Saturday, May 05, 2007

Quote of the day : Swapan Dasgupta


"The country owes a deep debt of gratitude to Vanjara and the other officers who are being subjected to a vicious trial-by-media. They are the real heroes and patriots. It is time the silent majority stands up against the articulate minusculity that, in putting its liberalism above nationalism, ends up giving succour to those who are out to destroy India. Decency cannot coexist with the obscenity of terrorism."

Heroes, not wimps, make nations

Swapan Dasgupta


A controversy being played out in Britain may offer lessons for India's war on terror. During the 'fertiliser bomb' trials that led to the conviction of five British Muslims, it emerged that the intelligence agency MI5 had put two of the perpetrators of the ghastly July 7, 2005 London bombings under surveillance in 2004. However, owing to a misjudgement the monitoring was discontinued, with tragic results.


The revelation that Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shehzad Tanveer were actually on the police radar before they killed 52 people in the London Underground has outraged many people. The police and MI5 have been mercilessly pilloried in the media and there are demands for a public inquiry into the costly lapse. If only, it is being said, the surveillance had gone on many lives would have been saved.


Wisdom in hindsight being a part of the popular discourse, the anger is understandable. In India, every successful terrorist attack is followed by shrill accusations of "intelligence failure". Yet, it is entirely possible that had Khan and Tanveer been detained by the authorities in a pre-emptive move, there would have been charges of human rights abuse by the same people who are today demanding an inquiry. In all likelihood, the 7/7 plot hadn't fully materialised in 2004 when the two came under the scanner and it is unlikely that a conspiracy charge would have stood judicial scrutiny.


The question of how much leeway the police should be given to fight fanatical terrorists has agitated democratic societies. Pre-emptive action is, of course, the best recourse but this may also lead to some wrong numbers being dialled. Arguably, many of those incarcerated by the Americans without trial in Guantanamo Bay were harmless cranks. Yet, can we honestly say that the world would have been a better place if Taliban-trained radicals were roaming free, plotting vengeance?


In striking a balance between civil liberties and national security, the authorities have a daunting task. The Indian experience clearly suggests that it is extremely difficult to get a terrorist convicted through the ordinary process of law. Whether in Punjab during the Khalistan troubles or Jammu & Kashmir today, legal niceties have routinely been discarded because fear overwhelms witnesses, lawyers and judges. This is equally true of the war against Maoist terror in Andhra Pradesh. And even when there is due process, as with the conviction of Afzal Guru for the attack on Parliament, there are enough terrorist-friendly activists to claim that the evidence was fabricated and the verdict flawed.


The conflict between robust anti-terrorism and cynical politics is at the heart of arrest of DG Vanzara and two other IPS officers on charges of killing Sohrabuddin Sheikh, a known extortionist and gun-runner, and his partner in a "false encounter". The English-language media, especially that section which blends visceral hatred of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with a perverted sympathy for Islamist causes, has gone apoplectic. With indignation running riot, there are wild suggestions that Gujarat has made it its business to target "innocent" Muslims (like Ishrat Jehan whose death was commemorated by the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba website) in false encounters. A reputed newspaper with Communist sympathies has, in defiance of all journalistic norms, even published a forged document, purporting to be a CID report, implicating the Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah.


That the Gujarat Police shed niceties in fighting terrorism is undeniable. It is also likely that there was some collateral damage, such as the killing of Kauser Bi. Two years ago, the British police erred in gunning down an innocent Brazilian in London. Did that lead to the demand for the interrogation and arrest of the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister? No doubt the Supreme Court will do what it considers best for national interests, but it would be prudent to see the case beyond narrow legal terms.


India has had a long history of counter-terrorism. In the 1970s, with the full support of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, West Bengal acted decisively in putting down the Naxalites. Yes, there were many "false encounters" but at the end of the day, the menace was eradicated. Likewise in Punjab, Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao gave blanket powers to the police under KPS Gill to do what was necessary to save the State for India. A highly effective strategy lay in combining aggression with deterrence.


If both West Bengal and Punjab are normal today, the credit must go to the policemen who showed exemplary courage and leadership, and the politicians - the names of Siddhartha Shankar Ray and Beant Singh come to mind - who backed them all the way. Yet, the tragedy is that many of those who defended the nation against serious internal threats have been hounded by those bent on using democracy to subvert the country. The tragic circumstances which led to Amarjeet Singh Sandhu, a brave and outstanding policeman in Punjab, committing suicide after being harassed by the so-called civil liberties lobby, is well known. The system, it would seem, proved incapable of distinguishing between normal circumstances and conditions of war.


Terrorism can't be fought by the Queensbury rules. The index of success is effectiveness. Since the Akshardham attack in October 2002, Gujarat has not witnessed any major terrorist attack, despite the State and its Chief Minister being top of the hit lists. Zero-tolerance of terrorism, not circumscribed by electoral compulsions, has paid dividends. It is also yielding returns in Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh where the top leadership of the CPI(Maoist) has been eliminated.


The quantum of "excesses" has to be measured against the magnitude of the challenge. India is pitted against hardened fanatics who gun down pilgrims in the Akshardham temple, bomb crowded market places and blow up commuter trains in Mumbai. The terrorists have no heart, no compassion and no sense of discernment. To treat them with kid gloves is certain to be interpreted as signs of colossal weakness.


The country owes a deep debt of gratitude to Vanjara and the other officers who are being subjected to a vicious trial-by-media. They are the real heroes and patriots. It is time the silent majority stands up against the articulate minusculity that, in putting its liberalism above nationalism, ends up giving succour to those who are out to destroy India. Decency cannot coexist with the obscenity of terrorism.

MPs, MLAs on Naxal hit list

Sumon K Chakrabarti
CNN-IBN

Posted Saturday , May 05, 2007 at 14:51
Updated Saturday , May 05, 2007 at 18:27



TAKING AIM: Naxals have spread their tentacles across 16 states in the country.

New Delhi: The Naxal menace is spreading across the country. In March, this year Naxals gunned down Jharkhand Mukti Morcha's Lok Sabha member Sunil Mahto from Jamshedpur along with his two bodyguards and a JMM worker, when he was on a visiting Baguria village as the chief guest of an exhibition football match on Holi.


Now documents available exclusively with CNN-IBN show that the intelligence agencies have warned that Naxals have many more Members of Parliament and Members of Legislatives Assemblies of different states on their hit-list.


Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YSR Reddy and West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee are some of the prominent names on the list.


The documents also show that the UPA government has admitted that it has failed to contain the terror of the Naxals.


But the flip side to the intelligence warnings is official figures which point to the fact that Naxal menace is on the decline.


Union Home Ministry's figures say "Naxal violence has shown a decrease of 6.15 per cent in 2006 over 2005 and also in the first half of 2007".


However, an internal note circulated within the government shows that the UPA government has admitted that despite police action Naxal activities are on the rise.


On the other hand the stain of Red terror is spreading on the ground - a truth that the government refuses to acknowledge publicly.


A secret document circulated in last week's high-level meeting between the Union Government, and police chiefs of 16 Naxal-affected states in the country clearly admit that "despite concerted police action, several development initiatives, planned public perception management and people's resistance, the Naxal activities are increasing."


But Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta says, "These statistics does not really mean anything".


And despite several such meetings over the past three years, no coordinated approach has yet been taken to tackle the spread of Naxal violence.


In fact the document clearly shows that the government is concerned that "Naxalites continue to carry out well-planned and coordinated attacks along military lines".


It's clear that the government is concealing a very grim reality, a reality that might soon force the government take a re-look of the policies to tackle the Naxalites.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Muslim rapes Dalit woman (wife of a patient at hospital)

Muslim rapes Dalit woman (wife of a patient at hospital)
-- WHAT IS MAOISTS RESPONSE ? Had it been an upper caste man raped this dalit women, by now media and Maoists whould have made mountain of mole hill . Why Maoists are so dumb and silent ?




Patient’s wife raped in Vidisha hospital
Milind Ghatwai

Posted online: Sunday, April 29, 2007 at 0000 hrs Print Email

BHOPAL, APRIL 28:A wardboy at a government hospital in Vidisha allegedly raped the wife of a patient, who was undergoing treatment for a long time. The incident occurred in a surgical ward used as storeroom on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday.


Gulab Khan, 36, who had won the trust of the 19-year-old woman, told the victim that the staff nurse was looking for her. The woman had been attending to her sick husband for more than two months. “I did not suspect anything because he used to call me beta and had never misbehaved with me in the past,” the victim told the Vidisha Kotwali Police. She left her infant next to her husband Hargovind, who was operated upon early this week, and went with the wardboy, who first took her to a nurse's room and then to the storeroom where he raped her.

Hargovind, woke up to find his child but his wife missing. Despite being weak and with stitches, he went looking for his wife and heard her scream. Gulab managed to escape. Neither any security guard nor any staffer was around when the incident took place.

The victim lodged a complaint around 3 am on Saturday in the Kotwali Police Station, which was later transferred to the SC/ST Police Station because the victim belongs to a Scheduled Caste.

City SP Surendra Kumar Jain told The Indian Express that teams were sent to different locations to nab Gulab, who has two wives. One of the teams arrested him from the Pathankot Express at Bhopal’s Habibganj Station. He was on way to his native Manmad in Maharashtra.

In-charge Civil Surgeon R K Jain said the wardboy and nurse had been immediately suspended. DSP of SC/ST Station B P Samadhiya said the police subjected the wardboy and the victim to medical examinations. “The wardboy denied the allegation but there was sufficient proof to nail him,” said the DSP.

Red Hand In Glove

Unless the dynamics of the implicit or explicit nexus between this leadership group and Maoist violence is understood and neutralised, an effective strategy to defeat the Naxalites can neither be framed, nor implemented.


K.P.S. Gill

There is much focus now on the Maoist threat in India and, despite entirely inconsistent assessments by various government agencies, an increasing consensus around the view that this is the greatest internal security challenge confronting the country. At the same time - and particularly in the aftermath of the major incidents that are all-too-frequently engineered by the Maoists - there is rising concern at the 'police failure' or 'security forces failure' to contain this rising menace.

