Saturday, December 24, 2005

Alert over wires in CM way

OUR BUREAU

Calcutta/Purulia, Dec. 24: Police today found a network of wires embedded in the earth on the Purulia-Barakar road which will be taken by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on his way to Purulia tomorrow.

Police officials said the wires could be connected to explosives planted by CPI (Maoist) guerrillas. The culvert under which the wires were seen is located in a deserted place 3 km from Raghunathpur town.

Bhattacharjee will visit Para in Purulia, 220 km from Calcutta, to address a public meeting. The chief minister will reach Asansol by train and travel by car to Raghunathpur. He is expected to reach Para around 2 pm.

“We don’t know if there are any landmines underneath and are waiting for the expert team. We have stepped up security along the chief minister’s route,” said Jogesh Chatterjee, inspector-general of police (headquarters) in charge of law and order.

Naxalites launch People's Courts to win sympathy in Jharkhand

Now, Naxalites launch People's Courts to win sympathy in Jharkhand

Chatra (Jharkhand): They may have espoused the cause of the poor and the landless for more than four decades, but the rebel Naxals are still wary of leaving anything to chance as far as winning public sentiment is concerned.

Having used the gun and a parallel form of government to establish their authority over remote and often inaccessible parts of rural India, the Naxals are now projecting their softer side through regular public contact programmes, known in the local parlance as “Jan Adalats” or “People's Court”.

The latest one was held in the jungles near the Chatra- Palamau border.

Armed with guns and raising slogans against the local police and administration, the naxals organised the court not only to propagate their cause, but also to provide a platform for villagers to voice their opinion.

“Our aim is to fight against the atrocities of the administration. We (Naxals) want justice for the people who have suffered so much and want that they should make progress,” said Ravi, a platoon commander of the People's Liberation Guerilla Army.

Some of the villagers, however, said that they were attending such fora to procure rice and blankets for themselves and their families.

“We will get rice and blanket, and so, we have come here,” said a villager.

People voiced their grievances on the platform. A group of people also came up with a short play which aimed to project the basic needs of common man.

Naxalism -- the ultra-leftist manifestation of age-old peasant struggle in India—was born in West Bengal's Naxalbari village in 1967 with an armed revolt backed by Comrade Charu Majumdar. The “rebellion” was crushed but the saga of terror and violence that entailed continues in different streams despite severe crackdown on them over decades.

The movement continues to breed in both its political and violent forms in backward and tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.

Of the many Maoist organisations in India, the People's War and the Maoist Communist Centre are at present engaged in armed struggle against “ruling classes and oppressive state forces” in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and adjoining areas.

Faced with a host of military and other measures against them, Naxalites have acquired lethal firepower and guerilla war expertise over the years. They are well organised and armed with latest weapons.

Jehanabad jailbreak case: 3 naxals held

[ Saturday, December 24, 2005 06:25:49 pmPTI ]

JEHANABAD (BIHAR): Three naxalites involved in the November 13 massive attack on a jail in Jehanabad were arrested in Hulasganj area of the district and remanded to judicial custody, police said on Saturday.

Umesh Paswan alias Dipak Paswan, state committee member of the proscribed CPI (Maoist), Shivratan Paswan, another hardcore naxalite and Ramashish Paswan were arrested from village Tirra under Hulasganj police station on Thursday night, sources said.

Ramashish Paswan is considered the right-hand man of self-styled commander of the outfit Praduman Sharma who masterminded the operation.

They were later produced before a district court which remanded them to judicial custody.

Bihar Admin gears up to deal with Naxal problem

JEHANABAD: The Jehanabad district administration has geared up its machinery to give a major thrust to the development projects in the district as part of the special action plan recently mooted by the state government to tackle Naxalism in Patna, Jehanabad and Arwal districts in the first phase.

Giving broad outlines of the plan, Jehanabad DM Rana Awadhesh told TOI that as opposed to the conservative line of thinking, which treated the problems of the countryside and the Naxal response to it as a mere law and order problem, the new action plan emphasises the need to analyse and identify the basic requirements of extremist-affected areas, fix priorities, have fresh development strategies and accelerate the implementation process.

The plan is basically designed to instil a sense of security among the rural folk living under the Naxal fear and to deliver distributive justice to the poor, particularly the deprived sections, who are supposed to form the main support base of Naxalites, he added.

The DM informed that to begin with, eight companies of the CRPF have so far arrived in Jehanabad under the special plan of the government to help impart a momentum to various development works in the extremist-affected areas of the district.

CPMF personnel are also being deployed at cluster camps, each comprising three panchayats. These cluster camps will also be known as campaign centres with each centre leaving a static strength of one platoon of CPMF.

The team of the district administration entrusted with the task of carrying out development works in the vicinity will also stay at the same centre until the completion of the works.

On the completion of works, the development team will shift to the neighbouring cluster centre to carry on further development works, the DM said and added that the CPMF will remain stationed at the campaign centres till the entire area is saturated and agog with development activities.

The plan, according to the DM, also envisages restoration of equal rights over the common property assets in the villages to the weaker sections, speedy implementation of land reforms and resolution of land disputes, construction of Dalit colonies and provision for drinking water and sanitation facilities in the Dalit colonies.

16-year-old caught in Naxal crossfire

Tejeswi Pratima

Saturday, December 24, 2005 (Prakasam district ):


Naxals in Andhra Pradesh portray themselves as friends of the poor, who dispense justice, but that is not always the case.

On February 8, 16-year-old Siva Nagamani in Prakasam district was accidentally caught in the Naxal crossfire.

On the fateful day, a bullet pierced into her stomach and has stayed there for the last 10 months.

The Naxals opened fire on her as she happened to be standing alongside a villager who the rebels thought was a police informer.

Living with a bullet

Nagamani has undergone two operations since then. "They cut eight inches of my intestine, saying it will grow after two years. I don't feel like eating like I used to before," says Nagamani.

Doctors decided to let the bullet remain in Nagamani's stomach, fearing complications if it was removed. But the pain has forced her to give up school.

"I wanted to go and study. But I am unable to sit for long in school. So, I stopped going to school," she adds.

Shattered dreams

Nagamani's parents, who work as farm labour in Pettapuram village of Prakasam district, had big dreams for her. But the tragic incident has changed their lives forever.

"I am a daily wage labourer and earn Rs 25 a day. I wanted my daughter to study so that she will be able to make a decent living. But now we don't have an option other than keeping her at home," says Krishnaveni, Nagamani's mother.

The Naxals owned up their mistake and promised the family help but that never came. On their part, Nagamani's parents say they are scared to take help from the government, fearing the Naxals may not approve.

The police officials have promised to take a medical opinion and give a compensation to Nagamani, which could be between Rs 65,000-1,00,000.

Naxal threat to blow up DDPI office

Saturday December 24 2005 12:43 IST

CHIKMAGALUR: Naxalites have threatened to blow up the DDPI office if he failed to dismiss all the phoney physically-handicapped teachers who were recruited under the physically-handicapped category.

In a letter addressed to the DDPI, the Naxalites claimed that they had attempted twice to blow up the DDPI and his vehicle, but he was fortunate to escape on both occasions.

The letter urged the DDPI to see that the fake handicapped teachers’ issue was published in the newpapers. It threatened to blow up his house if he tried to act smart.

But unlike other Naxalite letters released to the newspapars under the name of Gangadhar, this one was signed by Muniya, Ramu, Kavitha and Shibbu.

When contacted, DDPI B N Krishanmurthy told this website’s newspaper that he had received a letter in this regard and had brought it to the notice of the police as well as authorities of the education department.

He made it clear that no physically-handicapped teachers have been recruited so far in the district during his tenure.

However he has directed all the block education officers to verify the certificates produced by teachers who had joined under the category in the past five years.

Those who had produced fake medical certificates would be dismissed immediately and criminal cases filed against them, he warned.

Since 1995 as many as 87 teachers have been recruited in the district under the disabled category, and in 1997-98 the department had recruited 52 teachers, he informed.

Friday, December 23, 2005

On a selling spree

Friday December 23 2005 09:50 IST
KOZHIKODE: Neither Government-owned, nor private. This seems to be the prime reason for the current state of affairs of Comtrust.

The fact that the trust is not answerable to anyone gives it a free hand. And it does whatever it wishes – from allowing total mismanagement to indulging in a selling spree of the valuable properties of the company.

Over the last several years, valuable properties of Comtrust worth crores of rupees have been sold out much below the market rate. Instead of finding ways to manage the company professionally, the management clings on to an easier method – property-selling – to tide over the financial crisis.

