Jampanna alias Ginugu Narasimha Reddy, one of the remaining seven members of the Central Committee of the CPI (Maoists) who surrendered to police through a leader of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in Mahbobabad district (part of erstwhile Warangal) has exposed the fissures and churning in the Maoist-Leninist organisation since 2013 on the scope and future of the movement.
While he claimed to have surrendered on ideological differences with the party after reaching the highest position (CC member), the party spokesman says that he was no more a CC member and was demoted to a state committee two years ago. “Why blame the party for enjoying everything for 33 years? He has surrendered for personal and political reasons and hopes to become an MLA as well,” a veteran Maoist leader who too surrendered long ago due to kidney ailment, told The Lede.
A three-page detailed party response to Jampanna’s ‘cowardly’ action counters the claims of the former of being an honest comrade. “Jampanna suffered from three serious weaknesses, limitations and non-proletarian trends like individualism, bureaucracy and false prestige,” said the statement sent to newspaper offices.
The story of Jampanna is almost similar to that of Maoist top guns who had surrendered in the recent past over family pressure and health grounds. “Leaving the reasoning apart, it is a well-known fact that the Maoist movement has lost its lustre and charisma after Operation ‘Green Hunt’ in Chhattisgarh as the divide between the leadership and tribals have further deepened,” said T Prabhakar Rao, DIG Intelligence, Telangana Police to The Lede.
But police strategists say that Maoists were fighting a losing battle as there are no more landlords oppressing poor farmers and farm labour in villages. “The student, women, tribal and farm labourers who were joining the movement in the eighties and nineties are gradually disillusioned and deserting now. What is left is just a handful of innocent tribals and Dalits who have nowhere to go and police foisted cases to scare them from coming out,” said M Mahender Reddy, DGP of Telangana.
Briefing the media after Jampanna’s surrender, the DGP said that hardly 135 Maoist cadres were on the run in Telangana and requested the others to take the path of Jampanna and surrender for their own well being and also that of their families. “We will give Rs 25 lakhs to Jampanna and Rs 5 lakhs to his wife Rajita, the cash award set on their head by government besides providing all rehabilitation initiatives like house, bank loans, pensions, land for farming and security against their own tribe,” he said.
Experts on the extremist movement say that Jampanna has emerged as a symbol of the deteriorating phase of the movement. Not just Jampanna, many cadre who survived encounters and the harsh life in exile and underground say the party vision document on the perils of agrarian movement and the the ground realities were totally different. “When we began the fight, things were different. Police and landlords colluded, making the situation grave for the weaker sections and poor farmers. But now it is different,” said Kumar, a top Maoist of North Telangana region who parted ways with his comrades-in-arms and traded his gun for a pen. Well-versed in Telugu, Gondi, English and Hindi, he now works in a leading media organisation in Hyderabad and spoke at length to The Lede on this issue.
The period between 1985 and 2000 is often regarded as a watershed in the history of left-wing extremism in the then undivided Andhra Pradesh, with eight out of 10 districts in the Telangana region under the influence of the People’s War Group (PWG) which merged with the Maoist Communist Centre of India in 2004 to become the CPI (Maoist).
Over 100 armed squads of ultras moved in and out of the forests, targeting the allegedly corrupt police, government officials and conniving politicians civilians who they regarded as ‘enemies’. In the unabated, gory and senseless battles in forests and villages nearly 3035 ultras, 599 policemen and 3105 civilians were killed.
Meeting the ultras in forests and their leaders in remote villages was seen as “adventure journalism” and many reporters ventured inside to get a view about what happened inside the Maoists’ groups, camps and their popularity among civilians in tribal and remote villages.
There were no rosy accounts of life in Maoist camps after 2008 – four years after the failed peace talks with the Congress government led by YS Rajashekhar Reddy and thereafter police combed most of the hide-outs of the ultras in the Nallamala forests, keeping them on the run and pushed them into neighbouring Odisha and Chhattisgarh where Maoist monitoring was weak.
This writer witnessed the Greyhound commandos surrounding the Maoist top gun Ramakrishna (Akkiraju Hargopal) in Nallamala and then DGP Swaranjit Singh refused to let them go. Representatives of civil liberties forums who participated in the 2004 peace talks made fervent appeals to YSR who, despite severe objections from the police, allowed Ramakrishna and 8 other Maoists to go free. But the Chhattisgarh police did not relent when they were rounded up two years later. Of the 14 CC members, 4 were killed in encounters, 3 surrendered and even Ramakrishna, who was severely injured in the Malkangiri encounter, barely survived and escaped, say police Intelligence officials.
