Anticipating stronger resistance from left-wing rebels after the formation of a separate state, the elite anti-naxal force Greyhounds, had developed “alternative permanent operational bases” outside Telangana, a senior security official told The Hindu .

The operational difficulties faced by the forces to carry out encounters inside Maoist areas led to the development of such bases, he said. They would help States such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand.

Raised in 1989 by the Andhra Pradesh police, the rigorously trained and scientifically equipped force is recognised as the best anti-Maoist force in the country. At present, the entire Greyhounds force is based in Hyderabad, which will function as the joint capital of Telangana and A.P. for the next few years. Realising that the bifurcation of the State is a matter of time, the A.P. police started developing two bases in two districts outside Telangana. “One of the bases is in Kurnool, right outside Telangana, and the other is in Vishakhapatnam,” said a senior Home Ministry official. Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema — collectively known as Seemandhra — bases are now used more as temporary shelters, where the forces are disencumbered to carry out operations. The forces will return to Hyderabad after the operations. But both Kurnool and Visakhapatnam stations will slowly operate as full-fledged bases as the force gets divided between the two States.

In at least two districts of Seemandhra — Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram — on the coastline, two divisions of Maoists are active; adjacent district of Srikakulam also has a robust history of peasant uprising. Importantly, these districts are also the archetypal “tri-junction districts,” where Maoists are relatively strong.

Visakhapatnam, which is under East-Visakha Divisional Committee of the CPI-Maoist, is located at the tri-junction of Malkangiri of Odisha and Khammam of the new Telangana State, thus making the party relatively powerful in the area. Two of the Maoist zonal committees, Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) and Central Regional Committee (CRC) operate three companies in and around Malkangiri, Koraput and Visakhapatnam.

Advantages and disadvantages

In his work on German Peasant War of 1525, Friedrich Engels shows “how the want of co-operation between the armed peasantry of neighbouring regions led often to their [peasants’] defeat,” argues noted historian Ranajit Guha in his “Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India.” He further quotes Leon Trotsky, who said: “Local cretinism is history’s curse on all peasant riots.

Professor Guha said, “Even Mao Tse-Tung, who took a more positive view of peasant militancy, found peasant ‘localism’ a serious impediment to party building in Hunan-Kiangsi border area in 1928.”

Maoists in Bastar and the entire country have indeed noticed these “curse” and “impediments” and increasingly engaged themselves with genuine struggle for separate states to ensure future cooperation from local community. “Maoists have always supported and will continue to support and participate in all people’s movements, including separate Telangana movement,” wrote Maoist Politburo/Central Committee member Azad, months before he was killed. And that is what is exactly worrying the security officials. “New movements are bound to occur [after Telangana] and Maoists will increasingly support these movements of separate State, such as the one in Bastar or Vidarbha or even the ones in U.P.,” said the senior Home Ministry official.

“Creation of smaller States disturbs the politico-administrative balance temporarily and Maoists may get the advantage of the political instability, like in Jharkhand,” said the officer. He quoted figures to suggest that during the Telangana agitation, “slight increase in insurgent activity” was recorded in A.P. However, he did not deny the “advantages” of creating Telangana as well.

“Due to location, Maoist stronghold of Sukma or Konta in Chhattisgarh will gain from a full-scale Greyhounds base in Visakhapatnam.”

“Secondly, Telangana agitation is over and people will seek governance and development. If the government can deliver, it would be increasingly difficult for rebels to re-establish bases in Telangana,” said the officer.

Whether the new State’s government can deliver, however, is a much awaited question.