The 75-cent Comtrust plot adjacent to Central Library was sold to a private party for a paltry rate of Rs 3-lakh per cent. Even a naive in the real-estate business would know that a cent of land at this part of the city would fetch more than Rs 10 lakh.

Further, the spacious bungalow near the All India Radio office at Kozhikode beach and its two-acre premise was sold for a song. The property fetched just Rs 3.07 crore.

“Before this particular deal was struck, someone had bid Rs 7 crore for the bungalow and the land. But with some higher-ups in the management intervening, the property was sold for such a meagre amount,” said a trade union member at Comtrust.

Similar fate awaited other valuable properties owned by Comtrust in different parts of the country including those in Mumbai.

The latest in the selling drama is the bungalow and the plot near the Comtrust weaving unit at Mananchira. The bidder is learnt to be a prominent NRI business tycoon, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP, while a former naxalite’s husband acts as the broker.

The property selling, however, is not helping the company to tide over the financial crisis. On the contrary it plunges deep into debt traps.

Crores of rupees as overdraft overdue, PF overdue and other huge financial liabilities owing to mismanagement – one could simply imagine the present state of Comtrust.

Majority of the workers say there exists a conspiracy to kill Comtrust by selling out all of its properties. Next, they fear, it could be the weaving factory itself as the management is hardly bothered about running the company.

“You can never run a company by selling its property. Its ultimate death is not far off,” said an aged employee.

And the allegation gains ground: Some board members are conniving with influential real estate mafia to take possession of the valuable properties of the Comtrust. The selling spree is part of a larger conspiracy.

Police arrests CPI (Maoist) zonel commander

Chatra Jharkhand | December 23, 2005 6:31:07 PM IST


A CPI (Maoist) zonal commander Tilak Ganju was arrested from his house at Urub village under Samaria police station of the district last night during a raid, police said today.
Police said Ganju carried a reward of Rs one lakh on his head.

He was active in Chatra, Hazaribagh and Giridih districts and was associated with the banned organisation for about 20 years.

Police wanted him in connection with several criminal cases, police added.

UNI XC/SCS/TJP ZH HS1727

Woman naxalite arrested in Chhattisgarh

Raipur: A woman naxalite, belonging to the Communist Party of India (Maoist), was arrested by the police in Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh.

Police sources said 25 year old Chameli alias Parmina was arrested from village Pratappur in Balrampur police district on December 20 following a tip-off that she was camping there.

The woman naxalite, who was carrying a reward of Rs 5000 on her head, was involved in a number of crimes in Sarguja, Balrampur, Surajpur areas of Chhattisgarh and in neighbouring Jharkhand state.

Police said she belonged to the gang of CPI (Maoist) zonal commander Bhim Kodaku, who was killed in an encounter with the police few months ago.

Bihar govt prepares approach paper to combat naxalite violence

PATNA, DEC 22 (PTI)

The Bihar government has prepared an "approach paper" outlining its two-pronged strategy which lays emphasis on giving a fresh impetus to development while continuing with the armed offensive to combat growing naxalite problem in the state.

The paper, prepared by the state's home department which will form the basis of a comprehensive action plan, envisages launching of "social justice-oriented" development schemes to "saturate" naxalite-hit areas with development.
To start with, extensive development programmes will be undertaken in Patna, Jehanabad and Arwal districts, Home Secretary H C Sirohi, the man behind the paper, told PTI today.

"The aim of these programmes will be to bring justice to the deprived sections whose feeling of hurt and that of being discriminated against make them vulnerable to the allure of naxalite organisations. Our priority also includes creating an atmosphere of security with the help of central para-military forces and the state police," Sirohi said.

An important component of the approach paper is to free the common property assets like government land, public ponds etc from the occupation of the influential people so that the poor and the underprivileged could also enjoy the benefits.

The paper lays stress on rebuilding and repair of roads, bridges and culverts in these areas and expeditious and effective settlement of land disputes to prevent violent clashes as naxalites tend to exploit such situations, he said.

Naxalite menace, split in ruling coalition in 2005 in Karnataka

BHARATHI RAGHUNATH BANGALORE, DEC 22 (PTI)

Naxalite menace raring its ugly head, split in the ruling coalition partner JD(S) and confrontation between the IT sector and the state government came to the fore in the year 2005 in Karnataka.

Continuing tensions between ruling Congress and JD(S) which also came out prominently during the year, however, had a silver lining for the state's economy with the long awaited Bangalore international airport project taking off at last.

February saw the naxalite menace raising its ugly head in Chikmagalur district. The killing of two naxalites, including its top leader and state general secretary of CPI (ML) Sanket Rajan in a police encounter was immediately followed by a retaliatory attack by the ultra-left group on a police camp killing six policemen and a civilian in Pavagada taluk of Tumkur district.

As Naxalites tried to gain foothold in Malnad districts seeking to widen their network, the government announced deployment of STF to curb their activities while also sending a message that it was ready for a dialogue with them.

Uneasy relations between the Congress and JD(S) continued to dog the government run by them but it was overshadowed by the revolt in the outfit headed by former prime minister and party supremo H D Devegowda as one of its seniormost leaders Siddaramaiah led the rebels challenging the hold of Gowda's family over the party.

Bangalore continued to shine as the IT capital of the country but the confrontation between the government and the IT industry over infrastructural woes in Bangalore left a bitter taste. The IT sector spoke out strongly against the government's "indifferent" approach in getting things moving to provide better roads, ease traffic congestion and make living conditions better.

The government hit and charged the IT sector with complaining too much for ills that were not the products of the coalition governance and even accusing them of trying to deliberately bringing a bad name to it.

The confrontation became more bitter when H D Devegowda chose to attack celebrated technocrat and Infosys Chief Mentor N R Narayana Murthy questioning his contributions as the chief of Bangalore International Airport Limited, leading to his resignation from the post.

Gowda also targetted the IT sector, accusing some firms of grabbing land and questioned the need for alloting land sought by Infosys for a new development centre and township it planned to build. Infosys promptly countered Gowda point by point to assert that it never grabbed any land and it was purchased at market rates.

The annual premier IT show saw Devegowda using the platform to launch a fresh offensive against a section of the IT sector accusing them of carrying a "whispering campaign" to destabilise his party's coalition government with Congress.

Chhattisgarh assembly adopts Special Peoples' Security Bill

Raipur | December 23, 2005 7:44:06 PM IST


The Chhattisgarh Vidhan Sabha today adopted the Special Peoples' Security Bill, 2005 to deal with group engaged in disruptive and unlawful activities, including the Naxal outfit Communist Party of India (Maoist) and its frontal bodies.
Piloting the bill, Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam said, ''The rebels are unleashing terror in tribal areas for more than two decades and they killed hundreds, mostly policemen, by triggering landmines.'' After the merger of Peoples' War and Maoist Communist Centre, the Naxal outfit was engaged in more disruptive activities. It acquired modern weapons, including Automatic Kalashnikov-47 (AK-47) rifles and explosives, and there were several explosions in tribal Bastar region.

Mr Netam said ultras also blasted an anti-landmine vehicle in Bastar this year, killing 24 including 22 Central Reserve Police Force personnel.

Besides posing a threat to democracy and killing innocents, naxals were also obstructing development initiatives in tribal areas. The government felt the need for stringent legislation to deal with such organisations and frontal outfits. The bill provided for declaring such organisations as unlawful and banning them.

Opposition Congress members were absent as they were suspended earlier in the day for raising slogans from the well, demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into a 'rice scam' in which a collosal stock went missing from a State Warehousing Corporation godown.

Mr Novil Kumar Verma (Nationalist Congress Party) and ruling party members participated in the discussion and the house adopted the bill by voice vote.

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Delhi may be the next target of Maoists

Rajesh Sinha



NEW DELHI: Red terror is now knocking on Delhi's doors. While the Centre and state governments are yet to get their act together to counter the fast spread of Maoist influence, Haryana, which is at the doorstep of the national capital, has joined the list of states facing the problem.

Intelligence reports say the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is building its base and spreading its network in Haryana. The development came to light in the course of investigations into an incident on September 21, the first anniversary of the formation of CPI (Maoist). Activists from one community were taking out a torchlight procession in Ghaso Khurd in Jind. Firearms were used when people belonging to another community tried to stop the procession.
Police investigations into the incident revealed a link with CPI (Maoist) and further probe into the incident revealed that various front organisations and groups sympathetic to the naxal outfit have cropped up in at least seven districts of Haryana ----- Jind, Kaithal, Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar, Hissar, Rohtak and Sonipat. The finding set alarm bells ringing in the security establishment.

