Chhattisgarh Maoists give up arms citing discrimination by Andhra chieftains

Several of the Maoists who surrendered said they were even denied simple privileges such as falling in love and getting married, though those from the neighbouring state lived with their wives and raised children.

india Updated: Oct 14, 2016 00:19 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Ritesh Mishra
Hindustan Times
Chhattisgarh Maoists,People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army,PLGA
Maoists surrender during a mass surrender camp in Sukma.(HT photo)

More than 1,000 Maoists have surrendered to the Chhattisgarh Police this year and many of them say they gave up arms out of disgust after discrimination by their erstwhile comrades from Andhra Pradesh.

In interviews to HT, several of them said they were even denied simple privileges such as falling in love and getting married, though those from the neighbouring state lived with their wives and raised children.

“It is not easy to be a part of the PLGA (People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army) as it is ruled by the Andhra Pradesh people and they are biased towards us,” said 21-year-old Sahu (name changed).

Police say there are some 10,000 Maoists in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh and they answer to the secretary of the Dandakaranya special zonal committee – a man from Andhra Pradesh.

“Why are Andhra Pradesh men mostly in the top positions,” asked another surrendered Maoist. “They enjoy all the liberty while the tribals fight for them,” he added.

Officials and observers say poor tribals from Bastar are mostly recruited as foot soldiers of the armed unit of the PGLA, or as office bearers of the Jantana Sarkar – the committee in charge of a village. Real authority, however, vests with seniors belonging to Andhra Pradesh.

Those who surrendered say marriages were generally discouraged in the lower ranks. They were not allowed to marry a common girl. If someone fell in love with another comrade, written permission was required to tie the knot. If permission was granted, the men often were forced to undergo a vasectomy to ensure no children were born.

Some of them have under gone reverse vasectomy to carry on with their life after having surrendered.

Their list of grievances against their seniors is long, but not everyone is convinced and accuse them of parotting what the police want them to say. Kamal Shukla, a Bastar-based journalist who has covered the conflict for many years, insisted the narrative of those who surrendered were misleading.

“The surrendered Maoists are not allowed to [freely] speak in front of journalists or any other person. They only say what the police want. Most surrenders took place because of illegal detention of their family members by the police. If the police come to know that a person from a village is a Maoist or informer, they bring the family to police station and keep them for months until he or she surrenders,” Shukla said.

In Chhattisgarh, journalists are only allowed to speak to a surrendered Maoist after official permission from the area’s police.

“Whatever a surrendered person says should be taken with a fistful of salt,” said Subhranshu Chaudhury, the author of the book, Let’s Call him Vasu: With Maoists in Chhattisgarh.

“All these restrictions of marriage etc. were there before too and it was always controlled by Andhra Pradesh people, so these do not seem the real reason to me,” he added.

But ML Kotwani, the superintendent of police of Kanker, argued that anger within the local Maoists has been simmering for a long time.

“They are only recruited for ground work like ambushes, extortion, collection of money, and not allowed to live a ‘normal’ life while seniors who are mainly from Andhra Pradesh or other states live a luxurious and normal life.”

He cited the example of a senior Maoist, Ram Chandra Reddy alias Gudsa, whose family included his wife and two children. The children reportedly go to a convent school. “He managed to escape in a police raid but his wife was arrested,” Kotwani pointed out.

First Published: Oct 14, 2016 00:19 IST