rival's family..." The late Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, the founding general secretary of the erstwhile PW, too, who was later expelled from the group and died unsung on April 12, 2002, was similarly "taken-in" by Ravi.

There have also been reports in 2003 of Konda Murali, the husband of Congress legislator Konda Surekha, using the Naxalites to settle scores with his political rivals. The list of such nexus is long and contentious. As two former Congress Ministers noted before the 'Advocates Committee on Naxalite Terrorism in Andhra Pradesh', in 1997, theirs as well as those from the TDP "buy the support" of the extremists, at the time of every election. Confirming their statement, senior State Communist leader Koratala Satyanarayana informed the same Committee that "that had been the case for the last 30 to 40 years".

Worse still, taking advantage of the awe that the Naxalites evoke, and the misplaced legitimacy they enjoy, renegade and pseudo Naxalite groups have spawned in the State and have been indulging in criminal activities-extortion, hired killings-and using violent methods, including murder, to gain and retain control over the lucrative real estate business. Therefore, the question remains: Would the Naxalite movement proceed towards heralding a "revolution" or meander towards running a lucrative criminal enterprise?

The author is Research Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.

Courtesy: Pioneer, New Delhi, February 6, 2005.

* Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Observer Research Foundation.
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