Friday, September 09, 2005

Maoists to revoke ceasefire if attacks continue

- By Shirish B. Pradhan



Kathmandu, Sept. 9: Maoists in Nepal on Friday warned they could withdraw their three-month unilateral ceasefire if the government continued to attack them even as authorities set some pre-conditions to reciprocate the truce asking the rebels to give up arms and come to negotiating table.

The rebel’s warning was issued by the Maoists’ chief Prachanda, who had declared the ceasefire last week. Prachanda, in a statement posted on a website, referred to incidents like arrest of three cadres of Maoist-affiliated Tharuwan Muktimorcha in Banke district and attack on the rebels in Jajarkot district.

The Maoist leader said his group could withdraw the ceasefire any time if the government did not stop targeting the rebels. On the other hand, Royal Nepalese Army alleged that the Maoists have not stopped the acts of violence and terror despite their announcement of unilateral ceasefire.

The Maoists have displaced 800 families of the security personnel in eastern Nepal, an Army official said, adding the rebels abducted two civilians from Salyan district and shot a man in Rautahat district.

Meanwhile, home minister Dan Bahadur Sahi said the Maoists should stop their terrorist activities, hand over arms and come to the dialogue table for negotiations, before the government reciprocates the ceasefire. (PTI)

What we need for our thanas

A young police officer reflects on his education, his profession, and the institutional problems of policing in India

Abhinav Kumar

The dreaming spires of Oxford are some distance away from the police station of Jhabreda in district Haridwar of Uttaranchal. The distance is of course geographical but more significantly, it is the institutional and cultural distance, the distance between the theories of political economy I learnt at the feet of many eminent and wise men at Oxford and the one I grapple with on the ground.
The ground here is the thana, functioning out of a few rooms ‘‘requisitioned’’ from the agriculture department, a new building, partly funded by the modernisation efforts of the Government of India. Qasba Jhabreda is a more accurate microcosm of modern India than the malls of Gurgaon or the hi-tech marvels of Bangalore and Hyderabad. It is prosperous with good future prospects, there is a huge factory coming up nearby, but it is also a very caste-conscious society with low levels of literacy especially amongst women. After 9 years in the IPS, one begins to form a perspective about the profession.

Recent incidents in Gurgaon and Chandigarh, widely reported as representative of the police mindset, have again put the spotlight on the Indian police. From within, the profession sees these episodes as another example of everyone ganging up against the police, while from without they are seen as another reason why citizens must never trust the men and women in khaki.

The recently concluded national conference of District SPs with the Prime Minister (September 1) was therefore an occasion to understand and bridge this deficit of trust and expectations. It was heartening to see that several of us saw it as an opportunity to tell the PM about the outlook for policing from Jhabreda or Hapur, or any other mofussil township that is now a battleground for the idea of India.

All things considered, we told him enough, although much remained that also needed to be said. As field officers, we are acutely aware that policing as a profession is experiencing a crisis of confidence and credibility. It is not within our power alone to remedy this without serious support and engagement from the highest levels of policy making.

Compared to similarly situated personnel in other departments, the constable faces persistently hazardous working conditions, longer working hours with little time to rest and relax, and a steep pyramidical structure with poor pay and promotion prospects. The result is a sub-culture with a well-deserved reputation for tolerance towards corruption, insensitivity and brutality.

At present, police being a State subject, apart from pay, there are no nationally mandated standards specifying recruitment, training and career planning. Even the basic requirement of a uniform job description is missing.

And on the subject of pay, the Fifth Pay Commission classified the constable, our cutting edge functionary, as semi-skilled labour, and fixed the emoluments accordingly.

It is worth noting that the Planning Commission of India even today does not have a full-time division or even a working group or a task force for addressing police-related policy issues, unlike other vital areas requiring public investment. What accounts for this systematic failure to address the policing needs of the country from a national perspective?

Policing at the thana level has become a scandal and some thought needs to be given to bringing this core function of the states into the concurrent list, so that the government of India can make more effective interventions in improving our police infrastructure. The states of course will drag their feet on this issue, after all power still flows from the barrel of the gun.

But, in state after state, as the police grapple with the million mutinies against government failure, reluctance to initiate debate will continue to put the very unity and integrity of India at risk.

Our Founding Fathers were certainly seized of this issue. This is why the Indian Police Service was retained by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, despite the objections of his colleagues in the Constituent Assembly to having him perform a leadership role in all areas pertaining to policing and internal security.

Uncomfortable as it is to admit it, the real or perceived failures of the police are therefore, to a great extent, failures of the IPS. Since independence, the IPS too has suffered the decline evident in other institutions of governance. It is now seen, with some justification, as another trade union of vested interests. From a national perspective, two crucial developments are responsible for this. Firstly, rather than focus on its core competence, the IPS has been drawn into an unnecessary struggle for supremacy with the IAS. Many IPS officers make a career out of resentment and regret of not having quite made it to the IAS.

Our constant bickering has led the media and the public to see both the IPS and the IAS as self-seeking and self-promoting government servants, babus all, some in safari suits, others in khaki. There is of course a genuine problem of cadre management and wider career opportunities at middle and senior levels of the IPS, but it is not as if giving complete parity to the service with the IAS in terms of pay, promotion and a say in policy making would cure the police of all its ailments.

The second and more crucial issue is that across the country, visible control over powers of police patronage has become a populist substitute for good governance. In state after state, local politics is not about deciding priorities of development, it is increasingly about who controls the thana. This has been achieved by systematically starving the police of basic resources and thereby, in a Faustian bargain, rendering it completely dependent on powerful local vested interests for its basic operational requirements. We are beholden to the rich and powerful because without their ‘‘support’’ we simply cannot function.

This politicisation of the police, along with the criminalisation of politics, is neither good for the police nor for civil society at large. While the IPS needs to acknowledge the need for more accountability and better delivery of services, there is paradoxically also a need for insulating the force from undue pressures in its daily working. The police have become a lightning rod for the wider failures of the Indian state and not surprisingly, being the sword and shield of the state, the police also bear a disproportionate brunt of the public ire against the inefficiencies and incompetence of the entire state machinery. There is a pressing need for external evaluation of prevailing practices in the police.

One would like to see an IIM or a TCS look at the entire police setup from a service sector perspective and give us an outside view backed with academic credentials and managerial expertise. Simultaneously there is a need to make the entire organizational structure of police forces across the country more process oriented. The recent initiative taken by states such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra in introducing a system of ISO certification for police stations is a welcome step that needs to be adopted across the country.

In the British Raj, the logic of empire dictated that the police setup was consciously modelled after the Indian Army. Since independence, it is safe to say that this imitation has gradually attained the shape of a caricature. We have retained only the outward semblance of being a disciplined and uniformed force.

To be fair, our armed forces have received far greater support from policy makers and the public. Everyone is prepared to reward the jawan for his patriotism and willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice. The standards of discipline imposed upon him are greater than those for the constable, but then so is the safety net provided by the institution of the army. By contrast, there are significant variations in the benefits provided by different states to the next of kin of policemen killed on duty. These compare quite unfavourably with what is provided for by the central police organizations and the armed forces.

The MHA should insist on a national standard for such benefits. A supreme sacrifice is no less whether made on the icy heights of Siachen or in the killing fields of Naxal-affected areas.

The time has come for the state and civil society to take a fresh look at the social contract with the men and women in khaki. It would be quite disingenuous and indeed dangerous to think that the rest of the country could march to the possibilities of the 21st century, while the police languish in the mindset of the 19th century.

The writer, an Oxford graduate, is currently SSP Haridwar. He can be reached at: abhikr73@rediffmail.com



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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Communists hijack foreign policy

South Block's nonchalant attitude towards Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza strip betrays Leftist influence. The same influence is seemingly not lost on the PMO and the Ministry of External Affairs, both of which exhort the Nepalese monarchy to buy peace with the Maoists of Nepal. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's courageous disengagement in Gaza won him plaudits from the international community.



Even Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has chipped in by calling Mr Sharon a "courageous soldier of peace". At his behest Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mohammed Kasuri met his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom at Istanbul under the aegis of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This was not the first time that Mr Musharraf was exploring the possibility of forging diplomatic relationship with Israel, a country that Pakistan does not recognise.



The lack of viability of Israel-Pakistan relations is another matter. Islam takes a certain theological view of Judaism and Jews, which is by no means flattering. For instance, the Quran says, "O you who believe! Do not take Jews and Christians as friends! They are friends to one another; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then verily he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide unjust people" (5: 51).



No Pakistani government can afford to override the sentiments of the country's Muslims. Already in Islamabad's Red mosque the cleric has declared in Friday prayers, "General Musharraf is an agent of Jews. His agenda is to sell Pakistan and Pakistani Muslims to the Jews and their ally." Unlike India, for Pakistan, building ties with Israel is simply not a matter of diplomacy but also theology.



Moreover, the Government of Pakistan admitted last March that its infamous nuclear scientist AQ Khan had provided nuclear centrifuge technology to Iran. Iran's much talked about nuclear programme is one of the greatest threats to Israeli security. Yet we cannot help but appreciate President Musharraf's courage and prudence in trying to seize this opportunity for the sake of his country.



Understandably, it was deviously aimed at neutralising the advantage enjoyed by India due to its privileged relationship with Israel. Pakistan's national interest must have been the uppermost in his mind.



Now compare this attitude with that of our Marxist friends who want a discontinuation in India's ties with Israel. They are least interested in the security concerns of India. The CPI(M) in its 18th party congress at Chandigarh in April, adopted a resolution condemning Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. Within a day it demanded from the Government to break all military ties with Israel.



Their demand embarrassed even the Palestinian observers at the party congress. Their spokesman Ahmed Soboh, Deputy Minister of Information of the Palestinian Authority, found this demand of the CPI(M) unwarranted. Strangely, they are mum when a part of that brutal occupation has been lifted! Similarly, they raised a hue and cry after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the US in July when Washington tacitly acknowledged India's nuclear-enabled status and pledged nuclear cooperation for peaceful purposes. They said it was an American ploy to contain China in Asia.



