K. Srinivas Reddy
|Chikhadia massacre aimed at maintaining stranglehold in Jharkhand, Bihar|
Bound to become a point of discussion among Maoist leadership
Jharkhand government should have been prepared
HYDERABAD: The massacre of 18 persons, including the son of the former Jharkhand Chief Minister, by Maoists in Chikhadia village of Giridih district is part of the Maoist Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) aimed at consolidating their stranglehold in Jharkhand and Bihar.
The victims were mostly tribals and their killing without any compunction, after the suspected target Nunulal Marandi fled the scene, is bound to become a point of discussion even among the Maoist leadership, which had all along been professing that the 'revolutionary cadres' would not target civilians but only 'class enemies.'
The massacre is reminiscent of the killing of a Congress legislator C. Narsi Reddy and eight others in Andhra Pradesh on August 15, 2005. The Maoist hit team had fired with automatic weapons on a meeting where the national flag was unfurled and killed innocents. The Maoists subsequently apologised but the deep resentment among the public about the indiscriminate killings still continues.
The latest massacre comes close on the heels of the assertion of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the police forces should 'redouble their efforts' in controlling naxalism. While addressing the police chiefs at the annual DGPs conference in Delhi on October 4, Dr. Singh emphasised a full-fledged security response to the problem.
In a meeting of the Central Committee held in January last week this year, the party decided to continue the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) in 'struggle areas.'
The killing of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MP, Sunil Mahato on March 4, 2007 in East Singhbhum district was also carried out on similar lines. Along with the MP, two of his body guards and a party worker were killed in a raid. Mahato, a staunch opponent of Maoists, was watching a football match when the naxalites sneaked into the audience and opened fire.
The abortive attempt on the life of Visakhapatnam MP and former Chief Minister Nedurumalli Janardhana Reddy and his wife, Minister Rajyalakshmi in Andhra Pradesh, last month is also part of the TCOC.
The Maoist chief, Muppala Laxmana Rao, too had announced that the focus of 'our movement had gradually shifted to Dandakaranya and Bihar-Jharkhand.' The severe setbacks to the movement in Andhra Pradesh, he claimed, had taught them valuable lessons.
"The situation is qualitatively different from that of earlier periods in that we are now able to advance the movement in a number of States even if we suffer losses and setbacks in one or two States," he said in a recent interview.
The Jharkhand government should have initiated counter measures in the face of such assertions, especially when there is no dearth of funds for developmental activities and modernisation of the police forces. A recent MHA document on Internal Security in India discloses that Jharkhand had been provided Rs. 182.72 crore under the police modernisation scheme in the last six years, a special grant of Rs. 15 crore for buying communication equipment and weaponry this year, Rs. 20.92 crore under Security Related Expenditure (SRE) reimbursement, Rs. 450 crore under Backward Districts Initiative (BDI) so far.
In addition to providing 16 armoured vehicles, the Centre had also provided five battalions of Central Paramilitary Forces to assist the Jharkhand police in combating the Maoist problem. Yet Jharkhand continues to suffer.
Dr. Singh himself hinted at the problem in his speech at the DGPs' meeting. He said greater commitment was needed to eliminate the naxalite problem. "…there are many elements to the problem of naxalism. While concerted efforts are being made on the development front to remove any feeling of alienation, the police forces need to redouble their efforts to control the spread of this phenomenon."