28 December, 2010

Examining the Maoist Resurgence in Andhra

by Uddipan Mukherjee

IDSA Comment, 28 December 2010


If two events of recent occurrence are compared, then they would ostensibly appear to be disconnected. Nevertheless, they ought to evoke considerable interest because of their actual linkage.

First, Swaranjit Sen, former Director General of Police (DGP) of Andhra Pradesh, is to be anointed as the vice-chancellor of the troubled Osmania University, which of late has been a hotbed of Telengana agitation. His appointment would be a historic occasion as for the first time an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer will be a vice-chancellor in the state. [1]

Second, the Maoists called for a bandh in the Andhra-Orissa border area on December 22. Their agenda was the protestation against the encounter of five of their comrades by the elite Andhra Greyhounds personnel at Cheruvuru near Korukonda in Chintapalli mandal. [2]

In fact, these two events represent different facets of the Maoist movement in Andhra. And the connection is manifested when it is remembered that Sen is known in the state for his ‘hardline’ image against the Maoists.

On one hand, it shows that the police force in Andhra commands significant confidence among the political leadership. That is why an IPS top cop has been entrusted to tackle internal security problems; and that too within academic circles. For instance, media reports say that the Andhra government has, in principle, approved a suggestion by Governor Narasimhan to nominate senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or IPS officers to head the three strife-torn universities of Osmania, Kakatiya and Andhra [3]

On the other hand, the events portray the fact that the Maoists are trying their best to reclaim their lost territories. Hence, a more severe skirmish is in the offing in Andhra Pradesh. In fact, the Maoists have a grandiose plan to create ‘liberated zones’ in the state.[4] Moreover, it is not at all unlikely that the left-wing ultras are not aiding and abetting the Telangana movement and would continue to do so in future through their frontal student and other mass organisations.

To corroborate, quite recently, the Telangana Praja Front (TFP) was floated by Maoist sympathiser and balladeer Gaddar. Reportedly, he has demanded the central government to honour its commitment by immediately tabling a bill in the Union parliament for formation of Telangana. [5]

Gaddar’s actions, though in the garb of democracy, needs to be conceived as the covert moves of the insurgents. Moreover, when some Telangana groups have already warned of 'bloodbath' if Srikrishna committee makes no recommendation for the formation of Telangana state by December 31 2010, the inherent liaison between these militant pro-Telangana groups and the Maoists simply cannot be outrightly rejected.

In this backdrop, Gaddar’s TFP acting as an open party to subvert the democratic processes of the state is basically what the outlawed outfit wants or rather badly needs. It is a natural tactical belief of the Maoists that overt military acts in the Andhra-Orissa border region can be effectively compounded with mass agitations around Hyderabad to weaken the existing political structures of Andhra Pradesh. Moreover, when the issue is as emotive as Telangana, the rebels do have a raison d’etre to back their tactics.

There is another reason to believe that the ongoing agitation for separate Telangana state may have a Maoist ‘hand’. There are allegations of extortion against the Telangana activists which seem to follow the ‘extortion regime’ of the Naxalite movement in Andhra. [6]

Pro-Telangana activists believe that taking donations to propel the movement forward is a reasonable step. However, Lok Satta Party president Jayaprakash Narayan asserted in the state assembly that there is heavy extortion involved in the Telangana movement.

Furthermore, there have been allegations that local leaders were collecting huge amounts to the tune of Rs 10,000 to 20,000 from businessmen, government employees, contractors and others to conduct even cultural programmes.[7] This is quite interesting considering the fact that this is a standard modus-operandi of the Maoists to garner finances.

Operating from their headquarters at Abujhmar in Chattisgarh, the Maoists are essaying into other states. Most importantly, along with the historically rebel-dominated district of Srikakulam, the districts of Vizianagram, Vishakhapatnam, East Godavari and Khammam are the disturbed areas of Andhra Pradesh. Khammam shares a long border with Chhattisgarh whereas the other districts are contiguous with Orissa.

The Maoists are now celebrating the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) and hence have taken up a month-long recruitment drive in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chattishgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.

Their party spokesperson Gudsa Usendi and Dandakaranya special zone military commission in-charge Sudhakar said that the 10th anniversary of the PLGA, which began on December 2, will continue till January 2 2011. They proclaimed that during the period, revolutionary propaganda, processions, meetings and rallies would be conducted in every village. [8]

The Maoists had been physically driven out from Andhra from a law and order point of view almost five to six years back. But in June 2008 at Balimela reservoir in Malkangiri district of Andhra-Orissa boarder, the elite greyhounds suffered casualties at the hands of Maoists.[9] That could be interpreted as the ‘come back’ event for the latter in Andhra. And the present surge in militancy is in sync with that. Additionally, since the Maoists are losing ground in other states, they need to regain their lost forte in their old backyard so as to have an edge in the psychological war with the Indian state.

In addition, it is quite disturbing for the Maoists not to have a mass base in Andhra since most of their top leadership hail from the very region. Hence, they are trying to cash in on major issues to extract maximum dissatisfaction of the masses toward the parliamentary structure of the state. Telangana is one such. Alongwith it, it seems natural that the Maoists may focus on the issue of suicide of farmers too in the foreseeable future through their frontal organisations.

In this regard, the porous border with Orissa is a major cause of concern for the Andhra authorities. The ultras have bases in the Malkangiri, Koraput and Rayagada districts of Orissa that adjoins the Andhra border. There are no border checkposts except on the highway and main roads. Furthermore, on both sides of the border the same Kondh tribals live who provide the mass base for the ultras.

The Andhra government might have had won the first phase of the civil war with the Maoists. But the renewed violence in the area portends ominous signals for the future. A far more dangerous futuristic situation was reflected by an opinion poll published by the Times of India on September 28 2010 [10].

According to it, a clear 58 per cent of the populace (who were polled) in Maoist-dominant areas of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa said that Naxalism had actually been good for their area. In Andhra, Khammam was one of the districts where the poll was conducted. Four districts of the Telengana region; Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Warangal were also chosen.

Probably the vital aspect of ‘winning the hearts and minds’ of the people in a counterinsurgency warfare is yet to be accomplished by the Andhra authorities. And the failure to do so may have serious ramifications in the long run.


1: ‘Swaranjit may be first IPS to be Osmania VC’, December 19 2010, DC Correspondent, http://www.deccanchronicle.com/hyderabad/swaranjit-may-be-first-ips-be-osmania-vc-983

3: ‘Maoist-hunter top cop to be Osmania University V-C’, Hyderabad, Dec 19 2010, DHNS, http://www.deccanherald.com/content/121994/maoist-hunter-top-cop-osmania.html

5: ‘Telangana groups observe 1st anniversary of centre’s announcement’, Dec 8 2010, IANS , http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/politics/telangana-groups-observe-1st-anniversary-of-centres-announcement_100471551.html

6: ‘T activists following extortion line of Naxals?’, TNN, Dec 23 2010, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/T-activists-following-extortion-line-of-Naxals/articleshow/7147670.cms (TNN-3)

7: TNN-3, See 6

9: ‘Maoist Insurgents Hit Back Greyhound Commandos Killing 35’, Santosh K Agarwal, Alarm Bells, July 01 2008, http://www.groundreport.com/Arts_and_Culture/Maoist-Hit-Back-Greyhound-Commandos-Killing-35/2864225

10: ‘58% in AP say Naxalism is good, finds TOI poll’, TNN, Sep 28 2010, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com//india/58-in-AP-say-Naxalism-is-good-finds-TOI-poll/articleshow/6639631.cms

1 comment:

  1. Dear Dr Uddipan

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