Maoists: Women in the Camp,JeI: Desperate Manoeuvres :: South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR),Vol. No. 9.16
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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 9, No. 16, October 25, 2010

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Maoists: Women in the Camp
Fakir Mohan Pradhan
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

In a gruesome attack on the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) camp at Shilda in West Midnapore District of West Bengal on February 15, 2010, the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) killed 24 personnel of this State paramilitary formation. Significantly woman Maoist cadres played a major role in the attack, which was led by Jagori Baske, a woman ‘commander’. Baske usually operates along the borders with Jharkhand and Orissa, under the supervision of Koteswar Rao alias Kishan, Maoist Politburo and Central Military Commission member. Three woman cadres had made the final recee of the site in the guise of tribal dancers a few hours before the attack. Shobha Mandi alias Uma (23), the Jhargram (West Midnapore District of West Bengal) ‘area commander’, who later surrendered on August 27, 2010, also played an active role in the attack.

Earlier, the attack on the Sankrail Police Station in the same District on October 20, 2009, in which two Police personnel were killed and the officer-in-charge abducted, was also led by a woman cadre, Suchitra Mahato.

Another high profile attack, in which 18 Policemen were killed in the Gadchiroli District of Maharashtra on October 8, 2009, was also led by a woman cadre Tarakka (42), a member of the South Gadchiroli Divisional Committee, which is also headed by a woman, Narmada (52), from Andhra Pradesh. Police believe, about 40 per cent of dalam (armed squad) cadres in Gadchiroli and adjacent areas are women. Apart from Tarakka, other women ‘commanders’ in Gadchiroli include Jyoti (in Tipagadh), Raneeta (Chatgaon), Sujita (Deori) and Ranjita (Surjagarh). Saroja, who was ‘commander’ of the Jimalgatta dalam, was arrested in 2009. Her husband, Lanka Papi Reddy aka Lachanna, who was a Central Committee member, later surrendered before Warangal Police in Andhra Pradesh. Radhakka, a senior Maoist cadre working in Bastar in Chhattisgarh for many years, hails from Rajaram Khanla village in south Gadchiroli.

Women cadres have long had a significant role in Maoist attacks. In 2004, several woman cadres were spotted in the gang that looted the armoury at Koraput in Orissa. In 2008, woman cadres again prominently featured in the killing of Policemen during the looting of the armoury at Nayagarh (Orissa). An unnamed senior leader of the CPI-Maoist, questioned by a reporter about the position of women in their ranks, declared, "We treat women on par even in our military struggle. Our women cadres are provided training just like their men counterparts. There is no discrimination in their diet or exercises." It is mandatory for all new recruits to the outfit to take a nine-point oath that declares, inter alia, that he or she would not discriminate on the basis of religion, caste, gender, race, or ethnicity.

While women have played a crucial role in Maoist operations and organisation, however, the reality is far from the declared ideal of equality and equity. The story of Shobha Mandi alias Uma (23), the Jhargram ‘area commander’, illustrates a reality that is far off from the ‘solemn pledges’ of gender justice taken by the Maoists. After being sexually exploited by some senior leaders of the outfit, Shobha, who commanded a squad of 25 to 30 armed Maoists, eventually mustered courage and deserted her command post on the plea of seeing a doctor. She remained a fugitive for nearly four months and then surrendered before the Superintendent of Police (West Midnapore District) Manoj Kumar Verma in Midnapore town on August 27. Shobha is a native of Bankura District. Shobha joined the Communist Party of India – Marxist-Leninist – People's War (also know as the People’s War Group, PWG) in 2003 [the PWG later merged with Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) on October 14, 2004, to constitute the CPI-Maoist]. Shobha disclosed that it was Bikash (now, head of the West Bengal State Military Commission) who raped her when she was just 17-years-old. Describing her ordeal, she said, "I reported the matter to Akash (West Bengal State Committee Member and a confidant of Koteswar Rao alias Kishan). He did nothing other than giving me an assurance to look into the matter. In fact, Akash's wife, Anu, lives with Kishanji." She also revealed that stories of sexual exploitation of women cadres by senior Maoists are not uncommon. Seema (then a recruit) told Shobha that Akash had raped her as well. Rahul alias Ranjit Pal, a key weapons’ trainer, raped Belpahari ‘squad commander’ Madan Mahato's wife Jaba. In this case, the party ‘punished’ Rahul, by removing him from the regional committee for three months. West Bengal State Committee Secretary Sudip Chongdar alias Goutam was also ‘punished’ for similar acts, with a transfer to Jharkhand's West Singhbhum District. Significantly, the slain Maoist leader Sakhamuri Appa Rao, who was a State Committee member and was believed to be in charge of the Andhra Pradesh State Military Commission, was demoted several ranks for misbehaviour with women cadres before his rise through the ranks.

