In a remote corner of Maharashtra, in pockets of a district whose name many Mumbaikars may never have heard of, runs the writ of Maoist revolutionaries, who have virtually formed a parallel state or a janata sarkar— people's government — in their lingo.
Documents that the Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh police seized from arrested Maoists during recent joint anti-insurgency operations and made available to HT showed that the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) had established more than 22 units all over Gadchiroli. The heads of these units take orders directly from the party's politburo.
"They have been trying to establish self rule in Gadchiroli," said an officer involved in anti-insurgency operations.
Gadchiroli is part of a much larger if often hidden Indian reality, where the state exists only in name. Today, one in six Indians, or about 180 million people — thrice the United Kingdom's population — lives under the shadow of insurgency, and Naxal groups such as the Maoists in Gadchiroli have an influence in a fifth of the country's 600-odd districts.
In Gadchiroli, the 22 Maoist units consist of 206 "office-bearers", 162 men and 38 women, the documents recovered by the police reveal. These units function through 325 village units, which together have 7,825 members.
These village units provide crucial logistical support to the party's militia wing, the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army, the police said they had discovered while interrogating the arrested insurgents.
The police, however, claimed their operations had made it very difficult for some units to function, and four guerrilla squads had disbanded as a result. "Many have surrendered," said Pankaj Gupta, Inspector General of Police, Anti-Naxal Operations.