For Maoists, a year of setbacks, embarrassments, tactical errors

NaxalsMaoists held hostage by Triteeya Sammelan Prastuti Committee of former Naxals. (PTI)

As the CPI (Maoist) begins preparations to celebrate the 10th year of its formation, memories of the last 12 months will haunt its members. Though they launched their biggest ever assault on a political convoy this year, it included one of three major tactical blunders whose repercussions continue to undermine their ideological highland. They also found their fighting prowess seriously questioned as they lost as many as 50 cadres in only six gunbattles dominated by security forces or splinter groups of their own former cadres, who lost only one member to the Maoists.

The killings of PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh Patel in the Darbha attack, and the separate murders of journalists Nemichand Jain and Sai Reddy in Bastar, have brought them widespread flak, even from their sympathisers. These were the first instances Maoists had killed journalists. The rebels had to apologise for Jain's murder saying it had been committed by their lower cadres, and admit that the killing of the Patels too was a mistake.

Bastar journalists unanimously boycotted Maoists, while the People's Union for Democratic Rights' secretaries referred to the CPI (Maoist) constitution, a document considered sacrosanct by the rebels, and noted, "The two killings (of journalists) were carried out by the Maoists without even complying with the provisions of their own constitution. This raises a question if they take their own constitution seriously."

In the two months preceding the May 25 Darbha attack, when the Maoists killed 27 persons including the Congress leaders, the organisation suffered huge losses in quick succession across its various zones. A Jharkhand-based ultra-Left outfit, Triteeya Sammelan Prastuti Committee, killed 10 Maoists in Chatra on March 28; the Gadchiroli police killed nine Maoists in two encounters in April; a joint team of Andhra Greyhounds, Chhattisgarh police and CRPF killed nine Maoists in Sukma the same month. In July, the Gadchiroli police killed six women Maoists; in September, the Malkangiri cops killed 14 Maoists.

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