It needs to be recognised at the outset that a professional and motivated police force, with a sufficient numerical strength and adequate material and technological resources, and with a clear political mandate, can defeat any insurgency in India, including this latest bogey - the Maoist 'protracted war'. If there is a failure to contain and defeat the Maoists, it is because the necessary capacities and mandate are deliberately kept in abeyance; indeed, the limited and entirely deficient capacities that do currently exist are systematically undermined by a cabal of corrupt political, administrative and police leaderships that have developed a deep vested interest in the persistence of the Maoist insurgency. Unless the dynamics of the implicit or explicit nexus between this leadership group and Maoist violence is understood and neutralised, an effective strategy to defeat the Naxalites can neither be framed, nor implemented.

The reality of the situation on the ground - irrespective of the theoretical and supposedly ideological constructs that are given currency in the mock discourse among the 'intelligentsia' - is that this is a fight between two corrupt entities that find mutual benefit and enrichment in fake engagements which can be sustained in perpetuity. A few hapless members of the constabulary and subordinate ranks in the security forces, and equally luckless cadres of the so-called revolutionaries are, of course, killed off from time to time. But no one is really concerned about the occasional massacre - despite the brouhaha that is raised in the media after each major incident.

Fatality figures, in fact, can be used to support whatever thesis is calculated to augment the flow of funds to personal or party coffers. A close scrutiny of the operational situation and the conditions under which the forces are working will demonstrate unambiguously that, in most states and areas, nothing really changes on the ground in the wake of major incidents.

This is the reason why almost no state - and some have been at it for 40 years and more - has been able to entirely and permanently eradicate Left-wing extremism. The Maoist movement, over the past decades, has steadily augmented to attain the status of a massive trans-state exercise in organised extortion and protection racketeering. And everywhere, opportunistic alliances between the Maoists and 'overground' political parties and entities are in place, most visibly around each electoral exercise, but in a constant intercourse at all times.

Almost all political parties have become mirror images of each other in India today, but in this regard they are even more so, with a multiplicity of corrupt parties and organisations woven together in a complex tapestry of duplicity and fraud that entrenches the ruling elite - an elite that grows increasingly more dynastic in all parties over time. Small cabals of violently criminal adventurers manage to break into the charmed circle of political privilege, from time to time, by their sheer ferocity and lack of restraint.

The Maoist leadership and the many criminals in the state and national legislatures fall, naturally, into the latter category.

Drumming up a sense of crisis has become an integral part of the efforts at 'resource mobilisation' in this broad enterprise, and that is why the 'developmental solution' to Naxalism finds such strong advocacy among political leaders and state bureaucracies everywhere. Long years ago, Rajiv Gandhi noted that barely 15 paisa in each rupee of developmental funding actually reached its intended beneficiaries; the rest was swallowed up by the black hole of 'power brokers'. In insurgency affected areas, the proportion of developmental funds that is actually utilised for intended purposes would be even smaller - virtually the entire sums, totalling thousands of crores, find their way into the pockets of corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and their hangers on, and through their symbiotic relationship with the 'insurgents' into the pockets of the Maoists as well.
Among the multiplicity of reasons for the military debacle in the Indo-China war of 1962, it was found that the Border Roads Organisation had 'constructed' many roads that existed only on maps, but of which there was no evidence on the ground. Forty-five years later, the same formula is now being applied in Naxalite areas, and it is difficult even to imagine how much of the exchequer's money has been spent on roads that were never constructed, but for which payments have been made and distributed among the local 'stakeholders', with the Naxalites cornering a considerable share to bolster up their 'revolution'.

The centre now underwrites virtually all security related expenditure in Maoist afflicted states, providing support for police modernisation and force augmentation. Yet, states fail to create the necessary capacities to counter the Maoist threat. Even where significant disbursal of such funds occurs, their utilisation remains inefficient, and diversion to other, often unauthorised uses, is endemic.

The tragedy of existing or newly created capacities is as great. The state police leaderships are raising new battalions of armed forces, but recruitment is marred by widespread bribery. You cannot expect a man who secures his position in a police force through bribery to actually risk his life fighting the Naxalites. So the next stage is inevitable: Policemen pay bribes to the police leadership to secure postings outside the Naxalite affected 'conflict' areas, and in 'soft' areas and duties. The amounts collected through these and other 'administrative' channels - including the continuous business of transfers and postings - total in the hundreds of crores, and are naturally shared with the political leadership that enables corrupt officers to retain 'lucrative' positions, where they can continue with this despicable commerce. That is why, even in state's where there has been a visible augmentation of forces over the past years, deployment in the 'conflict' areas remains disproportionately deficient.

These are 'snapshots' of the objective situation on the ground. How are we to extricate the nation from this predicament? The cabals that are currently exploiting the situation to the hilt will have to be broken. The right individuals - from constables to the highest force commanders - will have to be identified and correctly located. Political leaders will have to look beyond party coffers and the next election, to a future in which people can live without fear. If this does not happen, the corrupt state will continue to fight the corrupt 'revolutionary', with mounting casualties in widening theatres, till the collapse of governance reaches a point where the venality of the national elite threatens its own existence.




K.P.S.Gill is a former DGP, Punjab.This piece originally appeared in The Pioneer

Santhal Pargana : Cops chalk out Maoist guard

Cops chalk out red guard
GAUTAM SARKAR
Dumka, May 4: Additional director-general of police Gouri Shanker Rath conducted a rehearsal of combing operation of Naxalites with the policemen of six districts of the Santhal Pargana here today.

After the police headquarter and the intelligence department recently sniffed the presence of Maoists in the region which was so far considered as a “peace zone” in the state, Rath today chalked out different strategies along with the police chiefs of Dumka, Deoghar, Jamtara, Pakur, Sahebganj and Godda.

Besides the district police superintendents, all officers to the rank of deputy superintendent, inspectors and officers-in-charge of all the police stations in the region also participated in the meeting.

He too stimulated several anti-Naxalite measures and the state’s policy for countering the Naxalite menace into the minds of Santhal Pargana cops during the closed-door meeting.

However, the contents of the meeting was not made available to the public but later talking to mediapersons, Rath said Dumka and Sundarpahari area in Godda district had been marked as the new “terror” zone of Maoists.

According to him, out of 330 total police stations in the state, 167 were affected by Naxalites and among them 85 police stations were affected with rebel violence.

Rath said the outfit had started spreading its tentacles in Dumka district taking the opportunity of inaccessible topographical conditions as the district shares borders with Bihar and Bengal.


The Telegraph - Calcutta : Jamshedpur

Voting in UP's Naxal belt peaceful

Voting in UP's Naxal belt peaceful

ibnlive.com
Posted Friday , May 04, 2007 at 01:50
Updated Friday , May 04, 2007 at 01:57 Email Print

BATTLE OF BALLOTS: The sixth and penultimate phase of UP Assembly polls witnessed 45 per cent turnout.


This phase of polls covered 52 constituencies, including the Naxal-infested Sonebhadra and Chandauli belts, and according to Deputy Election Commissioner R Balakrishnan the elections were "very peaceful without any incident." Voting in the bypolls for the Robertsganj and Mirzapur Parliamentary constituencies was also held along with the Assembly polls.


The fate of 705 candidates, including state minister Ujjwal Raman Singh, BJP state chief Kesri Nath Tripathi and All India Mahila Congress President Reeta Bahuguna Joshi were decided in Thursday's polling in districts that included Allahabad, Varanasi and naxalite-infested Sonebhadra and Chandauli districts.


Barring a few complaints of defects in EVMs and irregularities in electoral rolls, the polling was smooth, Balakrishnan said. In the two naxalite-infested Chakia assembly seat in Chandauli, polling was brisk at 48 per cent while it was 46 per cent in Sonebhadra districts.


Special security arrangements were made in naxalite-infested areas. A police constable, who came to a polling station with a pistol, and a poll officer, who was found to be allowing a person without valid document to vote, and the voter were arrested in Ghazipur.


Balakrishnan said that in 2002 elections, as many as 35 incidents of violence had been reported from the Naxal belt, which saw repolling in 37 polling stations. There were no such incidents this time.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Naxal shadow on $50 bn metal sector in Chhattisgarh, Orissa

PTI
Wednesday, May 02, 2007 16:38 IST


MUMBAI: The country's metal sector, which is estimated to attract investments of about $50 billion over the next 10 years, could be affected by Naxal-related violence in mineral-rich states like Chhattisgarh and Orissa.

Many proposed projects in steel, mining and other industries in these states are facing stiff opposition from locals and this resistance could have been fanned by support from Naxals, police sources said.

Naxalites have spread their area of influence in Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, parts of Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, raising concerns among not only the state governments, but also the Centre.

The sources said naxals could be tapping the resentment among farmers against land acquisition for mega projects and special economic zones by helping those facing eviction.

A number of projects such as South Korean firm Posco's steel plant in Orissa and Essar's upcoming steel plant in Maoist-stronghold of Dantewada, Chhattisgarh are among those facing resistance by locals and likely to be delayed.

More worrying is fact that most of the country's precious reserve of coal as well as ores of iron, aluminium, nickel, chromium, manganese and uranium are located in these states.

Most of the mineral reserves are located either in forested zones or in tribal areas, which are controlled by the Maoists.

According to Secretary General, Federation of Indian Mineral Industries RK Sharma, if companies take tribals and local population into confidence and tell them about the benefits of these projects, there should not be any problem.

The difficulty arises when these companies go out all of a sudden and start acquiring land he added.

South Asia Security Trends April 2007

By Rahul K Bhonsle

The month of April was a period of reconciliation with South Asian leadership congregating for the 14th SAARC Summit in New Delhi. SAARC compared to other regional groupings as the European Union (EU) or ASEAN which have stabilized is only now showing signs of greater harmony.