Their obsequious concern for China is evident. One wishes they showed the same concern for India when China supplied missile and nuclear technology to Pakistan in order to contain India. The bottom line is clear: With friends like the Marxists, who needs enemies?



Nepal and India, the only two Hindu dominated countries of the world, are in the grip of severe threat from Maoism. It is another matter that our Islamic neighbours like Pakistan and Bangladesh, although more impoverished than India, are not in the clutches of Maoist insurgency. Why do Marx and Mao seem impervious to the followers of Mohammed? Why does not the Maoist mindset remotely register jihad, which stalks the world? And why is the Ministry of External Affairs and Cabinet Secretariat encouraging Comrade Pushpa Kamal Dahal, aka Prachanda, the kingpin of the bloodbath in Nepal's countryside? The Home Ministry, which is feeling the heat of Naxalite insurgency in India, was right in recommending a tougher stand against the Maoists of Nepal.



There is a close network between the Maoists of Nepal and India, who aim to install their governments in Kathmandu and New Delhi. YSR Reddy's Congress Government in Andhra Pradesh that showed leniency towards the rebels, and held talks with Peoples War Group (now Communist Party of India-Maoist), has now reverted to the TDP's policy of completely banning the Naxalite groups. The Congress-JD(S) Government of Karnataka, too, taking a leaf out of Andhra Pradesh Government's book has outlawed the Maoist groups. So, whose influence is at work in the UPA Government forcing it to soften its stand on the Maoists of Nepal?



Baburam Bhattarai, the second in command of the Communist Party of Nepal(Maoist), informed that he learnt the ABC of Marxism at JNU (The Statesman, April 4, 2003). He carries an Interpol red corner notice. Yet Mr Prakash Karat, the CPI(M) general secretary, held a secret meeting with him in Nepal on May 11. First, Mr Karat tried to deny the fact that he had met the latter, but subsequently could not stand up to the media exposure.



The CPI(M) general secretary declared prophetically that King Gyanendra would be the last monarch of Nepal (such a statement constitutes interference in another country's internal matter, especially since the CPI(M) finds this trait so reprehensible in Mr George Bush). He has requested the Centre to stop the arms supply to Nepal although that country is fighting a grim battle against Maoist insurgency. To label Nepalese monarchy as anti-democratic is not wholly wrong; however, to project the Maoists as upholders of democracy is a terrible fraud. But is it not a dichotomy that the CPI(M), which claims that the Nepalese monarchy is an anachronistic institution has no compunction in allying with the RJD for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Bihar? What could be worse for Bihar than Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav?



Or is it because Mr Yadav has given a practical demonstration of how a state must wither away, something that Communists since the days of Karl Marx have always been saying? Bihar finishes at the bottom of almost all human development indices. According to an estimate over 25 million people have migrated out of Bihar in the last 15 years. Whereas its neighbour West Bengal, which was once a leader in industries before the Communists took over in 1977, has slid down to the 13th position. Both the States have thus witnessed a similar downfall.



The Marxists were at the forefront of anti-Sharon demonstration when the Israeli Prime Minister visited India in September 2003. It was during the tenure of the Vajpayee Government that one was witness to a remarkable growth in Indo-Israeli cooperation in the fields of commerce, culture and strategy. Mr Sharon hurriedly left India when, on September 9, Hamas conducted two suicide bombings in a single day in Israel, which killed 15 people and left 80 injured. Of course, one did not expect sympathy from the otherwise internationalist Marxists. They had refrained from offering sympathy even after 9/11.


However, Mr Sitaram Yechuri was seen with Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav at the funeral of Yasser Arafat, who made suicide bombings popular. With the peace process moving ahead in Palestine after the death of Arafat, it is clear that for 35 years of his political life, the man was more a problem than a solution. The Israelis are ever ready to conclude peace with Palestine as they had with Egypt and Jordan. However, the Indian Marxists are reluctant to give them credit for the same



The Marxists of India, who care so much about the Palestinians, pretend to have never heard of the Tibetans. The Tibetan lands under Chinese occupation are several times larger and more populated than Israel-occupied West Bank. However, this does not merit their attention. Similarly, (except for Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who is feeling the heat) they continue to deny the existence of Bangladeshi infiltrators although they are stealing away daily bread from the mouth of the Indian poor. Is this what is called communist internationalism?


(The writer, a Rajya Sabha MP and convener of the BJP's think-tank, can be contacted at bpunj@email.com)

A Naxalite who has opted for the capitalist route

A Naxalite who has opted for the capitalist route to bring life-saving products to the masses.

Shantha Biotech makes healthcare affordable

8 September 2005


The office of Varaparasad Reddy, managing director and chief promoter of Hyderabad-based Shantha Biotechnics, has all the accoutrements of a family man. Lined on his desk are photographs of his mother, after whom he has named the company, his wife, two daughters and two grandchildren.
An electronics engineer from Osmania University, Varaprasad Reddy plunged into the brave, though difficult, new world of biotechnology in 1993 after exiting the family-owned electrical goods businesses, because he was convinced India needed its own manufacturers of affordable life-saving drugs than being dependent on the benevolence of expensive foreign producers.

A family man who loves music and hasam (humorous Telegu poetry), Reddy is an avowed socialist and says, " I am a Naxalite at heart." Reddy says he promised his mother that he would always keep in mind the needs of the poor when fixing the profit margins on his products.

Soon after the successful launch of Shentetra, an indigenous 4-in-1 combination vaccine that prevents diseases like diptheria, pertusis, tuberculosis and hepatitis-B Varaprasad Reddy talked to domain-b about the genesis of Shantha Biotechnics and its future plans.
By Mohini Bhatnagar

What made you set up a biosciences company since you did not have anything to do with the medical field?
The idea of setting up a life sciences company started in1992 after I attended a seminar abroad where I felt I was being looked down upon for being an Indian. There was a feeling among western governments that India and its other neighboring countries did not have the commitment to provide vaccination to their children and came with a begging bowl to them for subsidised vaccines. We were looked down upon as a nation for not being able to take any initiatives either for developing the vaccine or for importing it. I found this very insulting.

At the time the World Health Organisation had mandated that hepatitis-B should be incorporated into the immunisation schedule. The reason India could not incorporate hepatitis-B into the immunisation schedule was because of a serious foreign exchange crunch and hepatitis-B was a very costly vaccine.

It was priced at Rs780 per dose and three doses were required to be administered. For this reason the masses could not obtain the vaccine. When I approached a western company for technology, the company spokesperson told me that India did not have the resources to pay the high technology fee for buying the vaccine nor the ability to absorb the technology.

I wanted to prove it to them that Indians were capable of producing high quality vaccines and offering them at affordable prices to the masses.

How were you able to finance the research of hepatitis-B?
To begin with, I initiated the project as an R&D exercise at Osmania University, under the industry-university interaction programme in 1993. After that we conducted the research at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

Since biotechnology was a relatively unknown segment and there were no venture capitalists around as today, funding proved to be a difficult task.

We finally received funding from the Sultanate of Oman to the extent of 50 per cent of the equity. We also received a long term loan from Oman International Bank at a very subsidised rate of interest. After this we received a loan from ICICI for technology development.

We launched India's first recombinant hepatitis-B vaccine, Shanvac-B, in 1997 followed by Shankinase (recombinant Streptokinase). Our indigenous development of recombinant hepatitis-B vaccine enabled India to join the select club of five countries in the world to have the know-how to produce hepatitis-B vaccine.

What are your other areas of focus and future plans?
Our main focus is on new drug discovery indigenously. The company is extending its manufacturing facility to facilitate manufacture of its various products coming out of the R&D phase. Shantha's new drug discovery programme involves work on monoclonal antibodies against non-small cell lung carcinoma.

We are contemplating developing biogeneric drugs and new molecules. The main thrust is to go for monoclonal antibodies for various types of cancer. However, we are going to limit ourselves to health care products using biotechnology and will not get into pharmaceuticals - not even if it means subsidising biotech research. We also plan to launch a combination vaccine of DPT+ hepatitis-B and typhoid. We also plan to provide contract research and contract manufacturing services, while also looking for collaborative arrangements for co-development of any new drug or molecule.

Where does Shantha Biotech stand today?
We are the first Indian biotechnology company to develop, produce and market the first recombinant product in the country. Our successful development of recombinant products has motivated scientists and given them enough confidence to try out indigenous development and production of other life saving drugs in the country without having to depend on imports.

The success of our company has spawned a number of entrepreneurs who have been motivated by the success of our innovative R&D efforts in producing the country's first hepatitis-B vaccine and India's first interferon alpha ('Shanferon').

We are targeting a Rs100-crore turnover this year. We keep extremely low margins on our products unlike many pharmaceutical companies who hike their margins to 100 per cent mainly due to the high costs of drug discovery. In contrast, our margins are never higher than 10 per cent of the price of our products. We are offering Shantetra (combination vaccine) at Rs80 to Rs85 per dose against Rs225 per dose being charged by MNCs like GSK and Chiron.

What has been you total investment in the company so far?
Our investment in the company is around Rs125 crore. Shantha had raised the funds by equity through private placement and loans from banks and institutions.

What has been the success rate of your recombinant drugs?
Apart from supplying the products all over India, we have started supplying them to various countries directly and also through UNICEF agencies after Shanvac-B received the WHO-Geneva pre-qualification. Shanvac-B and Shanferon have received overwhelming response mainly because the former brought down the prices of imported vaccine from Rs780 to Rs50 in 1997 and to Rs25 in 2003 and similar has been the case with our second product Shanferon (Interferon Alpha-b).

