Maoists’ surrender raises issues of waning tribal support for the outlaws and lack of new recruits

Published : August 13, 2021 15:18 IST

Six Maoist cadres who surrendered presented to the media by Director General of Police D. Gautam Swang, in Mangalagiri, Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, on August 12. Photo: GIRI K.V.S.

Twenty-four hours after the surrender of six key cadres belonging to the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), an uneasy calm pervades the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border area. The surrender of the six, along with similar such instances in the recent past, is being seen as a major setback to the Maoist movement in both the Andhra-Odisha border area and overall for the Naxalite movement itself.

Police sources told Frontline that the local Adivasis, even those inhabiting the interior forest areas in the Andhra-Odisha border area, have slowly distanced themselves from the Maoists. The sources also said that besides a lack of support from the tribal people and the paucity in recruitment, the Naxalite movement has suffered because of the feeling among the tribal people that they are being discriminated against by the top Maoist leadership.

During the last year, the Maoists movement has come under a lot of pressure. There have been 11 exchanges of fire with the security forces; 14 Maoists, including divisional committee members, have lost their lives; 32 cadres, including a special zonal committee member and three divisional committee members, have surrendered; and many, including those among the top leadership, have been infected with COVID-19. In June, six Maoists, including a senior leader, were killed in an encounter between Maoists and the Greyhound special forces of the Andhra Pradesh Police at Teegalametta forests of Koyyuru mandal.

The six Maoists who surrendered on August 12 before D. Gautam Sawang, Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police were part of the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) and included four women. They carried a combined reward of Rs.16 lakh on their heads. Of the six, four were from Chhattisgarh and two from Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam district. The six were allegedly involved in 127 offences, including 17 murders, over a period spanning a decade and a half. The surrendered Maoists are Pedabayalu-Korukonda area committee secretary Chikkudu Chinna Rao alias Sudheer (aged 32); divisional committee member and divisional commander Vanthala Vannu alias Mahita (25); area committee members Madakam Somidi (25) and Madakam Manglu alias Deepak (21); and two female cadres identified as Poyam Rukini alias Rinky (18) and Sodi Bheeme (18).

Releasing the names of the surrendered Maoists, Sawang disclosed that Chinnarao was not only a divisional committee member of the Maoist Korukonda area committee but also one of the few tribal leaders from this region. He was involved in 93 offences, including 14 murders, 11 exchanges of fire and seven land mine blasts. Vanthala Vannu was involved in 10 offences, including the murders of former Andhra Pradesh legislators Kidari Sarverswar Rao and Siveri Soma. Vanthala Vannu and Madakam Somidi were part of the team that provided protection and security to top Maoist leader Rama Krishna, popularly known as RK. The police said that while Mangulu participated in nine offences, Rukini and Bheeme participated in three offences each.

According to Sawang, several schemes of the government were reaching the tribal people even in the remote areas and had benefited them in numerous ways. This he added had made it difficult for the Maoists to maintain their attractiveness to the tribals. Sawang claimed that the cadres have also depleted. Stating that the government had identified 3 lakh acres of land and handed out pattas (title deeds) to 20,000 tribal families, the DGP said that this move had eased the anxiety among tribal people regarding the ownership of the land they were tilling.

The DGP also disclosed that the Maoist cadres had depleted to 54 now from 140 two years ago. Sawang said: “Earlier there used to be two companies with 19 members in each but now the outfit has just one platoon comprising 10 members. The Andhra-Odisha Border area used to have eight committees in the past but now the number has come down to four.”