Shobha soon recognized an unpleasant reality – a woman cadre is protected against sexual exploitation only if she is ‘with’ a senior leader. So, when Kamal Maity, a Bengal-Jharkhand-Orissa regional committee member, proposed a relationship with her at a meeting attended by Kishan and other top Maoists, she could not refuse. The leaders also agreed to this relationship. That was a turning point in her ‘career’ and, in what is a recurrent pattern, she rose steadily through the Maoist ranks.

Unsurprisingly, some woman ‘commanders’ who have led recent major Maoist attacks are wives or ‘partners’ of senior leaders of the outfit. Notably, Tarakka (42) who led the October 8, 2009, attack in Gadchiroli, is the wife of Central Committee member Mallojula Venugopal alias Bhupathi. Narmada (52), under whom Tarakka worked, is the wife of CPI-Maoist ideologue Sudhakar aka Kiran. The attack on Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) personnel at Gidhni in West Midnapore District on November 8, 2009, in which four EFR personnel were killed, was led by two women – one of them believed to be Tara, a Lalgarh native and Maoist leader Bikash's partner. Likewise, Suchitra Mahato, who led the October 20, 2009, attack on the Sankrail Police Station, is the wife of Sasadhar Mahato, the prime accused in the Salboni landmine attack on Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on November 2, 2008.

Sonu Gawde (24), another woman cadre who surrendered in 2008, claims, "Sex is demanded at gunpoint (in the Maoist camps). It is so rampant that often it is difficult to say who is sleeping with whom in the jungles." Sabita Munda (20), an ‘area commander’ who surrendered with a young male cadre, Rahul Juang, in Orissa on February 11, 2010, claimed that Maoist woman cadres who raise their voice against sexual exploitation were instructed by senior leaders to remain silent. Two woman Maoist cadres, Geeta Murmu and Anju Murmu, who were arrested on February 12, 2010, in the Banka District of Bihar, claimed they were also sexually exploited in the Maoist camps. Geeta gave details of how a group of 200 woman Maoists was exploited in the dense forest areas of Belhar, a Maoist ‘stronghold’.

Disgusted by the sexual exploitation and camp life, many woman cadres have preferred to surrender. According to the partial data complied by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 74 woman Maoist cadres have surrendered before the SFs since 2005. After two married Maoist couples surrendered in Rayagada District of Orissa [Ghumusur ‘divisional commander’ Akash alias Dora alias Ghasiram Majhi and his wife Jharana on June 8, 2009, and Surendra Vekwara (19) and his wife Ruby (18) on July 22, 2009], the Maoists in south Orissa started using force to marry off their women cadres to cadres from Chhattisgarh deputed to Orissa. This was part of an effort not to let the disillusioned women cadres get away from the outfit. The apprehension was that, if both partners were from Orissa, they may choose to surrender. Significantly, woman Maoist, Laxmi Pidkaka alias Sunita (18), surrendered before Police in Rayagada District on December 30, 2009, to escape from a forced marriage to a cadre from Chhattisgarh.

A senior Maoist leader Narsimha Reddy, conceded that only those young girls belonging to Dalit, extremely backward class, and tribal communities, were recruited and then left to fend for themselves within the organisation. These women were mainly engaged in cooking, serving as couriers and nursing the injured cadres. Pongi Sillo alias Lalita alias Chinnari, a Maoist militia member who surrendered on July 7, 2010, in Andhra Pradesh, disclosed that girls were forced to cook food, carry luggage and do menial jobs, apart from carrying kit bags and luggage of wives of top Maoist leaders. According to media reports published on October 13, eight tribal women hailing from the Naxal-affected areas of Kaimur range [which includes Robertsganj, Mirzapur, Sonebhadra and Chandauli of Uttar Pradesh (UP)], sought UP Chief Minister Mayawati's intervention to help in their rehabilitation. These women had joined the Naxalite outfit between 2000-2005. They were sexually exploited and the Naxalites abandoned them when they got pregnant. Woman cadres who become pregnant ‘naturally’ end up as liability to the Maoist ‘people’s war’. Gender equality has a utility only to the extent that woman cadres help in the ‘struggle’ by various means, including ‘entertaining’ fighting cadres.

