Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh's Sukma: Modi govt should end silence on Pakistan-China-Maoists nexus

The nexus between India's Maoists with both, Pakistan-based Islamic terrorists and China, is not a figment of an overzealous investigator's imagination. Nor is it hallucination on the part of a bunch of "Hindu nationalists". There is no irrefutable evidence to prove that either Islamist jihadis or the Chinese have helped Maoists in launching any specific attacks in India, including the one in Chhattisgarh on Monday, but there are enough indications of their collusion for India to worry about.

Though police forces across all states have been arresting Maoists or killing them in real and fake encounters, reducing the number of their active, armed members from 12,000 to 8,000, they continue to strike with deadly frequency and precision. This inevitably raises questions about the external help which they are evidently receiving by way of arms and training. Even the intelligence agencies have been talking about for some time now.

For instance, at the site where Maoists attacked a CRPF battalion in Jharkhand's Latehar district on 7 January, 2013, the police found grenades which were suspected to have been made in Pakistan. In October the previous year, the Jharkhand police arrested a leader of the People's Liberation Front of India, a splinter group of the Communist party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), and seized from him bullets which had on them the letters POF, apparently meaning Pakistan Ordnance Factory.

Image used for representational purpose only. PTI

Image used for representational purpose only. PTI

But that was the last we heard of the two seizures.

The first time that the Indian investigators stumbled on substantial information on this nexus was after the arrest of Lakshar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative Mohammed Umar Madani in Delhi on 4 June, 2009.

Previously a resident of Balkatwa village in Bihar's Madhubani district, Madani first travelled to Pakistan, where he received combat training, and then to Nepal, where he became a "head hunter" for LeT. According to official statements at that time, he revealed during interrogation that his job was to not only recruit Muslim youth in India for LeT but also to establish links with Maoists in Bihar and Jharkhand and send them for training in Pakistan. Documents seized from him hinted at plans by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to break up India with help from Maoists.

Intelligence reports had said that as many as 500 Maoists were trained by activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in the hills near Vagamon in Kerala in 2008. In both the conversations, which were private and and rare interviews, Maoist leaders make no secret of their sympathy for the Islamic jihadi outfits.

Lakshmana Rao aka Ganapathi, the General Secretary of the CPI (Maoist), had this to say in a 2009 interview to journalist and writer Rahul Pandita:

"Islamic jihadist movements of today are a product of imperialist-particularly US imperialist-aggression, intervention, bullying, exploitation and suppression of the oil-rich Islamic and Arab countries of West Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, etcetera, and the persecution of the entire Muslim religious community. As part of their designs for global hegemony, the imperialists, particularly US imperialists, have encouraged and endorsed every war of brazen aggression and brutal attacks by their surrogate state of Israel ... It is only Maoist leadership that can provide correct anti-imperialist orientation and achieve class unity among Muslims as well as people of other religious persuasions."

Ben West of Global Intelligence Agency Stratfor said in a 2010 email accessed by Wikileaks said that there was a "certain amount of truth" in the talk about LeT-Maoists link.

The Chinese connection

Indian officials have seized from Maoists weapons and bullets made not only in Pakistan, but also in China. Not surprisingly, the Chinese arms made way to the Maoists via Bangladesh, Myanmar and, of course, India's highly porous border with Nepal. Quoting an intelligence bureau report, Headlines Today said in 2012 that Chinese intelligence units had been training, arming and funding Maoists to help them wage war against India.

The channel had said: "Disturbingly, the report is replete with specific observations and specific pieces of intelligence on China's dirty game. It reveals how Maoists have been training in Nagaland, funded by the Chinese. It shows how certain Maoist units are now being given encrypted wireless communication devices."

A Pakistan flag alongside a Chinese national flag. Reuters

A Pakistan flag alongside a Chinese national flag. Reuters

Maoists had links with LTTE too

Seeking help from external sources is nothing new for Maoists. In the past, they sought and got assistance from forest thug Veerappan and Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

In 2000, during the many weeks that I spent in the jungles of Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border, where Veerappan unleashed unspeakable terror, tribals spoke of strangers making sudden appearances in their villages. Interviews with officials of the forest and police departments revealed at that time that some of those mysterious strangers were Maoists and the others were believed to belong to LTTE.

Maoists sought help from LTTE in learning ambushing techniques. And both Maoists and the LTTE together sought safe sanctuary in Veerappan's jungle in return for weapons.

Officials who investigated some past Maoist attacks noted that their techniques were similar to those used by LTTE. The precision and skill the Maoists exhibited in attacking CRPF jawans in March last year near Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, killing seven of them, was attributed to the training they had received from LTTE in setting off landmines.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told the Lok Sabha last year that Maoists not only had "close links" with Leftist outfits in countries such as Germany, France, Turkey and Italy, but may also have received training from the Communist Party of Philippines.

Neither Kiren Rijiju nor former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who had made a similar statement, spoke of the Chinese and Pakistani links. Considering the new passion in the Pakistan-China relations and their common agenda against India, it's time the Narendra Modi government spoke up about the nexus between the Maoists and the two neighbouring countries.

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Updated Date: Apr 25, 2017 16:46:43 IST

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