SAFTA will be the main driver as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are already benefiting from opening up trade with India. Afghanistan saw resurgence of violence as the Taliban spring offensive is underway. NATO forces have pre-empted the Taliban in many sectors, but the guerrilla fighters will continue to foray in varied areas posing challenges, relying on a combination of kidnapping, suicide attacks and guerrilla strikes particularly on Afghan police and army personnel to undermine their morale and force hands of vacillating governments to leave the country.

Some improvement in Pakistan - Afghanistan relations is anticipated with Turkey brokering a declaration in Ankara at the end of the month. In Pakistan the threat of militancy and suicide terrorism came to the fore with a rally addressed by the Interior Minister struck by a suicide bomber in the NWFP killing over 30 people. Agitations of two hues were evident in the country. On one hand was the liberal lobby of lawyers and civil rights activists who protested sacking of Chief Justice of the country, while rabid fundamentalists of Lal Masjid in Islamabad took to the streets to impose strict code of conduct.

Nepal was caught in a welter of bandhs and agitations with the Maoists wanting immediate declaration of the state as a republic, while other groups such as the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum called for greater autonomy, federalism and equal representation. The Government has successfully handled the crisis so far and is expected to prevail.

In Bangladesh, the Caretaker Administration's Minus Two politics exemplifying exile of two former Prime Ministers, Begum Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina seems to have backfired, with supporters of the leaders succeeding to force the government to repeal its obliquely worded orders exiling the leaders. A fringe group struck in three places in the country, Dacca, Chittagong and Sylhet with low intensity bombs on 1 May, which caused little damage. Hectic political and administrative confabulations are going on in the country, as the Caretaker Administration is burdened with the challenge of restructuring governance as well as polity.

In Sri Lanka the LTTE sprung a surprise launching two air attacks in Jaffna and Colombo during the month. The last one was timed with the finals of the cricket world cup wherein Sri Lanka were playing Australia. Shutting off power due to the air raid, was expected to create panic but the stolid citizens of Colombo are probably inured to such incidents by now.

India saw successful test of the IRBM, Agni III followed by commercial launch of satellite by the ISRO which made up for past failures. The Indo US Nuclear Deal seems to be stuck in a groove with both sides attempting to iron out differences. The Sino Indian border talks also failed to enthuse the negotiators despite the salubrious environs of Coonor.

In Kashmir, demilitarization was the buzz, but the reality of terrorist violence has cooled enthusiasm at present. On the other hand a large number of youth on both sides of the LOC are perhaps awaiting a promised safe passage. Assam saw the ULFA on the defensive with supply lines having choked off from Myanmar, the group is under pressure. The State government played flip flop proposing talks just when the army was set to break the back of the militants. The Naxals continued their periodic rampage in Chattisgarh as the state is undergoing an acute crisis of efficient policing. Revival of the movement in Bihar is also evident.

In the international arena, Iraq continued to conflagrate along with Somalia in the Horn of Africa, while an Al Qaeda affiliate launched a terrorist attack on HQs of the prime minister of Algeria in North Africa. In Darfur, Sudan there are hopes of peace while the need for stability is leading the Pentagon to lay out plans for an Africa Command. The US State Department report on terrorism for 2006 denoted a rise in both the number of incidents as well as casualties across the globe, a reminder that there is a long haul ahead. The Al Qaeda apparently is not only surviving but also extending influence in newer parts of the World including North Africa.

The summer season in the Northern Hemisphere is regarded as ideal for military campaigns. The summer of 2007 does not portend to be any different as security forces are likely to remain preoccupied to keep peace and amity across much of the developing World and particularly in South Asia.

Rahul K Bhonsle is a veteran soldier and security analyst based in South Asia, specializing in strategic risk prediction, future warfare and human security. His web site is www.security-risks.com and can be contacted at rkbhonsle@gmail.com

Landmines, huge ammunitions unearthed` in AP

Thursday May 3 2007 17:43 IST

UNI

WARANGAL: Police on Thursday unearthed eight landmines, weighing two kg each, in steel cans pitched allegedly by members of CPI (Maoist), targeting the police engaged in combing operations in Kothaguda Mandal in this district.

Police said while four landmines were unearthed between Konapur and Potlapur villages on the cart track, another four were unearthed at a junction leading to Alligudem, Pochapur and Chouledu villages near Damerathogu in the mandal.

Meanwhile, in a separate operation, police unearthed a dump, allegedly belonging to CPI (Ml) praja prathighatana Naxal group, near Kambalapally in Mahabubabad area and recovered one spring field rifle, 10 live rounds and one 8 mm rifle from the dump.

The district police had arrested two persons and seized a huge cache of arms and ammunition from them during search operations at Mulugu Mandal.

Police recovered 110 live rounds of .303 pistol, 110 live rounds of 8 mm revolver, 35 live rounds of 410 muskets, 25 charge clips and one magazine of .303 pistol.

Maoists to "be in the forefront" against SEZs

K. Srinivas Reddy
To intensify attacks on counter-revolutionary organisations like Salwa Judum

To step up attacks on Salwa Judum

Lesson learnt in A.P.


HYDERABAD: Maoists have hardened their stand against the setting up of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and said they would "make all efforts to be in the forefront" in the campaign against them.

The Maoists, who intensified guerrilla activity in central and eastern India, has also announced they will step up intensify attacks on "counter-revolutionary" organisations such as Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh, Sendra in Jharkhand, and the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) in Bihar.

Stand conveyed


The Maoist stand was conveyed to the media here in a 17-page statement in a question and answer format, attributed to the CPI (Maoist) general secretary Muppala Laxmana Rao, known as Ganapathi.

On the issue of Singur and Nandigram and the Maoists' involvement in "inciting violence at Nandigram", the Maoist leader said: "One should only be surprised if we are not involved in such life-and-death issues of the masses."

Rejects charge


He rejected the Communist Party of India (Marxist) charge that Maoists were inciting violence.

He accused the West Bengal Government of trying to `divert' people's attention by claiming that Maoists had `incited' the local people forcing the police to open fire.

Mr. Ganapathi said struggles against the SEZ promoters acquiring fertile farmland of the peasants were turning militant as seen in Kalinganagar, Singur, Nandigram, Lohandiguda and Polavaram.

Mahto killing


On the killing of JMM MP, Sunil Mahto and whether his party would resort to more such killings in future, Mr. Ganapathi said his party was not against the JMM per se, but against people like Mahto "who had been actively involved in unleashing brutal repression."

In Bihar, the Maoists killed Murari Ganju who took an active role in the TPC.

Similarly, his party would fight the efforts by the Chhattisgarh Government in supporting the Salwa Judum (anti-naxal movement).

On the serious reverses suffered by his party in Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Ganapathi said the revolutionary movement bore the brunt of all counter-insurgency measures taken by the Government. The party had learnt a lesson in A.P., but it "has given us invaluable experience in countering and defeating the enemy's [State] tactics, plans and methods.

The ninth Maoist Congress chalked out a plan to overcome the setback in AP. However, the party was focussing on building up the movement in Dandakaranya and Bihar-Jharkhand.

I am inviting Chhattisgarh Maoists for talks: Raman Singh

By Sujeet Kumar May 3, 2007, 11:19 GMT


Raipur, May 3 (IANS) Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has invited underground Maoist militants for talks, saying the government was very concerned about the safety of those driven to relief camps by the violence and that in the long term the rebels could not possibly win.

'Maoist militancy is an inter-state problem. During the past four months, guerrillas have managed to maintain a lot of pressure on police but in the long term fight they will never achieve success against police and paramilitary forces,' Singh told IANS in an interview.


'Violence or armed movement has never produced solutions to any strife worldwide. Only peace dialogues with an open mind can bring in results,' said Singh, who heads the state's 41-month-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.


Tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh is one of the worst affected among the 13 Indian states hit by Maoist violence.


When asked whether the government had sent any feelers or emissaries to the rebels for initiating dialogue, Singh, 55, said: 'I am inviting the guerrillas through the press. If they respond, our top police officials will engage in dialogue.'


Though Maoists gained ground in Chhattisgarh in the late 1970s, the state has been at the epicentre of violence since June 2005 when a section of the tribal masses launched a civil militia movement known as the Salwa Judum against the rebels in the forested Bastar region.


The movement led to a sharp escalation in Maoist violence as hundreds of thousands of people, mainly from impoverished tribal families, came in the firing line between the guerrillas and the police.


The Salwa Judum's cadres along with the police have become the primary targets of Maoist militants as the government supported the movement with arms and monetary backup.


Officials say at least 50,000 people have so far left their native forested villages due to threats from Maoists and have settled in over 22 government-run makeshift relief camps in the Dantewada and Bijapur districts.


'The government is highly concerned about the safety and future of 50,000 relief camp settlers. They will return to their native villages once the situation improves and peace returns,' the chief minister said.


Maoists carried out one of their deadliest attacks on a police camp in Bijapur in March this year, massacring 55 cops, including 39 special police officers (SPOs), who have been drawn from local youths and given a few weeks of training to assist and inform police.


Singh said: 'They (SPOs) will be absorbed phase-wise as home guards and to a certain extent in the police force as well, but its not possible to provide all SPOs long term war and weapons training and then creating SPO battalions.'


Officials say at least 20,000 armed guerrillas have formed a red zone from southern India up to Nepal's border. In 2006, India witnessed 749 deaths in Maoist violence, with Chhattisgarh alone accounting for 48 percent of the casualties.


Officials admit that casualties have crossed the 200 mark in Chhattisgarh in the first four months of this year.


© 2007 Indo-Asian News Service

UP polls: father wants to win for his slain Maoist son

Amitabh Srivastava
Robertsganj (Sonebhadra), May 03, 2007
First Published: 17:42 IST(3/5/2007)
Last Updated: 18:37 IST(3/5/2007)

Two handkerchiefs, a bottle of water, few grams of chana and the photograph of a beautiful girl is all that 54-year-old Dashrath Koal cares for before marching off on a campaign trail in the sun-baked, dusty plains of Robertsganj.

