A year after the death of Maoist Polit Bureau member Koteswara Rao alias Kishenji, considered a major turning point in the battle against Maoists in West Bengal, fresh posters appeared on Sunday in certain areas at Jhargram in Paschim Medinpur district, threatening revenge for his killing.
While dismissing the development as inconsequential, senior police officials who have been tracking Maoists told The Hindu that “the tide was fast turning against Maoists” in the State. The posters were torn off by the local police.
Kishenji was shot dead in an encounter with security forces in a forest at Burisole in Paschim Medinipur district on November 24, 2011.
“The reason for the success of the security forces is that the local people have started believing that a system to maintain law and order in the region is well in place and has started delivering,” said Inspector General of Police, Western Range, Gangeshwar Singh.
According to the police officials, people were coming out in the open to share information with the authorities on the whereabouts of Maoists. This had led to extremists to realise that they were “fighting a lost battle.”
“More than 30 activists, including a few couples, have surrendered before the police.Many more are in talks with the security forces to give up their arms,” the officials said.
There is jockeying among the outfit’s senior leaders in the region to take up the leadership after Kishenji’s death. While State secretary Akash, presently in charge of operations in the region is in contention, there are reports that Kishenji’s brother Venugopal Rao has visited the area a few times in the recent past.
The officials referred to three major encounters between the security forces and extremists over the past year.
Besides Kishenji, others killed were Arjun alias Yudhishtir Mahato in the Jangalmahal area in February and two senior members of the outfits’s Ajodhya squad in Purulia district in November.
The arrests of senior ideologue Arnab Dam and Ranjan Munda, who used to operate along the West Bengal-Odisha border were major achievements, the officials said. Community policing and heightened political activity in the Jangalmahal area have come as a boon to the security forces in their fight against Maoists, they added.