Who Is Jampanna?
Coming out to live as a free man after 33 years underground as an activist, Jampanna told reporters that it might take him days and months to recover and lead a normal life. On the first few days of living in custody and later in a safe house of police, the couple felt difficulty to sleep without arms beside them which was their normal practice for decades. It is said that police gave them dummy weapons to keep on their bed. The Maoist couple had nightmares of being attacked and also having to run for several nights, they told reporters.
“We gave them full security and even our own men did not know their whereabouts until we brought them before the media and government,” said SIB chief VC Sajjanar to The Lede.
When he surrendered, Jampanna was a key member of the Central Committee, member of the Central Military Commission, Central Regional Bureau comprising Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Telangana, besides secretary of Odisha Committee.
Party sources say that he was retained in those positions as they were short of experienced leaders and also that the sick top Maoist Ganapati, secretary of CPI (ML) voted for his continuance in positions until 2016. But Jampanna was later relegated to only the Odisha Committee.
“Things would have been different but for the October 2016 encounter wherein we lost sincere and loyal leaders,” said a Maoist spokesman on phone. Obviously, Jampanna had lost the trust and loyalty quotient for some time now.
Like all Maoist leaders, Jampanna had also been attracted to the Radical Students Union while a student at Osmania University when he was studying for a diploma at ITI in Hyderabad. He was recruited for underground activity by the bigwigs of the People’s War – Shakamuri Appa Rao and Puli Anjaiah to an armed dalam (camp) of Warangal and elevated as commander of the Eturunagaram Dalam.
After working in Telangana forest division and North Telangana special zonal committee he was elected to the Central Committee in the ninth congress of the CPI (ML) at Abhujmadh in Chhattisgarh in 2001. At the time of surrender, he held four positions. But other activists say that Jampanna was crucial in the formation of a new division titled – Kalahandi Kandhamal, Both and Nayaghar (KKBN division) on the lines of AOB (Andhra-Odisha Border).
His wife Anitha alias Rajita was studying MSc via distance education at Osmania University when she joined the movement during the peace talks period of 2004 and married Jampanna in 2009 when she was operating at Odisha state before surrender.
There were more than 100 cases against Jampanna including 52 cases in Telangana itself. The attack on Vajedu police station in 1991 and Karakaguem police station in 1997, Balimela lake attack on Greyhounds in 2008 and the 2007 attack on SPO training camp in Chhattisgarh are some of the cases.
In response to Jampannas surrender, Abhay says that after his wedding Jampanna had turned lame and cowardly and refused to come out of hiding to attend party meetings. “The ‘terror of the enemy’ (meaning police and the intelligence department) had overtaken him so much that he refused to attend the party meetings with the excuse of probable enemy attacks. He had also refused to take up the responsibility of a State committee [which] the CC had assigned to him. The talk of political differences on ideology is nothing but cover up [of] his degeneration,” said Abhay, a CC member to The Lede.
All these come at a time when the Left Wing Extremist organisation is witnessing a conflict between the tribal and non-tribal leadership and the dominance of leaders from AP and Telangana. A senior officer from the AP State Intelligence Bureau said Jampanna was a military strategist who wielded considerable influence among the cadres in Telangana and Chhattisgarh, and his surrender would weaken the party in conducting operations against the police and CRPF in near future. He has been identified for his key role in the Balimela reservoir attack on June 29, 2008, in which 38 personnel of Greyhounds traveling in a boat stealthily were shot dead in an ambush by the Maoists.
Maoists believe that police had played a vital role in putting pressure on Jampanna through his aged mother who was kept under police care at the Hanamkonda old age home. Jampanna called her and the emotive session has gone viral, thanks to police support.
Cautioning other cadres to be cautious when they meet their kins, the CPI (Maoists), in a statement, advised them that surrendered Maoists are used to write letters to underground workers ‘using old links’ and lure them with many promises and illusions and compel them to surrender. Police had used the same trick earlier to get surrender of Kanyakumari, who was operating under the Western Ghats special zonal committee to surrender in Karnataka in June this year. Since 2015 when the new campaign to influence family members of Maoists top guns to appease their kin to surrender, the police claim they had nearly 400 catches at the lower levels. Jampanna’s surrender has been a major shot in the arm.