The two handkerchiefs would save him from the blistering heat, and conceal the occasional tears that so inevitably stream out from his eyes whenever he sees the photograph—of his three-year-old granddaughter.

Less than a fortnight back, Dashrath lost his elder son, Sanjay, a Naxalite; following a police encounter. Sanjay's wife Usha is now in judicial custody, and her three-year-old daughter at Dashrath's home where she asks too many questions.

Dashrath's wife, Shyama Devi sees her husband's tears, fixes him in a squinting stare and shakes her head. "Knock that stuff off, and move on," she urges him.

Sanjay Koal, a Maoist sub-zonal commander who was carrying a bounty of Rs one lakh, was apparently killed while trying to galvanise support for his father, a small-time farmer of Madhupur village, who is now contesting from the Robertsganj (Reserved) seat in Uttar Pradesh on a Rashtriya Samanta Dal ticket.

Sanjay had assured his father of success. He was confident. He was a friend. He was just 22. He wanted to support his father gaining a foothold in a system that he himself loathed most.

The junior Koal was influenced by Kameshwar Baitha, a Maoist chieftain who fought the Palamu (Jharkhand) electoral battle from behind the Garhwa prison bars, and almost made it with 1,41,875 votes.

In the backyards of Madhupur, Sanjay was more of a Robin Hood figure, fighting for the poor and their rights. For the police, he was a terror with over two-dozen cases lodged against him.

After his death, the Koal couple, however, faces a huge dilemma. They know the police are sniffing to know few more Maoists links that Dashrath might still be having by his side. So, in front of the police he disowned his son, although he silently agreed to perform the last rites.

Sanjay's mother Shyama Devi has done better in disappointing the police. She preferred to work in the wheat field a day after Sanjay death. "We have mouths to feed," she says in a choked voice, her gasping breath a testimonial to what she had achieved: pain faced, released and vanquished.

"My son left home when he was only 11. He wanted to fight those who usurped our land. The police have already punished him for being an outlaw, but what about those who made him one," Dashrath told HT.

Meanwhile, Dashrath appears on an unending journey. The more his tears flow the faster he walks, the more the pain comes, the less it matters and the less it holds him back.

And, as Dashrath emerges from the one dusty passage, he stops and stands, as lungs do their work sucking in and out fresh oxygen to quell the fire in his limbs and in his heart.

His body returns to its robustness, tanned and glistening.

Maoists penetrate 7 Race Course Road, MHA?

Faizan Ahmad
[3 May, 2007 l 0311 hrs ISTl TIMES NEWS NETWORK]



PATNA: The anti-Left extremist strategies discussed at a high profile meeting chaired by PM Manmohan Singh at 7, Race Course Road, which prepared a blue print for "heliborne operations against the Maoists hiding in Kaimur hills", somehow reached the Naxalites even before the operation could be launched.

Another strategy to "curb Maoists operations along the Nepal border" discussed at another meeting convened by Union home secretary at his North Block office also reached the Maoist leadership.

To counter this, the Maoists chalked out a plan to "create Red terror in Sitamarhi district where the Kosi irrigation project is coming up." The banned outfit even directed its militia to be careful: "Do not stay at one place for too long. Keep moving. Do not forget your tasks and do not forget your aim."

The explosive revelation vis-a-vis Maoists access to minutes of the two top secret meetings has caused concern in the Union home ministry.

While the first meeting convened by the PM was attended by chief ministers of Naxal affected states, including Bihar, and senior security and intelligence officials on April 13 last year, the follow up meeting was called by then Union home secretary V K Duggal on August 29 last.

This meeting was attended by home secretaries and DGPs of the Maoist affected states, chiefs of BSF, CRPF, SSB and other senior security and intelligence officials.

Luckily though, Central intelligence agencies recently had the access to a secret document of the CPI(Maoist) which listed precise and detailed minutes of the two high profile meetings.

Senior home and police officials here were simply shocked to learn about it. Admitting that the strategies were, in fact, discussed at the two meetings, one official said, "This only goes to show that Maoists intelligence network is perfect and they have the have penetrated at the highest level.

Reacting to the apparent leak, another official said: "It may be possible. This is the reason why no affective anti-Naxal operation could be launched here."
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, asserted that the leak could not have occur from Bihar. They, however, suspected that Maoists might have access to other secret information relating to anti-Naxalite plans.

Other strategies discussed at the two closed-door meetings included training of select paramilitary personnel in jungle warfare, level of increased deployment of security forces in areas identified as ultra-sensitive, possibility of penetrating the internal set up of Maoist leadership and ways to disrupt the co-ordination among various Naxal groups across state borders.

These and all other issues discussed at the meetings find mention in an eight-page document of the Maoists.

Wine ,Women and Maoists :Zonal commander Ram Raj alias Azad nabbed in Gaya

[3 May, 2007 l 0309 hrs ISTlTIMES NEWS NETWORK]


GAYA: Ram Raj alias Azad, alleged to be the zonal commander of CPI(Maoist), the most dreaded Naxal outfit of the country, was on Tuesday evening arrested from a beer bar in Gaya in a most dramatic manner. Azad's arrest is being regarded as yet another jolt to the Naxal outfit.

According to Gaya SP Amit Jain, Azad was under electronic surveillance for quite some time. At the time of his arrest, the Naxal leader was enjoying a drink and talking to his sweetheart, a dancing girl of the infamous Sarai, one of the oldest redlight areas of the state.

Giving details of the operation that ultimately led to the top catch of the Gaya police, Gaya SP Amit Jain said that like several other Naxal leaders, Azad, too, was fond of the good things of life including wine and women and the levy (extortion) money at the disposal of Azad made it easy for him to indulge in fun and frolic.

According to the SP, Azad was involved in a number of Maoist operations including the attack on Tekari and Paraiya police stations. Nearly half a dozen policemen were killed during the Naxal attack on the two police stations and the Maoists also looted arms.

A resident of Goh in the neighbouring Aurangabad district, Azad's name also cropped up during the interrogation of the executors of the Jehanabad jailbreak case. But Azad was not a named accused in the Jehanabad jailbreak case, said Jain.

Ironically, the Naxal big gun was unarmed at the time of his arrest. Other objectionable items including banned literature were also not recovered from his possession.

Asked why he moved in a crowded locality quite close to the Kotwali police station unarmed, the Gaya SP said that Azad may have done it either on account of over-confidence or due to the fact that being an under ground operator, not many people recognised him by face.

Nearly one dozen wine lovers were present at the bar at the time of Azad's arrest and the police had a really tough job singling out the Naxal leader from a strong group. Ultimately it was Azad's mobile phone, which proved to be the identifying mark. The Gaya SP claimed that he was in possession of Azad's mobile number and he called the number to ascertain as to who among the bar visitors was Azad.

The Gaya police, according to sources, is gathering information from other districts about the activities of the Naxal leader and his involvement in Naxal operations in other districts particularly Aurangabad.

The Maoists, it may be recalled, are yet to fully recover from the trauma caused by the arrest of Ajay Kanu and Nathun Kahar. Both Kanu and Kahar were in the forefront of the Naxal movement in Bihar. Nathun Kahar subsequently died in police custody under mysterious circumstances.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hyderabad : Blast shatters peace

Blast shatters peace

Staff Reporter

The police suspect the hand of some pseudo-naxalite gang





HYDERABAD: The parcel bomb that exploded in a flat on Tuesday evening left the residents of Kalyaninagar in Malakpet stunned.

Nagalaxmi (53), in whose hands the bomb went off, is recuperating, but the blast has shocked her neighbours. The brown envelope kept on a pillar of the complex gate was first noticed by a neighbour Mohan Rao, a retired principal, around noon.

"I picked up the envelope. It was like any other cover," he told The Hindu . On seeing the name Nagalaxmi written on the cover, Mr. Rao called the watchman's wife Leelavati and asked her to hand it over to Nagalaxmi after she returned from office.

She gave the cover to Nagalaxmi's nephew V. Sai Surya Teja, who was in the flat at that time. "I was washing the cellar when I heard some noise. Initially, I mistook it for the bursting of firecrackers," the watchman's wife said. She came upstairs to find out what had happened and was shocked to see Nagalaxmi injured and being taken to hospital. As the news of the explosion spread, locals thronged the apartment. The police suspect the hand of some pseudo-naxalite gang.

UP polls: Army commandos to tackle naxal menace

UP polls: Army commandos to tackle naxal menace

Posted at Wednesday, 02 May 2007 11:05 IST
Lucknow, May 2: Army's elite para commandos will now be deployed in the naxal-hit areas in Uttar Pradesh to deal with the menace during the sixth phase of elections here.

The Election Commission has requisitioned the services of para commandos who will be stationed at Varanasi.

They will carry out aerial surveillance in the Naxal-effected districts of Sonebhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli. "They will rush to the site of the extingency using a helicopter," state additional chief electoral officer Mritunjay Narain said.

The Army commandos are being used to tackle the Naxal menace during elections for the first time in the history of the state.

"The Army copter, along with the commandos, would reach Varanasi today and will stay there till Thursday evening when all the polling parties reach the strong room along with their EVMs", he said.

About 500 polling booths, which are situated in these three Naxal affected districts, would have exclusive deployment of Central Para Military Forces (CPMF). Each polling party will be escorted by CPMF personnel.

The CPMF also carried out 'flag march' in the Naxalite areas and patrolling has been intensified.

Army helicopter has been sought following apprehensions that Naxals might carry out attacks on polling personnel, DIG (Varanasi Range) R. P. Singh informed. "The Naxals are frustrated following the killings of their top leaders," he added.

It has been reported that a couple of banned Naxalite outfits have distributed pamphlets in the three districts threatening the voters not to participate in the democratic process.

Naxal shadow on $50 bn metal sector in Chhattisgarh, Orissa

PTI
Wednesday, May 02, 2007 16:38 IST



MUMBAI: The country's metal sector, which is estimated to attract investments of about $50 billion over the next 10 years, could be affected by Naxal-related violence in mineral-rich states like Chhattisgarh and Orissa.

