The Maoist act of holding four policemen hostage and then killing one, has set off a huge war of nerves within the topmost Maoist echelons. And it is this that is holding up release of the remaining three policemen, informed sources told HT on Sunday.
The problem lies in the caste profile of those held hostage. One is a Yadav (Abhay Yadav), one a Muslim (Ehsan Khan) and one a Kayastha (Rupesh Kumar Sinha). The tribal, Lucas Tete was executed on Friday.
The killing of the tribal cop has set off a wave of revulsion in the Maoists' liberated zones as far away as Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand. While mainstream tribal leaders in Jharkhand have condemned the killing of Tete, the tribal leadership within the Maoist echelons led by zonal commander Birbal Murmu has now laid the blame on Arvind Yadav, another zonal commander.
According to news filtering out of the jungles of Kajra, Murmu wants all other hostages eliminated to stave off tribal fury against the rank and file of the Maoists. He has also blamed Arvind Yadav, who led the ambush, which led to the killing of seven policemen and abduction of four, with shielding Abhay Yadav. If one hostage had to be killed, why were the others not eliminated as well: That's the issue between the two influential Maoist groups.
The Maoists are now finding it difficult to eliminate the Yadav in custody because it is from this caste that their top leaders in the Magadh and Kaimur areas come from. Then, killing a Muslim is as dangerous as killing a Yadav. It is from the Muslim community that many leaders in the Maoist ranks and its front organisations come from.
"Violence against entrenched political castes and communities such as Yadavs and Muslims is something the Maoist leadership will not find easy to condone," said an intelligence officer on condition of anonymity.
"Politically, it could trigger a chain reaction that could isolate the Maoists from base support of the very people, who had hid, fed and transported them," he said.