Saturday, September 15, 2007

Centre not providing adequate support for dealing naxalism: Raman

Bhopal, Sep 15 : Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh today regretted the lack will power on the part of the Centre to tackle naxalite menace.
Dr Singh said naxalism was a national problem and it was the responsibility of the Centre to solve the problem.

However, he assured that he would not shy to deal with the problem on its own.

He suggested that the Centre should chalk out and implement an integrated anti-naxalite joint action plan in consulation with naxal-affected state governments.

The Chief Minister pointed out that naxalism was against the democratic structure of the country and could be compared to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and formerly Punjab.

The Chhattisgarh Government had launched an intense campaign to fight naxalism through movements like 'Salwa Judum' involving tribals in tribal-dominated regions.

He claimed that naxalism was affecting about 140 districts in 12 states.

Dr Singh alleged that the Centre was discriminating states with regards to centrally-sponsored schemes.

He said the Centre had to provide 75 per cent contribution in education-related schemes, while state government had to provide the rest part. However, the Centre was desirous of reducing its share to 50 per cent.

The Chief Minister said adopting such measures would be a big blow for backward states like Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh and urged the Centre to continue the present arrangement and not impose additional burden on states.

He said the Chhattisgarh Government had maintained financial discipline despite challenging situations. Its establishment bill was not more than 32 per cent.

Dr Singh the next assembly elections would be fought on the poll plank of development and peace. He claimed that ninety per cent of poll promises had been fulfilled.

He added that the BJP was fully prepared for the Lok Sabha polls besides next year's assembly polls.

Urging the Centre to increase royalty on coal and iron ore, Dr Singh pointed out that Chhattisgarh is rich in natural resources and should get maximum benefit. Industrial units related to value addition to iron ore should also be established in the state.

The Chief Minister said the Railways earned a sizeable revenue from the state government. However, it received no cooperation for improving rail network. No meter gauge had been converted into a broad gauge since a long time.

--- UNI

Friday, September 14, 2007

India to check terror funding

Published: Sept. 14, 2007 at 9:43 AM
Print story Email to a friend Font size:NEW DELHI, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- India plans to put in place a financial intelligence network to detect funding of terrorism and money laundering.

The network, to be set up by March 2009, has been named Project Finnet. Under the project, all banks, brokers in the securities market and mutual funds would be given a common technology platform to detect suspicious transactions. Reporting to the financial intelligence unit will be mandatory.

In March, Ernst and Young won the contract to operationalize the project, The Financial Express newspaper reported Friday.

According to a Finance Ministry official, the first phase of the project would be completed by December. He said a request for proposals would be called for and then the winning bidder would help integrate the system with financial institutions and banks. By March 2009, the project will cover whole nation.

Arun Goyal, director of the agency, said the Financial Intelligence Unit would shortly publish its own typology report, including details on trade-based money laundering and misuse of corporate vehicles. Goyal said the agency was engaged in talks with the Reserve Bank of India to further streamline norms on customer diligence and other guidelines.

The FIU has so far sent details of more than 500 suspicious transactions to the income tax, enforcement directorate and customs and excise authorities, Goyal said, adding these are out of 800 suspected financial transactions the agency has detected in the last fiscal year.

UCAN: Catholic prelate calls for joint efforts to check Maoist menace in India

By Jose Vincent
9/14/2007
UCANews (www.ucanews.com)

HYDERABAD, India (UCAN) – A Catholic Church leader has urged civil and religious leaders to work together to check the Maoist menace in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.


The "big question for all governments is how to change the mindset of the Maoists," Archbishop Marampudi Joji of Hyderabad told UCA News. For this to happen, he said," awareness has to be raised" among Maoists and their supporters.

Hyderabad, where the prelate is based, is the state capital, 1,500 kilometers (about 930 miles) south of New Delhi.

Archbishop Joji's comments came after the state's former chief minister, N.J. Reddy, escaped an apparent attempt on his life on Sept. 7. However, the landmine explosion killed three people in another car in his convoy. Reddy is now a member of parliament.

The incident occurred four kilometers from Vakadu, Reddy's village in Nellore district. His wife and a state minister traveling with him also escaped death. Nellore is 515 kilometers (about 320 miles) southeast of Hyderabad.

The blast was the latest incident in the Maoist-government conflict that has claimed more than 3,000 lives in Andhra Pradesh since 2002.

Maoists are known locally as Naxalites, since the outlawed movement originated in Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal state, eastern India, in the 1960s. Its members wage violent struggles in underdeveloped areas of several states. They claim their goals are to bring justice to tribal and landless people and create a classless society, but opponents dismiss them as terrorists who oppress people in the name of class warfare.

G. Satyanarayana, former head of the sociology department at Hyderabad-based Osmania University, traced the Maoists' history in Andhra Pradesh for UCA News. The Hindu professor said that when the movement started in 1966 in the state's coastal belt, marginalized tribal people "spontaneously" felt attracted to it.

Later, Naxalism spread to other regions, as capitalist exploitation of workers replaced centuries-old feudalistic exploitation of landless laborers.

"That is why the movement continues to be active and strong," Satyanarayana explained, saying it has made the poor realize their misery and helped them gain social, political and land rights.

G. Alfred, a former police officer, predicts Naxalism will continue to thrive as long as socioeconomic disparities exist. He told UCA News that initially, educated people such as doctors and engineers joined the Naxalites. "However, Naxalism today has lost its ideological base and drifted away from its committed stand," said Alfred, a Protestant.

In his analysis, several "lumpen elements," or unprincipled factions, have crept into the movement and use it to make "easy money" by threatening contractors, realtors and business people.

