The 40-odd days of the abduction drama staged by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), first by taking into captivity an Odisha MLA and then the collector of Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, is being seen by intelligence agencies as moves to distract the attention of security forces so that the red brigade could prepare for their party’s 10th Congress.
Senior officials in the home ministry believe the Naxalites are using diversionary tactics to stall the hunt of their cadres in the two states, to allow senior Maoist leaders to move in the jungles along the states’ borders undetected.
“We suspect that Maoists are preparing for their 10th Congress in the jungles and that is why they are abducting high-profile targets to stall operations (there),” said a senior official of the ministry.
Intelligence agencies believe there is a similar pattern in the abductions of the Odisha MLA, Jhina Hikaka, and Sukma collector, Alex paul Menon. “Technically, we don’t think Hikaka was abducted. Maoists had asked him to come along and he obeyed without any resistance. Maoists had demanded the release of 22 people to let Hikaka go but ultimately only the wife of a senior Maoist leader was freed for the exchange,” the official said.
The ninth Congress of the CPI (Maoist) happened in 2007 in the Bhimbandh area of Bihar. Senior home ministry officials believe the Maoists were interested in holding the 10th Congress now, because there was division within their ranks, with members from Odisha wanting a bigger share of power.
“At present, most of the Maoist leadership belongs to Andhra Pradesh and now people from Odisha, like Sabyasachi Panda, who have been active in their areas of operations, also want a say in the decision making process. Maoists want to discuss these divisions within the ranks and end this power tussle. The same problem had started in Jharkhand some years ago, as Maoist leaders of the state were demanding their share in the power structure,” the officer added.
Senior officials suspect once the Maoists complete their Congress, they would stop abductions and resume attacks on security personnel, to send a message that they can do so at will.