Intelligence sources said while the Maoists have not yet started carrying out armed strikes, or imposing and collecting "taxes", they are actively propagating their ideology. The Maoists are targeting sections of society such students, dalits and workers for spreading their ideology and influence, said an intelligence officer. Sources said raids at premises of some of the suspected outfits yielded Maoist and naxal literature that were being used to spread the ideology. Street plays and torchlight processions are other means adopted by these organisations.
The incident at Gohana where dalit houses were set on fire by Jats was seen as an opportunity to these outfits to make attempts to spread their influence, according to intelligence sources.

Notorious NAXAL criminal was lynched by villagers

Notorious criminal lynched in Jamui
Jamui: A notorious criminal was lynched by villagers in Navadih under Sikendra police station here last night.

Police Superintendent Arvind Kumar said here today that Chapata, was lynched by the villagers as soon as he was spotted.

He was accused in a number of cases including murder, dacoity, kidnapping and extortion.

Meanwhile, an extremist, Ashok Yadav, was arrested last night from a private nursing home under Jhajha police station during a raid conducted on a tip off.

Several live cartridges, detonators, land mines detectors and naxal literature were recovered from Burhi Khar village when a team of local police raided a hide-out on information obtained from Ashok Yadav, the SP added.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Captured: rebel brutality

- Pictures with police show man beheaded by Maoists
OUR CORRESPONDENT

Midnapore, Dec. 20: Police have produced in court photographs purportedly showing a Maoist leader escorting a man through a forest and then, the latter’s headless body lying on the ground.

The alleged rebel in the photograph, seen walking ahead of the lean, middle-aged man bound by ropes, has been identified as Santosh Debnath, who was arrested from Belpahari in West Midnapore on May 23.

In another picture, also with the police, CPI (Maoist) pol-itburo member Sushil Roy and the outfit’s central committee member, Patit Paban Haldar, are seen meeting the CPI (Maoist) leader from Andhra Pradesh, Varvara Rao.

Roy and Haldar, too, were held in Belpahari, 180 km from Calcutta, in May.

Roy is seen dressed in army fatigues and brandishing a rifle in yet another photograph, one of 20 submitted before the Jhargram additional sessions judge.

Debnath, Roy and Haldar, who have been charged with waging war against the state, are being tried in the court in Jhargram, 170 km from Calcutta. The police filed the charge-sheet in August and the hearing began on Saturday.

After their arrest, a joint investigation team of the police and the CID raided Roy’s rented house in Hind Motor in Hooghly and several other places in the district and seized the photographs.

“We also seized a computer that was used by Sushil Roy, besides compact discs and CD players. In the CDs, we found video recordings of meetings and training camps held by the Maoists,” an officer said.

“In some CDs, there were formulas and diagrams for making explosives, maps and plans. We also found pictures showing a house, apparently of a landlord, being set on fire and elated guerrillas,” the police officer said.

The police have, however, not been able to pinpoint exact locations. “From the look of the forests, it seems they are in Jharkhand or areas in Bengal bordering that state — West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia. But we have yet to confirm it,” an officer said.

Public prosecutor Sasanka Ghosh said the photographs seized would strengthen the case. “We suppose the pictures were used to terrorise landlords and other affluent people in Maoist-dominated areas. They were also probably used to impress youths and woo them into their fold ,” Ghosh said.

The lawyer for the rebels, Tapan Sinha, said the photos were doctored. “We will demand their examination by experts,” he added.

The district administration has made elaborate arrangements for the trial, deploying over 50 jawans of the special combat force and the state armed police in the court.

Force into the line of vision

Vikram Sood

December 20, 2005



Parliamentarians were supposed to meet in the afternoon of December 13 to honour those who died saving them five years ago. Instead, they woke up to the horror stories of their Eleven accepting bribes for agreeing to do something they were in any case elected to do — raise issues in Parliament. It is ironic that the exposé took place on December 13.

As for raising issues in Parliament, most of its time in recent days seems to have been spent on the Volcker-Natwar saga. The country has seen endless debate, on TV, in newspapers and magazines, or in the well of the Lok Sabha where lung power took precedence over intelligent discourse. The antics of the Parliamentary XI left the Speaker of Lok Sabha and many other good men close to tears and one hopes in the days ahead this debacle, and what it signifies, would be debated publicly.

As it is, we have not done too well on the integrity scale. According to recent figures quoted in this newspaper, 99 per cent of the people perceive the police to be corrupt, 98 per cent think similarly about political parties and 97 per cent feel likewise about the judiciary. All three need a massive image makeover. This is an unfortunate commentary about the two main arms of governance that give security and justice to the average man and woman.

So those of us who can afford it hire private security guards if the State does not provide security, dig our own (illegal) tube wells if the State cannot provide water and install our own generators if there is no electricity. And if Parliament does not debate crucial issues and instead spends most of its time obstructing meaningful discussions, then the people will debate issues on the streets.

It is not quite correct to blame Parliament alone. All of us, the civil society, the media or even our mushrooming think-tanks, have failed to discuss the one important issue that should really be causing sleepless nights. The Jehanabad assault got lost in the din of the Delhi bomb blasts and in the fallout of the Volcker report. Besides, Volcker was about ‘us’ and Jehanabad was about ‘them’. So not much time need be wasted on ‘them’.

After a couple of days of mock concern, most of us retreated to the comfort of book launches and musical soirees, while the government, as usual, rushed in Delhi-based forces with no knowledge of local conditions and therefore ill-suited to help find the culprits. Regional incompetence matched by central incongruity.

As a country develops, its elite identifies itself more easily with the elite of the rich West, more particularly the business interests of the mega-corporations with whom they have to work closely. It is easier to associate with causes closer to the West than within one’s own country. For instance, it is easier to campaign against Aids (undoubtedly a killer) rather than against hepatitis and malaria (both massive killers in India) because these diseases are not on any Western radar screen and, therefore, not ‘fashionable enough’.

It is easier to debate about nuclear non-proliferation rather than Jehanabad, maybe because this did not arouse our collective conscience. But more Jehanabads will occur unless we learn to care because what happened there was a symptom, not a disease.

The lack of public debate means that the significance of the event has largely escaped all of us barring a recent report in this newspaper. Is it that we are out of touch with the rest of the country? Or that we have chosen to ignore the problem hoping that it will somehow disappear? Here were a thousand armed and unarmed persons who carried out a meticulously planned assault on the district jail and sprung 350 of their Naxalite compatriots from custody, took a few hostage and killed others.

Jehanabad is not a remote part of India. It is in one of the most populous states of the country. There must have been months of planning, of teams sent out on reconnaissance by the Naxals and more than just the attackers must have been involved. Either it was an intelligence failure, or the authorities were too frightened, which means this was a failure of the administration, or the local authorities knew about it and were apathetic (or even sympathetic) to the cause, which means that the State had totally collapsed. The second obviously has the more worrying implication.

Maps, showing the extent of activities of the Left-wing extremists, divide India north-south right through the heartland starting from Bihar all the way down to Karnataka, with 116 districts under their control, have been around for some time now.

The decade-old conflict, with its transnational connections, has accounted for more than 10,000 lives and has lately shown increasing sophistication in its operations and access to equipment and weaponry. Today, Naxals threaten major private investments in Orissa, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. There could be more trouble ahead. The security of India and its success as a major power will lie in our collective ability to address such basic issues and not in our membership of the UN Security Council.

The pattern in India today is to let a local thug evolve into a national don or let a problem fester and when ultimately forced to take notice, then grant some concessions — allocate funds or carve out a new district, a new state, or more reservations but skirt the main issue. This only encourages regional and sectional truculence of various hues. Populist promises and actions ‘ghettoise’ us into Brahmins, Rajputs, Jats, Kurmis, Yadavs, OBCs, Dalits, Hindus, Muslims, Bengalis, Assamese, Tamilians, Punjabis or whatever. But where is the Indian in all this?

By granting reservations in perpetuity, we also run the danger of permanently secluding sections of our people and fracturing society and preventing them from joining the mainstream. The gravity of a crime or the generosity of a reward is determined by caste and region. Merit or punishment by quota accentuates divisions but does not remove them.

There are many things that are wonderful about India, especially the talent and élan of the youth, but there are many that are not. A beginning has to be made somewhere to repair the system. Assuming that there is a political will to emancipate or to improve the situation, an instrumentality is required. But the steel framework — the civil service — has been bent and broken beyond recognition through years of political expediency where loyalty to the country is defined as loyalty to the individual, party, caste or region.