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JeI: Desperate Manoeuvres
Anshuman Behera
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

The acting Secretary General of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), A.T.M. Azharul Islam, on October 18, 2010, admitted that it was a crime to give immunity to those who had killed three million people during the Liberation War in 1971. He noted, "Crimes were committed during the Liberation war in 1971 and crimes are obvious if a war takes place… why should there be a question of admitting or rejecting it." The statement was in stark contrast to the JeI’s earlier stance. On October 25, 2007, for instance, the JeI Secretary General, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid, had declared that there were no War Criminals (WC) in the country and no anti-liberation forces had ever existed in Bangladesh.

Crucially, the JeI is now trying to position itself as a responsible mainstream opposition party. Azharul Islam, in his statement on October 18, also announced a 13-day protest programme on various issues, including the hike in prices of essential commodities, deterioration of law and order, the gas water and electricity crisis, and ‘anti-state’ deals with India. Such protest plans are themselves not new. The JeI has been planning protests and general strikes ever since the Sheikh Hasina Government initiated measures against Islamic extremist and militant organizations and, more significantly, after the arrest of JeI cadres and three top leaders – Ameer (chief) Motiur Rahman Nizami, Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid and Nayeb-e-Ameer (Deputy Chief) Delwar Hossain Sayedee – on June 29, 2010, and the formation of the WC Tribunal on March 25, 2010. In the past, however, the protests have focused principally on bringing pressure on the Government to stall or reverse action against the JeI under the WC Tribunal. The major protests planned by the JeI in 2010 include:

July 11: The acting Secretary General of the JeI announced a series of general strikes across the country, demanding the release of its arrested leaders.

July 3: The JeI announced a five-day programme, including a general strike across the country, from July 4, demanding the release of its arrested leaders.

July 2: The Dhaka Unit of the JeI warned of a ‘tough movement’ to oust the Government if the arrested leaders, especially the top three mentioned earlier not released.

The exposure of JeI links with terrorist activities across the country is now worrying the organisation’s leadership, as it helps the Government in pursuing its agenda against JeI without provoking any resentment or reaction among people at large, both within and outside the country. Crucially, JeI links with the Rajshahi University (RU) murder case in February 9, 2010, in which a Bangladesh Chhatra League activist Faruk Hossain was killed by Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS) cadres, and with militant Islamist groups have substantially been established. One of the leaders of the banned ICS, the student and militant wing of the JeI, in RU, Ekram Hossain, convicted in the February 9 murder case, admitted that the top leadership of the JeI was also involved in the incident. Similarly, Rajshahi JeI leader Gias Uddin, in his confessional note before the Rajshahi Court, stated, on March 14, 2010, that all tiers of the JeI helped ICS in the February 9 violence at RU, following an organizational decision. In another confession, the chief of the Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) Saidur Rahman, on July 13, 2010, exposed the links between JeI and JMB. Similarly, the arrested leader of the Huzib-ut-Tahirr, Syed Golam Maola, on July 12, 2010, confessed to links between JeI and JMB. According to an October 6 report, moreover, the arrested Ameer of JeI, Motiur Rahman Nizami, was charged in an Arms haul case, in which 10 trucks of arms and ammunitions were seized on April 2, 2004. He has also been charged with sedition along with the two other top leaders mentioned.

The JeI’s most urgent concern also relates to the mounting evidence against its cadres and leaders involvement in the war crimes of 1971. On March 19, 2010, the Law Minister Rezaul Karim Hira stated in Parliament that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-JeI Government issued 66,000 fake certificates as Freedom Fighters to people who engaged in WCs, in order to help them avoid WC trials. He also warned true Freedom Fighters to remain alert against the JeI conspiracy in support of anti-Liberation War forces. Significantly, the arrested JeI leaders admitted that they had fomented a three-month long campaign across the country to block moves to try the war criminals of 1971.

On May 1, 2010, the Election Commissioner of Bangladesh, had sent a letter to the JeI, asking the party to change some provisions in its charter which were not in conformity with the country’s Constitution, and to submit the corrected charter by May 31, 2010. In this regard, the Assistant Secretary General of the JeI Muhammad Kamaruzzamn in a May 2 interview to Daily Star, stated that the JeI would talk to the EC and reply to the letter later. There has, however, been no further report on compliance or further action by the Election Commission (EC). According to the EC, JeI’s call for establishing Islamic rule in the country through organized efforts is in conflict with the basic structure of the country’s Constitution, and JeI needs to amend its aim and objectives, as well as some other provisions in its charter, in order to retain the party’s registration with the EC.

