Kolkata, October 16: Less than a month to go before the election in Chhattisgarh, the outlawed CPI-Maoist issued a rare apology for killing the State Congress President, Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh Patel. The apology has been issued by none other than the secretary of the most powerful State committee of the CPI-Maoist – Dandkarnya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) – Ramanna alias Ravulu Sriniwas. The recently elected secretary of the banned outfit, Mr. Ramanna has unambiguously apologized for killing the father and son.
“It was a big mistake,” he said in a customized interview, where the scribe’s identity has not been disclosed. He also apologized for the “killing of journalist Nemichand Jain” by cadres of some “lower” committees. The interview was mailed to The Hindu late on Tuesday night. More than thirty people, including Congress workers and policemen, were killed in Jeeram Ghati area in south Chhattisgarh in last May, when Maoist fighters cordoned off the area and opened fire on the convoy.
The seven page interview of Mr. Ramanna – first of its kind after he took over as the party chief in Dandkarnya – is an elaborate document that has measured the strength and weakness of the party in south Chhattisgarh. While analyzing the demerits of various government policies, the Ramanna-document has dissected some of the actions by the fellow Comrades and clearly denounced those. The decision of the Guerrilla Army (PLGA) to execute PCC President Nand Kumar Patel and his son evoked maximum criticism from the State secretary.
“While ten years back, as the Home Minister of the State, he tried to suppress our movement, Nand Kumar Patel was not opposing us in a personal capacity. Moreover, Congress is out of power for last 10 years,” said Mr. Ramanna. Appreciating Mr. Patel’s role, the chief of the Maoist party in Dandkarnya said that the senior leader was routinely “raising his voice against (tribal) killing (by security forces) in Sarkeguda or Edesmetta.”
“He should not have been killed,” is the clear conclusion of the all powerful chief of the party in Dandkarnya. He was more candid about Dinesh Patel, in his interview.
“Killing Dinesh Patel was a big mistake,” said Mr. Ramanna and added, “because he has not done anything against our party or movement.” Moreover, Dinesh Patel had “no record of any anti-people activity,” said Mr. Ramanna. The party chief who also reports directly to highest decision making body has also fixed responsibility for the killing of junior Patel.
“The PLGA command that led the offensive was in haste and took a wrong decision,” he said.
He also regretted that several “innocent” people, including some Congress leaders, were killed in “exchange of fire.” “…some leaders were not our enemies. Our party has already regretted those deaths,” Mr. Ramanna said.
“No Political Conspiracy”
Several conspiracy theories were making rounds in Chhattisgarh soon after the Jeeram Ghati incident. Both the media and the political parties publicly speculated partial involvement of the rival parties or individuals. However the Mr. Ramanna has clearly denied any such political conspiracy.
“Ordinary people informed PLGA about Congress’ Parivartan Yatra (Rally for Change). On basis of the information, the offensive was planned (by PLGA). BJP and Congress are bringing allegations to score against each other during elections. This shows their political bankruptcy…there is no political conspiracy,” Mr. Ramanna said.
However, an elaborate apology by the rebels for killing several Congressmen, followed by a denial of the conspiracy theory, only weeks before the Assembly election, may fuel more speculations in rumor driven politics of Chhattisgarh.