One of the top Politburo members & a Central Military Commission member of the CPI-Maoist (CPI-M), Kishenji alias Mallojula Koteswar Rao has been reportedly killed by a mammoth operation by security forces in the Jangalmahal area in West Bengal yesterday (24th Nov 2011).
The operation which hemmed in Kishenji on 24th November, was planned in concentric circles. A group of 1000 joint forces (paramilitary and state police) encircled Kishenji and his aide Suchitra in three circles. This made it almost impossible for the elusive leader to evade the clutches of the security forces.
He was a major decision-maker for the ultras and was looking after the expansion of the group in the North-East. Presumably, he came from Assam a couple of days back and was convening meetings in West Bengal-Jharkhand border.
The following reasons may be elucidated to have brought his undoing:
1. He was recovering from an injury he suffered last year from an attack by the security forces.
2. Severe intelligence network of the police (across provinces) was tracing him and the moment he came out of his hideout, he became vulnerable
3. He was technology-savvy and that could have helped the police to track his position
4. The closeness of the CPI-Maoist with the Trinamool congress before the assembly polls in Bengal could have worked to their disadvantage. The cadres of the TMC can now very well act as moles (spies) against the Maoists. In fact, there are reports that Kishenji might have been betrayed by his own rank and file.
Well, Kishenji's demise would be a big jolt to the rebels. It would be hard to find a replacement soon as he had become indispensable in the eastern region. However, there is no reason to expect sudden spate of reprisals from the Maoists.
First, they would re-group and Ganapathy (their General Secretary) must be extremely cautious now. They had lost Azad and now Kishenji. Narayan Sanyal and Kobad Ghandy are languishing in jail. Telugu Deepak and Kanchan are also incarcerated. Hence, Ganapthy now has to work with second rung leaders.
Second, by the very principle of guerrilla warfare tactics, the rebels would retaliate in a different venue, different time and different occasion.
The Counterinsurgency Policy
The CI/CT (counter-insurgency/counter-terrorism) policy of the Indian security forces seem to work fine vis-a-vis the Maoists. The recent success of the forces at Saranda forests (Jharkhand); coupled with the annihilation of Cerukuri Rajkumar alias Azad (in 2010) and now Kishenji speaks of the Indian CI/CT policy as toeing the line of WHAM-based counterinsurgency in addition to targeted Killings and incarcerations (the imprisonments of top leaders of the Maoists). At the other end, the state has kept the options of 'talking to the Maoists' an open agenda and is quite rightly moving to a position of strength so as to reach a vantage point and then 'talk' to the rebels.
WHAM : Winning Hearts and Minds