Lucknow, Dec. 11: Maoists beheaded a man in eastern Uttar Pradesh last night in the latest episode of a rare power struggle within the rebel ranks as they try to step up operations in a new area.
About a dozen Maoists held a kangaroo court at Pannuganj village of Sonbhadra district, 270km northeast of Lucknow, and beheaded Shiv Prakash, 24, accusing him of being a police informer.
Local sources said the police were using Prakash to instigate the areas Kol tribals, including many who joined the Naxalite ranks five years ago, in their battle to prevent the dominance of rebel leaders from outside.
The CPI (Maoist) had forayed into three districts near the Bihar border — Sonbhadra, Chandauli and Mirzapur — during a tribal land movement in late 2004 and recruited many Kols. But, the police and local people say, the Kol recruits resisted when rebel leaders from Bihar and Jharkhand began giving them orders.
For about a year, Mayavatis police have been trying to fan the Kol rebels anger against the outsider Maoists, telling the tribals the government would solve their problems.
Matters came to a head recently when the CPI (Maoist), bracing for a crackdown in traditional strongholds, began trying to step up operations in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
A week ago, Naxalite operative Ramvriksh Kol, a leader of the resistance against outsider Maoists, was killed in the faction fight, the police said. Kol allegedly aspired to be the CPI (Maoist) regional commander in Uttar Pradesh.
Two of his rivals, non-tribal Maoists Amarnath Kushwaha and Rakesh Mishra, were arrested last week and spilled the beans, the police said. Last month, the police killed sub-zonal Maoist commander Kamlesh Chaudhary, a Bihari, apparently on a tip-off from the Kols.
Kols death is because of infighting: the regional committee opposed his pitch for leadership, Sonbhadra police chief Pritendra Pal Singh said. Inspector Raveendra Singh said: The Maoists beheaded Prakash to terrorise their own group.
Maoist sympathisers acknowledge the power struggle and accuse the police of fanning it.
The Naxalites have never been seriously active in Uttar Pradesh, the only major incident so far being a mine blast that killed 15 policemen in Chandauli in November 2004.
In 2004, tribal women, mostly Kols, from the three districts began cultivating 20,000 hectares of forest land, angering landlords and a few mining companies eyeing the districts rich coal and bauxite deposits.
State oppression like the arrest and alleged torture of social activist Roma helped the Maoists recruit cadres.