Naxal Violence: Profile of Katakam Sudarshan

10 Jun, 2013    ·   3986

Deepak Kumar Nayak outlines the background, strategy and support base of the leader

Deepak Kumar Nayak
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Officer

The recent Chhattisgarh massacre in which 29 persons got killed, including Mahendra Karma, the controversial founder of the Salwa Judum, anti-Maoist 'people's movement' in the State, and Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Nand Kumar Patel, pointed out that the kind of assault perpetrated to the convoy which was on their way for political rally ‘Parivartan Yatra’ suggested that it was meticulously planned by a ‘mastermind’.

Intelligence agencies and National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials suspected that it must be Katakam Sudarshan, secretary of Central regional Bureau of the CPI (Maoist) who must have planned and executed the Darbha valley carnage. The agencies believed the 25 May massacre could not have occurred without his intervention. Retrospectively, he is the one believed to have been the brain behind the infamous Dantewada massacre in April 2010, in which 76 CRPF security personnel were killed in the Naxal ambush.

Katakam Sudarshan, also known by the aliases Anand and Mohan and Birenderji, is one of the top nine leaders and is part of the politburo of the CPI (Maoist). After the elimination of Mallojula Koteswara Rao alias Kishenji in November 2011, Sudarshan is said to be heading the politburo which has around 14 members and is given the overall charge of the Naxal movement. Further, he is believed to be in charge of Naxal operations in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and in particular, mostly influential in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada area.

Sudarshan, a native of Bellampally of Andhra Pradesh's Adilabad district, was a student of polytechnic course in Warangal before joining the People's War Group (PWG) in the 1980s. He joined the Naxal Movement to fight for the causes of the Adivasis in the north Telangana region who he thought were being exploited. Since then, as secretary of the outfit he has worked rigorously in the field, leading the Maoist movement from north Telangana to the Adivasi-inhabited regions of Dandakaranya in Chhattisgarh.

He has 21 cases against him most of which are in Andhra Pradesh approximately 17 cases. All his cases are under the offence committed under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code relating to murder and carry a reward of INR 1200,000 on his head. His wife Sadhana, the secretary of Adilabad district in North Telangana was killed in an encounter a few years ago.  She too was a fiery, vocal and highly talented comrade. Both had joined the Naxal movement through People's War group, which later merged with the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI).

In the CPI (Maoist), Sudarshan is renowned as a guerrilla war strategist. His strategy entails his clockwork precision in planning and executing lethal attacks which made his mark as the master strategist of the CPI (Maoist) organisation. It is because of his meticulous strategy he was given the command of a company of the Maoists’ People’s Guerrilla Army to try and stall the Centre’s anti-Naxalite Operation Green Hunt, the anti-Naxalite movement. Even when the Salwa Judum movement was launched, it was he who meticulously planned various means to counter the same. For his ability to inflict maximum damage to the class enemy of the CPI (Maoist) he had been tasked with the elimination of Mahendra Karma and since the year 2006, he has made several attempts to assassinate him.

It was in May 2013 that Sudarshan entrusted his most trusted aide, Gaganna as the operational head for the Darbha Ghati attack. He is believed to have shifted gears, choosing a "soft target" in the Congress workers' cavalcade rather than hit at security forces, as the Maoists have mostly done so far.

The attack of the congress convoy was in retaliation to a series of severe reverses inflicted to the Naxals in the region over the past few years by security forces in anti-Naxal operations and especially towards the atrocities carried on by the Salwa Judum. Even though the Supreme Court of India declared the militia to be illegal and unconstitutional, and ordered its disbanding on 5 July 2011, the angst against the designers remained with the Maoists, which resulted in the mindless killing in the Darbha valley.

However, despite, the Intelligence Bureau having sent an alert that Sudarshan, was active in the area and could be planning something, the state could not stop the inevitable Maoist attack. The local state police and the top Congress leaders of the state participating in the political rally ‘Parivartan Yatra’ ignored the standard operating procedures that are considered crucial in Naxal-dominated regions.

Support Base
Talking to Pahat (Dawn), a mouthpiece of Maharashtra State Committee of CPI (Maoist), Katakam Sudarshan said, to build support base for the CPI (Maoist), lands of over 1,000 farmers were leveled and 50 new reservoirs and farm-bunds have been built in the ‘liberated’ Dandakaranya zone in Chhattisgarh. This programme was launched in on 10 February 2011, the occasion of Bhumkal Diwas, when the Adivasis revolted against the British in Bhumkal, Bastar. Over 1.2 lakh people participated in the programme which was a three-week-long activity. Sudarshan also claimed that they have constructed houses for 136 homeless in the region that cover parts of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

People are also finding it less necessary to travel to adjoining states for their daily needs. Trying to highlight that the villagers are participants in the armed conflict, he says, "And in such times, it has become possible for the people to unitedly fight police attacks." By discarding various Acts like the 1970 Land Ceiling Act and the 2006 Forest Rights Act, Sudarshan says such laws have done no good to tribal farmers. However, the debate will go on whether the democratic government or the CPI (Maoist) is for the development of the tribals.

Since 2010, three years has passed by yet Sudarshan is yet to be brought to justice. Minister of State for Home RPN Singh has said, “Action will be taken if anyone is found guilty.” Time will tell whether Sudarshan can be brought to justice or the million dollar question will be whether his arrest remains a distant dream for the NIA and the security forces?