Tell us about your manufacturing facilities.
We have a facility at Medchal near Hyderabad where we manufacture products Shanvac-B (Hepatitis B vaccine), Shanferon (Interferon Alpha-2b) and also Shankinase (Streptokinase drug). We have invested about Rs50 crore on manufacturing facilities. We also plan to manufacture bacterial vaccines, for which we are expected to spend about Rs60 crore.

Are you planning to come out with an initial planning offering?
Yes, we are planning to come out with an initial public offering in the near future though I can't divulge the details of the offering.

Why haven't you gone to the public before this?
We did not list Shantha Bio because I feel that once you are listed on the market, you are measured by your stock price. In the biotech industry especially, research is a long and painstaking process and if by chance a particular research fails it sets you back by many months and even years sometimes.

Unlike other biotech companies, which are listed on the stock markets, we are not into elementary products like statins for instance. We are into molecular research, which is a long and difficult process. However, we will be going to the public now.

What is your vision for the company?
I don't believe in visions. I set up Shantha Biotechnics to offer affordable healthcare to each and every Indian. I believe that India has a vast pool of talented people who can develop the latest technology available in the world.

A Naxalite who has opted for the capitalist route to bring life-saving products to the masses.

Azad blames Naveen for growing maoist activities in Orissa

Thursday September 8 2005 12:22 IST

BALASORE: Union Parliamentary affairs and Urban Development Minister ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday said the BJD- BJP coalition government led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has failed to tackle the growing naxal menace as well as the deteriorating law and order situation. ( IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY TO LAUGH AT THIS MINISTER)

Addressing a public meeting here Mr Azad said several districts in Orissa are under the grip of maoist activities adding that if the trend was not arrested, the state would turn like any other naxal-dominated state of country.

The Union Minister described the law and order situation in the State as worse than that of Bihar.

Shootings and killings were taking place in broad daylight, while an unholy nexus of contractors, politicians and bureaucrats were determining and fixing the tenders.

He said the employment guarantee scheme introduced by the UPA government would be a boon for Orissa as 18 of the 30 districts had been included under the scheme.

Mr Azad, who laid the foundation of Rajiv Bhawan in the district Congress office campus here, asked the party workers to apprise the people of various developmental programmes undertaken by the UPA government.

The Union Minister in a public gathering at baripada on Tuesday night said at least 5,500 small towns in the country with a population of less than five lakh would be given central assistance for drinking water projects, sanitation and sewerage development programme.

Nearly Rs 50,000 crore would be spent during the next five years on these programmes out of which a sum of Rs five thousand crore would be spent during the current year 2005, he added.

Proposal on Sambalpur as naxal dominated district submitted

Thursday September 8 2005 12:23 IST

SAMBALPUR: Orissa Director General of Police (dgp) Sujit Das on Wednesday said a proposal to declare Sambalpur district in Western Orissa as naxalite dominated has been placed before the government.

Once the proposal received the government's nod, the district would receive extra funds and sophisticated weapons to fight the maoists.

Mr Das said the newly appointed superintendent of Police in the district S Devadutta Singh who has vast experience in tackling the naxalite problem in Malkangiti district bordering Andhra Pradesh would give a good fight to combat the rising maoist problem in the western Orissa.

The DGP during an interaction with the media hinted that the maoists problem in the region was an outcome of the economic disparity.

The indifferent attitude of the government machinery also provided an upper hand to the naxals or the maoists to lure people towards them and even use them as tools in the unlawful activities, he remarked.

Mr Das opined that police action was not the solution to tackle the problem. It would rather prove detrimental and the entire tribal mass might emerge as a vital force against the police and the administration.

The DGP said efforts should be made to win over their hearts of the tribals and redress their problems. At the same time, he warned the anti-socials not to create unnecessary panic in the region.

The maoists, the DGP said, are yet to receive any support or sympathy from the public in western Orissa. It was the fear that forced the people residing in the inaccessible forest areas to provide food and shelter to them, he clarified.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Faceless in a Maoist world...

Statesman News service

ROURKELA, Sept. 7. — Motu alias Bikas, Binod Badaik, Bimal Tirkey, Kanduri Toppo, Janam Singh or Singhari Sherua. What is common to all these names? They are all tribals and one time members of the MCC. They and many more like them, during the last three years, have either been caught or escaped from the organisation. There is much more in common among them
All of them are either in their teens or have just touched 20. They are all from extremely poverty stricken and large families with marginal or no land holdings and live in the deep interior areas of Sundergarh or West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand.
Barring a few all of them are barely educated. Talk to them and you will find more common features in their stories. None of them understand what is MCC or for that matter what is revolution. They do not know what the MCC stands for and its expansion. Mao and Marx are as alien to them and could well be from outer space. Communism and capitalism are unheard of words. The questions are endless and the answer is simple ‘no’. However, like every human being they understand the language of hunger. Given their status, they have experienced the exploitation of administration to the maximum, which is supposed to help them. And they have many stories for that.
They symbolise the hollowness of the grandiose ideology of Maoism and Marxism, being espoused by the MCC and being sold to them as the only alternative for their well being. And on the other hand their story gives a stark picture of man failed government programme over the last 55 years, solely dedicated for the development of millions like them, where crores of rupees have gone down the drain or many pockets in their name. They look like being stranded on a typical cross road and fully perplexed, thoroughly confused and completely lost.What is communism? You get a quizzical look, repeat the question, and you get a negative answer. And what is MCC? Those who have deserted it for them it is a dreaded name that conjures up images of endless physical and mental exploitation, and those reflect on their face. And those who have been caught, majority of them still love the life and the organisation.
The love is not for the ideology or the intense drive to bring in a change “ through the barrel of gun”, but for the escape from daily hunger and poverty. Besides, a kind of chauvinistic euphoria of holding a gun thus creating an aura back at the village. All of them at least say this same thing. Ask them how did you get into the MCC and the reply is, “ I was picked up at gunpoint.“. And why did you not run away like many others there is no answer. Only one, on conditions of anonymity said: “ I was convinced that we were being exploited and bullet is the only answer for us”.
A few months back a group of villagers unitedly opposed the MCC when it tried to stop developmental construction in their village and served them an ultimatum, a story in this regard was published in this paper. Despite all difficulties and lack of development, the rut is yet to set in and it is high time for everybody including the government to give these simple tribals their due.
Else, a situation is not far behind when they will start to understand that “ Mao” is the only answer to their woes.

Posers on mine-busters

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Bhubaneswar, Sept. 7: Saturday’s landmine blast in Chhattisgarh and the resultant devastation has prompted the government to review its purchase decision.

Twenty-four people, including 22 Central Reserve Police Force jawans, were killed in the explosion, raising doubts about the efficacy of anti-landmine vehicles.

Sources in the home department said the Chhattisgarh government had purchased 14 anti-landmine vehicles made with Defence Research and Development Organisation specifications. The Orissa government had also proposed to purchase three such vehicles.

But following the blast, the government has decided to put the purchase on hold and review its decision, said a senior official.

The purchase of anti-landmine vehicles was part of the police modernisation programme taken up with central assistance. Sources in the home department said the government had decided to ambush the extremists, even after dark.

Video clippings of a pro-Naxalite rally, taken out on September 1, have been sent to police stations in places under the influence of rebels. The police officers would now have to identify the hardcore Naxalites in their areas and arrest them without delay.

In the backdrop of the Chhattisgarh blast, security personnel have been advised not to go out in big groups for any operation and exercise caution while passing through vulnerable areas.

The apprehension of landmine blasts has forced policemen stationed in the sensitive areas to move around on bicycles instead of motorised vehicles. This, they feel, could help save several lives.

Earlier, extremists had been successful in killing a large number policemen by blowing up their vans with landmine explosions.

Realising that it would be difficult to spot landmines at regular intervals, the police have decided not to use vehicles in the Naxalite-affected areas. Besides using bicycles, they have also been asked to walk while conducting combing operations.

Besides, the routes are being been frequently altered to foil any attempt by the extremists to plant landmines on the way.

The police have also decided to recruit tribal youths to counter the rebels through the second India Reserve Battalion, expected to be raised shortly.

Top cop shares red views

PRAMOD KUMAR PATNAIK

Sambalpur, Sept. 7: Director-general of police Suchit Das feels economic disparity is to a large extent responsible for the growing Naxalite threat.

“The indifferent attitude of the state machinery makes people turn towards the Naxalites, who use the masses for their unlawful activities,” the state police chief, who was here today for about a couple of hours, told reporters.

But he was quick to add, “But the Maoists have not gained the support or sympathy of the people. Rather, residents of inaccessible villages help them with food and shelter out of fear.”

Policing, Das contended, was not the only solution to the problem of extremism. “The need of the hour is to reach out to villagers by addressing their problems,” the DGP added. At the same time, he also warned troublemakers not to create tension in the “peace-loving” region.

“To gain public support, the police organise health camps and sports meets in other Naxalite-affected districts of the state and the result is very encouraging. Such initiatives help bridge the gap between the people and the police. The police have also helped settle land disputes in collaboration with the revenue department in Rayagada, Koraput and Malkangiri,” the DGP said.

On the chances of Sambalpur being declared a Naxalite-affected district, he said: “A proposal has been placed before the government.”

Das said he expected the new superintendent of police, S. Devdutta Singh, to do well as he has the experience of fighting extremism in Malkangiri district.

Red light for roads of hindrance

NALIN VERMA

Why do the Naxalites, whose one point agenda is to “liberate the toiling masses from the bondage of poverty” oppose construction of roads?

Roads, as the policy makers say, is an instrument of development, with a potential to create employment opportunities even for the rural poor.

Then why the opposition and how do Naxalites secure people’s support on such a venture which ultimately may prove “profitable” for the rural poor?