The strong and upright have given way largely to the cynical and opportunist alternating between a demi-god and a hanger on. This must be repaired first before anything can be achieved. Mere Pay Commissions will not do; the bureaucratic machine has to be leaner and more muscular.

The authority and the self-respect of the local administrator, quite often derisively referred to as the babu, has to be restored first. He must know that while he will be accountable, he will also not be victimised for doing his work without fear or favour and not dependent on an increasingly whimsical political system.

More powerful than a powerful idea is its implementation. But if the instruments have all weakened, how will India Shine?

Chill cover: Rebel win

RANJAN DASGUPTA
Rural relief

Jamshedpur, Dec. 19: The Maoists appear to have distributed more blankets among the poor than the state government. The revelation comes from state government officials who said the rebels undertook the distribution as part of their public relations exercise.

Alarmed at the intelligence reports, some of the deputy commissioners are learnt to have demanded more funds from the state government for blankets.

The state government, as reported earlier, allotted Rs 32 lakh for purchase of blankets to be distributed in over 22 districts. Each district’s share came to a little over a lakh.

While the director, social secretary, N. Bhuiyan, pleaded helplessness by saying that whatever money he had was disbursed to the districts two months ago, at least two deputy commissioners said the funds were not enough.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the officials said the funds released to his district were enough to purchase just about 600 blankets. Not only is the need much greater, he said, but the number distributed by rebels is higher. Distribution of the blankets in such circumstances is getting to be trickier, he pointed out. “Who should get it and who is left out?” he asked rhetorically.

State government sources confirmed receiving messages for more funds from Naxalite-affected districts like Latehar.

“The extremists are on a spending spree to purchase blankets and provide them to common people. It is a confidence building measure by the Naxalites and the state government must do something about it,” labour department officials conceded.

A few districts like West Singhbhum is yet to begin distribution of blankets although it is one of the worst Naxalite-affected districts in the state. The mercury has already dipped below eight degree Celsius in the district and it is cold, the officials admitted.

But a senior official claimed, after much cajoling, that the blankets could not be distributed because no allotment letter was received from the state government. He was “pursuing” the matter, he declared.

None of the officials in the districts are willing to share information on how the blankets have been distributed or how the beneficiaries were chosen; whether NGOs were drafted for the distribution or service clubs enlisted and, finally, whether the blankets were distributed among the rural or the urban poor. In the absence of transparency and such details, doubts are being expressed freely about the credibility of the distribution even in official circles.

The state government has not been able to manage the distribution of blankets, it seems, even after reversing the earlier practice of centralised purchase.
Naxals eying banks, police stations
Chandra Bhushan Pandey
[ Wednesday, December 21, 2005 03:24:43 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

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MOTIHARI: The CPI (Maoist) has once again threatened to launch a major offensive in the state after the Jehanabad jailbreak incident.

This time, the Naxal outfit is eying the Indo-Nepal border areas of East and West Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur districts.

According to highly-placed intelligence sources, the Naxalites are not only planning to loot police arms, but banks as well, the sources said.

The transfer of East Champaran SP Binay Kumar and Sheohar SP Satyendra Prasad Singh have boosted their confidence as the new SPs will have to start afresh to check the Naxalites' nefarious designs The Sheohar SP, who is ready to give charge to the new SP, said on Tuesday that he had conducted raids in Belwa, Narkatiya and Semrahaiya villages and had asked the CRPF platoon to move to the border areas of the district.

"I have done my duty till the last minute to maintain peace and contain Maoists' activities," he said. East Champaran SP Binay Kumar, who also has to give charge to his successor Sunil Kumar Jha, was instrumental in arresting veteran Maoists Munna Mistry and Nokhelal, who were involved in the Madhuban attack.

The duo were arrested from Purnia and Katihar, respectively, and were remanded to jail custody. A senior Maoist, Praveen, has reportedly said, "We know that the government will initiate repressive measures against us and we are ready to strike back."

The outlawed Maoist outfit has been spreading its tentacles on the Indo-Nepal border with the Sheohar district being the main centre.
They have made over two dozen villages of Sheohar and East Champaran as their permanent base, the sources said. The forest areas of Peprarhi serve as an ideal hideout for Maoists.

According to reports reaching here, Maoists hold their regular meetings at Kalupakar, Penehara, Dornauli, Betwa and Peprarhi villages to chalk out their strategies.

Though the East Champaran police have identified over 100 hardcore activists, their arrests are yet to be made. The diara areas of Bagmati are also serving as a safe refuge for Naxalites.

According to intelligence sources, some Naxalites from Andhra Pradesh have also been noticed in the district in the last one week.

18 Maoists surrender in Bihar

Muzaffarpur | December 20, 2005 8:10:00 PM IST



Eighteen Maoist rebels surrendered in Bihar on Monday.

Police said they are trying to verify the antecedents of the rebels, locally called Naxalites, who surrendered in Muzaffarpur district alongwith countrymade weapons.

"The people who surrendered are 18 in all. Out of these six were from the most wanted list of the active terrorists in the state as per the police records. The rest claim that they are Maoist rebels too and they all want to be rehabilitated. We cannot take their claims at face value and will have them verified but have allowed them to surrender at the moment. Some amount of country made weapons, not the regular weapons have been recovered from them," said Sanjay Ratna, Superintendent of Police.

The rebels said they laid down arms on a rehabilitation assurance by the state government.

"We asked for the government's agreement to our conditions in writing that we will be cleared of all the cases against us. We also asked for the allotment of houses and an allowance of Rupees 3,000 till such time as we get job and a cash payment of rupees 200,000 to start a business. We also want to be given a licensed revolver to protect ourselves. We were assured by the new government and we are very hopeful of them abiding by their word. That is why we have surrendered," said Naresh Ram, the head of the group.

Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh are among the states worst affected by Naxal violence.

Maoist rebels, who say they fight for the rights of landless labourers and impoverished peasants, operate across swathes of south and eastern India. In Bihar, they often clash with the private armies of landlords.

The Home Ministry estimates that there are around 9,300 armed Maoist rebels in the country and say they have links with Maoist insurgents in Nepal who are fighting to overthrow the Himalayan nation's monarchy. (ANI)

Drive for modernisation of police stations

Statescan
Orissa Newsletter



The recent attack on a police party in Sambalpur district has thrown up questions as to why there has been an inordinate delay on the part of the Centre to declare Sambalpur and Deogarh districts Naxal-affected. Proposals for this had been sent a year ago. People have also raised question over the state government’s commitment to fight Maoists. The state government is yet to establish Second India Reserve Battalion, funds for which had been sanctioned more than a year ago.

However, senior home department officials pointed out that 60 odd police stations located in Naxal hotspots had been identified for modernisation within three years. Already a few police stations in the Naxal-affected districts like Malkangiri, Rayagada, Koraput and Gajapati have been strengthened, while similar measures are underway in several police stations of Sundargarh, Kondhmal, Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur, Deogarh and Keonjhar districts.

Modernisation of police stations is being taken up under the police modernisation scheme. More than Rs 230 crore have already been spent on the scheme during the last five years, while another Rs 30 crore have been earmarked for the current financial year. Besides, central assistance of Rs 20 crore will be available to the state this year towards the reimbursement of security-related expenses incurred in the Naxal-affected districts. However, Sambalpur and Deogarh districts, which have been witnessing growing Maoist menace, are deprived of the benefit, as these districts are yet to be declared Naxal-affected.

Naxals Blow Up Quarry Owned by State BJP Leader

Patna: December 20, 2005

Maoist extremists who have unleashed an unprecedented reign of terror in Bihar particularly since the infamous attack on Jehanabad jail a few weeks ago, on Sunday night, blew up a stone quarry owned by senior Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopal Narain Singh in the Naxal-infested Rohtas district, the police in Sasaram said.

According to the report, over 150 heavily armed criminals with allegiance to banned Maoist outfit dressed in police uniform attacked the quarry in Gaighat in Kaimur on late Sunday night in the same fashion they raided the Jehanabad jail, and destroyed the place by blowing up with power dynamites.

While no one was injured or dead in the attack, the place was totally destroyed by the perpetrators, the police said. The damage is estimated to be in excess of Rs. 6 lakh, sources said.

A well-known name in the area for his vast business empire, Singh has repeatedly refused to give in to the extortion demands of the Maoists who have issued numerous threats to him in the past.

The extremists also left Communist literature at the blast side while also leaving more warning for Singh for much serious consequences if he didn't play by their rules.

