The Maoists’ strategy of using the media in their propaganda war against the government seems to be backfiring, at least in some cases.
Chhatradhar Mahato, leader of the Maoist-backed Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities that spearheaded the movement at Lalgarh in West Midnapore district, about 130 km southwest of Kolkata, walked into an elaborate trap laid by the police on Saturday.
Being a media-savvy leader, Mahato could not resist himself when a journalist approached him for an interview, only to find later that the journalist was trailed by the West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department officers to his hideout.
The Communist Party of India (Maoist) Politburo member Kobad Ghandy also got himself arrested in Delhi on Monday by extensively using the Internet — easily accessible and traceable — to connect with his comrades as well as the media.
Just before his arrest, Ghandy, however, warned his comrades against communicating with the media too often. He somehow sensed the danger.
But Koteshwar Rao, alias Kishanji, 51, second-in-command in the CPI (Maoist), said the party allowed some Politburo members to use mobile phones and Internet, since they worked as spokespersons.
He argued, “He (Ghandy) was not using the Internet for the first time the day he was traced. Over the last 10 years he has remained untraced. There must have been some mistake on the day.”
In June 2008, the CPI (Maoist) West Bengal state secretary Himadri Sen Roy, alias Somen, 45, was arrested after the police managed to decode his instructions to an associate over the telephone.
Despite the arrest of Ghandy and Somen, Kishanji told HT , “Use of these technologies can’t be stopped totally, as they help us keep in touch with the world.”
Although Kishanji himself has been frequently using mobile phones to interact with the media, he is confident that there are hardly any chances for his arrest from Lalgarh, since the local people will protect him.
Mahato’s arrest could have an impact on the Lalgarh movement, which peaked in June this year before having been contained somehow by a combined force of the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force.