Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Life inside the Naxalite camp

Thursday, July 27, 2006 (Dantewada):

The People's Liberation Guerrilla Army in Dantewada, Chattisgarh was raised on December 2, 2000 by the Maoists to create pockets of liberated zones.

A state of constant war is how the Maoists define survival and expansion as they take on the Naga Battalion, the CRPF and the local police.

Village Sangham is the basic unit of the Maoist organisation. Dalam or people's militia is raised from the Sanghams.

Dalam has full timers involved in organisational work and organised into platoon, companies and battalions.

Female fighters

Among the members are Lakki and Buddri - trusted soldiers very comfortable with home made rifles. At times they use self-loading rifles and sten guns.

Their weapons are from the police armory seized during raids.

Buddri was on sentry duty in February when Naxals raided the Baila
Dila mines ammunition dump. They fled with over 20 tonnes of explosives.

Lakki's role was to ambush the policemen.

"I was on sentry duty when we raided the Baila Dila mines and carried away ammunition," Buddri said.

On the ground in Dandakaranya - divided into five divisions or districts, a divisional secretary commands actions approved by the top leadership.


Hare Ram, an adivasi, joined the force when he was 12 years old and
he is now an area secretary as head of a local organisation squad.

The squad visits hundreds of villages, motivates and recruits full timers into the Dalam and later screens them for the fighting force.

"First when the Naxalites came into the forest villages they were called kuppalor or dacoits. Slowly they gained the confidence of the people," Ram said.

"We intervened when the forest guards threatened to set the village on fire and sought goats and bribe".

He added, that Naxal Dalam members beat up the forest guards and
patwari and gradually the movement gained ground.

"We don't have good weapons. We know fully well the weapons cannot win us this war. It is only people's love that can sustain the movement," Ram said.

"Its been one year since Salwa Judum began harassing the villagers in the name of the Naxal army. But the Dalam is where it was and villagers have not given us away," he said.

The young men and women return after a day's patrolling to dance and sing in their own Gondi language.

They sing of the martyrs who died so that others could live with dignity.

And the Chetna Natya Manch performers are proof that the war the Maoists are waging is not just with weapons.

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