In October 2009, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that Naxalism was the greatest internal security threat to the country. He said this in the wake of number of attacks by the Naxal group or the banned CPI (Maoist).
His observations still hold water, as the threat perception and area of operation of the CPI (Maoist) changed with the merger of two major Naxal groups on September 21, 2004. The weeklong formation week of Moaists began in the AOB region and areas controlled by them on Monday.
On September 21, 2004, two major left wing extremist groups the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) People’s War or People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) were merged and the Communist Party of India- Maoist or CPI (Maoist) was born.
Till then, though the two groups had some links, their areas of operation were located in two different geographical zones.
The MCCI led by Prashant Bose operated in Bihar, Jharkhand, Bihar-West Bengal border area and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, while the PWG led by Muppala Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathi operated in the southern States of then undivided Andhra Pradesh, Dandakaranya area and parts of Maharashtra. The merger gave the outfits the control of many areas right from Bihar-Nepal border to Andhra Pradesh.
“Even as the MCCI and the PWG fought turf wars over differences, the merger gave them pan-India presence and exposure that they always desired. They believed in achieving compact revolutionary zones (CRZ) or liberated zones.
They were successful in creating a red corridor and liberated zones from Bihar touching Chhattisgarh to AOB region,” said a senior police officer, who has been engaged in anti-Maoist operations.
The idea of Ganapathi, who became the general secretary of the CPI (Maoist), was to create a CRZ in the Central India from Bihar-Nepal border to A.P., thereby creating a linkage with the Communist Party of Nepal and Communist Party of Bhutan-Maoist.
The merger also saw the union of their guerilla armies. The People’s Guerrilla Army (PGA), the armed wing of the MCCI, with over 3,000 cadres merged with the PWG’s People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) with 3,500 cadres . The armed base jumped to over 6,500 cadres and a stockpile of 6,000 arms and ammunition that varied from AK series rifles to SLR and from country-made weapons to Lee Enfield rifles.
The naxalite movement, which was launched by Charu Mazumdar in West Bengal in 1969, have been ridden with internal bickering.
Founded by Kanai Chatterjee, the MCCI, then called as Dakshin Desh, never aligned with Charu Mazumdar’s ideology, despite sharing similar thoughts and objective . Dakshin Desh was renamed as the MCC in 1975 and it aggressively combined the mass movement with armed struggles under the leadership of Sanjay Dusadh and Pramod Mishra post 1980s. On the other hand, PWG, that was founded by Kondapalli in 1980, believed in the legacy of Charu Majumdar.
The initial success of the Maoists saw the Centre deploying over 10,000 CRPF and BSF personnel in the affected regions. Every affected State now has its own special forces such as Greyhounds in A.P. and Telangana, SOG in Odisha and C-60 in Maharashtra to tackle them.
As part of Operation Samdhan and Green Hunt by the security forces, the presence of the Maoists have now shrunk to small pockets of Chhattisgarh, AOB and Dandakaranya. They have been wiped out largely from Telangana, says another police officer.
It is learnt that the chinks are emerging between the two groups in the form of reported difference over the leadership and dominance of Andhra-based leaders in the Central Committee. Differences reportedly have cropped up between Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavaraj and Prashant Bose.