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Secrecy boomerangs on Maoists in Andhra Pradesh

By K. Srinivas Reddy

HYDERABAD, APRIL 6. If the ultra-secret functioning is a strong forte for the Maoist rebels, it is also proving to be a clear disadvantage for them.

The secrecy that surrounds the movements of the underground cadres, no doubt ensures their safety. But whenever police gain the upper hand and kill any of the top Maoist leaders, the confidentiality is preventing party leaders from locating the `dumps' where arms, ammunition, money and party documents are hidden.

Since only a very few top leaders know the coordinates of the dumps, the rebels are known to launch special search operations to locate the `dumps,' but the effort would be as difficult as searching a needle in a haystack. Such a search operation is believed to be on in the forest areas of Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts to find the money dump, maintained by Gangula Venkataswamy alias Ramesh, a top cadre shot dead by police in the Manala encounter last month.

Slain leader knew coordinates

Maoist leaders at higher levels do certainly know about the dump, but only Ramesh knew the exact coordinates, according to the party's policy on maintenance of dumps. Ramesh, a divisional secretary overlooking the party activity in Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts, should have informed at least one of his senior colleagues about the dump, as per party guidelines.

But the fact that the Maoist cadres are enquiring with their contacts in at least ten villages situated in forest areas about the places Ramesh used to visit, indicates that the slain naxal leader was too secretive about the dump. This latest development is interesting because the naxalites are known to have collected huge sums during the talks period in Andhra Pradesh. Sources believe that Ramesh could have hidden at least Rs. 30 lakhs in the dump.

Over a period of time, the Maoist party had perfected the art of maintaining dumps. The level of secrecy would depend on the material being stored in the dump. As per party guidelines, the cadres are expected to maintain six types of dumps depending on the long-term and short-term requirements. A dump storing medicines, clothes or foodgrains needs to be visited regularly and hence classified as regular or short term dumps and the coordinates are known to some squad members or even to some active militants, who do not exactly lead an underground life.

The most secretive dumps are those where the rebels hide money, weapons, ammunition, explosives, tools for repairing or making of arms/ammunition and party documents. Absolute secrecy is maintained in respect of these `long-term dumps' and very few cadres know where the dumps are. Wads of currency, weapons greased properly and packed in polythene covers, explosives are concealed in plastic tanks, generally used as water tanks, and buried in forest areas where police movement is very minimal. The coordinates are written in diaries in cryptic language. The decipher code is communicated to one or two in the higher echelons of the party.

With the party collections running into crores every year, the Maoists are known to have tried out buying gold biscuits and storing them, but they seem to prefer storing cash in dumps, police officers say. In some cases, Maoist leaders were also known to have kept money with contractors at district level or even in chit fund companies.

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