Maoists in Bastar call for boycott of Lok Sabha election, put up posters extending support to Kashmiri separatists, militants
Maoists of Bastar in Chhattisgarh have extended support to Kashmiri separatists and militants and also called for a boycott of the Lok Sabha election.
Maoists have demanded that the ban on the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front be lifted
CPI (Maoists) have also demanded the release of 'innocent' villagers jailed on 'false' charges of being insurgents
These Maoists are likely to step up their activities as the first phase of the Lok Sabha Election nears
Bastar: This high-octane election season, ultra-Left cadre in the Maoist-hotbed of Bastar in Chhattisgarh have extended support to Kashmiri separatists and militants, who have a common "Struggle against the State" cause. They have also called for a boycott of the Lok Sabha election.
Maoists have plastered posters and banners on the road leading to Nilavaya village in Bastar's Dandakaranya region, in which they have demanded that the government lift the ban on the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).
Nilavay — Maoists stronghold — is the same village, nearly 70 kilometres from Dantewada district, where Doordarshan cameraman Achyutanand Sahu and two policemen were killed in a Maoist attack on 29 October, 2018, ahead of the Chhattisgarh Assembly election.
One of the posters reads: "The government's ban on the JKLF that has been fighting for an independent Kashmir (Azaad Kashmir) reflects its 'Brahminical, Hindutva, Fascist and oppressive mindset', and the ban should be lifted immediately."
With their differing ideologies and causes, it is surprising to see the ultra-Left extending support to Kashmiri militants.
"This time, Maoists have put up posters extending their support to Kashmiri separatists and have demanded a revocation of the ban on the group. Even in the past, they showed solidarity with ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) insurgents and those in other parts of the North East. Irrespective of their ideology, Maoists support any cause that is against the State," said Inspector General of Chhattisgarh Police (Bastar Range) Vivekananda.
In the past, intelligence agencies and the police found evidence of interactions and connections between Maoists and insurgents in Assam. It was suspected that ultras from the North East helped Maoists procure sophisticated arms from across the border. However, besides support, agencies could not establish any arms dealing or supply chain.
The first phase of the Lok Sabha election begins on Thursday, 11 April. In Chhattisgarh, polling will be held in three phases, starting with Phase 1 on Thursday.
With voting just round the corner, Maoists in Bastar and in the neighbouring Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra have called for a boycott of the polls, appealing to tribal villagers to not participate in the "fraud election" ("farzi matdaan").
The posters have also asked voters to not participate in public rallies organised by the BJP and Congress, with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) dubbing the Narendra Modi government at the Centre a "Hindu fascist government".
The Maoists that operate from the forests of Gadchiroli have also called for a boycott of the parliamentary polls.
CPI (Maoist) circulated a two-page press release on WhatsApp, urging villagers to boycott the Lok Sabha polls and support them in establishing their "People's Council" (Janatana Sarkar) — a state within a state in the "liberated zone" claimed by the Maoists and completely under their control.
They also called for a "struggle" against the Supreme Court's order on the eviction of over 10 lakh tribal families that live in forests.
Besides the poll boycott, the Darbha Division Committee, a sub-unit of CPI (Maoist) in Dantewada district, has demanded the immediate release of all the tribal villagers the government has detained or jailed on false charges of being Maoists.
"Before every election, whether it is the Lok Sabha or Assembly polls, Maoists call for a boycott of the polls as they don't believe in the democratic process. It is also their way to draw the attention of the government, public and media during elections. We're keeping a close watch on their movements and activities. Security arrangements have been beefed up across the state, not just in Bastar," the inspector general said.
According to the Chhattisgarh Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Maoists are likely to step up their activities as the polling date nears, which has been made evident from the recent attacks they launched on security forces.
The latest was on 5 April, when a CRPF jawan was killed in an encounter in Dhamtari district's Borai. Just the previous day, four Border Security Force personnel were killed in a Maoist ambush in Kanker district.
On 18 March, Maoists ambushed a search party near Aranpur village in Dantewada district, killing one CRPF jawan and severely injuring five. This was the first Maoist attack on security forces in Chhattisgarh since Congress formed the state government.
Earlier, there were instances of Jan Militia cadre attacking contractors and workers and setting their vehicles on fire. In one case, Maoists murdered a villager on suspicion of being a "police informer".
In the past one year, Maoists have adopted an aggressive posture and have not limited themselves to merely issuing calls for poll boycotts or threats. Instead, they resort to attacking the security forces deployed in this volatile red zone.
Even ahead of the Assembly election in Chhattisgarh, Maoists had blown up a bus carrying security personnel in Bijapur district in April 2018. This was a few days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was slated to visit Jangla in Bijapur on 13 April as part of the BJP's election campaign.
The previous month, Maoists had blown up a mine protection vehicle in Sukma, killing nine CRPF soldiers.
Even before former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh's Vikas Yatra, Maoists had triggered a blast as a mark of protest.
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