Many proposed projects in steel, mining and other industries in these states are facing stiff opposition from locals and this resistance could have been fanned by support from Naxals, police sources said.

Naxalites have spread their area of influence in Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, parts of Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, raising concerns among not only the state governments, but also the Centre.

The sources said naxals could be tapping the resentment among farmers against land acquisition for mega projects and special economic zones by helping those facing eviction.

A number of projects such as South Korean firm Posco's steel plant in Orissa and Essar's upcoming steel plant in Maoist-stronghold of Dantewada, Chhattisgarh are among those facing resistance by locals and likely to be delayed.

More worrying is fact that most of the country's precious reserve of coal as well as ores of iron, aluminium, nickel, chromium, manganese and uranium are located in these states.

Most of the mineral reserves are located either in forested zones or in tribal areas, which are controlled by the Maoists.

According to Secretary General, Federation of Indian Mineral Industries RK Sharma, if companies take tribals and local population into confidence and tell them about the benefits of these projects, there should not be any problem.

The difficulty arises when these companies go out all of a sudden and start acquiring land he added.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Letter from Maoist leader to the "The Telegraph"

Source: The Telegraph

Was it misrepresented?

Sir — Your news item “Maoist e-mail jolts Ranchi,” dated April 10, 2007, is another calculated effort at sensationalism with distorted presentation. It is a fact that it was e-mailed to the Jharkhand deputy chief minister asking him to desist from spreading lies and glorifying the notorious MP, Sunil Mahto, executed by our armed wing. Your “Own Bureau” outdid our purpose and misrepresented the e-mail content to pass it for a threat to the deputy chief minister of Jharkhand. Ours is a revolutionary organisation that resorts to various means to throw political challenges to the enemy, criticising and even lambasting its anti-people activities.

We have our political and military wings with definite ideology. Issuing threat (your news obviously means a threat of his life) by way of an e-mail or a letter for military action against a person like a chief minister or deputy chief minister has never been our method and we do not indulge in such frivolity. Try to be honest in representation of facts and shun yellow journalism.

Sudev Murrmu, CPI (Maoist), Bihar-Jharkhand-Orissa Border Regional Committee

(This letter came to us by post)

16 people die every year in Orissa from naxalite violence

ZEE News

Bhubaneswar, May 1: An estimated 16 people comprising police personnel, civilians and ultras die in clashes with Naxals every year in Orissa.

Orissa Home secretary T.K. Mishra told media persons here that while 39 ultras were killed in last seven years, the number of police casualties was 38. Similarly, 37 civilians were killed in Orissa between 2000 and April, 2007. The total deaths during the period was 114 in the state, he said.

Mishra said while the highest number of 14 civilians were killed by ultras in 2005, 20 Maoists were gunned down by the police in 2006. The ultras had killed 11 police personnel including CRPF jawans in 2003 followed by eight in 2001.

Official sources said while the Government has been trying to equip its police personnel, the extremists have already spread their network in 15 of the 30 districts of the state.

"We have demanded inclusion of five more districts under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme so that the state can avil additional funds to tackle extremism in those areas", Mishra said adding only nine districts of Orissa have been included in the SRE scheme.

The activities of the ultras in Orissa was evident from the fact that the police seized at least 77 landmines, 61 guns and rifles and a huge quantity of explosive materials last year during combing operations.

Bureau Report

Naxalite Terror: Parcel bomb explode in Hyderabad, women injured


Parcel bomb goes off injuring woman

Staff Reporter
Anonymous caller sought family details


SHOCKED: Nagalaxmi, who was injured when a parcel bomb went off in her flat on Tuesday in Kalyaninagar, Malakpet. - Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

HYDERABAD: A parcel bomb went off injuring a railway woman employee Nagalaxmi, 53, in her flat at Kalyaninagar of Malakpet on Tuesday evening. Panic gripped Kalyaninagar following the explosion.

The woman was admitted to hospital with burn injuries. Doctors attending on her said she was out of danger. Her nephew, V. Sai Surya Teja, who was beside her when the parcel bomb exploded, escaped unhurt. Nagalaxmi returned home around 4.15 p.m. and Sai Surya Teja dropped in to see her. The bomb packed in a brown envelope was delivered by an unidentified person with her name written on it in the afternoon. The packet was kept on a pillar of the complex gate.

The watchman's wife brought and handed over the cover to Teja. "I sat on a sofa in the hall while aunty tore open the cover when it exploded. There was not much of a noise but she suffered burns," a visibly upset Teja told The Hindu .

As he raised a hue and cry, neighbours rushed in and shifted Nagalaxmi to hospital. Her relatives told the police that she had no disputes with anyone but had been receiving threatening calls on her mobile phone for the past two days.

Nagalaxmi lives alone on the first floor of Sandhyagiri Enclave. Her son Prakash, a software engineer, lives in the U.S., while daughter Saritha, a housewife, resides at Sanathnagar.

On Sunday, an anonymous caller rang up and started asking details of her family members. When she sought to know who the caller was, the latter rang off saying he was a naxalite and that his leader would call her soon. Alarmed, she called back the number and was told that it was a public call office.

Next day, she received another phone call. The caller abused her for making inquiries about him. He banged the receiver warning her not to make further enquiries about him. "You'll face the consequence if you continue to trace me," her relatives quoted the caller as saying.

Maoists attack Catholic priest

4/30/2007
UCANews (www.ucanews.com)

RANCHI, India (UCAN) – Suspected Maoists beat up a tribal Catholic priest and left him unconscious inside a forest for allegedly teaching Indian classical dance in a parish school.

Father Isidore Toppo, 35, is recovering following the April 24 incident, said officials of Daltonganj Diocese, in Jharkhand state, eastern India, where the priest worked. Daltonganj, the diocesan headquarters, is 140 kilometers (about 90 miles) northwest of the state capital of Ranchi. The area is considered a Maoist stronghold.

For the past four years, Father Toppo has worked in Barwadih parish. A priest in the parish told UCA News, on condition of anonymity, that Father Toppo was abducted when he was on his way to an Ursuline convent about 10 kilometers (6 miles) away. The convent, located near a forest, serves poor people.

According to the priest, as soon as Father Toppo reached the convent, the suspected militants took him to the forest. He recounted that the nuns objected and tried to follow the gang. However, the attackers warned the nuns that they would be beaten up if they followed. "Father Toppo also told the nuns to stay back," the priest related.

Father Toppo is a member of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, popularly known as Claretian Missioners. Area priests are said to be so frightened that they have not informed the police. The news reached Ranchi Archdiocesan headquarters only three days later, through "internal sources." A tribal villager reportedly found the priest in the forest and informed church people.

He added that the attackers charged Father Toppo with teaching Indian classical dance to schoolchildren, which they decried as a humiliating act and against established norms of society.

Father Toppo holds a degree in classical dance from Madras University in Tamil Nadu, southern India. He teaches classical dance to some children of the parish-run school.

The attackers are believed to be Maoists who fight upper-caste landlords, who are mostly Hindus. The Maoists view classical Indian dances as reflections of the oppressors' culture.

Another priest, Father Telesphore Ekka from Daltonganj Diocese, told UCA News that forests surround the entire diocesan area. The government machinery "seldom works in the area," he said. The church, which works among the poor, has not faced problems from the extremists so far, he explained. "This is the first incident" in which a Catholic priest was attacked, he said.

The diocese has parishes, schools and health-care institutions that function without problems. People respect them "highly" and the extremists have never troubled them, Father Ekka added.

Other priests in the diocese told UCA News Father Toppo was tied to a tree. The older gang members then asked young, newly recruited members to beat the priest. The recruits, said to be between 8 and 13, then beat him with batons. The older members then took over and thrashed him until he fell unconscious.

The priest who requested anonymity said Father Toppo was unconscious for over three hours. "We have brought him to our parish, where he is undergoing medical treatment. We have not moved him to any hospital, as he is safe in our parish. His condition is now stable. But he is in trauma and hardly speaks," he reported.

The priest said they avoided taking him to hospital, lest hospital authorities inform the police, in accordance with regulations. "The extremists have strictly warned the priest not to tell the police or they would kill him," he said.

Another priest in the diocese said the exact reason for the attack is still unknown. Father Toppo is "not in a condition to speak, he said, adding, "It will take time for him to recover from the trauma and injury."

Jesuit Bishop Gabriel Kujur of Daltonganj, who arrived in Ranchi on April 29, told UCA News he has no details about the incident.

Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo of Ranchi says attacking a priest is a crime, whatever the reason. "They are committing a crime against God, who anoints a priest. I am sure God will see to them," the cardinal told UCA News.

Naxalites are Terrorists , Naxalism is Terrorism

"Naxalite (a Maoist agrarian peasant movement) terrorism, which covered a broad region of eastern, central, and southern India, grew in sophistication and lethality. Naxalites launched several high-level attacks, raising the insurgency's profile, and expanded the rural territory under their control. On July 17, at least 25 people were killed, 80 injured, and approximately 250 people were missing following an attack by some 800 armed Naxalites in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. "
Country Reports on Terrorism -Report Home Page
Released by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
April 30, 2007
Link

Countering Naxal Terror: Ugrawadi Virodhi Manch formed in Bihar



Patna: The dismal law and order situation in Bihar is known to everyone. And it is this abysmal state that has prompted private builders and contractors to hire self-styled private armies for their protection.


There are many self-styled ‘armies’ in Bihar, which are run by local unemployed youths of the village. The state government seems happy with this initiative.


“It's not possible for the police alone to protect the whole of Bihar. This initiative is good,” said Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister, Bihar


The gun-toting men dress up in causal clothes and call their group Ugrawadi Virodhi Manch or the ‘anti-terrorism squad.’ This self-styled private army protects the private construction companies from criminal gangs and naxals who come hunting for their pound of flesh.


“Ever since this army has been formed, development work is gaining momentum. They protect us from local goons and extortionists. We are also getting cooperation from the village people, police and the villagers,” said Ashok Singh, contractor.


“We'll retaliate if naxals attack us. We will go to any extent for development,” said Sachita Singh, member of the ‘anti-terrorism squad’.


Development under the shadow of guns clearly shows people's desperation for development at any cost. And this time, they are not resting all their hopes on the state machineries but are themselves taking the lead and are lending hand to the government.


Out here, the answer to the menace of gun culture seems to be more fireworks.

Gill's remark on corruption sparks row in Chhattisgarh

Gill's remark on corruption sparks row in Chhattisgarh

Raipur, May 1: Chhattisgarh government's former Security Advisor K P S Gill's remark about ''rampant corruption'' in the recruitment and transfer of police personnel in the state sparked a fresh controversy on Naxal violence.

Main opposition Congress ''thanked'' Mr Gill, a former Director General of Punjab Police, for exposing chinks in the state police armour saying that the opposition parties had been raising issue of corruption in police since long.

Mr Gill had told a Mumbai newspaper in an interview that as Security Advisor he had failed to bring down violence in Naxalite-affected areas of Chhattisgarh because of the ''rampant corruption in the recruitment and transfer of policemen, red-tapism and poor governance'' in the state. Mr Gill had claimed that he submitted dozens of proposals to the Raman Singh government on tackling the Naxalite menace, but most of them were ignored.

Asked about Mr Gill's remarks, Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam said it was not true that the state government had ignored the suggestions putforth by the Security Advisor. ''We have accepted some of his suggestions, which are in the interests of the state'', he added.

However, Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee President Charan Das Mahant said Mr Gill's remarks had exposed the BJP government, which, he said, had failed to contain Naxalite violence in tribal Bastar region.

Claiming that the Congress had been raising the issues of corruption in recruitment and transfer in police department from time to time, he said the state government did not take any steps to save the lives of innocent tribals of Bastar region. ''More lives could have been saved, if the government implemented Mr Gill's suggestions'', he added.

Dr Raman Singh-led BJP government had appointed Mr Gill as its Security Advisor to suggest ways and means to tackle the problem of Naxalism in the tribal areas of the state.

During his one-year tenure, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) cadres struck at many places in Bastar region, claiming lives of a large number of local tribals and security personnel.

The worst Naxalite violence took place in March this year when the rebels attacked a police camp at Ranibodli, killing 55 security personnel-- 16 from the Chhattisgarh Special Armed Force (CSAF) and 39 special police officers (SPOs). SPOs are local youth recruited to assist the security personnel on a monthly honorarium of just Rs 1500.

As violence continued in Bastar, there was criticism against Mr Gill within the ruling party as well as in the state police.

Subsequently, the state government did not extend Mr Gill's tenure as Security Advisor.

--- UNI


Gill's remark on corruption sparks row in Chhattisgarh

Monday, April 30, 2007

In heart of India, a little-known civil war


May 01, 2007 edition

Villagers are caught between two unforgiving sides: a communist insurgency that's left much of the country ungoverned, and a tough-as-nails 'peace movement.'
By Mark Sappenfield | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

DANTEWADA, INDIA

In the hours before dawn on a warm spring morning several weeks ago, Kudiyam Sannu came home to kill his brother.

He and his fellow policemen – some villagers say hundreds of them – knew his brother would be there, and they brought with them at least eight other suspects, bound in handcuffs. None of the villagers from Santoshpur saw what happened next. They were commanded to flee if they wished to save themselves.

But since then, some of the townspeople, who have settled here in an impromptu refugee camp under a nearby mango grove, have heard from relatives who stayed behind: Each was butchered by knives and axes – yet more savagery in a virtually unknown civil war within one of India's remotest jungles.

Sannu's brother, like the other men allegedly killed on that morning, was thought to be in league with the Naxalites – an insurgency determined to bring Mao Zedong's Communist revolution to India. For three decades, Naxalites have spread almost unchecked throughout the rural reaches of 11 of India's 28 states, leaving large swaths of the nation largely ungoverned.

Yet it is here in the southernmost forests of the state of Chhattisgarh that one district has essentially declared all-out war. Under the banner of a "peace movement," the campaign against the Naxalites has taken its most violent – and some say, its most devastating – form.

Instead of uniting the district, the movement, called Salwa Judum, has forced villagers to choose between two unforgiving opposites, unleashing an unprecedented cycle of killing and revenge as citizens bestowed with emergency police powers sweep through the countryside.

For a nation increasingly intent on meeting the Naxalite threat, the war in Dantewada strikes a note of caution. In the wilds of India, far from the eye of government or the media, an admirable idea has descended into wanton brutality, say villagers here as well as activists who have reported on the district.

Salwa Judum "has been very poorly managed," says Ajay Sahni of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi. "They will have to reinvent this movement, or if it has been too tainted, they will have to start a new mass movement against the Maoists."

The threat posed by the Maoists is widely contested. Like many others, the leader of Salwa Judum, Mahendra Karma, calls them the greatest threat to Indian democracy. But the Naxalites' capabilities are limited. They can carry out quick strikes from their jungle redoubts, experts say, but they cannot take a small district seat like Dantewada, much less Delhi.

The Naxalites' ability to harass and terrorize, however, does have an effect on India's development. They can shut down certain roads at night and make a few districts like Dantewada off-limits for security reasons. But the greatest impact could be yet to come, as a growing thirst for electricity leads power companies toward the Naxalites' remote strongholds.

Some 85 percent of India's coal reserves come from the five states most affected by Naxalites. Since India is still heavily reliant on coal, "Naxalism puts almost half of India's total energy supply at serious political risk," says a report by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington.

Rallying against Maoists

For now, however, the Naxalites' greatest impact is upon those who live in the broad, forested swaths of rural India that they command. And it is these people that Salwa Judum has sought to mobilize.

Though the origins of Salwa Judum are the subject of much debate, officials say it began in June 2005, when several village chiefs in Dantewada held meetings to rally their people against supporting the Naxalites. Soon after, the state government adopted the movement to help it spread.

The strategy is correct, says Mr. Sahni: By holding marches and meetings against Naxalites, Salwa Judum "cuts at the very roots of the Maoist strategy of creating a mass base to support the revolution."

But Naxalites have responded. Of the 144 people killed in Naxalite-related violence during the first three months of the year, 70 percent were from Chhattisgarh.

For his part, Mr. Karma, also a member of the Chhattisgarh assembly, likes to separate Salwa Judum from security operations in Dantewada, calling it a Gandhian peace movement.

Villagers caught in the middle

Many people in Dantewada, however have a different view.

Paikuram Jurri was one of the first people to flee to the safety Salwa Judum offers. In 2005, he left his village to go to one of the many roadside refugee camps that Salwa Judum was creating. In these camps, villagers were told, they would be safe.

"We tried to persuade our villagers, 'Let's all live together on the other side of the river [in the camps] and see if the Naxals can survive then,' " says Mr. Jurri, standing outside a general store in the Nelasnar camp and blinking in the harsh afternoon sun. "The Naxals were only there because of us – we fed them."

Two years later, many others have joined him in the camp – though not all by choice, he says. "Many of the others did not come, so we agreed to put force on them, otherwise they wouldn't understand." "After we came here, we also went out with Salwa Judum to burn villages," he says.

There is little question that the Naxalite network in Dantewada has been seriously damaged since the advent of Salwa Judum.

"They are on the back foot," says M.R. Ahire, additional superintendent of police for the nearby town of Bijapur.

But the enhanced security has come at the cost of the rule of law, say critics of the group. The line has blurred between the police and the people, and citizens recruited as Special Police Officers (SPOs) attempt to match the Naxalites blow for blow.

"The state cannot outsource law-and-order to underage, untrained, and unaccountable civilians," concluded a report last year by the Independent Citizen's Initiative, a group of activists and journalists.

A district torn apart

Suspicions run deep in Dantewada. On one side, those who come to the camps are cast as supporters of Salwa Judum. On the other, those who remain in their forest homes are labeled traitors and Naxalite conspirators. Caught in the middle are those wishing only to live their lives.

"The government suspects that we have given food and shelter to the Naxalites, but we have never given them shelter," says Kadti Budram, who says he was repeatedly harassed by SPOs when he did not leave his village.

After he was tied to a tree upside down and beaten last year, he at last came to the makeshift camp beneath the mango trees, which is not run by Salwa Judum. Now that he has left, he says, "Naxals will think that we are on the government side, and if we go back they will kill us."

A reserve police officer from another part of Chhattisgarh confirms that the treatment Mr. Kadti says he received is not unusual. He spoke only on condition of anonymity, because he feared reprisals if he talked to the media.

"Everyday, we are killing people," he says. "Otherwise, how will they join Salwa Judum?"

He estimates that his unit has killed 60 people this year. Asked if the dead were all Naxalites, he says he has no idea: He and his colleagues don't speak the local language so they rely on the judgment of the SPOs.

Though he says he has so far avoided killing anyone, he adds: "It's so brutal, and we can't understand what's going on."

While the superintendent of police in Bijapur, R.L. Dangi, says his officers have killed about 40 Naxalites in the past year he insists that "we haven't killed any civilians."

As for the incident in Santoshpur, Mr. Dangi says he has not received any complaints so far. Asked if he knew of a raid against Naxalites there, in which several people were killed, he said Naxalites often carry out attacks and blame them on the police.

'All these villages are being broken up'

No one at the refugee camp thinks that was the case. They contend that of the nine people killed in Santoshpur, only one – Sannu's brother, Bojja – was a confirmed Maoist sympathizer.

In the filtered light of the mango tree, Sannu's mother, Bime, sits on a small cot strung with woven grass rope. The rest of the refugees gather around her in a circle, some listening wordlessly to her, others tending to hissing pots and the crackling fires beneath them.

When Bime speaks, her voice is steady but distant, the lines of her face drawn into an expression of stoic resignation. Her sons had chosen their path well before the morning of March 31, and she had been powerless to prevent it.

She had known that Bojja was getting mixed up with the Maoists. She pleaded with him to stop, "but he never listened to me." She says she never got the chance even to talk to her elder son. One day, Sannu vanished without a word. His friend, Kudmul Laxmiah, knew Sannu had applied to be an SPO, but he, too, was surprised to find him gone. Sannu could not be reached for this article.

In Dantewada, where villagers emerge from the deep forests like listless shadows, life is barely less primitive now than it has been for centuries – scratched out from the earth, the monsoon rains, and firewood gathered in bundles and brought home atop the heads of village women. To some seeking a new life, the promise of an SPO salary of $35 per month is an opportunity never imagined. To others, it is a chance to do something at last.

"I have come here to fight the Naxals," says Gita Kunjan, a young SPO standing at a roadside security post, and running through a checklist. She has a uniform; many SPOs do not. Another young SPO nearby with a rifle slung over his shoulder says he got a year of basic training, though he was put on duty right from the start.

The Naxalites "kill people, saying, 'You are associated with the police,' " says Ms. Kunjan quietly, but with conviction. "I have a rifle, so that is helpful, but I am afraid for my family."

For her part, Bime would like her son to "come back home and be with me. But it is his decision," she says. "He thinks that if he comes back he will be killed, so he wants to die with the government."

It is the same for Salwa Judum supporter Jurri, who knows he has made a decision that has changed his life. "I am afraid, because I have burned houses and people have seen it," he says. "I fear that if I go back, there will be revenge."

This could be Dantewada's mantra. "There is this huge suspicion of fear and terror," says Nadini Sundar, who took part in last year's independent investigation. "All these families are being broken up and all these villages are being broken up."

Naxal - Chinese connection

WHILE the Naxal threat in the three districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh — Mirzapur, Chandoli and Sonebhadra — has enlarged the coffers of state police, it has done wonders for the imagination of local journalists. A top Naxal commander Sanjay Kol was killed in a police “encounter” recently, and the local media stepped on its creative gas. As per a report in the local edition of a top Hindi daily, the murdered Naxalite — in his early twenties — was fond of “slitting the neck of his victims and drinking warm blood.” Local activists who work among the tribals say this media sensationalism has been there since the late nineties when Naxalism erupted in the area. “Those days, almost every police encounter would be accompanied by media reports on the cash and commodities recovered from slain Naxals. And invariably, one of them would be an 8-band Chinese radio, ostensibly, through which the Naxal leaders used to communicate with Beijing!” says a local activist. Another reason to ban Chinese FDI in telecom?

Naxalite boycott puts EC under pressure

Vijay Thakur

NEW DELHI, April 30: After successfully controlling rigging and booth capturing during the first five phases of the UP Assembly elections, the Election Commission is facing a different problem. They are concerned about persuading voters to exercise their franchise in Naxalite affected districts where the Maoists have announced a poll boycott.
“So far the emphasis of the commission was to prevent booth capturing, mass scale rigging and bogus voting by anti-social elements. Now it is to remove fear of Naxalites from villagers’ minds and get them to vote in certain pockets of Sonebhadra, Chandauli and Mirzapur,” said a state election commission official.

Among the 52 Assembly segments that would go to polls on 3 May, nearly two dozen assembly segments in Sonebhadra, Chandauli and Mirzapur districts are Naxal infested. “They have distributed pamphlets and warned villagers not to vote,” said a senior UP police officer.
State and Central intelligence agencies and election observers have already informed the EC about the Naxalite diktat and sought special measures for the sixth phase of polling. “It is only in the sixth phase that the region under polling is affected by Naxalites. In earlier phases we had the problem of booth capturing and rigging by anti-social elements, but this time we have to ensure that villagers reach the polling booths to exercise their franchise,”
the EC official said. In its last review meeting, the EC had instructed the state chief secretary, Mr Shambhu Nath, and police top brass to draw up a special deployment plan of state and central security agencies to ensure unrestricted polling in remote Naxalite-affected areas.

The state police has also raided certain villages including Nagwa and Pokhariya in Sonebhadra district where Naxalites reportedly screen-printed pamphlets and supplied them in bulk to neighbouring areas for distribution. “But we could not catch any of them as they managed to escape before the police raid. We can do little, as villagers are providing hem shelter and tacit support,” an officer of Varanasi Range said.

Most of the Naxalites operate through left-wing social organisations, and the villagers have developed a soft corner for their ideology as they help them directly and indirectly to escape the clutches of the mine mafia, the officer said. Security forces, deployed in the remote areas of about two dozen Assemblies where Naxalites have a considerable presence, have been provided bullet-proof jackets, armoured vehicles and electronic gadgets to prevent any move by Naxalites to disrupt polling, the police said.



Tight security in UP ahead of 6th phase

ibnlive.com
Posted Monday , April 30, 2007 at 23:52
Updated Tuesday , May 01, 2007 at 00:58 Email Print


The next round of polling - which starts on May 3 - is to be held in the naxal-infested eastern Uttar Pradesh area and the EC has decided to deploy additional security.


Principal Secretary, Home, K Chandramauli told news agency PTI that six companies of Central Para-military forces had already been deployed in the naxal-hit Chandauli and Sonebhadra districts to ensure free, fair and fearless polling.


Extra forces would also be deployed keeping in view the boycott call given by naxalite outfits, he was further quoted by PTI as saying.


Joint Chief Electoral Officer Kamini Chauhan told PTI that the Election Commission was determined to create an atmosphere in which voters could exercise their franchise freely and fearlessly, she said.


The Commission had already undertaken mapping of areas and identified the places which were prone to naxalite violence, Chauhan said.


The CPMF would be staging flag marches to instill confidence among the electorate, she was further quoted as saying.


(With inputs from PTI)

Tight security in UP ahead of 6th phase : assembly elections 2007, uttar pradesh, samajwadi party, bahujan samajwadi party, mulayam singh yadav, mayawati : IBNLive.com : CNN-IBN

Maoists demand Protection money , burnt workers huts

Work on bridge halts after Maoist attack

Patna, April 30 : Workers building a bridge in Bihar have fled after 200 armed Maoists attacked them after the contractors refused to pay protection money to the rebels, police said.

Threatening to blast the bridge being built by the Bridge Construction Corp (BCC), the Maoists attacked workers at Dubbaghat in Sheohar, 125 km from here, and set fire to their huts late Sunday.
The rebels also damaged a generator and ransacked the makeshift offices of the project. Police said the frightened workers fled early Monday.

"Work on the bridge has stopped after the Maoist attack,"
a police official said.

--- IANS

Naxalites set ablaze labourers' huts in Bihar

[30 Apr, 2007 l 1053 hrs ISTl PTI]


SHEOHAR: Nearly 200 Naxalites raided the construction site of a river overbridge in Bihar's Sheohar district exploding bombs, opening fire and setting ablaze a few huts of labourers, police said on Monday.

Suspected CPI(Maoist) rebels descended on the construction site near Dubba Ghat midnight last night and assaulted the labourers before setting on fire nine thatched huts, DIG (Tirhut range) Gupteshwar Pandey said.

They also damaged some machines, including a generator set, fired in air and exploded crude bombs to terrorise the labourers whom they warned against joining work.

The Naxalites had pasted posters near the place of occurrence a week ago directing the contractor of the Bihar State Bridge Construction Corporation Limited to meet the representatives of the banned outfit.

Pandey, who is camping at Dubba Ghat along with superintendent of police Ajay Kumar Mishra to supervise raids to apprehend the culprits, said the Naxalites wanted to extort a levy from the contractor for allowing the work to proceed smoothly.

No arrests have been made so far.

The incident follows March 31 attack on a bank, block office and police station at Riga in adjoining Sitamarhi district. Though the attack was repulsed, a jawan of the special auxiliary police (SAP) was killed in the encounter.

Martyr Dilip Chand's body to be sent to Himachal Pradesh

MV-79 village market remains closed

Press Trust of India
Malkangiri, April 30: The market at MV-79 village near here, the scene of the bloody encounter between Maoists and security personnel yesterday, remained closed today.
CRPF and Special Operation Group (SOG) personnel swarmed the area with policemen as the body of the CRPF havildar Dilip Chand, who was killed in the gun battle, was brought here for its onward journey to his village in Himachal Pradesh.Chand was killed in the rebel attack while four other CRPF jawans and two civilians were injured. The securitymen, however, succeeded in gunning down two ultras, including a woman, during the combing operation that followed the exchange of fire.It was a virtual curfew like situation as very few people were seen on the streets. Cycles and footwears were seen scattered in the market area.
The road linking Kalimela and Malkangiri was also bereft of any traffic as fear appeared to lurk everywhere.

"This has become a dangerous place to live. Such things are happening every now and then", said a resident at MV-79 shocked at the broad day light attack of the maoists on security personnel.

Securitymen retrieved a live grenade lying in the market today. Three landmines were also detected on the main road. Police officials said combing operation in the area had been continuing since yesterday.Meanwhile, arrangements were being made to send the body of Dilip Chand to Himachal Pradesh. Chand was set to retire from service in a few months, sources said

Incident

Maoists sing new tune, spread fear

Amitabh Srivastava
Sonebhadra, May 01, 2007
First Published: 01:50 IST(1/5/2007)
Last Updated: 01:51 IST(1/5/2007)


“When Maoists in Jharkhand sneeze, Sonebhadra and Mirzapur districts in eastern Uttar Pradesh catch cold.” This is how BJP MLC Shyam Singh describes the import of the Maoists’ call to voters here.

Maoists are asking people in Sonebhadra, Chandauli and Mirzapur to vote for “their candidates”.
“And their call carries some weight,” says Singh. Fifty-two constituencies go to polls on May 3, apart from a by-election to the Robertsganj parliamentary constituency.

The Maoists’ call, however, is a clear deviation from the past since they are traditionally known to issue ‘boycott polls’ diktats. What has made the Naxals change their stand?

Kameshwar Baitha, a CPI (Maoist) sub-zonal commander lodged in Garhwa jail in Jharkhand, is the one who has scripted the shift. Billed as a rebel with a difference, Baitha finished a close second as BSP nominee in the recently concluded Palamu (Jharkhand) parliamentary bypoll. His next target is to consolidate his hold across the border in Uttar Pradesh, where he has always been a force to reckon with. The 54-year-old has 12 cases of extremist activities pending against him in Sonebhadra. Jharkhand police claim Baitha's son-in-law is a government official and one of his in-laws a police inspector in UP.

“The Maoists have always been debating the feasibility of contesting elections. But, I am no longer a Maoist. Once in jail, the membership ceases. I am only a BSP party worker, and my men are in Uttar Pradesh trying to ensure that the elephant has a cakewalk,” Baitha explains.

The explanation, however, has stoked fears across the border. Not surprisingly, the Samajwadi Party is making the loudest noises. Vijay Singh Gaur, SP MLA from Dudhi constituency, says “this Maoist diktat is a plan hatched by Mayawati”.

But there are takers for Baitha’s kind of politics. Says Kailash Ghasia of Nagwa, “Politicians remember us only during polls. They are not worth risking our lives for. We should vote the way the wind blows.”

India is shrinking under Manmohan

By: Bharat Verma
Courtesy: Defence Matters - May 6, 2007

The ill-conceived demand for demilitarization can only boost the expanding designs of the terrorist state across the border.

Regionalism, linguistic differences, religion and caste differences are being exacerbated for purposes of vote bank politics. The trend is certainly not towards integration and consolidation of the nation-state.

Despite India’s pretensions of an emerging great power, its influence is shrinking—both internally and on its external periphery. Internally, Naxalites and insurgent outfits control more than 40 per cent of the Indian territory. Similarly, its borders are volatile with neighbours nibbling into its territory as well as influence. Arrival of militaries of great powers to battle terrorism and secure energy resources has led to rivalry to dominate India’s surroundings creating additional complications. Besides, inability to work out a viable initiative to enhance its geo-political influence in its immediate vicinity, and seize the initiative internally from the disruptive forces by the instrument of good governance, could lead to unraveling of the great Indian dream by 2030, if not earlier. These negative and divisive trends tearing the Indian state from within need to be firmly arrested and reversed immediately. At the same time, viable strategy to enhance its strategic footprints in the vicinity must be initiated; otherwise India may face the prospect of reverting to its pre-Independence status (or more appropriately pre-British) of splintered territories, principalities and fiefdoms ruled by feudals and their private militias who may well seek outside military support to subjugate their kith-turned-adversaries.

The external strength and posture of a nation are dependent on internal cohesion. Are we moving towards a cohesive society and nation? The answer is ‘no’—the scenario is increasingly looking dismal. Regionalism, linguistic differences, religion and caste differences are being exacerbated for purposes of vote bank politics. The trend is certainly not towards integration and consolidation of the nation- state. The psychological fragmentation and regionalism primarily due to vote bank politics has resulted in overwhelming regional pressures in determining our foreign policy. The primary objective of sound foreign policy is to enhance security and economic prosperity of the country in which every citizen has critical and equal stakes. Looking at Israel solely through the prism of Muslim population—Sri Lanka through Tamil prism or Bangladesh (illegal migration problem) through political prism—are there self-imposed constraints that inhibit India’s growth and influence?

The writ of the state governments is being rolled back towards their respective state capitals by Naxalites, insurgents, and crime mafia. The union’s external influence is shrinking due to shortsighted policies and self-inflicted wounds. India has become net importer of negative influences instead of acquiring power projection capabilities to achieve dominance in its vicinity. A state or a union whose writ on its own territory and geo-political influence in the vicinity is shrinking, cannot ever measure up to requirements of a great power unless it reverses course.
Case East: The stated Indian population of 1.3 billion today reportedly consists of 30 million people from Bangladesh. Demographic patterns stand subverted and changed in Assam, West Bengal, and the lowly populated states of the northeast. Dhaka’s influence (and Islamic fundamentalism) extends into large Indian chunks of territory diluting New Delhi’s hold. However, the amazing part is that it is a self-inflicted wound by New Delhi that enacted IMDT for vote bank politics totally disregarding agitation by its local citizenry. The damage was done by the time Supreme Court struck down this unfair act 22 years later
.

Indians were expelled from Myanmar a long time back and New Delhi practically did nothing. Later, Myanmar, a land bridge to ASEAN in our neighbourhood stood isolated by New Delhi. While India perched itself on false high ground moralizing on democratic norms, China indulged in realpolitik and made huge inroads at our cost. Our recent attempts to engage Myanmar while laudable are yet to pay dividends. Very recently despite ONGC’s investments in the oilfield there, the military junta under Beijing’s pressure has allotted the entire produce to China. The Foreign Office, in this shrinking influence syndrome, will require running many extra miles to merely remain in the competition.

The difference between China and India is that the former builds roads beyond its borders and the latter’s roads stop short of reaching its own borders. Practicing realpolitik the Chinese spread their influence by building bridges across Asia. Indian policy-makers coin words like defensive-defence and disallow even roads to run up to their own borders, lest the adversary use it to travel inland. Chinese also appear to have an unwritten law that restrains its vassal states under its influence to share oil and gas wealth with India unless its own demands are met. Whereas we, with our appeasement policy do not tire of proposing that China and India should jointly exploit and share the energy resources. On the energy front India is being successfully muscled out from Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Central Asia—as a result of insecure, tentative and inward looking policies, premised on ‘carrot’ and ‘appeasement’.
Case West: Pakistan first expelled or subjugated its own minorities. Its agents then extended their reach by conducting ethnic cleansing in the Valley to obtain and secure a launch pad to seize the writ from the Indian state and subsequently threaten the Indian heartland. The ill-conceived demand for demilitarization can only boost the expanding designs of the terrorist state across the border.

Many in India are seduced by the belief that Islamabad finally wants to talk peace with New Delhi—which is absolutely flawed. Unfortunately for Pakistan, its policy of jehad and export of terror worldwide after 9/11 have come home to roost. Internally Pakistan’s army is overstretched between Afghanistan-Pakistan border and internal security duties. With clear multiple vertical divides within Pakistan’s populace and society, the jehadi factory, and different echelons of the army—it is in some difficulty in keeping the Indian borders on the boil. If one monitors the jehadi chatter with a discerning ear, the message coming out is clear, i.e. to defeat the western forces led by America. This for the time being has acquired primacy over the anti-India agenda. India, they seem to be confident, being an utterly soft state can be dealt with subsequently. However, the anti-India cause they reckon must be kept alive through their lobbies and sleeper agents, lest New Delhi becomes too comfortable! It’s a well thought out tactical ploy as it struggles on multi-fronts.
India has extended major aid to Afghanistan in its reconstruction programme. Millions of dollars of the taxpayer’s money along with manpower is being poured into Kabul as a sensible strategy. However, with resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan with the backing of Islamabad, this taxpayer’s money may well go down the drain. The problem with New Delhi’s policy in its geopolitical arena is characterized by strange self-doubt. The policy invariably consists of only the ‘carrot’ and omits the ‘stick’ which is vital for success in exercise of international relations. If New Delhi is not willing to flex its military, intelligence, and diplomatic sinews, jointly with western forces or individually, to defend the gigantic re-construction work it has undertaken, it will be muscled out once again.

Case North: Nepal that is culturally a mirror image of India faces virtually similar problems. Maoists, notwithstanding their participation in the interim government continue to control and run parallel government. Kathmandu’s writ does not run in major chunks of Nepal’s territory, particularly the hill districts.
By humiliating its national army and making them surrender their weapons, the Koirala government has opened itself to Maoist blackmail. It is merely a matter of time before the gun-wielding Maoists throw Koirala and the rag-tag liberal political parties out of power. With 38 Gorkha Battalions in the Indian Army, and large number of Gorkha personnel in police and para-military forces, how it will play out, is anybody’s guess. However, what is certain is that the sole beneficiary of this churning will be China. In terms of India’s foreign policy, it is blunder of epic proportions. The stark question is, if New Delhi cannot handle Nepal then what exactly can it do?

Our northern neighbour China more or less has arrived as the new super power. While New Delhi’s influence continues to shrink due to divisive policies and indulgence in vote bank politics, Beijing with its calibrated and well thought out approach is extending its influence in Asia and consolidating it in South Asia. In Asia-Pacific, most of the economies including Japan’s are performing well due to the China factor. China’s proxy Pakistan has kept India on its toes. Bangladesh and Nepal are likely to end up as China’s new vassal states. Saudi Arabia and other Islamic states are now tilting towards China and moving away from the West. The same is true for many countries in South East Asia, West Asia, Central Asia and Africa. China’s naval reach stands enhanced, through ports like Sitwe in Myanmar, Gwadar in Pakistan and Hambantota in Sri Lanka that provide new manoeuvring space into the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean as such, lowering India’s maritime pre-eminence. If China remains strong and India becomes weak, China will overwhelm India. The reverse will not happen if India is strong and China is weak. This bottom line must always be kept in mind.

Case South: America is in and can use the port facilities in Sri Lanka, which are strategically more attractive with regard to the Indian Ocean. China has in a mutually beneficial move also tied up with Colombo. It appears that here too India is being muscled out from its backyard. What surprises one is that the Indian Navy that wants to be the pre-eminent force in the Indian Ocean and the Indian Air Force that wants a transoceanic and aerospace capabilities could not monitor the LTTE rag-tag air force taking off on the next door island, hitting out at the SLAF and retreating to their hide-out without detection! It is time India steps in to ensure that the Sinhalese and LTTE are brought to the negotiating table. This is primarily India’s responsibility and is a litmus test for the mandarins of South Block, as break-up of Sri Lanka will be strategically disastrous for India.
(The writer is Editor, Indian Defence Review.)

Published: Apr 30, 2007 13:17:42 GMT