People's War Group Andhra Pradesh state secretary Akkiraju Haragopal Ramakrishna, currently in Hyderabad to participate in the maiden talks with the AP government on Friday, October 15, dismissed reports of the Naxalites striving to form a corridor extending between Nepal and parts of India as a creation of the media.
Available evidence suggests that such plans indeed exist.
Speaking to the BBC on June 20, 2003, Malkapuram Bhaskar 'Chandranna,' a senior PWG leader and member of the North Telengana Special Zone Committee, 'confirmed the claim that the PWG was setting up a corridor from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh through Bihar, Orissa and other states.'
It is, thus, difficult to take Ramakrishna's assertion at face value.
The PWG and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), envision carving out a compact revolutionary zone stretching from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh and connected through a revolutionary corridor.
Informed sources believe that the formation of the revolutionary corridor has been completed. This could facilitate the easy movement of men and material along the length of the revolutionary corridor and quick relocation of cadres to safer areas in the face of intense operations by the security forces in one part. Moreover, the rebel groups might also seek to expand to adjoining areas along the revolutionary corridor and destabilise them through their violent activities, as part of their strategy to bring in newer areas under their influence and sway.
Further, the PWG, the Maoist Communist Centre of India and the CPN-M, together with similar groups from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, are members of a broad front known as the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia that came into formal existence on July 21, 2001. Thus far, three annual meetings of CCOMPOSA have been held; the last was held in March 2004. The objective of this front is to 'coordinate the activities of Maoist parties and organisations in South Asia by spreading protracted People's War in the region, in the context of hastening the World Proletarian Socialist Revolution.'
CCOMPOSA also seeks to 'fight Indian expansionism, world imperialism, especially American imperialism, build solidarity with anti-imperialist struggles throughout the world, build a broad front with the ongoing armed struggles of the various nationality movements in the subcontinent, and lend mutual assistance and exchange experiences and deepen bilateral and multilateral relations among Maoist forces in the subcontinent. At its last meeting, members also resolved to 'preserve, develop, and extend these people's wars in the entire region and initiate new ones. Let us also vow to unite even more closely, build greater bonds of unity with the other struggling forces of the region, with all those who can be united against the common enemy, and turn the respective countries of South Asia into a strong bastion of world revolution.'
The idea of CCOMPOSA is not merely notional.
In 2002, in an interior village in Andhra Pradesh's Karimnagar district, graffiti appeared on the walls hailing CCOMPOSA. Besides, the CPN-M reportedly played a role in the founding of the Bhutan Communist Party-Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, the newest Maoist outfit in the region, formally launched on April 22, 2003 and headed by one 'Vikalpa.'
CCOMPOSA publishes a journal periodically under the same title. Indeed, CCOMPOSA members marked the anniversary of the 1967 Naxalbari uprising by conducting week-long protests during May 22-29, 2004 against, what they term 'State repression.'
Both the CPN-M and PWG also conduct propaganda for CCOMPOSA and for each other. The CPN-M web site has repeatedly posted statements and protest calls given by the PWG on its web site. Further, for instance, the monthly People's March, a Naxalite journal published from Ernakulam, carries detailed accounts of CPN-M armed attacks and interviews with its leaders. Its October 2004 issue contains a long interview with Hisila Yami 'Parvati,' the highest ranking woman leader in the CPN-M, who is a central committee member and wife of Baburam Bhattarai, No 2 in the CPN-M hierarchy.
In fact, the linkages between the CPN-M and PWG have deepened so much that as a very well informed PWG watcher in AP told this researcher, "invariably the CPN-M informs the PWG of an impending major attack in Nepal."
This ever-widening complex web of linkages is a source of serious concern for all the governments in the region.
The relations between the PWG and the CPN-M date back at least to 1995.
In a joint-statement signed by CPN-M supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' and a senior PWG functionary, 'Suresh', the two outfits strongly condemned what they termed was 'Indian expansionism.' Over a period of time, these linkages have broadened and deepened.
At the recently conference of chief ministers of Naxalite-affected states on September 21 in Hyderabad, representatives from Bihar expressed deep concern at the existing and deepening linkages between Indian Naxalite groups and the Maoist insurgents of Nepal. In fact, a number of Maoist insurgents have been arrested in India on different occasions.
Reports in 2002 indicated that the Nepalese Maoists and PWG have formed the India-Nepal Border Regional Committee to coordinate their activities in areas along the India-Nepal border in Bihar.
In the same year, on January 25, the CPN-M politbureau condemned the proscribing of the PWG and MCCI under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and resolved to work together with the two Indian outfits to oppose the ban and build public opinion against it.
Further, CPN-M central committee member Chandra Prakash Gajurel 'Gaurav' attended the PWG's ninth congress held in the dense forests of Chhattisgarh from March 3 to 21, 2001. Gajurel is currently an undertrial prisoner in Chennai after he was arrested at Chennai airport on August 20, 2003 while attempting to proceed to Europe on a fake passport to liaise and conduct propaganda for his outfit.
At that time, an official of the Indian embassy in Kathmandu said: 'We suspect he had gone there to meet the People's War Group. He had certainly not gone there to teach at Chennai University.'
In all, over 75 Nepalese Maoist leaders and cadres have been arrested in India and handed over to the authorities in Nepal, including central committee members Suresh Ale Magar, Maitrika Prasad Yadav and Bamdev Chetri -- who was employed at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University and later set free by the Nepalese government. Babauram Bhattarai holds a doctoral degree from JNU.
The PWG had also given some arms to the CPN-M and, as one Maoist cadre admitted on the night of November 17, 2003, on state run television, the Maoists had received training from the PWG in handling weapons and explosives. Available information also indicates that a top PWG leader, Cherukuri Rajkumar 'Uday' is the point man for the PWG in its talks with the CPN-M.
The linkages between the Naxalite groups and the CPN-M have, 'over the years, evolved into a strategic alliance with a steady exchange of men and material, extension of training facilities and safe haven and facilitation of procurement of arms and explosives.'
Within India, the trend points towards increasing unity among the various Naxalite groups. In the recent past, this had commenced with the merger between the PWG and the erstwhile Party Unity of Bihar on August 11, 1998, following four years of negotiations.
Naveen Prasad, presently a member of the PWG's central committee and general secretary of the erstwhile PU, acclaimed the merger as the 'most significant development in the CPI-ML (Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist) history after the martyrdom of Charu Mazumdar.'
Presently, the PWG and Janasakthi have joined hands to participate in the talks with the AP government. At his October 12 press conference in Hyderabad, in the presence of Janasakthi leaders, Ramakrishna indicated that the two groups could merge in the future, but added that unity talks were not taking place presently.
The PWG and MCCI announced their merger in Hyderabad on Thursday. Earlier in January 2003, the Revolutionary Communist Centre of India merged with MCC and the resultant grouping was named as the MCCI.
The emerging pattern of consolidation of forces among Naxalite groups in India, together with the functional linkages with fraternal groups on the sub-continent, holds grave threat to India's internal security. It could lead to increasing lawlessness in vaster tracts of land and destabilise them.
The Union government noted at the chief ministers conference that 125 districts across the country have been affected by Naxalite violence and 24 more are being targeted by the Naxalite groups.
The author is Research Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.
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