These questions had been haunting me ever since I came across reports of Naxalites violently opposing the repair of the Ranchi-Ramgarh-Hazaribagh Road and Hazaribagh-Tilaiya–Kodarma Road. Through the latest issue of its mouthpiece Lal Chingari, the CPI (Maoist) has threatened the “bourgeoisie administration” of “dire consequences” if it ventured to build roads in the remote Jharkhand villages.

I spoke to many police officials, who have operated in the Naxalite strongholds, and also administrative officials who deal with the extreme left issues, to find out the actual reasons for the opposition.

The officials were unanimous in their views that the rebels perceived roads as a threat to their existence. Roads will allow the police to move faster and quicker. Quite frankly, the argument seems too simplistic.

In a bid to find out the answer, I spent some time in the tribal- dominated villages of Makhmandro and Purio on the Ranchi–Gumla Road and some other villages on the Ranchi-Patratu Road. I chose these villages because they were said to be the CPI (Maoist) strongholds.

To my surprise, all the men and women I spoke to opposed the construction or the improvement of roads without admitting any link to Naxalite outfits or any displaying any sympathy towards them. Yet, their argument against roads was logical, to say the least.

Take for instance , Lakhendra Oraon at Makhmandro. A few years earlier, he owned 14 hens and half-a-dozen goats, all of which he lost, thanks to speeding vehicles.The repair of the road near the village allowed the vehicles carrying netaas, babus and contractors to drive by “murdering” most of his animals. “Now, we are left only with four hens and two goats”, Oraon said, adding, “all other hens and goats were crushed under the speeding vehicles”.

Parval Minz, Hemlal Oraon and Nainsukh Lakra, too, narrated similar tales of reckless driving and loss. Ramdayal Oraon, an educated youth, argued: “We don’t have vehicles that we can drive. Even the better off among us have bicycles which we paddle anywhere, even on the kutcha village roads. Then, what use do the roads have for us? The roads serve only policemen, mafia and outsiders who run their vehicles crushing our livestock,” he added.

The Purio villagers also said they would welcome other changes, such as improvement of irrigation facilities, setting up agencies to provide livestock, safe drinking water and provision of seeds and fertilisers to augment the foodgrain production.

“These measures may eventually help us to buy vehicles that we may drive on these roads, but untill then, the roads are of little use to us, but to the outsiders it is a scope to invade us,” argued Ramdayal. The villagers pointed out that the police raids in villages have put several men behind bars after vehicles carrying babus and netaas is attacked. But, they simply don’t lodge FIRs when villagers approach them with complaints of their hens and goats being crushed by speeding vehicles.

Here, what needs to be pointed out is that none of the villagers spoken to expressed any sympathy to the Naxalite outfit. Even without that, they seemed to be talking in the same lines to the latest issue of Lal Chingari. Probably because Naxalites dealing with ground reality and living among the villagers have a better grasp of the problems of villagers.

Rebel war plan plea

OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

New Delhi, Sept. 7: CRPF director-general J.K. Sinha today called for a national policy to fight Naxalites, terming the Chhattisgarh attack that killed 25 of his colleagues the worst ever suffered by the force.

Pointing out that different policies followed by different states were complicating the ground situation, he said a national policy was the need of the hour as central police forces were involved in operations against Naxalites and other insurgents.

Blaming the death of the 25 men on complacency, he said his team would be making tactical and strategic changes to deal with the “war-like situation” in Naxalite-affected states. He said the rebels’ desperation to prove they had not been cornered yet had come through in the attack.

Despite losing his personnel, Sinha pitched for the mine-proof vehicles — one had been blasted by the rebels — manufactured by the Medak ordnance factory in Andhra Pradesh.

“Similar vehicles are being produced in South Africa which our army is using very effectively. This MPV is as good as that, if not better, and a very good indigenous effort.

“Despite being hit by the most powerful blast that our security forces have witnessed till now, the shell of the MPV was intact though its differential and wheels got detached.”

The CRPF has claimed that a post-mortem of the bodies showed that the personnel in the mine-proof vehicle died of spinal and head injuries.

“Their bodies suffered two blows, one when the MPV got blown up by the powerful IED blasts and the second when the vehicle came down with a thud after hitting a height of 35 feet,” Sinha said.

“But the MPV would still qualify as a successful vehicle and needs certain adjustments like shock observers and cushioning to ward off high-intensity impact.”

Face Naxals with uniform strategy: CRPF DG

Chhattisgarh attack ‘War-like situation, Naxals have links abroad; mine-proof vehicle okay’

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 7 Calling for a uniform strategy to tackle the Naxalite menace, Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) J K Sinha said today that Left-wing extremism had created a ‘‘war-like situation’’ in Chhattisgarh where 24 CRPF men were killed in a landmine blast on Saturday.

Sinha said that the different policies followed by various states were only ‘‘adding to the confusion’’.

He added that there were reports that the Naxal outfits were in touch with organisations outside India. ‘‘We have reports which suggest that Naxals are in touch with organisations outside India, though we cannot link it to Saturday’s attack,’’ Sinha said.

The Home Ministry, however, has maintained that Naxalite violence had been contained effectively in all states, except Andhra Pradesh—the YSR Reddy government had to reimpose the ban on Left extremists recently after a string of attacks.

The Ministry claims that sustained effort—by way of development activity and anti-Naxal operations—by states and the Centre was responsible for the drop in Naxal violence.

The CRPF has now adopted the ‘‘Kashmir model of security’’ as part of its changed strategy to tackle the Naxalites—Sinha said that advance ‘‘road-opening parties’’ will now be used in Naxal areas.

Units have also been asked to stagger their movements, he added. Instead of using a single vehicle or an armoured carrier, they have been directed to move in a phased manner. ‘‘Moving in a staggered manner would allow us to retaliate in case of an ambush,’’ he said.

Sinha indicated that instead of carrying out simultaneous operations in several areas of a Naxal zone, the CRPF was considering focused operations to clear a particular spot before moving on. ‘‘We could concentrate our forces in one area, clear it of Naxals and then move to the next area,’’ he said.

Sinha said that the CRPF team that was ambushed on Saturday night was returning to its base after participating in the anti-Naxal Operation Greenhunt with the state police. Heavy casualties were inflicted on Naxals during the operation, he said, adding that the ambush was the extremists’ way of sending a message to the local population that they were still active, he said.

Sinha, however, defended the Mine Protected Vehicle (MVP) that was damaged in the landmine blast.‘‘I am not in favour of writing off the MPV. It does require some structural changes but the MPV would prove effective against the Naxals,’’ he said.

Sinha said that the vehicle’s shell was been able to withstand the impact of the blast. ‘‘Head and spinal injuries that were sustained when the vehicle was thrown off the ground led to the casualties,’’ he said, adding that the ordnance factory at Medak that built the MPV was carrying out the required changes.



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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I haven’t met Indian leaders: Prachanda

A top Maoist leader has denied reports that claimed that he had met senior Indian officials in New Delhi recently.


Maoist chairman Prachanda (File Photo)

In an interview with online edition of his party’s mouthpiece, Janadesh, on Tuesday, chairman of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Prachanda, said reports that he had met senior Foreign Ministry officials in New Delhi were false. He even challenged Nepali officials to prove their allegations that he had met Indian officials and that the ceasefire was announced as per their plans.

`Pioneer,’ a leading Indian newspaper, reported early this week that the elusive Maoist leader had met senior officials of India before announcing unilateral ceasefire. Earlier, reports said a three-member Maoist team, led by party leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, had met opposition leaders in the Indian capital.

In the interview, Prachanda said it was important to see after three or four days of his party’s announcement that the royal regime was not in favour of peace or any political solution. The main reasons for the Maoist decision (to go for unilateral ceasefire) was to create an environment for what he called ‘forward-looking political way out’ at both the national and international level, encourage seven political parties for collaboration and politically intervene on the `old regime.’

The Maoists describe themselves as ‘new regime’ and the state as ‘old regime.’

Responding to another query, Prachanda said his party did not see any rationale or prospect of holding talks with the royal government. He, however, said his party could hold talks, with the consent of political parties and the civil society, if the government too declares ceasefire and makes clear that it is ready to let people decide their own fate.

The Maoist supremo is believed to be referring to his party’s main demand of holding elections to the constituent assembly.

A Maoist negotiation team, led by Dr. Bhattarai, had walked out of peace talks with the government two years ago after the then government refused to entertain its major demand for (holding elections to) the constituent assembly to draft a new constitution that would decide the fate of country’s monarchy.

In response to another query, the Maoist chairman made it clear that the unilateral call for truce did not mean to influence the forthcoming UN General Assembly (or the proposed visit by the Nepalese monarch to New York). He also denied reports that the ceasefire was announced in consultation with the seven opposition parties. “We took this decision based on our own political analysis,” he added. nepalnews.com by Sep 07 05

‘Study time’ for Naxalites

Dipankar Bose in Ranchi

Sept. 6. — With the de-notification of the panchayat elections in Jharkhand, Naxalite activites across the state have become a major law and order worry for the police . Reports have started to trickle in about man and ammunition mobilisation along the dense forest tracts of the state, mainly along the border of Bihar.
The latest alarm bell for the state police rang loud and clear in a letter written by IG (Special Branch) to Senior SP, Ranchi, where it was indicated that the extremists’ next major threat could be to the life of the state home minister, Mr Sudesh Mahato.
According to the letter, the CPI(Maoist) held a meeting on 14 and 15 August at a hideout near the Agrasen Dharmashala area in Jhargram in neighbouring West Bengal, where it was decided to “eliminate the Jharkhand home minister”. The decision came after the All Jharkhand Students’ Union, headed by Mr Mahato, started a campaign to flush out Naxalites from Silli — the place from where Mr Mahato is elected.
The police top brass have decided to provide the home minister with a Special Task Force cover, apart from the usual Z-plus category security cover designated for him.
Police and Intelligence officers were also surprised after busting an explosive factory and the recovery of ammunition from Khunti, near Ranchi. The sophisticated gelatine sticks seized from the factory are generally used to prepare high grade land mines. The ammunition were smuggled into Jharkhand from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and dumped close to Ranchi, only to divert police attention, which remain primarily concentrated in rural and forest areas.
In another development, Intelligence sources revealed that a training camp is underway at present in Gurpa forest for the “new Maoist recruits”. The camp is being organised by Shon-Koel-Karo zonal committee of CPI (Maoist) and is being supported by the state committees of Bihar and Jharkhand. Sources said around 400 youths, men and women, are being givenfirst-hand training in the use of sophisticated arms and explosives. The training is being provided by veteran extremists from West Bengal.

