Maoists are regrouping in the Junglemahal area of West Bengal after being in hibernation for nearly four years, according to intelligence reports.
"There has been a surge in their activities in the past six months. We have specific reports of their movements both individually and in small groups, especially in Binpur, Lalgarh, and parts of Purulia," a senior CRPF officer, overseeing anti-Maoist operations in the state, told PTI.
Joint forces of CRPF and West Bengal Police have been conducting raids in the Junglemahal, which comprises forested parts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts, to keep a tab on Maoist activities, the officer said on the condition of anonymity.
Maoist activities ebbed in the state after the ‘Operation Green Hunt’ was launched with the joint forces mounting attacks on the Left-wing rebels killing many including CPI (Maoist) politburo member Kishenji.
Kishenji, who was leading the rebels’ activities in the state, was killed in an encounter with the joint forces on November 24, 2011. The state had witnessed a spurt in Maoist violence towards the end of 2008.
"I can’t say that they are not regrouping. Because they have been making efforts to regroup for quite some time. But we are on high alert and there has been no instance of Maoist violence in Junglemahal area in last four years," IG (CRPF) West Bengal sector Vivek Sahay told PTI.
The latest intelligence reports said the ultras were trying to form small groups in the area and rebuild their movement from the scratch.
"In comparison to past three years, since last six months there has been a surge in their movements… Although it’s not too big but this time during Martyrs’ Day observed by the Maoists there has been a partial response in the areas," a senior state Intelligence Bureau official said.
According to officials, the squads of Maoist leaders Bikash in Lalgarh area (West Midnapore), Ranjit in Ayodha hills (Purulia), Madan Mahato in Jambani, Akash, and Jayanto are trying to regroup and recruit new people.
Small Maoist groups were also reported in Kashi Jungle, Burishole, Salboni and other parts trying to regroup and regain public support.
The officials also stated that there are reports these leaders visit villages either individually or in small groups and are trying to rejuvenate sleeping cells and sympathisers of the red ultras.
According to IB officials, for the first time in four years, Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA), an organisation backed by Maoists, and Maoist posters were found in Junglemahal area during the Martyrs’ Day observation.
One reason why the Maoists are keen to come back to the area is the topography of the region, which with its dense forests and hilly terrains provide an ideal backdrop for their clandestine activity, IB officials said.
Another factor which works in their favour is the ready source of cadres among the tribal people of the region which is underdeveloped in terms of job availability and infrastructure, the officials said.
The terrain also suits their methods of guerrilla warfare while taking on the security forces and police personnel. The area, which recorded 350 killings in 2010-11, witnessed not even one since 2012.
Although IG (Western Range) of West Bengal Police S N Gupta said he had no specific information about Maoist trying to regroup, he conceded that the red ultras are making rounds of villages on the Bengal-Jharkhand border.
"We don’t have specific inputs that Maoists are trying to regroup. But we had some info that Maoists ultras are making rounds of bordering villages of Bengal-Jharkhand border, on Jharkhand side," Gupta told PTI.
Although, the state administration denied to see much into the reports of Maoists movement, the central agencies feel that the partial response to the call of shutdown on May 25 is a wake up call.
Trinamool Congress MP and leader Subhendu Adhikari, who had played a prominent role in curbing the Maoists activity in Junglemahal area, too agreed and alleged that the Maoists are trying to regroup with the help of the opposition parties ahead of the next year’s assembly polls.
"As Assembly elections are slated to be held next year, Maoists with the help of opposition parties are trying to regroup and create problem. The administration is doing its work to counter them and we will fight them politically and ideologically," Adhikari told PTI.
Adhikari, however, stated that although their activities are more in Bengal-Jharkhand, Bengal-Odisha border, the situation is not that alarming.
CPI(M) Politburo member Mohammed Salim, however, blamed the policies of the TMC government as the reason behind the resurgence of the Maoist movement.
"According to union government, in order to counter Maoists you have to have a three pronged strategy. But the state government thought things will be solved after the death of Kishenji. But that has not been the case as developmental promises have not been fulfilled," Salim said.