India: CPI-Maoist Brutal Turn – Analysis

By Deepak Kumar Nayak*

On November 8, 2017, two Railway Protection Force (RPF) troopers were attacked by cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) at the Bacheli Railway Station in Bastar District of Chhattisgarh. Both the troopers were found with their throats slit. While one of them succumbed at the incident site, another was rushed to a nearby hospital where his condition is said to be very critical.

On October 5, 2017, CPI-Maoist cadres killed a villager, identified as Imra Kabasi, in the Bapanapalli area under Padia Police limits in the Malkangiri District of Odisha. The Maoists dragged Imra to the nearby forest and slit his throat, suspecting him of being a Police informer.

Earlier, on August 7, 2017, a group of 50 armed CPI-Maoist cadres killed Nandapur Sarpanch (head of the Panchayat, village level local self Government institution), Jaga Khara, by slitting his throat at Hatibari village under Padua Police limits in Koraput District of Odisha, alleging he was a Police informer.

According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database, the Maoists have killed at least 13 persons using barbaric methods such as slitting the throat, hacking or beheading, including 10 civilians (including one surrendered Maoist) and three Security Force (SF) personnel, in 13 separate incidents so far in 2017 (all data till November 12, 2017). These brutal killings were spread across four Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected States. Odisha recorded five such fatalities (four civilians and one SF trooper); followed by Chhattisgarh with four fatalities (two civilians including the surrendered Maoist and two SF personnel); Bihar with three fatalities, all civilians; and Jharkhand with one civilian fatality. The total combined civilian and SF fatalities in Maoist violence across the country stands at 158 in 2017 (87 civilians and 71 SF personnel).

During the corresponding period of 2016, there were at least 19 comparably brutal killings, including 17 civilians and two SF personnel, in 16 such separate incidents, across four LWE-affected States in India. Odisha recorded a total of nine such fatalities, all civilians; followed by Chhattisgarh with seven fatalities (five civilians and two SFs); Jharkhand with three fatalities, all civilians; and Andhra Pradesh with two civilian fatalities. In the remaining period of 2016, another two such fatalities were reported: one civilian each from Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

There were 22 such fatalities in 2015, six in 2014; 10 in 2013; 17 in 2012; 29 in 2011; 30 in 2010; 51 in 2009; 20 in 2008; 12 in 2007; nine in 2006; and three in 2005.

Maoists have used these barbaric methods of eliminating adversaries since the formation of the CPI-Maoist on September 21, 2004. According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 243 persons, including 218 civilians (out of which six were surrendered Maoists), and 25 SF personnel, have been killed using these barbaric methods across eight LWE-affected States. The total combined civilian and SFs fatalities, during this period was 4,958.

According to the SATP database, the first such killing after the formation of the CPI-Maoist was registered on July 5, 2005, when Maoist cadres slit the throat and beheaded three members of the Shanti Sena (peace army), an anti-Naxalite (anti-LWE) ‘resistance force’, after seizing all their belongings and destroying their houses, at Khairpani village in the Gumla District of Jharkhand.

Number of persons killed by CPI-Maoist using Barbaric Methods Since September 21, 2004* – 2017**

State

Civilians
Surrendered LWEs
SFs
TOTAL
Slitting of throat
Hacked
Beheaded
Slitting of throat
Hacked
Beheaded
Slitting of throat
Hacked
Beheaded

Andhra Pradesh

2
3
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
7

Bihar

22
2
6
0
0
0
1
0
0
31

Chhattisgarh

30
8
0
0
1
0
9
9
1
58

Jharkhand

35
5
19
0
0
1
1
0
1
62

Maharashtra

7
0
3
1
0
1
1
0
0
13

Odisha

40
9
2
0
0
0
1
1
0
53

Uttar Pradesh

0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
1

West Bengal

9
7
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
18

TOTAL

145
34
33
1
3
2
13
10
2
243
* Formation of CPI-Maoist
** Data till: November 12, 2017

Jharkhand recorded the highest number, 62, of brutal executions by the Maoists during this period; followed by Chhattisgarh, 58; Odisha, 53; Bihar, 31; West Bengal, 18; Maharashtra, 13; Andhra Pradesh, seven; and Uttar Pradesh, one. As a percentage of total killings, however, Odisha tops the list with 10.11 per cent [number of such killings out of all civilian and SF killings in the State], followed by Bihar (6.39 per cent), Jharkhand (6.35 per cent), Maharashtra (4.27 per cent), Chhattisgarh (3.35 per cent), West Bengal (2.95 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (2.72 per cent), if Uttar Pradesh is excluded. Two fatalities were reported in UP, of which one fell in this category.

An overview of these executions indicates that the Maoists have killed most of their victims using these methods because the suspected them of being Police informers. A total of 629 alleged Police informers have been killed by the Maoists since the formation of the groups (data till November 12, 2017).

These barbaric methods remain unabated despite the fact that the Maoists have ‘expressed regret’ in some such cases in the past. Indeed, after the killing of Francis Induwar, on October 6, 2009, the then ‘spokesperson’ and a ‘Central Committee (CC)’ member of the CPI-Maoist, Cherukuri Rajkumar aka Azad, while he justified the use of violence on the grounds that it was in defence of the poor and unarmed, conceded that the beheading of Francis Induvar was an aberration that would not be repeated. Induwar who was an inspector with the State Special Branch (Jharkhand Police), was abducted on September 30, 2009, by the Maoists from Hembrom Bazaar in Khunti District and was subsequently killed on October 6, 2009, after the Maoist demand for the release of three of their leaders – Kobad Ghandy, Chattradhar Mahato, and Chandra Bhushan Yadav – in return for Induwar’s safe release, was denied.

With Maoists rapidly losing ground, and a rising incidence of specific intelligence operational successes by the SFs, the orchestration of such killings reflects a desire to create terror among people. These executions are intended to act as a deterrent against any attempt to ‘spy’ on Maoists activities or to help the Police in any other manner.

Indeed, in a review meeting held at an undisclosed location in early 2017, the CPI-Maoist concluded that their armed struggle was undergoing a “difficult phase”. Of 16 Maoist strongholds across India, the resolution spoke of “setbacks” in some, and a weakening of the movement in others. However, as K. Srinivas Reddy, the editor of Telangana Today, who accessed the party resolution noted,

This is not to say that there were no deadly raids against security forces by the party’s armed wing, the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA). They still have military might. But the movement is losing its political force.

Given the reverses the Maoists continue to suffer, they are likely to intensify acts to terrorize local populations. SFs are going to be hard pressed to prevent these actions in areas of receding Maoist influence. Only a continued intensification of SF operations can keep the Maoists off balance and on the run. Where local population progressively turn away from the Maoists and specially where they actively assist the Police, their protection must be an overwhelming priority for the SFs.

*Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant; Institute for Conflict Management


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SATP

SATP

SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

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