Naxals: cops run for cover, LIC sells 26,600 policies in Gadcharoli

Our Regional Bureau / Nagpur September 07, 2005

Compelled by service regulations, cops may have been forced to live under the shadow of the gun in naxal-infested Gadchiroli district of Vidarbha, but they don’t want their kin to suffer, in case they don’t make it back. Their fear for life shows in the insurance policies they have taken out from the public sector, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), which just can’t stop beaming.

The backward district Gadchiroli has accounted for the maximum business, in terms of policies, under any branch of the Nagpur division of LIC. Over 20 per cent of the policies have been sold to policemen. This, sources inform, was a substantial contribution from any one particular sector.

The LIC office in Gadchiroli district sold 26,600 policies during the year 2004-05 involving a sum assured of Rs 181.27 crore and first premium income of Rs 6.6 crore.

Against this, the Nagpur district and city branch, which has the maximum sum assured of Rs 219.27 crore and first premium income of Rs 17.68 crore, did 17,178 policies and came second in terms of number of polices in the division.

“We have always had to get ourselves insured for an extra amount when posted in Gadchiroli. This is actually an old practice, but only the prudent did it earlier. Now it has become institutionalised and everybody is going for it,” explained a senior inspector posted at Gadchiroli.

He said, the number had also gone up because deployment had increased.

LIC agents said that the first thing the cops do, when they reach the inhospitable jungles of Gadchiroli, was to get themselves insured. They try to purchase as many policies as they can, so that there is adequate financial security for their dependents. Naxalite activities have been on the rise in the district in the past year, especially after the merger of the Maoist group with the Peoples War Group.

Policemen have traditionally been the prime targets for naxals. Cold statistics indicate as much: a landmine blast claimed seven cops, including a police sub-inspector, near Bhamragarh on February 22; eight, including two PSIs, died when their vehicle was blown off on May 30; three more lost their lives in another blast on June 6; two were gunned down on July 2; a state transport bus has been burnt; another one with a police escort fired upon; and several villagers hacked to death under suspicion of their being police informers till now.

“It is only natural that we would want some financial security for our dependents,” said the senior inspector requesting anonymity. There are around 1.60 lakh “active” policies in the district out of which, over 35,000 have been taken by policemen.

Sources said, 21,000 of these are salary saving schemes, (SSS) where premium is directly deducted from the salary of the subscriber. Most of the rest have been taken by cops wanting extra financial security.

The SSS subscribed to, by the Gadchiroli cops, is the highest as compared to any other organisation in the entire Nagpur division. In Gadchiroli, cops constitute 40 per cent policy-holders of the SSS.

Sources said, cops take multiple policies during their tenure at Gadchiroli with the total sum assured ranging from Rs 10 lakh to 15 lakh. As the tenure increases, they increase the number of policies. The Jeevan Mitra double and triple cover risk policy is one of the most sold products in Gadchiroli.

Lately, Bima Kiran, a low cost policy which ensures several added benefits such as refund of premium, was also sold in large numbers. Even maturity amounts are re-invested into policies.

“Ninety per cent of my clientele comprises of policemen,” said Dilip Kaushik, an insurance agent, who has sold the highest number of policies in the Gadchiroli district. If a cop in Nagpur goes for three to four insurance policies, in the district, the figure would be double, he said.

Kaushik said that he had started the business with the aim of helping cops get financial security. The local LIC branch settles 100 to 150 death claims a year from Gadchiroli district, out of which, a majority are of accidental deaths involving naxals, informed the agent.

This was also confirmed by the police inspector posted at Gadchiroli. He said that was exactly the reason, he and his fellow workers set aside a substantial part of their income for policies. Another reason was, because the compensation given by the government was never enough.

After cops, the semi-literate in rural masses, followed by other government officials also go for insurance covers in large numbers in Gadchiroli. They too, risk taking a stray bullet or stepping on some land mine.

10 Naxalites killed in Chhattisgarh’s special operation

UNI Raipur Sept 6: Adopting a policy of hot-pursuit against Left wing extremists, the Chhattisgarh police has carried out a massive combing operation, killing ten Naxalites and destroying their more than a dozen hideouts in the dense forests of in south Bastar, bordering Andhra Pradesh.

The six-day ‘Operation Green Hunt’, which was carried out from August 29 by five companies of Naga battalion, four companies of Central Reserve Police Force and the state police, resulted in killing of ten Naxalites, arrest of 17 Communist Party of India-Maoist cadres, destroying of a landmine factory and bunkers set up by the extremists in the dense reserve forests in Bairamgarh and Bijapur areas in Dantewara district.

The director-general of police, Mr Om Prakash Rathor told newsmen here last night that during the operation, the security forces combed the dense forests, covering an area of 150 to 200 sq km, having hostile terrain with hillocks and rivulets.

The security forces raided at least 26 Naxalite camps and bunkers engaging the extremists in encounter. He said 10 Naxalites were killed in the action while 17 others were arrested. There were indications about more casualties on Naxalite side but their bodies were apparently taken away by their comrades. Mr Rathor said.

Claiming that the security forces had also destroyed a landmine manufacturing unit near Tumnar village, Mr Rathor said self-loading rifles, live cartridges, muzzle loading guns, used cartridges of AK 47 assault rifles, bows and arrows, besides landmines with wires and detonators were seized during the operation.

The DGP said about 200 quintals of rice and paddy were found in the Naxalite camps, while Naxalite literature, diaries, posters, banners, Naxalite flags, anti-malarial and antibiotic medicines were also seized.

Mr Rathor said all these Naxalite camps and bunkers were well fortified with landmines on all the sides and the Naxalites tried to ambush the security forces at about 15 places. The para-military and police forces, however, managed to foil Naxalite attempts through their “tactical movements and quick actions”, he claimed.

Mr Rathor said 22 CRPF jawans, a special police officer and a driver, who were killed when the Naxalites triggered a landmine blast targeting an anti-landmine vehicle near Bijapur on Saturday evening, were part of the ‘Operation Green Hunt’. They were retreating after participating in the operation when the blast took place.

“We have taken this incident very seriously. We are not going to bow down before such acts of cowardice,” he said, terming the activities of Naxalites “inhuman, illegal and against all norms of human conduct”.

“There is no ideology. They are just criminals,” Mr Rathore said, adding the state was determined to crush all those organisations and group of individuals behind such terrorist activities.

Replying to a question, the DGP said the state government’s decision to impose a ban on Naxalites, its frontal organsiations and others indulging in terrorist and disruptive activities could help the security forces to a great extent deal with the Naxalite menace. Anyone aiding and abetting these organsiations and its members could face action under the ‘Chhattisgarh Special People’s Security Ordinance 2005,” he added.

Blast sparks rethink on police vehicles

Statesman News Service

BHUBANESWAR, Sept. 6. — The recent blast of an anti-landmine CRPF vehicle in Chhattisgarh has raised doubts about the efficacy of such vehicles and apparently prompted the Orissa government to review its purchase decision.
Official sources said that the Chhattisgarh government had purchased 14 anti-landmine vehicles, made with Defence Research and Development Organisation specifications.
Orissa government also proposed to purchase three of such vehicles. However, the state government has now decided to put the purchase on hold and review its decision in the light of Chhattisgarh incident, said a senior official requesting anonymity.
The purchase of anti-mines vehicle was a part of police modernisation programme, taken up with central assistance. Sources in the Home department said the state government had decided to ambush the ultras, even during night. The video clippings of the 1 September pro-Naxalite rally were sent to various Naxalite-affected police stations and the police officers there were instructed by their higher-ups to identify the hardcore Naxalites in their areas and arrest them without delay.
In the backdrop of Chhattisgarh mine blast, security personnel were advised not to go in a big group for any operation and exercise caution while passing through vulnerable places.
Officials, however, ruled out imposition of ban on Naxalite outfits in the state, as done in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Maoists Formulate Strategy And Tactics Of Revolution

RED TERROR

Maoists Formulate Strategy And Tactics Of Revolution

By JR MUKHERJEE

The Naxalite uprising in 1971 failed primarily because it was divided and was not wholly prepared. The fact that Mao’s China at that time was India’s arch enemy made them a public enemy. There was also a concerted political will to put them down as the nation was to go to war with Pakistan shortly thereafter. With the Maoists going underground, they clandestinely set about re-establishing themselves in their base areas with a great deal of popular support, as none of the causes of discontent were addressed by successive governments.

Forty groups
The Maoists were earlier split into groups. Some believe there were as many as 40 groups. The main ones were called the Maoist Communist Centre of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), People’s War Group, Revolutionary Communist Centre of India, Revolutionary Communist Centre of India (Maoist), Communist Party of India (CPI-ML). All these groups allied themselves to each other and to the Maoist parties of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal to form a joint organisation called the coordinating committee of the Maoist Communist Parties and Organisations of South Asia. They also formed part of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) set up in 1984 to coordinate Maoists efforts all over the world. Interestingly the RIM headquarters was in the USA.
Indian Maoist groups largely merged on 21 September 2004 to call themselves the Communist Party of India (Maoist) along with a statement that “we declare that the guerrilla armies of the CPI (ML), PW and MCCI, the People’s Guerrilla Army and the Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) have been merged into the People Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA). Hereafter the principal task of the party is to develop the PLGA into a full-fledged Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and transform the existing guerrilla zones into base areas, thereby advancing towards the New Democratic Revolution.
The statement included promises of support for the “Struggle of the Nationalities’’ for self-determination including their right to secession (implying support for the North-east insurgent groups and terrorists in J&K). The Maoists would expose, isolate and defeat all forms of social repression, particularly untouchability and casteism and the more dangerous Hindu fascist forces whilst exposing other fundamentalist forces.

