Naxal splinter group in State wants cases withdrawn

A Naxal splinter group has expressed willingness to abjure violence and join the mainstream. It will not surrender, but wants the government to withdraw all cases for creating an atmosphere conducive for continuing a democratic mass movement.

Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), formed in 2006, is led by Noor Zulfikar alias Sridhar and Sirimane Nagaraj. Sridhar claims that their rebellion against their parent party CPI (Maoist) was ideological in that though both groups aim at revolution, they disagree on the paths to achieve it. A group of eminent citizens led by freedom fighter H S Doreswamy appealing for truce between naxals and the government, Citizens Initiative for Peace, had organised an interaction between select media representatives and the group at a secret location recently. 

Sridhar claims that he, along with a few others in the erstwhile People’s War Group (PWG), held a minority opinion that an immediate armed struggle was not the way for the movement in Karnataka. “What is needed in Karnataka is a bold, strong and broad open mass movement that involves people. Armed struggle is a serious business. It should evolve organically, if it indeed demands, and not be the first choice,” he said. 

He said during the merger of PWG and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) to form CPI (Maoist) in 2006, they had proposed a fresh approach. He said they demanded that with changing times – the decline of feudalism and ascent of corporate capitalism after the liberalisation era – the party recognises big Indian bourgeois, the corporate economy as the main enemy and devise new strategies to fight it.

However, at the convention held in the State in July 2006, this was defeated and their proposals turned down. He said there was a big disconnect between the party and the people.

 He said they were forced to rebel against the parent party and form RCP. For the past seven years, the police have not included them in any cases, thereby recognising that they had abjured violence. 

Sridhar has been an enigma even to the police. Police sources said the first time they took the man seriously was after the death of Saket Rajan. After Rajan, who was heading the party in the State was killed in a police encounter in 2005 at Menasinahadya, the party leadership was offered to Sridhar. “But I having had serious differences with the path chosen by the party, couldn’t take up the leadership,” says Sridhar.

Sridhar is a name he was given by the movement. Born Noor Zulfikar, he was introduced to the naxal movement of Andhra Pradesh in 1985 when he was pursuing an engineering course in Chitradurga. He was among the group which tried to start the movement in Karnataka along the lines of Andhra Pradesh. He was one of its foremost leaders in Hyderabad-Karnataka and even after the movement shifted its base to the Malnad region. He was not in the forefront, thus escaping much scrutiny by the police. 

Sridhar claims that the attack on the police, killing seven of them in Venkatamanahalli, Pavagada, in February 2005, was not at all carried out by their party. 

The attack was carried out by naxal groups of Andhra Pradesh to recover firearms for their struggle. “However, as it came close on the heels of the encounter of Saket Rajan, the leaders of the State unit and also the Central Committee gave a statement that the attack was carried out in retaliation for the encounter. We had opposed this tooth and nail within the party. But none heeded to our words. This made us lose the goodwill of the people in the State,” he lamented.

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