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Maoists’ Abduction Tactic

Dr. P. V. Ramana was Research Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi. Click here for detail profile.
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  • February 23, 2011

    The District Collector of Malkangiri, Orissa, Mr. Ravella Vineel Krishna, and a Junior Engineer, Mr. Pabitra Mohan Majhi, were abducted by rebels of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) [CPI (Maoist)], Maoists in short, on February 16, 2011. After three days of intense negotiations, the mediators announced on February 22 at a press conference in Bhubaneshwar, and in the presence of Orissa government senior officials, that the hostages would be set free and safely return to Malakngiri within 48 hours, i.e. by February 24 (Thursday) evening. “Both the Malkangiri Collector and the junior engineer will be freed and will be back within 48 hours,” said one of the Maoist-nominated mediators, G. Hargopal, a well-known civil rights activist and formerly Professor at the School of Social Sciences, University of Hyderabad.

    Mr. Krishna and Mr. Majhi were taken hostage while they were inspecting development schemes in the remote Jantapai village. Reportedly, the government ‘culled’ the demands of the Maoists to safely release the hostages from various sources such as pamphlets, press statements and media reports. Eventually, following the intense negotiations the government acceded to 15 demands placed by the Maoists.

    Mr. U. N. Behera, the Home secretary of Orissa, said at a press conference on February 22 that the hostage crisis was resolved. The government agreed to the Maoist demand that cases against five senior Maoist leaders –– including Ganti Prasadam and Padma, wife of Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna, presently Polit Bureau Member and earlier Secretary of Andhra Pradesh State Committee – shall be withdrawn after following the due process of law. Mr. Behera also said, “The government also agreed that there would be no coercive action by security forces as long as the Maoists do not indulge in unlawful activities.”

    For the Maoists, abduction is a tactic to arm-twist the government especially to secure the release of some of their imprisoned comrades, and also make some tactical gains by way of placing demands that could be projected as pro-people. They are past masters in this game. In 1989, in their earlier avatar as the Communist Party of India –– Marxist-Leninist [People’s War] (CPI-ML [PW]), popularly known as PWG, the Maoists, in the most spectacular of their abductions, took hostage seven IAS officers and four government officials in the Gurthedu forests of East Godavari district and secured the release –– from the Rajahmundry Central Jail –– of their comrades, including Wadkapur Chandramauli, who later rose to the rank of a Polit Bureau member, but was killed, subsequently, in an encounter in December 2006.

    The highest ranking person who became a victim of the Maoist’s mindless brutality was Mr. D. Sripada Rao, a highly respected political leader and former Speaker of the Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Assembly. In another bizarre incident, Mr. Malhar Rao, a popular elected representative of Tadicharla mandal (taluk), Karimnagar district, Andhra Pradesh, was abducted and murdered. The mandal was later renamed Malhar mandal to honour his memory. In a statement issued after the Malkangiri District Collector’s abduction, the Maoists plainly warned that the hostages would be killed if their demands are not met.

    Nevertheless, such actions do not make an impact on the minds of some intellectuals and civil rights activists, for whom Lenin coined a famous sobriquet. These people do not lose a single opportunity to cry hoarse about ‘state repression’, but do not find it worthy enough to, at least, condemn such mindless violence, let alone the abduction of government officials who are working for the people’s welfare.

    Every action of the Maoists is by design meant to further their ultimate goal. In an internal document, entitled Strategy and Tactics, the CPI (Maoist) said that the purpose of all their actions and programmes should be to achieve the ultimate goal of capturing political power. As a result, there is no reason to believe that the Maoist movement is a people’s movement that has as its objective the socio-economic uplift of the downtrodden sections of the society and the teeming millions of rural and tribal people. In fact, in the aftermath of the Naxalbari uprising, Charu Mazumdar said in his annual report: “Militant struggles must be carried on not for land, crops, etc., but for the seizure of State power.”

    There has been no change in the thinking of the Naxalites since then. On September 21, 2004, on the occasion of the founding of the CPI (Maoist), its two top leaders –– Muppala Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathy and Prasanth Bose alias Kishanda – reiterated unambiguously: “The immediate aim and programme of the Maoist party is to carry on and complete the already ongoing and advancing New Democratic Revolution. This revolution will be carried out and completed through protracted people’s war with the armed seizure of power remaining as its central and principal task.”

    The abduction of Mr. Vineel Krishna and Mr. Pabitra Majhi, too, was, thus, a tactic for the Maoists to pressure the government and get their demands met.