Hearing the news of attack, the police gave a chase to the fleeing criminals resulting in an encounter in Bhadokra under Tilothu police station. After over 200 rounds of firing from both sides, the police gunned down at least one Maoist, officials in Rohtas said.

Raids are being carried out in the neighboring areas to nab the Naxalites. Security has been beefed up in Rohtas district.

On Monday, the state Sports Minister Janardan Singh Sigriwal visited Gaighat to take stock of the situation. A CRPF post would be installed near the quarry within next two days, the minister said

Tackling Maoist--II

The ban imposed by the Centre on People's War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre has had no effect on the activities of these outfits. Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil insists if regrouping is taking place, efforts would be intensified to ensure violence does not occur. He is not opposed to a dialogue with the rebels to solve the problems and insists there should be no hesitation about it as India was talking to Pakistan also. "Why should we treat talking to out own people as a soft approach? We are prepared to persuade them, remove their grievances and take action as per the law". He admits it is necessary to develop the affected areas and give their people economic, political and social justice. The Naxalites need to be convinced that by killing others they would not achieve anything, but by cooperating in understanding the real situation and proving remedies, they would achieve their objective.

Naxal-Maoist violence has been accentuated by the caste factor. The upper, landed castes in most parts of the country resent when members of the lower castes demand better wages for working on farms, access to village facilities such as, drinking water and schools and equality of opportunity want to acquire land and pursue professions hitherto reserved for the upper castes. In most cases the aggrieved lower castes have no access to justice wether at the hands of the administrators or the lower judiciary. Therefore, they fall an easy prey to the call of the Maoists to take to arms and bring about a socio-economic revolution through violent means. The Maoists manage to control area, redress the grievances of the underprivileged by dispensing ready justice and eliminate members of the upper castes who do not obey their orders.

Broadly speaking the various Naxal and Maoist organizations have a similar set of demands. They blame the police for faking encounters to kill them and get rewarded by the state for miscarriage of justice. They want an end to such encounters, judicial probes into them and stopping police promotions for killing them without provocation. They want land reforms to be implemented speedily, strict implementation of the land ceiling laws and distribution of surplus lands among the landless. All pending irrigation projects should be completed speedily so that farmers get adequate irrigation facilities; all private loans taken by farmers, whose crops fail, should be waived to prevent suicides among them and permanent and integrated plans for tackling drought situations should be drafted. The scores of upper caste armies which justify their existence on the plea of fighting the guerillas should be disbanded because they are committing excesses on the under-privileged classes. They also want setting up of small industries in rural areas to provide employment to the unemployment youth and protect such industries against competition from multinationals. The tribals people's rights on forest land should be recognized, alienation of their land and settling of non-tribals in reserved areas should be stopped. Another demand is to probe the illegal assets and wealth acquired by corrupt bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen and make the rich pay their taxes to finances development.

While the methods to enforce these demands may be questionable, there is little to object to in them in the face of a stone-walled bureaucracy and politicians who are influenced more by the affluent and the privileged classes in devising policies which increase rural poverty and indebtedness. The guerillas also seem to realize the futility of continuing violence, but want an honourable settlement based on speedy implementation of their socio-economic demands. Their leaders insist that it is violence by the police in the first instance that leads to counter violence by the Maoists. "Let the repression go and there will be no violence", said one of them, but they would continue to demand strict implementation of the land reforms, which had been sabotaged by powerful vested landed interests in collusion, with obliging politicians, and solutions to a host of their pressing problems and righting the injustices committed on them.

When it is conceded by the Union Home Minister and the Maoist leaders both that the root cause of violence is socio-economic inequality and denial of justice to the rural poor and of their legitimate demands and rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution, then where is the scope for conflict? Police measure under way in most states have failed to solve the problem. Actually, the government has played into the hands of anti-national forces by relying solely on police methods and putting other measures on the back-burnet. The result is more violence on both sides, more security personnel getting killed as also Maoists and their sympathisers. Indiscriminate arrests of sympathizers leads to massive harassment and resentment against the administration and strengthens the Naxal movement. This is happening all over, particularly, in the North eastern states where problems have compounded and insurgent outfits proliferated.

It is necessary to separate the problem of externally - sponsored and Islamic fundamentalist terrorism from the indigenous Naxal-Maoist movement; while the former needs to be firmly tackled with all of the resources at the command of the state; the latter must be dealt with sympathetically, because the grievances articulated are regarded genuine by all and must be addressed by a democratic state that relies on people's support. The problem calls for a socio-political approach and principally democratic solutions. Instead of creating more problems for itself, which become chronic and insoluble, a democratic state should go about earnestly and systematically solving them.

MK Dhar, NPA

Naxals’ boycott call a cry in the wilderness

DH News Service Shimoga:

Voters ignored the poll boycott call given by militants in the Malnad region and polling went off peacefully in the Naxal-prone areas of Hosanagar and Tirthahalli taluks of Shimoga district on Monday.


Voters ignored the poll boycott call given by militants in the Malnad region and polling went off peacefully in the Naxal-prone areas of Hosanagar and Tirthahalli taluks of Shimoga district on Monday.

About 22 centres were identified as Naxal-prone - 13 in Hosanagar taluk and nine in Tirthahalli taluk.

According to Deputy Commissioner T K Anilkumar, polling was heavier in the Naxal-prone areas than in other parts of the district.



The voters in this region ignored the Naxalites’ call and came to polling centres without any fear. Mediapersons, who visited the Naxal-prone villages of Kauri-Mekeri, Yaduru, Sulugodu, and Masthikatte in Hosanagar taluk witnessed free and fair voting. Especially, in villages of Yaduru and Sulugodu, voters were enthusiastic to exercise their franchise.These two villages were also adorned with countless buntings, banners, posters and cutouts.

Another surprising factor is that women turned out in more numbers than men in the Naxal-prone areas. In spite of ill-health and old age, Mr T Subbe Gowda of Sulugodu, 80, turned up at the polling booth along with his relative and cast his vote.

As a precautionary measure, an inspector, two constables and an armed personnel were posted at each polling centre in the Naxal-prone areas. The police said that they were keeping a vigil on Naxalite movements and no incidents were reported.

But. some polling officials posted in these Naxal-hit areas had apprehensions of Naxal attacks. According to sources at Mastikatte, some polling officials posted at Nidagodu village, said to be a Naxal haunt, had stayed in nearby towns overnight, fearing Naxal attack.

Monday, December 19, 2005

New Blood In A War Without End

New Blood In A War Without End

Post-Jehanabad, analysts fear a that the Ranvir Sena could secure the political patronage it needs to stage a comeback in Bihar's murderous politics, adding to the vicious cycle of sustained and targeted violence


SAJI CHERIAN


Within days of coming to power, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar lamented that "the police and administrative structure of the state is in a state of collapse" and compared the prevailing circumstances to conditions of "war". Prior to his taking charge, the Jehanabad incident of November 13, 2005 had already provided evidence of this war, and the fact that any administration keen on addressing the plight of the state would have to confront this challenge. And there is no single element that more clearly illustrates the character of this war than the conflict between the Left Wing extremists (also known as Naxalites or Maoists) and the landlord’s ‘army’, the Ranvir Sena.

The Ranvir Sena has suffered several reverses over the past years, and has come to be regarded by many as a spent force in Bihar. It has, nevertheless, remained continuously active, and there are now reasons to believe that it could secure the political patronage that it needs to stage a comeback in the state’s murderous politics.

In its early years, the Ranvir Sena located its support base among upper caste politicians, as well as among allies in the local bureaucracy and the police, in addition to its committed supporters among the landed classes. It was the politician-bureaucrat-police nexus that had aided its initial consolidation, and this was confirmed with the arrest of the Sena’s chief, Brahmeshwar Singh Mukhiya, when a diary was recovered from his possession, containing the names and contacts of many upper caste politicians, journalists and police officers. It was this convergence of traditional elites and state structure that sustained groups like the Ranvir Sena, and that have now sparked expectations of its revival.

With 55 out of the 243 Assembly seats in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a coalition partner in the present state government, commands decisive influence. The BJP shares its traditional support base among the upper caste landlords with that of the Ranvir Sena.

With the ascent of elements drawn from this traditional elite in the new government, analysts like Shaibal Gupta of the Bihar-based Asian Development Research Institute, fear that "the Ranvir Sena would now be encouraged to re-mobilise and operate in a more overt manner." A national news television channel pointed out, in a report on December 11, 2005, that, at a recent public meeting at Kurtha in Arwal District, Ranvir Sena men were spotted sharing a dais with an upper caste minister in the state government. A vernacular daily reported on November 22 that, during a raid within Patna’s Beur prison, a mobile phone was recovered from the custody of imprisoned Sena chief, Brahmeshwar Singh Mukhiya, raising concerns that he was directing the Sena’s activities from the prison premises.

Founded in September 1994 in the Belaur Village of the Udwantnagar Block in Bhojpur District, the Ranvir Sena came into existence primarily to counter the influence of various Naxalite groups in central Bihar. From Bhojpur, over a period of time, the Ranvir Sena spread to Jehanabad, Patna, Rohtas, Aurangabad, Gaya, Arwal and Buxar Districts. It mobilised the landed gentry, especially from the Bhumihar caste in the Hindu caste hierarchy, against the erstwhile Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), the Communist Party of India – Marxist Leninist (Party Unity) [or CPI-ML (Party Unity)] and the CPI-ML (Liberation). The Sena’s ‘protection’ became necessary for upper caste landlords when the CPI-ML (Liberation), Party Unity and the MCC, began taking up class and caste issues, challenging the landlords and reclaiming their surplus land to redistribute it among the landless scheduled castes and backward castes.

Unlike the other ‘private armies’ or ‘senas’, such as the Brahmarshi Sena, Kuer Sena, Kisan Morcha and Ganga Sena, the Ranvir Sena was militarily far better organised and its cadres much better paid.
Official sources indicated that, in year 2000, each member of the Sena was paid between Rupees 1,100 and Rupees 1,200 per month, as landowners financed the Sena through generous subscriptions. Further, the life of each cadre was insured for INR 100,000. The outfit, however, met with a setback when its chief, Brahmeshwar Singh Mukhiya, was arrested in Patna on August 29, 2002, and another of its senior leaders, Bhuar Thakur, was arrested on December 24, 2002.

Prior to 2002, the Sena had, according to data available, committed eight massacres, where the victims numbered more than 10, and another 19, where the fatalities numbered less than 10 in each case. The most prominent of these were the Bathanitola massacre in Bhojpur District on July 11, 1996, which left 22 Scheduled Caste agricultural labourers dead; the Lakshmanpur-Bathe massacre in Jehanabad District on December 1, 1997, in which 58 scheduled castes were killed; and the Mianpur massacre in Aurangabad District on June 16, 2000, which accounted for 35 victims. Since the arrest of its head in August 2002, the Ranvir Sena has not executed any massacres, and appeared to have been considerably weakened. But the persistence of the dynamics that prompted its formation, and the continuing ground realities that accentuate caste conflict, undermine the possibilities of peace in the State.

While, the reportage on the Ranvir Sena-Maoist conflict is extensive, the activities of the Sena at the district and local level have largely gone unreported. Though the levels of Ranvir Sena violence have been whittled down, the organisation remains active. Some incidents in the post-2002 period demonstrate the Sena’s continued penchant for violence:

March 8, 2005 – Two members of the Dalit community and CPI-ML (Liberation) supporters were killed by activists of the Ranvir Sena at Charpokhri village in Bhojpur District.

March 28, 2004 – Three villagers were shot dead by Ranvir Sena at village Bishunbigha in Jehanabad district.

January 3, 2004 – Ranvir Sena activists shot dead five people and critically injured two others in a Bariari Village in Arwal District.

After Ranvir Sena leaders Bade Sharma and Vishveshkar Roy were killed by Communist Party of India – Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres during the Jehanabad attack on November 13, a spokesperson for the Sena declared, "the Maoist acts will force Sena activists to retaliate… we have to a give reply in their language by killing Maoist supporters and sympathizers."

On November 20, Home Secretary, Hemchand Sirohi, in a letter sent to all District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police, warned that the Ranvir Sena may target railway property in the state to avenge the killing and abduction of its members by Maoists in Jehanabad and asked them to tighten security. Further, the Special Inspector-General (Jehanabad), S.K, Bhardwaj, indicated that the Police had identified the villages of Ganiyari, Pariyari, Majidpur, Aiyara, Parhar, Puran, Gadopur and Khajuri in Arwal District and Sukalchak, Bistol, Mandebigha, Kakariya, Balabigha, Kinarpur, Salalpur, Khiderpur, Mokar, Pandaul, Panditpur, Sawan Bigha and Salempur in Jehanabad District as being vulnerable to a Ranvir Sena backlash.

The Sena’s decline was directly engineered by the increasing clout and unity of Left Wing extremist groups in the state. As these Maoist groups steadily strengthened their independent bases, they found it expedient to consolidate power by mergers and deals between warring factions. Thus, on August 11, 1998, the erstwhile Peoples War Group (PWG) merged with the CPI-ML (Party Unity), in an apparent effort to secure a foothold in the Districts of Bhojpur, Arwal and Jehanabad, where the latter was strong.
Six years later, after an extended period of negotiation, on September 21, 2004, the PWG – which had its strongest base in Andhra Pradesh – united with the Bihar-based MCC to form the CPI-Maoist. This was followed by the declaration of a unilateral cease-fire by the CPI-Maoist, at the beginning of 2005, against the CPI-ML (Liberation), in order to "stop the loss being suffered by the allies and concentrate on the larger objective of the Naxal movement and to fight the class enemies."

It was this larger objective that was furthered through the Jehanabad attack. Azad, the All-India spokesperson of the CPI-Maoist Central Committee (Provisional), thus declared, "This biggest-ever operation in Bihar’s history was a complete success and the CPI-Maoist was able to achieve its three objectives. Firstly, it was able to secure the release of its leaders, activists and ordinary prisoners who have been languishing in the jail for many years; secondly, it carried out the people’s verdict against the reactionary state-sponsored Ranvir Sena by annihilating its leaders and capturing several of its activists; and, thirdly, it seized hundreds of rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition."

The new Chief Minister has recognized that the core issue of conflict in the state has been the failure to draft and implement effective land reform schemes in Bihar, and to implement existing land ceiling laws, such as the Bihar Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling Area and Acquisition of Surplus Land) Act, 1961. As a result, he has announced the decision to introduce a "government at your doorstep" programme, which would ensure ‘on-the-spot solutions’ to the people’s problems relating to land and other disputes. The task, however, will not be as easy as the announcement of the programme may suggest: according to the State’s Department of Revenue and Land Reform data for year 1999, there were close to 1,472 cases involving 136,821.17 acres of land pending in various courts, some for more than forty years.

A reminder of the enormity of the task involved was demonstrated on December 12, 2005, when five persons, all from a minority community, were killed in Chilraon Village of East Champaran District, by suspected assailants from the Bhumihar and Yadav communities. The feud was over a land dispute that was under litigation. The claimants, from the Bhumihar and Yadav communities, had reportedly gone to take occupation of the land, when the incident occurred.

Although, the Ranvir Sena will not be able to match the operational capabilities of the CPI-Maoist, there is much to suggest that a new chapter in the ongoing ‘war’ has now been opened with the Jehanabad attack and the subsequent abduction and killing of Ranvir Sena cadres. This, in combination with the emerging political alignments, would suggest a revival of the caste army, though a return to pre-2002 levels of violence by the Ranvir Sena is not within the realm of proximate possibility. Nevertheless, a renewal of sustained and targeted violence would appear to be very much on the cards.

Saji Cherian is Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management. Courtesy, the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Teen ‘spark’ fires Maoist torch

- Naxalites gloat over tenacious 19-year-old who trains GeNext
TAPAS CHAKRABORTY
Maoist rebel Arun Oraon with his gun. Telegraph picture

Indo-Nepal border, Dec. 18: Arun Oraon is illiterate, but his deftness with the self-loading rifles, Kalashnikovs and sten guns reflects his education in a different field: armed warfare.

The 19-year-old’s “student” days, though, are long over. He now trains a new generation of armed cadre at the CPI (Maoist) camp in this village camp on the Nepal-Bihar-Uttar Pradesh border.

With an expression unusually stern for his age, Arun somewhat reluctantly begins speaking about himself: “I was born in a village deep in the jungles about 20 km from Bokaro. From an early age I found myself joining in the culture of protest by my fellow Oraon tribals. I was trained in arms by a man who came from Dandakaranya (now in Chhattisgarh) in 2003.”
His voice suddenly betrays a hint of emotion. “You can say I was, sort of, born in the organisation — and will probably die in the organisation.”

The impassive look is back again. “Is Arun your real name?” He doesn’t respond.

He is expressionless also when some of his senior colleagues suggest they would get him married to one of the girls in the village.

It’s the loyal, tenacious and ideologically inflexible youths from tribal belts like Arun who have powered the spread of Maoism in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and western Bengal in the past two decades, the Naxalite leaders admit freely.

Arun has been moving from one camp to another, along with other men trained in arms, across north Bihar over the past two years. Apart from training tribal youths, he has taken part in several raids that involved the “elimination of class enemies”.

“He is a spark,” says one of his senior comrades.

“The breakaway LTTE group later went back to Sri Lanka to form a communist party. We don’t have any links with them,” said Azad, chief spokesman for the CPI (Maoist).

“The training in precision attacks on the enemy came from them. But after they left, the tribal youths came up quickly to replace them.”

The tribals assumed the grassroots leadership roles, breathing new life into the Naxalite movement that had begun as a short-lived but volcanic uprising in late ’60s Bengal. They remain its mainstay.

The movement, too, is oriented towards them. “Our crusade against the World Bank and multinationals is linked with the interest of the tribals and the backward-caste poor who are displaced from their homes because of the projects,” Azad said. “Recently, one multinational offered us Rs 3 crore to keep quiet. We told them to get lost.”
The Naxalites first tapped the tribals in the far-flung villages of Bastar (now in Chhattisgarh) to form a base in the early ’80s, about a decade after the Bengal uprising had petered out. But the tribals living near bus-stand markets or highways never sided with the Maoists, Azad and his colleague Pravin said.

“When we reached the jungles of Palamau and other hilly districts in Jharkhand, we faced the same problem. It’s the same set of tribals that has now revolted against us in Bastar under the leadership of (Congress leader) Mahendra Karma,” Pravin said.

In the mid-1980s, the Maoists had influence in only five districts of undivided Bihar — Palamau, Gaya, Bhojpur, Chatra and Hazaribagh. Today, they are entrenched in at least 18 districts of Jharkhand and nine of Bihar.

The Maoists are not ready to lower their hostility towards the Bihar government just because there’s a new ministry in power. “There’s no question of any talks with the new government,” Pravin said.

The Maoists have begun operations also in three districts of Bengal — Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore — and have six units in the Uttar Pradesh districts of Chandauli, Mirzapur and Sonbhadra.

The CPI (Maoist) has an expanded central committee, a politburo and a central military commission manned by several ex-armymen to guide it.

Join anti-CPM alliance, Advani urges Cong

Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay

Kolkata, December 18: Two former chief ministers of the state have expressed their last political wish in public. While one wants the Left rule to continue, the other is hoping for a change.

Addressing a Trinamool Congress rally, at which BJP president L K Advani was also present, former Congress chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray today said: ‘‘I am 85 and I don’t know when I will die. But before death, I just want to see the Left Front Government gone. Let us all work for it. Let all anti-CPI(M) forces unite and fight them out of the state.’’


Just a week back, at a function organised by the non-gazetted police officers’ union affiliated with the CPI(M), former chief minister Jyoti Basu had said: ‘‘I have become quite old. But I have a last wish. I want to see the Left Front come back to power for the seventh time.’’

Apart from Mamata Banerjee, Ray, Advani and senior Trinamool leaders, today’s function was also attended by Digvijay Singh of the JD(U) and members of some other political parties including a Naxalite outfit. A huge crowd, from all over the state, thronged the venue at Netaji Indoor Stadium where huge cutouts of leaders and tableaus were on display.

During his speech, Advani exhorted the Congress to join the Opposition alliance to fight the CPI(M). ‘‘If the Congress joins the alliance it’s well and good. But even if it does not, we will have to fight together. We have here a person like S S Ray. It gives our agitation a great significance. There is no democracy in West Bengal and we will have to bring it back,’’ he said.

Interestingly, Ray, despite his loyalty to the Congress, took a pro-NDA stand. ‘‘The NDA does not have any anti-Muslim policy in its agenda. It does not speak of Ram Mandir nor does it speak of abolition of Article 370,’’ he said.

His speech earned severe criticism from the CPI(M). ‘‘It’s evident that he is siding with the BJP. The people of West Bengal will not tolerate this,’’ said Anil Biswas, CPI(M) state secretary

India takes a left

By Jephraim P Gundzik

With a raft of elections scheduled for 2006, Latin America's potential further shift to the political left is capturing the world's attention. The same economic, political and social factors that are inspiring Latin America's leftward shift are being replicated in India. But rather than Latin America, developments in India could provide the biggest political surprise in 2006.

Latin America's leftward political shift, which began in Venezuela in 1999 and soon spread to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, looks certain to gain further traction in the months ahead. The probability of leftists coming into power after upcoming elections





in Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Mexico is high. Arguably, the impetus for this political shift has been the region's prolonged period of weak economic growth, which has provoked significant deterioration in social conditions.

India does not appear to have suffered from Latin America-style economic weakness in the past 15 years. Between 1990 and 2004, India's average annual rate of real gross domestic product (GDP) growth was about 6.5%. This compares to average annual real GDP growth of less than 2% in Latin America over the same period. However, India's economic growth has been extremely uneven.

The real annual average growth rate of India's agricultural sector was about 2% between 1990 and 2004. In sharp contrast, real average annual growth of the country's industrial and services sectors was about 7% and 8%, respectively, over the same period. The uneven nature of India's economic growth over the past 15 years stems from the fact that the agricultural sector accounts for about 65% of the country's employment.

While strong economic growth since 1990 has benefited one-third of India's population, weak growth in the agricultural sector has strongly undermined social conditions for the other two-thirds of the country's population. But the deterioration of social conditions in India is difficult to observe directly. India's official poverty statistics, last published in 2000, showed that the poverty rate declined by 10% to about 25% between 1990 and 2000.

The apparent sharp decline in poverty and its absolute level have inspired considerable controversy. The decline in poverty depicted in the 2000 statistics was created by a minor change in census methodology. In addition, many outside analysts have called into question the government-calculated cost used for defining the affordability of basic food needs. Independent estimates of India's poverty rate range from 30% to 75%. One thing both India's government and independent analysts agree on is that most of India's poverty is concentrated in rural areas where agriculture provides the only opportunity for income.

Apart from statistical indicators, recent political and social developments argue that growing income inequality and poverty are inspiring a backlash against India's government. This was very clear in the aftermath of India's 2004 general election. Despite the strongest rate of economic growth in 16 years, the incumbent National Democratic Alliance was trounced in the polls.

More significantly, India's far left political parties, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), reversed their long-term political decline, becoming the third-largest block in the legislature. Such is the strength of India's far left parties that the current coalition government, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, depends on their fading support to remain in office.

Another indicator of looming political change is escalating social unrest. At its most modest, social unrest has taken the form of politically motivated labor strikes across India. Unlike industrial-related disputes, India's politically motivated labor strikes have sought change in the Singh government's economic and foreign policies. Such strikes, which included a nationwide protest attended by 50 million people in September, have become increasingly frequent in 2005.

A much more disturbing form of social unrest has also escalated in 2005 - India's extreme left or Naxal insurgency. The Naxal insurgency has garnered recruits from India's vast number of poverty-stricken lower-caste members. From just nine states in 2003, Naxalites had spread their operations into 15 Indian states by the third quarter of 2005. According to India's Home Ministry, Naxalites have perpetrated over 2,000 violent attacks this year, killing nearly 800 people. This places the Naxal insurgency on the same scale as the Kashmir insurgency.

Increasing social instability is applying enormous pressure on India's coalition government. Its relations with the left front alliance of parties are deteriorating. Meanwhile, momentum behind the creation of a political third front in India is growing. Chances that India's increasingly fragile coalition government could disintegrate in 2006 in favor of a new leftist-led coalition are increasing.

Jephraim P Gundzik, president, Condor Advisers, Inc

Tackling Maoist terror

MK Dhar, NPA

The Jehanabad raid involving a virtual army of Maoists that took over the prison freed all inmates, including their comrades who were detained, and killed and kidnapped several upper caste Ranvir Sena activists has, once again, highlighted the failure of the administration to tackle the menace.

The war-like siege revealed meticulous planning and smacked of colossal intelligence failure as 1,000 - odd guerillas took control of the town for several hours and conducted their daring operating without being effectively challenged by the police, which had been deployed elsewhere for election purposes.

The fury of the attack on the upper caste army, often blamed for committing excesses on lower castes, raised fears of counter retaliation, which has been prevented by rushing Central paramilitary forces to the area. Pamphlets left at the site of the attack spoke of social justice, atrocities on the poor, many of whom are rotting inside jails while the big criminals are going scot free.

