Orissa: Industrial Zones Vs Naxalite Liberated Zones Part-II

Nihar Nayak

This is the second and final part of article series on Naxalite Menace.

CPI-Maoist state committee Secretary Sabyasachi Panda visited Sambalpur division after the Nayagarh attack to strengthen organization’s capability in northern Orissa. In fact, he visited the area three times before the Nayagarh attack. It is assumed that Sabyasachi might have monitored the movement in northern Orissa all by himself. This information was disclosed in March 2008 during interrogation of Dhanu Dehuri, who was engaged in the proposal called “red corridor” from Bargarh to Raipur of Chhatisgarh. Another surrendered Naxalite, Puspika also disclosed that around 25-30 armed cadres from Jharkhand visit Sundargarh area regularly to motivate cadres in northern Orissa.

Apart from northern and southern Orissa, the Naxalites have established bases in the costal districts like Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Puri. The coastal districts are being controlled by the Mahanadi division of the CPI-Maoist. As far as coastal districts are concerned, the outfit has been using democratic means, like street demonstrations, strikes, road blocks and dharanas. These democratic means has helped them to set up a kind of liberated zones in these areas. Such ‘librated zones’ are being formed at Ambagadia village in Kalinganagar of the Jajpur district and Dhinkia village of the Jagatsinghpur district by not letting the police forces and government officials to visit these areas. The Dhinkia village has been completely under control of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, which has links with the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) of Nandigram and Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch of Kalinganagar. The Dhinkia village has become inaccessible for more than two years by the both police and civil administration. It is believed that some Maoists took shelter in Dhinkia after the Nayagrh attack and now providing training to the villagers to use fire arms in case of police action in future. According to CPI(Marxist) sources, BUPC took control of the entire Block I and parts of Block II of the three blocks of Nandigram, destroyed roads and access to bridges, dug up culverts and set up road-blocks to prevent any entry into their “liberated zone”. Most importantly, the Naxalites have already declared ‘liberated zones’ in more than 25 inaccessible villages in Chitrakonada and Mottu areas of the Malkangiri district.

Although Orissa witnessed low level of Naxalite violence till June, recruitment of new cadres have been going on in Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Deogarh forests. Similarly, recruitment drives have also been going on in Malkanagiri, Rayagada and Gajapati districts in southern Orissa. The Ghumusar division is basically for training and logistic purposes and coordinating between the Andhra groups. They have organized five training centers in Rayagada district. Of these camps, while Pipiliguda, Sandhubadi are under the supervision of area commander Daya, Meriapangi, Karlaghati and Rasikola are under Sabyasachi Panda. Similarly, Gothalpadar and training camps close to Gajapati district forests are conducted under Azad and Ghasiram Mahji. A total of 80 new cadres from Orissa and Andhra Pradesh have joined the outfit and undergoing training in these camps.

The Naxalites have been using triangular meeting points of States for training camps. Moreover, the Naxalites have also been targeting children to join the cadre. As a new tactics, they have also asked the family members to send one person each to join the outfit. In this regard a Naxalite Bal Sangathan (child organization) has been working in north-west part of Orissa. The prime tasks of the trainee cadres are to kill police informer, collect money from rich people and contactors for the party to purchase weapons. The large scale preparation –training, procurement of arms and recruitment- reflects that the Naxalites will be targeting some mining companies or kidnap some influential persons or will be looting some banks for money. People in the affected areas are forced to support the Naxalites since the police administration has failed to provide security to common people living in remote villages. On the other hand the Naxalites have threatened that police informers will be presented in the Kangaroo courts or Jan Adalats and might get death sentence. 5.

Increase in Naxalite movement in Orissa will certainly have serious impact on industrial projects. A series of statements released in 2007 by the CPI-Maoist Central Committee by asking the “oppressed masses” to “turn every Special Economic Zone(SEZ) into a battle zone.” As a result, the state has already witnessed successful economic blockade in 2007 and 2008, orchestrated to protest against the economic policies followed by governments at the Centre and in the states. The objective of blockade and strikes are to send across the message that the resources of the region belong to the locals of the area and is instead being exploited by private firms. Posters pasted by Naxals, for example, on the Gram Panchayat (Community Halls) buildings at Khutgaon and Mendhatola in Sundargarh district on 26 January, 2008 contained provocative statement, instigating the villagers to rage struggle against the government policy of acquiring land to set up industries. They are trying to hit the conscience of the locals by bringing in the Nandigram issue.

Ideologically Maoists are against globalization and FDI from MNCs. At initial stage of a project, the Maoists instigate the local people not to set up the project in the designated area. They would organize rallies and demonstrations at the project site, state capital and district head quarters. That is an opportunity for the Maoists to establish base in an area by using that project issue. They would also call for general strike and road blockade to get media and people’s attention. These are the campaigning tactics to seek people’s support. The Maoists have been using these tactics against corporate houses like Salim groups in Nandigram, Tata Steel in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, Tata steel in Kalinganagar, POSCO, Mittal and other mega projects in Orissa, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.

In case the Maoists fail to stop the project at initial stage, they would like to get control over the labors and form trade unions in the organization. During this period they would constantly use the labor issues and paralyze the production of the industry, which would lead to financial lose to the company. In their stronghold areas the Maoists might shut down the factory by trade unions to meet their demands. However, the Maoists need money to sustain their movement against the reactionary state and arms to counter the security forces. In this regard the Maoists would ask the company to pay monthly levy to the organization. Failure of that would lead to destruction of machinery; attack on the transport facilities, and in some cases attack on the senior officials.

While, the Naxalites violence has increased in southern, Northern and coastal districts, the state government is busy in counting Naxalites affected districts. Interestingly, state government’s Naxalite affected districts list is not matching with the union government. While the state government has been claiming 17 Naxalite affected districts, the Union government says only nine districts. Instead of counting districts, the state government should address the socio-economic problems and rehabilitation of affected people due mega projects. The government should take consent of the local people before allotting lands for the mega projects. Militarization of State by undertaking police modernization could be ineffective while the Naxalites are gradually adopting democratic means to expand their activities.

Author Note
Nihar Nayak, Associate Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Views expressed in the article are personal.