Maoists adopt new strategies to gain sympathy of locals

Maoists adopt new strategies to gain sympathy of locals

The dense jungle in Goli forest at the Maoist-infested Jamui is a difficult terrain where even the police fear to tread.

But early this month, the Maoists convened an “aam sabha” (general meet) at this non-descript place where they distributed study materials, including books (not Maoist literature), among the poor students and assured the villagers that henceforth they would take care of education of at least 60 children in that vicinity.

Pyarelal (name changed to protect his identity) was one of those who attended the Maoists’ meet where the locals saw the flip side of underground guerrillas.

Till sometime back, the same Maoists had been targeting government school buildings and thereby depriving these students from studying further.

With their decision to gift books to children and also an assurance to take care of kids’ further education was a welcome sign. But that did not stop Pyarelal from asking one of the Maoists about such largesse.

“Shahdeo Soren alias Pravesh, the newly appointed general secretary of the Eastern Jharkhand special area committee, told me that Maoists were never against poor student’s education. All they complained was about the government school buildings, which were used to give shelter to the para-military forces,” said Pyarelal.

Soren asked those present (at the meet) what was the need to construct two-storeyed school buildings when there were only 60-70 students only. The Maoist leader, however, assured the villagers to continue people-friendly approach so that underprivileged children do not suffer on the education front.

Is this really a change of heart of Maoists, who have created mayhem in this part of the belt which also shares porous border with the neighbouring Jharkhand. Jamui Superintendent of Police (SP) Jitendra Rana does not think so.

“Such meetings and distribution of the study materials are just an eye wash. The basic purpose of these rebels is to gain sympathy of villagers.

Actually, the state police and the central paramilitary force have intensified their patrolling in the forest area. The cornered Maoists, therefore, have developed a new strategy to seek villagers’ sympathy and shelter,” the SP opined.

Earlier, these Red groups had favoured green cover when they launched an
afforestation drive in Aurangabad. This news was music to environmentalists’ ears who want to protect ecology.

The Maoists, owing allegiance to the banned outfit CPI (Maoists), started an afforestation drive in the Chalho hills of Rafiganj in Aurangabad district. The dense jungle is around 250 km from the state capital.

These ultras were so obsessed with the greenery of the hills that they put a blanket ban on collecting leaves or cutting trees for firewood. Any villager from nearby areas found defying their diktat was meted out harsh punishment. The punishment could be in the form of sound thrashing in a kangaroo court, or the guilty could be even held captive for days.

This was the same area where the erstwhile Maoists Communists Centre (MCC), the outfit which merged with People’s War Group (PWG) in 2004, was founded by Kanhai Chatterjee in the 1970s.

Earlier, it was quite common for locals to enter the forest area and collect leaves and wood for fuel. “But of late, many of them were mercilessly beaten up by the Reds as these Maoists have become green crusaders and launched a crackdown on those who try to disbalance the ecology,” said an influential local, engaged in the business of stone chips.

While environmentalists may hail such move, the police look it in a different perspective. “Ever since the police have waged a war against Maoists, these
underground guerrillas have limited space for their hideouts.

The shri­n­king forest has only added to their woes. It’s against this backdrop that the Reds have turned ‘green’ crusader,” said an Auranga­bad cop. “Recently these Mao­ists issued a diktat to the villagers to stop felling of trees and save forest cover so that the police could not venture to make inroads into the areas which, so far, has remained inaccessible for the men-in-uniform,” he dwelt at length about the changing colours of Reds.

In neighbouring Kaimur, the scene was a bit different. Rattled over their dwindling support, the Maoists are writing a new chapter in the history of guerrilla warfare. They are now recruiting a whole bunch of economically poor children after convincing their parents.

Some 250 km from Patna, the hilly terrains of Kaimur plateau is perceived to be a haven for the Maoists, where they have reportedly brainwashed the children with Maoist literature and ideology and also promised their parents Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per child per month as remuneration.

The first glimpse of new kids on the Maoists’ block was witnessed sometime back when more than 40 members of the People’s Liberation Guerilla Army, an outfit of CPI (Maoists), blew up a government and a private school in Kaimur
district.

Eyewitness account said a good number of child Maoists were present during the operation which began late night and continued till the wee hours.

“The children were armed, trained, confident, and carried out their task like any other professional,” said a source. “They came in tractors with their seniors, took part in blowing up the buildings, sprinkled kerosene on paddy straws and set them on fire,” the source said.

“Later these child Maoists arrived at a line hotel, forced the truck drivers to draw out diesel from their vehicles and filled the fuel in their own tractors.

Before proceeding ahead unchallenged, they also snatched the mobile phones of some people present there.

But when someone pointed out to them they could be traced by the police through the Unique Identification Number of the cellphone, they retracted and returned the mobiles to their  owners,” the eyewitness recalled.

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