Friday, April 07, 2006

Chikmagalur new abode for terrorists?

Friday April 7 2006 14:21 IST

CHIKMAGALUR: The coffee land of Chikmagalur, which has earned a name as a safe zone for naxals, is believed to have become a shelter for terrorist outfits also.

Though it is yet to be proved that terrorists are sheltered here, rumours that the LeT activist Abdul Rehman (who was arrested in Gulbarga recently) stayed in Channapura, Mudigere taluk have made the people tense.

However, police have clarified that the arrested person did not stay in Chennapura.

Superintendent of Police K. Madhukar Shetty said that there was no evidence to prove Abdul Rehman’s link with the district.

The police have kept a close vigil on visitors with suspicious movements. Information is being collected about newcomers, he added.

Naxal nexus: This district always had strong links with naxalism and its activists.

Whoever is arrested or killed under the pretext of naxalism anywhere in the State have established his or her link with the place.

For instance, one of the two women who died in the Edu encounter was from Chikmagalur. Likewise, one of the two youths killed in the Udupi encounter was from Mudigere taluk.

Just five years ago police denied the rumour that naxalites had made Chikmagalur their safe abode.

But a shootout in which a village woman Cheeramma was injured, showed that the naxalites had camped in the district. The police and Government have accepted the intelligence report.

Incidentally, a year ago, the intelligence department had alerted the Government that terrorists might make Chikmagalur district their base. But the Government is yet to open its eyes.

Sarlahi Maoist Attack and Nepal-India Relations

India must learn a firm lesson from the increasing Maoist threat to Nepal and to its own vulnerable population in its northern states

By Dr. Pravin Rajbahak

The Maoists have executed another horrible attack- killing people, adducting civil servants and setting government offices ablaze. This time the attack was not in the mid-west or a “remote village far-flung from Kathmandu” but in Malangawa of Sarlahi district in the Terai. The three districts of Mahottari, Sarlahi and Rautahat districts in eastern Nepal, border Sitamadi district of Bihar, the poorest Indian state. Sarlahi is also near to major Bihari towns such as Madhubani, Muzzaffarpur and Darbhanga-all of which have witnessed considerable increase in Naxal violence in the last few years. This is the area that independent and democratic India is at its weakest and poorest and human life hasn’t changed much in this place in the last 100 years. Among the 37 districts in Bihar, 30 of them are already infected with Naxal violence and Sitamadi town which is the administrative headquarter of Tirhaut division is one of the heavily infested Naxal area in the full of India.

The Bihar para military force just last year busted several Maoist training camps in Piparimath village in Bairgania near to Sitamadi. In June last year, more than 300 Maoist guerrillas attacked Madhuban bazaar in east champaran district, looted cash from various banks, set the police posts and block office ablaze and fled well before reinforcements could reach there. IG of Police R.R Verma had said that a large number of Maoists from Nepal had participated in the attack. Even Bihar Police Chief Ashish Ranjan Sinha was reported as saying that he knows of increasing number of criss-cross flows of Indian and Nepali Naxalites for coordinated attacks in the area. But by the time these reports from senior police officers reached Delhi, they were already tampered to tell to the audience “there was little proof of actual involvement of Nepali Maoists.”

Growing linkage of the Naxalites in India with Maoist insurgents in Nepal had been responsible, for unification of Maoist parties and resultant expansion of their activities in Bihar.. The linkage between these two groups has been largely seen as a pre-requisite for further unification, consolidation and expansion of Maoism in different parts of the country stretching across Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Bihar, to Nepal. Expansion of Naxal activity in Bihar is an important part of this strategy and the prevailing situation in Bihar and Nepal helps these outfits. The porous Bihar-Nepal border, the general breakdown of rule of law, poor governance and incapacity of the security forces provides a context for these left extremist groups to operate with ease. They attack in Bihar and cross to Nepal and vice versa.

This is where sanity is tricked by reality and assessment betrayed by experience. Why is India insensible to mounting Naxal activity and violence even though Naxalites today control about 30 percent of the Indian territory? More than 15 percent of Indian forests are totally under the grips of the Maoists. The Indian Army in its annual report has stated that “Naxal violence could get out of hand like in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast,” but the report has gone into the dustbins. The Bihar state government has requested New Delhi to beef up security along its 735 km stretch of border with Nepal, but nothing much has been done. The Union Home Ministry of India has asked the Intelligence Bureau (I&B) to open an operations wing for anti-Naxal operations. This was about a year ago. Not the well-trained BSF but the ill-equipped SSB guards the Indo-Nepal border.

It is not surprising therefore that well-coordinated attacks have been rising in the Terai. In spite of all these, India is engrossed with the idea of bringing the Maoists into the political mainstream through a 12-point understanding reached at its command a few months ago in Delhi. Its own Prime Minister says that “talks with the Naxalites is not possible before they lay down their arms” yet his policy towards the Nepali rebels is governed with empathy, unstated approval and guardianship. That the Baburam Bhattarai faction of the Nepali Maoists has special relations with India is an open secret, made public through the voice of Prachanda himself. But the entire Maoist movement somehow being the creation of India is now a dead hypothesis. It could have been true yesterday but has clearly gone out of the Indian grips today. This is exactly what happened to the Akali Takht, which was Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s creation coming around and assassinating Mrs. Gandhi herself or the LTTE which was primarily financed, equipped and trained by the Indian security agencies eventually assassinating Mr. Rajiv Gandhi.

The same stupidity has been repeated in Nepal by providing the Maoists a safe haven in New Delhi, allowing clandestine flows of armory into the Maoist hands and facilitating talks with the mainstream political parties. Not even a single Maoist cadre of some status has been arrested by India since Feb. 1st last year. Instead, what all this has done is that states of Bihar, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Andra are now under the Maoist mercy. They can strike anywhere at will. For the governments of Nepal and India, there is a long international border and sovereignty is at question. For the Maoists, it is essentially a seamless world.

This is exactly what happened to the Akali Takht, which was Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s creation coming around and assassinating Mrs. Gandhi herself or the LTTE which was primarily financed, equipped and trained by the Indian security agencies eventually assassinating Mr. Rajiv Gandhi.
India must learn a firm lesson from the increasing Maoist threat to Nepal and to its own vulnerable population in its northern states, as it is a rising power of this century. It must realize, shoving aside its sharp ego, that stopping lethal arms to the Royal Nepal Army; on the contrary gifting some ambulances to a few NGOs in Sarlahi by its ambassador in Nepal was an unfortunate decision for which it will have to regret for a long time to come. None but Mrs. Indira Gandhi herself smashed the Naxalbari movement in the ‘70s with an iron fist; what type of “democracy” is it talking about while dealing with the same brand of ideological whims in Nepal?

A Maoist takeover of Nepal will switch even the pro-Indian faction inside the Maoists to a fiercely nationalistic radical group that will in no time invite their comrades from all the Indian states for a similar revolution in India. Only then will the government of India realize the importance of the RNA and the monarchy that have been giving an assertive and uncompromising resistance to those elements that are inimical not only to Nepal but also to India. It is indeed a sad story to relate that the arms and ammunition now being brought from Beijing is being used to punish those that have been termed as “terrorists” by India.

Transit Treaty Renewal:

After three months of nail-biting suspense, India agreed to renew the transit treaty for a period of seven years. The high hopes of seven agitating parties that New Delhi would shoulder them once again so as to ease them to come back to power has been harshly shattered. Furthermore, Delhi’s expectation from the parties too have become more “realistic” given their poor track record of the last 14 years during which the Maoist insurgency began and anti-Indianism became the order of the day. A retired Indian diplomat was reported as saying, “the political leaders forgot what we had done to usher democracy in Nepal as soon as they sat on the chair in Singha Durbar and India bashing became the gong–ho from day one. Nepali political leaders are the most ungrateful race that I have ever seen in my life.”

India could have messed up the already troubled waters of Kathmandu had it not renewed the treaty and the current government should be grateful for that. At least the royal palace and the RNA are not akin to political party leaders and are by culture appreciative of the good things done which are reciprocated in deeds if not in words. A week before, the UTL was allowed to operate its wireless local loop and the Indian joint venture company has already taken the Nepali telecom market by storm. On the very first day of sale, there were thousands of applicants to purchase the new UTL phone connections.

Indo-Nepal relations marred by frequent upheavals and snagged by Delhi’s absurd policy of promoting democracy in Nepal while simultaneously backing absolute monarchy in Bhutan will heed towards a positive direction once its fallacy of mainstreaming the Maoists meets a dead end. Its emotional weakness towards the political leaders has left it betrayed, shattered and hapless not once or twice but three times without a miss since 1950.

All other gambles have failed. While Kathmandu must abandon unnecessary and ill-timed anti-Indian rhetoric; Delhi needs to fully support the current dispensation in Kathmandu, which by any analysis is the best bet for the long-term security of India.

(Dr. Rajbahak is a pediatrician and can be reached at pravinrajbahak@hotmail.com Whether you agree with the views expressed by the author or not, please send your comments to feedback@mos.com.np–Ed.)

(Editor’s Note: Nepalis, wherever they live, as well as friends of Nepal around the globe are requested to contribute their views/opinions/recollections etc. on issues concerning present day Nepal to the Guest Column of Nepalnews. Length of the article should not be more than 1,000 words and may be edited for the purpose of clarity and space. Relevant photos as well as photo of the author may also be sent along with the article. Please send your write-ups to editors@mos.com.np)

Naxal activities hit bamboo business

Lemuel Lall
Jabalpur, April 6, 2006


WITH FOREST officials not venturing into Naxalites’ affected areas in Balaghat, the bamboo business of Naxal hit district in Madhya Pradesh, has received a setback.

In the last financial year that just ended last month, Balaghat forest officials with the help of van samities, primarily having tribals managed to store about 33,000 notional tonnes of bamboos after cutting, while in the corresponding year nearly 67,000 notional tonnes collection was registered. As a result of this, Balaghat district revenue collection from bamboo trade has come down to Rs 28 crore from Rs 33 crore in the financial year 2005.

Bamboo of Balaghat in Jabalpur division is used for commercial (in building purposes, especially in villages) and industrial (in paper mills) purposes and is considered to be of high quality in India. Last year, Naxals unleashed a reign of terror and bashed up several forest officials along with tribals, besides setting ablaze bamboo stores and trucks used in transportation.

So, frightened forest officials in the last financial year confined bamboo cutting to areas where the Naxals did not have a presence. In the last financial year, bamboo cutting was carried out in just 54 places, instead of 102 places.

“We had to limit the bamboo cutting because of Naxal threats. In 2005, we paid a heavy price as the bamboo transportation was badly hindered by the Naxals,” a forest official preferring anonymity said.

When contacted, Conservator of Forest Balaghat Circle OP Khare said they got the full co-operation from the police, adding that the work of transportation for the last financial year was almost over.

Police Arrests One in Rohtas DSP Killing

Rohtas: April 7, 2006

In a major breakthrough, the police in Sasaram, on Thursday, nabbed a Maoist extremist in connection with the last Monday murder of Rohtas Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Akhileshwar Prasad, Rohtas Superintendent of Police (SP) N. J. Khan said.

The man was identified as Sunil Singh who, during police interrogation, confessed of his involvement in the murder of Prasad, the police said.

Following up on a tip, the police raided a Naxal hideout in Majharia village and arrested Sunil Singh. The police has also taken nearly two dozen people in custody in connection with Prasad's murder.

More arrests are expected soon, Khan said.

DSP Prasad, a native of Bikramganj in Patna district, was following a lead in the abduction of a two-year old son of a defense officer last Monday in Rohtas district when he and his police team were ambushed by a group of Maoist guerillas. He received bullet injuries and died while being transported to Patna Medical College Hospital (PMC).

He was cremated at Danapur with full state honors on Tuesday.

In an unrelated news, the police in Patna under Kankarbagh police station, nabbed two Maoist guerillas on Thursday. They were identified as Ramchandra Yadav and Mukesh Yadav.

Is C-60 answer to Naxal threat?

Anupam Dasgupta
Friday, April 07, 2006 00:31 IST

MUMBAI: One of the biggest success of the security forces engaged in combating the Maoist rebels has been the setting up of the C-60, an anti-Naxalite crack force. The force is made up of local youngsters and active in pockets of Gadchiroli.

"The present requirement is to raise more such units in other affected parts of the state," said a senior police officer engaged in anti-Naxalite operations.

Maharashtra Director General of Police PS Pasricha says several strategies need to be combined to the combat the Maoist threat effectively.

"We have implemented ground-level strategies equipping policemen deployed on the field in a better manner," he told DNA. "There is a need to combine strategies to neutralise the threat."

The Vision Document prepared by the Maharashtra Police, in fact, advocates forming local "resistance units" comprising villagers to take on the Maoists.

Choppers to fight Maoists, but no pilots

Rajesh Sinha
Friday, April 07, 2006 00:27 IST




NEW DELHI: Vilasrao Deshmukh has a peculiar problem at hand. The Maharashtra chief minister has helicopters to fight the Maoist rebels, but no pilots.

After numerous requests, the Centre has finally granted Maharashtra's request to use helicopters in its fight against the ultra Left rebels, who are entrenched in several tribal dominated areas in the eastern part of the state.

The only caveat being that the state government arrange for the helicopters on its own. But the government has realised that getting helicopters is easy, getting pilots isn't.

The Centre has asked Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand, other states which had asked for permission to use helicopters against the rebels, to obtain them on their own. The Centre, on its part, is considering employing naval choppers for the purpose.

Despite putting on offer attractive pay packets, the state government is finding it difficult to find pilots. Other states are also facing the same problem. "Moreover getting pilots willing to fly in situations of hostility worsens the problem," a senior government official told DNA.

In desperation, the state government is looking at the vast pool of ex-servicemen in the state. Maharashtra has about 200,000 ex-servicemen.

"The Centre has advised the state governments to approach the Ex-servicemen Welfare Board to identify and employ such men," said the official. "The Centre has also cleared the utilisation of retired men from army's engineer corps, with experience in clearing landmines, to train the police and paramilitary forces."

The state government is now exploring the possibility of employing helicopters from the defence services. "The state has so far stopped short of using the armed forces," said the official.

In Maharashtra, Maoist rebels - the new incarnation of Naxalites - are active in about half a dozen districts. They have bases on hillocks, which gives them a superior position in encounters with security forces. "Using helicopters will nullify their military advantage," said the official.

Maharashtra, however, is not looking only at a military solution. A source told DNA that the state at the Coordination Committee meeting held last week in Delhi under the chairmanship of Union Home Secretary V K Duggal told the Centre about its "unique plan".

"Maharashtra will now plough back all money obtained from the sale of tendu leaves, a forest produce, back to the area that it came from. Half the money would be distributed among the workers engaged in tendu leaf collection, 30 per cent to the gram panchayat and the remaining 20 per cent to forest development," said the source.

The state, said the source, contended that the basic problem was ownership of forest land, unlike other naxal-affected states where land reforms was the main problem. "The state said the implementation of land reforms has been quite satisfactory," the source said.

Red Lights On The Growth Highway

The spectre of Naxalism haunts over 150 districts in the country, affecting nearly 40 per cent of its geographical area and 35 per cent of its population. Orissa, Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand need urgent attention if double-digit growth dreams are to be actualised.


N. CHANDRA MOHAN




India's policy makers are bullish about the prospect of double-digit GDP growth and accordingly are liberalising the regime to attract the necessary investments, both domestic and foreign. In an earlier column, this writer raised questions regarding the sustainability of such rapid growth if it were accompanied by a dangerous widening of disparities between richer regions and poorer ones. But there is a far graver internal threat to the growth process itself if it is allowed to spiral out of control -- the spectre of Naxalism or Left-wing extremism that casts its shadow over 150 districts in the country.

For a sense of perspective, that affects nearly 40 per cent of India's geographical area and 35 per cent of its population. Scarcely a day passes without news stories like 'Red Alert: Bailadila mine workers face Naxal threat' or 'Code Red: Naxals, the biggest threat' or 'Major obstacles to metal sector', among others, that talk about the latest casualties among policemen or CISF jawans in landmine blasts caused by these extremists. Most daring was the Jehanabad jailbreak in Bihar when 1,000-armed Naxals rescued 340 prisoners and kept the town under siege for hours on November 13, 2005.

Such incidents have only escalated this year. On March 24, 80-odd extremists staged another jailbreak in the town of Raigiri-Udaigiri in Orissa, besides attacking the police station, a camp of the Orissa Special Armed Police among others. In Jharkhand, the very same elements even hijacked a train for over 15 hours. While there is, no doubt an important "law and order" dimension to this growing extremist violence, what is not adequately appreciated is the negative impact that all of this could have on crucial investments in the metal sector like steel that, in turn, underpin double-digit growth prospects.

The three geographically contiguous states of Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh are the theatre of action for this 'extremist' scenario as they sit on plentiful reserves of coal, iron ore, aluminum, manganese and other minerals. These are also tribal heartlands and constitute the "main battleground of Left-wing extremism today", to borrow an expression of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his address to top police officials in November 2004. In several districts of these states like Dantewara in Chhatisgarh - which is where the Bailadila iron ore deposits are located -- the extremists effectively run a parallel administration.

Recently, Naxalites blasted a rail track that transported iron ore from Bailadila to Vizag for exports. The very day that global steel magnate LN Mittal signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a steel plant in Jharkhand, there were blasts in nearby Chatra district that killed 12 paramilitary soldiers in October 2005. The situation is no better in Orissa. NN Sachitanand's writings in The Hindu also highlight the influence of NGOs and delays in environmental clearances, to draw up a pessimistic prognosis for mega projects entailing investments of $ 50 billion in steel, aluminum and other metals.

The upshot is that if the growth party is to go on, the government must have a masterplan to ensure that this Naxal threat does not get out of hand. The worst possible publicity for its ongoing drive to attract big-ticket foreign direct investments is if steel projects such as those of Mittal, POSCO and Tata Steel don't get off the ground due to sabotage by Left-wing extremists or rampaging tribal landowners as at Kalinga Nagar industrial area in Jeypore district of Orissa. The cloud over such mega projects is bound to raise questions over the prospects of double-digit growth itself.

True to form, the UPA government only belatedly bestirred itself to action. Finally, the Union home minister tabled a status paper on the Naxal problem in Parliament. To its credit, the government views the problem as more than a "law and order" one as it recognizes that Naxalites "operate in a vacuum created by the absence of administrative and political institutions, espouse local demands and take advantage of the disenchantment among the exploited segments of the population." Accelerated socio-economic development is considered imperative in the Naxal-affected areas.

Significantly, the status paper also recognizes that the continuing neglect of the land question is responsible for the impressive spread of the movement: "Naxal groups have been raising mainly land and livelihood-related issues. If land reforms are taken up on priority and the landless and the poor in the Naxal areas are allotted surplus land, this would go a long way to tackling the developmental aspects of the Naxal problem." This is especially relevant is states like Bihar which remains one of the original bastions of Left-wing extremism in the country.

According to a path-breaking study done by the 1987, 1988 and 1989 batches of IAS probationers on land reforms, the area declared surplus but not distributed is as much as 2.3 million acres in India. A good proportion of land declared as surplus is still under litigation. In Bihar, for instance, 2,217 cases were pending involving 79,000 acres. Big landlords with their access to the levers of state power were able to successfully thwart land reform. The upshot is that land to tiller programmes and other schemes for socio-economic development are bound to impact on Left-wing extremism.

The Indian state's biggest challenge, of course, is the tackling this phenomenon in the tribal belt of Orissa, Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand. The government has introduced the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forests Rights) Bill, 2005 in Parliament in December 2005 to address disaffection among tribals, but unless the tribals are made stakeholders in the various mega projects noted above - which can erode the influence of Left-wing extremists -- there is simply no prospect for such massive investments to come on stream and take the Indian economy to a double-digit growth path.




N Chandra Mohan is a Delhi-based analyst of economic and business affairs

Thursday, April 06, 2006

We have taken steps to counter Naxals: Naveen

Thursday April 6 2006 11:42 IST
BHUBANESWAR: A day after the Naxalites released the abducted officials on humanitarian grounds, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced in the Assembly on Wednesday that the State Government had taken several measures to improve the preparedness of the police to face extremist attacks in future.

Making a statement, Naveen said the State Government’s demand for inclusion of three more districts in the list of extremist-affected districts is yet to be approved by the Centre. The Government had also requested the Centre to immediately provide four additional companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and assistance in the shape of logistics.

He said after the Naxalite attack on R Udaygiri, steps were taken by the local administration to establish contact with the abducted officials and combing operations stepped up. The extremists had raised five demands for the release of the officials. However, they returned safely on Tuesday without the Government having to concede any of the demands, he said.

Naveen said the treatment of the injured persons was looked after by the Government and an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh was announced for the kin of the deceased police personnel. Besides, a Government job had also been promised to the next of kin of the deceased, he said.

Junior cops in red worry

SUBRAT DAS
Bhubaneswar, April 5: A day after the release of Ranjan Mallik and R.N. Sethi, the two officials held hostage since March 24, junior police personnel demanded their withdrawal from “sensitive” posts on the Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh borders.

“There is little enthusiasm among lower-level police officials in the rebel-hit districts. Police in these areas fear the rebels could ambush them. The pickets should be withdrawn,” said Sawarmal Sharma, president of the Orissa Police Association (OPA).

Sharma, who returned from R. Udaygiri in Gajapati district yesterday, said a “sense of insecurity was evident in the hearts of the jawans” after the March 24 attack.

The OPA also demanded that anti-Naxalite police pickets be adequately fortified.

Arun Mohanty, president of the Orissa Police Havildar, Constable and Sepoy Confederation (OPHCSC), said the lower-level were ready to fight the extremists, but needed adequate arrangements. “When the Naxalites attack, the constables and the havildars are the ones who face the enemy bullets. Senior officials should be posted in the affected districts,” Mohanty said.

The policemen were also critical of the “combing operation” undertaken after the R. Udaygiri raid, calling it a “hoax”. “The jawans in the armed police barracks sat idle as they had little idea about the place,” Mohanty said.

A senior home department official, on the other hand, said the R. Udaygiri attack reflected the police’s “incompetence”. “It’s not as if the cops do not have the firepower. Remember, the armed jawans have light machine guns, which can kill hundreds. But what do you do to remove fear from the minds of the jawans?” he argued.

In the Assembly today, the chief minister said several steps have been taken to make the police force an efficient fighting machine. “The state has demanded inclusion of three more districts on the list of rebel-hit districts. We have also urged the Centre to provide four additional companies of CRPF jawans,” Naveen Patnaik pointed out, adding that he would press the demands in the meeting of chief ministers of extremism-affected states in Delhi.

Jharkhand and Bengal Cops plan to combat Naxal menace

Cops plan to combat rebels
OUR CORRESPONDENT

Jamshedpur, April 5: Concerned over the spurt in Naxalite activities in the eastern states, police top brass from Jharkhand and Bengal today met to chalk out strategy to combat the menace more effectively.

About 15 top police officers from the two states including inspector-general of police D.K. Pandey, his Bengal counterpart B.P. Basu, four deputy inspector-generals of police and six superintendents of police attended the three-hour meeting held at Directors Bungalow here.

The IGP said the growing Naxalite menace in Jharkhand and adjoining districts of the neighbouring state mainly dominated the deliberations. “We discussed at length on long-term strategy to curb the activities of the rebels in the two neighbouring states. We also shared the information available with us, so that the problem could be tackled in a more effective manner,” Basu said.

The parley also witnessed both sides agreeing to deployment of additional forces on the bordering districts.

Terming the meeting fruitful, Basu said they also discussed the ongoing preparations for the Bengal Assembly elections.

“On the poll dates, all the checkposts on the national highways and state highways connecting the two states will be sealed. Patrolling will be intensified, so that no untoward incident could disrupt the election process,” he added.

Officials taking part in the meeting said the two states also exchanged information about some of the prominent Naxalites and their suspected hideouts. Both sides also agreed to launch simultaneous massive combing operations more frequently. “We have exchanged information on some of the top Naxalites of the area. We hope, it will help us trap them,” said officials.

Maoists blow up picket

OUR CORRESPONDENT

A portion of Kolahi police picket of Tundi, about 50 km from the police headquarters in Dhanbad, which was blown up by the MCC activists. Picture by Gautam Dey
Dhanbad, April 5: Maoists blew up an abandoned police picket, which was being used to teach children, in Kolhahi last night.

The police claimed the incident took place around 10 pm when six people — four men and two women — drove up in a white Maruti van and set fire to the picket. The fire caused the bombs planted at the site to go off.

No one was present at the time of the attack as the picket was closed because of security reasons a month ago.

The picket, built in 1988, is under Tundi police station. It consisted of two rooms, eight cots and few chairs. It was built to control Naxalite activities, but was found to be in an insecure zone.

The police decided to abandon and establish another picket three kms away to have better survey of the area from the new location.

The villagers were using the picket as a school for poor children. The police said the attack was in retaliation to its spreading propaganda on the war against Naxalites.

The superintendent of police Dhanbad Baljeet Singh and additional SP M.P. Lakra visited the site this morning.

They directed “Long Range Patrolling” along the range after they learnt that rebel activities had increased after the transfer of former SP Pankaj Darad.

Mining centres safe havens for Naxals

Thursday April 6 2006 13:29 IST
BELLARY: Ever since the boom in mining activity in and around Bellary, it has become a hiding place for many Naxalites and mafia gangs from Bihar who are camping in and around Bellary.

Bihar was earlier famous for coal (Singhareni mines), but following the reorganisation of States and Singhareni now in Uttaranchal, many politicians in Bihar have turned to Bellary district.

But for the CPI(ML) group of Naxalites, Bellary has become a grazing field. Often the mine owners succumb to pressure tactics and pay up. These Naxals collect money that in turn is invested in weapons to supply to their counterparts in Ananthapur and Kurnool districts.

Shoot out in 1990: When Shankar Bidari was SP of Bellary, he raided a premises near Halakundi on the Bellary- Bangalore road and killed Bimla Naik in an encounter. Bimla was a constable of Andhra Pradesh who deserted. He was a self-acclaimed Naxal leader collecting ransom.

On April 29, 2004, Narasimha Reddy alias Srinivasa Reddy, of Korrapadu village in Uruvakonda taluk of AP kidnapped Rajesh Jain and four others and demanded Rs 1 crore.

Then SP Hemanth Nimbalkar (now Belgaum SP) not only rescued Rajesh Jain and the others, but also killed Narasimha Reddy when he tried to shoot police officers who took him to Pavagada to show where he had hidden bombs and grenades.

It is Ranga Reddy who tried to blackmail mine owner Santosh Kumar Modi for ransom, but failed in the attempt.

Police ask people to be cautious about strangers

Thursday April 6 2006 13:10 IST
GULBARGA: Superintendent of police Dr.K.Ramachandra Rao has asked people to be cautious about dealing with any strangers particularly in renting out their premises in the wake of arrest of a militant belonging to a the Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist outfit of Pakistan in Gulbarga recently.

The police have taken up an awareness drive with the SP addressing a number of congregations in the city stressing the need to be cautious in the light of the arrest of LeT militant Abdul Rehman.

It may be recalled that Rehman, who made Gulbarga as his base by hiring a building in Jelanabad, a Muslim- dominated area in the city has been found to have been contacting unemployed Muslim youths to recruit them to LeT luring with money and by arousing Islamic sentiments.

He was said to have been planning to send youths from here to the Pak occupied Kashmnir (PoK) for jehadi training.

The SP has asked people not to believe anyone who promises to provide employment in foreign countries and also not to be provoked and instigated in the name of Islam. The police have also cautioned people against naxal militants exploiting them by sympathising with their socio-economic deprivation.

“Before giving dwellings on rent, all the details of the occupant should be gathered and in the event of any suspicion, it should be immediately reported to the nearest police station”, Dr. Ramachandra Rao appealed to the people.

He also asked the people to inform the police if any one was found talking about Jehad and about socio-economic disparities in a provoking manner or found distributing pamphlets.

If any stranger comes to mosque for namaz or a place of worship for pooja they should be watched thoroughly, he advised.

IG Police of Jharkhand and West Bengal discuss naxal issue

Jamshedpur, Apr 5: In view of the coming elections in West Bengal, a meeting of Inspector General level of Jharkhand and West Bengal was today held here to chalk out a strategy to deal with extremist activities.

The Inspector General of West Bengal, B P Basu and his Jharkhand counterpart D K Pandey were among others who participated in the meeting.

Increasing naxal activities in both states were discussed and an action plan was chalked out to deal with it to ensure peaceful poll in West Bengal, Basu told reporters here.

Though the two states have been working jointly to combat the naxal menace but the meeting was focussed to further improve co-ordination between the officials of the two states.

Apart from exchanging information on the extremist movement and joint combing operation in respective areas particularly in bordering districts to check infiltration, a decision to seal the border before polling was also taken, Basu said.

It was decided to intensify patrolling in the bordering areas and to set up check posts in the sensitive areas to inculcate confidence among the people, he said.

The meeting focussed on improving co-ordination between the officials of the two states, Pandey said.

KPS Gill appointed Security Advisor to Chhattisgarh Government

Raipur: Supercop KPS Gill has been appointed as the Security Advisor to the Chhattisgarh Government to deal with the Naxalite problem in the State.

Gill is likely to charge from April 16.

The Chhattisgarh Government offered an annual contract to Gill, which he has reportedly accepted.

The former Director General of Police is credited for putting down the separatist militancy in Punjab in the 1990s.

The state government is also likely to formulate a new strategy to deal with the Communist Party of India (Maoist) cadres in a bid to curtail their growing activities in Bastar and other areas of the State.

The Naxal activities are prominent in 10 of the 16 districts of the State including the tribal region of Bastar, which borders Andhra Pradesh and the Sarguja region near Jharkhand.

Maoists claim to be fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers.

Naxalite insurance cover for Jharkhand policemen

150 men in uniform have lost their lives

Tapan Chakravorti / Kolkata/ Ranchi April 06, 2006



The Jharkhand government has expanded insurance cover to policemen posted in 16 Naxal-infested districts.

From now the kin of policemen killed in Naxal violence would get a compensation of Rs 25 lakh.

The compensation package would also be applicable to policemen serving in other districts in case of Naxal violence.

Central paramilitary personnel and the homeguards deployed by the state in Naxal-hit districts would also get the benefit of the insurance cover of the same amount.

Jharkhand government has assigned National Insurance Company and Oriental Insurance company for implementing the scheme.

Till date over 150 policemen had been killed in incidents of Naxal violence in Jharkhand.

The state government has also decided to extend the additional financial benefits to the kins of the deceased policemen with retrospective effect.

The state government recently paid Rs 2.5 crore as premium to the insurance companies.

Besides, the compensatory amount the medical and educational expenses of wards of policemen would also be reimbursed under the scheme from the rank of constable to superintendent of police posted in Naxal-hit districts.

According to state home department, the Centre has agreed to reimburse the state government under the Security Related Expenditure Scheme, following its revision last year.

The Centre has increased the rates of reimbursement from 50 per cent to 100 per cent.

In Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh insurance plus reimbursement scheme for policemen were in operation.

Naxal leader surrenders in AP village

Regional

Adilabad, April 6 (UNI): A naxal leader belonging to Adilabad district surrendered before District Superintendent of Police, Kripanand Tripathi Ujela, on Wednesday.

S Yeshwanth Rao told police that he decided to surrender as he was vexed with the Maoist ideology. He also told police that the Maoist party was facing lot of difficulties regarding non-availability of food and shelter, and decreasing support from public.

S Yeshwanth Rao (22) alias Mahesh of Pangidimadaram village of Tiryani mandal, was attracted to naxalism by a CPI(Maoist) party leader, T Motiram, who used to visit his village. He joined the movement in 2004 and was attached to the Mangi Dalam. Recently, he was promoted as Deputy Commander.

S Yeshwanth Rao was involved in various incidents of arsons and blasting of jeeps, autorickshaws and motorcycle. He also killed two persons in Pangidimadarm, branding them as police informers. He killed one Sabitha in 2005, and attempted to murder a home guard in the same year, according to

K'taka: Naxal leader arrested

K'taka: Naxal leader arrested

April 05, 2006 02:24 IST
Last Updated: April 05, 2006 17:05 IST

In a major haul, the anti-Naxal cell of police on Tuesday raided a farm house rented by a naxalite leader in the district and recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition.
The raid, led by District Superintendent of Police Pankaj Kumar Thakur, yielded 10 improvised single shot stenguns, one 0.22 revolver, 26 live cartridges, 17 hand grenades, 13 partially prepared explosives, 1100 electronic detonators and seven special detonators, Inspector General of Police (Eastern Range) F M Pasha told reporters.

Besides these, gas cutters, eight knives, seven swords, a handbook on weapon making, a computer with scanner and one binocular were seized from the farmhouse rented by naxal leader Ranga Reddy of 'Vimukti Dalam', he said.

CPI (ML) literature, flag, letterheads, CD players, CDs and video cassettes were also found at the farm house at Buduguppa on the National Highway.

Terming it a "big haul" and a "landmark recovery in recent times," Pasha said Reddy was involved in 40 criminal cases, including murder, blackmail, explosion and kidnap in Kurnool and Ananthpur districts of Andhra Pradesh.

He said Reddy had taken the farmhouse on rent claiming he was a farmer in Andhra Pradesh.

All police stations in Bellary, Raichur and Koppal districts had been alerted and the police hoped to arrest Reddy soon, he said.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Naxals call for 'chakka jam'

[ Wednesday, April 05, 2006 01:48:28 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]


JEHANABAD: The CPI (Maoist) has called for a "chakka jam" in Jehanabad on Wednesday to protest the recent arrest of its leaders, including the commander of the Magadh zone of the CPI(M), Guddu Sharma alias Arjun, and the Patna rural district area commander, Brinda Singh.

In a press release issued by the secretary of the Banabar area committee of the CPI (Maoist), transporters have been asked to keep their vehicles off the roads on Wednesday, failing which they might be dealt with sternly by the organisation.

"The government will have to pay the price of its misadventure of arresting our revolutionary leaders with the help of informers and subsequently subjecting them to third degree in police custody at an undisclosed place," the release added.

Meanwhile, all the police stations in the twin districts of Jehanabad and Arwal have been put on high alert. Jehanabad SP B S Meena has issued instructions to all the officers-in-charge of different police stations in both the districts, advising utmost caution all the time.

They have been asked to ensure that normal life is not disturbed by the Naxalites' frequent calls for "chakka jam" and bandhs.

EC orders tab on criminals

Statesman News Service
NEW DELHI, April 4. — The Election Commission today discussed the issue of sealing of West Bengal’s inter-state and international borders during the coming Assembly polls to avoid intrusion of anti-social elements.
The EC convened a high-level meeting of the chief election officer of West Bengal along with the chief secretaries and directors-general of police (DGPs) of West Bengal and its neighbouring states, Bihar and Jharkhand.
It has also issued instructions to the home ministry to ask paramilitary forces to step up vigilance and keep a check on criminals along the international border during the poll process in West Bengal.
The meeting started at 3 p.m. and continued for an hour. The main agenda was to discuss assistance from Bihar and Jharkhand to seal the state’s borders prior to all the five phases of assembly elections so as to keep a check on the movement of anti-social elements from intruding into West Bengal.
The Election Commission asked the state chief secretary and DGP to keep a check on naxal-affected areas particularly in view of the recent upsurge of violence in certain states. These areas include West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, which are to go to polls on 17 April.
The EC also took up the issue of execution of non-bailable warrants (NBW) pending against criminals and asked the state government to take all precautionary measures against anti-social elements.
It instructed the West Bengal government to expedite the process of removing all hoardings that boast of the state government’s performance.
A National Democratic Alliance (NDA) delegation comprising BJP and Trinamul Congress leaders today apprised the Election Commission of their “apprehensions” over free and fair conduct of Assembly poll in West Bengal in view of what they alleged was the ruling Left Front’s “plan to rig booths” during the ensuing elections.
The delegation, comprising BJP general secretary and in-charge of West Bengal Mr Arun Jaitley and Trinamul’s Mr Mukul Roy and Mr Dinesh Trivedi, demanded that the state police be kept out of all poll duties inside booths. The EC told NDA leaders that it was aware of the problems.
CD on PM speech: The Assam CEO said the CD containing the Prime Minister’s election speech would be sent to the Election Commission.
Cong praises poll decorum, page 3
Subhas kicks up a row
NEW DELHI, April 4. — The Election Commission today ordered immediate filing of a complaint with police against state transport minister Mr Subhas Chakraborty for allegedly making certain “threatening” statements at a public meeting against government officials on poll duty. The Commission has asked the CEO to file the complaint. The EC also issued a notice to the CPI-M to submit an explanation regarding the statements made by Mr Chakraborty, EC sources said. It also sent a letter to the state chief secretary asking him to urgently look into the matter and take appropriate action and file a compliance report by tomorrow. — PTI

Hostages freed on 'humanitarian' grounds

Bhubaneswar: The two Orissa police officials earlier abducted by Naxals in the state have been freed today.

Television news channel NDTV who earlier managed to meet the hostages in the dense forest bordering Orissa and Andhra Pradesh today reported release of hostages in “safe and sound condition”.

Twenty-seven-year-old sub-inspector Ranjan Mallik and 56-year-old jail superintendent Rabinarayan Sethi said on their release:

“They let us go today at about 3 pm (IST). I can't exactly say why they released me, but I'm very happy”.

“They treated us well and gave us all kinds of amenities,” Mallik added.

Meanwhile, Naxals peeved with State Government's lack of interest in getting the duo released said they have set them free on humanitarian grounds with the state government not even attempting to negotiate.

Earlier, Maoist leader and state secretary of the Naxal group, Sunil alias Sabysachi Panda had made a five point demand in return for the officials release that included withdrawal of central forces and a complete halt to the displacement of people in the name of industrialization.

“If we had abducted the Chief Minister or a District Collector or an influential person, the government would have speedily acted on our demands” Panda had said earlier.

Mallik and Sethi were taken hostage by the rebel Maoist after they carried attack in Ramgiri-Udaygiri in Orissa's Gajapati district on March 24.

Following the TV reports Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had assured of taking efforts to rescue them on April 1.

Security in Jehanabad Tight Following Naxal Threats

Jehanabad: April 4, 2006

The state government, on Tuesday, issued a red alert in Jehanabad district where Naxalites with allegiance to Communist Party of India (Maoist) have threatened to bring the normal functioning of the town to a screeching halt on Wednesday to protest the arrest of their leader and hardcore extremists Guddu Sharma and Vrinda Singh, the police in Patna said.

"Those who defy our orders will be dealt with strictly," the Maoists have announced in their literature widely distributed in the district.

Security has been heightened throughout the district where officials have been ordered to shoot and kill any Naxalite trying to stir up trouble. Patrolling has also been intensified on the railroad tracks in Makhdumpur and other stations to ward off any attempt to blow up lines – the most favorite target of extremist outfits in Bihar.

In a call to a local newspaper in Patna, a spokesperson for the terrorist outfit said that the arrest of Guddu Sharma and Vrinda would have strong retaliatory actions and the state would end up paying heavy price for it.

Senior district officials are monitoring the situation closely.

Meanwhile, the station master of Nadaul railway station Rajesh Kumar, filed an FIR against unidentified extremists for last Sunday night attack on the railway station and said the drama was enacted by the ultras to press for their demand for the release of Sharma and Vrinda.

Andhra sees lull in Naxal activities

TS Sudhir

Tuesday, April 4, 2006 (Hyderabad):


Andhra Pradesh's top cop can afford to sit back and smile, at least for the time being.

In the last few months, there has been a relative lull in the state while the Naxal offensive seems to have shifted to Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand.

"They did not have the wherewithal we had. I do not know if they had a very clear-cut game plan as we had. I do not know how much support they are getting from their government,'' said Swaranjit Sen, DGP, Andhra Pradesh.

Security experts say Andhra Pradesh is more geared up to combat any Naxal threat compared to other states.

Naxal grievances

A case in point is the recent abduction of two policemen in Orissa.

The Andhra Pradesh police reportedly tipped off the Orissa police that there could be some Naxal action because suspicious movement of Naxals across the Andhra-Orissa border had come to notice, but Orissa apparently failed to act on it.

What perhaps also helped the Andhra police is that with former Naxal emissaries Varavara Rao and Kalyan Rao behind bars for the last seven months, the Naxals had no voice in the public domain.

But now that they are out on bail, the duo says they were detained despite the ban on their organisation being lifted.

"It is as if the ban on Virasam continues. For four and a half months, we were kept in illegal custody," said Varavara Rao, former Naxal emissary.

"These people are spinning all sorts of stories to try and psychologically build the determination of their cadre. If they violate the conditions of bail, we may have to take a strict view of it,'' said Swaranjit Sen, DGP, Andhra Pradesh.

The Andhra Pradesh police reportedly got a pat on the back at the recent anti-Naxal strategy meeting in Delhi, but veteran observers say a lull in Naxal territory could only mean a storm is imminent.

India maybe breeding a Naxalite resurgency

CNBC-TV18 spoke to three experts, about the increasing Naxalite problem and possible solutions.
2006-04-03 14:05

Story continues below






In November they stormed Jahanabad. In early March they hijacked the train in Jharkand, and last week they beseeched Udaygiri in Orrisa. Are we in danger of the Naxalite movement slowly but steadily overwhelming the country. What do we need to do to tackle the threat?



Ajit Kumar Doval: Former Director of the Intelligence Bureau



“The Naxalite strategy of increasing power had to come in five stages. The Naxalite threat is very present in all these areas(170 districts in 15 states). Even in those areas where the violence has not been very high, it would be completely wrong for us to say that they are not present there or they are not consolidating themselves.



“In September 2004 the merger of two major naxal groups in the countries came about, this has been brought under a single umbrella. 92% of the left naxal movement which has happened for the first time in the country. After the merger they named themselves as communist party of India Maoist , echoing the Nepalese. That itself established the links between Nepalese Maoists and Indian Naxalites. There are there power players in Nepal. The Monarchy, the Democratic Party, and the left Naxal movement and the left movement are the strongest today.”



Ajaj Shahani: Executive Director of Institute for Conflict Management



“We have been saying that you cannot have development in areas of high-level conflict. You have go to first contain the conflict only then will the funds or the provision of financing and other services actually reach the people.



“If we make a comparison between Kashmir and Naxalite violence over the past three years, it was less than a third in the Maoists areas in 2004. It went up to half in 2005. If one looks at this year, we have 235 fatalities in the first three months in Maoists areas as compared to 185 in Jammu and Kashmir. In Jammu and Kashmir, out of the 185 killed , 123 were terrorists. In the naxalite area out of 256 killed, 80 were Maoists.”



“I think there has been a complete effort to underplay the situation. One is the whole thing about districts. In the past official reports have confirmed the figure of 149 districts in 2005 November. We had the home ministry reports last year that say 76 districts. So they are trying to underplay that. There is another statistics in the home ministries annual report that says there are 9300 armed guards. The Minister of State for home says 7200 armed guards in the last month. They are manufacturing the numbers.”



“I think we have to go beyond the law. We have to go to constitutional amendments. We have to review the whole structure of Law and Order administration in this country. We are now speaking of trying to co-ordinate counter terrorism responses across fourteen-fifteen states. You will remember the absolutely disastrous experiment when they tried to have a joint task force just to chase one Veerappan. You cannot have co-ordination in this country. There are constitutional obstacles to this.”



Ved Marwah: Former Governor Of Jharkhand



“Not only this problem is bigger, it is much more difficult in the sense that both the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir are border states. The rest of the country can look at the problems in these areas in the media and they are really not bothered it. Daily life is not affected. This is a main line problem. Today there is a situation already there that they can stop rail traffic; road traffic and they can do anything in this mainstream area. For example the train from Delhi to Howrah can be stopped.”



"They have the potential to use lethal weapons like they have been used in the North East and Jammu and Kashmir. Their capacities are growing and the polices’ capacity is declining and that is where the danger comes in. The Naxal movement has decided not to use these lethal weapons in the initial stages of their revolutionary movement. Not because they have got shortage of funds. The classical theory is that you should get the people to use these weapons. It is a change in tactics. As far as funds are concerned, they are getting funds in thousands”



“It is not true that the Government is not aware of the extent of the problem. They are very well aware. The Prime Minister is aware, the Home Minister is aware and everybody else is aware. It is the cause today our rulers are so totally preoccupied with electoral politics that they have absolutely no time for problems like Naxalism and for many other security problems.”



“First of all the government’s strategy must recognize the fact that it is a national problem. It is not a state problem. The Center has been saying it again and again that this is Law and Order of the state, which is simply not true. Number two is that we must have specially trained forces in Gorilla tactics. This sending in so many CRPF battalions serves no purpose at all. They haven’t fire fighters they are protecting themselves. Number three there should have special laws to deal with this problem. Number four, they should have equipments and other resources, which these people know and they should have leadership problem. You should have those officers who really can do their job in these places. “

Koppala: Bellary Police Raid Naxal Hide-out

News -- Koppala: Bellary Police Raid Naxal Hide-out - Notorious Ranga Reddy Manages to Escape


Daijiworld Special Correspondent from Bellary (GA)

Koppala, Apr 4: The Bellary police raided a Naxal hide-out at Boodgumpa village in Koppal taluk and seized huge quantity of explosives from the house on Monday April 3 afternoon. But the notorious Naxalite Ranga Reddy, who is said to be living in the house managed to escape from the police.

The police raided the house after receiving a sure tip off that Ranga Reddy had taken a house for rent in the Boodgumpa village last week.

The police seized 10 SLR granites, hand granites, detonators etc from the house. The police also found a computer and counterfeit currency printing machine from the same house.

The police came to know about Ranga Reddy's hide-out while investigating 4 persons with regard to the SK Modi threatening case. However, the Naxalites managed to escape just before the police arrival.

Bellary SP Pankaj Kumar Thakur and Koppal SP A S N Murthy visited the place and took stock of the events.

Police seize explosives in Buduguppa village

Tuesday April 4 2006 11:31 IST

BELLARY: Superintendent of Police Pankaj Kumar Thakur and Koppal Superintendent of Police in a joint raid broke open the locked house in Buduguppa village under Munirabad police limits in Koppal district on Monday evening and seized 10 sten guns, lot of explosives, hand grenades, detonators and arm making equipment with lot of leftist literature.

Speaking to this correspondent from Buduguppa village, Pankaj Kumar said they were watching this house since 1 month.

This was supposed to be the hideout of Ranga Reddy Naxal leader wanted in number of cases including murder and other explosion activities.

Police were expecting arrival of Ranga Reddy to this house since three days.

When he did not turn up, they decided to break open the house.

IGP Eastern Range Pasha is camping in Hospet and is supervising theinvestigation. Search is on for Ranga Reddy

Sunday, April 02, 2006

BJP favours ban on Naxalites in Orissa

Bhubaneswar, April 2 (PTI): The BJP today said it was not in favour of conceding any of the demands put forward by the Maoists to release two police officers abducted by them ten days ago while asserting that Naxalite outfits should be banned by the Orissa government.

"We cannot concede the demands put forward by Naxalites to free two police officers," state BJP president Jual Oram said here. BJP is partner of the ruling coalition led by BJD in state.

Oram said "rescuing the hostages is the prime responsibility of the government. We will support the government in whatever strategy it will decide to adopt to rescue them".

Oram also reiterated the party's demand that all Naxalite outfits should be banned in the state.

On the demand to release all Naxalites in Orissa jails, Oram said, "this is a very vague demand. They don't have any list to substantiate their claim".

In an audacious act, over 400 armed Naxalites had attacked an Orissa State Armed police (OSAP) camp, police station and sub-jail and abducted two officials from Ramgiri Udaygiri town in Gajapati district on March 24 last.

The two officials, Jail Superintendent Rabinarayan Sethi and Officer-in-charge of the police station Ranjan Kumar Mallick had appealed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik through a letter to adopt a lenient view on five demands of naxalites and take steps to release them.

When asked if BJP would adhere to the same "no compromise approach" if a political leader or top official was abducted, Oram said "the party has not taken any decision in this regard. We need to deliberate on this issue more deeply so that we can take a definite stand."

Naxals ask minister to pay Rs 10 lakh ransom

Sunday, April 02, 2006 18:05 IST



RAIPUR: Suspected Maoists have threatened to behead Chhattisgarh Agriculture and Food Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar if he failed to pay Rs 10 lakh to a Naxal organisation, officials said on Sunday.

"We have received a letter at our ministerial residence here, in which the Minister has been asked to pay Rs 10 lakh to the Garhwa Zonal Committee of the Maoists Communist Centre (MCC)," the staff of the Minister said.

"The letter, received last week by post, also said if the Minister fails to pay the amount and dares to visit his constituency in Korba district, he will be beheaded", they said.

Since Kanwar was on tour to his assembly constituency, he could not be cotacted. Confirming the incident, Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam said, he had spoken to the senior Tribal Minister last night and the officials have been asked to look into the threat.

The Director General of Police Om Prakash Rathor said the Inspector General of Police Bilaspur and District Superintendent of Police Korba have already been instructed to probe the matter.

"At this stage it cannot be said without verification if it is a genuine letter from the Maoists or some other elements. That's why the senior police officers have been asked to procure a copy of the letter and look into it", the DGP said.

Naxals threaten to behead Chhattisgarh Minister

[ Sunday, April 02, 2006 02:30:43 pmPTI ]


RSS Feeds| SMS NEWS to 8888 for latest updates

RAIPUR: Suspected Maoists have threatened to behead Chhattisgarh Agriculture and Food Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar if he failed to pay Rs 10 lakh to a naxal organisation, officials said on Sunday.

"We have received a letter at our ministerial residence here, in which the Minister has been asked to pay Rs 10 lakh to the Garhwa Zonal Committee of the Maoists Communist Centre (MCC)," the staff of the Minister said.

"The letter, received last week by post, also said if the Minister fails to pay the amount and dares to visit his constituency in Korba district, he will be beheaded", they said.

Since Kanwar was on tour to his assembly constituency, he could not be cotacted.

Confirming the incident, Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam said, he had spoken to the senior Tribal Minister on Saturday night and the officials have been asked to look into the threat The Director General of Police Om Prakash Rathor said the Inspector General of Police Bilaspur and District Superintendent of Police Korba have already been instructed to probe the matter.

"At this stage it cannot be said without verification if it is a genuine letter from the Maoists or some other elements. That's why the senior police officers have been asked to procure a copy of the letter and look into it", the DGP said.

The security of Kanwar and other Ministers has also been beefed up in the wake of threat on their lives, he said

Centre approved Rs 3470.71 cr for modernisation of CPFs: Report

Shillong, Apr 02: The Centre has approved Rs 3,740.71 crore for modernisation of all the central paramilitary forces in the country, including the Assam Rifles, for a five year period ending 2007, a Union Home Ministry report has said.

Of the amount, Rs 484.75 crore was approved for the Shillong-headquartered Assam Rifles, the oldest among all the central paramilitary forces.

The report said in the first year (2002-03), an amount of Rs 76.36 crore had been approved for the AR. The fund was subsequently raised to Rs 105.77 crore in the fifth year (2006-07).

The ministry's report for 2005-06 said continuous enhancement of the operational efficiency of the central para military forces was the major focus of the modernisation programme of the forces.

To meet the challenges of increased militancy and terrorist activities, a five year perspective plan for modernisation of weapons, machinery, transport, communication, surveillance, night vision and training equipment were formulated, the report said.

The report said in keeping with increasingly important and high risk roles being performed by the central para military forces in maintaining internal security and guarding of the borders of the country, the ministry increased its budget provisions for all the forces.

Accordingly, budget provision for the AR was increased from Rs 711.20 crore in 2002-03 to Rs 915.95 crore in 2005-06 (upto December 31, 2005).

With a view to providing more job opportunities to the youth of border states and militancy-affected areas, the recruitment scheme of constables in central para military forces was also revised.

Under the revised scheme, 60 per cent of vacancies would be allotted among the states/union territories on the basis of population ratio.

Twenty per cent vacancies in the border guarding forces (like AR, BSF, ITBP and SSB) would be allotted to border districts, falling within the responsibility of the force, the report said.

The rest of 20 per cent vacancies in border guarding forces would be allotted to areas affected by militancy like the north east, Jammu and Kashmir and Naxal-infested areas. The districts or areas affected by militancy would be notified by the government from time to time, the report said.

In forces other than BGF, 40 per cent vacancies would be allotted to militancy-affected areas like north eastern states, J&K and Naxal-infested areas which would be notified by the government from time to time.

On the question of raising additional central para military forces, the ministry said it would assess the future requirement of the central para military forces and initiate steps to augment their strength as well as equip the forces with state-of-art technology.

The CPFs were made available to help the state governments maintain public order. These forces were playing a key role in the overall management of internal security situation in the country.

The strength manpower in all the CPFs was 4,28,918 in 1998, including 52,067 in AR. The figure increased to 7,05,469 in 2005, including 65,185 in the AR, the report said.

Bureau Report

Cope with Naxal menace: Naveen

Sunday April 2 2006 09:48 IST

CUTTACK/BHUBANESWAR: The R Udayagiri incident still fresh in memory, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday told policemen that Left extremism has posed a great challenge for the security force.

After taking salute at the 71st Orissa Police Formation Day function, the CM said, development requires a conducive and peaceful environment. Police have a task cut out for them, he felt.

He also paid tribute to the three cops who had paid with their lives in the encounter with the ultras on March 24 at R Udayagiri.

Director-General of Police Suchit Das said the State Police is committed to thwart Naxal menace in the State. Former DG of Police Dilip Kumar Mohapatra and former IG N R Patnaik were honoured.

In the Capital, DIG (Bhubaneswar Range) Y B Khurania took salute at a parade. Khurda SP Amitabh Thakur was also present.

Abducted cops safe in hideout

Sunday April 2 2006 09:39 IST

BHUBANESWAR: The abduction of two police officials from R Udayagiri on March 24 took a fresh turn on Saturday after two TV channels beamed their interviews which were believed to be conducted in Naxal hideouts ‘somewhere on the borders of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.’

Though it caused embarrassment to the State Police, the interview confirmed the fact that the two officials are safe and unharmed as yet which brought cheer to their family members who again appealed to the ultras to release them.

Shot in the dense forests, the two cops – jail superintendent R.N. Sethi and R Udayagiri OIC Ranjan Kumar Mallik – were seen surrounded by gun-totting masked extremists. The hostages spoke to the TV scribes and appealed to the Government to take measures to release them.

“Our family members should not worry as we are looked after and treated well by the Maoists. In fact, the food we are served is better than what we usually have,” the two officials said.

However, Sethi, 56, sounded fatigued as he said it was getting a tad hard for him to walk miles everyday.

The two cops even said though they would not pressurise the Government, they would be happy if the Maoists’ demands were met. Sethi said he cannot ask the Government to accept Naxal’s demand on international issues like Posco but the latter can examine the smaller demands.

One of the extremists, suspected to be Sabyasachi Panda, his back to camera, gave an account of what they looted on that day. He said the attack was intended at snatching arms.

“Had we kidnapped a senior official or a political leader, the Government would have come to the negotiation table by now. But since Sethi and Mallik are junior-level officials, the State Government is biding time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Director-General of Police Suchit Das said he was aware of the media interview of the two abducted cops at the Naxal hide-out.

“The Police are making efforts to release them. We want the two freed unharmed. The sooner, the better,” he told this website’s newspaper.

Declining to disclose the plans, Das said police cannot afford to take steps in a huff as it can jeopardise the lives of the two cops as well as those of the search party.

Dandakaranya’s red carpet

G Manjusainath discovers that Bastar is a far cry from Ram rajya today and indeed has been for many years.



Scenic Bastar is bleeding today. In its worst ever phase, Bastar has slipped into acute anarchy, often being termed as the Naxal heartland.

One can blame the absence of land reforms, lack of development, exploitation and corruption for the present state of Bastar but violence and anarchy were the fate of this tribal dominated area since the Ramayan era.

Bordering with Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa, Bastar region in the southern part of Chhattisgarh has emerged as the headquarters of the Naxalites ever since Andhra Pradesh intensified its operation against the rebels.



However, they are now facing protests from those natives who had once given them shelter. With the anti-Naxal movement, Slawa Judum, initiated by the local administration, now gaining ground in the region, the baffled rebels are not even sparing the poor tribals.

Salwa judum means gather together in local Halbi dialect. Generally this term is used to gather people for some noble cause.

Known as Dandakaranya in Indian mythology, the Bastar region was always fertile for insurgent elements. Covering three districts- Kanker, Bastar and Dantewada - this Dandakaranya zone was the turning point in Ramayana. Plot for the divine objectives of the Hindu Trinity to uproot the rakshasas from this pious land was formulated here only.

Indian mythology says that Lord Rama spent his precious 13 years in this region till the abduction of Goddess Sita.

As noted archaeologist and joint director of the Archaeology and Culture Department of Chhattisgarh, Rahul Singh, puts it, “We worship Lord Rama for he had eliminated the evil forces, who were encouraged by Ravana. Going through the Ramayana one can realise that Dandakaranya was the main area of operation of Ravana and his demon forces.”

“At least Ramayana gives clear indication that Dandakaranya was the breeding place for insurgency and it needed extra attention. We are now facing the results for ignoring the messages from the Ramayana. I can say that Ramayana is still relevant. What we need is a close study of this epic to compare it with present circumstances,” says Girija Shankar Dubey, a scholar.

Scholars say that the evidences of Ramayana era are spread everywhere in this region. A senior photojournalist Vinay S Harma, who travelled extensively in many parts of Bastar says, “I was amazed when I reached Geedam in Dantewada district. I heard an amazing story about this area.”

Cultural hotspots

According to Sharma, local residents claim that Geedam’s old name was Giddham. “It is the place where the vulture named Jatayu had fought with Ravana and laid down his life to save Sita from the demon king.” Sharma adds that there is a place near Kanker where one can find barren land in this densely covered forest. People believe that this place turned barren because of the heat generated from the ‘Pushpak Viman’, or the flying object of Ravana. People claim that at this place Lord Rama had his hut and from here Sita was abducted.

In Dantewada district, two rivers flow from near the Danteshwari temple. Their names are Shankini and Dankini. Underlining the dominion of the rakshasas, the rivers were believed to be named after two demon women Shaakini and Daakini.

Eminent archaeologist Deepak Sharma, who is also an MBBS doctor, claims the existence of Pampa Sarovar of Ramayana era at the border of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh near river Godawari. “Though thousands of years have passed, this water tank is still known as Pampa Sarovar. I have seen that sarovar (reservoir/lake). The water is still very clean and potable.”

Sharma strongly feels that Ramayana is not an imagination of a poet but a reality. “The circumstances of Ramayana era match those of today. At least Ramayana has proved that Dandakaranya was always the breeding ground for insurgency.”

There is no Rama now to bail out Bastar or the erstwhile Dandakaranya from insurgency. But with the salwa judum campaign, there is hope among the tribals to produce a formidable defence against the Naxalites. The fate of this beautiful land now lies at the hands of its own people.

Keeping embers of the revolution alive

The Naxal movement saw the creation of a plethora of poems, songs and street-plays from a very talented pool of youth


The embers of a movement that was as fierce as a devastating forest fire, lie hidden in his near frail appearence as he greets a visitor at his home close to the banks of the Ganga. Remind him of the bloody movement, he spews venom against the Left establishment in West Bengal and the fire is ready to bare its fangs. Accusing the Left of “double standards,” he lashes out at the ruling clique for compromising at various levels with the Congress.

At 52, Amar Bhattacharya who loathes himself to be called an ex-Naxalite - the ideal is still so dear to him - has made himself busy with ‘sundry’ jobs having one connection or other with the failed movement of the 70s.

The memories of bitter days of struggle, tales of alleged facist tortures and sacrifice of young comrades for a cause they espoused, still prod him to “do something.” Bhattacharya has not run short of ideas. He began penning his thoughts in newspapers, even editing a bi-monthly publication, ‘Naya Isthahar’ (New Manifesto).



Through his articles, Bhattacharya mobilised a signature campaign for Black US journalist Munia Abu Zamal who represents the ‘Voice of the Voiceless’ in America and despatched it to the States. Last year, while he busied himself in preparing a documentary, ‘Memories of Springthunder,’ to painstakingly chronicle the years of the famous uprising at Naxalbari, a village in North Bengal, he has now entered the crucial phase of editing the film.

“I have more than 80 hours of footage from which I have to produce barely one or little over an hour’s stuff. I find everything is so important for future generation to preserve,” Bhattacharya says while breathing an asthma inhaler. Three years in jail (1988-December 1990) as a prime suspect for waging war against the state had “gifted” him this disease, he claims. According to him, he will need some critical assistance from filmmaker Goutam Ghosh and some more inputs from Magsaysay award winner Mahashweta Devi, a known sympathiser for the Naxal movement. “The Naxal movement then triggered a spontaneous emotional reaction amongst us; it saw creation of a plethora of poems, songs and street-plays from a very talented pool of youth. Contrast this with the present movement and the difference is so stark and glaring,” observes Bhattacharya.

Prasanta Paul (in Kolkata

Centre to give Rs 250 cr to fight Naxalites

HT Correspondent
New Delhi, March 31, 2006


THE CENTRAL Government has decided to extend the Security Related Expenditure Scheme to give Rs 250 crore for the next five year to nine Naxalite-affected states to modernise the police force to fight the menace of Naxalism, Home Secretary V K Duggal said here today.

Addressing a press conference after chairing the Coordination Centre meeting on Naxalism here, Duggal said these states would receive Rs 50 crore annually to fight Naxalism by modernising police force and other schemes. The states have also been asked to fill up all the vacancies in the police force, he added.

Expressing concern over the rise in civilian casualty due to increased intensity of Naxal attacks, Duggal said the government has decided to use retired defence personnel in training local police force in de-mining the areas in Naxal-affected states. This has been decided in view of the fact that most of the civilian casualties are due to Naxalites exploding IEDs killing innocent civilians, he added.

Though the number of Naxalite attacks have reduced by 18 per cent from 475 last year to 391 in the first quarter of this year, the number of civilian casualty has increased from 114 last year to 157 this year, Duggal said.

He said this increase in casualty was due to maximum number of incidents and civilian casualties happening in Chhattisgarh where as compared to 97 last year, 162 incidents of Naxal violence have occurred this year. The number of civilians killed in the state has risen dramatically from three last year to 105

nd added that the number of security forces killed has also increased in the state from six last year to 27 this year. He attributed this increase in attack and casualties as a retaliation against the peoples voluntary movement Salva Judam peace marches and public meetings organised against the Naxal attacks.

He said the people have decided to fight against the Naxal designs and they are being supported by both the ruling BJP in the state and the Congress.

Describing it as ‘peoples’ uprising against red terrorism, he said this fight between ‘two factions’ would continue and it would be consolidated and not abetted. The government would consolidate the rehabilitation and protection measures so as to reduce the civilian casualties.

Denying that the civilians would be armed by the government or Army would be put in place to help them in their fight against Naxalism, he said that only 3500 Special Police Officers (SPOs) would be trained and provided arms to support the civilian movement.

However, the state government felt that the number of SPOs was inadequate in view of the vast size of Chhattisgarh government.

He laid stress on filling vacant police posts and police modernisation. India Reserve Battalions would be deployed for fighting Naxalism in these states.

Moreover, intelligence sharing between these states is going on right track with Chhattisgarh sharing it with Orissa and Maharashtra.

PM to lead stepped up fight on Maoists

Sunday April 2 2006 00:00 IST

Reuters

NEW DELHI: India pledged on Friday to step up the fight against Maoist rebels after several major attacks, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to chair a high level meeting on the threat in two weeks.

Critics say the Indian government has been slow to wake up to the threat posed by the Maoist or "Naxal" rebels, whose insurgency is killing people almost every day and has spread to huge swathes of the country's rural south, centre and east.

On Friday, Home Secretary V.K. Duggal tried to downplay the threat, but warned against complacency.

"The broad impression is that this violent Naxal movement is by and large under control," he said after a meeting of top officials and police chiefs from 13 affected states.

"But it has the potential to grow unless continuous effective steps, as are enshrined in policy, are not pursued."

On April 13, Singh will step in to chair a quarterly meeting of chief ministers from the 13 affected states, usually presided over by the country's interior minister.

With tensions along the border with Pakistan easing and separatist insurgencies in India's restive northeast "somewhat under control", the prime minister's attention had turned to the Maoist problem, Duggal said. "Obviously it a matter of concern."

Duggal said 157 people had been killed in Maoist-related violence this year, up from 114 in the first quarter of 2005, driven by a jump in civilian deaths in the central state of Chhattisgarh.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) puts the death toll this year at 235 people, describing the conflict as the "the most serious challenge to human rights advocacy in India".

"Reports of violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws both by the security forces and the Naxalites have been pouring in," it said in a report on Thursday.

CIVILIANS IN THE FIRING LINE

Human rights groups have slammed the Maoists for targeting civilians but also criticised the government of Chhattisgarh for putting innocent people in the firing line by backing an anti-Maoist movement among the tribes of its southern forests.

Duggal defended the role of "local resistance groups" but said it would be dangerous to expand them recklessly in areas where security forces cannot protect people.

On Friday, the 13 states were asked to improve ground-level policing and fill tens of thousands of vacancies in police ranks. Officials also discussed how to improve intelligence collection and sharing, and vowed to coordinate their efforts better.

Ironically, some of the worst-affected states like Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkand and Bihar have some of the lowest ratios of police to population or geographical area in India.

The states agreed to speed up development and land reforms in the impoverished rural hinterland where the Maoists thrive. New Delhi also offered them an additional 2.5 billion rupees ($56 million) to beef up security over the next five years.

The insurgency, named after the town of Naxalbari where it emerged in 1967, is thought to affect 165 of the country's 602 administrative districts in a "red corridor" stretching from the southern tip of India all along its eastern half and up to Nepal.

Duggal said the rebels shared some "ideological exchanges" with powerful Maoist guerrillas in Nepal, but were not getting weapons or training from them. Instead, they were getting most of their arms by looting police stations.

Police say there are more than 20,000 armed Maoist rebels in India backed by hundreds of thousands of supporters. Last year hundreds of them took over a town in impoverished Bihar and freed nearly 400 inmates from a jail, including many supporters.

This year they stole 19 tonnes of explosives from a state mining operation in Chhattisgarh, and killed more than 50 people when they set off a landmine under a truck in February.