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Top Naxal leaders now have faces

Top Naxal leaders now have faces

Author: Varghese K George
Publication: Hindustan Times
Date: June 6, 2008
URL: http://www.hindustantimes.com/storypage/storypage.aspx?id=e7ab18ec-0119-40e1-9264-914b4d29c1f5

They are two of India's most wanted and between them they command up to 20,000 trained Maoist guerrillas with a presence in nearly 200 districts of the country.

For years Ganapathi, the general secretary of the feared Communist Party of India (Maoist) and his deputy Kishenda, a politburo member, were faceless. Today, Hindustan Times brings them to the public for the first time.

The Maoists, described by PM Manmohan Singh as the country's single-biggest security challenge, are accused of hundreds of killings, kidnapping and looting in the vast swathes they control. Home Ministry says they were responsible for the killing of 418 civilians and 214 security personnel in 2007. In 2006, the numbers were 501 and 133 respectively.

Ganapathi and Kishenda have been living secret lives for decades, though not always in the huge expanse of jungles under their complete control. Police in different states have had inputs about having spotted them in Cochin, Rourkela, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Raipur.

The security agencies acquired the snaps six months ago either through a mole in the Naxal hierarchy or from a seized computer disk from a Naxal hideout in Bastar forests. The nearly 40,000 sq km expanse of forests on Chhatisgarh's border with Orissa and Andhra Pradesh is home for most number of Maoists - an estimated 10,000.

A highly placed source in the security establishment, who shared the photographs with HT, said police in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh verified their authenticity through secondary sources also.

The AP police had a two-decade-old snap of Ganapathi and the latest one matched with it. A Raipur tour operator, who has been a front for Maoists and arrested recently, confessed to have transported both leaders on different occasions to the borders of Bastar jungles.

The snaps were extracted apparently from a video of a party Congress held in the forests of Bihar's Jamui district in February 2007. Over 100 delegates from 16 states had attended it.

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