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Maoists of Orissa divided on Communal Lines
"What bothers Orissa police at the point is the amount of support IDGA is drawing from the tribal and Hindu communities of the State. After the success of the Bandh called by the anonymous organisation, now the tribal organisation ‘Kui Samaj’ of Kandhamal has declared its support to IDGA"
Basudev Mahapatra : January 8, 2009
Recent claims by one M2 through letters and posters suggest that Maoists operating in Orissa are now divided into two groups on religious affiliation. As per the posters seen in various points of Kandhamal, Gajapati and Ganjam districts of Orissa, a faction of the CPI – Maoist affiliated PLGA (Peoples’ Liberation Guerrilla Army) cadres have formed a new group in the name of IDGA (Ideological Democratic Guerrilla Army) on January 3, 2009 on the same Maoist ideological lines but Hindu religious affiliation.
Kandhamal - Ground for Division in Maoist Cadre Group
However, such a consequence was well apprehended since the day when a senior PLGA leader Sabyasachi Panda alias Sunil claimed Maoist hand behind killing of VHP (Viswa Hindu Parishad) leader and Hindu ideologue of Kandhamal Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati along with three of his close associates in Jaleshpeta of Kandhamal. Killing of the Swami drew strong reaction among the Hindus of the state and led to month long violence in the district of Kandhamal causing damage in other parts of Orissa also.
This was the second instance where the cadres acted to safeguard the Christian community in Kandhamal district and the first time that they openly acted against the Hindu leadership of Kandhamal. The Maoists first acted in support of the Christians during the violence of 2007 December in Daringbadi of Kandhamal. A letter from the Maoist cadres threatening to punish the Sankaracharya of Puri Govardhan Pith as Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati further opened up the anti-Hindu approach of the Maoist cadres operating in the state of Orissa.
In the mean time, the Maoists have killed some tribal and Hindu leaders of Kandhamal alleging that they are either instigating communal violence in the district or supportive to the groups that are engaged in communal activities against the Christians living in the district. By and large, the cadres continued their anti-Hindu and pro-Christian activities in the district putting all the blames of breaking communal harmony on the tribal communities and Hindu leadership only.
Apart from their role in Kandhamal, the Maoists have acted against the interests of tribal communities in various other districts of south and western Orissa and, on many occasions, killed tribal people also.
So, as an obvious outcome, it’s not surprising that some of the tribal and Hindu cadres split from the PLGA and declare a separate forum in the name of IDGA. And, that seems to have happened in Orissa as a bandh called by the newly formed IDGA came out successful in three southern districts of Orissa – Ganjam, Gajapati and Kandhamal – on the very day of its formation, i.e., 3rd January 2009.
IDGA – Self claimed saviour of Tribal and Hindu Communities
In their preliminary releases like posters, leaflets and letters to some people from an unknown M2, IDGA has severely criticised the activities of PLGA and its leaders like Sabyasachi Panda alias Sunil terming them communal and anti-tribal. Questioning PLGA’s commitment to the Maoist ideologies and the protection of tribal and Dalit rights, IDGA has claimed itself to work as the saviour of the rights of tribal and Hindu dalit communities.
The most terrifying activity chosen by the newly formed IDGA is that the cadres of this group have decided to kill members of Christian communities to counter the anti-Hindu activities of Maoist cadres and leaders of PLGA. If it happens, there will be an open conflict between the two groups of Maoist Cadres and people from both Hindu and Christian communities would be the worst sufferer being the target of both groups.
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Existence of IDGA – Doubts and Possibilities
Even though nobody has yet come forward to claim the virtual existence of IDGA or M2, the bandh called by M2 on IDGA formation day drew wide public support in the aforesaid districts. This clearly indicates how the CPI – Maoist affiliated PLGA is losing its popularity in the tribal communities and the larger Hindu communities as well. But, still, doubts on the existence of IDGA are mainly centred on the revenue and resource factors.
PLGA or the official Maoist Group has an existing revenue base generated by collecting taxes in tribal pockets of Orissa and neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand etc. in the name of Janatana Sarkar (Peoples’ Government). Beyond the taxes, as it has been established many times, PLGA controls the illegal but money spinning Ganja (Marijuana) trade in the total forest strip from Nawrangpur to Kandhamal. Maoists have a control over the timber smuggling in the forests of Vidharva, Chhattishgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand.
Apart from all these sources and ransoms from local sources, as many including the government agencies apprehend, Maoists are funded by few foreign Human Right agencies operated by Christian Missionaries and such other international charity bodies. This would be the reason that motivates the Maoists cadres in PLGA to act in support of the Christian communities.
In terms of resources, the Maoist cadre groups have gathered substantial resources like arms, ammunitions and necessary technical logistic to continue their operations challenging the state police and paramilitary forces.
Being a split up group, it would not be possible for the IDGA cadres to share the revenue and logistics of PLGA. If the existence of IDGA is true, it has to create its revenue base and organise the resources to continue its operations and achieve its goals. This particular clue would, often, bring them to confrontation with state police and other government agencies engaged in curbing Maoist activities in Orissa and other parts of India.
Infighting between cadres – Police at Advantage
Infighting between Maoist cadres has become evident from the incident of informing Police about a huge sum of Rupees twelve lakhs allegedly carried by the officials of a renowned educational institute group. It is believed by the police that the amount was carried to hand over to somebody from PLGA and the information was, possibly, passed by a rebel cadre.
Even though the matter is yet to reach a logical conclusion, state police and other agencies must be seeing it as a positive development in the lines of curbing Maoist activities in Orissa and other neighbouring states.
On the other hand, what bothers Orissa police at the point is the amount of support IDGA is drawing from the tribal and Hindu communities of the State. After the success of the Bandh called by the anonymous organisation, now the tribal organisation ‘Kui Samaj’ of Kandhamal has declared its support to IDGA.
Keeping its eyes on the developments taking place in this regard, Orissa Home Department has started its investigation about the truth behind IDGA.
It would become troublesome for the police and paramilitary forces to curb Maoist activism in the state if the tribals and Hindus living in forests and remote places extend their full support to a faction of Maoists. And, as Kandhamal is going to be the ground of the conflict, it would become a challenge for the Police and state administration to restore long term peace and maintain law and order in the district if the existence of IDGA comes out true.