Who is CPI (Maoist) Basavaraj, the alleged mastermind of the Gadchiroli attack

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Who is CPI (Maoist) Basavaraj, the alleged mastermind of the Gadchiroli attack

A day after 15 C-60 commandos were killed in a Maoist attack in Maharastra's Gadchiroli district, the name of Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavaraj, the chief of the banned CPI (Maoist) party is doing the rounds as the man who may have planned the attack. So who exactly is he?

On the most-wanted list of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Basavaraj succeeded Ganapathy as the General Secretary post of the Maoist party last year, and is believed to hail from Jiyannapet of Kotabommali of Andhra's Srikakulam district.

The NIA also believes that besides Keshava and Basavaraj, he goes by several other aliases from Gaganna, Prakash, Vijay and Narasimha among others. His date of birth remains unknown and he reportedly carries a bounty of Rs 10 lakh on his head.

According to reports, Basavaraj studied in the Regional Engineering College in Warangal, which is now National Institute of Technology before joining the Naxalite movement in the 1970s, the CPI(ML)Peoples War and eventually the CPI(Maoist).

The CPI (Maoist) has three crucial wings; the Central Committee (CC), the Polit Bureau (PB), and the Central Military Commission (CMC). Before taking over as the General Secretary, Nambala Keshava Rao, Basavaraj reportedly headed the military wing since its formation in 2004, and it is this knowledge of guerrilla warfare that many believe, led the accused to plan the attack in such a manner.

According to reports, about 30 kg of explosives, including gelatin sticks, were used to prepare the IEDs and later planted under a culvert, before being connected to a trigger with a wire. Basvaraj is suspected to be an expert in explosives and also is said to have a network with arms dealers.

Observers also say that since Basvaraj took over, there has been a tilt in the strategy of Maoists with a renewed focus on the militant aspect of the movement. There is also a change in the style of attacks, with the banned outfit being more confrontational, to assert that they can still retaliate.

While the Gadchiroli attack is one such example, another would be the attack in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, where BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi and four security personnel were killed after IED exploded as their convoy was passing by.

The twin murders of a sitting legislator and ex-MLA in Andhra Pradesh last year were another example.

On September 23, 2018, the two politicians MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and ex-MLA Siveri Soma belonging to the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were surrounded and gunned down allegedly by Maoists near Lipittuputtu village, about 15 km from the Odisha border. The NIA is also presently investigating this case.