Maoists turn media savvy
Abujhmarh (Chhattigarh), Apr 10: For the first time in the 25-year-old history of Naxalite movement in Bastar, Communist Party of India (Maoist) has convened a 'press meet' to explain its stand on various issues, including the circumstances that led to the recent spurt in violence in the tribal heartland.
Besides journalists representing foreign newspapers, those from television and print media were also invited for the 'press meet', convened by the Maoists somewhere in the forests of Daula area close to the remote Abujhmarh region in Bastar on April eight.
As soon as the journalists reached the venue, television crew and other photographers were instructed to strictly avoid taking direct pictures of its four top leaders, including Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee Secretary Kosa, who is also the Central Committee member of CPI (Maoist).
Top Naxalite leader Kosa replied to a volley of questions in local Gondi dialect and his aide Sanjeev translated it into Hindi.
Referring to the Chhattisgarh Special Peoples's Security Act, Kosa said it's provisions have all potential to be misused against all ''pro-people organisations and the media''.
''There is already an undeclared ban on CPI(Maoist). In the guise of fighting naxalites, it is targetted against other organisations and those raising their voice against any injustice, top naxalite leader and CPI( Maoist) Central Committee member Kosa told newspersons.
Asked why the CPI (Maoist) was so concerned about the alleged possible repression of the media when there were complaints about naxalites themselves threatening journalists in South Bastar region, he said ''In our party, there is no such history of intimidation or persecution of journalists''.
Throughout the day, another top Naxal leader Lalchand, zonal incharge of military training of Dandakaranya region, was busy filming the whole event, using a digital camera.
Initially, the press meet was scheduled to be held on March 28, but it was postponed. ''We had to take care of the security of the media as well as of our cadres, particularly when para-military forces have intensified their operations in Bastar,'' said engineer-turned-Maoist Mangtu, a divisional committee member of Daula area.
As the event came to a close, a large number of Maoist cadres, including women, assembled together to thank the media personnel for their visit.
''We want you to come and stay with us for a longer period, preferably for a fortnight so that media could have an in-depth view of the situation and tribal life,'' they added.