By P. V. Ramana
Naxalites of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), or Maoists, in short, have reportedly established a firm base in what is known as the Golden Corridor area. This was stated by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in reply to Question No. 3117, in the Lok Sabha, on December 13, 2011.
In its response, the MHA said, “… CPI (Maoist) [has] formed a ‘Golden Corridor Committee’ to build its base in the industrial areas of Gujarat and Maharashtra.” The MHA also noted: “The CPI (Maoist) is active in Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur districts of Maharashtra, and has plans to expand their movement to Nagpur, Wardha, Bhandara, Mumbai, Nasik, Pune and Yavatmal districts”.
The Golden Corridor area extends along western India and reportedly stretches along the belt extending from Pune to Ahmedabad, including Nashik, Surat and Vadodara. As a senior IPS officer in Gujarat told this author in May 2010, it was reportedly formed in February 2008.
In fact, it is one of the seven strategic areas identified by the CPI (Maoist). The other six include the corridors stretching between:
Jammu and Kashmir-Uttarakhnad-Punjab-Haryana-Delhi
In fact, Maoist presence has already been detected in some towns and cities in the Golden Corridor area, and cadres and leaders were arrested in the past. For instance, CPI (Maoist) Polit Bureau Member and the then Maharashtra State Committee Secretary, Sridhar Krishnan Srinivasan alias Vishnu, and Vernon Gonsalves alias Vikram, a member of the Maharashtra State Committee, were arrested in Mumbai, on September 20, 2009. Besides, on May 8, 2007 Arun Farreira, an alleged Maoist communications and propaganda strategist, and another cadre, Murali, were arrested from Nashik. On January 19, 2010, Suryadevara Prabhakar, who had earlier worked in Gadchiroli and Surat, and was propagating Maoist ideology in Mumbai, was arrested in Mumbai.
More recently, on April 25, 2011, police in Thane, arrested Angelo Sontakke alias Sunita Patil, a former teacher, secretary of the ‘Golden Corridor Committee’ of the Maoists and the wife of Milind Teltumbde, secretary of the Maharashtra State Committee of the CPI (Maoist). Some more arrests were made subsequently.
The Maoists have had a long presence, in the Golden Corridor area. In their earlier avatar as the Communist Party of India–Marxist-Leninist (People’s War), PW in short, popularly known as the PWG, the Maoists operated in Maharashtra under the leadership of Kobad Ghandy alias Kamal alias Rajan. At that time, he was heading the Maharashtra State Committee of the PW.
Commenting on the arrest of Maoists in Pune, Thane, and other places a former Director General of Police of Maharashtra, Arvind Inamdar, said on May 16, 2011, “Certainly, it’s a matter of serious concern. Prima facie, the Naxalites seem to have succeeded in ensuring the support of tribals and intellectuals in urban areas. As a result of that, their movement is getting support in big cities.” In fact, several years ago, in 1977, he had reportedly arrested the founder of the current day Maoist movement, Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, in Nagpur.
The Golden Corridor area is also the industrial backbone of the country. It is towards this belt that the Maoists have currently turned their attention. It is a part of the Maoist grand plan to penetrate urban centres as well as the industrial/working class movement. In their scheme of things, the Maoists hope to gain control over the working class movement and use it appropriately at a later stage when their so called New Democratic Revolution advances. According to the CPI (Maoist), “… being the centres of concentration of the industrial proletariat, urban areas play an important part within the political strategy of the new Democratic Revolution”. According to an internal document of the Maoists, they envisage that they would mobilise and organise the industrial workers and channel them towards playing “leadership role in organising the agrarian revolution by sending by sending … advanced detachment to the rural areas.”
The immediate and short-term objective is to gain control over key (strategic) industries with a view to inflicting ‘damage’ on the state’s capacity to fight the Maoists, either through organising sabotage activities or bringing production to a halt. According to an internal document of the CPI (Maoist), they envisage penetrating the working class movement in industries such as communication, oil and natural gas, coal, transport, power, defence production, etc.
Besides, the Golden Corridor area could indeed turn out to be a ‘milch cow’ for the Maoists. According to media reports, the Maoists annually extort Rs. 1,500 crore from various sources. The overwhelming part of this sum is extorted from big businesses. For instance, according to a published report of December 2001, the Rajahmundry-based Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills was then paying Rs. 50 lakh per month to the Maoists. During a field visit in January and February 2002, a senior police officer told this author that a reputed industrial house with business operations in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh was then paying Rs. 2 crore annually to the Maoists alone; and six other Naxalite groups operated in the area.
It is, therefore, essential to check Maoist presence in the Golden Corridor area in order to curtail their finances as well as to avoid industrial sabotage. Else, the Maoists might wreak havoc in the area.
Originally published by Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (www.idsa.in) at http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/MaoistsinGoldenCorridorArea_pvramana_191211