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Fake encounter? Bastar killings suggest failure of Maoists to adapt to ground realities

By Harsh Thakor* 

The recent elimination of 29 Maoists in what is claimed to be the largest encounter in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, appears as a perfect illustration how the Maoists have failed to insulate and organise themselves. It is also being interpreted even by their supporters as suggesting that they have not adequately adapted to the ground realities, especially when State agents are said to have infiltrated into their ranks.
Clearly, despite seeking to make it appear that their organisation, the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), will not be cowed down and they will fight back, the view has gone strong that they now face the uphill task in replenishing their ranks and make a critical review.
The International Communist League, of which the CPI (Maoist) is a member, tried to put up a bold face, stating, “The fighters of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) waging People’s War under the leadership of the CPI (Maoist) and the oppressed and poor masses of the region will defeat this wave of fascist terror at any cost.”
Maoists’ protagonists called the “brutal attack” a manifest the neo-fascist arm of the state which leaves no stone unturned in “mercilessly crushing any genuine resistance.” It is pointed out, in the name of curbing ‘Maoism’ by wiping out Maoists, the police are “destroying” the fabric or “intimidating” democratic resistance in Bastar against the corporates.
Officials said, the Maoists were killed in a gruesome battle with security forces along the Kanker-Narayanpur district border in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar Region on April 16. Three senior cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) were among the victims. Three security personnel also procured injuries in the gun battle. With these deaths, up to 72 Maoists have by now been killed in the past four months.
However, a spokesperson of the CPI (Maoist) has been quoted as saying that 17 of those who were killed did not die in an armed clash, and that these guerrillas were captured unarmed, were tortured and then assassinated. A protest bandh has been called for Mohla-Manpur, Kanker and Narayanpur for the 25th of April, a day before the elections in the Kanker district, he added.
The operation, launched by a joint team of the Kanker District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the Border Security Force (BSF) against the Maoists, took place in a forested area which lies within the range of rthe Chhottebetiya police station area of Kanker. The security forces were sent to the very spot after a tip-off was received about the presence of senior divisional committee members of the CPI (Maoist).
A BSF statement said, the anti-Maoist operation was launched late in the evening of April 15 by the DRG and BSF, on information from various intelligence sources of Maoists’ movement in Binagunda and adjoining areas.
In the name of curbing Maoism, the police are destroying Maoists' fabric and resistance in Bastar against corporates
“We shared five inputs, including two inputs giving exact location (one input with GR also) of the North Bastar divisional committee Maoists in the Binagunda area, underlining the fact that it has acted as a permanent camp of the Maoists since April,” the statement added.
“During the searching operation, there was an encounter between the security forces and the Maoist cadres. During the searches so far, 29 dead bodies of Maoist cadres have been recovered,” Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) P Sundarraj commented , adding that searches were still ongoing.
Sundarraj said that the operation had been launched after receiving information about the presence of North Bastar and Abujhmad Committee division committee members such as Shankar, Lalita, Raju and others, but noted that the police would be able to confirm names and profiles only after the identification of the bodies.
Based on the number of casualties extinguished, this is possibly the “biggest encounter ever” in Chhattisgarh, he claimed.
Additional Director General (Naxal operations), Vivekanand Sinha told media, “We have almost wiped out the Partapur area committee which was involved in many violent activities like killing security personnel in IED blasts, murdering civilians and arson where they burnt vehicles involved in road construction. They were also involved in the IED blast incident during the Assembly elections in November when a BSF jawan was martyred and two officials on election duty were injured.”
*Freelance journalist



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