Friday, May 12, 2006

Kidnapped BJP worker released by Naxalites after paying ranson

Tumkur landlord freed by abductors
Friday May 12 2006 13:51 IST

TUMKUR: The four-day kidnap drama of Pavagada landlord ended happily.

The abductors released Srirama Reddy, a BJP worker of B.K. Halli village, at midnight on Tuesday. He was freed at Kambadur on the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border, sources said. Though fine, he was treated at a hospital in Bangalore for skin allergy contracted in captivity, the family said.

He has been resting at his elder brother Lakshmana Reddy’s house in Bangalore. He was kidnapped on Friday night. The abductors had kept him in several hideouts on the State border. They had demanded a ransom of Rs 5 lakh for his release which was negotiated and brought down to Rs 1.5 lakh.

The abductors were allegedly members of the ‘Suryasena’ group. The outfit is led by former Naxalite Banakota Krishna alias Kista. The 20-member gang is named after Kista’s boss Suryanarayana Reddy, currently in an AP jail in connection with the assassination of TDP MLA Paritala Ravi last year.

The outfit had been collecting money for some months by threatening wealthy people of Pavagada and Penukonda taluks, sources said.

Reddy’s family have thanked the police for carefully handling the issue. The family denied paying any ransom.

Expensive Elections

The Assembly polls for 824 seats in four States and a Union Territory turned out to be a very expensive affair, literally. They are estimated to have cost the nation a whopping Rs.2,000 crore. Political insiders have also estimated that an average of Rs. 2 crore was spent in each constituency. Calculated on this basis, the amount which the mainstream political parties spent on these elections crossed Rs.2,000 crore. The poll expenses in West Bengal and Pondicherry were comparatively less than what was spent in Tamil Nadu, Assam and Kerala. Significantly, 90 per cent of the estimated expenditure has been spent by the candidates of two or three major political parties. According to the Election Commission norms, maximum poll expenses per candidate for the bigger States is Rs.10 lakh and for UTs like Pondicherry Rs.5 lakh.

Mulayam another "Vikas Purush"

UP's Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has fired his first salvo for the State Assembly poll about eight months away. He has embarked on a publicity blitzkrieg: full-page advertisements in leading newspapers, projecting him as a "Vikas Purush" and his Government as the champion of development. This is very much like what the Vajpayee Government did for itself prior to the Lok Sabha poll in 2004. Mulayam Singh has pledged in these advertisements to make Uttar Pradesh an "Uttam Pradesh", a "model State" to win friends and influence public opinion. Attention is particularly focused on his Government's approval for 7,000 MW of power projects in the next six years, electrification of about 6,000 villages and improvements in such areas as agriculture, infrastructure, drinking water, health and education.

Crackdown on Naxals

Now that the State elections are over, the Union Government has finalized re-deployment of Central para-military forces tied up with the polling exercise. All the 772 Companies of the Central para-military forces spared for the poll duty are being moved to Chhattisgarh, to enable intensified counter-offensive against the Naxalites who have made the new State their latest target. The plan is to undertake a joint offensive by the Central forces and the State police, using helicopters to para-drop the personnel into the heavily forested Naxal hideouts. The Union Home Ministry has also decided to set up a dedicated anti-Naxal cell to coordinate intelligence, development outreaches and implementation of policies to check the rising Naxal menace, which has now enveloped 15 States.

Telangana remains elusive

Statehood for Telangana remains elusive as ever. Clearly, the Congress, which leads the UPA Government at the Centre and rules Andhra Pradesh, is in no hurry to oblige the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). Nor does it seem to be keen to expedite the Pranab Mukherjee Committee report on the Statehood demand, notwithstanding frequent deadlines set by the TRS and its chief, Chandrasekhar Rao, now the Union Labour Minister. Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy too is evidently opposed to the creation of Telangana. He maintains that the demand for a separate State was the result of the neglect by the earlier Governments. But now that his Government has launched several development programmes for the backward region, there is no need for a separate Telangana.

Andolan agaisnt Supreme Court

The Narmada Bachao Andolan, led by Medha Patkar and supported by several NGOs and celebrities, is getting curiouser and curiouser. It has now turned its agitation against the Supreme Court's order last week, allowing continuation of the construction of the Sardar Sarovar project across the river Narmada in Gujarat. Patkar organized a sit-in outside the Court, describing the order as "injustice" to the people displaced due to the dam - and subsequently by raising of its height. Patkar has vowed afresh to continue her agitation. She now accuses the Centre of making a "mockery" of the rehabilitation of the project-affected families.

-INFA

UP failed to modernise police force

Umesh Raghuvanshi
Lucknow, May 12



THE COMPTROLLER and Auditor General (CAG) has taken a strong exception to slackness in implementing ‘Modernisation of Police Force’ scheme, leaving zero impact on performance of the force in Uttar Pradesh. There has been no improvement in response time.

As per the scheme, 14,666 outdated weapons, including .303 bore rifles and .410 muskets were to be replaced by modern weapons, including 7.62 SLR/ 5.56 INSAS rifles. Besides, AK-47 rifles were to be provided to the police in high security risk areas like security of VIPs, STF and the Naxal prone areas in 2000-2005.

As police failed to replace 9,768 outdated weapons and acquired 1,500 AK-47 against approval for 9,046 AK-47s, about 80 per cent outdated weapons were still in use, observed the CAG in its report submitted in the Vidhan Sabha here today.

The CAG said the department not only failed to augment its training infrastructure but also did not utilise existing capacity of the training courses.

Enough number of trainees were not arriving at the training centres due to various elections, said the CAG.

The CAG observed that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs approved installation of dial 100 and voice logging system in City Control Rooms (CCRs) in 26 districts in 2000-2002 at a cost of Rs 12.53 crore to reduce the response time. The State government, however, sanctioned installation of dial 100 and voice logging system only in 10 districts and funds meant for the purpose were diverted to other heads, said the CAG adding the CCRs remained ill equipped as Maruti Chetak, troop carriers, motor cycles and dragon lights were not available in many districts.

The Centre had introduced the ‘Modernisation of Police Force’ scheme in 1969 for augmenting housing facilities for police personnel, increasing mobility, equipping with modern arms, strengthening control rooms and highway patrolling to meet the threat of internal security effectively.

Fake-Naxal gang held

Friday May 12 2006 10:29 IST

MAHABUBNAGAR: The district police arrested a fake-Naxalite gang on Thursday. Two toy pistols, two cell phones, one Indica car, some gold ornaments and Rs 3.67 lakh cash were recovered from the members.

Additional Superintendent of Police Satyanarayana said the thirteen-member gang was headed by Peddaraju Srinivas (26), a native of Panjugula village in Kalwakurthy mandal.

Police held nine members and the remaining are absconding.

The ASP said the cell phones used by the members of the gang had been instrumental in nabbing them. The gang was involved in committing five offences since Dec 2005.

All the gangsters hail from villages located in Naxalite-infested areas in the district, he added.

Security in Nalanda Tight in the Wake of Naxal Threat

Patna: May 12, 2006

Following threats to blow up a number of police stations from the Maoist terrorists, the district administration has heightened security in and around Nalanda district, Superintendent of Police (SP) Amit Kumar said on Thursday.

The Naxalites had, on Wednesday, issued a threat to blow up police stations in Islampur, Karaiparsarai, Hilsa, and Islampur in Nalanda district prompting the Nitish government to act swiftly and dispatch the required reinforcement to tackle any situation.

In the last few months, despite Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's attempt to win over the Naxal extremists in the state by offering them attractive rehabilitative incentives, the ultras, instead have intensified their violent activities in Patna, Gaya, Aurangabad, Nawada, and Jehanabad districts.

With the onslaught on Jehanabad jail last November, the government is leaving nothing to chance in the wake of the latest Naxal threat.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Communism Watch: INSAF' link to terrorism

Communism Watch: INSAF' link to terrorism

India steps up drive against Maoists

By David Loyn
BBC News


Around 50,000 people have now been moved from their homes in India as part of a new government campaign against a Maoist insurgency.

The Maoist insurgency has continued for more than 20 years
The removals, in the new state of Chhattisgarh, have been conducted as part of what is called the Salva Judum - literally "purification hunt" in the local language.

The policy was begun by the leader of the Congress opposition in the State Assembly, Mahendra Karma. "Terrorists and so-called revolutionary groups can only be countered by a peace movement like ours," he said.

But many of those resettled have said that this was not a peace movement at all. They say they were forced to leave their homes. Some even claim that those too old or too frail to move were shot dead by government forces and their houses burnt down behind them.

No-go zones

India has been facing an insurgency by these rebels, called "Naxalites" here, for more than 20 years. But it is only in the last year that this has become the country's most pressing security concern, and certainly the one with the highest death toll.



The Naxalites have close links with the Maoists who now control most of Nepal, and they believe that a revolution in India is a historic inevitability.

Their heartland is the remote forest areas bordering West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Maddhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Across large parts of this region, they have established virtual no-go zones, which government forces cannot enter unless invited by the Naxalites.

The support of the poorest is demanded by the Naxalites, who work to keep it by insisting on better prices for forest products, like the large leaves from the tendu tree, which are sold to make the outer binding of bidi cigarettes.

Teachers and health staff are forced to come and work in remote locations by the guerrillas who insist on education and training for themselves and the villages under their "protection".

Village protection

When I travelled in the region under Naxalite control two years ago, I saw how they could move easily, living off villages where they stay, and providing them with protection in return.


The rebels shelter in remote forest areas

I witnessed a rally of several thousand people who they invited to a jungle clearing. The dancing went on all night, around hundreds of camp fires made of teak branches they cut down from the forest.

This was a major display, both of the Naxalites' ability to mobilise supporters, and the relative safety with which they operate. When I asked people whether they supported the Naxalites or the government, they said simply: "We see these people, but we don't see the government."

But on the fringes of the "no-go zone", I met landowners' families, terrorised out of their homes and deprived of their lands.

Several hundred members of the security forces have been killed, and this year the Naxalites have become even more daring, seizing police posts overnight and robbing weapons, holding a train hostage, and recently seizing 20 tonnes of high explosive from a mining concern.

This was not a situation that could be allowed to continue. But the response of the state, arming anti-Naxalite vigilantes and moving people from their homes, has raised serious human rights concerns.

Camps

The rural areas of Chhattisgarh are becoming militarised zones. The Border Roads Organisation - set up to manage India's frontier areas - is now pushing through new roads, giving the security forces access to areas which up to now have been controlled by the Naxalites.


Nearly 50,000 people are living in government-run camps

Those removed from their homes now live in squalid camps dotted along the sides of these roads. Many claim that promised aid has not arrived, and they have few opportunities to earn a living. They have lost their cattle and their land, so they have not been able to plant crops to support themselves.

Other than working as day-labourers, they can only harvest the fruits of the forest, such as Marhua, the blossoms of trees that flower at this time of year, which are distilled to make an alcoholic drink.

One of the camps has been put up in a former construction yard. I saw stagnant water where mosquitoes are breeding, and children playing close to toxic waste from tar barrels, leaching out in the high heat of the summer.

Many people lie listlessly in these camps, unable to comprehend the loss of their ancestral lands, although some are now beginning to build houses along the roadside, as instructed by the government.

A social worker Himanshu Kumar, who has worked in the area for many years, says that half of the villages in his area have been cleared. He says people are scared. "The people used to live very freely. Now they are living like cattle in these camps. They are driven by the forces," he said. "It's really very pathetic.'

Policing

We walked for several kilometres into the jungle to the village of Kotra Pal. More than 20 houses were burnt to the ground here. Some of the men have begun to return during the day, although they fear staying here at night, in case the Naxalites think that they are government supporters.


India is changing its policing of the rebel areas

One of the consequences of the new government policy has been to force people to take sides. The paramilitary police who moved the people of Kotra Pal from their homes believed that they were harbouring Naxalites, but now the villagers fear that they would be seen as government supporters since they live in the camps by the new road.

I met a woman who still carries a bullet lodged in her stomach since the night of the attack by government forces last summer, and a man told me that his father and two uncles were shot dead since they could not move out fast enough. In scenes reminiscent of Darfur, I saw several burnt houses, and the villagers said that more than 20 had been burnt in all.

In a camp by the new road, one of the Salva Judum vigilantes told me that he had been part of the attack. "We went there with the police and destroyed all their houses," he said.

The Salva Judum is now under review by the government, while a far more specialised police force is being trained. Brigadier BK Ponwar, a veteran counter-insurgency expert, has moved his Jungle Warfare Training College from the northeast state of Mizoram to train Chhattisgarh's police.

The police, including women officers, go through intensive combat training, sleeping under canvas, and learning to eat forest fruits and even snakes to survive. At the climax of their course they carry out shooting exercises firing live rounds at targets placed close by each other, an exercise designed to build confidence under fire.

Brig Ponwar, a flamboyant character, rides around the area he has carved from the jungle on horseback, leading from the front.

"The police have to change from conventional policing to unconventional policing, get out of police station into the jungle, fight a guerrilla like a guerrilla," he said. "The time has come to go into combat.'

Communist Double-Standard

By Balbir K. Punj



We are witnessing a strange situation. West Bengal Left Front Chairman Biman Bose, in a press conference in Kolkata’s Press Club, on April 18 last, accused that “opposition parties like Trinamool Congress, Congress and BJP have a nexus with Maoists of Midnapore, Bankura and Kamtapuris in Coochbihar”.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydes of India

The Marxists of India are running with the hare, and hunting with the hounds. At a time the Maoist guerillas are wreaking havoc across central India, a CPI leader, Atul Kumar Anjaan, advises government of India to release 60-70 Nepali Maoists leaders lodged in Indian jails. Sitaram Yechuri, who attended the opening session of the Nepali Mahapanchayat, has also said that the CPI (M) would pressurise the Indian government to release the Nepali Maoists languishing in jails of India. The idea is a brainchild of Baburam Bhattarai, who heads the International Department of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, and offered to hold talks with the Nepalese government, provided it agreed on a new constitution, lifted terrorist tag on Maoists, and freed Maoist leaders in India and Nepal.

Mr. Anjaan has gone one step forward in saying that this would ‘cement the ties between India and Nepal’. What the CPI leader actually meant was that it would ‘cement the ties between the Maoists of India and Nepal’. This would certainly bring them closer to overthrowing ‘reactionary regimes in Kathmandu and New Delhi’ and establish ‘revolutionary dictatorship’ as they dream to do. In 1960s, Naxalites had given the slogan ‘China’s Chairman Mao is our Chairman’. After the departure of the British, in 1949, the Communists had declared an armed war to overthrow the ‘bourgeois regime’ in India.

It is worst kept secret that Maoists of Nepal and India act in tandem. India has a highly porous border with Nepal in Bihar, which is freely exploited by Maoists. Bihar has eight districts and 54 police stations situated on the border. In recent years Bihar police has arrested a number of Nepali Maoist leaders in East and West Champaran, Sitamarhi, Seohar, and Mudhubani. Bihar’s law and order situation was in a complete mess under Lalu Prasad Yadav. Nepali Maoists, taking advantage of the situation, had set up several bases in frontier districts of Bihar. Forest of Bagha in West Champaran district emerged as haven of Maoists.

The Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), which merged with People’s War Group in September 2000, to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist) had reportedly published a paper in February, 1996 welcoming Maoist movement in Nepal. The growing Maoist menace in Bihar in recent years reveals the footprints of Nepali Maoists, who collaborate with Marxists. On April 21 last, three alleged Nepali Maoists were arrested from Muzaffarnagar town of Bihar, along with computers, CDs, mobile phones, and rupees two lakh. Three had been hiding in the town where their other colleagues are receiving medical treatment.

We are witnessing a strange situation. West Bengal Left Front Chairman Biman Bose, in a press conference in Kolkata’s Press Club, on April 18 last, accused that “opposition parties like the Trinamool Congress, the Congress and the BJP have a nexus with Maoists of Midnapore, Bankura and Kamtapuris in Coochbihar”. ‘In the morning’ Mr. Bose affirmed rather theatrically, “they are sitting at Trinamool or Jharkhand Party office. At night they become Maoist”. Is it a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

Our Marxist friends in India vend a theory that Maoism in Nepal is a reaction to autocratic Monarchy. But why then Maoist/Naxalite insurgency is becoming acuter in India that is a functional democracy? Perhaps, Marxists could like to say, that democracy in its true sense is not practiced in India. Left-liberal Arundhati Roy, in an interview with Tehelka weekly (06/05/2006) says: “The Maoist phenomenon has arisen because people have had doors of the liberal, democratic institutions slammed in their faces. To dismiss them all as extortionists and free-loaders is not just deeply apolitical, it’s extremely unjust.” So the democratic system in India is rotten and the Maoists are ‘social reformers’.

But why then Naxalism is rearing its head in Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore districts of West Bengal that is being run by a coalition of pro-people parties like CPI (M), CPI, Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party etc. Why Naxalite posters calling for boycott of General Elections 2004 found their way to walls in Chief Ministers Buddhadev Bhattacharjee’s locality not to speak of those three districts. This time Bhattacharjee had to dare the Naxalite during his election campaign in those western districts of his state. Elections were held in those districts under unprecedented security of central paramilitary forces. Are we to say that Left font rule in West Bengal is as iniquitous as monarchy in Nepal. Will Yechury and Anjaan answer?

Marxists/Maoists project themselves as greatest custodian of democracy. How democratic was ‘German Democratic Republic’ (GDR) i.e. Communist East Germany, or much was people’s voice respected in Mao’s ‘People’s Republic of China’? How democratic is ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’, i.e. North Korea that has a ‘dynastic communist rule’? In contrast South Korea, simply known as People’s Republic of Korea, is liberal and democratic country. Behind the façade of the terms democracy and people’s republic the Maoists want to achieve a totalitarian, Stalinist and Maoist state. To Mao, power did not flow from people, but from barrel of gun.

Bolsheviks and Mensheviks ousted the Czarist monarchy in Russia, when the Ramanov dynasty, was implementing developmental and pro-people policies after 1905 uprising. When Lenin took over, a civil war between Reds and Whites followed, leading to 20 million deaths, before Lenin began implementing more market friendly New Economic Policy. But then Stalin took over, and presided over unmitigated disaster of the USSR.

Mao ousted the Chiang Kai-shek, from China, forcing him to retreat to Taiwan in 1949 where he served as President. Chiang (d.1975) and Mao (d.1976) served as their respective ‘Republics’ as authoritarian rulers till they died in close succession. But while Taiwan prospered under Chiang, and took a humane image, China under Mao was a worst repeat of Stalinist Russia. Taiwan is now democratic, where China is not although it has dissociated itself from economic policies of Mao, and escaped the fate of the USSR.

Like their ideological cousins elsewhere, the Marxists of India, swear by democracy and civil society, but harbours dreams of a ruthless dictatorship. To achieve their ends, they paste labels on their perceived road blocks such as ‘iniquitous monarchy’ in Nepal and ‘illiberal democracy’ in India. Is it not a classic case of kettle calling the pot black?

Security increased in Bihar after Naxal threat

Press Trust of India

Biharsharif (Bihar), May 11, 2006



Security arrangements have been increased in Bihar's Nalanda district following threats by Naxals to blow up four police stations.
Superintendent of Police Amit Kumar said on Thursday that four police stations of different districts were on the hit list of the Naxalites and they had recently threatened to blow up Hilsa, Islampur, Telhara and Karaiparshurai police stations.

Kumar said that security arrangements of these police stations had been beefed up following the threats and other police stations of the district had been put on maximum alert.

He said that the Naxals had intensified their activities in Gaya, Jehanabad and Patna districts in the recent past and hence their threats to adjoining districts had also increased.

Last year on August 11, the activists had attacked the Chabilapur police station of the district and after killing two constables had looted the police armoury, the SP said.

Tribal youths will now fight Naxals

Rakesh Prakash
[ Thursday, May 11, 2006 01:40:42 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]


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BANGALORE: Grab them before the Naxals do: this is the new strategy of the government to prevent tribal youths from turning to Naxalism.

The state hopes to do it by providing alternative employment. Personnel appointed to the newly sanctioned India Reserve Battalion to contain Naxalism will be largely the disenchanted tribal youth whose poverty and unemployment are being exploited by anti-social elements.

Director-general and inspector-general of police B S Sial told The Times of India: "As per Centre’s guidelines, the battalion will be raised from the Naxal-affected districts in the state."

The proposal is a win-win situation for both the government and the tribals. While the latter get employment, the government gets tribal knowledge of Naxal activities that could be used to great advantage. Moreover, it would dry up the recruiting ground for Naxals.

The battalion will be similar to that of Salwa Judum, Chhatisgarh model of countering Naxals by using tribals. Sial said the state government will impart specialised commando training to the tribal youth recruited for the battalion.

The expertise of paramilitary forces and Army will be utilised to train the tribals. Recruiting tribals will also help the police top brass in planning attacks as the former are familiar with the terrain and can easily collect intelligence inputs.

The government is also contemplating to emulate Andhra Pradesh which relaxed its rules pertaining the physical and educational requirements while recruiting 3,000 tribals recently.

The raising costs of the battalion will be borne by the Centre and the amount has been hiked from Rs 13 crore to Rs 25 crore.

Karnataka had pressed for the battalion, a long standing demand, at a conference of chief ministers from Naxal affected states held recently under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The state contended that recruitments by Naxals were increasing in the districts of Udupi, Chikmagalur, Dakshina Kannada, Shimoga, Tumkur and Kolar and that 75 police stations were vulnerable to Naxal attack.

Keeping an eye: While drawing plans to lure tribals to its fold, the police top-brass have also instructed the intelligence wing to step up surveillance on the frontal organisations of the Naxals.

According to police sources, there are about 15 pro-Naxal groups that are actively recruiting youth from the tribal pockets.

Gill’s crush-Naxalite plan on Delhi table

MANAN KUMAR

New Delhi, May 10: K.P.S. Gill, credited with crushing militancy in Punjab, wants to crack down on Naxalites in Chhattisgarh before the monsoon sets in.

The former chief of Punjab police, who was recently appointed special adviser to the Chhattisgarh government for a year to weed out Naxalites, submitted a detailed plan to the Union home ministry on May 5.

The plan will be taken up at a meeting headed by Union home secretary V.K. Duggal on Saturday, where he will discuss the operational details with Gill, director-general of military operations Madan Gopal, CRPF chief J.K. Sinha, Chhattisgarh police chief .P. Rathore and other senior officials.

While the home ministry and CRPF are unwilling to speak about the plan, sources said Gill wants to go after Naxalites before the onset of monsoon because lack of undergrowth in the forests at this time would make it easier for security forces to track them down.

Intelligence agencies believe that the Naxalites take cover in the state’s thick forests after carrying out attacks. Of late, such attacks have been on the rise, especially in the Dantewada area in the south, bordering Andhra Pradesh.

Gill’s plan is also believed to feature heavy participation by state police.

However, some voices in the home ministry say such an offensive would not work and that one cannot apply the same methods against Naxalites that Gill had used against militants in Punjab.

“Punjab terrorism and the Naxal problem in Chhattisgarh are absolutely different in nature. Here you are talking about a well-groomed army of almost 10,000 people supported by tribals in several pockets,” said a senior official, adding that if the offensive fails, it could hit police morale and boost rebel confidence.

Gill came to be known as “supercop” after his success in Punjab, but his critics accuse the officer of disregarding the rule of law and human rights.

Home ministry officials denied that the army would join the proposed crackdown but said help, such as the use of helicopters for para-dropping in forest and border areas, might be sought.

The ministry has, in principle, accepted Gill’s demand for more paramilitary forces. He had requested the Centre to sanction 10 paramilitary battalions (approximately 11,000 personnel) over and above the 8 battalions already in the state. A big chunk of the 600-odd CRPF companies (approximately 70,000 men), free from poll duty in Bengal and Assam, will soon be moved to Chhattisgarh.

DGP: Gear up to combat Naxals

HT Correspondent
Lucknow, May 10


IN VIEW of the increase in Naxalite activities in Chhattisgarh and other adjoining states, DGP Bua Singh today directed the police officers to ready the police force in the three Naxal-affected districts of Mirzapur, Sonebhadra and Chandauli. He also stressed on improving the intelligence network, which at present is not up to the mark.

Reviewing the situation here on Wednesday, the DGP said that joint operations with the security forces of other states should also be expedited to keep mounting pressure on the gun-toting Left wing ultras and their interaction with the Nepali Maoists should be monitored.

When the district police chiefs from the affected areas highlighted the infrastructural problems in tackling the menace, the DGP, assuring help to solve their problems, said proper communication facilities should be provided to each police station and outposts in remote regions.

He said during patrolling, the security forces should be fully equipped with communication gadgets and be in constant touch with the base station.

Hardcore Naxalites should be targeted during the operation, he said.
ADG (law and order) Padman Singh, ADG (Intelligence) DR Nagar, IG CRPF Karamvir Singh, IG PAC Shailja Kant and other senior officers of districts and zones attended the meeting.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Tribals will wipe the Naxals out this summer

Mahendra Karma, Chhattisgarh Leader of Opposition and the brain behind Salva Judum

Do you think it is a good idea to pit tribals against armed Maoists?

Naxalism is against the Constitution and our system, it is anti-democratic, it needs to be fought. They have been operating in this area for more than 25 years. They have very progressive slogans but in actual fact, they have brought life to a standstill. Tribals are angry because their livelihood has been snatched away. They have risen in battle themselves, we are merely helping them. I did not start Salva Judum, it is a natural revolt of the tribals against Naxal terror.

May 13 , 2006

Read more


Manish Kunjaam, CPI leader from Bastar

You have been an mla from this region, you are leftwing, what is your view of Naxalite operations in Bastar?

Nobody can support what the Naxalites have been doing. We have huge differences with their strategy and tactics. They need to be tackled and neutralised, but not in the way the government is doing. There are serious problems that the Naxalites are exploiting, they have to be addressed. I agree there is a policing aspect to the solution, but much more needs to be done which the government is not interested in doing.

May 13 , 2006

Chhattisgarh Governor promises assistance to naxal victims

Raipur, May 9: Chhattisgarh Governor Lt Gen K M Seth today promised to provide all assistance to the naxal victims of the state.

"We are with the large number of people, who are staying in relief camps in Dantewada district because of the naxal violence," Seth told a function organised to flag off two truck loads of about Rs 22 lakh worth of relief materials for the villagers staying in the relief camps, official sources said here.

The Governor also said steps were being taken to provide torch to each of the tribal families through the red cross society.

Including today's 10,300 mats and clothes and utensils for 300 families, the Indian Red Cross has so far provided Rs 62 lakh worth of relief materials, the sources said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Raman Singh has also appealed to the rice millers of the state to provide relief materials for the naxal affected people here.

A large number of villagers in Dantewada district are engaged in Salwa Judum or peace campaign against the maoists, Singh said adding, because of the naxal violence also a large number of villagers have migrated out of their villages and staying in relief camps.

About 50,000 villagers of Dantewada district are staying in such government run relief camps after the maoists stepped up violence activities in June last year.

Polls over, central forces to crack down on Naxals

BHARTI JAIN

TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ WEDNESDAY, MAY 10, 2006 02:20:27 AM]

NEW DELHI: With the assembly election to five states complete, the Centre is preparing for a major redeployment of Central forces tied up so far with the polling exercise. A chunk of the 772 companies spared for election duty will be moved to Chhattisgarh to enable an intensified counter-offensive against Naxalites.

Details regarding the crackdown on Naxal hideouts, possibly using helicopters, will be discussed at a meeting on Saturday between officials of the Union home ministry and Chhattisgarh government. To be chaired by Union home secretary V K Duggal, the meeting will deliberate on the operational plan submitted by the state government on May 5 for the stepped-up offensive that will cover Naxal havens like the Abujmarh forests.

At the May 13 meeting, the MHA is likely to agree to a major concentration of Central forces in the state. At the same time, the ministry is likely to insist that the state government ensure a proper back-up of its own forces, including police personnel as well as IR battalions, so that when some of the Central forces are required to be pulled out, there would be no major void in security.

This, according to the MHA, can be ensured by filling up thousands of vacancies in state police and raising the sanctioned number of IR battalions. The state will be asked to give an estimate on when the force back-up can be in place.

Chhattisgarh has of late bore the brunt of Naxal attacks, recording as many as 172 incidents and 137 killings between January 1 and March 31 this year. This is a sharp rise from 99 incidents and 10 killings during the corresponding period of 2005. The surge in Naxal violence is being attributed by the Central and state agencies to the ongoing anti-extremism popular movement, or Salwa Judoom, in the state.

Worried about the high number of civilian casualties, which mainly comprise Salwa Judoom activists, the Centre and the state government had at a meeting of co-ordination centre on Left-wing extremism in April agreed on the need for pre-emptive strikes to deal with the rise in Naxal operations.

However, with the elections then underway and the Central forces tied up, the proposed crackdown was planned post May 8, when polling was to be completed.

At another meeting chaired by Mr Duggal late last month, the MHA had asked the Chhattisgarh government to submit a complete operational plan detailing the desired number of forces, helicopters and other logistics needed for the proposed crackdown. The plan, also vetted by newly-appointed advisor to the state government K P S Gill, was submitted to the MHA on May 5.

The plan is believed to suggest joint anti-Naxal offensive by Central forces and state police using helicopters to para-drop personnel into the heavily-forested Naxal hideouts.

Tandav of death: Violence grips the nation

India is burning. Some regions by the scorching sun and many areas singed by the icy harsh reality of terror, violence and bloodshed. Of piling dead bodies, mourned only by more gun shots. Symptomatic of the complete lawlessness that has gripped the country. A new cult establishing an order of hatred and rage. Of an eerie stillness filling the senses with the smell of death, mayhem and brutal carnage held hostage by rampant goondagardi. Wherein brutality and beastility have become synonymous in modern India.
Pick any newspaper. Any day. Splashes of social schisms gore into news headlines. Massacres and murders. Heart wrenching cries of anguish which haunt and taunt the reality of present day India. Wails which epitomize the agony of scars that stubbornly refuse to heal. Agonisingly, the last fortnight has once again brought to the fore that violence is the rhetoric of the period. If it was Jammu and Kashmir yesterday, it is Gujarat today and Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh tomorrow.

In horrifying attacks, Pak-based Lashkar-e-Taibba militants murdered in cold blood as many as 35 Hindus in Udhampur and Doda districts of Kashmir ten days ago. After a lull of a few months, a chilling reminder to India that it should not preen over the massive electoral response to four byelections in the State. A clear signal to New Delhi that they would bombard all peace initiatives. Notwithstanding the various Indo-Pak CBMs already in place and the decision to institutionalize the framework of talks between the Prime Minister and the various separatist groups including the Hurriyat.

In Vadodara, six died as riots broke out over the demolition of a century-old Muslim Dargah by the municipal authorities. While Muslims protested the demolition, the Hindus drew blood to avenge the death of their brethren. Resulting in the army being called in and the Supreme Court staying the demolitions ordered by the Gujarat High Court. Recall, the court had taken suo motu cognizance of a newspaper report of increasing encroachment of public land by even religious bodies unauthorisedly constructing places of worship. It is another matter that Saudi Arabia, home to Hazrat Mohammad and to Mecca and Medina, adopted a pragmatic approach for dealing with mosques and graves which come in the way of the modernization and development of its Capital, Riyadh. All mosques that came in the way of development were given notice to shift to other sites, provided by the Government. Likewise, the keepers of graves were sternly told to remove them. Bulldozers were moved in to do the needful if the deadline was not kept. None dared to protest.

Amidst this mayhem, the Naxalites continued their tandav of death in 13 states. Over the last week the CPI (Maoists) massacred 17 tribals in Chhattisgarh, looted a bank and attacked a police station in Bihar and hijacked two luxury boats on Krishna river in Andhra and kidnapped 10 of the 234 holiday-makers. The Centre's response? Mouthing platitudes of being pro-active and taking firm measures to contain this single biggest security threat to the country.

Invariably, every terrorist and Naxal attack elicits a predictable and misdirected state response. The militants from across the border are accused for the dastardly attack in Kashmir, the Hindu fundamentalists for the Vadodara violence and the Maoists ideology for growing Naxalism. Knee-jerk reactions are then announced with dollops of fake bravado. A ritual drama whose script is familiar and draws the same reactions--more of the same. Setting up more police camps and increasing the financial allocation for anti-Naxalite and anti-terrorist operations. But that doesn't salvage India's soul. All it does is to detract attention from the real cause.

It is just not a mere question of terrorism or communal violence. What is of import is why violence has become the rhetoric of the time? What are the causes for the aam admi to turn violent? Riot, mob, burn and kill? It boils down to plain incitement. The real perpetrators are not the innocent people but the polity and their cohorts. Politicians and the police are but two sides of the same coin. And the bureaucracy a hand maiden. All widely viewed nowadays as venal and incompetent.

To serve their petty narrow parochial ends our leaders will do anything. When the end game is power, neither the means adopted or the cost involved matter. Simplistically, what we are facing today is breakdown all institutions--social, caste, religious and moral.

Compartmentalizing men, women and children into an abstract secular and communal mode to suit their electoral ends. Down to the colour of blood. Even using naked force, hypocrisy and fraud to get power. All in the name of social justice and economic development. Over the years, they have perfected the art of not only dividing the people on caste and communal lines but instilling a feeling of intolerance. Wherein at a drop of a hat people indulge in violence.

Never mind, the show goes one. In an era where the medium is the massage everything is branded, followed by an advertising blitzkrieg. Right from slogans to netas are packaged like a much-prized and publicized toothpaste. Think beyond the headlines. Why is the country in the grip of the gun when economically it is on the roll? When a galloping GDP of 8 per cent, flowing foreign exchange reserves and a climbing senses. All indicating that all is well with the nation. That is the celluloid India. Let's backtrack to the real Bharat. Which is the iron tentacles of the ever widening "deadly cocktail" of social disparity of Maruti Yuppieism of the 200 million and the degrading poverty of the 800 million coupled with the basic questions of agrarian struggle.

Look at the dichotomy. India boasts of being an agrarian economy. But its rural landscape is in shambles. Agricultural credit and finance systems have collapsed and the shrinking of local democracy has further deepened the chaos. Leading to the countryside being dotted with suicides. Since 1997, over 25,000 farmers have committed suicides across the country. Every day at least six farmers end their lives in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Since June last year, over 470 of the 3.2 million cotton growers in Maharashtra's Vidarbha did the same. Thanks to soaring input costs, low output costs and drought. The final straw is the blizzard of money-lenders' threats and bank notices. Add to this the cast-iron local feudal structure of rich landlords. Wherein the debt trap slowly becomes the death trap.

Add to this the big drop in rural employment. Both landed farmers and agricultural workers have taken a terrible beating. According to Government statistics, over 40 million people, among them 15 million children, are bonded labourers, working to pay off their debt. There are over 160 million "untouchables" at the bottom of India's caste system and one comes face to face with the tragic social realities of discrimination and violence. Providing the Naxals the perfect opening to wean the agricultural labourers with the promise of getting them their rightful dues in terms of not only wages but also give them confiscated surplus land from the landlords and distributing it among the landless labourers. Thereby laying the seeds of running a parallel government in remote areas, conducting people's court, extorting money from landlords and distributing the booty among the poor a la Robin Hood. Something which successive governments at the Centre and in the States have failed to do.

Tragically, so desperate is our polity in outbidding each other in the electoral sweepstakes that none can see the Frankenstein they have mindlessly created. They need to be wary that all it takes to destroy a nation is an innocuous modern-day convenience. Guns and bombs that can turn deadly in terrorists' hands. It is now imperative for the country to re-think its strategies and approach to the future. No short cuts are possible If not stopped now, it could lead to more intolerance and result in a total breakdown of institutions, society, culture and ethical values. Which, in turn, could be the cause of a socio-political revolution.

Where do we go from here? It all depends on our polity. Merely mouthing assurances that India is on the roll and all is well is living like an ostrich - with its head buried in the sand. It has to think beyond the headlines and do some honest soul searching. Will it continue to allow India to gently weep and drift towards disaster? No country with any sense of self-respect and national honour prostitutes secularism or social justice at the altar of vote bank politics. And watches it burn. New Delhi alone has to carry the cross.

Poonam I Kaushish, INFA

High-level meet held on growing naxal menace

HT Correspondent
Varanasi, May 9



A high-level confidential meeting of officials from the Inter-State Border Force, Intelligence and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was held in the conference hall of police lines here on Tuesday.

The meeting was held in connection with the growing Naxal menace in the neighbouring states.

It is believed that security arrangement of the naxal-affected areas in Eastern UP adjacent to the border of Bihar, Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand was reviewed in the meeting.

The authorities chalked out a strategy to push back and crack down on the Naxals sneaking into East UP after committing crime in neighbouring states.

DIG of Inter State Border Force SN Sabat, IG (CRPF) Vikram Saigal and Joint Director of IB Amitabh Ranjan participated in the meeting.

BEHIND THE NAXAL SUCCESS STORY

by Swati Parashar

Even as a desperate Central Government in India sanctioned nine more reserve battalions to states battling Maoists, Naxals abducted 52 villagers of Dantewada district in the state of Chhattisgarh and killed 13 hostages. The villagers of Manikonta spotted two bodies and informed the police. Four days after police failed to trace villagers abducted by Naxalites, a search party on April 29, found the bodies of 13 of the 52 hostages, within hours of the Naxals releasing 35 tribals.

The Anti-Naxal Movement
All the abducted villagers were part of the anti-Naxalite 'Salwa Judum' (Peace Campaign) movement in Chhattisgarh. The ruling as well as the main opposition party in the state supports the ‘Salwa Judum’ movement. The essence of ‘Sadwa Judum’ is to involve active participation of the local tribal population with the security forces and local administration in fighting the growing specter of violent Naxal activities. The state government has offered the position of Special Police Officer (SPO) to some participants of ‘Salwa Judum’ along with firearm and a monthly salary. As the Maoists began retaliating against those participating in the movement, nearly 45,000 local tribals from more than 640 villages in South Bastar abandoned their homes and took shelter in the relief camps opened by the state government. Subsequently, the Naxalites also began attacking these relief camps targeting villagers, who were actively involved in the 'Salwa Judum' campaign.

The timing of the Dantewada attack is very pertinent as last month, March 2006, the Chhattisgarh government passed what human rights activists in India and abroad deplored as draconian measures to put an end to the insurgency. Those measures include hefty jail terms for peaceful protesters and for people who aid the rebels, even if it is at gunpoint. The Naxal Movement spread across huge swathes of southern, central and eastern India - has killed nearly 150 people, mostly civilians, in Chhattisgarh since January 2006, including the latest fatalities in Dantewada.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed the Naxalite-Maoist insurgency as the single biggest internal security threat ever faced by the country at the second meeting of the standing committee of the Naxal-affected states in New Delhi on April 13, 2006. He admitted that parts of 160 districts across the country were slipping out of government control. The problem, which has for long been dismissed as a socio-economic issue, is now being seen as a security matter. With the Naxals running parallel governments in their controlled areas and an upsurge in violence lately, it is pertinent to look at some of the factors behind the Naxal success story in Chhattisgarh.

Callousness of the Administration

Many villagers in Chhattisgarh are staying in relief camps because the state government cannot assure their security and safety in their villages. These relief camps are supposedly safer due to police and security forces’ protection. However, the attacks on such relief camps itself have increased over the period of last few months. The villagers of Dantewada, when abducted, had left the relief camp and gone to their own village to check if their houses and other belongings in the village were safe and to collect food grain. This raises the question about the kind of logistics planning undertaken to set up a relief camp when the inmates have to go out and collect their own food grain. The kind of security arrangements in place for protecting the inmates in the relief camps also needs to be scrutinised. The Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Dr. Raman Singh, was in Bastar the same day when Naxalites massacred the 13 people of Dantewada after holding 52 people captive for over 4 days. He was setting up the Bastar Development Authority when the innocent people were being butchered cold bloodedly. For four days the administration and police were clueless about the hostages. Would the state machinery have responded in the similar callous manner if a kin of the rich and influential had been held hostage?

Failure of Police Intelligence

The entire intelligence community in Chhattisgarh, the latest hotbed of Naxal violence, has failed to gather effective intelligence on the Naxalites in their state. Contrary to this the Naxalites have virtually been under ground in Andhra Pradesh and they have not been able to mount any serious attack within Andhra Pradesh. The magnitude, lethality and number of fatalities in the last few months clearly demonstrate the extent of Naxal presence and violence across Chhattisgarh. Yet the police have not been able to gather effective intelligence to prevent these attacks. Furthermore the police forces have been unable to launch a major counter offensive against the Naxals. The absence of effective police intelligence has not only caused the death of many poor innocent villagers but also the loss of many police and security personnel working at the ground level. An outright revolt in the police forces is not unlikely, as some sources reveal.

The Chhattisgarh government has recently appointed the famous K.P.S. Gill, former Police Chief of Punjab, credited with curbing Punjab insurgency, as it’s security advisor. One should hope that Mr. Gill’s experiences during the Punjab counter- insurgency would allow him to lead the anti-naxal operations with more effectiveness. However, taking stock of the state's resources to take on the Naxals, Mr. Gill has found out that the police force in Chhattisgarh has around 4,000 vacancies, half of it in the eight districts worst affected by the Naxalite violence. In Punjab , when Gill was fighting terrorism, he had two army divisions, 85 CRPF battalions and a large number of state police personnel at his disposal against some 2,500 terrorists. The contrast is bound to worry him about his new job!

The Innocuous Naxal Sympathisers

A group of prominent citizens from several Non Governmental Organisations has formed a core group of Naxal sympathisers. These high profile human rights activists have highjacked the media space in denouncing the state government and the security forces for their actions against Naxalites. These innocuous Naxal sympathisers have formed citizen committees to undertake fact-finding and assessment tours in Chhattisgarh to barrack against “Salwa Judum”. The same group of people has moved all possible avenues nationally or even internationally against the Chhattisgarh Special People's Security Ordinance directed against Naxal violence. Sadly, these prominent citizens find it extremely hard to either denounce the violence unleashed by the Naxals or use their influence to force the Naxals to give up violence. These sympathisers never even consider the deadly and dangerous task the security forces are up against in fighting against the Naxalites. The number of innocent villagers losing their lives for the sake of Naxal cause also never factors in their analyses and assessment.

What more does the State Government want?

More central government funds, more central Para military forces, more advanced weaponry, more draconian laws, more highly publicised meetings etc.; the wish list of the state government is endless. However, the ineffectual dealing by the state government in Chhattisgarh has only resulted in gruesome massacres of either poor innocent tribal villagers or the lower ranked police and security personnel. The government efforts have been rendered so ineffectual that even the conference of collectors and superintendents of police, convened by the Chhattisgarh Government to take stock of the situation after the recent Naxal attacks, turned out to be an unmitigated farce.

Conclusion
Many of the villagers in Naxal affected Chhattisgarh have fled their homes and have been accommodated in government-run relief camps, which are already overflowing with refugees and lack basic amenities. The police stations are located in far-flung areas with un-motorable roads and without telephone facilities or vehicles. They also lack basic facilities, like barracks and toilets, and the necessary manpower to deal with the Naxal threat. Inquiry by the intelligence agencies and police has revealed that in the Naxal stronghold areas, several senior officials of the District Administration have completely surrendered to the Naxals. The State has utterly withered away with Naxals running their own parallel government in the areas under their control. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel visible at this moment. Unless the extent of the Naxal menace is recognised and proportionate responses are articulated and implemented, this problem is far from being rooted out.

(Swati Parashar is a Visiting Research Analyst with the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, (IDSS), NTU, Singapore. She can be contacted at isswati@ntu.edu.sg)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Stark Divide: The Pitfalls of Unequal Growth in India

Siliconeer, News Feature, Siddharth Srivastava, May 08, 2006

There is an India that is looking to grow at over 10 percent per annum. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on a recent visit to Mumbai, reiterated his Mumbai-as-Shanghai dream and talked about full convertibility of the rupee. However, there is another India that is witness to the growth and prosperity without any participation in its fruits. And the tensions are beginning to show.

China recently closed one of its longest debates on economic reforms as Beijing approved a five-year plan that seeks to address the income inequalities that separates cities and the countryside. This gap has been related with corruption, land grabs, rise in unrest in the countryside that is home to more than 700 million people who earn a third of the wages of the urban average. India too is simmering, with close to 700 million still out of the ambit of rising incomes.

Only recently there has been widespread rioting in New Mumbai, the new outsourcing and information technology hub, in the suburb of commercial capital Mumbai. Though the immediate cause seems to be an incident of sexual harassment of a woman, discontent has been simmering within the local community which has been witness to the economic boom in the area without entirely being a part of it. Employment has been garnered by migrant labor that is a cause for angst. High paying executives driving fancy cars are housed in spanking new buildings that was once farmland. Local residents, mostly young boys, attacked several passing vehicles.

As India progresses, so have crimes related to what are considered flashpoints of a consumerist existence. Recently a 29-year old employee of software giant Infosys was killed on way from Pune to Mumbai. His murderers took away his credit card (one of the killers ostensibly shopped for his girlfriend with it). In Delhi, two prominent lawyers, a mother and daughter duo, were found murdered inside their upmarket flat. The police are working on they hypothesis that robbery or a property dispute are possible motives.

Car thefts are on the rise, so are credit card frauds and other forms of financial embezzlement. Women have increasingly become targets, with Delhi being declared the rape capital of India, with a record of over 700 reported cases last year.

Crime is not just an urban phenomenon. Elsewhere, while the focus is on terrorist attacks in Indian Kashmir, north eastern states and other parts of India, a bloodier battle is being waged in the hinterlands of several Indian states (Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh, Orissa), where the Maoists and Naxalites rule with the gun. Close to a hundred deaths have been reported this year from just one district of Dantewada in the central Indian state of Chhatisgarh due to Maoist violence.

Recently, communist rebels captured a train with over 60 passengers in a remote part of Jharkhand. The passengers had a miraculous escape as it seems that the Naxals only wanted to convey a message of the extent of damage they can inflict. In February, Maoists attacked a truck convoy in Chhattisgarh, blowing up one of the vehicles and setting two on fire. Twenty-four people were killed, and 32 injured.

To be sure, many conflicts are results of local issues, but one of the main reasons for the festering of the Naxalite problem has been the absence of land reforms. The Maoists feed on the cadres of tribals and dalits (considered to be of the lower castes) who have been dispossessed of their lands with the indifferent state machinery adding to the alienation. The police and landlords remain the two biggest targets of the Maoists.

A study by the federal home ministry study said murders of police personnel by the guerrillas jumped 53 percent to 153 in the year to March 31, 2006, while 516 civilians were killed, an 11 percent increase on the previous year. “As many as 76 districts in nine states ... are badly affected by Naxal violence although in a varying degree,” the report said, adding that the banned groups have also established inter-state logistics and communications links among its cadres.

Since 1991 India has been following a path of economic reforms and industrial liberalization, unshackling what was called the license permit raj. The reform process included the free entry of private players in areas hitherto controlled by the government, invitation of foreign direct investment and divestment of public sector behemoths that were set up as the commanding heights of a planned Indian economy, as envisaged by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

In the past decade, a broad consensus has developed about the entry of private players who now play an active role in sectors ranging from telecom, banks, health, automobiles, airlines, consumer durables, computer hardware, finance, retail, property development and more. The consumer has been the beneficiary due to competitive pricing and better customer service. Airline fares, telecom rates, prices of consumer durables have been on a downward spiral the past few years.

However, India’s recent political history is strewn with leaders who were at the forefront of economic reforms and yet lost in elections. These include former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and former chief ministers of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, S.M. Krishna and Chandrababu Naidu, respectively. Their successes in engendering growth and changing the lives for some created resentment among the many more who witnessed tall buildings, flashy cars and swanky lifestyles, but had no access to any of this.

Although China has announced its intention to look at the countryside now, New Delhi has been looking at this aspect for close to a year now. Keeping the angst of those left behind in mind the Manmohan government launched a rural upliftment project last August that will cost over $40 billion per year. The aim is to provide a human face to India’s economic reforms. As per the contours of the anti-poverty scheme, the government will provide a minimum wage of close to $1.5 per day to all rural households in 200 districts for a period of 100 days. 90 percent of the expenditure will be borne by the center and the remainder by the states.

New Delhi has also announced an urban renewal scheme in December that has a provision for disbursing funds to upgrade the infrastructure of 63 selected cities. Over $12 billion has been earmarked for the project and will be disbursed over seven years.

Both the schemes translate into a cost and scale the government believes it can pull off by cross-subsidizing via taxation from the high-growth areas. This is one of the reasons that the government has hiked the service tax from 10 to 12 percent. The service sector now contributes more than 50 percent of the GDP.

Indeed, the sobering realization has dawned on both policy makers as well as India’s political bosses that no matter how good the growth rates look on paper, there is a severe price to be paid in terms of social harmony and economic stability if at least some of the fruits of economic growth do not reach all sections of society.

That’s not a very fashionable viewpoint in these days of market-worshipping free-market ayatollahs of the Washington consensus, but India’s political leadership knows better, because to India’s eternal credit, it is a democracy with real teeth, where the poor actually vote, and have a disconcerting habit of throwing out the government if all the fruits of growth accrue to the wealthy and they are obliged simply to watch the tamasha.

Growth cannot be uni-dimensional. In order to guard against social unrest, every effort has to be made to spread out the gains through institutional reform and decentralization.

Siddharth Srivastava is India correspondent for Siliconeer. He lives in New Delhi.

Inside India's hidden war


Mineral rights are behind clashes between leftwing guerrillas and state-backed militias


by Randeep Ramesh

Tuesday, May 09, 2006, Bhanupratapur forest, India: Forty young men and women in ill-fitting army fatigues, clutching flintlocks and pistols, stand in the shade of a mango tree. Beside them flaps a red flag emblazoned with a hammer and sickle.
In a show of strength, the soldiers creep up on imaginary enemies through long grass. Armed with weapons and the opinions of the doctrinaire left, these guerrillas, or Naxalites as they are known, are part of a hidden war in the middle of India's mineral-rich tribal belt.

The Naxalites are heirs of the revolutionary ideology of Mao Zedong. Unlike their ideological cousins in Nepal, the guerrillas are not prepared to consider exchanging the bullet for the ballot box. Across a wide swath of India, from Andhra Pradesh in the south to the Nepalese border, there are daily reports of underground armies hijacking trains, mounting audacious jailbreaks and murdering local politicians.

Last month the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, described the rebels as "the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country". Nowhere is this conflict more acute than in the dense forests of southern Chhattisgarh state, the scene of violent land disputes and social clashes. In the past year the state has armed thousands of villagers with guns, spears and bows and arrows. Child soldiers are often ranged against opponents of similar age. In Chhattisgarh a battalion of Indian paramilitary forces has backed this militia, known as Salva Judum (Peace March), against the Naxalites, turning the forest into a battlefield.

Entire villages have been emptied as tribal communities flee from the burnings, lootings and killings. The civil conflict has left more than 50,000 people camping under tarpaulin sheets without work or food along the roadsides of southern Chhattisgarh.

Campaigners say that the reason why the government has opened a new front in this battle lies beneath Chhattisgarh's fertile soil, which contains some of the country's richest reserves of iron ore, coal, limestone and bauxite. Above live some of India's most impoverished people: semi-literate tribes who exist in near destitution.

India's biggest companies have moved stealthily into the forest areas, buying up land and acquiring the rights to extract the buried wealth. Last year the Chhattisgarh government signed deals worth 130bn Indian rupees (£1.6bn) with industrial companies for steel mills and power stations.

The Naxalites have begun a campaign against such industrialisation, which the state sees as necessary to create jobs and provide the raw materials for economic growth.

Watching his "troops" conduct military exercises is Gopanna Markam, company commander in the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army, whose rank is denoted by the AK-47 in his hands. He says the "exploitation" needs to be stopped. "The government is bent upon taking out all the resources from this area and leaving the people nothing."

These are no idle threats. Police estimate there are 4,500 armed leftwing guerrillas in Chhattisgarh. In recent months they have attacked mines, blown up electricity pylons and torched cars used by contractors. They have set up "people's courts" to punish, and in some cases execute, those deemed to be capitalist collaborators.

The guerrillas' aim is violent revolution. Their political wing, the Communist party of India (Maoist), operates underground and has an armed presence in almost half of India's 28 states. The cadre fervently believes that India's feudal traditions, ingrained caste hierarchy and skewed land ownership provide fertile ground for rebellion. "The path ahead will become more difficult for us but we know history is with us," said Commander Markam.

The Naxalites argue that they have brought order if not law to the area - banishing corrupt officials, expelling landlords and raising prices at gunpoint for harvests of tendu leaves, used to wrap bidi cigarettes. They finance their operations by levying "taxes" of around 12% on contractors and traders.

In the tribal areas, officials estimate half the population supports the Naxalites, through choice or coercion. Two-thirds of the forests have been off-limits to government staff. In many districts 40% of police posts are unfilled and a quarter of doctors' positions are vacant.

Mahendra Karma, a state politician of tribal heritage, said the Naxalites have "collapsed the social, economic and traditional administrative structure" and tribes now are "backward people who want to go forward with industry".

Although Salva Judum is widely seen as his brainchild, Mr Karma says the movement was a result of "spontaneous anger bursting through".

The first signs of this anger were seen last June, when thousands of villagers marched with police in the village of Kortapal, where the Naxalites had abducted several government supporters. A fierce gun battle followed, with many running for cover in the forest. The village today is deserted and many of the houses have been vandalised.

This policy of emptying villages where there is support for Naxalites has been implemented across southern Chhattisgarh, with the attacks becoming bolder and bloodier. The response has been equally devastating. In February the Naxalites blew up a truck carrying Salva Judum workers back from a rally, killing more than 50 people.

In March a series of lightning raids led to tit-for-tat disappearances, beheadings and shootings. Ten days ago the bodies of 13 villagers who had protested against the guerrillas were found dead. Human rights groups say the conflict has claimed more than 150 lives this year.

"[Naxalites] have developed sophisticated strategies. We have recovered rocket launchers, mortar shells and machine guns recently," said the state police intelligence chief, Sant Kumar Paswan.

In the areas controlled by the Salva Judum, teenagers with bows and arrows guard roadblocks and Indian paramilitary forces patrol the refugee camps.

While the soldiers say villagers come seeking refuge from the violence, the tribals tell a different story. They claim that the camps are, in reality, prisons.

The guards in Bhairamgarh camp brought out captured Naxalite political agents, known as Sangam, for the Guardian to interview. Each told a story of state-backed terror. A mob of government supporters invaded their village backed by armed soldiers who opened fire on "Naxalite houses". A battle ensued and the guerrillas, outgunned, fled.

Once an area has been "cleansed", the homes of those used by leftwing guerrillas are destroyed and their owners brought to the camps.

"I was a Sangam. People were getting shot and homes burnt every day. I had no choice but to come here," said Buddram, who used to farm around Kortapal.

In the camps, fear stalks the inhabitants. The men have to report daily to the police station. Twice a day they queue up for a roll call and a drill.

Families are supposed to build their own makeshift houses. Without the state providing food or medicine, the displaced villagers say, anyone who can work is forced to do so for 50 rupees a day digging roads through the forest.

Caught in the crossfire are thousands of innocent villagers. Clutching her baby to her chest, Jamli recounts how the Salva Judum militia kidnapped her and seven friends as they travelled to a market. "We were told we had to come to the police station. Once we reached there we were kept overnight and driven to this camp where we were told if you leave you will be killed," she said. "I was alone until my husband arrived a week later and he is trapped here too. We are not Naxalites. We have no homes here, just these tents."

A third of Chhattisgarh's 21 million people are aboriginals, mostly from the Gond tribe. Experts say that the situation is in danger of turning into an "African-style" conflict over minerals, with refugees herded from one camp to another, dying of illness, hunger and thirst.

Pradeep Prabhu, a tribal campaigner, said the basic problem was one of land rights. In India everything below the ground belongs to the state, not the people who live above it.

"States like Chhattisgarh are seething with anger over this issue. The issue came up in parts of Africa where it has caused so much mess."

Backstory

The Naxalites, a name taken from Naxalbari district in West Bengal where the movement began in 1967, have spread to 160 of India's 604 administrative districts. In the 1960s they won the approval of Beijing, but China has since denounced the guerrillas.

The Naxalites functioned outside the parliamentary system, organising uprisings among landless workers in West Bengal, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. They spread to the mineral-rich areas of Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The two armed wings, People's War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre, combined 18 months ago to form one front: Communist party of India (Maoist).

With a force of 15,000 soldiers, it controls an estimated fifth of India's forests. The eventual aim is to capture the Indian state.
(Source : The Guardian)

State Pulse - Chhattisgarh: Naxal menace on the rise

Manuj Features
The Naxals have gone about acquiring more and more lethal weapons and recruiting and training thousands of volunteers, says RJ Khurana

Answering a question asked by a press reporter recently on the developing Naxal storm and the threat it posed to the national security, India's National Security Advisor, MK Narayanan dismissed the question by averring that it had little common with the elements of insurgency. Rejecting the Red Corridor reports, he said that it was confined to certain pockets and would be successfully tackled before long. I'm afraid it is this unwarranted complacency on the part of the administration that has brought the country to the present pass vis a vis the Naxal problem.

Nepal has been in deep trouble because of the Naxals. For sometime now, they have been tightening the noose on neighbouring UP, Uttranchal, Bihar and Jharkhand. Ask the Jehanabad (Bihar) jail staff or the villagers and they will tell you what it is. The humiliation that the administration suffered will go down as a shameful chapter in independent India's administrative history. Go to Jharkhand. Here railway stations and trains have been railjacked and police convoys attacked innumerable times.

They have many more horrible stories to tell. Visit Chattisgarh. Naxals roam about the length and breadth of Bastar divison freely, killing, maiming, kidnapping, attacking police stations and police convoys and railjacking trains as if they have no fear of any authority. Or, enter the neighbouring states of Orissa and Andhra. There the sufferers have their own heartrending tales of suffering to tell. Some recent cases are hard to ignore. A Naxal strike on April 16 on a police outpost in Bijapur district of Bastar Division killed 11 policemen. The Naxals looted arms and ammunition. On April 18, 2500 armed Naxals laid siege to a village in Bijapur trapping 2000 villagers.

The police was at its wits' end not knowing what to do with such large numbers. On April 19, the Naxals triggered a landmine in Phulbondi forest area in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra blasting off a police van carrying a police patrol party. One constable was killed and 17 injured in the blast. On April 20, a group of 200 Naxals blew up the ancestral residence of Kamlesh Kumar Singh, Jharkhand's Minister for Water Resources in Palamu District. Fortunately the Minister was not at home.

The villagers did not put up any resistance. There has been a phenomenal increase in their strength and scale of operations. They are now 50% more than in 2001. They are no rag tag gangs any more and are organized into formations on the lines of paramilitary forces. They have acquired modern weapons and explosive devices and used them with deadly effect to blow up security forces' vehicles and establishments/camps. They have not only chosen their targets carefully, but also struck in strength and with 100% success. While the governments at the Centre and in the states spend their time in wringing their hands or making brave statements and not gone beyond holding discussions and meetings at by now famous "the highest level" and blaming each other for real and imagined reasons, the Naxals have gone about acquiring more and more lethal weapons and recruiting and training thousands of volunteers.

What is further disconcerting is the fact that the number of their sympathizers has been increasing and less and less people of the affected states are coming forward to put up resistance or give intelligence, another pointer to plummeting morale. No wonder, the intelligence organizations are increasingly becoming clueless. From now on, unless the affected state governments and the Union government work hard to instill confidence in the people, the situation may deteriorate further. The next step for the Naxals is to consolidate their hold on the areas of their operations and establish parallel governments.

Will the Union and the state governments countenance such a situation? Complacency should have its limits. Desperate Chattisgarh recently hired redoubtable KPS Gill to deal with the menace. They are pinning high hopes on him. They are expecting a miracle. Gill is a tough policeman whose contribution to ending the Punjab militancy is significant. The Chattisgarh government, however, should not lose sight of the fact that Gill will be new to the state; he is past 70 and lacks experience in dealing with Naxals. In these circumstances, Gill's presence alone will, perhaps, not suffice. Naxalism is not a mere police or military problem. It is a revolt of the deprived and the dispossessed.

People want education, health care, sanitation, water, power, agriculture that can afford them an honourable livelihood, jobs, housing, better roads and bridges, end to their exploitation and good governance. Unfortunately the state governments have lost their credibility. The National Security Advisor is a wise man with a wealth of experience at his command. He hardly needs to be told about this.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Naxal bandh evokes poor response

Sunday May 7 2006 11:50 IST

ONGOLE: The CPI (Maoist)-sponsored statewide bandh in protest against the recent encounter at Sundupalli in Kadapa district evoked little response in Khammam and Ongole districts.

No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in Khammam district. However, as a precautionary measure, the APSRTC authorities had cancelled 12 bus services in Kothagudem, Khammam, Bhadrachalam and Sattupalli depots and diverted 25 more services to other routes.

The Hyderabad-Jagdalpur and Hyderabad-Byladilla bus services were also cancelled in view of the bandh call. APSRTC incharge regional manager K Srinivas said the cancellation of services was based on the advice of the police.

The bandh had no impact in Manuguru and Yellandu towns.

However, the people of Eeturunagaram, Pinapaka, Markodu, Gundala, Bangaruchelaka, Mylaram and Ulkanuru were put to hardships due to the cancellation of RTC bus services.

Meanwhile, combing operations were being carried out in Kothagudem, Manuguru and Yellandu sub-divisions for the past two days.The bandh did manage to have nominal impact on Prakasam district.

However, in the Naxal stronghold of Nallamala region, banks were closed down and the RTC services were cancelled as a precautionary measure.

Superintendent of police N Balasubramaniam deployed additional forces to monitor the situation in problem areas.

ANDHRA PRADESH : Maoist gives in

Sunday May 7 2006 11:55 IST

GUNTUR: A Maoist dalam member, Y Seetharamaiah (21) surrendered before Guntur IG Satyanarayan on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, the IG said that Seetaramaiah confessed that he had joined the Naxal movement attracted by the speeches and songs of the Maoist leaders.

He had worked in Chandravanka Dalam, Bollapalli Dalam and was an accused in three murder cases apart from being involved in landmine blast.

The IG said that the Maoist was forced to surrender due to intense combing operations launched in Prakasam and Guntur districts. The Maoist also has a few health-related problems, he added.

More funds to Naxal-prone panchayats

Sunday May 7 2006 11:28 IST

SHIMOGA: The State Government has identified 14 Grama Panchayats in the district as Naxal-prone and granted additional funds of Rs 20 lakh for infrastructure development, said ZP CEO N Shivakumar.

Speaking to reporters he said works would start under Kugrama-Sugrama Scheme very soon and would be completed within a year as per the action plan to be prepared by Grama Sabhas.

Road works would be conducted at the needy villages. School buildings would be repaired and drinking water would be supplied in such rural parts, he said.

Beneficiary grama panchayats identified are Banukuli, Chanagonda (Sagar Taluk), Nittur, Sampagodu, Yedur (Hosanagar Taluk), Tirthahalli, Agumbe, Bidaragodu, Bejjvalli, Kudumallige, Honnetalu and Megaravali (Tirthahalli Taluk), Singanamane (Bhadravathi Taluk), he said.

Around 500 families in these GPs who are homeless would get homes under Indira Awas Scheme. Around 600 unemployed youth would get training with the financial help and subsidies from banks under self-employment scheme, he added.

DISASTER MANAGEMENT: Coastal belt districts including Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Kolar in Karnataka were in the list of 69 districts across the country which have been identified as disaster-prone, he revealed. Recently Shivakumar, along with Bijapur Deputy Commissioner, was sent to undergo training to train other officers in State on ‘Disaster Management’.

He gave details about the five-day training camp on Disaster Management jointly organised by the Yashawanthrao Chavan Administrative Training Institute, Pune and the Lal Bahadur Academy, Mussouri which was attended by him recently. Central Government has launched training camps and workshops on ‘Disaster Management’ for the officers across the country.

Extension of surrender policy for Naxals revives hope

Nagpur, May 07: The recent extension of Maharashtra government's surrender policy for Naxals has once again revived hopes for police in Naxal-infested districts in eastern part of the state as they expect several ultras to lay down arms and join the mainstream.

"As the surrender policy had lapsed, some of the Naxal cadre, who were keen to give up arms, had given up the hope", superintendent of police of worst-affected Gachiroli district, Shirish Jain, told mediapersons.

"Four Naxals had surrendered when the policy had lapsed and we were in a piquant situation as to what to do with them. But since the state government has extended the scheme from March 1, they would now be covered under the amnesty policy", he said.

Stating that though the surrender policy had failed to attract any prominent Naxals, Jain said so far the ultras of the level of deputy dalam commanders and others had surrendered.

IG police, anti-Naxalite operation (ANO) Pankaj Gupta said so far 80 ultras have surrendered in Vidarbha. Now the policy, which had expired in February, has been extended till August-end.

The policy was first announced in September 2005, in a bid to give the ultras a chance to shun the path of violence and join the mainstream.

Gupta said the fate of four Naxals, who had surrendered in March, would be decided by an official panel headed by the District Collector.

Ultras, who lay down arms, are given financial assistance ranging from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs 10 lakh to a Dalam commander or those of high rank, and Rs 1 lakh to deputy commander and Rs 75,000 to Area Rakshak Dal or Gram Rakshak Dal.

Naxals, surrendering with firearms like AK 47, self loading rifles or light machine gun are entitled for more benefits, he said.

Jain said after the Maharashtra government announced the surrender policy, the Naxal outfits have shifted some of their top ranking ultras out of state.

Bureau Report