Strategy of struggles
It would direct its struggles against the central and state governments and their allies including the CPI and CPI-M and their allies. The communists in Bengal have been proclaimed to be guilty of unleashing a “white terror’’ against the downtrodden people and capitalism in having given total support to businessmen from outside the state, who are looting it. The Maoists proclaim that they will counter them through “Red Terror’’. The Maoists also state that they will resist expansionist designs of imperialists all over the world and support the Iraqi and Afghan people against US imperialist designs.
In a document on the “Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution’’, the Maoists stated that “the character of Indian society is semi-colonial, semi-feudal. The Indian Revolution would have to pass through two stages. The first must change the semi-colonial, semi-feudal society into an independent New Democratic Society. The targets of the revolution would be the imperialists, bourgeoisie and landlord classes...The motive forces for the revolution are to be the peasants, workers and petty bourgeoisie, with the national bourgeoisie being vacillating allies. The immediate aim is to be achieved through the path of a protracted people’s war starting from the rural areas’’.
The document amplifies that no viable solution to the problems of the people can be found through any parliamentary institution. Experience of the last 58 years has confirmed that whosoever participated in it got entrenched into this system and thereafter failed to resolve the problems of the people. In fact participation in an election amounts to abandoning the cause of the Maoist revolution.
The important characteristics of the Maoist movement are: educated leadership not necessarily from deprived classes with ambitions of seizing power through the barrel of a gun; cadres largely from deprived classes; a support base amongst deprived classes in difficult terrain with a combination of social work and terror tactics; extortion in the form of taxes; expanding areas of control through terror and raids on banks and police stations for funds and weapons in addition to that received from abroad.
On 5 December 2004, the PGLA blew up three tourist guesthouses at Kokrajhore in Belpahari of Midnapore district, alleging that these houses were being used for sex trade. Sixty to 100 cadres of the PGLA carried out the operation. There were no fatalities as it was planned as a show of force against the Communist government. There have been further incidents in a number of places since then. It, however, needs to be noted that Maoist activities have been carried on for quite some time by the two erstwhile Left extremist factions and there is now a re-emerging Naxalite threat in Bengal.

Proxy war
The situation is now also beginning to pose a serious threat particularly when considered in conjunction with the activities of Maoists in Nepal. This activity can now be considered to be part of the proxy war against India. There are indications that the Maoists are supported through Bangladesh and Nepal by Pakistan, China and Bangladesh as part of their proxy war effort (though this is denied by China).
The Maoists are waging a people’s war in 13 states — Andhra, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan (minimal), Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal (minimal) and West Bengal. According to the ministry of home affairs, in 10 of these states in 2004, a total of 420 civilians and 98 security forces men were reportedly killed in Maoist terrorist-related violence. State-wise figures of those killed are: 155 in Bihar, Jharkhand 150, Chattisgarh 75, Andhra 74, Uttar Pradesh 23, Maharashtra 15, West Bengal 14, Orissa 8, Madhya Pradesh 3, Karnataka 1. The casualty figures are not necessarily indicative of the degree to which the states are affected. In reality in the affected areas of certain states, the writ of the government simply does not run. Hence there are no reports of casualties/deaths.
The under-developed hill regions in these states are the worst-affected. This is where most of the mineral and forest wealth is located and is primarily inhabited by the tribal people.
The only exceptions are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh where the lower caste belts are primarily affected in addition to the hill areas. In a nutshell, the affected areas and people are the under-developed, poorly governed areas, inhabited by economically and socially deprived people.
The author is a retired Lieutenant-General, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, of the Indian Army

Munda for 'reforming' Maoists:

Kolkata: Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda said he was in favour of dealing with Maoists with sagacity and wanted to bring them into the national mainstream.

Munda was speaking to journalists here late Monday, just a few hours after the Chhattisgarh government banned the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist).

"We are trying to bring them to the mainstream of our life, while also remaining vigilant that the constitution of our country is not tinkered with in the process," Munda said.


"In some parts of Jharkhand, we have a problem of Maoist activities, but it is not as severe as it has been made out to be. We are monitoring the problem."


The Jharkhand chief minister also expressed confidence that Maoists would not affect tourists visiting the state, as they were also against harming innocent travellers.


On West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's recent allegation that Maoists from neighbouring Jharkhand were creating problems in his state, Munda said there was a political angle to it.


"Politicians in West Bengal say troublemakers are from Jharkhand. And in Jharkhand the politicians say troublemakers are from West Bengal. I have spoken to Bhattacharya. We have earlier issued joint statements as well to deal with the problem," he said.

Central grant for police modernisation

New Delhi, Sept 6: To give a fillip to modernisation of police forces, especially in Naxalite-affected states, the government today announced enhancement of Central assistance to all states barring Jammu and Kashmir and North-East to the tune of 75 per cent from the present 60 per cent.


In a special package to re-arm forces in nine Naxalite-hit states, including Andhra Pradesh, they will be given a additional grant of Rs 2 crore annually, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


Mukherjee said the CCS has decided to do away with the previous categorisations for police modernisation expenditure and has now created two categories -- the first one comprising J and K and the North Eastern states except Sikkim and the second consisting of the rest of the states. The total Central grant will cost Rs 1,665 crore.


While J and K and seven North Eastern states will continue to be extended 100 per cent Central assistance for police modernisation, in case of rest of the states, the assistance will be increased from 60 per cent to 75 per cent with 25 per cent matching grant being made by the states, he said. Earlier the matching grant was 40 per cent. (Agencies)



Published: Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Vara Vara Rao remanded to judicial custody till Sep 19

Guntur, PTI :



Naxal emissaries and revolutionary writers Varavara Rao and Kalyana Rao, were remanded to judicial custoday till September 19.

The remand order of the two in March 11 police station raid case, was made by a judicial magistrate in Chilakaluripeta town, 40km from here yesterday. The two shouted anti-government slogans in the court.

Varavara Rao urged the judge to exempt him from personal attendance in the court, in view of his age (72) and ill-health.


The judge asked him to file a petition in this regard.

The accused are at present lodged in Chanchalguda Central jail at Hyderabad, 340 km from Chilakaluripeta

Fight unitedly to eliminate naxal menace: MLA

Tuesday September 6 2005 14:05 IST

KOPPA: People in Malnad are terror shocked after the brutal killing of a tribal farmer Sheshaiah Gowdlu of Menasinahadya by Naxalites, said D B Chandregowda.

Speaking after releasing a book ‘Peaceful solutions to Naxal affected Malanad’ published by Samajavadi Adyana Kendra, Bangalore at Sringeri, he said a legislative sanction for the anti-naxal operation would be more effective.

By surrendering their arms, Naxalites should actively take part in democratic activities and come forward for a dialogue, he added.

MLA Jeevaraj, who spoke on the occasion, called for a united fight against undemocratic forces. He expressed his unhappiness over the State Government for inviting pro-Naxalite leaders for the meeting conveyed by the CM.

NAXAL PROBLEM: JDS district president Rajendra, who spoke on the occasion, said that to eliminate naxal menace, suitable force is necessary to combat them.

Dr Prakash Kammaradi, who led the study team to prepare the report, said the suggestions made by the team should be immediately looked into to save Malnad from naxal movement.

Taluk Raithahitha Raxana Samiti president Honnalli Ramesh presided over the function.

Subbarao compared the programme. MAMCS vice-president Narasimha Nayak inaugurated the programme.

Directors of Mamcos were present.

Red alert sounded in Malkangiri, Orissa

Tuesday September 6 2005 12:52 IST

JEYPORE: While Chhattisgarh Government is contemplating a ban on Maoist outfits in the wake of the Naxal attack in Bastar region, which claimed lives of 24 security personnel, the Orissa Government has already tightened security measures in Malkangiri district apprehending influx of ultras.

Red alert has been sounded in Motu, Kalimela and Padia areas, official sources said. Special patrol parties have been pressed into service.

Berhampur DIG S K Upadhyaya has been monitoring the law and order situation in the areas.

Malkangiri SP Yatindra Koyal said police are geared up to check Naxal infiltration.

Monday, September 05, 2005

How did mine damage anti-mine vehicle

Day after, Home asks: How did mine damage anti-mine vehicle

SUDHI RANJAN SEN

NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 5 A day after a Naxal-planted landmine killed 24 CRPF personnel in Chattisgarh’s Bijapur district, the Home Ministry has asked the Army Ordnance Factory in Medak to probe why the Mine-Protected Vehicle (MPV) the securitymen were travelling in, failed to withstand the blast.

Senior Home Ministry officials confirmed that a team headed by the Deputy General Manager of the Medak factory, has rushed to Raipur to examine the vehicle. They are expected to submit a report within a week.

The MPV was one of 14 that were recently procured from the Medak factory for anti-Naxal operations. Twelve more were to have been procured soon, the officials said.

CRPF officers said the blast split the vehicle in two. The CRPF is conducting an inquiry into the ‘‘possible leak’’ of information about the movement of its personnel. ‘‘Dantewada is a Naxal stronghold and it appears that they had prior information about the movement of the CRPF team,’’ said a senior CRPF officer.

It is learnt that the CRPF team was returning from an operation—that was eventually called off—in Dantewada, when they were attacked. Reports reaching the Home Ministry suggest that after the landmine exploded, about 50 Naxalites attacked the CRPF team, aiming to snatch their arms and ammunition.

