A senior-most Maoist leader Yapa Narayana, more famous with his nom de guerre Haribhushan, has reportedly died of Covid-19 in Bastar forests of Chhattisgarh on Monday night. However, there was no confirmation from the Maoist party so far.
Meanwhile, Telangana and Chhatisgarh police have claimed that the head of CPI Maoist, Telangana unit, Haribhushan alias Lakhmu has died of a heart attack post-Covid.
“Reliable sources confirm the death of CPI Maoist Central Committee Member Haribhusan due to Covid infection on June 21.
Telangana State Committee Secretary Haribhusan was camping along with Minaguram-Bhattigudam-Jabagatta jungles along the South Bijapur-Sukma inter-district border region during his illness,” statements from Chhattisgarh and Telengana police said.
Haribhushan is the secretary of the Telangana State Committee of the CPI (Maoist) and was reported to have been inducted into the Central Committee, the most powerful decision-making body of the ultra-left revolutionary party.
Haribhushan is one of the senior-most Maoist cadres wanted in connection with scores of cases in different States. The Chhattisgarh police sources also told News18 that the second-in-command in Maoist battalion 1, Sonu, is also unwell. Sonu is the deputy to the most wanted Naxal Hidma.He was wanted in more than 20 cases in Telangana and Chhattisgarh and had a reward of Rs 40 lakh on his head.
“It is a big setback for the Maoists. Haribhushan’s death could split the unit. He was slated to join their politburo, so it is a setback in that sense too,” a top officer in the security grid told News 18.
Haribhushan and Sonu are both suspected to be part of the Bijapur-Tarrem encounter where 23 CRPF and State police personnel were killed and one was taken hostage. Yapa Narayana hailed from Madagudem of Kothagudem mandal in the Mahabubabad district.
The CPI (Maoist) Central Committee has on June 15 issued a statement rebutting the police claim that many senior cadres of Maoists were afflicted with Covid-19. The Central Committee spokesman Abhay issued a statement terming it as deliberate propaganda by the security agencies against his party. He maintained that the party would announce if any of its cadres was affected by the Coronavirus.
But the Bastar Naxal organisation has suffered a major setback in the last 15 days. Between May 27 and June 11, four big hardcore leaders of Naxalites have died. Of these, three died of the disease, while one has been killed in a police encounter.
It is worth mentioning that only in December 2019, another Central Committee Member and Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee Secretary Ramamna died in the South Bastar region due to illness.
And also, importantly two senior DKZSC members Ganga and Sobhroi died of Covid infection during the last couple of weeks.
Sundarraj P, Inspector General of Police Bastar Range, has stated that contrary to the claims by the Maoist leaders, the Covid situation in the Naxal camps is very alarming. More than 16 senior and middle-level Naxal cadres have died in the last couple of months due to Corona. Many more cadres are also infected with the Covid and are desperate for treatment.
Since the Naxal camps are severely infected with Covid positive cadres, IGP Bastar has appealed to the local villagers to keep themselves away from the activities of the CPI Maoist cadres. He has also appealed to the Maoist cadres to shun violence and surrender before the State authorities to avail the medical facilities.
“April was the peak of Covid. Yet Maoists did not follow covid protocol, instead, they carried out operations, gathered thousands of people and made them all susceptible,” Abhishek Pallava, SP, Dantewada told News18.
The officer said in the last 15 days, 60% of the surrendered and arrested Naxals who have been tested turned Covid positive. “We tested four surrendered Naxals in the Kukonda camp, three were positive, two were arrested and both of them were positive. In a third camp, four surrendered Naxals tested positive. Bijapur town is now showing 70 cases whereas earlier it was 20. It shows how Covid is spreading among the Naxals and in areas dominated by them,” Pallava said.
“The situation is alarming. Naxals could treat Malaria in the jungles. But for the Covid, you need rest, oxygen support and a ventilator in severe cases. None of these is available to Maoists cadre in the forest,” the police officer said.