By Deepak Kumar Nayak*
On June 29, 2021, a joint team of the Jharkhand Police and Bihar Police arrested Ganesh Sao aka Hippy, a cadre of the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), from Udaipur-Ankuri under the Paliganj Police Station area in Patna District, Bihar. Sao, a resident of Imamganj Jamharu in Patna District, was wanted in as many as 17 cases, including extortion. TPC is a Naxalite [Left Wing Extremist] group which, in 2002, broke away from the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC). MCC subsequently combined with the Peoples War Group (PWG) to form the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) in September 2004.
On June 21, 2021, Police arrested Kishun Ganjhu aka Sameer, a TPC ‘area commander’, from his house in Chatra District of Jharkhand. During the search, one 5.56 mm INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) assault rifle, 10 live cartridges and one INSAS magazine were recovered from his house.
On June 3, 2021, Police arrested Nath Ganjhu aka Bhagirath, a TPC ‘area commander’, from Bharkudwa village under the Lawalong Police Station area in Chatra District, Jharkhand. A US-made rifle, one .315 bore rifle, 30 cartridges of different guns, Naxalite literature and TPC pamphlets were recovered from Bhagirath’s possession.
According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 18 TPC cadres have been arrested in the current year, thus far (data till July 11, 2021). During the corresponding period of 2020, four TPC cadres were arrested. A total of eight TPC cadres were arrested through 2020. Since its formation in 2002, at least 198 TPC cadres have been arrested.
Mounting Security Forces (SFs) pressure led to the surrender of two TPC cadres in the current year (data till July 11, 2021), according to SATP data. During the corresponding period of 2020, one such surrender was recorded, with no more surrenders in the remaining period of 2020. At least seven TPC cadres have surrendered since 2002.
Moreover, since the formation of TPC, a total of 18 TPC cadres have been killed by SFs. The last fatality was reported on December 16, 2020, when ‘sub-zonal commander’ Vinod Yadav, was killed in an exchange of fire with SFs near Serak village under Chandwa Police Station limits in Latehar District, Jharkhand. SFs recovered the dead body along with one AK-47 rifle and a large number of live cartridges.
Another 32 TPC cadres have been killed in internecine clashes with the Maoists. Indeed, on July 8, 2007, TPC had openly declared that its main enemy was the Maoists, not the SFs. Giriji, the outfit’s ‘sub-zonal commander’ in Palamu District, Jharkhand, claimed,
Our main enemy is not the police machinery, but the CPI-Maoist. They have diverted from their original principle and are involved in petty activities. And to successfully wage armed struggle against the Maoists, there is an imperative need to strengthen our own organisation. The results of our expansion would give us positive results in near future.
TPC has not been found involved in any SF killing thus far.
TPC has also been targeted by other Naxal groups operational in Jharkhand from time to time. At peak in 2007, there were 19 Naxal groups operational in Jharkhand. TPC also lost cadres in internecine clashes and has been targeted by the local population as well.
Since its formation in 2002, TPC has lost 72 cadres – 32 killed in clashes with the CPI-Maoist, 18 killed by SFs, 12 killed by cadres of other Naxal groups, nine killed in internecine clashes and one lynched by villagers. The outfit lost (killed/arrested/surrendered) 20 cadres (18 arrested, two surrendered) in 2021, 10 cadres (one killed, eight arrested, one surrendered) in 2020, six cadres (five killed, one arrested) in 2019, 38 cadres (five killed, 29 arrested, four surrendered) in 2018, 38 cadres (13 killed, 25 arrested) in 2017, 33 cadres (three killed, 30 arrested) in 2016, 33 cadres (all arrested) in 2015, 22 cadres (15 killed, seven arrested) in 2014, six cadres (two killed, four arrested) in 2013, 15 cadres (all arrested) in 2012, eight cadres (all arrested) in 2011, 12 cadres (one killed, 11 arrested) in 2010, 12 cadres (four killed, eight arrested) in 2009, five cadres (four killed, one arrested) in 2008, and 14 cadres (all killed) in 2007.
On the other hand, the TPC has been found involved in killing of 22 civilians in 16 separate incidents thus far. The last incident of civilian killing by TPC was reported on March 1, 2017, when TPC ‘zonal commander’ Anil Kushwaha aka Rakesh Mishra and 10 others killed Jitendra Kharwar (18) over delay in serving them food in Rohtas District, Bihar.
The continuous loss of cadres has eroded the strength of the outfit. Nevertheless, the group persists in its efforts to make its presence felt. On June 5, 2021, six armed TPC cadres reached a bridge construction site located in Tokisud village in the Patratu Police Station area of Ramgarh District, Jharkhand, assaulted the workers, fired five rounds in the air, set a Joseph Cyril Bamford (JCB) machine and a tractor on fire and finally left behind pamphlets on the spot in which the outfit demanded that work be stopped and the camp be removed. An unnamed Police official disclosed that the bridge is being constructed on the Chotka river at a cost of INR 40 million and the TPC cadres attacked the construction site because of the failure of the contractor to pay ‘levy’.
On June 2, 2021, a TPC cadre who identified himself as Nagina Ji, demanded ‘levy’ from Nityanand Das, Block Development Officer (BDO) of Manatu. The BDO registered a First Information Report (FIR), on June 3, at Manatu Police Station in Palamu District, Jharkhand.
Earlier, on December 15, 2020, TPC cadres put up posters and a red banner at Ratu road junction in Ranchi District, Jharkhand, following the inauguration of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) office in the State on November 5, 2020. The posters read,
Farmers and labourers unite against those who are trying to snatch ‘jal, jungle and jameen’ (water, forest and land). Those, who speak about ‘Ek Bharat Shresth Bharat’ see condition of the displaced people. Politicians, legislators, MPs all are thieves and they are part of the capitalist class.
The poster also asked Central Coalfield Limited, Bharat Coking Coal Limited and National Thermal Power Corporation to stop mining on cultivable land ‘thereby making land barren’.
Meanwhile, on June 1, 2021, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) attached immovable property and land in Chatra District, Jharkhand, belonging to TPC ‘commander’ Gopal Singh Bhokta, who was involved in raising money through extortion and illegal collection of ‘levies.’ The attachment of property was done in a case dated November 23, 2017, which the NIA took over on July 9, 2018. The case pertains to the seizure of INR 500,000 along with one country made pistol, two bullets and other items from Bhokta.
However, the State’s continued failure to successfully prosecute those involved in violent acts is likely to embolden the sagging morale of TPC cadres. Recently, on June 24, 2021, the Jharkhand High Court granted bail to three TPC cadres – Rajkumar Ganjhu, Vinod Ganjhu and Naresh Ganjhu – who had filed bail pleas before the court in a case pertaining to the collection of ‘levy’ from the CCL Magadha Coal Project in the Tandwa Police Station area of Chatra District, Jharkhand.
TPC’s attempt to emerge as a formidable Naxalite force in the State has failed, but it remains as a lingering threat. Targeted and sustained SF action on the surviving stragglers of the outfit will gradually neutralize the outfit completely.
*Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management