Interviews

Watch: IG responsible for Pahad Singh’s surrender talks about how Naxals use sophisticated technology

Recently, after some ‘activists’ were arrested for their alleged involvement with Naxals, a large section of the intelligentsia erupted with cries of how a fascist regime was cracking down on free speech and dissent. They asserted that these were mere activists who worked for the rights of the adivasis and that to allege that they had connections with the Naxals was basically cracking down on do-gooders who disagreed with the current Modi regime.

Busting this narrative, OpIndia conducted an interview with Pahad Singh, a Naxal who had surrendered after 18 years in the jungle. A high ranking Naxal as Pahad Singh himself revealed that one of the ‘activists’ who was arrested, Arun Ferreira, was present at a high-level meet of CPI (Maoists) which is a banned terror outfit. He also revealed that Pahad Singh himself was made the secretary of two areas in that meeting, and Central Committee Members were also present. He asserted that Ferreira was a member of the Rajya committee of CPI (Maoists).

Pahad Singh perhaps managed to successfully shatter one part of the narrative that surrounded the raid and subsequent house arrest of these ‘activists’ by placing Ferreira directly a high-ranking Naxal meet.

However, there is another part of the narrative which is equally important. Some of these ‘activists’ have also been accused of sending emails that not only hinted at an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister’s life but also planning of how arms and ammunition can be smuggled, arranging the finance for the “movement” etc. The police had also spoken of an email by ‘activist’ Sudha Bhardwaj to one Comrade Prakash which had chilling details of how security forces can be ambushed.

Many sympathisers alleged that the entire case was fabricated because if these people were Naxals, they certainly wouldn’t use emails to plan an assassination plot and other details such as smuggling of arms and ambush of security forces.

After the interview which OpIndia conducted with Pahad Singh, IG G P Singh who was instrumental in Pahad Singh’s surrender was also interviewed. GP Singh has been working in Naxal affected areas for the better part of his career and was tracking Pahad Singh since the time he picked up the weapon. He used to be in touch with family in order to coax him into surrendering. Finally, after 18 long years, when GP Singh became the IG of Durg, Chattisgarh, Pahad Singh decided to surrender to him.

In the course of the interview, GP Singh was also asked about the relationship the Naxals share with technology in the light of the ‘intelligentsia’ and left activists asserting that since PM’s assassination plot and other material recovered was planned on email, the entire episode must be fake and got up.

IG GP Singh said that any organisation in today’s day and age has to use the latest technology. He gave the example of Osama Bin Laden and that he had, in the year 2000, written about how he communicates with his cadre all across the world. He said he used a sophisticated messaging system that could be used from any cyber cafe. While the messages might look innocuous to anyone else, the recipient would understand how to decode those messages.

Coming to the Naxals, he said many times they have intercepted email exchanges but they are encrypted emails. He said that they are always encrypted by a strong encryption key using PGP software which is difficult to crack. These organisations do use technology and in fact, use the latest technology because, for them, their survival is paramount.

Talking about the latest developments, he says it is also possible that the “Urban Naxals have not been trained to that level” and now that their emails have been caught, they have been exposed in a big way.

He reiterated that the Naxals, especially the higher management use the latest technology and sometimes go way ahead of the security forces. Once caught, he said, the encryption on the emails have to be breached, which is often a difficult task.

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