The Maoist top leadership’s prime concern these days is disputes between senior and junior cadre, according to one of the oldest CPI(Maoist) functionaries who was arrested with his wife earlier this month.
These disputes are leading to loss of discipline among cadre in Dandakaranya, a forest area between the borders of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharastra and Odisha that Maoists call free zone, rebel leader “Tech Ramanna” has told the police during questioning.
Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli police arrested Ramanna, aka Srinivas Madru, 65, and his wife, Padma, also a Maoist operative on February 9.
“Ramanna was involved in several attacks on security forces and also trained cadre to handle weapons. There was a reward of Rs 25 lakh on him,” said a police officer who interacted with him after the arrest. The officer did not want to be named.
Chhattisgarh police also questioned Ramanna, one of the founder members of Peoples’ War Group (PWG) that merged with another rebel outfit, Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI), in 2004 to give birth to the unified CPI(Maoist). Maoist violence is considered one of India’s worst internal security challenges.
According to Ramanna’s interrogation report, younger cadre are no longer respecting seniors and this is a source of friction. “Junior cadre have sidelined seniors, some of whom have even attempted suicide,” the report noted. He said Mahita, 60, a senior Maoist cadre from Telangana, committed suicide due to such disrespect.
“The party is going through difficult times as many senior leaders are old and retiring… Some (Maoists) are also stealing the organisation’s money and sending it to their homes, which is matter of concern within the party,” stated the report.
Ramanna told the police the CPI(Maoist) was now concentrating on the tri-junction Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which the outfit has dubbed MMC, to misguide security forces and draw their attention away from Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, known as a rebel stronghold.
Police are treating Ramanna’s statements with caution, waiting to corroborate his words with evidence. Ramanna’s revelations on infighting are what police have long suspected.
Chhattisgarh’s special director general of police (Anti-Naxal Operations), DM Awasthi, said, “Apart from interrogation report of Tech Ramanna, our intelligence also suggests that the infighting has increased. The reason is constant pressure from security forces in Bastar region.”