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Maoists in Delhi and NCR: Wake-up time for Police

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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  • March 24, 2011

    New Delhi has been witnessing Maoist presence and activities for some years now. More recently, on November 13, 2010, an investigating team from Karimnagar district of Andhra Pradesh unearthed the ‘den’ of a Maoist, Hemchandra Pandey, located at House Number A-96, Shastri Nagar. During the raid, the police recovered three documents containing resolutions of Central Committee meetings of the CPI (Maoist), four computer printouts that were supposed to have been passed on to fellow Maoists, incriminating literature and a large number of books on themes such as People’s War and Naxalbari movement, a computer, a laptop and a printer. Pandey was, in fact, killed in an encounter on July 2, 2010 in Adilabad district, Andhra Pradesh, along with Maoist Central Committee spokesperson Cherukuri Raj Kumar alias Azad, after which the house had remained locked. Soon after the encounter, Pandey’s wife Babita quietly moved out of the house, and is believed to have told her neighbours that she was heading to her native place in Uttarakhand to attend on her ailing mother.

    Earlier, a media report of February 11, 2010 claimed that, according to the interrogation report of Kobad Ghandy, Polit Bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Moist), CPI (Maoist), in short, who was arrested in Bhikaji Cama Place on September 17, 2009, ‘Lalith’, a freelance journalist, and ‘Malathi’, a private company employee, were key Maoist operatives in Delhi.

    Four other significant developments during the last, approximately, one year relating to the Maoist presence in New Delhi include: (a) the February 21, 2010 arrest, in Kanpur, of Arvind Joshi, who was a key facilitator for Kobad Ghandy in establishing a base in New Delhi; (b) the arrest on March 23, 2010 of Andhra Pradesh State Committee member, Lakkaraju Satyanarayana Murty (LSN), who was officially arrested in Hyderabad but purportedly picked-up from Vasant Gaon, New Delhi, a few days earlier; (c) the arrest on April 27, 2010 of Gopal Mishra, a purported trade union leader, but Secretary of the Delhi State Committee; and (d) the arrest, on June 18, 2010, in Jia Sarai locality of Abdul Shakeel Pasha alias Rahul alias Adil, a former area commander of the Maoists in Surat, Gujarat.

    In fact, the earliest reports of the Maoists’ presence and activity in the National Capital Region (NCR) came in when police suspected the role of the Maoists in the industrial strike in 2005 at the Honda factory, Gurgaon. Precious little is known about the leaders trying to build a base and spread Maoist ideology in Delhi and the NCR. It is believed that Varanasi Subrahmanyam alias Sukanth, a Maoist Central Committee member, has been entrusted with the responsibility of ‘guiding’ the Delhi State Committee. This Committee comprises six members and has been in operation for, at least, the past five to six years.

    There is nothing unique about the Maoists’ presence in a city like Delhi, other than the fact that it is the national capital. The Maoist’s urban presence has already been detected in various cities and towns across the country – in Mumabi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune, Nagpur, Surat, Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur, Rourkela, Bhubaneshwar, etc.

    Moreover, since September 2005, there have been reports of Maoist activities in places that are a few hours’ drive away from Delhi – in Haryana at Jind, Kaithal, Kurukshetra Yamunanagar, Hisar, Rohtak and Sonepat. In June 2009, Haryana police claimed to have arrested eight important Maoists in Kurukshetra, including Pradeep Kumar, the Haryana state secretary of the CPI (Maoist). Besides, the police also claimed that the Maoists have formed a number of front organizations in the state, viz. Shivalik Jansangharsh Manch, Lal Salam, Jagrook Chhatar Morcha, Krantikari Majdoor Kisan Union, Jan Adhikari Surakhsa Samiti and Shivalik Jansangharsh Manch.

    The Maoists, at the Unity Congress held in January 2007, decided to spread their movement to urban areas. The Congress also created a five member sub-committee –– known as Urban Sub-Committee (USCO) -- with Ghandy as its head, and tasked it with preparing a plan. Perhaps, this was submitted to the all-powerful Central Committee in September 2007. This plan is known as the Urban Perspective Plan.

    The Urban Movement has a defined role in the political and military strategy of the CPI (Maoist). According to the CPI (Maoist), “… being the centres of concentration of the industrial proletariat, urban areas play an important part within the political strategy of the new Democratic Revolution.” The Maoists envisage mobilising and organising industrial workers and channelling them towards playing a “leadership role in organising the agrarian revolution by sending … advanced detachment to the rural areas.” The role of the Urban Movement within the military strategy of the Maoists has been best explained by Mao Tse Tung thus: “the final objective of the revolution is the capture of the cities, the enemy’s main bases and this objective cannot be achieved without adequate work in the cities.” The CPI (Maoist) holds that “[they] should, by building up a strong urban movement, ensure that the urban masses contribute to creating the conditions that will obtain success for the armed struggle in the countryside.”

    In the Maoist scheme of things, the objectives/tasks of the Urban Movement are classified under three broad heads or categories: (a) mobilise and organise the basic masses and build the party on that basis; (b) build the United Front; and (c) military tasks.

    The Maoists contend that the urban movement should be conducted through various types of mass organisations; the wider the organisations, the better. These organisations are of different types –– secret revolutionary mass organisations, open and semi-open revolutionary mass organisations, and open legal mass organisations that are not directly linked to the CPI (Maoist). The last of these would include Maoist-inspired cover organisations and legal, democratic organisations.

    It is fairly easy for the Maoists to establish bases in urban areas. As a well-known authority of the Maoist movement, K. Srinivas Reddy, told this author, “because of the anonymity it accords, it becomes easy for the Maoists to stay and operate in urban centres.” An urban presence serves the Maoists in providing rest and recuperation, catering to their logistics requirements and mobilization (targeting students, youth and industrial workers).

    Further, when the urban movement attains criticality among industrial labour, the Maoists can aim to organise sabotage and industrial strikes. All the more, when the urban movement gains in strength, the security forces will, then, have to respond to urban terrorism.