Alfred also blamed successive governments for abetting the spread of Maoism by making promises that they do not keep. Sometimes, he added, officials divert welfare schemes meant for tribal advancement to other groups.

Archbishop Joji wants religious leaders, rulers, civil authorities and the public to collaborate toward bringing about a change of heart among the Maoists. The situation will change if these groups get together, he asserted.

Lack of employment opportunities has driven many educated and talented youth to Naxalism, observed the prelate, who had contacts with the Maoists during his earlier stint as the bishop of Khammam. The prelate said he told the Maoists they use guns to help the downtrodden, but "I use the Bible as my weapon."

Despite police warnings, he met Maoists in the dense forests several times. "God gave me courage to live in the forest without protection," he said. The Maoists initially suspected him as a government spy in a Catholic bishop's garb, the prelate recalled, but he convinced them he had come to fulfill Christ's mission of bringing hope to the poor.

Meanwhile, the state government has expressed willingness to resume talks with Maoists. "We are ready to hold talks with Naxalites if they shun violence and give up arms," state Chief Minister Y.S.R. Reddy, a Protestant, told reporters.

The chief minister said his government's main concern is to keep youths from joining the Maoists. What is required, in his view, is to convince youths who have basic education and vocational training that they "can be gainfully employed and contribute to the economy."


- - -


Republished by Catholic Online with permission of the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News), the world's largest Asian church news agency (www.ucanews.com).

AP police ignores warning

The process of radicalization started in the mid-nineties with the ISI starting to hire recruits from Hyderabad.
In January 2005, there was considerable consternation in the old quarters of Hyderabad. A section of the people living there were agitated that the Saudi Arabia King who was coming to Delhi as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade, was not extending his trip to Hyderabad.

The agitation was covered extensively in the Urdu press (and also in the English press) and the aggrieved people were bitter that in the good old days when oil had not been struck it was the Nizam who used to be the benefactor of the Saudi Kings. "The Nizam sent the first doctor and car to Saudi Arabia. He was the first to build pilgrim houses in Mecca. So in the fitness of things, the King should have come to Hyderabad to repay his old debts," was the common refrain of the people in the Old City.

"The rest of the city found this behaviour very strange. But as modernity and economic development had bypassed this section of the city, the residents searched for an identity. And harked back to the Nizam's golden era when he was the biggest Muslim kingdom in the world," said a political observer.

In these circumstances the agents of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Harkat-ul-Jehad-Al-Islami (HUJI) found Hyderabad's Old City a fertile ground for the recruitment of jehadis. Especially post 9/11 which had given an impetus to the process of radicalization.

More so, in the context of the politics practiced in the Old City where the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) lords over one Lok Sabha and five Assembly constituencies. True, the scene is changing with many madrassas being modernized and women coming out to study and work even in call centres. But the pace of change is very slow.

In fact, the process of radicalization started in the mid-nineties with the ISI starting to hire recruits from Hyderabad. But as Indian intelligence agencies became smarter and saw the link of state-sponsored terrorism from across the Western borders, the ISI outfits started donning other identities.

"Pakistani operators realized that the Indo-Bangladesh border was more porous and infiltration was quite easy. So Pakistan's intelligence outfits spawned outfits in Bangladesh," said a senior Hyderabad police officer.

What helped them was the fact that for some strange reason there has been an economic connection between Hyderabad and Bangladesh. Over the last few years many technicians, fitters, tradesman and other artisans have found part-time employment in Bangladesh. Small companies have taken up contracts in Dhaka and have been sending men there for a period of six months. This made the process of infiltration and ideological indoctrination easier.

The process received a jolt only when there was a blast on Dusherra in the office of the task force at the Hyderabad Police Commissionerate a few years ago. The perpetrator of the blast died but the police identified him as a Bangladeshi. This was the first time that the Bangladesh angle came up prominently. Despite being there earlier, but had been ignored. One Bangladeshi militant who was arrested for killing an Additional Superintendent of Police was handed over a life sentence, but was strangely let off by the Government in an amnesty for prisoners on Independence Day.

Even as Hyderabad was honing on the Bangladeshi ultras, America radars too were whetting them but for entirely different reasons. The IT era in Hyderabad was heralded by the then US President Clinton visit to the city in 1999. In the years that followed Clinton's trip, hi-tech US investments made it a software-cum-BPO boomtown.

Clinton's successor George Bush did one better. On his visit to Hyderabad in March 2006 (a month after the Saudi King gave it a miss) he announced the opening of full-fledged American consulate. A significant decision, against the backdrop that there was a US Consulate already in Chennai.

With Hyderabad gaining in prominence and investments, the jehadis viewed the city as an attractive target. As hitting Hyderabad would have a massive spin-off effect thanks to inflow of US funds.

Besides, with the State and its police unprepared for a terror attack Hyderabad become an easy target. Traditionally, the State Administration was geared to deal with only the law and order problems created by the Naxalites and largely ignored the terrorist threat. Notwithstanding, the warning by the CBI and intelligence agencies.

Shockingly, the State Intelligence Bureau has no expertise in dealing with terrorist groups and is clueless about the terrorists' modus operandi. Worse, it just keeps itself abreast of the Maoist groups' activities and their hideouts. Which had largely been annihilated in the last two years.

To cap it all, the top brass of the Andhra police force is more conscious of keeping on the right side of the political bosses than with effective policing. With the powers-that-be looking at everything from the prism of votes, the Police Chiefs are prevented from taking action to maintain law and order as their actions are perceived as unpopular decisions.

A case in point. The former Police Commissioner of Hyderabad, AK Mohanty, who was strict about implementing the rule of law in the Old City, was soon on a collision course with the MIM whose writ runs large there. The MIM's Chief Asauddin Owaisi started complaining that about Mohanty's office becoming the hub of Left parties' activities and Mohanty was removed. No matter that the Left was chipping away at the MIM's vote base.

Today with Mohanty's successor reportedly the pendulum has swung in favour of the MIM, which is back to its activities. Evidence of this came to the fore during the recent attack on well known Bangladeshi writer and liberal Taslima Nasreen. Even as the police launched a case against the MIM MLAs who disrupted her function, they also booked Nasreen much to the chagrin of neutral observers.

In sum, there is no gainsaying that the enemies across the borders are least concerned about peace in India. They want to incite one community against another.

TD Jagadesan, INFA

Analysis: India wants Maoists to disarm

NEW DELHI, Sep. 13
KUSHAL JEENA

UPI Correspondent
India says it won't hold peace talks with Maoists rebels unless they end violence and give up their arms.

"There will be no peace dialogue by the affected states with Naxal groups unless they give up crime, violence and arms," said an Indian Interior Ministry policy statement dispatched to states hit by Maoists violence.

Naxal refers to Maoist rebels in India and comes from Naxalbari, the area in West Bengal state where the rebellion first began.

India asked Maoist-hit states to formulate and implement effective surrender-and-rehabilitation policies for the rebels. The federal government has assured affected states it will continue to supplement security and development efforts to effectively tackle the problem.

"Keeping in view that Naxalism is not only a law-and-order problem, the policy of the government is to address this menace simultaneously on political, security, development and public-perception management fronts in a holistic manner," said Shivraj Patil, the interior minister.

The policy statement on internal security, laid down in Parliament, directed affected states to improve police response and pursue effective and sustained action against rebels.The rebels, who are waging an armed rebellion, are active in the tribal parts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Orissa states; they seek a Maoist state.

The Interior Ministry asked the affected states to focus on effective implementation of development schemes to ensure accelerated socioeconomic development.

"Adequate security and other measures will also be taken to facilitate uninterrupted development activities in Naxal-affected areas," Patil told Parliament.He said states were asked to adopt a unified approach and pursue a coordinated response to counter the problem. Notwithstanding the increase in paramilitary and security forces to curb violence, the problem continues to remain an area of major concern for India as 11 of the nation's 33 states are hit by Maoist violence.

From January through June, there were 842 incidents of rebel violence as against 827 during the corresponding period last year in which 358 police personnel and civilians were killed. During the same period, the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand together accounted for 67 percent of the total incidents and 76 percent of the total casualties.

The states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are the worst hit. The Interior Ministry says the higher number of incidents and casualties in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are due to increased use of improvised explosive devices by Maoists, attacks on security forces and on activists of Salva Judum, an organization set up by villagers in Chhattisgarh to counter rebels, and counter-operations by security forces against the rebels.

Andhra Pradesh, one of the worst-hit states, has been of late successful in containing the rebels after the state government formed a special task force to contain violence. The force, known as Greyhounds, successfully discovered the hideouts of rebels and also killed a large number.

India says the rebels have targeted villagers who resist extortion, atrocities and violence -- many times under the pretext of their being police informers. The rebels are also involved in levy collection and other atrocities in the tribal areas, the government says.

The rebels began their activities in 1968 when they entered the eastern part of the country. Initially mostly peaceful, the movement turned violent in the 1980s, and incidents of killings by rebels peaked over the past five years when they spread to 11 states and made inroads in the poverty-stricken tribal areas.

With the sharp rise in Maoist violence, the federal and state governments banned their activities and asked them to surrender. The Congress Party government in Andhra Pradesh, after assuming power in 2004, attempted to buy peace with rebels, inviting them for talks and lifting the ban on them. The attempt yielded no result, however, as the rebels never turned up for talks.

Violence continued, and several politicians were killed in rebel-related violence. The state government re-imposed the ban following the killing of a Congress lawmaker and an attack on a former state chief minister. Meanwhile, various federal ministries, which have provided financial assistance to non-governmental organizations working in tribal areas, stopped aid as the Interior Ministry received reports of money being transferred to the Maoists by NGOs to save lives of their activists.

India has deployed 33 battalions of federal paramilitary forces on anti-Maoist duties in various states for assisting the state police forces. The government is unable to contain the violence as in a large number of tribal areas, Maoists gain the support of local tribes because they promise to lift their living standards and remove poverty once their regime is established. Governments in Maoist-hit states have been unable to handle this aspect of the problem despite several development schemes either being implemented or in the pipeline.

"The government has not been able to tackle the Naxalite problem because it has failed to provide basic amenities to the poor tribal people who get carried away by the rebels," K. Srinivas Reddy, a senior journalist from Vishaalandhra, a Telugu-language newspaper, told United Press International. "Despite various welfare schemes put in place, they have not benefited the poor for the lack of strict and proper monitoring."

A Cry Against the Hidden War

PRO NAXAL INTELLETUAL BLURB

At a seminar in Delhi, Chhattisgarh tribals recount Salva Judum excesses. Felix Padel reports

A deafening silence surrounds the hidden war in south Chhattisgarh between Maoist guerrillas on one side and the State and its sponsored offensive, Salva Judum, on the other. How to break this silence and find a solution was the theme of a People’s Convention on Salva Judum, attended by 250 people, organised in New Delhi in the first week of September by the Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh.

Key speakers included several tribals, witnesses to acts of unspeakable violence. Their eyes downcast, they described how the Salva Judum members came to their villages, ordering them to leave, before burning their homes, and killing and raping selected victims. Several of the speakers had been beaten for hours. Innocence was no protection. One attempted to lodge FIRs with the police about incidents he had witnessed of killings and torture. He paid a heavy price: nine months in jail, and repeated beatings by Salva Judum activists.

Ajit Jogi (ex-chief minister) and former CPI MLA Manish Kunjam drew attention to the way the Salva Judum has forced tribal people into a civil war not of their choosing. Over the last two years, 700 villages in Dantewada district have been burnt, and about one lakh people displaced. It has been apparent all this while that the Salva Judum is government-backed and enjoys the support of security forces stationed on the ground. Mahendra Karma, Leader of the Opposition in the Chhattisgarh Assembly and Salva Judum protagonist, had openly attended meetings of this militia in the presence of senior bureaucrats and policemen.

In essence, the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh is in the grip of a civil war that has locked tribals in a bloody internecine conflict. How to bring peace when so many communities have been torn apart by violence? The Chhattisgarh government’s ban on independent reporting through the Special Security Act of 2005 ensures that atrocities by Maoists are highlighted, while far more numerous Salva Judum crimes go unreported and unpunished. Anyone criticising Salva Judum is labelled a Naxal supporter. Tribals have been herded out of their villages and located in camps. The camps’ ostensibe purpose is to “protect” people from Maoist reprisals. But as a tribal woman whose young daughter was dying for lack of medical care said in the film, India’s Hidden War (shown on Channel 4 TV, UK), “It’s not the Maoists we fear. It’s Salva Judum.” Salva Judum cadres work under close supervision of the police. The film showed Salva Judum men moving from village to village, forcing people to attend meetings, while archers stand in a line at the side, their weapons drawn. Policemen stroll through the crowd interrogating people about their Maoist contacts.

BD Sharma (Former Commissioner for Scheduled Tribes & Castes) suggested at the conference that there should be a parliamentary committee to investigate this silent war, and that the President should order an end to it by invoking President’s Rule. The most important thing, he said, was the return of the rule of law and democracy.

The delegates at the Delhi meeting called for the repeal of the Chhattisgarh Special Security Act (2005) censoring the media; a highlevel, independent enquiry into all killings, disappearances and rapes by the Salva Judum as well as Naxalites; the disbanding of Salva Judum, and a commitment to end violence by both sides; and a real dialogue between the Naxalites/Maoists and the government.

Hareesh from the People’s Union for Civil Liberties flagged the case of Dr Binayak Sen, a doctor and human rights activist who was arrested after meeting a senior Naxal leader in Raipur jail, and who has now been in jail for several months on spurious charges. The Chhattisgarh government has recently tried to ban NGOs in the Bastar region, as well as Médecins Sans rontières, even though thousands of people are dying from lack of medical aid in the villages as well as camps.


Sep 22, 2007







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Ex-Naxal held

Friday September 14 2007 13:34 IST
ENS

NELLORE: Bhaskar alias Munaiah, a former Naxalite of Gandhi Nagar in Gudur, was taken into police custody in connection with the landmine blast at Chendodugutta, according to reliable sources here on Thursday.

Bhaskar was a former member of Janasakthi dalam. A motorcycle which was abandoned near a temple in Kavali five days ago, was also recovered. The police conducted a house-to-house search in some areas in Gudur to nab the Maoists involved in the abortive attempt on the lives of former chief minister N Janardhan Reddy and his wife Rajyalakshmi

CRPF diffuses bombs on railway tracks

Statesman News Service

ROURKELA, Sept. 13: The CRPF today diffused bombs planted along the railway track between Topadihi and Renjda, in the interior of the district.

A worker of the railways who was on regular maintenance duty spotted them and alerted the police, following which a bomb disposal squad of the CRPF was summoned.
It may be noted that a few days ago, MCC cadres had raided the Topadihi railway station and fired a couple of rounds on a goods train.

Apart from this, they had assaulted Mr A Lakra, the stationmaster before leaving. The cadres had also put on some party posters. This created panic amongst the railway staff of the area, and for sometime, they did not attend their duties.
It seems that the MCC plans to cripple the production of the Rourkela Steel Plant because the raw materials come from the far-flung areas.

If the blowing up of the tracks had been successful, it would have stopped the supply from the Barsuan area.

It would have badly affected the steel major. “Meanwhile, the combined team of the CRPF and the Sundergarh police have jointly started patrolling these areas,” said a police officer.



XPRESS NEWS SERVICE

ROURKELA: Security forces on Thursday foiled a major Naxal bid to blow up a train by planting an IED (improvised explosive device) on the one-way railway track near Topadihi railway station in Bonai sub-division about 75 km from here.

Reports said the IED in the form of ‘can bomb’ weighed around 10 kg was believed to have been planted to target iron ore ferrying goods trains as security personnel usually use them as modes of transport. The detection came around 10.30 am on Thursday and bomb disposal squad safely removed the device.

Sundargarh SP S Pravin Kumar confirmed the seizure and added the IED was defused and security beefed up further.

On why the Topadihi region came under the radar of the banned CPI(Maoist) outfit, the SP attributed it to the inaccessible and hilly terrains which shares porous border with the Naxal hot bed Jharkhand.

A police officer connected with the combing operation said they including CRPF personnel were resting at the Topadihi railway station. Around 10.15 am, a group of railway gangmen returning from Renjda informed about presence of some suspected object at the track near a tunnel about one-and-half-km away from the station.

They also informed that some persons in army fatigues were loitering at the place. The police with CRPF enforcement rushed to the spot and on finding the IED defused it.

The Renjda-Rourkela section of SE Railway authorities immediately suspended movement of all trains between Renjda to Topadihi. The railway track in this section was the main target of the Maoists since the track crosses through the foothill of Saranda forest along Jharkhand border.

Recently Maoists beat up a railway station manager and earlier burnt two locomotives during a bandh.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Are Maoist rebels using choppers?

By Sujeet Kumar, Raipur, Sep 13 : Do Maoist guerrillas have access to helicopters? The question is being seriously debated in police circles here after unconfirmed intelligence reports that top Maoist leaders have been using helicopters to travel from their strongholds in Orissa and Jharkhand to Chhattisgarh.

"We have information that Maoist top gun Ganapathi used a chopper in April 2005 to attend a meeting at short notice in Chhattisgarh's Abujhmad forest, an area protected by landmines all around," said a senior police officer based at the police headquarters here.

"The area has several war training centres and explosive units. If the sources are to be believed, the chopper took off from a remote location in Orissa's Malkangiri district," the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told IANS.

Thereafter, on at least two more occasions, Ganapathi travelled by a chopper from the Abujhmad Maoist base to the forested rebel hideouts in Jharkhand's Garhwa district.

"It is certain that Maoists have managed choppers somehow to ferry their top leaders for crunch meetings. They can also use the choppers to move out from their bases quickly if police attack them," the officer further said.

Information on availability of choppers to the ultra-left radicals need to be checked and verified further, he said.

The Abujhmad forest is spread out over a 4,000 sq km stretch in Bastar in Chhattisgarh's southern region. Police claim rebels have set up several explosives and war-training units in the jungles of Bastar to run a terror network that touches 13 Indian states.

Counter terrorism expert B.K. Ponwar, director of the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College (CTJWC) in Bastar's Kanker district, said: "It is easy to use a chopper. Maoists may be using it to get away from one location to another but the question is about its availability. How can they manage a chopper?"
"Since a chopper needs a very small open area to land, it's possible for the rebels to use it," Ponwar told IANS.

However, Vishwaranjan, who took charge as director general of police of Chhattisgarh in July this year, discounted the possibility of Maoists using a chopper for their movement.

"So far, they (Maoists) don't have such technical capabilities. Moreover, they can't take such security risks, as their movements would be exposed. Choppers can be brought down because it would be easier to know in which direction they are moving," Vishwaranjan told IANS.

--- IANS

Maoist surrenders second time

User Rating: / 0 Thursday, 13 September 2007

Nalgonda, September 13: Bhavanam Sreenivasa Reddy alias Bhaskar alias Prabhakar alias Diwakar (33), former CPI (Maoist) secretary of the powerful Rachakonda Area Committee, has surrendered before Nalgonda police for the second time due to ill-health.

Sreenivasa Reddy, who had surrendered and availed of the rehabilitation package on August 9, 2003, went underground after Maoists’ attacked Atmakur (M) police station last year. Reddy served as member of the protection team for Jeevan, a top Maoist, during his second stint, Vijay Kumar, SP, told reporters on Wednesday. He that Reddy wasn’t involved in any action during the period.

--Agencies

Maoist leaders migrating to Andhra-Orissa Border ?

Thursday September 13 2007 10:45 IST
ENS

VIZIANAGARAM: The police were put on alert in the wake of reports that top CPI (Maoist) leaders are migrating to Andhra-Orissa Border. The major reverses suffered by the Maoists in Nallamalla forests are believed to have set them on the path to this region, which continues to be a safe haven for them.


According to reliable sources, top leaders like Bhaskar, Daya and Sammi Reddy are meeting quite often in the AOB area to carry on their agenda. The police are also stalked by fear of Maoist attacks on VIPs who are on their hit-list.

Against this background, the surrendering of Dharma alias Bhupati and the arrest of Dhilli Rao, main accused in the murder case of former circle inspector M Gandhi, have come as a morale booster to the police.

“They both have elicited information about the Maoists’ game-plan and we are all set to take up arms to curb the menace,” a highly-place police official told ‘this website’s News Paper’.

Five persons’ role in bid on Neduramallis’ life suspected

User Rating: / 0 Thursday, 13 September 2007


Nellore, September 13: Though speculation about the identity of assassins has been cleared with Maoists owning up the responsibility for the recent abortive attack on former Chief Minister and Visakhapatnam Member of Parliament N. Janardhana Reddy, the police are yet to establish how many persons were involved in the landmine blast.

They suspect involvement of least five persons who might have crossed the district before the police began the manhunt. The police firmly believe that some local people, especially students, might have assisted the Maoists in the operation. “Otherwise, it would have been difficult for the Maoists to carry out the operation with such precision in a small place where everyone knew each other,” says a senior police official.
Outsiders’ role

The investigating team also suspects the involvement of outsiders in the mine blast with the recovery of T-shirt bearing the label of a hosiery unit in Tamil Nadu from the spot. Though the police are silent on arrests, they have reportedly taken some persons, suspected to be naxal sympathisers or former naxals, from Rapur, Vakadu, Gudur and Kota mandals into custody.

Moreover, they have intensified combing operations in Venkatagiri, Dakkili and Balayapalli mandals to nab Janasakthi leaders, who had earlier threatened to kill Woman Development and Child Welfare Minister N. Rajyalakshmi if she failed to change her style of functioning.

They have questioned employees of the Neduramalli Bala Krishna Reddy Educational Institutions with regard to whereabouts of some old students, who had close contacts with naxals.

Meanwhile, the police let off a person belonging to Pellakur mandal, who was taken into custody after the blast. But it was not clear whether he was the same person who claimed to be an engineering student who visited the Neduramallis’ house on September 6 to seek help in securing admission for a post doctoral course.

Cop escapes blast, five Naxal supporters held

Thursday September 13 2007 09:01 IST
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

KORAPUT: Pottangi OIC S N Satpathy narrowly escaped a land mine explosion, 45 km away from Koraput, on Wednesday.

Five Naxal supporters were arrested after an exchange of fire. Sources said about 40 armed Naxals blocked the National Highway on Tuesday night at Ralegada village under Pottangi police limits.

They were protesting alleged raping of tribal women by policemen few weeks back in Paderu police limits under Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh.

Big boulders were put on the road during the blockade and road communication was disrupted for five hours from Jeypore to Visakhapatnam and vice versa.

Later, Pottangi police along with IRB and SOG personnel arrived at the spot at about 10 a.m. to clear the traffic jam. While returning from the spot in a jeep, the landmine explosion took place. After an exchange of fire, Satpathy and his team chased and caught the Naxal supporters who were holding remote control machines to explode another two landmines.

Police defused the landmines and seized wires and banners from the spot. Meanwhile, Koraput SP U.Rama Rao rushed to the spot to monitor the situation.

Sources said the supporters are hailing from Karielpadu village. Bordering areas are sealed and combing operations intensified along Andhra-Orissa border.

Analysis: India wants Maoists to disarm

Published: Sept. 12, 2007 at 12:37 PM
Print story Email to a friend Font size:By KUSHAL JEENA
UPI Correspondent
http://www.upi.com/International_Security/

NEW DELHI, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- India says it won’t hold peace talks with Maoists rebels unless they end violence and give up their arms.

“There will be no peace dialogue by the affected states with Naxal groups unless they give up crime, violence and arms,” said an Indian Interior Ministry policy statement dispatched to states hit by Maoists violence.

Naxal refers to Maoist rebels in India and comes from Naxalbari, the area in West Bengal state where the rebellion first began.

India asked Maoist-hit states to formulate and implement effective surrender-and-rehabilitation policies for the rebels. The federal government has assured affected states it will continue to supplement security and development efforts to effectively tackle the problem.

“Keeping in view that Naxalism is not only a law-and-order problem, the policy of the government is to address this menace simultaneously on political, security, development and public-perception management fronts in a holistic manner,” said Shivraj Patil, the interior minister.

The policy statement on internal security, laid down in Parliament, directed affected states to improve police response and pursue effective and sustained action against rebels.

The rebels, who are waging an armed rebellion, are active in the tribal parts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Orissa states; they seek a Maoist state.

The Interior Ministry asked the affected states to focus on effective implementation of development schemes to ensure accelerated socioeconomic development.

“Adequate security and other measures will also be taken to facilitate uninterrupted development activities in Naxal-affected areas,” Patil told Parliament.

He said states were asked to adopt a unified approach and pursue a coordinated response to counter the problem. Notwithstanding the increase in paramilitary and security forces to curb violence, the problem continues to remain an area of major concern for India as 11 of the nation’s 33 states are hit by Maoist violence.

From January through June, there were 842 incidents of rebel violence as against 827 during the corresponding period last year in which 358 police personnel and civilians were killed. During the same period, the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand together accounted for 67 percent of the total incidents and 76 percent of the total casualties.

The states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are the worst hit. The Interior Ministry says the higher number of incidents and casualties in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are due to increased use of improvised explosive devices by Maoists, attacks on security forces and on activists of Salva Judum, an organization set up by villagers in Chhattisgarh to counter rebels, and counter-operations by security forces against the rebels.

Andhra Pradesh, one of the worst-hit states, has been of late successful in containing the rebels after the state government formed a special task force to contain violence. The force, known as Greyhounds, successfully discovered the hideouts of rebels and also killed a large number.

India says the rebels have targeted villagers who resist extortion, atrocities and violence -- many times under the pretext of their being police informers. The rebels are also involved in levy collection and other atrocities in the tribal areas, the government says.

The rebels began their activities in 1968 when they entered the eastern part of the country. Initially mostly peaceful, the movement turned violent in the 1980s, and incidents of killings by rebels peaked over the past five years when they spread to 11 states and made inroads in the poverty-stricken tribal areas.

With the sharp rise in Maoist violence, the federal and state governments banned their activities and asked them to surrender. The Congress Party government in Andhra Pradesh, after assuming power in 2004, attempted to buy peace with rebels, inviting them for talks and lifting the ban on them. The attempt yielded no result, however, as the rebels never turned up for talks.

Violence continued, and several politicians were killed in rebel-related violence. The state government re-imposed the ban following the killing of a Congress lawmaker and an attack on a former state chief minister. Meanwhile, various federal ministries, which have provided financial assistance to non-governmental organizations working in tribal areas, stopped aid as the Interior Ministry received reports of money being transferred to the Maoists by NGOs to save lives of their activists.

India has deployed 33 battalions of federal paramilitary forces on anti-Maoist duties in various states for assisting the state police forces. The government is unable to contain the violence as in a large number of tribal areas, Maoists gain the support of local tribes because they promise to lift their living standards and remove poverty once their regime is established. Governments in Maoist-hit states have been unable to handle this aspect of the problem despite several development schemes either being implemented or in the pipeline.

“The government has not been able to tackle the Naxalite problem because it has failed to provide basic amenities to the poor tribal people who get carried away by the rebels,” K. Srinivas Reddy, a senior journalist from Vishaalandhra, a Telugu-language newspaper, told United Press International. “Despite various welfare schemes put in place, they have not benefited the poor for the lack of strict and proper monitoring.”


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This material may not be reproduced, redistributed, or manipulated in any form.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Maoists Cross Swords With Pashupatinath Now

Wednesday 12th of September 2007 After declaring war on Nepal's monarchy, whose members were once regarded as incarnations of a Hindu god, the Maoist guerrillas have now crossed swords with Pashupatinath, one of the most revered Hindu deities, to the great concern of the UN.

After they signed a peace pact with the government, ended their decade-old guerrilla war and joined the ruling alliance, different units of the Maoists have begun usurping the functions of the government.

They have been demolishing houses to widen roads, 'arresting' smugglers and bank loan defaulters and even cleaning garbage.

Now headed by a Maoist student leader, they are building a road through a forest in the vicinity of the Pashupatinath temple, regarded as one of the holiest pilgrim sites in the world, where Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and tourists flock regularly.

The area surrounding the main temple and a cluster of satellite temples - the Pashupati Monument Zone - was declared a World Heritage Site by the Unesco in 1979.

Barely three months after the Unesco's World Heritage Committee announced that Kathmandu valley's heritage sites, which had been under threat from uncontrolled growth, were out of danger, thanks to measures taken by the government, the temple area is being threatened by the new road.

Calling the construction 'inappropriate', the Unesco said it would endanger one of the temple complexes, the Biswaroop temple cluster, by 'further aggravating the sandy topography and affecting the fragile ecology of the forest'.

Nepal's archaeology department, the ministry of culture, tourism and civil aviation, and the Pashupati Area Development Trust entrusted with the upkeep of the site are said to have objected to the road. But the objections were reportedly overridden by the ministry of physical planning and infrastructure that is headed by a Maoist minister.

Maoists say the road will shorten distances and open an alternate route and ease traffic. Their mouthpiece, the Janadesh weekly, last week also exulted over the fact that it would go through a golf course frequented by Crown Prince Paras.

After the fall of King Gyanendra's government last year, the queen was stripped of her position as chairman of the Pashupati Area Development Trust while the king was removed from his post as its patron.

The growing public anger against the king resulted in an unprecedented incident this summer when devotees attending a religious festival at the temple threw stones at the king's car for jumping the queue.

Besides the Unesco, one of Nepal's most respected conservationists, Hutaman Vaidya, Wednesday appealed for a public dialogue. The road would imperil three forests and threaten their cultural value, Vaidya said.

New grammar of anarchy: A Commentary On The General Health Of Indian Society

Special Article

New grammar of anarchy
A Commentary On The General Health Of Indian Society

By Jagmohan

The events of the past few days bear testimony to the truth of Lord Wavell’s observations: “India can be governed firmly or not at all”. The terrorist attack in Hyderabad, the breakdown of public order in Agra and several places of Haryana and the manner in which a petty criminal was treated by the mob and police in Bhagalpur reinforce the apprehension that India is on the verge of writing a new grammar of anarchy. The internal security situation is grave. Terrorism and subversion in Kashmir, Assam and Naxal-affected regions show no sign of abatement. The frequency with which the public order breaks down is on the rise. And the maintenance of general law and order is getting poorer by the day.

Before delineating the contours of the current scenario, it may be necessary to invite attention to the precise parameters of the three terms: (i) internal security; (ii) public order; and (iii) general law and order. In public discourse, these terms are often mixed up. All acts of terrorism and subversion, committed with or without the support of foreign powers, by forces that are inimical to the integrity and stability of the country, would constitute problems of internal security.

Caste riots


The large scale violence, such as the one that occurs during communal or caste riots, would fall in the sphere of public order. The ambit of general law and order would encompass crimes of individuals or a small group of individuals. Each of these categories of cases calls for a separate examination.

Coming first to the issues concerning general law and order, it may be noted that, while the number of criminal cases and the scope for committing them have been increasing, neither the methods of investigation and prosecution nor the attitude and conduct of the police force, particularly at the subordinate levels, have improved. In spite of the fact that a large number of cases are not reported to the police, or are not registered by it, three IPC crimes and six special and local law crimes are, on an average, committed every minute in the country. The position with regard to crime against women is especially disconcerting. There is one molestation case every 15 minutes, one rape case every 29 minutes, one dowry death every 77 minutes, and one case of sexual harassment every 53 minutes.

Only 30 per cent of the cases registered are sent for trial. The conviction rate in IPC cases has come down from 64 per cent in 1961 to 42 per cent in 2005. At the same time, the number of persons dying in police custody has gone up. This number increased from 207 in 1995 to 1340 in 2002. The committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice system, has rightly observed: “Violent and organised crimes have become the order of the day. As chances of conviction are remote, crime has become a profitable business.”

As regards public order, people in general are fast developing a habit of taking law into their own hands and causing large-scale disturbances. If there is a traffic accident, as it happened in Agra on 29 August, or during the kanwari processions last month in Rajasthan and Haryana, a mob gathers and starts attacking police and burning vehicles, even of innocent passers-by. For several hours, traffic on busy highways is held up. In the same strain, large-scale violence often follows a case of individual crime, as was done last week in several towns of Haryana after a Dalit youth was murdered at Gohana on 29 August. Such a case is turned into a crime against the caste, without giving even an opportunity to the police to investigate the matter.

All this is a commentary on the general health of Indian society ~ its growing indiscipline and fragmentation. The caste, communal or group interests are throwing up a number of irresponsible leaders at various levels. They show scant respect for the rule of law and are ever ready to exploit any incident to build up their leadership.

In so far as the issues of internal security are concerned, conditions are getting grimmer by the day. The terrible blasts that were triggered on 18 May and 25 August at Mecca Masjid, Lumbini-Park and Gokul Chaat Bhandar in Hyderabad, killing about 50 people, should serve as a chilling reminder of the extensive inroads that the terrorists and subversives have made in our set-up. In fact, of late, terrorism in India has been assuming the form of a mega terrorism.

To recount some of the recent deadly incidents: 65 people were killed on 29 October 2005 in a series of blasts that occurred in Delhi. On 28 December 2005, the Indian Institute of sciences in Bangalore was attacked. Right on the bank of Ganga, in one of the most sought-after Hanuman temples in the country, two powerful explosions occurred in Sankat Mochan, Varanasi, on 7 March 2006. On 11 July 2006, a horrible drama was enacted in the suburban trains at Mumbai, when 192 commuters were killed in a series of bombs blasts in the crowded compartments.