Team leader, Commandent B K Toko, who had a miraculous escape, together with other survivors, held off the Naxals till reinforcements arrived from CRPF camps in Bihapur and Gangaloor, said officials.

A team of experts from the National Security Guards (NSG) and the Central Forensic Laboratory (CFSL) have been rushed to Chhattisgarh to study the nature of explosives used.

40 policemen injured in clashes over Gohana

AMRITSAR: Around 40 police officials were injured today in clashes with demonstrators protesting the torching of Dalit houses at Gohana in Haryana. Demonstrators also damaged many vehicles, setting fire to two. Superintendent of Police D P Singh said armed rampaging protesters attacked the police with soft drink bottles and damaged 10 buses—including four Punjab Roadways buses—and five other vehicles, besides setting fire to two motorcycles in the walled city.

Meanwhile, Hoshiarpur witnessed a complete bandh under tight police security, as Dalits demonstrated. PTI

The killer count

Naxal violence in the states demands a decisive national response



There are decision-makers at the Centre who are known to actively nurture the illusion that the Naxalites are a genuine political movement, with legitimate political grievances that can be addressed by good-intentioned invitations to dialogue. It might be instructive for these people to glance at recent events in the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In AP last month, Congress MLA M.C. Narsi Reddy was killed by suspected Naxals; after targeting Reddy, the armed assailants fired indiscriminately into the assembled crowd. On Saturday last, in the Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, a landmine blast notched the gruesome badge of killing the largest number of security personnel in a single Naxal attack. In the aftermath, both governments have talked tough. The Y.S.R. Reddy regime was forced to shed some of the tell-tale ambiguities in its drive against the extremist groups; it reinstated the ban on Naxals. Now, the Raman Singh government has initiated an ordinance to ban them. There are murmurs of an action plan in the offing at the Centre as well, with brand new counter-measures against Naxalites. Are we on to a learning curve here? Perhaps.

There are reasons for the persistent scepticism. The onus is on the UPA dispensation to prove that it will respond in decisive ways to the horrifying bloodshed perpetrated by Naxalite groups across the country. Ever since it took charge, the UPA has been sending out dangerously mixed messages vis a vis the Naxalites. The defining moment of this vacillation at the highest levels was the spectacle of Naxalites bringing their weapons to the negotiating table in AP. And of the AP police being forced to turn back after cornering the entire top Naxalite leadership in a forest raid. No government can afford to appear to be ambiguous when dealing with a serious security threat. No government can wink at groups that pursue their ends through violence against the people, ironically in the name of the people.

The prime minister has exhorted extremist groups to prove their legitimacy and popular support by entering the electoral process. His remarks contained a welcome note of warning and challenge. It must be brought home to the Naxalite groups that they have no option: they must renounce violence and submit to the democratic process. Else, they must face the consequences of their recalcitrance.

IntelliBriefs: Chhattisgarh orders ban on Naxals

IntelliBriefs: Chhattisgarh orders ban on Naxals

IntelliBriefs: India needs plan on Maoists-- Analysis

IntelliBriefs: India needs plan on Maoists-- Analysis

IntelliBriefs: Alert in Jharkhand after killings in Chhattisgarh

IntelliBriefs: Alert in Jharkhand after killings in Chhattisgarh

Chhatisgarh seeks Central help to combat naxal violence

Sept 5, 2005 12:22:00 PM


.RAIPUR BOM3

Raipur, Sep 5 (PTI) In wake of the naxalite attack which claimed lives of 24 security personnel in Bastar region, Chhattisgarh government has sought more sophisticated weapons from the Centre to tackle the menace and called an emergency cabinet meeting today to consider a ban on naxalite outfits.
Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh has called the emergency meeting of his cabinet to discuss the situation and also to decide imposing ban on the CPI (Maoist) and its frontal organisation in wake of the increased naxal activities, top official sources told PTI here.

After a high level meeting last night to review the situation, the Chief Minister spoke to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Union Home Secretary and briefed them about the Padeda incident on Saturday in which 24 securitymen died.

State's Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam, who visited the site of the naxal attack in Bijapur police district yesterday, said the Chief Minister had asked Patil to assist the state by providing more forces and lastest weapons to combat the situation.

"The Chief Minister not only briefed the Centre about the situation, but also apprised it about the steps being taken by the state government, including contemplating a ban on the naxal organisations," he said. PTI

Maoist sympathisers remanded in custody

Hyderabad | September 05, 2005 7:25:06 PM IST



A court in Andhra Pradesh Monday remanded two writers and Maoist sympathisers in judicial custody till Sep 19 in a case related to an attack on a police station.

Kalyan Rao, president of Revolutionary Writers Association (Virasam in Telugu) and Varavara Rao, one of the founders of the body, were taken to Guntur district from a jail here and produced in the court at Chilkaluripeta.

The duo, who had acted as emissaries of the outlawed CPI-Maoist during peace talks with the government last year, were arrested last month following re-imposition of a ban on the Maoist outfit and its frontal organisations including Virasam.

Six policemen and a civilian were killed when heavily armed Maoists attacked the police station in Chilkaluripeta March 11. Police had then filed a case against Kalyan Rao and Varavara Rao.

They were also produced in another court at Gurzala in Guntur district Monday in connection with a case registered against them in 1999 for addressing a meeting in violation of prohibitory orders.

They were remanded in judicial custody till Sep 19 in this case too.

Talking to reporters outside the court in Chilkaluripeta, Varvara Rao admitted they were sympathizers of the Maoists but had never indulged in violence. He alleged the police were implicating them in false cases.

Varvara Rao and Kalyan Rao were produced in courts in Anantapur and Nalgonda districts last month in connection with the murder of a police constable and an attempt to murder another constable.

On a complaint by Varvara Rao's wife that he was being implicated in false cases, the state human rights commission had ordered a probe last week.

Central Labour Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao Saturday had called on Varavara Rao at Chanchalguda jail in Hyderabad. He later appealed to the state government to release him on humanitarian grounds, as he was not keeping good health.

(IANS)

Hotel Rolpa: Maoist-run ‘cooperative hotels’.

sarahana (Brooklyn, NY) wrote:


"The locals helped us build the shelter for free while we three invested at least Rs 60,000 to run it," says Dil Kumari shyly as she blows into the fire. She and her partner Mina Dangi are ‘whole timers’ (WT) in the Maoist party. The third partner is Ganesh Magar, whose daughter was a Maoist but drowned three years ago on a tour of duty.

The owners have to turn over 20 percent of their profits to the Maoists. According to the rebels the accounts are regularly updated and from their 20 percent take, 10 percent goes to their ‘war fund’ while five percent is allotted to each of their ‘emergency’ and ‘social’ funds.

“We want to promote businesses and cooperatives because we need to finance the struggle,” says Tara, a member of the Maoist local government in Ghartigaun which is designated Area Number 5.

There are said to be at least three other rebel-run shops as well as communal farms in northern Rolpa that use the cooperative system. The Maoist-built Martyr’s Highway from Nuwagaun to Tela cost Rs 10,025,000 and rebels say Rs 25,000 was raised from a cooperative hotel run by the road construction committee."

More @ http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue263/nation_2.htm

We will wipe out Naxalism in 3 years: Adilabad SP

Monday September 5 2005 14:20 IST

KADAM: Naxalism would be completely eradicated in the district in next three years, Superintendent of Police Kripananda Tripathi Ujela saidon Sunday.

He was participating in the ‘Naxals Parivartana Sadassu’ programme at Kadam Mandal Headquarters, organised by the Khanapur Circle police.

Speaking with the ex-militants, surrendered Naxalites, Naxal sympathisers and the parents of the militants who took part in the programme, he said that six years ago the strength of Naxalite cadre was 100 in the district.

After the launch of the novel programme ‘Polisulu Meekosam’ the number came down to 35, he added. He appreciated the 23 villagers of the district, who expelled the Naxalites from their villages.

He said four persons had been killed by the Naxalites since last January branding them as the police informers.

He said that the notification had been issued to fill up 200 home guard posts in the district.

Already a few posts were filled and asked the villagers to propose names of youths for the remaining posts, he added.

He said that the government was positively responding to creating many jobs for the interior villages in order to turn their attention towards development.

He advised the youth not to be drawn towards Naxalism and pointed out that the Naxalites were creating violence to scare people. Meanwhile, the cultural troupes attracted the people with their shows.

The artistes presented different skits against the Naxalites. Mainly the play ‘Ammo saduvula talli, saduvu ranollani sallanga sudu’ received the maximum applause.

Chhattisgarh approves Draft Ordinance to ban naxals

Sep. 5, 2005

In the wake of increased activities of Left-wing naxals in Chhattisgarh that claimed lives of 24 security personnel in Bastar region two days ago, the state government today decided to ban naxal organisations.

"The state cabinet, in an emergency meeting decided to ban the naxal organisations in the state through an ordinance," Chief Minister Raman Singh told PTI here.

The Draft Ordinance was approved by the cabinet and would be sent to the Union Home Ministry for approval, after which through state Governor Sushilkumar Shinde, it would be sent to the President for his approval, Singh said.

After the Presidential nod, the naxal outfits would be banned through a notification, Singh said after the cabinet meet, which also reviewed Saturday's landmine blast.

Terming the situation in Bastar as "warlike", state Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam said that at many places the police and paramilitary forces were engaged in on-to-one fight with the naxals.

"Any organisation or group of individuals, involved in illegal activities or terrorist activities, will be initially banned for one year through this ordinance and after examining their activities the period of ban can be extended," Netam told reporters.

Observing that the government needed more forces and sophisticated weapons to fight the situation, the Chief Minister had yesterday sought the assistance of Union Home Ministry.

On Saturday evening naxalites had triggered a powerful landmine blast, killing 24 security men, including 22 CRPF personnel and seriously injuring three others.

Under the ordinance, the state government can confiscate the moveable properties and funds of all the banned outfits, Netam said.

