A recent news report has quoted intelligence sources as saying there has been a change of guard in the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) in Dandakaranya, the rebel hub in the country’s very heart.
It said a guerrilla known by his nom de guerre Ramanna had been appointed the new secretary for the region, replacing Kosa.
The Dandakaranya forest is spread over 100,000 sq km in five states and is known as the headquarter of the CPI-Maoist.
If the report is correct, it may explain the ghastly Maoist violence in Chhattisgarh Saturday that killed two senior Congress leaders among nearly 30 people.
Ramanna is known for leading almost all the ferocious military attacks against security forces in the last 30 years in the Bastar region.
Ramanna is a well-built man. He is known for his computer-like brain and is acknowledged to be a master military strategist.
He is from a farmer family in Warangal (Andhra Pradesh) and joined the Maoist ranks in 1983 and has led the party earlier in South Bastar.
His predecessor, Kosa, was more of a political figure than a military strategist.
Kosa or K. Suryanarayan Reddy is from Peddapalli in Karimnagar, also in Andhra Pradesh, and was part of the first batches of seven sent to Dandakaranya to develop the party in 1980.
Does a change of leadership imply a change in policy?
Earlier in the same area, Maoists had kidnapped the then Collector of Malkangiri, Vineel Krishna. They released him though the government has not respected the deal they reached.
Again they abducted another Collector, Alex Paul Menon, in nearby Sukma district in Chhattisgarh. They also released him knowing well that the government will again go back on most promises made during negotiations.
But this time they killed not only Mahendra Karma, leader of the Salwa Judum militia, but also Chhattisgarh’s Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son after abducting them.
They also fired at former central minister Vidya Charan Shukla, who remains in critical condition.
This may be seen as a change of tactic after the change of guard at the top in the CPI-Maoist.
One needs to ask why so many leading political leaders were allowed to go to a known Maoist bastion without adequate security cover.
It should also be asked why intelligence agencies with their latest gadgets could not get any clue about the such a large gathering of Maoists to conduct such a meticulous operation.
The week before, security forces killed eight people, including three children, in Edasmeta in nearby Bijapur while celebrating the seed festival — it explains why they are not getting any local intelligence.
If the change in the Maoist leadership is indeed true, why didn’t the intelligence think of the possible implications?
(29-05-2013-Shubhranshu Choudhary, formerly of BBC, is the author of “Let’s Call Him Vasu”, a book on Maoists in central India. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected])