Thursday, March 16, 2006

Checking Naxalites

Source : Navhindi Times

Centre Calls

Strategy Meet

IT IS merely a coincidence that when the Union home ministry is convening the third high-level meeting of all the Naxalite-affected states on March 31, to chalk out a strategy to combat the Naxalite-menace, a discordant note has been struck by none else than the director of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Mr J K Sinha: “A long-term solution to escalating Maoist violence lies in the political dialogues and not in military action.”

Mr Sinha’s suggestion; the person who is supposed to simply carry out the instructions and kill the Naxalites, actually runs parallel to the solution suggested by the political executives. Indiscriminate use of the security forces against the rural people on the plea of fighting the Maoist terror has turned it suspect in the eyes of the local people. And if Mr Sinha is to believe; there is no valid reason to disbelieve him either, the local people are even reluctant to help the forces in their operation. What does this indicate? Does not it manifest that the political executives lack the proper perspective of the use of the forces and have also been responsible for pushing the common people closer to the Naxalites?

In fact a closer look at the earlier two meetings of the chief ministers make it clear that since the chief ministers utterly lacked a political perspective to the Naxalite violence, which was why they resolved for the military solution. While the September 2004 meet relied on the arms power and knocked at the door of the Centre for directives, it was the second meeting of the chief ministers that favoured strong military solution. In fact armed with these resolutions and suggestions, the police carried intensive military operations in these states. But it miserably failed to contain the movement.

Though our democracy allows us freedom to champion our cause and win people over to our point of view, it is a fact that the political executives seldom resort to political and democratic means to meet the peoples’ agitation. Nothing could illustrate this in a better way than their thrust on military solution to the Naxalite problem. There is no doubt that while this is manifestation of their short-sightedness of the problem, it is also the admission of their failure to evolve a political solution. Else, there was no need for Mr Sinha to underline: “It is the failure of the political system to meet the needs and aspirations of the people because of which Maoists problem has intensified.”

The latest thrust on military solution owes to the hijacking of a train by Naxalites in Jharkhand. This is the most daring action of Maoists after the jailbreak in Bihar. The Naxalite action was to protest the death of their leader Jagannath Koiri in a police encounter in Palamu district on March 3. It obviously implied that the Naxalites are not scared of security forces. Undoubtedly it underlines and also reinforces the stance of Mr Sinha: The solution to the problem is only through effective participation of the people in the decision making process and also empower them.

Naxal menace, J&K main problem areas for Home Ministry

New Delhi, Mar 16: The rise in the number of civilian and police killings by Naxalites and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir are the main problems areas for the Union Home Ministry, according to its annual report on internal security for 2005-06.

24-hr SDG being created for VIP security: Report

Naxalism continued to be a big problem for the ministry as also killings of police personnel which showed a sharp increase of 53 per cent and civilian casualties which went up by 11 per cent as compared to 2004, the report said.

In 2005, there were 1,594 incidents of violence as compared to 1,533 in 2004. As many as 516 civilians were killed in the year as compared to 466 while 153 policemen lost their lives as against 100 in 2004. The casualties of Naxalites also increased from 87 in 2004 to 223.

"Naxalites continued to focus on fresh recruitment and militarisation of their cadres. Training camps to impart training in arms and explosives handling to fresh and old cadres are being mainly held in Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh," the report said.

As many as 76 districts in the nine states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal were "badly affected" by Naxal violence though in a varying degree.

It said available reports indicated continued fraternal and logistic links between Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) and Naxalite groups especially in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Among the steps being taken by the ministry to counter the Naxal menace, the report said intelligence inputs were shared by the central agencies with the states and steps had been initiated to strengthen intelligence collection and sharing mechanism.

It has also been decided to "constitute inter-state intelligence support teams (ISISTs) in the states" which had been affected by the Naxalite violence.

Keeping in view the recent developments in Nepal and the Maoist violence in that country that may have repercussions on the internal security of the country, the state governments bordering Nepal have been sensitised to intensify vigil and patrolling of areas bordering the Himalayan kingdom, the report said.

About the ISI activities, the report said the terrorist outfits operating and indulging in acts of terror in India continued to be based in Pakistan and its occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan continued to shelter known anti-India elements and those declared as fugitives from the law in India, the report said.

It said the main features of Pakistan`s ISI strategy in India were intensification of low cost and proxy war operations in a wide area extending from Jammu and Kashmir to hinterland, increasing use of India`s immediate neighbourhood for executing its plans and engaging in espionage, subversion, indoctrination and training of the vulnerable section of society.

ISI was also continued to provide direct and indirect support to the underworld elements operating in and outside the country, the report said.

Bureau Report

Red Terror: India under siege from within

Red Terror: India under siege from within



VK Shashikumar
CNN-IBN

Bastar (Chhattisgarh): The Maoist insurgents in India have intensified their armed movement in what they call the Compact Revolutionary Zone or the Red Corridor.


Inside this Red Corridor, set up in the tribal forest lands of Central India and stretching from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh, the Maoists run a parallel government called the Janatana Sarkar.




The Janatana Sarkar runs in the so-called Dandakaranya Liberated Zone - a region which is completely under Maoist control.


CNN-IBN Special Investigation Team went to this region for a spot-check on how the Indian government has lost its control over an area almost twice as big as the state of Kerala.


The Janatana Sarkar runs its writ in this belt. The Maoists have propaganda films, showing well-armed rebels of People's Guerilla Army on the march to fight the Indian security forces.


Powered by the Maoists, the tribals of Dandakaranya now have a voice - the voice of their guns.


If the naxals call for a public meeting, hundreds of tribals would respond to it. They would trek kilometres through the forest, complete with food and other provisions.


Deep inside Chhattisgarh, the CNN-IBN team attended one such meeting, where local leaders of the Maoist Janatana Sarkar addressed a gathering.


On the ground, tribal leaders like Sannu are the face of the parallel Maoist government.


He paints the Janatana Sarkar on a red cloth, even as local Adivasis help and watch. The Maoist government, says Sannu, now controls every aspect their lives.


"Our 'sarkar' gets people to work in cooperatives, to dig wells and irrigation tanks. Things like ploughing the land, sowing seeds and harvesting are also done by cooperatives. All this will liberate the area from the Indian Government," claims Sannu, president of the Revolutionary People's Committee of Dandakaranya.


The Janatana Sarkar today controls a vast tract of land, stretching from Gadchiroli in Maharashthra to the Abuz Mad and Bastar districts in Chhattisgarh.


The Maoist writ runs over an area of 92,000-sq kilometre, an area twice the size of Kerala.


Ganesh Uyike, one of the five division secretaries in the so-called Dandakaranya Special Zone, was instrumental in the setting up of this special zone.

"It is not yet a liberated zone. But we will achieve it. Just 25 of us came here. But now, there are thousands in our ranks. We ended the exploitation of forest officials, patwaris and other government forces. We are working towards a People’s Government," claims Ganesh.


As one travels through this Naxal heartland, it is impossible to miss the sickle and hammer.


This flag that flutters in the Dandakaranya Special Zone is the official Maoist banner, not the Indian tricolour.


While the absence of the 'tricoloor' is symbolic, the fact is, the writ of the Government of India does not run in the Dandakaranya Special Zone.


So much so that the Maoists have a constitutional roadmap called the 'Janatana Sarkar Policy Programme', with which they intend to replace the Government of India in Dandakaranya.


The Maoist strategy starts with children. Tribal children are encouraged to imitate Maoist guerilla tactics even in their games.


Police-Maoist encounter is a popular game among the children here. One set of children walk into a 'Maoist territory' posing as police patrol, and another group attacks them. And as the surprised policemen stumble and fall, they are shot ruthlessly.


When their Maoist role models come visiting, the children line up to shake hands with the squad leader.


Not surprisingly, the upper age limit to join the People’s Guerilla Army is just 16 years. And children, like Laxman, are willing to join their ranks.


"I will join the PGA, and fight against the police," says Laxman.


While the Maoists say that they have stepped in to fill a vacuum of governance, tribal Congress leader Mahendra Karma argues that the Maoists systematically destroyed the government institutions using terror, and then imposed themselves on the tribals.


"They had also built their pressure. And in areas where government control was not strong enough, they occupied such areas and crippled the development efforts of the government. They make the socio-economic setup collapse and set up a parallel network of their own," explains Mahendra Karma, an Adivasi leader of the Congress party.


But the Maoists disagree. They say guerilla warfare was not needed to establish their rule in Dandakaranya.


"The aim is to make Dandakaranya a liberated zone. Given the uneven development in India, we have identified areas that we want to liberate. So, Dandakaranya is part of that plan," says Ganesh Uyike, a division secretary of the Dandakaranya Special Zone.


One of the steps taken by the Maoists was to stop the exploitation of the tribals by petty government and village officials.


"Forest rangers and patwaries used to harass us. They used to impose fines for everything - for cutting firewood, for grazing the livestock, everything. They used to collect Rs 2 for cows and Re 1 for oxen. They even fined us if we brought twigs from the forest to fence our plantations," says tribal.


"We have fought the government for our rights over the forest. So, we also take the responsibility to protect it. Whoever wants to cut trees for agriculture or firewood or to make a house must take permission from the jungle committee," says Sannu, president of the Revolutionary People's Committee of Dandakaranya.


The Maoists have mobilised the tribals around a range of grievances - real and invented.


And the idea of a Janatana Sarkar or the people’s government is central to this strategy.


The strategy works like this: First they would exploit the complete absence of the government, and then they would convince the Adivasis through the Janatana Sarkar that the Indian State is not concerned about their welfare.


Amid the claims and counter-claims, what is clear is the fact that the Maoist-run Janatana Sarkar has definitely added a new dimension to the violent image of the Naxal movement in the country.


From Bihar to Andhra Pradesh, the Naxals or the Maoists are one party. They have an armed force, which is lethal as seen in Jehanabad.


And the Maoists organised under the Janatana Sarkar have shown that they can govern as well.


Now, what remains to be seen is how the Government of India responds to this challenge posed by the Maoists.

Maoist violence surges in India: Official

NEW DELHI –– Outlawed Maoist groups have stepped up violence in India and are training new recruits in strongholds across the large swathes of the country, a government report warned Thursday.

The home ministry study said murders of Indian police personnel by the guerrillas jumped 53 percent to 153 in the year to March 31, 2006, while 516 civilians were killed, an 11 percent increase on the previous year.

The figures were released after Maoist guerrillas on Monday hijacked a train in insurgency-torn eastern Jharkhand state before releasing its 60 passengers unharmed after a night-long standoff.

The ministry's international security report said the guerrillas also suffered heavier casualties during the last year compared to 2004. Police killed 223 suspected rebels compared to 87 the previous year.

It warned the guerrillas were pursuing a recruitment drive in their quest to control larger areas of insurgency-wracked states. "Naxalites (Maoists) continue to focus on fresh recruitment and militarisation of their cadres," the government paper said.

"Training camps to impart training in arms and explosives handling to fresh and old cadres are being mainly held in the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh," it warned. "As many as 76 districts in nine states ... are badly affected by Naxal (Maoist) violence although in a varying degree," the report said, adding that the banned groups have also established inter-state logistics and communications links among its cadres. –– AFP

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Train hijack leaves Centre worried

Passengers, driver, guard safe after Naxalites release the train in Jharkhand`s Latehar district

Our Political Bureau / New Delhi/Ranchi/Jamshedpur March 15, 2006



Although this morning Naxalites released the train which they had held captive since last evening near Heyagarha railway station in Jharkhand's Latehar district without harming passengers, the government is seriously worried that such an incident could have happened at all.

After the “hijack” of an entire train by Left Wing Extremists —mainly Maoists, who were protesting a comrade's death at the hands of the police—on its way from Barkakhana in Jharkhand to Mughalsarai in Uttar Pradesh close to a thick jungle between Heyagarha and Kumundi stations, the Centre is baffled.

“Around 400 security personnel have reached the spot and all passengers, the driver and the guard are safe,” Inspector General of Police (special branch) BC Verma said. The engine of the train has been partially damaged, he said, adding that the train would resume journey after repairs.

Police said the Naxalite action was in protest against the death of one of their self-styled commanders Jagannath Koiri in a police encounter in Palamu district on March 3. The incident took place in the midst of a 24-hour bandh called by the Naxalites in Palamu division, which covers Latehar district, to protest against the incident.

This is the most daring action of Maoist rebels after the jailbreak in Bihar at the height of Bihar Assembly elections three months ago. No arrests have been made so far in the case.

According to the passengers, about 45 Naxalites, who had laid siege to the train, left the spot without harming them as the day broke.

Stating that the police were the target of the Maoists activists and not the passengers, DIG (Palamu range) Ram Lakshman Prasad said the forces comprising CRPF and state police had taken all precautions while reaching the spot. Latehar Superintendent of Police Subodh Prasad and a CRPF commandant led the security personnel to the spot.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha was the first to respond to the massive security breach that the incident represents. Demanding President's Rule in Jharkhand, opposition leader Sudhir Mahato alleged that the Arjun Munda government had “virtually failed” in tackling increasing extremist activities.

Terming the incident as unprecedented and “first of its kind in the world”, Mahato said, “We have heard about plane hijacks, but not incidents of such a nature. This government has no moral right to continue in power.”

Self-styled Maoist commander held with aide

Jehanabad: A self-styled zonal commander of the banned CPI (Maoist), wanted in connection with the attack on Jehanabad sub-jail in November last, and his associate were arrested in a raid by the police in Bihar's Jehanabad district, police said today.

Acting on a tip-off during the holi eve swoop late last night, police arrested Satyendra Yadav and his aide Kesar Yadav in a raid on their hideout at Murgiachak village under Bhagwanganj police station of the naxalite-hit district.

Satyendra was involved in the November 13 night attack on the sub-jail here last year in which the Naxalites had freed nearly 390 inmates, including several CPI (Maoist) cadres. He was wanted in connection with several cases of Naxalite violence, sources added.

Massive operations launched to nab extremists involved in Latehar incident

North East Press Service

New Delhi, Mar 14 (NEPS): Massive search and combing operations have been launched to nab the extremists who detained a passenger train in Latehar district of Jharkhand yesterday. All exit routes are being watched. The Centre is in constant touch with the State Government. Following the incident, the Union Home Secretary, V.K. Duggal spoke to the State Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police. CRPF support was made available to the State Government to deal with the situation. Primary focus of both the Central and State Governments was to ensure the safety of those on board the train.

In a report sent to the Union Home Ministry, the State Government has informed that extremists detained the arkakana-Dehri-Mugalsarai passenger train between Hehegaraha and Kumandih railway stations near Antikheta village of Latehar district yesterday evening. On getting information about the incident, police parties with sufficient re-enforcement reached the spot. The police party found the train abandoned with a partially damaged driver-seat and transformer of the engine. The passengers whose number was around one hundred were found absolutely safe. The extremists who were about fifty in number had snatched walkie-talkies from the guard and the driver and fired twelve rounds in the air. Empty cartridges have been recovered from the site. No body has been injured in the firing. Another engine was sent to the place of occurrence and the
train left the spot at about 0805 hrs today. Normalcy has been restored and the railway traffic has resumed.

Meanwhile, the Union Home Secretary has convened a meeting of Chief Secretaries and DGPs of naxal-affected states in New Delhi on the 31st of this month to review the naxal situation.

Nine cops hurt in Naxal-planted landmine blast in Gadchiroli

Nagpur, Mar 14 (UNI) Nine policeman engaged in anti-Naxal operations escaped with slight injuries when the ultra leftists triggered a powerful landmine blast near Fulmodi Gatta village in Dhanora taluka of Naxaliites-infested Gadchiroli district last night, police said today.

The policemen, attached to the anti-Naxal squad, were patrolling the area in two anti-landmine vehicles when the powerful blast threw up one vehicle 25 feet high into the air and forced the second to halt. Nine personnel in the first vehicle suffered minor injuries.

The blast left a deep crater, police added.

About 60 to 70 Naxalites, who had planted the land mine, also exchanged fire with police personnel in the second vehicle which came to halt on seeing the first vehicle blasted high into the air.

However, no body was injured on either side in the exchange of fire and the Naxals fled into nearby forests taking cover of the darkness, police added.

The wounded policemen were treated in civil hospital at Gachiroli.

Reinforcements have been sent to the area and combing operation lanched to flush out the ultras, police sources said.