Following an earlier attack near Raipur in September, in which 24 security personnel were killed, the Centre had decided, in consultation with the home ministers of states, to work out an action plan to tackle the menace.

It was agreed that, side by side with police measures, action would also be taken to improve the socio-economic conditions of the under-privileged. But, there is no evidence yet of a coordinated strategy having been evolved at the national level to persuade the Maoists-Naxals to lay down arms and join the mainstream and action being initiated to remove the cause of injustice to the under-privileged.

Local resistance groups are also being organized to fight the guerillas but the upper caste activists have used them to raise their own armies to perpetuate their feudal hold on the countryside.

The problem has assumed alarming dimensions, with the government having brought 21 more affected districts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa under the Security Related Expenditure Scheme.

The Naxals and Maoists have been expanding their operations gradually and now 167 districts in 12 states are affected. Starting from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the so called red corridor runs through several states including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. Parliament's Standing Committee had urged the Centre to take the initiative to hold a comprehensive and meaningful dialogue with extremist organizations that abjure violence.

Unfortunately the recommendations of the Committee have not been acted upon and the states are being left free to use their own devices to deal with the problem, which is growing, instead of being controlled.

The Centre faces difficulties in dealing with the states ruled by the BJP and its allies and the Communists, who advocate a hard line against the Maoists for their own reasons. The Congress Party too has advocated strong arm measures to curb the insurgents' violent activities, while keeping the doors open for dialogue within the ambit of the Constitution and the law.

Chattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh wants the Centre to come out with a plan for the development of the backward areas to counter extremism in an integrated manner.

The governments in the affected states are trying out different strategies and there is no coordinated approach to the problem which had acquired national dimensions. There are complaints about weak intelligence and lack of machinery for redressal of grievances of the poor farmers and landless labour and to tackle violence by upper castes on members of the under-privileged classes who demand a fair deal.

The ban imposed by the Centre on People's War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre has had no effect on the activities of these outfits. Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil insists if regrouping is taking place, efforts would be intensified to ensure violence does not occur.

He is not opposed to a dialogue with the rebels to solve the problems and insists there should be no hesitation about it as India was talking to Pakistan also. "Why should we treat talking to out own people as a soft approach? We are prepared to persuade them, remove their grievances and take action as per the law". He admits it is necessary to develop the affected areas and give their people economic, political and social justice.

The Naxalites need to be convinced that by killing others they would not achieve anything, but by cooperating in understanding the real situation and proving remedies, they would achieve their objective.

Naxal-Maoist violence has been accentuated by the caste factor. The upper, landed castes in most parts of the country resent when members of the lower castes demand better wages for working on farms, access to village facilities such as, drinking water and schools and equality of opportunity want to acquire land and pursue professions hitherto reserved for the upper castes. In most cases the aggrieved lower castes have no access to justice wether at the hands of the administrators or the lower judiciary.

Therefore, they fall an easy prey to the call of the Maoists to take to arms and bring about a socio-economic revolution through violent means. The Maoists manage to control area, redress the grievances of the underprivileged by dispensing ready justice and eliminate members of the upper castes who do not obey their orders.

Broadly speaking the various Naxal and Maoist organizations have a similar set of demands. They blame the police for faking encounters to kill them and get rewarded by the state for miscarriage of justice. They want an end to such encounters, judicial probes into them and stopping police promotions for killing them without provocation.

They want land reforms to be implemented speedily, strict implementation of the land ceiling laws and distribution of surplus lands among the landless. All pending irrigation projects should be completed speedily so that farmers get adequate irrigation facilities; all private loans taken by farmers, whose crops fail, should be waived to prevent suicides among them and permanent and integrated plans for tackling drought situations should be drafted.

The scores of upper caste armies which justify their existence on the plea of fighting the guerillas should be disbanded because they are committing excesses on the under-privileged classes. They also want setting up of small industries in rural areas to provide employment to the unemployment youth and protect such industries against competition from multinationals.

The tribals people's rights on forest land should be recognized, alienation of their land and settling of non-tribals in reserved areas should be stopped. Another demand is to probe the illegal assets and wealth acquired by corrupt bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen and make the rich pay their taxes to finances development.

While the methods to enforce these demands may be questionable, there is little to object to in them in the face of a stone-walled bureaucracy and politicians who are influenced more by the affluent and the privileged classes in devising policies which increase rural poverty and indebtedness.

The guerillas also seem to realize the futility of continuing violence, but want an honourable settlement based on speedy implementation of their socio-economic demands.

Their leaders insist that it is violence by the police in the first instance that leads to counter violence by the Maoists. "Let the repression go and there will be no violence", said one of them, but they would continue to demand strict implementation of the land reforms, which had been sabotaged by powerful vested landed interests in collusion, with obliging politicians, and solutions to a host of their pressing problems and righting the injustices committed on them.

When it is conceded by the Union Home Minister and the Maoist leaders both that the root cause of violence is socio-economic inequality and denial of justice to the rural poor and of their legitimate demands and rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution, then where is the scope for conflict? Police measure under way in most states have failed to solve the problem.

Actually, the government has played into the hands of anti-national forces by relying solely on police methods and putting other measures on the back-burnet. The result is more violence on both sides, more security personnel getting killed as also Maoists and their sympathisers.

Indiscriminate arrests of sympathizers leads to massive harassment and resentment against the administration and strengthens the Naxal movement. This is happening all over, particularly, in the North eastern states where problems have compounded and insurgent outfits proliferated.

It is necessary to separate the problem of externally - sponsored and Islamic fundamentalist terrorism from the indigenous Naxal-Maoist movement; while the former needs to be firmly tackled with all of the resources at the command of the state; the latter must be dealt with sympathetically, because the grievances articulated are regarded genuine by all and must be addressed by a democratic state that relies on people's support.

The problem calls for a socio-political approach and principally democratic solutions. Instead of creating more problems for itself, which become chronic and insoluble, a democratic state should go about earnestly and systematically solving them

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Nagaland Battalion Jawan martyred in NAXALITE attack in Chhattisgarh

Jagdalpur Chhattisgarh | December 18, 2005 4:37:46 AM IST


A Nagaland Battalion jawan has been martyred in a naxalite attack at Mendra village in Kanker district, the police said.
The battalion was returning following an encounter with naxalites when some ultras, lying in ambush, opened fire on the jawans yesterday. Constable Tanna died in the encounter.

A naxalite 'Sangham' member had been killed and seven other members arrested during an encounter between police and naxalites at Rampur in this district last night.

UNI XC-PS AD RAI0346

22 booths identified as Naxal prone: Karnataka

Sunday December 18 2005 14:43 IST

SHIMOGA: Totally 22 booths including nine in Tirthahalli and 13 in Hosanagar taluk were identified as Naxal prone. Superintendent of Police would deploy additional force to these booths.

Revealing this to reporters here on Saturday, Deputy Commissioner Anil Kumar, who is also District Returning Officer, said one ASI and two constables with weapons would be posted extra to these booths.

One mobile party would be moving there all through election process. These mobile parties would move on rotation so that one or the other should be present at the location at any given time, he added.

Also, Circle Inspectors deployed to these regions, are asked to patrol in these areas intensively.

There are 983 booths in the district. Out of them 320 booths are identified as sensitive and 191 booths as hyper sensitive.

Taluk wise break up of sensitive and hyper sensitive booths respectively are: Shimoga - 57, 31; Bhadravati - 71, 34; Tirthahalli - 30, 17; Hosanagar - 37, 20; Sagar - 64, 29; Sorab - 18, 23; Shikaripur - 43, 37.

Totally 76 sector magistrates will be on duty during the Panchayat election scheduled for Dec 19 (Monday).

Excise raids: Special Excise squad formed to keep vigilance over election campaign and to enforce dry days and the police had seized liquor worth Rs 18 lakh at different places in the district.

Revealing this, Excise Deputy Superintendent said the seized liquor include fake stocks and unlicensed one.

A Tata Sumo vehicle was also seized and seven accused were arrested and sent to judicial custody. Totally five cases were registered against them under Excise Act.

Anil Kumar said the Excise Department was asked to enforce the prohibition strictly and not to allow stocking, selling and consumption of liquor during dry days.

Meanwhile Kote police in Shimoga seized a lorry carrying unlicensed liquor worth Rs 6 lakh from Davanagere to Chikmagalur. Police arrested driver and cleaner of the lorry.

Retires: K Halappa, an independent candidate contesting for Taluk Panchayat election from Aralahalli has stated in a press release to the voters of Kudligere ZP constituency that he was retiring from the fray on health grounds.