Earlier, on March 28, 2010, JeI Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid had warned the Government of an ‘explosive situation’ if party leaders and the workers were roped in on ‘imaginary charges’. This came immediately after the formation of the WC Tribunals on March 25, 2010. On, February 23, 2010, JeI Ameer (Chief) Matiur Rahman Nizami had also warned the Government of dire consequences if it initiated any move to ban religion-based parties from the country’s democratic politics. "With a bit of a warning I want to say that undemocratic doors will be open if the lawful and democratic doors are closed, and that will not be good for anyone", Nizami declared.

Meanwhile, the Sheikh Hasina Government seems committed to punish the WCs, in which the JeI played a major role, violently opposing the bifurcation Pakistan to create Bangladesh. Dhaka is also looking for a blanket ban on Islamist religious parties in the country. These moves, if and when they crystallize, certainly endanger the existence of JeI, and would require basic transformations within the organization, if it is to survive. As a part of a strategy of response, the JeI has, consequently, being pursuing a dual tactics, constantly threatening the Government, on the one hand, and taking a step back from its more radical positions, in order to push for political consolidation.

Despite all this, however, the JeI is currently under siege. The Daily Star, on March 25, 2010, quoted a senior JeI leader, who requested anonymity, as saying that the Government’s move to try top JeI leaders with alleged links to the WCs had forced them to desperately search for ways to evade prosecution and protect their political future. Further, JeI high-ups have agreed to replace top-ranking leaders after the arrests in connection with alleged involvement with WCs. With the likes of Motiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid and Delwar Hossain Sayedee behind bars, the leadership vacuum in the party has become acute. The JeI’s final gamble remains its hope for a more sympathetic dispensation under the main opposition party, the Begum Khaleda Zia led Bangladesh National Party, which had earlier helped cover up the JeI role in the WCs, as well as given its alliance partner a prominent role in the country’s politics and administration. Such a dispensation, however, remains unlikely in the foreseeable future and, if the WC trials proceed at a reasonable pace, may well come far too late to save the JeI leaders from a long-deserved fate.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
October 18-24, 2010



Security Force Personnel





Left-wing Extremism




Jammu and Kashmir


Left-wing Extremism








West Bengal


Total (INDIA)






Khyber Pakhtunkhwa



Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


War crimes were committed during 1971 liberation war, admits JeI: The acting Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) A.T.M. Azharul Islam on October 18 admitted that war crimes were committed in the country during the 1971 liberation war. Daily Star, October 19, 2010.


80 militants poised to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir ahead of American President Barack Obama’s visit: Nearly 80 trained militants, armed with sophisticated weapons, are waiting to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir from across the border along the Line of Control (LoC), to create trouble in the State in the run-up to American President Barack Obama's visit to India in early November. Times of India, October 23, 2010.

Visa denial saved Delhi from major LeT strike in 2009: Delhi could have escaped a major terror attack in 2009, when one of the Lashkar-e-Toiba’s (LeT) terrorists from Rawalpindi in Pakistan, who tried to come in through the legal channel, was denied an Indian visa. Times of India, October 20, 2010.

797 State Policemen and CPMF personnel died in operations or attacks on them in one year: A total of 797 personnel from State Police and Central Para Military Forces (CPMFs) like Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and National Security Guard (NSG) were killed during a period from September 1, 2009 and August 31, 2010 in operations or attacks on them. Times of India, October 22, 2010.

Hearing in 26/11 case begins in Bombay High Court: The Maharashtra Government opened arguments in the Bombay High Court on October 18 on confirmation of death sentence to Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorist involved in the November 26, 2008, Mumbai attacks (also known as 26/11). PTI News, October 19, 2010.


UNMIN raises alarm over lack of progress in peace process: Chief of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) Karin Landgren met Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda on October 21 and expressed worry over the lack of progress in the peace process. Nepal News, October 22, 2010.

Maoist-led Government unacceptable to NC until peace and statute ensured, says Minister Minendra Rijal: Minister for Federal Affairs, Culture and Parliamentary Affairs Minendra Rijal said on October 22 that a Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) led Government will be completely unacceptable to his party [Nepali Congress (NC)] until the time the peace process reaches a logical conclusion.

Meanwhile, the UCPN-M reiterated that it won't allow the caretaker Government to present the full-fledged budget in the legislature-parliament. Nepal News, October 20-23, 2010.


