Amid the buzz around the State Assembly elections scheduled to be held in the end of this year, the tribal heartland of Chhattisgarh has been witnessing a fierce battle between the incumbent ruling Congress government and the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) over various issues including the current state of left wing insurgency, the surge in the killings of citizens and political representative by the Maoist.
Recently, both the political streams got engaged in another verbal spat after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing to the ‘Karyakarta Mahakumbh’ in Bhopal, alleged that the grand old party is now being run by a few ‘Urban Naxals’, a term generally referred to the urban handlers of the Maoist outfit in Bharat.
Launching a series of bitter attack on the Congress further, Sambit Patra, the national spokesperson of the BJP in a press briefing held at New Delhi, also alleged that the Congress party is walking side by side with the Naxals (Maoist) and has inspired the ultras for the killing of the functionaries of the saffron party.
However, contrary to the claims of BJP, the Chief Minister, Bhupesh Baghel, on a couple of occasions in the past few months, has claimed that the Maoist activities have slowed down effectively during the tenure of his Government.
Speaking with the media the incumbent Chief Minister of the tribal-dominated State, whose Government is also facing other allegations pertaining to pse and alleged liquor scam of Rs 2000 crores, said that “earlier the media be it the print or electronic were full of reports pertaining to Naxals violence but now even the opposition leaders have raised the issue only in the end of the recently concluded state assembly session that shows the issue pertaining to Maoist has taken a back seat”.
Despite the tall claims made by the Chief Minister, sadly the state of affairs pertaining to Left wing extremism in the State is entirely a different story.
To start with, there is no iota of doubt that the presence of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) in the tribal heartland has been successfully contained by the security forces over the past few years which ultimately has reduced the number of attacks on security forces installation and other government institutions by the extremists group.
Though at the same time the surge in the violence against the civilians and the political representatives by the ultras explains the sad reality on the ground and the overall failure of administration to curb the atrocities unleashed by the far left ideology on innocent civilians of Bastar.
Are Maoist on the backfoot
There is no if and but that under the current Central Government regime, the spread of the Left wing extremism in different regions of the country have been successfully contained by the security forces and the proscribed Communist Party of India (Maoist), which was once controlling around one third of the sovereign land of the country is now confined to mere 25 to 30 districts of around 8 states. The success on the Maoist front in recent years can vividly be seen in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh as well, where the paramilitary forces like CRPF along with District Reserve Guards (an all tribal unit of the State Police) have made inroads in the regions once considered as the Maoists citadel. The success of security forces in forcing Mao’s men to retreat from their traditional thresholds can also be measured by the fact that the forces have recently started patrolling between the Jagargunda-Bijapur route. An erstwhile route used widely for transportation of local products, closed for the masses for around seventeen years by the Ultras.
Earlier, the route had been used widely for the transportation of tamarind from the Asia largest tamarind market in Jagargunda functional till 2006 before the Maoist insurgency gripped the entire region by storm. The Maoist used to dug wrenches at different places to forbid the route for the residents and to halt any interference from the Government in administration of the region, they used to control everything and ran a parallel Government known as the Jantana Sarkar. The opening of the route has been made possible after the erection of a couple of Forward Operating Bases (FOB) between Jagargunda and Bijapur in Kunder and Bedre. These two bases are part of around two dozen FOBs installed in different Maoist-affected regions of the state after the central government gave a node to push and encircle the ultras in their own den.
Installed in the remote regions where earlier the Maoist used to roam freely and exert pressure on the locals these FOBs have done an immense damage to the intel network and recruitment process of the ultras, ultimately forcing them to the back foot. Another significant part of the newly crafted strategy which is yielding fruitful results against containing the extremists hold on the masses is the wide scale development in the regions, earlier deprived from the basic necessities like healthcare, electricity and education.
Violence against political representatives
Tightening of security along with development works at one hand is yielding fruitful results for the forces, however on the other hand the frustration of these developments is now running deep for the Maoist, which have led them to turn their guns towards the civilians and political representatives.
