Saturday, April 14, 2007

Naxals: United in violence

Naxals: United in violence

If the Kuki rebels are coming together in Manipur, in India's heartland the dreaded Naxal militants are also forging new links, which many say is behind the new and bloody chapter of Naxal violence.
Naxals: United in violence

But is the unity real or is it to conceal personality clashes and competing violence between these groups in India's red corridor?

Inside the forests along the borders between Jharkhand and Orissa, Naxal leaders from across the country are once again displaying their new unified strength.

In September 2004, the two biggest Naxal groups, the People's War led by Andhra Naxalites and MCC or Maoist Communist Centre, the Jharkhand based Naxal outfit, formally merged.

The merger created the CPI Maoist - an umbrella Naxal force stretching from Andhra, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Orissa to Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh - literally a red corridor through the heart of the nation.

This comes after decades of factionalism in the Naxal movement.

Armed revolution

The Communists in West Bengal soon after coming to power in 1967 faced a revolt by the radicals.

Opposed to electoral politics and inspired by Mao's violent revolution, leaders like Kanu Sanyal and Charu Mazumdar triggered strikes - the first one in the village of Naxalbari.

What was born was Naxalism or a call for armed revolution that intially organised as CPI-ML.

Later, the CPI-ML did an about turn, returning to parliamentary politics.

But by then, the Naxal upsurge of West Bengal had spread to several other states.

The People's War Group, born in Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, has for decades struck terror in the forests of Chhattisgarh and bordering Maharashtra.

But in Orissa, it's restricted only to the southern districts as in the north, the rival Naxal outfit, the MCC, has been making inroads.

Intelligence sources say, post merger, the two have been working together - the PWG relying on the MCC for arms supplies.

"Post merger, the two Naxal groups have begun working in tandem," said Amaranand Patnaik, DGP, Orissa.


But many believe this new found Naxal unity is nothing but propaganda - an attempt to conceal a history of personality clashes and splinter groups, each trying to be more radical and violent than the other.

In Orissa, a third Naxal group, the CPI ML Janshakti, is believed to have been involved in extremely violent incidents, including extortion. It is condemned by both the People's War Group and MCC as mindless and unwanted.

In fact, for long, the debate has raged over whether Naxal violence is less about organisation and more about anarchy.

Whether it's the murder of an MP in Jharkhand or the killing of more than 50 policemen in Chhattisgarh or speculation that Naxals were also present in the mobs in Nandigram: Is this evidence of a regrouped, unified and strengthened Naxal force?

NDTV met Naxal leaders in Jharkhand a few days after MP Sunil Mahato was killed. This is what they had to say:

Q: Doesn't the guerilla zone come under your committee?

A: We formed the Bengal-Jharkhand-Orissa border area regional committee. We took the decision along with them to eliminate Mahato and they executed the decision.

Many believe dialogue between Naxal leaders is easy to achieve, but uniting military might may not be.

Or at least that's what intelligence agencies are hoping in what's become India's bloodiest internal war, which in the last one year has left more than 600 people dead.

(With inputs from Rajesh Ramachandran & Supriya Sharma)


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