The people or organisations, which are involved directly or indirectly in helping the banned organisations will also attract provisions of the Ordinance, he said.

"The members of the banned outfits or their associates would face a maximum of three years'' imprisonment and in a notified area the sentence would be upto seven years for those involved in any such illegal activities," he said.

Asked if mediapersons would come under the Act for interviewing the leaders of such banned organisations, the state Home Minister said "anyone involved in helping these organisations will be come under this Ordinance".

"However, the rights of the media will remain intact despite this Ordinance," he clarified.

The state government has also proposed to constitute a three-member Advisory Board, headed by a serving or retired High Court judge, before whom any organisation can appeal for consideration of lifting of the ban within 15 days of its notification, Netam said.

The Advisory Board would have to give its opinion to the state government within three months of the submission of the organisation to lift the ban, he added.

The state government has also made a provision to seek prior approval of the district collector before filing of challans by police before a court and all the offences coming under this ordinance would be cognizable and non-bailable, Netam added.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Rebels mock at Delhi mine-buster

R. KRISHNA DAS

The blown-up anti-landmine vehicle in Dantewada district. Telegraph picture

Raipur, Sept. 4: Naxalites struck in spectacular fashion yesterday, killing 23 policemen and a civilian in an explosion that tossed their anti-landmine vehicle 20 feet in the air and split it into two.

The dead included 22 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), a constable from the district police and a village security officer.

A 10-ft crater was left at the site, around 450 km south of Raipur in Dantewada district, bordering Andhra Pradesh, by the explosion that occurred around 6 pm.

It was one of the most audacious strikes ever carried out anywhere in the country by Naxalites.

Apart from the human casualty, the biggest shock for the administration was the damage caused to the anti-landmine vehicle, considered a key weapon in the fight against Maoist rebels.

The government had procured about a dozen such vehicles from the Centre for anti-Maoist operations. The Centre had asked the state to test the quality of the vehicles made in Medak, Andhra Pradesh.

Police sources said 25 jawans of the 87th Battalion of the CRPF, a policeman from the district force and a village security officer had gone out patrolling last evening in the dense forests of Bijapur, considered a Naxalite hub.

As the anti-landmine vehicle they were travelling in approached a bridge near a village, about 11 km from Bijapur, a powerful landmine went off.

Twenty-two people died on the spot while two succumbed to injuries at the government hospital in Bijapur. There were only three survivors.

Police and additional forces took time to reach the spot because of the difficult terrain. The possibility of an ambush during rescue operations was not ruled out, making the police extra-cautious, said sources.

It was not before 9 pm that a police team reached the spot. Till then, five jawans, including the two CRPF men who died later, were engaged in a gunbattle with the extremists.

D.K. Toppo, commandant of the CRPF and one of the survivors, said: “The intention of the Maoists was to loot our arms and ammunition.” But the fight the jawans put up with their limited resources foiled the Maoists’ attempts.

The three survivors were admitted to the medical college hospital here this morning. The commandant was reportedly out of danger but the others were fighting for their lives.

Toppo recalled that the Maoist leaders instructed their cadets to surround the spot from all sides and did not seem to know that there were only five jawans fighting them.

“The Maoists thought that 12-15 people had survived and were giving them a tough fight,” Toppo said, adding that this could have been the reason for the rebels’ retreat.

Since the wireless sets were damaged, Toppo could not communicate the message to the police headquarters. It was the driver of a jeep plying on the route who informed the Bijapur police. By the time the additional forces arrived, the rebels had fled.

DOGGED BY TERROR

Suffering Constantly From Panic Attacks

By BULA BOSE

Moving around in today’s world is no longer easy. Not at least if July 2005 was a representative sample. A month during which one was foolhardy enough to have planned to step across to European shores. First came the news of the Ayodhya blasts. Just the day before one was to leave. Which meant anxiety about traffic disruptions on account of protests and/or demonstrations. And more and more security checks.
Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris next morning seemed on high alert for something but since one had been in transit, the reason was not apparent and there wasn’t enough time to find out, too. It was only after one landed in Rome that one heard about the blasts in London which had taken place a few hours ago. It was the 7 July 2005!

Seeds of feaz
The next few days were spent fraught with anxiety about the well-being of one’s friends and relatives. A subsequent high alert in Birmingham led to a few more anxious moments because there was, at least temporarily, no news from a friend’s daughter living near the city centre which, apparently, was under threat. Later, one learnt that they had been away! It is not easy to deal with the seeds of fear, once they are sown in our minds!
Although Rome was reported to be on high alert during the period of one’s stay, one didn’t really feel anything directly. But on the day before one was scheduled to leave, suddenly the face of the city changed. There were demonstrations in certain pockets, a lot of leaflet distribution, requests to join in a signature campaign ostensibly to protest against a not very popular participation in the war in Iraq and, last but not the least, a sudden flurry of activity by the Falun Gong group. Memories of College Street during the Naxalite days resurfaced and, till the signature campaign part, one tried to take it in one’s stride. But the sight of the members of Falun Gong, with their deceptively expressionless faces, sitting in meditation mode in a large group at one of the important crossings, was enough to dent anyone’s confidence. Enough is enough, one said. For, fate is hardly something that one should tempt nowadays. And there one was, beating a hasty retreat to one’s host’s residence. All set to prepare for the trip to one’s next destination.
Packing incidentally, is no joke today. There may be power cuts but one is not allowed to travel with a functioning torch in one’s handbag. Because dry cell batteries are not allowed on aircraft. And of course, after 11 September, no nail cutters, no scissors, no nothing.

Airline security
So, if one happens to rip a nail while handling baggage, there’s no choice but to chew it off! And sometimes it actually becomes quite embarrassing to go looking for a pair of scissors to cut off the special strap that many airlines tightly secure your booked baggage with. Surprisingly, Paris, which was once the hotbed of student activity and demos, was relatively quiet. Maybe because it was the holiday season. The month of July, after all! Of course, there were spot checks in the Metro and the special police appointed there picked on anyone who they thought looked slightly suspicious!
But the news came pouring in. Two more blasts in London, though of a more minor nature. And then Egypt! All through this, the Indian cable TV channels kept informing us about the activities of the Maoists here and the Naxals there. And, of course, there was always Kashmir. Which, although one does feel ashamed to say it, has become so commonplace and almost part of our terror ridden-lives that most of us just glance at the news but don’t even bother to go into the details.
When human lives are being lost every day, one does tend to react less. Unfortunate but true! And then there was the news of some trans-Athantic flight being told to go back because one passenger did not pass the intense scrutiny that all of us, daring to cross our borders, must undergo in today’s world riddled by terrorist threats. Imagine the anxiety, the inconvenience and, who knows, what else, of all the hundreds of other passengers who happened to be on that ill-fated flight!
Immediately on returning home came the news of the Honda Motors Scooters India incident at Gurgaon. Which compelled even one’s sleep-deprived brain to sit up and take notice. And there was more to come besides the rains. The Bombay High accident, for one, and the consequent fire! Followed by reports of the fallout of a stampede arising from rumours of a tsunami scare. Calamities, for the ordinary individual, are, after all, calamities. Whether they are man-made or hand-outs from nature. And once a people become panic-stricken, things can only get worse. April, said poet TS Elliott once upon a time, is the cruellest month. What, one wonders, would he have said about July 2005?

Destiny
In the ultimate analysis, one realises with an obligatorily adopted philosophical attitude, it is all about destiny. The unfortunate young Brazilian who was shot down by a paranoid police force in London just because he happened to be brown in colour and was running, had done no wrong. But, obviously, his time had come. It is the same for all of us. Whether we sit in the so-called safety of our homes or whether we venture out in today’s terror ridden world, what is to happen will happen. But what is most unfortunate is that we have lost our peace of mind. And our independence in the true sense.
Fears and apprehensions at the macro level are, after all, bound to trickle down to the micro level. However carefree and/or fatalistic one may aspire to be. And today we live in a society full of fear. And suffer constantly from panic attacks. Be they self-imposed or super-imposed. Nothing could be sadder than that!

The author, a former public sector executive, writes on social issues.

Cops on ‘red’ alert after blast

JOY SENGUPTA

Ranchi, Sept. 4: A high alert has been sounded in the state following one landmine blast in neighbouring Chhattisgarh last evening.

The alert, especially in the Naxalite hit districts of Garhwa and Palamau, comes after the landmine blast killed 22 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans at a place near Bijapur in Dantewara district of Chhattisgarh.

The explosion was so powerful that the anti-landmine vehicle in which the jawans were travelling was flung 20 feet in the air and split into two pieces.

According to Jharkhand police sources, they had got a tip-off that the Naxalites have now moved into the Ranka forests of Garhwa district.

The police said this was certainly a possibility that the red brigade would move into the forest to escape the long range patrol initiated by the Chhattisgarh police and the CRPF to hold them.

A senior police official of Garhwa said: “We got this message from our Chhattisgarh counterparts that about 150 Naxalites — consisting of both men and women — had come down to Ranka and Ramna forests of this district. While some of them have already reached Palamau through the hilly and dense areas a major chunk is trying to cross the border.”

“They are all loaded with modern weapons, hand grenades, ammunitions, landmines and can-bombs. With the state at the verge of the panchayat elections and the Naxalites already announcing for a total boycott, the police cannot take any risks at present,” added the officer.

The police sources said a massive combing operation has started in the entire Garhwa district and parts of Palamau, too.

“An alert has been sounded in the other districts like Latehar, Pakur, Chatra, Gumla, Lohardaga among others. Ranchi has also been asked to stay alert,” stated another senior police official.

A joint team — comprising the Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh police, CRPF, Special Task Force and Sangel — is conducting raids in the different parts of Ranka and the adjoining place of Garhwa to flush them out, officials said.

ure that zzzthe operation is going to bring in some positive results,” added the officials.