Andhra Pradesh Home Minister K Jana Reddy on Wednesday night announced that the ban on Communist Party of India-Maoist covers its seven frontal organisations for a period of one year with immediate effect.
Apart from CPI-Maoist, the other outfits that figure in the list are: Radical Youth League, Radical Students Union, All India Revolutionary Students Federation, Rythu Coolie Sangham, Singareni Karmika Sangham, Viplava Karmika Sangham and Revolutionary Writers Association.
The home minister clarified that the ban did not cover other armed naxalite groups such as Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (Janashakti), CPI-ML (Pratighatana) and CPI-ML (Praja Pratighatana) as the police was tackling their violent activities effectively. Also, no ban was contemplated on these splinter groups at this stage since they were not covered by the ban earlier too.
Jana Reddy said that the decision to reimpose the ban on CPI-Maoist and its frontal organisations was taken following the escalation in their violent activities of the Maoists, particularly the killing of Congress legislator Chittem Narsi Reddy and eight others on the Independence Day.
He said the naxalites had killed 157 people, including 140 civilians and 17 policemen and home guards, since January 1, 2005. On the other hand, 110 naxalites were killed in encounters with the police during the same period.
The home minister said that the state government took the decision on the ban since law and order was a state subject. However, he pointed out that Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had assured the central government’s full support for whatever decision that the state government deemed necessary to put down the Maoist menace.
“Maintenance of peace and order is the state government’s responsibility and we have taken this decision,” he added.
He said that strict instructions had been issued to the police not to resort to any harassment of the common man. “Sympathisers and people who provide food or shelter to the Maoists out of fear will not be subjected to harassment and no cases will be filed against them. We have sent out the instructions to all the police stations in this regard,” he explained.
Jana Reddy parried questions whether the Revolutionary Writers Association (Viplava Rachayitala Sangham) office-bearers P Varavara Rao and G Kalyan Rao would be arrested since their outfit had also been banned by the government now.
Meanwhile, former Maoist emissaries and revolutionary Varavara Rao and G Kalyan Rao and balladeer Gaddar on Wednesday evening sharply reacted to the re-imposition of the ban on Maoists by the Andhra Pradesh government.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi and other political parties also opposed the reimposition of the ban on the ground that it would only exacerbate the situation lead to more bloodshed in the countryside.
Gaddar said that the ban was officially announced on Wednesday though it was unofficially in force since the breakdown of the peace talks early in 2005. “This is not only a ban on the revolutionary parties and organisations, but also on the democratic rights of the people, especially the weaker sections,” he quipped.
The balladeer recalled that the Congress regained power in the 2004 assembly elections by promising a peace dialogue with the naxalites.
The party had also made many other promises to enlist the support of the people. However, the Congress regime deliberately derailed the peace process and unleashed a reign of terror in the countryside by resorting to combing operations and encounter killings of naxalites.
“This ban will curtail the rights of the poor, agrarian coolies, industrial workers and the weaker sections such as the Girijans (Scheduled Tribes), Dalits (Scheduled Castes) and Backward Classes,” Gaddar pointed out.
The Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India-Marxist, too, felt that the reimposition of the ban on Maoists would not serve any purpose. Instead of pursuing the hardline against the Maoists, the state government should have concentrated its efforts in tackling the problems of various sections of the people.
TRS, particularly, warned the Congress government against toughening its stance towards the Maoists would only make matters worse. TRS had pulled out six ministers from the state cabinet in protest against injustice meted out to Telangana region by the government and the police offensive against the Maoists.
The Telugu Desam preferred to maintain stoic silence on the reimposition of the ban, but the Bharatiya Janata Party felt that law and order situation had deteriorated in the state since the breakdown of peace talks and the reimposition of the ban would lead to ‘peace of the graveyard’ as former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya put it.
By Syed Amin Jafri