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Maoists’ global web of linkages

Dr. P. V. Ramana was Research Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi. Click here for detail profile.
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  • May 19, 2012

    Every May, the Workers Party of Belgium (WPB/PTB) hosts the International Communist Seminar in Brussels. In 2012, this is being held between May 18 and May 20. In the past, Naxalites of the Communist Party of India (CPI (Maoist), or Maoists in short, have, in, fact participated in this seminar. In fact, Maoist representatives participated in, or co-hosted, similar conferences in other countries as well, including in Germany, Nepal, etc.

    Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha (Unstarred Question No. 240), on March 14, 2012, Minister of State for Home Affairs Jitendra Singh said, “The Maoists have participated in seminars/conferences conducted in Belgium and Germany.” For instance, Vernon Gonsalves alias Pradeep alias Vikram, a member of the Maharashtra State Committee of the CPI (Maoist), who was arrested on August 19, 2007, participated in the International Communism Seminar in 1996 and presented a paper entitled, “Armed Struggle in India”. Indeed, the Maoists maintain a web of linkages with fraternal groups across the world. The Minister also said, “The CPI (Maoist) [has] close links with foreign Maoist organizations in Philippines, Turkey, etc. The outfit is also a member of [the] ‘Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia [CCOMPOSA]”. Besides, there also existed entirely opportunistic, non-fraternal linkages with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka.

    Indeed, these ties are old and have been well documented by the government. Speaking on the floor of the Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Assembly, the then Home Minister of the state Mr. M. V. Mysoora Reddy said on August 20, 1991, that the People’s War Group (the earlier avatar of the Maoists) “bought 20 SLRs and 60 AK series rifles from the LTTE”. In fact, a former chief of the elite anti-Naxalite intelligence wing, Special Intelligence Branch, of Andhra Pradesh, told this author in an interview in April 2004 that “ex-LTTE cadres of Sri Lanka had trained PWG cadres in land mine technology in 1989-1990”.

    The fraternal links of the Maoists are equally old. In 1995, a year before the Nepalese Maoists launched their People’s War, a PWG leader, Suresh, and Prachanda, Nepalese Maoist supremo, signed a joint statement condemning ‘Indian expansionism and hegemonism’. As recently as in 2006, in its Annual Report, 2005-2006, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) noted: “Available reports indicate continued fraternal and logistic links between the Communist Part of Nepal (Maoist) and Indian Naxalite groups”. The earliest of such an authoritative statement was issued in the MHA’s Annual Report, 2003-2004.

    Further, besides being a member of CCOMPOSA along with the Nepalese Maoists, the Indian Maoists also maintain close ties with several other fraternal groups, as noted by the Minister. CCOMPOSA was originally founded on July 1, 2001, and a press release announcing its formation was issued on July 21, 2001. Until now, five conferences of CCOMPOSA have been conducted, the last in March 2011. In fact, at the conclusion of the fifth conference, members issued a joint press release on March 23, 2001. The press release was signed by Dil Bahadur of the Nepalese Maoists and convenor of the Standing Committee of CCOMPOSA. The press release said: “This Conference is being held when the Indian new democratic revolution continues to confront the serious challenge of "Operation Green Hunt" launched by Indian state. While the initial victories in beating back this 'war on the people', politically as well as militarily, give better conditions to the revolutionaries, the gravity of the challenges they face remains.” It went on to add: “It is a declared fact that CCOMPOSA has been formed to unite the Maoist revolutionaries of South Asia and fight Indian expansionist hegemony and imperialism in the region. Apart from accomplishing its responsibility in this region, CCOMPOSA, as a part and parcel of the international communist movement, must discharge its internationalist duties to further the cause of world proletarian revolution.”

    Chandra Prasad Gajurel alias Gaurav, head of the International Department of the Nepalese Maoists, and Oken of TKP-ML, Turkey, attended the 9th Congress of the then PWG, which was held in Abuj Maad forests, in the Maoist heartland of Bastar, in the Central Indian State of Chhattisgarh.

    Moreover, as a well-known Maoist authority, Mr. K. Srinivas Reddy, told this author, Bert de Belder, an important leader of the WPB, toured, in 1996, North Telengana, then the flagship guerrilla zone of the Maoists, and wrote articles in the European media praising the Maoist movement there as “the best people’s movement he saw anywhere in the world”.

    The Minister further disclosed in the Rajya Sabha that “The so-called People’s War being waged by the CPI (Maoist) against the Indian state has also drawn support from several organizations located in Germany, France, Holland, Turkey, Italy, etc.” According to a senior Intelligence official from Andhra Pradesh, Kobad Ghandy, Polit Bureau member of the CPI (Maoist), who was arrested in September 2009 in New Delhi, and is currently under detention at Tihar Central Jail, visited Canada and the United Kingdom (UK) in 2005, to forge linkages with like-minded people and organisations. He visited Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton in Canada, for five weeks, and London, Birmingham and Bradford in the UK for a week. He is said to have distributed 400 CDs containing two Maoist propaganda films––Blazing Trail and Bhoomkal––and a few documents of the outfit. Kobad Ghandy, incidentally, was also the head of the Central Propaganda Bureau (CPB) of the CPI (Maoist), and the head of its editorial board. All literature of the Maoists is prepared and distributed through the CPB. According to a former chief of the SIB, during these visits abroad, Kobad Ghandy raised funds to the tune of Rs. 2,06,000.

    Besides, according to an internal document of the Maoists, they have fraternal ties with 21 groups spread over as many countries across the globe, stretching from Peru to New Zealand. Some of these groups include: Shining Path (Peru), Revolutionary Communist Party (USA), Maoist Communist Party (Italy), Marxist-Leninist Party (Germany), Revolutionary Communist Party (Colombia), TKP-ML (Turkey) and Communist Party of Philippines.

    Also, the Maoists, in their earlier avatar as the PWG, were co-founders of the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) as well as the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS).

    Moreover, the Maoists had organised a conference of like-minded organisations known as Mumbai Resistance 2004 (MR 2004). Besides Indian groups, a total of 24 international outfits participated in MR 2004. Participants at the event and in the massive public rally were mobilised from Balaghat, Gondia and Gadchiroli districts, all relatively close to Mumbai, and where the Maoists claim to have established a guerrilla zone of domination.

    All these external linkages have served one important purpose. It has given the Maoists visibility and propaganda in different parts of the world. Thus, they have been able to mobilise international political support from fraternal groups. Moreover, these linkages have only very occasionally brought-in money and weapons.

    Nevertheless, it is important for all Indian Missions abroad to closely monitor these international groups to counter the propaganda campaign that they unleash from time to time and refute their false claims. Also, it would be useful to probe if these linkages would, in future, help in establishing an arms supply chain.