75 militants and 12 SFs among 88 persons killed during the week in FATA: At least 13 militants were killed and seven others injured when Pakistan Army helicopter gunships shelled their hideouts in Torkani and Yakh Kandao areas of the Upper tehsil (revenue unit) in Orakzai Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on October 24.

23 militants were killed and another 19 injured when Security Forces (SFs) stepped up action against militants in Orakzai Agency and the adjacent Kurram Agency on October 23.

At least 10 militants were killed and seven others injured when helicopter gunships targeted militant hideouts in Dumbaki and Nowwandi areas of Kurram Agency on October 22. In addition, a lieutenant colonel of the Pakistan Army and five other soldiers were killed when a roadside time bomb exploded in the Yakh Kandao area of Orakzai Agency.

Six Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, including a ‘commander’, were killed and several others injured in a landmine blast along a road in the Marandi area of Kurram Agency on October 21.

At least eight militants were killed in an aerial attack on militant hideouts in the Hangu area of the Orakzai Agency on October 20.

Six militants, including an Afghanistan national, were killed and another was injured in an encounter with SFs in the Aleengar area of Safi tehsil in Mohmand Agency in the night of October 19. Separately, three SF personnel were killed and three others received serious injuries in a remote control bomb attack on a military convoy at the Soor Ghar area in Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency. Three soldiers were also killed and two others injured when unidentified militants attacked a military convoy in the Kalundar Keley area, about 60 kilometres from South Waziristan Agency’s main town Wana.

A US drone strike killed seven militants in the Dattakhel region of North Waziristan Agency on October 18. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, 19-25, 2010.

23 militants enter Islamabad and Lahore to attack Police officers, bureaucrats and important buildings, reveal intelligence reports: Intelligence reports on October 23 revealed that as many as 23 terrorists have entered Islamabad and Lahore to attack senior Police officers, bureaucrats and important buildings. The report also said that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has planned attacks on religious leaders and activists of two particular sects, the Barelvi and Shia, and their business interests. Daily Times, October 24, 2010.

TTP financed failed Time Square’s attack, says Islamabad Police: The Islamabad Police on October 18 said that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants had extended financial support to Faisal Shahzad in planning the terrorist attack in New York’s Times Square. Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty on June 21, 2010, to trying to explode a car bomb in Times Square on May 1, and to receiving terror training from the TTP, and warned that further attacks on the U.S. were coming. Dawn, October 19, 2010.

Osama bin Laden is in northwest Pakistan under ISI protection, says CNN report: The al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al Zawahiri may be hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan, protected by some members of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), a CNN report said. Times of India, October 20, 2010.

Al Qaeda in Pakistan hit hard in US drone attacks, says CIA: The Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) expanding operations in Pakistan have taken "a serious toll" on the al Qaeda network, CIA Director, Leon Panetta said on October 20. Dawn, October 21, 2010.

US want its USD two billion aid to be used only against terror: The Barrack Obama administration is believed to be including a clause in a new security aid package of over USD two billion to Pakistan that the equipment bought under it would be used only for the purpose it is meant for – the fight against terrorism.

Meanwhile, the US asked Pakistani leaders participating in the strategic dialogue on October 20 to accelerate the pace and take strong action against terrorist safe havens there. Indian Express, October 21, 2010.

National interests cannot be sacrificed for war on terror, says Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi: Pakistan will preserve its national interests as it partners with the United States (US) in fighting the terrorist threat, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on October 19. Daily Times, October 20, 2010.

No military operation in Balochistan, says Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani: Balochistan Chief Minister (CM) Nawab Aslam Raisani on October 19 strongly refuted reports about military operations in any part of the province. Raisani, however, confirmed that some action was being taken against anti-social elements. Daily Times, October 20, 2010.


Government to indict 1,000 ex-LTTE cadres on charges of terrorism: The Government will indict about 1,000 former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres, who are in custody, on charges of involvement in terrorism. D.E.W. Gunasekara, Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister, said the Government has also decided to release 23 former women LTTE cadres on October 25 (today). Gunasekara said the Government has so far rehabilitated and released some 4,460 former LTTE cadres, including 304 females. The Government continues to screen refugees in military-run camps for LTTE militants. PTI News, October 25 2010.

Colombo plans radical electoral reforms: The Government is planning major changes to the proportional representation system in elected bodies, beginning with local Government bodies. Under the provisions of the proposed legislation, known as the Local Government Electoral Reforms Bill, 30 per cent of members in local bodies will be elected under the proportional representation system and the rest under the first-past-the-post system. The Hindu, October 21, 2010.

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

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