Many who join us do not know the objectives, principles of our movement, and must be better oriented: Sabyasachi Panda

Holding that “ideology should control the gun and not vice versa,” Odisha Organising Committee secretary of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) Sabyasachi Panda admitted that many of the outfit's cadres were becoming trigger-happy due to an inadequate understanding of revolutionary movement and society.

“Ideology should control the gun, not vice versa. Many of our cadres, who are armed, do not know about principles. As a result, they resort to killing without doing much homework,” the top Maoist leader told a select group of journalists at an undisclosed location in Kandhamal district, about 250 km from here, on Thursday.

“Those joining the movement do not know its objective. They are coming under different circumstances. They neither know about society nor about communism,” Mr. Panda said.

Candidly admitting that there had been some erosion within the party's ideology base, the State committee member said: “The organisation does not have the strength to give these cadres proper perspective about the revolution. As the party is busy combating the State's repression, not much attention is being paid towards [orienting] cadres.”

The Maoist leader, who has been elusive for years now, said: “No organisation is pure. An organisation evolves from process of internal debate over several contentious issues. We will surely rectify our mistakes. Cadres will be motivated to work in close coordination with people at the grass-roots level.”

“It is not that we are not taking action against undisciplined members. The party is demoting some cadres while some are being deliberately kept away from important assignments. In some cases, we are suspending them from the party,” Mr. Panda said.

Conflict with state

Mr. Panda admitted the party was under pressure from security personnel. “The state is involved in a low-intensity conflict with our parties. The repressive rulers are mounting pressure from all sides. Security personnel are involved in arson, raping women and targeting people who support the movement,” he said.

He said the situation had deteriorated to such an extent that cadres sometimes were resorting to taking panic action, and for which they were being held to blame.

Asked whether the party regretted certain killings, Mr. Panda said: “The timing of the killing of [former Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader] Laxmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal was a mistake. But the decision to kill him was not a mistake. We should have exposed him in society prior to killing him. Some cadres became restless and killed him.”

His killing led to a riot in Kandhamal in 2008.

Pointing out that that Jagabandhu Majhi, Biju Janata Dal MLA, was killed by a CPI (Maoist) cadre in haste, Mr. Panda, said: “I admit that [our] cadres have committed mistakes. Before killing a political activist, we should expose him before the people. For example, if somebody earns huge property, we should not kill him. We should seize the property from him and distribute it among the destitute. If a person is clearly proved to be a police informer, only then should he be given the death penalty.”

The Maoist leader dismissed news of his being elevated in the party ranks after the killing of Kishenji, the top Maoist leader, in an encounter. “It was part police strategy to divert the attention of cadres,” he said.