Secret exchanges between the Maoists and a Manipuri rebel outfit show that the slain Naxal leader was seeking an access to China. Ratnadip Choudhury reports
ON 1 OCTOBER, Delhi Police nabbed a priceless catch when a raid at a hotel in Paharganj led to the arrest of N Dilip Singh alias N Wangba, the external affairs chief of the banned People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of Manipur. Along with Dilip, 51, his deputy, Arun Kumar Singh Salam, 36, was also arrested. Their interrogation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) revealed startling information about how the nexus between the CPI(Maoist) and the PLA had blossomed ever since the two outfits signed a joint declaration on 22 October 2008 against the Indian government.
There have been reports that Dilip was helping the Maoists reach out to rebel groups in the Northeast, and that Maoists were trying to spread the idea of a Strategic United Front of all rebel outfits operating in the restive region. All these reports were source-based inputs. Now, TEHELKA has accessed secret letters between the Maoists and the PLA leadership, all routed through Dilip, which reveal how the nexus was formed and how this scheme was the brainchild of slain Maoist leader Kishenji himself. TEHELKA has not independently verified the authenticity of these letters, which were provided by reliable police sources.
On 24 January 2010, CPI(Maoist) General Secretary Ganapathy wrote to Irengbam Chaoren, president of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) of Manipur (PLA is the armed wing of the RPF). In the letter, Ganapathy informed the PLA that the Maoists have to call off the planned military training because of Operation Green Hunt. He also proposed a meeting for which he would send two Maoist Central Committee (MCC) members and said that the main agenda of the talks should be the formation of a Strategic United Front. The meeting took place on 18-20 March 2010, in which Kishenji was also present. TEHELKA has a copy of the minutes of that meeting.
On 22 March 2010, Kishenji sent a letter to the PLA in which he floated the idea of forming a grand alliance to unite all rebel groups in which the Maoists would take the lead role. “We put one proposal regarding building a united front that will be strategic in nature comprising all the revolutionary, democratic and progressive forces of the Northeast. We also put the proposal of helping us by sending instructors for military and communication training and also sending 3-5 men for military and other training,” wrote Kishenji.
In the first bilateral meeting, it was decided that the PLA would start a 12-14 month training camp for Maoists from September 2010. The PLA agreed to send two trainers each for military and communication training. The PLA also agreed to provide arms and communication devices to Maoists; all these were noted in the meeting’s minutes, in which Kishenji has been referred to as Kishan Da.
Further meetings were held in Kolkata, Guwahati and Rourkela. According to NIA sources, a meeting for finalising the training schedule was held in Champai, Mizoram, which was attended by Kishenji. The sources confirmed that Dilip confessed that arms training did take place in the Saranda forest of Jharkhand on 11-20 November 2010, but it was cut short.
TEHELKA has in its possession another secret letter that clarifies why the training was cut short. On 30 December 2010, Sagar, a top commander of the Maoist armed unit, sent a secret missive to the RPF general secretary. The letter reveals that while the Maoists could not start the training on time owing to massive operations against them by the Joint Forces, the PLA failed to send the high-frequency wireless communication devices on time.
The letter is interesting if one reads between the lines. Sagar airs his disappointment over the fact that the PLA trainers left early, although the training was supposed to last three months. It becomes clear that the two outfits could not take the bonhomie further due to serious “hiccups” during the first phase of training.
China reportedly sent an ‘assurance’ through the PLA leaders that they are willing to help the Maoists
The PLA was given a contract of procuring Chinese-made rocket-propelled grenades, automatic rifles and high-end wireless sets. “We have found out that the PLA was supposed to hand over high-frequency wireless sets before the training started, but they were able to send it only at a later date,” an NIA source said.
Kishenji was trying to develop secret links with other rebel groups in the Northeast, including the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac-Muivah) or NSCN(IM). The latter’s chief arms procurer Anthony Shimray, who is in NIA custody, confessed that a huge cache of arms for the Maoists was purchased from a Chinese company. The consignment included automatic rifles, rocket launchers and grenades. TEHELKAwas informed by an insider from the anti-talk faction of ULFA that Kishenji was in touch with ULFA army chief Paresh Barua, who led him to Shimray.
IN 2008, when the PLA and the Maoists signed the joint declaration, another development was taking place that eventually was seen as ‘beneficial’ by Kishenji. According to intelligence sources, Paresh Barua and Chaoren flew to Kunming in China’s Yunan province from Dhaka and had two meetings with Chinese military intelligence brass in February. In May, they flew again to Beijing and an understanding was reached on arms dealing. At that time, the PLA had urged the Chinese to help the Maoists and an “assurance” from the Chinese was sent through the PLA.
In the sensational letter from Kishenji available with TEHELKA, the Maoists had stressed on forming a Strategic United Front as a means to “counter the physiological war” of New Delhi. The minutes of the meeting between the PLA and the Maoists where Kishenji was present clearly states: “The Maoists have agreed to the RPF/PLA proposal of maintaining contact and collaborating with foreign countries.”
The Maoist-PLA nexus might have taken several blows due to the arrest of various PLA cadre and Kishenji’s death but the worry for New Delhi is perhaps the fact that the Maoists have access not only to Northeast rebel outfits but through them to the Chinese as well.
Ratnadip Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka.