Saturday, December 09, 2006

Medha Patkar arrested in Kolkata at a procession lead by NAXAL groups

Medha Patkar arrested in Kolkata

NDTV Correspondent

Saturday, December 9, 2006 (Kolkata):

Activist Medha Patkar has been arrested while protesting against the allotment of land to the Tatas in Singur.

Patkar was protesting outside USIS, American Centre, a high security zone.

The procession was apparently being led by some Naxal groups. According to the police, the protestors did not have the required permission.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee's hunger strike has entered the sixth day.

However, an adamant West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya says the Tata project will go on.


Cops stop Medha’s rally, detain her

Express News Service


Kolkata, December 9: THE Kolkata Police today arrested social activist Medha Patkar and her supporters near Jawaharlal Nehru Road, while they were marching towards the Nandan complex to protest against the alleged atrocities on farmers in Singur. They were also condemning the police assault on mediapersons at Seoraphuli yesterday.

Today’s protest was a silent procession. The rally began from Wellington Square at around 1:30 pm. However, Medha along with Sukhendu Bhattacharya, the state convenor of the National Alliance of People Movement (NAPM) and the convenor of Sanghati Udyog, Pranab Bandopadhyay, who is a senior activist of NAPM, joined the procession near S N Banerjee Road. The police intercepted the rally near Park Street and stopped it from advancing further. Medha, with her fellow NAPM comrades Shukhendu Bhattacharya, Pranab Bandopadhyay, convenor of Joint Forum Against Eviction, Gautam Sen, and Partha Ghosh, state committee members of CPI(ML), and a few other supporters were detained for a couple of hours before being released at about 5 pm.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police, HQ, P K Chatterjee said: “Medha Patkar along with her supporters were taken into custody because they broke a police cordon.”

Gautam Sen one of the arrested leaders, said: “The silent procession was stopped in negation of democratic rights. But once released, we again resumed our procession and went upto Bowbazar from Lalbazar.

Chhattisgarh tightens security in jails

Chhattisgarh tightens security in jails

Saturday, December 09, 2006



Security has been tightened in jails across the state to check any attempt at jailbreak by Maoist rebels.

Chhattisgarh Home Minister Ramvichar Netam told IANS that a notification has been issued to the Director General (Jail) asking him to take strong measures to strengthen security of jails having Maoist insurgents as inmates.

He said the home department received an intelligence report, which claims that the rebels are likely to target cities and prisons in order to create panic in the state. The minister said the district jails have been asked to shift the rebels to central jails.

The government has also shared intelligence information with district collectors and top police officials of the Naxal-hit regions.

Chhattisgarh tops among all 13 Maoist-hit states in the country and officials have put the death toll in the state since January in Maoist violence around 400, including 321 civilians.

Friday, December 08, 2006

From 'land to tiller' to 'land to Tatas': Communist turnaround

By Amulya Ganguli

Rarely has there been a more variegated collection of personalities battling for a single cause. Politicians in search of relevance, perennial do-gooders, Marxist and Maoist revolutionaries, writers on the far left of the political spectrum, rightwing leaders - all have assembled together to oppose the West Bengal government-sponsored automobile project of the Tatas in singur.



Leading the charge to protest against the handover of fertile agricultural land for industrial purposes is the Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, who has always been known to oppose whatever the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) does. But it is the motley crowd around her that provides an insight into the political and social ramifications of the protest campaign.

If Banerjee is the quintessential opposition leader who feels that acceptance of the ruling party's policies - even if they have a positive side - will undermine her position, each of her new friends has his or her personal and political axe to grind.

Among the first to jump on to Banerjee's bandwagon was all-time social activist Medha Patkar, well known for her opposition to big dams, such as the one on the Narmada river in Gujarat. Although the Singur project has nothing to do with dams, she has discerned a link in the problem of rehabilitating the displaced people which enterprises of this nature entail.

In the process, however, she has had to take on an anti-leftist position because the Tatas have the full backing of the Marxist West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya. It is the same with the Akademi award winning Bengali writer Mahashweta Devi, who is known for her Naxalite (Maoist) sympathies.

And if these two icons come together, can Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy be far behind? So, she too has led a demonstration in front of the CPI-M office in New Delhi over the Singur issue.

But what is curious is that these aggressive votaries of Left find themselves today on the same platform as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh and convenor of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) George Fernandes, both of whom are usually branded as 'fascists' by Left activists.

The support extended by Singh and Fernandes to Banerjee was only to be expected; she remains a member - albeit an unpredictable one - of NDA. But that is not the full story. Both Singh and Fernandes are after acquiring some kind of political relevance.

As is known, Singh remains in the shadow of the two BJP stalwarts, Atal Behari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani, despite becoming the party chief with the blessings of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Fernandes is at a loose end, having been virtually evicted from the position of power in his own party, the Janata Dal-United, by the Nitish Kumar-Sharad Yadav duo.

If the 'fascists' are looking for a cause that will bring them into the political limelight, so are the Marxist and Maoist revolutionaries. Hence, the 24-hour shutdown called by the minuscule Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) in West Bengal and the attack by a handful of young men claiming to be Maoists on a Tata automobile showroom in Kolkata.

Banerjee may have been initially pleased by the support she was getting from both Left and Right, but the pitfalls of such help from people ploughing their own furrows have now become apparent.

Singh's appearance on the same dais with the Trinamool Congress leader has made the West Bengal Congress distance itself from her after an initial show of solidarity. Now, Patkar too has expressed her uneasiness at being seen on the same side as NDA. The violence of the Naxalites has also put Banerjee in a difficult position.

Herein lies the complexity of a situation that violates the norms of conventional politics. Normally, the likes of Patkar, Mahashweta Devi and Roy would have been behind the Bhattacharya government. But the latter is now pursuing a path diametrically opposed to what the Left upholds.

Not only that, the state government has also shown no hesitation in using the strong arm of the law to keep the protesters at bay, using tactics which the Left used to routinely associate with 'bourgeois' administrations.

For Bhattacharya, however, there is evidently no alternative. Having embarked on the path of industrialization, he has to ensure that the investors are not discomfited in any way. And since the Tatas are at the top of the corporate ladder, the government has to be particularly sensitive to their needs, not least because both Orissa and Himachal Pradesh have expressed their willingness to let the Tatas bring their Singur project for manufacturing small cars, priced at Rs.100,000, to these states.

If the Tatas are compelled to abandon their project in Singur, it will be a major setback to Bhattacharya's efforts to woo foreign and domestic industrialists to invest in West Bengal. Hence, the speed with which his government has fenced of the plot of land to prepare for the arrival of the Tatas.

It has also to be remembered that the comrades can be quite ruthless if they set their minds on something. The Marichjhanpi incident in the Sunderbans in the 70s (mentioned in Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide) is a case in point. The hard-hearted manner in which the Left Front government evicted the East Bengali refugees from there and sent them back to Dandakaranya in what is now Chhattisgarh underlined the same official and political determination now in evidence in Singur.

Yet, at one time, when the leftists were not in power in West Bengal, they used to favour the settlement of the refugees in the Sunderbans. But their views changed after assuming office; just as it has now on industrialization. So, the Left slogan today is not 'land to the tiller', but land to the Tatas.

(Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. He can be reached at aganguli@mail.com)

Copyright Indo-Asian News Service

Jharkhand demands additional CRPF personnel

Friday, December 8, 2006 (New Delhi):

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on Friday night agreed to consider positively naxal-hit Jharkhand's demand for 12,000 additional para-military personnel from the Centre to deal with the menace.

The Home Minister said the State Government's request for additional central forces would be considered positively, the MHA said in an official release after a 30-minute meeting between Patil and Chief Minister Madhu Koda.

Patil underlined the need to further improve ground level police response to effectively deal with naxal violence and fine-tune the action plan drawn up by the State Government.

The Home Minister said special measures were necessary to accelerate development activities in naxalite affected areas and assured the Chief Minister all necessary help to supplement its efforts and resources to deal with the naxal problem.

Koda said that since 18 of the 22 districts were naxal affected, the state required 12 additional battalions of para-military force.

During the meeting, issues like police modernisation and intelligence gathering measures also came up for discussion.

Earlier in the day, Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibtey Razi also had a meeting with Patil and apprised him of the situation in the state.

After his meeting with Patil, Razi told reporters that the state was facing naxal problem and there was need to deal with it on a war footing.

The meeting came in the backdrop of the recent killing of 14 policemen in a landmine explosion in Bokaro. (PTI)

Andhra police gun down three Naxalites

Khammam (Andhra Pradesh), Dec 8 (ANI): The Andhra Pradesh police gunned down three Naxalites in an encounter in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh on early Friday morning.

The encounter took place near Regalla forest area here.

Police said they received information that some Naxalites were camping in the forest after which a special police party raided the area.

But as they reached the spot, the Naxals opened firing. And, in the counter attack, three Naxalites were killed.

Police said they recovered an AK 47 and another weapon from the slain Naxals.

Naxal violence is of serious concern in some of India's biggest states, including Andhra Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra, western Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and some parts of Uttar Pradesh.

More than 1,750 villages in five districts of North Telangana in Andhra Pradesh have been classified as extremist-affected by the police and forces were deployed depending on the sensitivity of the areas.

The Naxalites, also sometimes called the Naxals, is a loose term used to define groups waging a violent struggle on behalf of landless labourers and tribal people. (ANI)

Two Naxal-Hit state governors meet Indian Home Minister New Delhi

, Dec. 8, IRNA
India-Naxal States-Governors

Governors of two naxal-hit states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have met Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and apprised him of the situation in their respective states.

After his meeting with Patil, Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibtey Razi told reporters that the state was facing naxal problem and efforts were continuing on a war-footing to contain it, the official sources said.

The meeting came in the backdrop of the recent killing of 14 policemen in landmine explosion in Bokaro district of Jharkhand after which the central government rushed a helicopter for immediate evacuation of the injured policemen and dispatched a team of NSG (National Security Guards) to examine the blast site.

The Governor is also understood to have apprised the home minister of the overall situation in the state in the wake of life-imprisonment awarded to JMM (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha) leader Sibu Soren in connection with a murder case, who had to quit his central government's ministerial post and sent to jail later.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda, who is in the national capital, will also meet Patil.

Chhattisgarh Governor Lt. Gen (retd.) K M Seth also had a separate meeting with Patil and he also discussed the severe naxal problem in his state.

Chhattisgarh has accounted for 627 incidents of naxal violence till October this year compared to 319 incidents during the corresponding period last year.

The state has alone accounted for nearly 50 percent of total incidents and about 60 percent of total casualties this year.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Maoists in Nallamala planning major strike?

Thursday December 7 2006 13:34 IST

KURNOOL: Are the members of the proscribed CPI (Maoist) planning to regroup and carry out sporadic strikes in the Nallamala forests?

Though Director General of Police Swaranjit Sen has claimed that the police have gained an upper hand in Nallamala forests after the death of top Maoist leaders, including state committee secretary Madhav, in encounters during the last six months, District Superintendent of Police B Malla Reddy had on November 22, said that there were nearly two dozen Maoists still holed up in the Nallamala forests and that they were trying to regroup themselves.

Police even believe that Mahaboobnagar district committee secretary Sambasivudu, who masterminded the attack on Makthal Congress MLA Ch Narsi Reddy on August 15, last year, is among them and planning a major strike.

On Monday night, the Maoists were spotted by the Greyhounds personnel while crossing Krishna river from Guntur side to go to their shelter zones in Prakasam district.

Though both sides exchanged fire, none was injured in the incident.

“The Maoists have recently recruited five youth belonging to Marrivemula, Akkapalem and Satakodu villages in Pullalacheruvu mandal of Prakasam district,” a senior police official told this website’s newspaper.

The Maoists have stepped up violence in Guntur and Prakasam districts by gunning down Giddalur Congress MLA Pagadala Ramaiah’s brother P China Rangaiah at Chinaganapalle village of Racherla mandal on September 30, a former Naxalite Singa Suresh at Macharajukunta village in Peddaraveedu Mandal on November 20 in Prakasam district besides Bollapalli Mandal Parishad president and Congress functionary T Rami Reddy 10 days ago.

On the other hand, the Prakasam district police unearthed five major dumps in the Nallamala forests and recovered huge quantity of arms and ammunition in the last couple of months.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Naxals may target important facilities

HT Correspondent

New Delhi, December 5, 2006

Home Minister Shivraj Patil told Lok Sabha on Tuesday that Naxalites were now planning to target important installations in major cities of India.

Speaking during the question hour, Patil said, the intelligence information has been shared with the states. "Like forests provide safe hideouts to Naxalites in tribal areas, the cities also provide them cover. Taking advantage of this, they plan to target major installations in cities," he said.

The Centre has asked state governments to collect actionable information on the Naxalite movement and work in a coordinated manner with neighbouring states, he said, while assuring all possible help to man the problem.

In a bid to give a human face to the problem, Patil said, 'bullets' are not an answer to the growing problem of Naxalism. "We have to deal with the situation in a humane manner but should not be 'timid' towards Naxalities. We have to earn people's confidence through social sector schemes," he viewed, admitting that the problem was complex.

One area for human touch is allowing Naxalities to surrender. The government has initiated a scheme for allowing Naxalities to surrender and their rehabilitation in some states, he said. Also, the victims of Naxal violence were being compensated with ex-gratia payment between Rs one to three lakh. "In some cases it has been as high as Rs seven lakh," he said.

Patil also said that the government was in constant touch with the states affected by Naxal violence and 37 battalions have been deployed there.

"Whatever more help they require the Centre is willing to provide after accessing the situation," he said. Each state has also appointed a nodal officer for better coordination with other states.

Naxal menace: Home ministry team meets Koda

Posted at Tuesday, 05 December 2006 14:12 IST
Ranchi, Dec 5: A three-member team of the Central Home Ministry called upon the chief minister Madhu Koda in the wake of the naxalite attack in Bokaro. The team is in the state to take stock of the situation in the aftermath of the attack.

The meeting was also attended by senior officials of the police department. Additional Secretary, Vinay Kumar, who headed the team, asked the government to prepare a concrete strategy to tackle the naxal menace.

He assured that the Central government would provide every possible help to the state.

Police chief, J. B Mahapatra, who also attended the meeting, said that the police force needed modern weapons and training to tackle the problem.

Security intelligence strengthened to deal with Naxalism: Patil

New Delhi, Dec 05: Home Minister Shivraj Patil today said the special security and intelligence structures were being streamlined to effectively deal with the Naxalite menace in various parts of the country.

The Government was pursuing a multi-pronged strategy to address the Naxal problem on political, security and development fronts, the Home Minister said, replying to supplementaries on the Naxal menace which was growing in many states.

Patil said the Home Ministry was taking the matter seriously and coordinating and cooperating with the Naxal affected state governments to tackle the situation.

The Centre had provided 37 battalions--37000 men and officials of the security forces-- to the states to curb the Naxal activities. However, since law and order problem was the state responsibility, deployment of forces had been left to the state government.

In addition, armoured vehicles had also been provided to help the state effectively deal with the Naxal violence. Besides resources and assistance to the state, the centre was also providing helicopters for medical and rescue operations.

The Home Minister said the country's forces were well equipped to deal with the menace in a ''just'' and not in a ''timid'' manner.

He, however, rejected a suggestion that the Government should talk to ultras as the Nepal government had done in that country. He said one kind of strategy would not necessarily work for another country.

Patil said the government was not entirely depending on the force and bullet to deal with the situation. It was implementing projects to remove social disparity which could also be one of the reasons for growth in Naxal activities.

Bureau Report

Monday, December 04, 2006

CRPF thwart Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh

Raipur, Dec 4 (IANS) Paramilitary troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) foiled a Maoist attack on a relief camp in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district.

The CRPF men, posted outside a relief camp in Cherpal forest, some 215 km from here, opened fire Sunday night on about 500 rebels armed with sophisticated weapons and traditional bow and arrows.

The relief camp houses over 700 tribals.


"The battle broke out around 10.00 p.m. and continued into the wee hours of Monday. CRPF has caused quite a few casualties among the rebels," Inspector General R.K. Vij told IANS.

"It was a major attack on the relief camp and police are combing the forest to recover the dead bodies of the rebels, if there are any," he added.

About 50,000 poor tribals have left their homes and settled in various refugee camps since a government backed civil militia movement emerged in June 2005.

At least 400 people, including 321 civilians, have been killed in Maoist violence in the state since January.

Maoists in India concerned about covert infiltration by Indian intelligence

Media Release
Dec. 4, 2006

Maoists in Jharkhand are now scrutinizing every new comer in the group. Think tanks believe, this may be the sign that covert infiltration by Indian intelligence is finally working. The Maoists are concerned about all new comers. They are carefully watching them.

According to media reports, Police in Jharkhand have seized application forms for the Communist Party of India-Maoist, including not only educational qualifications and marital status but also a question seeking reasons for joining.

Like any other job application, the 17-point form, seized from different parts of the state, asks for details like annual income, nationality, address, marital status and educational qualifications, said police sources.

It also asks the applicant to write why he/she wants to join the group, formed after the merger of the merger of the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and People's War.

The form, which needs to be endorsed by a member of the CPI(M), includes details of whether the applicant has been to jail. If so, why?

The applicant has to take an oath to remain faithful to the organisation and spread its ideology, an official said.

"It seems that Maoist leaders are getting concerned about new entrants after some of their cadres were involved in unauthorized activities like loot, which brought them a bad name," said a police official involved in anti extremist operations.

Can democracy and Maoists co-exist?

By Shyam Khosla

The crucial issue is whether the rebels masquerading as revolutionaries will hand over their arms, refrain from indulging in extortions, abductions and violence? Or will their leaders make politically correct noises while their followers continue to play havoc with the civil society? The peace process can go forward only if the rebels sincerely implement the understanding.

Maoist leader Parchanda’s anti-Hindu bais is no surprise. A Christian by faith and a Maoist by conviction, he is not expected to have respect or sympathy for Hindu identity, values and traditions, Nepal is so proud of. His first “achievement” after the King relinquished absolute power was to rescind the centuries-old tradition of Nepal’s identity as a Hindu State. After signing a comprehensive agreement with the Government led by the Seven-party-alliance, he is now insisting that the cow ceases to be country’s national animal. Non-communist pro-democracy parties are resisting this unreasonable demand as Nepalese worship the cow and hold it in high regard as Hindus do all over the world. Parchanda’ uncompromising stand on the cow has converted it into a major controversy. This is emerging as roadblock in arriving at a consensus on the interim constitution.

There is no dearth of issues that are dogging the peace process. Certain elements in the Government and outside have openly come out in support of the demand for a constitutional monarchy. Gopal Man Shreshta, a senior Minister in the Governmment, has gone further to demand that the King be made the interim President till elections are held and a new Constitution adopted. Fate of the monarchy, he says, is a complex and sensitive issue and it will not be easy to abolish 238-years old monarchy by merely adopting a clause in the proposed Constitution Assembly. The pro-democracy parties are divided on the method to resolve the issue. While the Nepali Congress - the largest amongst them - wants the issue to be resolved through negotiations, some other parties want the decision to be left to the Constitution Assembly. There is also a view that the fate of the monarchy be decided by a referendum. A recent poll - no one knows how credible it is - says 52 per cent of Nepalese want the monarchy to be retained as a ceremonial institution. Many in Nepal and country’s friends in India feel that constitutional monarchy will bring stability to the country divided down the middle by the Maoist violence and inept and insensitive handling of the mass upsurge by the King. Despite the King and Crown prince’s personal unpopularity, there is considerable public support for the monarchy as an institution.

The implementation of the agreement over management of the arms is also posing problems. It was decided that weapons and arms with the Maoists will be kept in containers in 28 camps where the cadres would be settled and allowed to carry on their drills but no arms training. A total of 315 armed- cadres will guard these camps under the overall supervision of the UN. The cadres who had been brought to these camps are said to be restive. They complain of lack of basic amenities, though the Government has sanctioned RS 10 crore for providing infra structure in these camps. This may be a minor irritant. The crucial issue is whether the rebels masquerading as revolutionaries will hand over their arms, refrain from indulging in extortions, abductions and violence? Or will their leaders make politically correct noises while their followers continue to play havoc with the civil society? The peace process can go forward only if the rebels sincerely implement the understanding and abide by the commitments they have made.

The conduct of the Maoist cadres is already a cause of concern for those who want peace and democracy to return to the landlocked country. It has created serious doubts about what would happen during the impending elections to Parliament/Constituent Assembly. No one believes that Maoists will deposit all the arms and weapons they have accumulated with the help of other terror groups and countries hostile to India. There are grave apprehensions that a large part of arms and a large section of the cadres would remain underground as part of the Maoists’ grand strategy. They will be used in the coming elections to terrorise people and rig polls. These fears are not totally unfounded for experience world over is that no terror outfit lays down all its arms. It goes without saying that no free and fair election can be held if one of the parties in the field has armed cadres fully trained to terrorise the electorate. This poses a huge challenge for the UN that will supervise the management of weapons and for the fragile Government headed by Koirala. Much will depend on how far they succeed in containing the use of the gun by the Maoists in the coming parliamentary elections.

Although age and health are not in his side, the Prime Minister has shown courage and grit to resist pressures from Maoists and their friends in India - particularly the CPM to whom the UPA Government seems to have outsourced the Nepal desk in External Affairs Ministry. Koirala stood his ground and didn’t agree to totally negate the role of monarchy in the country. The PM also declined to include Maoists ministers in the Government till the issue of management of weapons and cadres were sorted out. Unfortunately, democratic forces in Nepal are divided and the army - or its part that may be allowed to move out of the barracks - is unlikely to have adequate manpower and moral to ensure a free and fair play, notwithstanding the fact that the Prime Minister holds the defence portfolio. The army too has been asked to deposit weapons - equal in number of the arms deposited by the rebels - in stores under the supervision of UN. One can only hope and pray that any attempt by Maoists to rig the polls through terror tactics would be foiled by the Government, the UN and the international community, including India.

Unity among democratic forces in Nepal is the crying need of the times. It is only through a joint effort that they can possibly prevent the Maoists to capture power by fraudulent means. That would be worse than the cruel and anti-people rule by the King. First of all, the Nepali Congress must put its own house in order. Both the factions must sink their personal egos and work together. They also need to have an electoral understanding or alliance with CPM-UML (a group of several communist parties) led by Deputy Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli. Although reports from the interiors suggest that Maoist wouldn‘t allow any other party to win, there is a chance of an alliance of the Nepali Congress and CPM-UML forming the next government if elections are, by and large, free and fair.

Oli, who is the Foreign Minister in the present dispensation, was in India recently. New Delhi needs to heed his advice albeit unsolicited to avoid “past mistakes” not necessarily of his perception. It also applies to Nepal that is understandably keen to maintain the status quo with regard to open borders between the two countries as a “symbol of enduring friendship and cooperation between the two countries”. Its leaders and citizens must appreciate that expecting India to stand by them and give Nepalese equal rights with our citizens and hurting our national interests by exporting Maoist and Islamic terror and heaping insults on us can’t go together. UPA Government also needs to remember that acting in Nepal under pressure from the Left is neither in our national interest nor in the interest of cordial Indo-Nepal relations. New Delhi must wake up to the developments in Nepal and reorient its diplomacy to ensure that no third country is able to create mischief in a country with which we have unique historical, religious and cultural relations.

'Bengal Maoists' target car plant

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta



Protesters say that farmers have been forced to move

Police in the Indian state of West Bengal say Maoist rebels have attacked a showroom in protest over plans to build a factory to build small cars.

The protesters left behind posters after the attack - in central Calcutta - calling on the Tata company not to go ahead with the plans.

They argue that the new plant will displace scores of farmers.

Police say that similar attacks by Maoists have been reported from some other towns across the state.

Ailing economy

"Leave Bengal and don't uproot our farmers," the Maoist posters said.

A committee of political parties opposing the Tata project called a 12-hour strike in the district of Hooghly on Monday, where the Singur plant is located.


The authorities say that order has now been restored


No violence has so far been reported.

In Calcutta, both the Trinamul Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have publicly spoken out against the plant.

But West Bengal's Chief Minister, Buddhadev Bhattacharya, has said the Tata project will go ahead despite the opposition.

He said that work to fence the area earmarked for the plant - most of it cropland spreading over a 1,000 acres area - will be completed within the next two days.

Mr Bhattacharya is desperately trying to attract investment to rejuvenate the state's ailing economy.

"If this project cannot be implemented, we will lose out on many other projects that have been lined up for Bengal," he said.

"Most of the villagers have accepted our financial compensation and moved out of Singur. It is the outsiders like the Maoists and the Trinamuls who are behind the mayhem. We will not tolerate this," the chief minister said.

'People's car'

Trinamul Congress legislators in the state assembly walked out in protest over the chief minister's comments. But the chief minister said he was open to discussions with the opposition.

"I can talk to all parties with an open mind but I will not tolerate vandalism that will ruin our chances to get more investment once the Tata project is implemented," he said.

"There is no trouble in Singur now, everything is under control."

The Tata company plans to set up the factory to manufacture their proposed "People's Car", selling for around 100,000 Rupees (just over $2,000).

But opposition parties say that farmers have been "forcibly uprooted" to enable the project to go ahead. They argue that the plant should instead be built on fallow land.

Social activist Medha Patkar has joined the protests. On Monday, she was detained on her way to Singur - for the second time in less than a week.

On Saturday, scores of villagers led by the Maoists fought pitched battles with the police at Singur .

Police used teargas and baton-charges to break up the demonstration, and nearly 50 people were injured, including some women.

Chhattisgarh : 1,000 armed Maoists attack CRPF camp in Bijapur

Monday December 4 2006 11:26 IST

BHUBANESWAR: Armed Naxalites attacked a camp of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on Sunday night at Cherpal village, about 12 km from Bijapur town in Dantewara district of Chhattisgarh.

Police sources said the Maoists, numbering about 1,000, cordoned off the CRPF camp at around 8.30 pm and opened fire, forcing the para-military forces to retaliate. Firing was still on in the area and preliminary reports indicated that the CRPF personnel were safe.


A company of CRPF personnel and about 50 special police officers (SPOs), the local tribal youth recruited to assist the police and para military forces were present in the Cherpal camp.

Even as the fierce gun-battle went on, bordering districts of Orissa were put on alert. Malkangiri police had started keeping a watch on the border areas suspecting any fallout of the Naxal attack.

Malkangiri SP Himanshu Lal told this website’s newspaper that his units were in touch with security forces of Chhattisgarh and maintaining constant surveillance.

EARLIER ATTACKS: It may be recalled that on July 17, about 25 persons were killed and over 150 injured when Naxalites attacked Errabore village in Dantewara. At least 20 persons were taken captive.

About 800 Naxalites attacked a CRPF post and a State Government-run relief camp at Errabore at 1 am. Armed Naxals stormed the Errabore relief camp, where around 5,000 villagers had taken shelter following threat from the militants. Naxalites first attacked the CRPF camp, keeping the security forces engaged, and then raided the relief camp. They carried out blasts, fired indiscriminately and set about 50 huts at Errabore relief camp on fire.

In April this year, Maoists had killed 11 policemen, including an officer, in an attack on a police post in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. About 70 Naxalites came to the Murkinar police outpost in a bus and started attacking the policemen.

Eleven died on the spot. The Naxalites looted most of the weapons, including one LMG and three AK-47s. Meanwhile, a delegation from National Commission for Women (NCW) on Sunday visited the Naxal-infested Dantewara district and probed the condition of women there.

The members visited the district headquarters, besides three Salwa Judum camps located in Nelasnar,

Bangapal and Bhairamgarh and interacted with the women.

The commission also had a discussion with district administration on the condition of women and cases of atrocities on them.

‘Dantewara is having a comparatively low literacy rate among women in the State,’ the sources said.

Naxal attack in Bijapur

Monday, December 04, 2006 07:24:12 am

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First visual proof of the existence of a female militant wing

A major attack was launched by Naxalites on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Bijapur district in Dantewada, Chattisgarh. The CRPF company was stationed at the Sherpal camp.

Around 700 Naxals stormed the camp late on Sunday night resulting in gun fire. No details on the casualties are available so far. It’s the second time the same camp was under attack. On November 30, 4 ultras were killed, when they tried to storm the camp.

Also, this comes just 2 days after 14 policemen were killed and 3 injured when Naxalites blew up the vehicle they were travelling in with an Improvised Explosive Device in a village near Bokaro in Jharkhand.

In fact, TIMES NOW last week had also reported on the first visual proof of the existence of a female militant wing in the Naxal movement in this belt itself.

Training to these extremists is being imparted in dense jungles in camps that dot the infamous ‘Red Corrridor’ that stretches from the Nepal till down south to the Dandakaranya region in Andhra Pradesh.

Though the government has been working on a four-pronged strategy to improve internal security Naxal menace has been growing in the past couple of years especially after the ‘Red Corridor’ was literally opened up following the merger of the Maoists with the People’s War Naxal outfit that has been active down South.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Guerrilla week puts cops on alert

Statesman News Service

MALKANGIRI, Dec 3: The People’s Guerrilla Army Week (PGAW) celebrations and suspected influx of radicals from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh have caused concern among local people, particularly after the brutal killing of a person a couple of days ago.

Sibananda Jena (28) was killed by the Maoists at midnight two days back as the radicals suspected him to be a police informer. It is suspected that a huge number of bombs and explosive materials have been planted in the interior pockets and the state highway-25 in view of the celebration of PGA Week.

Today, both the government and private buses remained at Malkangiri bus-stand without plying to Motu, Kalimela and MV 79, the Naxalite-infested pockets. The Motu-Malkangiri section of the state highway wore a deserted look as heavy vehicles remained off road and very few four-wheelers took the “risk”. As many as 35 labourers destined for Bhadranchal area were held up at Malkangiri bus-stand for the driver of the bus refused to go to Motu town. Some individuals were taking utmost precaution as they are suspected to be on the hit-list of the ultras. Mr Oieka Jaga, the sarapanch of Malavaram grama panchayat, is now camping in Malkangiri district headquarters as he is said to be on the list, while Mr Kantaru Pradhan, a BJD activist of Vejangiwada village, is also staying put at the district headquarters for the same reason.

The cops who had nabbed 18 Naxalites in Gobindapalli Ghat on 15 January, 2004 are also reportedly on the target list as is Marko Raja alias Sekhar, a Maoist who had surrendered in June 2004, said reliable sources. The Malkangiri district police has stepped up its vigil to avert any untoward incident during the celebrations by the PGA.

Radicals assemble

There has been a spurt in the Naxalite activities in the blocks of Gosani and Rayagada and there are indications that the radicals are congregating under the leadership of a CPI (Maoist) leader who is on the top wanted list of the Andhra Pradesh police, SNS adds from Paralakhemundi.

It is apprehended that the radicals are planning to make an impact during the Peoples Liberation Guerilla Army Week or more commonly called as the PGA Week. Over the last couple of days, there has been a concentration and assembling of radicals, especially in the villages of Batasiripur, Uppalada and Sata Mile which had been the hub of Maoist activities in the past when it raised its ugly head in Gajapati .
While police are keeping their fingers crossed, the Naxalite leaders are planning to gather local support by raking up issues such as corruption and land disputes. The campaign to garner local support has reportedly been based on assurances that all the landless will be distributed lands and huge land holdings of influential people and temple property will be targeted.

Govt asks Home Ministry, CRPF officials to visit Jharkhand

New Delhi, Dec 03: The Centre has asked Additional Secretary of the Home Ministry, incharge of Naxal wing, along with senior officials of the CRPF to rush to Jharkhand to take first-hand account of the last evening's incident that left 13 state police personnel dead and three others inured.

Home Ministry sources said Additional Secretary (anti-Naxal wing) Vinay Kumar along with Inspector General (Operations) of the CRPF A P Maheshwari would be visiting the the site of the incident tomorrow.

They would be preparing their report, which would be handed over to the Union Home Ministry for further action besides overseeing the joint operation being launched by the state police and the CRPF, the sources said.

As many as 13 police personnel of the special task force were killed when Naxalities detonated an improvised explosive device blowing up the vehicle they were travelling in Kanchkir village near the steel city of Bokaro in Jharkhand.

Preliminary investigations said that the STF personnel did not abide by the basic principle and took the same route on their return after they were on an anti-Naxal patrolling.

The normal road had broken down and the unsuspecting cops took a diversion through a culvert, a move that Naxal operatives were waiting for, the sources said.

A CRPF spokesman had claimed yesterday that the death toll was 14.

The Centre has rushed a bomb disposal squad of the elite national security guard to examine the site.

An electric circuit, used for triggering the IED, had been found at the blast site.

Bureau Report

RAW REPORT BLOCKED by PM & HM

The Union Home Minister has decided not to make a report Public prepared by R.A.W Officials (Intelligence wing of India). The Report prepared during Vajpayee Tenure will reveal some stunning facts which will expose the lapses on the part of Government of India.

Some Highlighted points in the report are

a) Terrorists from Pakistan and Bangladesh have acquired Prominent jobs in various sectors. The Cause of the worry is more than 2,000 people said to be trained in pakistan have got enrolled as workers and Officers in Defence Forces

b) Pak born militants have infilitrated into various Media houses spread across the nation. Many are holding some prime positions even today (quoted in Aug 2004)


c) The Report states "As per our assumption, they are more than 35,000 paki based militants who have already taken up other jobs in private and Public sectors companies and an additional 60,000 militants who have completed their education in pakistan and Bangladesh are prepared to take up jobs in india in disguise.



The report was submitted before the Prime Minister and Home Minister in August 2004 which is likely to be thrown in a cold storage until and unless there is a change in the government at the centre.

LeT, JeM use Bangladesh, Nepal for anti-India operations

Press Trust of India
Posted online: Sunday, December 03, 2006 at 1055 hours IST


New Delhi, December 3: The Centre is seriously concerned over Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed using territory and elements in Bangladesh and Nepal for movement of terrorists and finances.


The modus operandi is recruitment of Indian youths by LeT and Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJAI-BD) for training in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and then sending them back to India for sabotage and subversive activities.
"These outfits are well organised, interlinked and have the latest hardware and communication equipment," according to a paper prepared by the Union Home Ministry on internal security situation.


Investigations into recent terror attacks including the July Mumbai blasts, Varanasi serial blasts in March and the attack on the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore last December have indicated increased use of Bangladeshi territory by ISI-backed terrorist groups and the growing terror net- working of Bangladeshi fundamentalist groups with LeT and JeM. According to intelligence sources, in all these attacks, suspected terrorists had infiltrated from across the Indo-Bangladesh border.


The current strategy of these groups, according to the paper, is to maintain continuous flow of finances to sustain terrorist network, target vital installations and economic infrastructure, recruit and train local modules and attack soft targets like market places, public transport system, places of worship and congregations.
Their strategy also includes provoking communal tensions to create a wedge between communities and supplying hardware through land and sea routes. The Home Ministry strongly feels that terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan and PoK is yet to be dismantled and it is being used by Pakistan-based and ISI-sponsored outfits like JeM, LeT, Al-Badr and Hizbul Mujahideen.
Concerned over the situation, the security establishment has taken special measures to meet the terror threat in the hinterland.
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Ground Zero: Villagers continue protests, clash with police

TATA CAR PROJECT: LOCALS TRY TO STOP FENCING OF SITE, POLICE RESORT TO LATHI-CHARGE, TEARGAS; MEDHA PATKAR DETAINED

Ground Zero: Villagers continue protests, clash with police

Ravik Bhattacharya


Singur, December 2: The state government’s bid to fence the proposed Tata Motors car plant site at Singur met with isolated resistance on the second day with the police resorting to teargas shells and lathi-charge at several places. There were also unconfirmed reports of rubber bullets being fired by the police to drive away violent mobs.

The trouble began at 10 am when several hundred villagers mostly from Purbapara, Bagemelia and Khaserbheri began throwing stones at the police and labourers who were putting up the poles for boundary walls. The police chased them away, but were reportedly attacked with stones and bombs. About half-a-dozen policemen were injured, including a woman deputy superindentent of police, Soma Das. The police then fired teargas shells and resorted to a lathi-charge. Some protesters were beaten up and bundled into police vans.



A couple of teargas shells fired by the police landed on stacks of paddy, which then caught fire, triggering more tension. Some protesters complained that the police and CPI(M) cadres were jointly setting fire to huts in villages where there was resistance against handing over land for the car project.

With security reinforcements arriving at Singur, the protests spread to other areas also. Blockades were put up on railway tracks and highways at different places.

Over 50 protesters were arrested, including 18 women. More than 30-40 students from Jadavpur University and Presidency College who had gone to Singur to support disgruntled villagers in Khaserbheri, Purbapara and Bagemelia were also arrested. The police said the students were linked to Naxalite factions.

Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, who arrived in Kolkata today and tried to visit Singur, was first stopped from going there. She returned from Maitipara near Dankuni, only to take another route to reach one of the Singur villages. But she was detained by the police. Earlier, Trinamool MLA from Singur Rabindranath Bhattacharya was also picked up by the police and detained.

The police and local CPI(M) leaders alleged that Patkar used a burqa to hoodwink the police and enter a Singur village where Section 144 CrPC was promulgated. But her supporters from “Sanghati Udyog” — an NGO — refuted the allegation.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, who was away in Islampur in North Bengal to address a party rally for the Assembly bypolls, also said she was heading for Singur as the police had resorted to force on protesting villagers.

When contacted, the director, industries, M V Rao, who was supervising the fencing work along with the managing director WBIDC, Debasish Som, and the district magistrate of Hooghly, Vinod Kumar, said the police had to “chase away” some protesters trying to stop the fencing work. But work progressed smoothly after that, said the officials.

Rao said that over 1,500 workers, mostly locals, were engaged in the fencing work. The authorities hoped to complete the work in the next three-four days. About four kilometres of the area has already been fenced in two days.

Rising awareness: Tribal women of Bastar, Chhattisgarh.


Ray of hope

KALPANA SHARMA
In the midst of harsh realities, there are signs that women are beginning to speak up for their rights.


Rising awareness: Tribal women of Bastar, Chhattisgarh.


LAST month, a depressing story in a newspaper related how in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, where Japanese Encephalitis is recurrent, the wards in the district hospital were full of boys. Was it possible that no girls had contracted the disease? The answer, sadly, is rather obvious. When faced with a choice of loss of several days of paid labour, poor families chose to treat only their sons leaving their daughters to either succumb to the disease or be permanently impaired as a result of contracting it.

This is only one of the many harsh realities of women's health in this country that begins at birth, goes on through girlhood to adolescence and adulthood — an unchanging story of callous neglect. Every year, the statistics of infant mortality or maternal mortality only tell part of the story. For, the real burden of a shamefully inadequate public health care system in this country, particularly in the poorer and more deprived regions, has to be borne by women. It is like living under low-intensity conflict; you can never be sure from which direction you will be attacked and whether you will live to see another day.

But sometimes out of this gloomy scenario you catch glimpses of light, of something positive that is being done. In the midst of a serious discussion on the repercussions of conflict on women's health, at a National Dialogue on Women, Health and Development held recently in Mumbai, I chanced upon that glimmer of hope.

Spellbound


The three women sat quietly through the discussion. Then one, Bhuvaneshwari, got up and began speaking. We were spellbound. She transported us to the State of Chhattisgarh and the picture she drew of life in the district of Dantewada illustrated only too well what conflict does to women's health and lives. Chhattisgarh, which came into existence in November 2001, has a large tribal and scheduled caste population. Parts of it are also "Naxalite-affected", as the condition of having the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) operating in any territory is now termed, as if it was a contagious disease.

Instead of dealing with the crippling poverty that creates fertile ground for such a radical movement, the Chhattisgarh government's solution consists of arming villagers and relocating them in fortified camps through what is known as Salwa Judum. Bhuvaneshwari described life for the people from 35 villages in one such camp of 16,000 people. This is only one of 18 such camps in Dantewada district.

"The women are so scared", she said, "They see only death". The nurse and anganwadi worker have stopped coming to the camp. There is no drinking water. Every day a couple of children die. There is no woman doctor. As a result, women with health problems have no one to whom they can turn. "On one side there is the police, on the other the Naxalites. People are caught in the middle", she said. People in the camps are also cut off from their means of livelihood, which consists of collecting mahua flowers and tendu leaves from the forest. They are told not to step out of the camp if they want to stay alive. But the real danger to their lives is from the living conditions inside the camp.

Despite this grim picture, there is another side of Chhattisgarh that is now shining a ray of hope. This consists of women like Laxmi and Maan Kuwar, both Mitanins, the Chhattisgarhi term for "friend". There are now 60,000 women like them who have been trained to become community health volunteers. Most of the women are illiterate; they are selected by the community and are paid no salary. Yet, their work is already beginning to yield significant results in the health parameters of some of the poorest parts of the State.

Laxmi, married with two children, does not read and write. She has recently learned how to sign her name. But that does not deter her from doing her job as a Mitanin, she tells me proudly. What does she do? Every day she visits people's homes, checks on women who are pregnant, reminds them of what they should eat and how much, checks the Balwadi and makes sure that the Anganwadi worker is doing her job of providing children with a nutritious meal. Every Friday, she holds a meeting with the women in the village. Sometimes, she has to call two meetings as the women work and cannot get away at the same time. At these meetings, the women speak of their problems. At one of them, the women complained about the teacher who would come drunk, never go to school and misbehave with the women. Laxmi and other Mitanins took up the issue to the block office. As a result of their campaign, the teacher was removed and they have another teacher.

Another problem that the Mitanins came across and successfully tackled was that of diversion of food grains meant for people with Below Poverty Line (BPL) ration cards. Maan Kuwar recounted how she discovered that some people had not received rations for as long as five years. The ration shop owner would take the BPL cards, collect the grains, but when the families went to get their rations, he would tell them that there was no supply.

Maan Kuwar mobilised other women to tackle this problem. Together they went to meet the police patil and the block development officer. "We told the officer and the police patil that people had not been getting their rations. The poor are dying, we said. Who is getting the benefit of this system, we asked. It should be the poor", she said. The officials told them they would check.

Persistence pays


When the officials finally returned, she says instead of giving her an answer, they asked her what was her problem, what had she to gain by raising this issue of rations. "He shouted at us, scolded us and even threatened us", she said. The women had waited from eight in the morning to five in the evening. At the end of the day they got nothing and had to take a considerable risk to return to their villages in the dark.

But they would not give up. Maan Kuwar says they took the problem up to the district level and finally they got a fair hearing. They also filed a case against the officials who had threatened them. The district official checked and found that what the women had said was true. The result of this long fight was that the ration shops, which had been given over to private traders, were handed back to the panchayats to manage not just in a few districts but also all over the State.

"Unless we raise our fists, we won't get our rights", says the diminutive Maan Kuwar. The hope lies in the fact that these women now know their rights, and also know how to get them.

Email the writer: ksharma@thehindu.co.in

One Naxal dead in encounter with police in Palamau

Medininagar (Jharkhand), Dec 02: A suspected Maoist was today killed in an encounter between police and the extremists near chat village in Palamau district, a senior police official said here.

The man, identified as Raj Kumar Bhuyan, died while being shifted to a local hospital after he was injured in the encounter, Superintendent of Police Udayan Kumar Singh told reporters here.

Acting on a tip-off that the Maoists had assembled near the village to plan a strike in the district, the police rushed to the spot, and in the ensuing encounter the Bhuyan suffered bullet injuries, he added.

The police picked up another suspected Maoist, Harihar Mahto, for interrogation, he said.

The police recovered a sten gun, two stolen rifles, two regular rifles, three double-barrel guns and 400 live cartridges from the encounter site, he added.

In a separate incident in neighbouring Latehar district, Mahuatand block development officer Vijay Kujur has been reported missing since last night, according to Deputy Inspector General of Police (Palamau range) O P Khare.

Khare said efforts were on to trace the BDO.

Bureau Report

14 policemen killed in Jharkhand landmine blast by Naxalites

14 policemen killed in Bokaro blast


RANCHI: Fourteen police personnel were killed and three injured on Saturday in a landmine blast at Kanchkir in Bokaro district of Jharkhand.

Among the victims were an assistant sub-inspector, two havildars and 10 jawans of the Special Task Force were killed in the blast triggered by suspected Maoists, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Anil Palta said. Two vehicles carrying security personnel were returning from patrolling around 3 p.m. While the first one crossed the spot safely, the second, carrying at least 16 personnel, hit the landmine planted on the road.

Last week, the Jharkhand police, with the assistance of the Central Reserve Police Force, destroyed three bunkers of the Maoists in the Jhumra hill of the district. The police managed to drive out the naxalites from the area, once a naxal den. — PTI

NSG team despatched


New Delhi Special Correspondent writes:

The Centre has sent a helicopter to evacuate the seriously injured. It has also despatched a National Security Guards team to examine the blast site. The Union Home Ministry has condemned the blast.

The Director-General of CRPF has been asked to provide all help to the State Government.

Duggal speaks to DGP


Union Home Secretary V.K. Duggal spoke to the Director-General of Police and offered all assistance in dealing with the situation, said a Home Ministry source.



14 policemen killed in Jharkhand blast

Ranchi, Dec. 2 (PTI): Fourteen policemen were killed and three injured today when Naxalites blew up the vehicle they were travelling in with an IED in a village near the steel city of Bokaro in Jharkhand.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Anil Palta said an assistant sub-inspector, two havildars and 11 jawans of the Special Task Force were killed in the blast this afternoon in Kanchkir village, about 50 km from Bokaro.

According to officials in the control room here, two vehicles with security personnel were returning from a patrol at around three pm when the extremists triggered the improvised explosive device hidden in a milk can in the Maoist -infested village. The second vehicle bore the brunt of the blast while the first one escaped.

The injured were admitted to a local hospital in Bokaro and the condition of two personnel was serious, officials said.

Shortly after the blast, a CRPF battalion reached the spot from Bokaro and cordoned off the heavily-mined jungle area to search for Naxal insurgents responsible for attack.

The Centre has rushed a bomb disposal squad of the elite National Security Guard to examine the site.

A CRPF spokesman in the national capital said an electric circuit, used for triggering the IED, had been found at the blast site.

In a joint operation last week, the CRPF and state police had destroyed three bunkers of the Maoists situated in the Jhumra Hills in the same district.




Centre rushes chopper to Jharkhand

[ 2 Dec, 2006 1953hrs ISTPTI ]





NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday rushed a chopper to Jharkhand for evacuation of policemen injured in a powerful landmine blast in Bokaro district and despatched a team of National Security Guards to examine the blast site.

Sources in the Union Home Ministry said the Director General of CRPF has been asked to prove all help to the state government.

They said that the MHA has strongly condemned the blast which killed over a dozen police personnel. An Assistant Sub-Inspector of police, two havaldars and ten jawans of the Special Task Force died when their vehicle drove over the landmine in the Naxal infested area.

Union Home Secretary VK Duggal spoke to the state Director General of Police and offered him all assistance in dealing with the situation.