While the Maoists have been prolific in the past three months in targeting innocent civilians and security personnel, a good number of their politburo members are out of action.
From 13, the number of members in the highest decision-making body has slipped to seven with the encounter death of top leader Cherkuri Rajkumar alias Azad on Friday.
The first politburo, formed in 2004, saw two members — Sushil Roy and Narayan Sanyal — going to jail in the two and a half years of its existence.
Since Roy’s arrest in September 2004, the rebels formed a new politburo during the party congress in Bihar’s Jamui, 140 km from Patna, in 2007.
However, its first major blow came with the arrest of central military commission member Misir Besra in Jharkhand’s Giridih, 200 km north-east of Ranchi, in September 2007.
Within three months, Malla Raji Reddy was held in Kerala’s Angamally, 20 km from Kochi, followed by the arrest of Pramod Misra alias Banbihariji in Dhanbad in May 2008.
Then Ashutosh Tudu was nabbed in Rourkela, Orissa, in March 2009 and Amitabha Bagchi alias Anilji in August of the same year. Soon, Kobad Ghandy was apprehended in Delhi in October.
Azad is the first politburo member to be killed in a gunbattle. Earlier some committee members went down this way.
Central committee member Varanasi Subramanyan is learnt to have gone missing since the middle of June from New Delhi.
“Azad’s death is definitely a huge blow for the Maoists as he used to coordinate between all members of the central committee and politburo,” a senior intelligence officer told HT.
His frequent movements for the purpose of expanding organisation’s network gave the security forces vital clues as to where his whereabouts could be.
Intelligence agencies expect to catch more of the top leaders in the same way they caught Azad because with the party congress slated sometime next year, the rebels will do more travelling.