Etapalli (Gadchiroli): Top Naxal leaders, part of the south Gadchiroli division’s western regional committee, slammed the government claiming it is luring tribals to take up arms against each other during an interaction with the media at an undisclosed location in the forest where Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh shares the border in Etapalli taluka of Gadchiroli on Thursday. The rebels’ discussion mostly revolved around their appeal to C-60 commandos of Gadchiroli, who are mostly tribals and celebrating their silver jubilee this year.
The outlaws asked the commandos to refrain from gunfights in the guerrilla zones in which they are either harming them or someone among the brethren who are championing the cause of the repressed and the exploited. The guerrilla leaders claimed that they had dedicated the week from March 23 and 29 in the honour of martyr Bhagat Singh to show solidarity to their jailed compatriot and supporters from village. The interaction with media took place around 15 kms from a place where superintendent of police, Gadchiroli, Sandeep Patil and other senior officers were camping. Even the state police chief Sanjeev Dayal and others were present in Etapalli at a place not far from where two major formations of Naxals were present.
“The C-60 commandos should realize that we have fought for the liberation of their forefathers from repression of the foresters in the early 80s when even chopping firewood for preparing meal would result in severe punishment,” said Ritesh (name changed), a divisional committee member of South Gadchiroli. He added, “The district was engulfed in abject poverty and apathy of the government until Naxal movement started around 35 years ago.” “The C-60 force should realize why the government wants to defeat us when we are merely fighting for the tribals rights on jal (water), jungle (forest), jameen (land). The government is merely eyeing the resources of the district which belongs to the tribal,” he said.
Ritesh pointed out that several C-60 commandos have faced humiliations from seniors during the course of their duties and have also been compelled to end life. “The government is trying to trample the movement which has been shaped up to help the poor to fight for their rights, create awareness and emerge from exploitations. The district has witnessed drastic changes since Naxal movement started here. At least, every family in the district today has some land or part of forest to live. The cost of labour too has increased,” claimed Ritesh. Ritesh argued that Naxals never target civilians until they try to harm the movement. “We issue several warnings, try to explain, approach the family and then take drastic step if a person is determined to harm us,” he said. Ritesh claimed the movement is still getting sound support at the ground level. “We admit being hit by some casualties in the last few years but we are toiling hard to strengthen the outfit. History has shown that the movement has experienced several highs and lows over the years,” he said.
‘No gender bias in party’
Ritesh argued that the government has been trying to tarnish the image of the movement by forcing surrendered Naxals to speak rot such as victimization of women cadres in the outfit. “There is no discrimination between men or women cadres in the party,” said Ritesh. Instead, he claimed that C-60 commandos, having forgotten their tribal past for government salary, had been torturing women from their community in the name of police action.
‘Naxals allowed to marry’
The Naxal top leader stated that his party is not against marriage but certainly opposes nuptial ties within certain relations which is barred by the local custom. “We prefer family planning operations as moving around in pregnant condition or with children in the forest becomes difficult,” he said. “Party allows forming family too,” he said.
‘Disgruntled cadres are surrendering’
The spurt in numbers of surrenders among Naxals was attributed to disgruntled cadres unwilling to follow rules of the party, said the south Gadchiroli Naxal leader. “Some of the cadres are surrendering in greed while others are turning away after failing to follow discipline,” he said.
‘NGOs have vested interests’
Ritesh lashed out at a section of NGOs working in Gadchiroli and some private initiatives in the Naxal dominated places. “Some NGOs are clearly working on the lines of government’s agenda and seem to be state sponsored. They have vested interests against Naxals who are fighting for the rights of the poor,” he said.