Four jawans injured in blast

Nagpur: Twenty- five security personnel engaged in anti-naxal operations on Tuesday had a miraculous escape, four with minor injuries, when ultra-left activists triggered a powerful landmine blast. They later fired at them near Pendhari forest in Gadchiroli district.

The incident took place when Special Task Force personnel who were travelling in two anti-mine vehicles, after an operation against the ultras, hit a landmine.

The vehicle which hit the landmine was thrown up in the air for about 30 feet. — PTI

Monday, March 13, 2006

Kalam gives assent to ordinance to control naxal menance

NAXALS-ASSENT

RAIPUR, MAR 13 (PTI)

President A P J Abdul Kalam has given assent to an ordinance to control the increasing naxalite menace in Chhattisgarh.

"The President has given his assent to the Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Surakshya Adhiniyam Vidheyak 2005," Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Bijay Kishore Sunder Ray told PTI today.

The legislation got Presidential assent on March seven.

Under the provision of this legislation, any organisation or outfit could be banned or any one supporting the naxalites and their activities could attract punishment, he said.

A section of media was expressing apprehension of the misuse of the legislation as it had provisions of punishment for any one publishing, printing or showing visuals on naxalites.

However, the state government had clarified today that there was no such thing.

"But definitely it was a shot in the arm for the state government as a step to curb the activities of the Maoists," he said.

Chhattisgarh government enacted the legislation in the state Assembly in the last winter session after the Maoists stepped up their violent activities in the state.

Naxalites call 12-hour bandh

Statesman News Service
KRISHNAGAR, March 13. — The Naxalite outfit CPI(M-L) has called a 12-hour Krishnagar town and Dogachi anchal bandh tomorrow to protest against the police atrocities on the Jatrapur residents. The Naxalite group after condemning the police action alleged, “On the pretext of manhunt of Bangladeshi voters, the Kotwali police misbehaved the Jatrapur residents grossly and ransacked some houses of them.
On the other hand, a legislative team from Trinamul Congress visited Jatrapur and talked with the victims.
They alleged: “Police connived with the CPI-M leaders and intentionally harrassed the residents as they are the supporters of our party. But whenever we pointed fingers at some Bangladeshi voters belonging to the CPI-M, the police do not take action against them”.

Police end Naxal train hijack drama

New Delhi: The Jharkhand police has ended the hostage drama that took place near the state capital Ranchi when hundreds of Naxals hijacked a train with 45 passengers on board.

On Monday evening, a rebel on board the train - on its way to Barkakana (Hazaribagh district) from Mughalsarai - pulled the emergency cord, forcing it to stop between the Hehegada and Kumandi stations in the Latehar district, 160 km west of Ranchi.

The rebels reportedly opened fire and fired eight rounds to scare the driver and the guard and took charge of the train.

"The motive behind the attack was to invite police retort. The rebels had called a district-wide protest against the police. We have already launched many operations against the rebels and have already eliminated their zonal and sub-zonal commanders. Rest will be eliminated soon," Inspector General, Jharkhand, D K Pandey, said.

It took police nearly 10 hours to bring the crisis to an end. However, Pandey denies it was a hostage crisis.

"The terrain of the area is very hostile. There is a huge risk of mines and ambush. Hence it took long to take control of the situation. Let me make it clear that it was nothing like a hostage crisis," Pandey said.

The police say all the passengers are safe and there has been no loss of life or property.

The train has reportedly been moved from the site.

Terror on the red corridor:

On Monday, the Naxals had called for a strike in the region to protest the killing of one of their commanders by police last week.

They killed more than 50 pro-government tribespeople in a landmine attack in neighbouring Chhattisgarh state this month.

The rebels, with strong links to Maoist guerrillas just to the north in Nepal, are becoming increasingly active and some analysts say they pose a bigger problem for the central government in Delhi than the separatist rebellion in Kashmir.

The government estimates there are about 9,300 Maoist rebels operating in the country in what is known as the "Red Corridor", stretching from the Nepal border in the north through several states to south India.

Naxals hijack train, 200 passengers

Ranchi, India: Hundreds of Maoist rebels captured a passenger train with about 200 people on board in Jharkhand on Monday, police said.

A rebel on the train pulled the emergency cord, forcing it to stop in a remote and hilly area in Latehar district, 160 km west of Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, a mineral-rich but largely lawless area.

