Saturday, April 15, 2006

Jharkhand police CD 'exposes' Maoist leaders includes Wife Swapping

By Indo Asian News Service



Ranchi, April 15 (IANS) To win the moral battle against the Maoists and regain the faith of the people, the Jharkhand police are distributing a CD that 'exposes' the double standards of the leaders preaching political extremism.


The 30-minute CD released by the state police in April contains footage showing training centres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), confessional statements of arrested Maoist leaders and proof of 'immoral' practices indulged in by the leaders, a senior police official said.

The CD was released by the Director General of Police (DGP) V.D. Ram recently and is being distributed and shown in the several Maoist strongholds in the state.

Of the state's 22 districts, 16 are reeling under Maoist terror.

'The CD carries video footage of how people are recruited forcibly in their organisation and how villagers are forced to join the cadres and help them against the police,' the official told IANS.

'It also has footage of how women who have joined the organisation are exploited by the Maoist leaders who engage in wife swapping,' he said.

'It has confessional statements of some Maoist leaders on how money is misused and swindled by the leaders and how the top leaders are fighting among themselves for supremacy,' he added.

The disc incorporates footage from the CDs seized from the Maoist hideouts.

'We cannot win the war against Maoists unless we expose them in their den with their misdeeds. Maoists claim to be fighting for the cause of the poor but in reality they are looking after their own interest,' said another police official.

'The idea is to win the moral battle against the rebels and regain the faith of the villagers who have turned against the police,' he said.

Copyright Indo-Asian News Service

Naxal bid to extend sway in south cause for concern (The Hindu)

NEW DELHI : Naxal groups have been attempting to increase their activity and influence in some parts of Karnataka, Kerala, Uttaranchal and Tamil Nadu, a concern voiced by the high-level Standing Committee of Chief Ministers of States hit by naxal-violence.

In the first quarter of this year, Chhattisgarh accounted for over 40 per cent of naxal violence and 65 per cent of the casualties - 172 incidents and 137 casualties. The high level of violence there was attributed to action by security forces and the ongoing anti-naxalite campaign "Salva Judum" in Dantewada district.

Thursday’s meeting here, presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also expressed concern that naxalite groups laid greater emphasis on planning on the lines of the military.

Increasing attacks on railway infrastructure and disruption of train services were said to be new trends. Another disturbing aspect, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said, related to simultaneous, multiple attacks, particularly on the police and the security apparatus as was seen in Gajapati in Orissa, Jehanabad in Bihar, Giridih in Jharkhand and in Dantewada district.

Strategic response

The Centre is likely to evolve a strategic and technical response to the naxalites’ increasing resort to improvised explosive devices and landmine blasts for causing heavy casualties. As indicated by the Prime Minister, the affected States will soon launch joint operations. Sources said the police chiefs were asked to evolve a framework of the joint command for operations cutting across State boundaries. The States were asked to reach a broad consensus to constitute three or four joint task forces under a single command and control to intensify intelligence operations.

As many as 25 battalions of Central paramilitary forces were deployed in the affected States on a long-term basis to supplement their efforts at responding to naxal violence and instilling a sense of security. As a special gesture, these forces were given free of cost for three years from July 1, 2004. This exercise involved an expenditure of Rs. 1,100 crore.

Menace in Haryana too

The naxal menace now extends to a dozen States, affecting 509 police stations. For the first time naxal activity has been recorded in two police stations in Haryana. The menace has spread to nearly 40 per cent of the country’s geographical area with the affected population going up to 35 per cent. Areas in many States, which looked too obscure to fall for naxal influence, are today witnessing naxal activity.

Security and intelligence experts point out that naxal groups have been picking the Centre’s interests such as targeting Central forces and an attack to hijack a train in Jharkhand. This is a worrisome scenario.

Regrouping, consolidation

After the CPI(Maoist) came into being in September 2004, naxalite groups are reported to be trying to woo other splinter groups.

They have consolidated their front organisations into a "Revolutionary Democratic Front" to intensify their mass contact programme.

Fresh recruitment of cadres is also reported and the naxalite groups sustain their fraternal and logistics links with Nepalese Maoists, though there are no strategic and operational ties as yet.

It has been noted that development activities are not undertaken in some naxal-affected areas mainly due to extortion and threats from the cadres. Even contractors are not taking up development projects there.

Maoists abduct four, kill one of them in Chhattisgarh

Raipur, April. 15 (PTI): Maoists have abducted four villagers in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district and killed one of them, police sources said today. "Maoists kidnapped four persons of Tekmetla village under Usur police station of Bastar region yesterday accusing them of being involved in Salwa Judum (anti-naxal campaign)," Bijapur police sources told PTI.

The body of one of the abductees was recovered today near the Usur rivulet, they said. "He must have been axed and stabbed to death as there are wound marks on his head and other portions of the body," the sources added.

Friday, April 14, 2006

In India, Maoist Guerrillas Widen 'People's War'

NY Times April 13, 2006



By SOMINI SENGUPTA

BHANUPRATAPUR FOREST RESERVE, India — The gray light of
dawn broke over the bamboo forest as the People's Liberation Guerrilla
Army prepared for a new day.

With transistor radios tucked under their arms, the soldiers listened
to
the morning news and brushed their teeth. A few young recruits busied
themselves making a remote-control detonator for explosives.

The company commander, Gopanna Markam, patiently shaved.

"We have made the people aware of how to change your life through
armed struggle, not the ballot," said Mr. Markam, who is in his
mid-40's,
describing his troops' accomplishments. "This is a people's war, a
protracted people's war."

Mr. Markam's ragtag forces, who hew to Mao's script for a peasant
revolution, fought a seemingly lost cause for so long, they were barely
taken seriously beyond India's desperately wanting forest belt. But not
anymore.

Today the fighting that Mr. Markam has quietly nurtured for 25 years
looks increasingly like a civil war, one claiming more and more lives
and slowing the industrial growth of a country hungry for the coal,
iron
and other riches buried in these isolated realms bypassed by India's
economic boom.

While the far more powerful Maoist insurgency in neighboring Nepal
has received greater attention, the conflict in India, though largely
separate, has gained momentum, too. In the last year, it has cost
nearly
a thousand lives.

Here in central Chhattisgarh State, the deadliest theater of the war,
government-aided village defense forces have lately taken to hunting
Maoists in the forests. Hand in hand with the insurgency, the militias
have dragged the region into ever more deadly conflict.

Villagers, caught in between, have seen their hamlets burned. Nearly
50,000 are now displaced, living in flimsy tent camps, as the
counterinsurgency tries to cleanse the countryside of Maoist support.

The insurgents blow up railway tracks, seize land and chase away
forest guards. They have made it virtually impossible for government
officials, whose presence here in the hinterland is already patchy, to
function. Police posts, government offices and industrial plants are
favored targets. Their ultimate goal is to overthrow the state.

Today the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which exists solely as an
underground armed movement with no political representation, is a
rigidly hierarchical outfit with toeholds in 13 of 28 Indian states. It
stretches from the tip of India through this east-central state to the
northern border with Nepal, where the Maoists have set off full-scale
civil war.

Estimates by Indian intelligence officials and Maoist leaders suggest
that the rebel ranks in India have swelled to 20,000, though the number
is impossible to verify. One senior Indian intelligence official
estimated
that Maoists exert varying degrees of influence over a quarter of
India's
600 districts.

The top government official in one of Chhattisgarh's rural Maoist
strongholds, Dantewada, acknowledged that the rebels had made
some 60 percent of his 6,400-square-mile district a no man's land for
civil servants.

Not that there are many civil servants. His district's police
department
has a vacancy rate hovering around 35 percent; in health care, it is 20
percent.

A Durable Rebel Movement

The Maoist insurgents are also known in India as Naxalites, after
Naxalbari, the town north of Calcutta where an armed Communist
rebellion first erupted 38 years ago. It was quickly put down, then
quietly reappeared.

Local police forces, with their feeble jeeps and outdated guns, have
been largely unable to stanch the rebellion. Nor, students of the
conflict
argue, is that rebellion likely to vanish soon.

Rather, they say, the Maoists may pose at least as great a challenge to
the country's health as the far more talked-about Islamist insurgency
in
disputed Kashmir.

India offers a most fertile ground: a deep sense of neglect in large
swaths of the country and a ballooning youth population, set against
the
backdrop of economic growth rates of up to 8 percent elsewhere.

The Maoists, meanwhile, survive niftily by extorting taxes from anyone
doing business in the forest, from bamboo merchants to road
construction companies.

"It is one of the most sustainable anti-state ideologies and
movements,"
argued Ajai Sahni, a security analyst and executive director of the New
Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management.

"Unless something radical is done in terms of a structural revolution
in
rural areas, you will see a continuous expansion of Maoist
insurrection."

Attacks have become more brazen and better coordinated.

Last June, an apparently synchronized set of nine attacks in Bihar
State
left 21 people dead as Maoists robbed two banks and looted arms from
a police station.

In November, also in Bihar, hundreds of Maoist troops orchestrated a
jailbreak, freeing more than 300 prisoners and executing nine members
of a private militia raised by upper-caste landlords.

In February, here in Chhattisgarh, rebels attacked a warehouse of a
state-owned mining company, killing nine security officials and making
off with 19 tons of explosives.

Later in February they set off a land mine under a convoy of trucks on
a
remote country road, instantly killing seven and then, according to
wire
reports, butchering several others. All told, 28 civilians were killed.

So far this year, the conflict has killed nearly two Indians a day.

The People Fight Back

Chhattisgarh, home to many of India's indigenous people, or adivasis,
is most gripped by the war.

Sitting at the bottom of the Indian heap, the adivasis here make a
living
selling items of value that can be found in the forest: bamboo, leaves
to
make hand-rolled cigarettes, flowers to distill into country liquor.

They also bear some of the country's worst rates of poverty, health and
malnutrition.

But there are riches here, too. Chhattisgarh is negotiating roughly
$1.8
billion in private Indian investment, mostly in mining industries,
which
the insurgents violently oppose. In the heart of the state, in thick
forests
of valuable sal trees and bamboo, terror has now spawned terror. Last
summer, an anti-Maoist village defense movement was born, calling
itself the Salwa Judum, or Peace Mission.

The group has coaxed or hounded thousands of people out of their
forest hamlets and into the squalid tent camps, where suspected
Maoist sympathizers are detained.

The camps are guarded by police officers, paramilitary forces and
squads of local armed youths empowered with the title "special police
officer."

The Delhi-based Asian Center for Human Rights, in a report in March,
found children in the ranks of the Salwa Judum. The center also
accuses the Maoists of recruiting child soldiers. It calls the conflict
"the
most serious challenge to human rights advocacy in India."

Baman, a resident of a village called Kotrapal, who like many adivasis
uses one name, narrated the story of how life had sunk so low.

Last summer the Salwa Judum called a meeting in a neighboring
village, where they threatened to beat Baman and others if they did not
divulge the names of Maoists and their sympathizers. Baman said he
was scared. He named names. He did not care for the Maoists anyway.

Two days later, he was summoned to another meeting, this time by the
Maoists. There, he was beaten. Had he refused to attend, Baman said,
the Maoists would have simply come to his house and thrashed him.
They had already executed a village priest whom they suspected of
being a government informant; Baman said his killers had cut off the
priest's ears and left him along the road.

Last September the Salwa Judum, backed by the local police, swept
through Kotrapal with a clear message: Move to the camps or face the
Salwa Judum's wrath.

"We finished off the village," said Ajay Singh, the Salwa Judum's
leader
in a nearby town, Bhairamgarh. Then he clarified: "People were excited.
Of course they destroyed the houses."

Baman and his clan moved out. Today, Kotrapal, an hour's walk from
the nearest country road, is an eerie shell of a village.

Baman pointed out the charred remains of several homes. One was
burned by Maoists because they suspected the owner to be a police
informant, he said.

Another was burned by the police because they suspected its owner to
be the brother of a Maoist.

The school was shuttered. The community hall's doors lay open to the
wind. The only signs of life were a few women and children, who were
gathering flowers from the forest floor to sell to the country liquor
maker.

Before nightfall, they would all to go back to their tent camps.

Salwa Judum leaders say they have waged their campaign with a
singular goal in mind: to clear the villages, one by one, and break the
Maoists' web of support.

"Unless you cut off the source of disease, the disease will remain," is
how the group's most prominent backer, an influential adivasi
politician
named Mahendra Karma, put it. "The source is the people, the
villagers."

There is little doubt that in carrying out its agenda, the Salwa Judum
enjoys government support.

State governments are "advised to encourage the formation of local
resistance groups," the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs states in its
latest annual report.

The Chhattisgarh government has begun to allocate land and money to
villagers who agree to abandon their forest homes and build new
houses along the road to Bhairamgarh.

It also supports the "special police officers" who work arm in arm with
the Salwa Judum.

So far, 5,000 have been trained, given uniforms and offered what
counts here as a generous salary, about $35 a month.

As it lapses deeper into an undeclared state of emergency,
Chhattisgarh is now poised to enforce a stringent new law that would
allow the local police to detain anyone who belongs to or aids "an
unlawful organization" for up to two or three years, without facing a
court of law.

A Forced Enthusiasm

Mr. Markam and his Maoist forces appear undaunted. They drill in their
forest redoubts. They haul villagers to propaganda meetings. They
build their own weapons, including crude pistols and mortars.

To see them in their jungle camp, sleeping on tarpaulins, armed with
antiquated rifles and pistols, with no real territory under their full
control,
it is difficult to fathom how they have maintained their movement for
so
long, let alone expanded it across such a wide swath of the country.

They sustain themselves on food given by the villagers, plus a share of
the annual rice harvest. To speak to people who live in the area is to
realize quickly that they have little choice but to comply.

As the forest woke up on this recent morning, the rebels prepared for
the next phase of their revolution. Birds began to chatter. A dozen
young people practiced song-and-dance routines for an afternoon rally,
like cheerleaders marooned in the Indian forest.

A boy in a fighter's uniform, who looked no older than 12, horsed
around with a homemade rifle. Mr. Markam said the boy was just
visiting.

By late afternoon, with the rally about to get under way, long rows of
villagers came up the dirt paths, accompanied by armed Maoist cadres.

Under the wide arms of a mango tree, the cheerleaders sang a version
of the "Internationale." They danced with bells around their ankles,
promising "people's rule." They denounced the Salwa Judum, chanting
"Death to Mahendra Karma."

The audience for the most part sat still, some breaking into giggles
only
as the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army began military drills, at one
point charging ahead with weapons pointed as a hapless chicken
scurried across the field.

One man, Maharishi, who was among those who had come on the long
afternoon march, said his village had been informed of the rally the
night before.

Yes, he said, speaking reluctantly to a stranger, everyone from his
village had come. Yes, everyone always comes. "They say you have to
come," he said.

NY Times April 14, 2006

Young Nepalese Lead Their Nation's Push for Democracy

By SOMINI SENGUPTA

KATMANDU, Nepal, April 13 — The Nepalese New Year dawns on
Friday, with Nepal's young lashing furiously at the past.

"We will not ask the king to leave the throne — we will go and take the
throne and put it on display," Gagan Thapa, 29, the political symbol of
young Nepal, told a crowd of thousands on the outskirts of this capital
on Thursday. The vast majority, dressed in baseball caps and jeans
and looking well below the age of 30, roared in approval.

A brassy antimonarchy call-and-response echoed through the warren of
terraced lanes.

"We will burn the crown," Mr. Thapa shouted.

"Burn the crown, burn the crown," the crowd hollered back.

The irrepressible protests that have gripped Nepal in the last several
days, demanding the end of palace rule and the reinstatement of
Parliament, are a function of demography and its discontent.

Young Nepal has been at the forefront of this week's rambunctious,
often violent pro-democracy protests, which have left four people dead.
Whether Nepal descends into further tumult or sees the dawning of a
new political age in the Nepalese calendar year of 2063 will depend on
whether the protesters can be appeased.

With his country's crisis mounting by the day, King Gyanendra seemed
to make the slightest of nods in that direction. In a brief statement
read
on state-owned television shortly before midnight, he called for
general
elections "with the active participation of all political parties
committed
to peace and democracy."

But the king said nothing about when elections would be held or, more
important, whether he would concede to elections to review the
Constitution, something the country's coalition of political parties
and
the Maoist rebels insist on.

Whether the gesture restores peace in the Himalayan kingdom will
depend on the reaction on Friday from the uncompromising throngs of
young people who today represent his most formidable foe.

Nearly 60 percent of Nepal's 23 million citizens are under 24. They
came of age after democracy came to Nepal in April 1990, and they
have tasted the fruits and failures of electoral politics. They have
seen a
Maoist rebellion put much of the countryside through the wringer.

In February 2005, they saw their king suspend Parliament and install
prime ministers of his own choosing in a bid, as he said, to defeat a
bruising Maoist insurgency. For 14 months, they have lived under the
king's direct rule.

Last week, he banned protests here in the capital and for six days
imposed a daytime curfew.

That order has not stopped young people from defiantly pouring out into
the streets. They have been taking the lion's share of police beatings.
On just one day this week, of the 59 people admitted to Katmandu's
main teaching hospital for treatment of their injuries, only 13 were
over
the age of 30.

Consider the verdict of Shashi Sigdel, a 22-year-old medical student on
the shift in attitudes toward the king.

"My grandfather used to think he is a god," Mr. Sigdel said. "My
parents
used to think he stands between God and the devil. Me, I think he's the
devil. That's the generation gap."

On Thursday, the government restored cellphone service, suspended
for nearly a week, and lifted the curfew in the capital. The ban on
protests in Katmandu and several other cities continued — as did the
protests.

The Royal Nepalese Army has been dispatched to some of the
demonstrations. But so far, it has largely refrained from open
confrontation with the demonstrators. Of the four people killed in the
demonstrations, at least two died by army fire.

A protest by the Nepal Bar Association on Thursday morning ended
with the police beating of dozens of demonstrators; nearly 50 landed in
the hospital, including two whose heads had been grazed by rubber
bullets.

In a statement on Thursday, the United Nations Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights hinted that the use of excessive force
by police officers could jeopardize Nepal's participation in United
Nations peacekeeping missions, a good source of income for the
country.

"One would expect them to be respectful of United Nations standards in
their conduct at home," Ian Martin, the High Commissioner's
representative in Nepal, said in an interview Thursday night.

Pro-democracy demonstrations have been commonplace since the
royal takeover of February 2005, but none have been as intense,
sustained or violent as the ones unfolding over the last week. The
Maoists have given their blessings to the protests, having signed a
peace deal of sorts last fall with a coalition of Nepal's seven largest
political parties.

Thousands of Nepalese, including lawyers, journalists and other
professionals with no explicit links to political parties, have been
arrested over the past week. The palace has accused Maoists of
infiltrating the ranks of the protesters.

The young people who have been on the front lines of these protests
are the children of parliamentary politics in Nepal. Democracy brought
more than elections to this Himalayan kingdom. It ushered in new
schools and colleges. Roads were built connecting the countryside to
the capital. A feisty independent press was born.

Many of those who joined this week's demonstrations, if they had even
any memory of the pro-democracy movement of 1990, had never
joined a political protest before.

Ila Sharma, 39, remembered watching her neighbors light torches and
march in the street in the spring of 1990. Last Saturday, she joined a
protest march. The same day, she watched television videotape of the
police beating protesters. She has not been able to stop protesting
since.

Ms. Sharma said she had lost what little faith she once had in the
king.
"We are amply disillusioned," she said.

The young Nepalese are a thorn in not only the king's side, but also
the
sides of the politicians who gave the call for these protests and saw
them spreading well beyond expectations over the course of the last
week.

In interview after interview, protesters said they would not allow
their
politicians to strike any power-sharing deals with the palace.

"These young people are not going to spare us if we go against their
aspirations," Mr. Thapa, who belongs to the Nepalese Congress Party,
said after his speech Thursday afternoon. No sooner had he climbed
down from his stoop, he was buttonholed by his fans.

"Our destination is a republic," said Rajesh Sapkota, 21, a college
student. "You have to convey this message to the leaders. We want to
be clear about democracy."

Mr. Thapa assured the protesters that their wishes would not be
sidelined. "We thought years ago that a republic was unthinkable," he
told them. "Now it's possible."

NY Times April 12, 2006

Injuries Mount as Demonstrators Battle With Police in Nepal

By TILAK P. POKHAREL and SOMINI SENGUPTA

KATMANDU, Nepal, April 11 — For the fifth day in a row, Nepalis on
Tuesday defied a curfew imposed by their king. And for the sixth day in
a row, Nepalis here in the capital defied a ban on political rallies
the
king had imposed. As violent pro-democracy demonstrations mounted,
questions mounted, too, about the very authority of the palace.

Reports of violence poured in as protests organized by Nepal's seven
largest political parties and supported by Maoist rebels continued in a
bid to restore parliamentary rule.

In the Gongobu section of the capital on Tuesday, a crowd of
thousands burned down a police post.

When demonstrators rushed toward a police line, the police charged at
the crowd wielding batons. A journalist on the scene said the police
followed up with non-lethal ammunition, then live rounds. The army
stood guard nearby, but did not fire.

A Nepali Red Cross volunteer at the scene said at least 90 people had
been injured in the clash.

At nearby Vinayak Hospital, a 50-year-old street vendor named Ganesh
Bohara vowed to return to the streets as soon as doctors treated him
for head injuries. "I am ready to die for democracy," he said.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
in Katmandu issued a statement on Tuesday saying it "deplores the
excessive use of force" by the police and soldiers. It said its
monitors
had witnessed police firing rubber bullets at demonstrators and beating
demonstrators on the head with batons, causing head injuries.

"Police have been seen attacking bystanders, charging into houses,
engaging in indiscriminate beatings and causing some gratuitous
damage to property," the statement read.

The statement added that monitors also "witnessed restraint being
exercised by security forces in the face of provocation and violence by
demonstrators."

The police also fired on protesters in the Himalayan resort town of
Pokhara, injuring two, The Associated Press reported. All told, three
people have been killed in the six days of demonstrations.

The government on Tuesday ordered security forces to comb through
private homes and buildings for suspected Maoist rebels that it accuses
of having infiltrated the protests. Earlier this week, the Maoists said
they
would tear down signs and statues representing the monarchy.

King Gyanendra has not been heard from since demonstrations began
last Thursday. He is scheduled to address the nation on Friday, the
start of the Nepali New Year. The king, who assumed the throne after
the killing of his brother in 2001, seized absolute control of Nepal's
government in February 2005, saying the move was necessary to crush
the Maoist insurgency.

The State Department on Monday night described King Gyanendra's
power grab as having "failed in every regard." Some 13,000 people
have died in the Maoist conflict, a majority during the king's tenure.

Tilak P. Pokharel reported from Katmandu for this article, and Somini
Sengupta from New Delhi.

NY Times April 10, 2006

In Nepal, Death Toll Is 3 as Protests Continue

By TILAK P. POKHAREL and SOMINI SENGUPTA

KATMANDU, Nepal, April 9 — The death toll in this weekend's
increasingly violent pro-democracy protests climbed to three late
Sunday as demonstrators defied a curfew and poured out onto the
streets for the fourth day in a row, storming a government hospital,
burning government buildings and defiantly calling for the ouster of
the
king.

A coalition of seven political parties pledged to carry on with its
agitation
"indefinitely."

Nepal's Maoist rebel group said in a statement released late Sunday
that it would try to remove signs and statues representing the monarchy
and threatened to have its guerrilla army try to take over the nation's
highways.

The Maoists endorsed the politicians' call for a four-day strike, which
had been set to end on Sunday, and promised to refrain from violence
in this capital city during those days. The Maoists, who for nearly a
decade had terrorized parliamentary politicians, have lately linked
arms
with Nepal's seven largest political parties in a joint effort to
restore
democratic rule.

King Gyanendra's government imposed curfews on Saturday and
Sunday here in the capital and in several other towns. It has banned
political rallies here in Katmandu and issued shoot-to-kill orders to
its
security forces.

Nepal's home minister, Kamal Thapa, threatened an even stricter
enforcement of curfew on Monday and said guerrillas had infiltrated the
protests as the government had feared. Extending an olive branch in
the same breath, Mr. Thapa offered talks with the political parties if
they
agreed to cut any ties with the rebels.

"As we write this on Sunday noon, public anger is boiling over," wrote
Kunda Dixit, editor of the weekly magazine Nepali Times, on its Web
site. "This is a surprising uprising: even without the parties,
neighborhoods have got together to set up road barricades, stoning
police and pouring out into the streets to defy curfews. Each day that
passes, the pro-democracy chariot is picking up momentum."

As the demonstrations intensified on Sunday, one protester was killed
in Banepa, a town on the eastern outskirts of Katmandu, when the
police fired on a crowd demonstrating against a previous killing.

On Saturday, soldiers posted on the roof of a building in the Himalayan
resort town of Pokhara shot at a crowd of demonstrators, killing one
and wounding at least one other. The Royal Nepalese Army said late
Saturday that its troops fired in self-defense after demonstrators
threw
bricks and stones at troops guarding a telecommunications office. On
Sunday, protesters stormed the main town hospital demanding the
body of the slain protester. Also on Saturday, a woman sitting on her
terrace was shot by soldiers during protests in the southern city of
Narayanghat; she died of her injuries early Sunday.

In a statement issued Sunday, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
vowed to remove all statues of kings that "symbolize the autocratic
feudal regime" and signs that refer to "His Majesty's Government."

The protests this week, marking the 16-year anniversary of democracy
in Nepal, are by far the most strident public demonstrations against
the
king, who seized absolute control of the government 14 months ago on
the grounds that politicians had failed to stanch the debilitating
Maoist
rebellion.

About 13,000 Nepalis have died in the conflict between the rebels and
the government. The conflict also has virtually halted economic growth
in Nepal, much of which already suffers from dire poverty. Economic
growth in 2005 was a paltry 2.5 percent, according to the Asian
Development Bank.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
in Nepal on Sunday expressed its growing concern at the mounting
violence, including "the continued use of what appears to be excessive
force" by security forces. It had already expressed "grave concern"
over
troops firing on the demonstrators in Pokhara on Saturday.

In a Thursday news briefing, a State Department spokesman, Sean
McCormack, called on the Nepalese government to release democracy
advocates. "We're seriously concerned about the government's
ongoing curbs on civil liberties and human rights, which has led to
serious unrest in Nepal," he said.

Here in Katmandu, the crowds on Sunday appeared to be the largest
and most inclined to violence. "Burn the crown," the protesters
chanted.
In small, tight-knit groups, they poured out of the city's narrow
alleys,
shouting slogans and unfurling party flags. Each time, riot police
officers charged at the crowds, whipping batons and firing tear gas and
rubber bullets.

The most able-bodied protesters scattered. Others were captured by
the police, beaten and stuffed inside police vans. Soldiers were posted
at major street corners, along with armored personnel carriers mounted
with machine guns.

The United Nations human rights agency, whose monitors have fanned
out across the country over the last four days, confirmed Sunday that
several demonstrators had been hospitalized with head injuries after
encounters with baton-wielding police officers.

For 15 minutes on Sunday night, the capital was plunged in darkness,
as citizens heeded a call for a "blackout" protest.

"If the movement goes ahead like this, the inevitable will happen very
soon," said Lok Raj Baral, chief of the Nepal Center for Contemporary
Studies, a research organization in Katmandu. "The anger everywhere
is against the king."

Tilak P. Pokharel reported from Katmandu for this article, and Somini
Sengupta from New Delhi.

NAXAL supporters FOIL comment on PM remarks

Neoliberal stooge) Singh warns of Maoist threat to India

FROM
Raja Swamy :raja.swamy@gmail.com

TO
Foil foil-l@insaf.net
FOIL = Federation of Inquilabi Leftists


Perhaps Mr. Singh (who let loose his attack dogs on peaceful
protestors, in much the same way as the tyrant in Kathmandu did this
week) ought to recall Martin Luther King's famous comment wrt the
Vietnam War: "Those who make peaceful reform impossible, will make
violent revolution inevitable." What Singh's comments throws stark
light on is the tendency now by liberals to suddenly claim ownership
of the Nepali revolution - suddenly its become "pro democracy" with
the stated and often unstated intention of maligning the Maoists as
some sort of extraneous, nuisance. Leave aside the fact that it was
the Maoists who made whats unfolding even possible, or the fact that
the Koiralas and others of the ruling class of Nepal tried so hard to
coexist with the monarchy.

The liberal democratic call is favored by not only these forces but
also by the Indian state, the Indian bourgeoisie, and western
governments. They all want the king to go, have elections,
parliaments, bureaucracies under the rubric of a bourgeois democracy.
Unfortunately for these folks, who see nothing but "terrorists" in the
Nepali revolutionaries (or their Indian counterparts), the fact that
something akin to a tectonic shift is underway in the subcontinent is
unimaginable, weaned as they all are in the soothing milk of
privilege. Peasants who have been accustomed to being brutalized,
starved and laughed at have other plans for the subcontinent - and
thats what underlies the hidden fears of those clamoring now (after
all these years!) for "democracy" in Nepal. Those engaging in
maligning the overwhelmingly peasant based revolutionary movement in
Nepal want to keep the peasants in check - they see the inevitable
victorious march of these folks into the city as an end to their own
privilege. We live in "interesting times" indeed! ;)

raja..


Singh warns of Maoist threat to India
By Jo Johnson in New Delhi and Binod Bhattarai in Kathmandu
Published: April 14 2006 18:36 | Last updated: April 14 2006 18:36

Manmohan SinghManmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, on Friday
warned that revolutionary Maoist groups posed the single greatest
threat to India's internal stability and democratic culture.
ADVERTISEMENT

The Maoist insurgency, which has ideological and logistical links to
guerrillas in Nepal, has affected around a quarter of all
administrative districts in the country.

"The challenge of internal security is our biggest national security
challenge," Mr Singh told state chief ministers, who gathered in New
Delhi to discuss the Maoist threat. "There can be no political
compromise with terror. No inch conceded. No compassion shown."

The deteriorating situation in the Hindu kingdom of Nepal, where King
Gyanendra is struggling to resist a Maoist takeover, has served as a
belated wake-up call to New Delhi. State governments in India have
been wrong-footed by the daring tactics and sophisticated weaponry of
Maoist groups, also known as Naxalites.

"We have to take a comprehensive approach in dealing with Naxalism
given the emerging linkages between groups within and outside the
country," Mr Singh said.

India and the US have urged King Gyanendra to abandon his project to
restore royal absolutism, warning it is likely to trigger a Maoist
takeover in Nepal.

In the wake of the recent hijacking of a train by Maoists in the
northern state of Jharkand and the storming of a jail in neighbouring
Bihar, Mr Singh has been criticised for failing to prevent the
collapse of local government and the emergence of alternative
guerilla-run administrations in vast swathes of the country.

Expressing his determination to "wipe out" the Maoist threat to
India's "civilised and democratic way of life", Mr Singh also blamed
"iniquitous socio-political circumstances" in many states for the
spread of the Naxalite movement, which was born in 1967 in the Bengali
town of Naxalbari.

After a week of violent pro-democracy protests in Nepal, King
Gyanendra on Friday promised elections and called on political parties
to engage in dialogue.

However, the opposition parties, which boycotted municipal elections
in February, say any vote held under King Gyanendra's rule would be
neither free nor fair. They are pushing for a new constitution that
would appear likely to leave little or no role for the Himalayan
kingdom's once-revered Hindu monarchy. "The king's call comes a little
too late because the protests have moved beyond that stage," said
Krishna Khanal, a professor of political science at Tribhuwan
University.

The seven parties, who formed an alliance with the Maoists last year
to push for the restoration of democracy, said they would intensify
their protests. "The king's statement is a conspiracy to defuse the
movement rather than respect the wishes of the people," said Krishna
Sitaula, spokesman of the Nepali Congress party.

The week-long general strike and protests saw large numbers of
middle-class professionals swell the ranks of the pro-democracy
movement. Analysts say the broadening of the movement leaves the royal
palace needing to secure a compromise or risk being overthrown. "The
situation is dangerous and fluid, but the government remains in
control," said Shrish Shumsher Rana, information minister.

Defying the government, employees in "essential services" at state
banks, including the central bank, stopped work on Thursday, bringing
banking to a standstill in the districts. Five people have died and
4,000 have been arrested in the protests that began on April 6. More
than 1,000 protesters and party activists remain in detention.

What if Maoists overrun Nepal, asks Nitish

Title: What if Maoists overrun Nepal, asks Nitish
Author: News
PPublication : The Daily Pioneer
Date: April 14, 2006

Pioneer News Service/ New Delhi


Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday asked the Centre to take
a serious view of developments in Nepal while finalising its response
to the growth of Maoist terror in India.

Speaking at the Chief Ministers' standing committee meeting on
Naxalism, Mr Kumar said that the Maoist menace should not be seen as a problem
of individual States but of the whole country. He mentioned the growing
coordination between Indian Maoists and the Maoists of Nepal.

"If the Nepal Maoists succeed there and manage to get a foothold in the
government, it will have a cascading effect on all of us. We must check
the nefarious activities of the Maoist cadres on Indo-Nepal border," Mr
Kumar said.

Polls Under A Maoist Shadow in WEST BENGAL

Polls Under A Maoist Shadow

'Give us five years, we will make sure you spend sleepless nights… Our mass base in Murshidabad, Malda, Burdwan and Nadia is ready. After five years, we will launch our strikes.'


NIHAR NAYAK

Give us five years, we will make sure you spend sleepless nights… Our mass base in Murshidabad, Malda, Burdwan and Nadia is ready. After five years, we will launch our strikes.

‘Comrade Dhruba’, Communist Party of India-Maoist

In what is a clear indication of the gravity of the problem of left-wing extremism in West Bengal, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee announced on March 31, 2006, that he would begin his electoral campaign from the "so-called Maoist Districts." West Bengal is to witness elections in five phases for the 294 Legislative Assembly seats. Polling will be held on April 17, 22, 27, May 3 and 8.

The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) is already active in three of the state’s districts, Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura, of which the first two border the state of Jharkhand. The Maoists, according to official sources, are also currently targeting the Nadia, Bardhaman and Birbhum Districts in their efforts to regain foothold in the state that originally sparked off the red revolution in India.

The 'Naxalites' take their name from the tiny hamlet of Naxalbari in the Darjeeling district where an insurrection commenced in March 1967, to rapidly spread across the state and wreak havoc for almost six years, till it was neutralised in 1973, and eventually wiped out under the Emergency of 1975. Thereafter, West Bengal remained largely free of Left Wing extremism, except for the odd incident of violence and dispersed efforts for subversion.

On January 2, the Chief Minister had particularly identified the Binpur, Bandawan, Ranibandh and Belpahari areas as being affected by the Maoist menace, adding, "(The) Naxalite movement is a major problem in south Bengal (but) we will succeed in suppressing the Naxalites as we could in the seventies." Responding to the Maoist presence in Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore, the Chief Minister reportedly asked the Indian Institute of Technology - Kharagpur to prepare a comprehensive development plan for the area. However, there also appears to be a slight hint of desperation here, as, or instance, in the the Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Biman Bose’s statement in Purulia District on January 10, 2006, when he asked his cadres to take up arms in retaliation to Maoist attacks and ensure that raiding rivals do not ‘go back alive’.

In the months preceding the elections West Bengal and particularly the Purulia, Bankura and Midnapore Districts (polling on April 17), have already witnessed significant violence by the Maoists, with the most prominent incidents including:

March 9, 2006: Two CPI-M members were killed by the Maoists in the Dangardihi area of Midnapore district. Another person was injured in the attack.

March 5, 2006: Suspected Maoists herded out nine CPI-M activists to a field in the Midnapore District and shot dead the group leader, Kartik Sinha, while releasing the others.

March 4, 2006: One policeman was killed and another injured in a Maoist attack on National Highway 34 at Chakulia in North Dinajpur.

February 26, 2006: Cadres of the CPI-Maoist detonated a landmine blowing up a police vehicle that killed four persons, including two police personnel, at Hatidoba in the Midnapore District. Six persons were injured in the incident.

February 13, 2006: CPI-Maoist cadres loot Rupees 160,000 from the United Bank of India's branch at Sarenga in the Bankura district. A police team pursued the Maoists into a forest and following an encounter one Maoist was arrested along with some arms and ammunition.

December 31, 2005: Approximately 100 Maoists stormed the residence of 55-year-old Rabindranath Kar, CPI-M leader from Bhamragarh in the Purulia district, and killed him and his wife after snatching the weapons of his security escorts.

A total of 19 CPI-M activists and 20 security force personnel have been killed by the Maoists over the last two years. Unsurprisingly, the Maoists are opposed to the elections and have issued a edict to boycott the polls, with the warning: ‘If you defy the diktat, you die’. The Maoists have called for a poll boycott in the three affected districts purportedly as a mark of protest against ‘lack of development and police highhandedness’. Their posters ask the people to refrain from voting as the "pseudo Marxist government has not done anything for you except begging for votes... rather they have prepared the blueprint of police brutalities."

The impact is already visible. Since January 1, 2006, eight persons – six CPI-M and two Jharkhand Party activists – have been killed and the police apprehend more violence. ‘Somen’, the CPI-Maoist ‘state secretary’, declared on April 5, 2006, "It hardly matters which party gains out of this – CPM or Jharkhand Party. This is part of our campaign strategy and we will enforce this call in our base areas in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia." Responding to a query on who are the targets, he unambiguously stated: "The political leaders, who have been hand-in-glove with the administration to unleash repression."

Significantly, electoral campaigning has been on a low key in many villages in Purulia as a result of the Maoist threat, as candidates for the April 17 polls in the District drew up their campaign itinerary carefully avoiding the CPI-Maoist strongholds. Some leaders of the ruling CPI-M in the two other ‘base’ districts – Bankura and Midnapore – have reportedly refused Police escort, apprehending that the Maoists could target them more easily if they took Police assistance.

The fear also extends to the police, and senior police officials in the three Districts have received over 250 applications for transfer to ‘safer’ areas, fearing Maoist attacks. There are also reports of Maoists from Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand infiltrating into West Bengal to disrupt the elections. The role of cadres from Andhra Pradesh was underlined by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who has been insisting on de-linking the old and new Maoist movement in the State, describing the present genre of Maoists as "exports from Andhra and Jharkhand."

According to the state’s Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia, the Police have identified 13 ‘sensitive’ police stations in the three Districts. Special security arrangements were ordered for Belpahari, Salboni and Bagmundi Police Stations in West Midnapore; Bandwan, Jhalda, Jajpur and Manbazar Police Stations in Purulia; and Salimpur, Sarenga and Simlipal Police Stations in Bankura. About 90 percent of the booths in the three Maoist-affected districts were said to be ‘sensitive’. While some 300 companies of paramilitary forces were deployed in the whole of West Bengal during the 2001 Assembly elections, this time around nearly 600 companies of paramilitary forces would be deployed in 7,479 polling stations across these three Districts alone.

Maoists have been making inroads into the tribal hinterland of south Bengal since the late 1990s. According to the Maoist blueprint, these arid and backward tracts, covered with hills and forests, are to be targeted vigorously to eventually become ‘liberated zones’, a strategy that the outfit is following in similar terrain in other Maoist-affected States. To this end, the CPI-Maoist has consistently sought to highlight the plight of tribals, a majority of whom are below the poverty line and without access to basic amenities.

The Census 2001 indicated that basic amenities such as safe drinking water, sanitation and electricity are yet to reach most tribal homes in West Bengal. Scheduled Tribes constitute 6.37 per cent of the State’s total population and the tribal concentration in the Southern Districts is the largest in Purulia — 18.98 per cent, followed by Bankura, 10.43 per cent, and Midnapore, 8.4 per cent. Similarly, electricity has reached only 19.03 per cent of tribal homes as against 37.45 per cent of the total State population. In all three districts, 93-96 per cent of tribal families are dependent on kerosene for light. These districts are relatively backward with 4.47 per cent of the people in Purulia still fetching drinking water from rivers and canals. Many villages in the forests are still inaccessible, with health centres located far off.

That these districts are crucial for the Maoists is also visible in the fact that they are using the corridor of Bandwan, Ranibandh in Bankura district and Belpahari in the Midnapore district to facilitate operations between Jharkhand and West Bengal. Further, Nepalese Maoists use the Bihar-Nepal border to enter West Bengal to secure a safe haven. The Maoists have also augmented their weaponry to further their goal of reclaiming their lost stronghold in the State. A 2006-study carried out by A.K. Maliwal, Chief Security Officer to the Chief Minister, indicates that the Maoists, who earlier used lower-end command wire-based explosive devices, are of late using sophisticated bombs, including vehicle-borne and remote-controlled improvised explosive devices, to substantially increase their impact. The study also notes a shift from home-made to factory-produced explosives and the use of target-activated bombs, as well as a resort to triggering parallel and simultaneous explosions. Meanwhile, the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau has cautioned the government about changes in the Maoists’ modus operandi, with a shift from conventional ambushes and landmines, and an increasing potential of tactics such as hijacking, which could prove more useful at a time of heightened security. The report also noted that the Maoists may also attempt to blow up radio and telephone towers.

West Bengal has been ruled by the mainstream Left Front since 1977, and has been largely successful in combating Left Wing extremism through a judicious mixture of political and security measures. But with the dangerous expansion of Maoist influence and activities in the neighbouring states, the future for West Bengal is becoming increasingly uncertain as well.

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

A powerful voice against emergency, Eachara dies at 86

From our correspondent

14 April 2006


TRIVANDRUM — Eachara Warrier, the most powerful voice against the Emergency in India, died in a private hospital at Trichur yesterday. He was 86 and is survived by two daughters.

Warrier, who became a dominant figure in human rights circles after his son Rajan died in police custody during the Emergency period, had been suffering from various ailments for quite some time and was hospitalised with severe breathing troubles a few days back, according to his family sources.

The legal battle he launched after his son was whisked away from the Regional Engineering College at Calicut had led to the resignation of K. Karunakaran as chief minister in 1977. Karunakaran was forced to quit within a month after assuming office following High Court strictures.

Rajan was picked up by police from the REC hostel alleging Naxalite connection. He was taken to the police camp at Kakkayam, from where he never returned. Karunakaran was the home minister under the Achuta Menon government then.

Rajan’s death was confirmed after Warrier filed a habeus corpus petition. However, they did not give where they had disposed off his body. The accused persons in the case, including some top police officials, were acquitted after prolonged legal battle.

A book — Memoirs of a father — Warrier had written about touching experiences he had with his son and his death at the prime age had become popular. A Hindi teacher and social activist, he had taught in several colleges.

Several human rights activists and social and cultural leaders have condoled Warrier’s death.

Treat Naxalism social problem, Rights activists to govt

IS THERE ANYTHING MORE BULLSHIT THAN THIS RIGHST GROUPS WHO SYMPATHISES WITH NAXALITES AND LOOK OTHER WAY WHEN THEY KILL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS WITH AK Rifiles and BOMB BLASTS ???

New Delhi, Apr 13: Terming the government-sponsored anti-naxal movement in Chhattisgarh 'Salwa Judum' a "dangerous" movement, human rights activists today asked the government to facilitate a "sincere" dialogue with Maoists instead of creating armed village defence committees.

They also asked the government to treat naxalite issue as a "law and order problem instead of a social one." The activists were part of a 14-member fact finding team from five NGOs -- People's Union for Democratic Rights, People's Union for Civil Liberties (Chhattisgarh), People's Union for Civil liberties (Jharkhand), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights and Indian Association of People's Lawyers -- who visited Chhattisgarh between 28 November and December 1, 2005 to investigate the violation of human rights during the Salwa Judum campaign.

"Treat naxal movement as a social problem and don't send in the para-military," said Gutam Navlakha, one of the members of the fact-finding team, adding that "Salwa Judum is an atrocious movement which is aimed at uprooting the Adivasis from their native village." The activists say that thousands have been displaced because of Salwa Judum as villagers are asked to join their ranks or face the consequences.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

PM moots unified command to fight Maoists

By Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday met with chief ministers of six states - severely hit by Maoist violence - in a bid to frame a common strategy and unified command to halt the guerrillas' growing strength.



During a two-hour meeting at his official residence here, the prime minister underlined the need for greater inter-state coordination and joint command for the badly affected core areas.

Manmohan Singh offered the centre's help in fighting the menace and said it should also be tackled politically, with collective use of intelligence on the strength, weapons, membership, locations and the links of the guerrillas.

Chief ministers Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy of Andhra Pradesh, Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh, Arjun Munda of Jharkhand, Vilasrao Deshmukh of Maharashtra, Naveen Patnaik of Orissa and Nitish Kumar of Bihar attended the high-powered meeting.

The meeting came in the wake of increasing Maoist audacity and virtual collapse of government in some areas, exemplified by the daring attack on a prison complex in Jehanabad in Bihar and the hijacking of a train in Jharkhand.

Guerrilla attacks in Orissa and Chhattisgarh in recent months have only exposed the states' failure to come up with a concrete and effective counter-strategy.

The killing of around 30 tribals in Chhattisgarh and abduction of police officials and factory workers in Orissa's Gajapati district have caused concern, with officials here admitting that Maoist violence threatened rural stability.

The prime minister emphasised strengthening of the local police by equipping them with modern weapons and suggested the setting up of dedicated 'anti-naxal' wings.

He expressed serious concern over the growing military might of Maoists - their use of better equipment, trained persons, large scale assaults, good coordination and alleged external links.

Referring to the need to address the 'deprivation syndrome', Manmohan Singh also stressed on proper implementation of schemes such as those guaranteeing rural employment, with better utilisation, monitoring and plugging of leakages.

He referred to the need for waiving debts by moneylenders, compounding of petty forest offences, coverage for every poor family in the affected districts under various schemes and better relief and rehabilitation to those displaced.

The Maoist insurgency in India began in 1967 in West Bengal and soon spread to several states. Today it affects about a dozen of the country's 28 states, with New Delhi's fire now directed against the Communist Party of India-Maoist.

Central security agencies point to weaknesses in Orissa's policy in dealing with leftwing extremism - and indeed failures across the country.

While the number of attacks by Maoists all over the country fell by 18 percent in the first quarter of 2006 to 391 from 475 in the corresponding period of 2005, the number of deaths increased by 38 percent to 157 from 114.

Copyright Indo-Asian News Service

GREATER COORDINATION, DEDICATED ANTI-NAXAL WINGS STRESSED

GREATER COORDINATION, DEDICATED ANTI-NAXAL WINGS STRESSED

PM HOLDS DISCUSSIONS WITH CMS OF STATES AFFECTED BY NAXALISM
16:27 IST
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh met Chief Ministers of six States which were severely affected by Naxalism this morning at his residence, prior to the Standing Committee meeting.

At an intense interaction lasting over two hours, the Prime Minister underlined the need for greater inter-state coordination and joint/unified command for badly affected core areas. Offering Centre’s help, Dr. Singh stressed the need to fight naxalism politically and urged the States to show will power. The Prime Minister also highlighted the need for improving collection and use of intelligence on strength, weapons, membership, locations and links of naxal groups. He also underlined the need to strengthen the local police, equip them and train them. He suggested the setting up of dedicated anti-naxal wings under capable officers on the pattern of Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh.

Referring to the need to address deprivation syndrome, the Prime Minister emphasised proper implementation of targeted schemes like Rural Employment Guarantee etc., better utilization, monitoring, no leakages, waiver of debts by money lenders, compounding/closure of petty forest offences, cover every poor family in core affected districts under a scheme, price/procurement support and better relief & rehabilitation to those displaced.

Turning to the changing trends in the naxal movement, the Prime Minister expressed serious concern over growing militarisation, use of better trained/armed persons, large scale assaults, good coordination and alleged external links.

The Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and Bihar participated in the meeting. The Union Home Minister and Home Secretary also participated in the discussions.

****

YSR/DS/LV