Hazaribagh, June 1: CPI(Maoist) zonal commander Naveen Manjhi has said that the banned outfit is going through its worst phase and struggling to keep its flock together because of a deepening tribal and non-tribal divide.
Manjhi, who was brought to the SP’s office today following his arrest on May 28, told The Telegraph, “I served the organisation with complete dedication but I was sidelined because of internal politics.”
An active member of the Bihar-Jharkhand-north Chhattisgarh special area committee of the organisation and the Maoists’ military commission, Manjhi said he joined the fold at the age of 14 after his father Sukhdeo was murdered by his uncle over a property dispute.
Hazaribagh SP Pankaj Kamboj said Manjhi gradually fell out of favour in CPI(Maoist) and was replaced by Ajay Mahto as the Jinga zonal commander last month.
Mahto was elevated from the rank of sub-zonal commander, even though he was part of the organisation for around nine years, much less compared to Manjhi.
The arrested rebel, who claimed to be 40 (police records maintain he is 47), said he was fed up with the infighting in the organisation. He added that the tribal, non-tribal rift had also resulted in undermining the Maoist clout in the Bundu-Tamar-Khunti belt — the domain of zonal commander Kundan Pahan.
“The organisation is becoming weaker with every passing day due to the tribal, non-tribal rift as well as exploitation of lower ranked cadre. This is why many members have escaped to bigger cities and settled there,” he added.
He said that manpower crunch too had crippled CPI(Maoist) as well as its front organisations Nari Mukti Sangh and Kisan Krantikari Committee.
Many rebels used to name him after committing crimes, resulting in the 100-plus cases against him, Manjhi said, adding Pahan was facing a similar problem.
He added that he had collected not less than Rs 2 crore through levy annually, but the funds were misused. Refuting internal charges of funds misuse against him and his image of a merciless leader, Manjhi said that he too was “exploited”.
Of late, Manjhi said, he had been contemplating to surrender but feared that Mahto would try and eliminate him if he sensed his plan.
Manjhi, who was arrested with his third wife Chameli from Gidhania forest in Vishnugarh, revealed that his former wives had left him on learning about his Maoist identity.
Feeling wronged by his peers, Manjhi didn’t rule out a hand of Maoist insiders in his arrest.
“I feel what I did in the past 20 years was wrong,” he said, appealing to the rebels to return to the mainstream.
All of 5 feet 4 inches, the dreaded rebel who once lorded over the Upper Ghat region said CPI(Maoist) had deviated from its ideology.
“Now I want to work for the people and society,” he said.