"It is not known whether the passengers are safe or have been robbed," Subodh Kumar, the most senior police officer in Latehar said.

Officials said police had rushed to the area. Maoist rebels had called a strike in the region on Monday to protest the killing of one of their commanders by police last week.

Maoist rebels, who claim to fight for peasants and landless labourers, have stepped up attacks on police and government supporters in eastern India in recent months.

They killed more than 50 pro-government tribespeople in a landmine attack in neighbouring Chhattisgarh state this month.

The rebels, with strong links to Maoist guerrillas just to the north in Nepal, are becoming increasingly active and some analysts say they pose a bigger problem for the central government in Delhi than the separatist rebellion in Kashmir.

The government estimates there are about 9,300 Maoist rebels operating in the country in what is known as the "Red Corridor", stretching from the Nepal border in the north through several states to south India.

www.expressindia.com

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Jharkhand : Massive recruitments to counter the Maoist menace

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Ranchi, March 9: The Cabinet today decided to make massive recruitments to strengthen the special branch in a bid to counter the Maoist menace.

Cabinet secretary Aditya Swarup said many posts have been created to strengthen the special branch to tackle extremist activities.

The government feels police inspectors should be posted in all blocks and there should be a dedicated cadre up to the rank of deputy superintendent of police in the special branch.

Keeping this in mind, the Cabinet has approved 813 posts of constables, 413 assistant sub-inspectors, 142 inspectors, 187 minions, five sergeant-majors, 110 head constables, 12 additional SPs, 26 DSPs, three SPs and two DIGs.

The move will cost Rs 26 crore annually, but it will be an effective tool in gathering information and checking Naxalite activities.

Officials and personnel of up to DSP rank will permanently remain in the special branch and they will be accordingly trained, he added.

The Cabinet also approved recruitment of 518 persons for setting up 97 dispensaries of desi (Indian) system of medicine and 10 joint dispensaries having allopathic, ayurvedic, unani and homeopathic medicines.

The cabinet also approved a grant of Rs 4.5 crore to the Ranchi Municipal Corporation for public amenities and to keep the capital clean. Besides building urinals at many places in the city, the RMC will buy 15 new tractors and hire 155.

Swarup said the Cabinet approved the proposal of the health and family department to recruit 518 persons to set up 97 desi dispensaries each having four practitioners and 10 joint dispensaries to strengthen the alternative system of medicine in the state.

While deciding to amend the RMC Act and Jharkhand Municipality Act to increase penalty amounts up to 100 times, the Cabinet also approved amendment in the Jharkhand Regional Development Authority Act to have a say in approving building plans.

Amnesty expresses concern over Naxal violence

Amnesty expresses concern over Naxal violence

PTI
Friday, March 10, 2006 18:25 IST



NEW DELHI: The human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Friday expressed grave concern over the spurt in Naxalite violence in Chhattisgarh and told the state government to investigate killings of innocent civilians.

It told the government to amend a new security legislation enacted by it that could grant sweeping powers to restrict rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

"Amnesty International urges the Chhattisgarh government to investigate all killings of civilians in the region and amend the security legislation to ensure that the rights of freedom of expression and assembly are respected," it said

Naxalites kidnap six policemen in Chhattisgarh

Raipur, Mar 12: Maoists today abducted six policemen from Naxal-infested Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, top police officials said.

"Two head constables and four constables were abducted near Chintagufa area of the district," top police officials of Dantewada told reporters over phone.

"Details of the abducted policemen are not known," they said adding additional police force have rushed to the spot to trace them.

Bureau Report

Police, Naxals exchange fire in Warangal

Sunday March 12 2006 11:21 IST

WARANGAL: Police intensified combing operations in the forest area in Tadvai mandal following an exchange of fire with Praja Pratighatana group Naxalites on Saturday.

The police and Naxals exchanged fire in Urattam village forest area at 10.30 am. No casualty was reported.

According to the police, Praja Pratighatana squad commander Suresh and five other dalam members were in the forest when police special party was combing the area.

Naxal group sentry opened fire on the police and the latter retaliated.

The exchange of fire continued for 10 minutes before the Naxals escaped into the forest. No one was injured.

Combing operation was taken up in nearby villages also.