As a result, dozens of civilians including political representatives have perished in the targeted killings carried out by the ultras in the last couple of years. These killings included functionaries of BJP from the tribal heartland of Bastar. The first brutal murder in the series was of Neelkanth Kerrekam, the then BJP president of Usur Mandal of Bijapur.
Neelkantha had arrived at his ancestral home when three armed cadres of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) dragged and brutally hacked him to death in front of the family members while hundreds of the Maoist surrounded the village on February 05 this year.
The second murder in the series was of Saagar Sahu the then BJP vice-president of Narayanpur district, Saagar was shot dead at his home by two armed cadres of the outlawed outfit who barged into his house and shot him with close range before fleeing the spot on the evening of February 10.
The third brutal assault on a BJP functionary occurred on the next day when a former village head associated with the saffron party was hacked to death near Handawada waterfall of Dantewada district on February 11. The deceased BJP functionary Ramadhir Aalmi was travelling from Murumwada to Hitameta village when around 5-6 cadres of the banned Maoist group hacked him to death.
Targeted killings of civilians
Ever since the security forces have tightened the grip in the erstwhile traditional thresholds of the Maoist, the banned outfit has turned the barrels of their guns towards the innocent civilians of the tribal land.
It is pertinent to mention here that the killings of the civilians has always been a part and parcel of the struggle between security forces and the Maoist. Nevertheless the surge in the targeted killings of civilians explain the desperation of the Maoist outfit to remain a major player in the dense forest regions of Dandakaranya.
Tightening of security along with developmental works is yielding fruitful results for the forces. therefore, the Maoist are turning their guns towards political representatives
If we take the figures of last year alone, reported in different digital platforms more than 30 civilians have been brutally killed by Mao’s men for allegedly harming the cause of the revolution in the State. Most of these men killed by the ultras were from humble backgrounds where a number of them were innocent farmers or youths who have been alleged by the Naxals for being informers.
Talking about the butchering of these voices in the last one year, two youths identified by Raju Modiyam and Dula Kodme a resident of Pusnaar village of Bijapur district were killed by the Maoist in a Janadalat organised in Pedakorma (Kangaroo court of the ultras) while their families pleaded for mercy in September 2022. The next in line was a farmer from Sambalpur village of the Manpur Mohala district, who was shot dead by the ultras when he had returned to his village after 13 years. The deceased was identified as Ravindra Sai, a farmer by profession who also had served in the local Intelligence for a year. Sai had returned to his village and was on his way to visiting his fields when the cadres of the outlawed outfit shot him from close range on October 15 last year.
Weeks after the brutal murder of Ravindra Sai, another youth from Manpur Mohala was also shot dead by the cadres of the PLGA, the deceased youth Manjit Toppo, a resident of Tukam village under the Aundhi police station limits, was also a farmer by profession who was killed by the Maoist for allegedly spying for the police. The fateful incident occurred when Manjit was on his way to his fields along with his two children when the Maoist surrounded and killed him on October 22, 2022.
In another incident a villager identified as Manker Hurra, a resident of the Hurrapijondi village under the Aamabeda Police Station limits of Kanker, was also hacked to death by the ultras. After killing Manker, the Maoist allegedthat the deceased was an informant of the police. Manker was abducted from his village and hacked to death on November 17 last year.
The list is long, so are the families affected by this brutal play of bloodshed, the ultras claimed that they fight for the betterment and to keep the Jal, Jungle, and Jameen of the Vanvasis safe and intact, however in their pursuit, there are thousands who have been killed while their families have been left hapless and starving.
On the other hand the respective governments who have been bestowed upon the responsibility of keeping these citizens safe and their rights intact are busy making castles in the air.
Though in reality, the figures itself speaks louder than the claims made by the Governments or even by the ultras, whose handlers while hailing the instability and the chaos in one of the most remotest corner of the country, claimed that they and only their pursuit for the revolution are the sole defenders of the Vanvasis, a community living peacefully in the lush green mesmerising landscapes of the Dandakaranya for more than 5000 years..