Maoists in Jharkhand did not discuss the issue of boycotting the assembly polls at an annual anniversary event attended by thousands of villagers, marking a radical departure from their usual stance ever since the group’s military wing was formed in the state 14 years ago.
Maoist militants addressed around 3,000 villagers at the 14th anniversary week of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) at a remote village on the Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh border on Tuesday, declaring the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre a greater threat to them and the poor masses than the UPA. The Maoists also announced their resolve to shift tactics by transforming the PLGA into the People’s Liberation Army, moving from guerrilla warfare to more direct and open conflict with security forces.
Handouts distributed on the occasion — HT has a copy — said the rebels conceded their failure in keeping the masses with them.
“Over the years, we have suffered huge losses,” read the handout. “But we are not down and the State should not dare to write us off. We are analysing the causes of our failures and adopting corrective methods to engage the 90% population of this country that wants change with us.”
Villagers, who attended the meeting, said they were worried about consequences as they had turned up in large numbers to vote, but were surprised that nothing was said.
“We were worried that they would react sharply as we had enthusiastically participated in the polls,” said a villager who attended the commemoration. “Surprisingly, they did not make any mention of the ongoing polls.”
A record 63.35% and 65% of voters cast their ballot in the two phases of the five-phase assembly polls, indicating that people want stability in the backward state that has been a hub of Maoist activities after it was carved out in 2000. The People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army was formed the same year.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh said Jharkhand has overtaken Chhattisgarh in terms of left-wing extremist violence that affects at least 22 of Jharkhand’s 24 districts. The Maoists, however, claim to fight for millions of tribal and landless people who have suffered at the hands of the State.
A senior special branch official said Maoists are now fielding candidates and even giving them monetary support to fight the polls. “This is a survival policy that does not augur well for the State,” the official said on condition of anonymity.