In Assam, the serious threat posed by subversives persists. The brutal killing of over a hundred outsiders mostly from Bihar in the last few months show how grave the conditions are. So far, 168 civilians have been killed this year by ULFA outfits in Assam. Amongst the states affected by subversion and terrorism, this is the highest number of civilian casualties.

Modern force

The Naxalites have rapidly transformed themselves into a modern guerrilla force. They no longer depend on country-made pistols. They now possess sophisticated communication system and weapons ~ AK 47, grenades, rocket launchers, land mines etc. They have a militia of about 25,000 persons ~ well-trained and well-motivated. All this has added immensely to the striking power of the Naxalites. In the state of Chhattisgarh alone, as many as 365 civilians were killed in 2006. The objective of the Naxalites is to establish a “compact revolutionary zone” in the heart of India and use this zone as the red corridor for extending the Naxalite movement to the cities, eventually to seize the power-structure of the state.

The distressing conditions obtaining in these three areas of our national life ~ internal security, public order and general law and order ~ show that the machinery of governance in post-1947 India has yet to learn the art of acting fairly, firmly and in time. Its soft and permissive attitude is reflected in what has come to be known as the “broken window syndrome” in the governance-literature: “If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and that no one is in charge. One unrepaired window is an invitation to break more windows, and lawlessness spreads outwards from buildings to streets and then to entire communities.”

(The writer is a former Governor of J&K and a former union minister)

Maoists own responsibility for attack on Reddy

Hyderabad, Sept. 11 (PTI): The CPI (Maoist) today owned up responsibility for the recent attack on former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Janardhan Reddy and vowed to "punish" him for "supressing revolutionary movement and denying people of their basic human rights."

A special action team of "People's Liberation Guerilla Army" had carried out the landmine blast in Nellore district on September 7 targeting Reddy's convoy, a spokesman of the Maoist outfit Janardhan said in a statement here.

A four-paragraph statement in Telugu justified the attack on Reddy, now an MP from Visakhapatnam, saying he was the first to impose ban on the then naxalite organisation People's War (PW) in 1992 and was responsible for "killing of over 400 revolutionaries" during his tenure.

The Maoist organisation, however, regretted the death of three persons who were part of Reddy's convoy when their car took the brunt of the blast.

"Unfortunately, Janardhan Reddy escaped our attack. Three persons travelling in another car were killed. We regret this and convey our condolences to their families," the statement said.

Reddy and his wife N Rajyalakshmi, the women and child Welfare Minister in the state, had a miraculous escape when Maoists triggered landmine blast at a culvert in Nellore district.

"Our guerillas carried out the task accurately as per the plan but the target could escape because he had changed the vehicle in the last minute," the statement said.

Naxals, Not Villagers, Blinded Criminals in Nawada

Patna: Sept. 11, 2007

Three motorcycle thieves who were earlier said to have been brutalized by the villagers in Rajauli in Nawada district after being caught by a mob, on Tuesday while receiving medical treatment at the Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH), said it were not the Rajauli residents but a group of Maoists who beat them black and blue and pierced metal rods in their eyes blinding them for life.

While criminal cases have been lodged against nearly three hundred unidentified villagers, Tinku Kumar, Guddu Singh, and Saket Kumar – all Gaya native, told the police it were the Naxalites who caught them and brutally beat them up before piercing sharp objects in their eyes.

While Tinku and Saket haves lost sight in both of their eyes, Guddu Singh lost vision in one eye the doctors said.

The criminals told the police that they robbed a motorcycle from a man near Parnadabar Mor at gun point. While escaping on the stolen motorcycle, dozens of villagers caught up with them and restrained them while waiting for the police to come. However, soon 30-40 rifle-toting, fatigue-wearing men arrived at the spot and took custody of the three criminals saying they would take them to the nearest police station.

Instead, the Maoists beat them up and stuck sharp metal objects in their eyes.

Before the police could arrive, the ultras were long gone leaving the three motorcycle thieves lying in their own pool of blood.

The police continue to investigate the case.

NGO: Police, admn falsely implicating tribals as naxals

Express News Service

Lucknow, September 11: Demanding rights for landless tribals in Sonbhadra and neighbouring districts, social activists and non-governmental organisations have asked the government to intervene in the matter.

At a media conference today, members of the National Forum of Forest People & Forest Workers said the local police and administration were falsely implicating tribals as naxals.

Roma, a social activist, was arrested last month under the National Security Act (NSA) in Sonbhadra for agitating in support of tribals. She was later released. She alleged that the Forest department was claiming land in the area that belonged to the Revenue department.

“They have been trying to flush out tribals from land that does not belong to them. It either belongs to the gramsabha or tribals. At some places, the Forest department has carried out plantation to show the land is under forest cover,” she said. She further alleged, “Their ration cards were burnt; children thrown out of school, women publicly insulted, houses demolished and people beaten. If they protested, they were framed as naxals and left to languish in jails.”

Maoist sleeper cells active in Nellore

User Rating: / 0 Wednesday, 12 September 2007



Nellore, September 12: For long, mandals on the border as well as forest areas in Nellore district used to be a shelter or safety zone for Maoists. But the CPI (Maoist) seems to have kept as many sleeper cells as possible in place to carry out attacks at a designated time and place.

Police suspect that the CPI (Maoist) may have either roped in senior members or trained the sleeper cells who are loosely organised and can mix easily among the public through different modes to carry out attacks.

As a result, they made an abortive attempt recently to kill former Chief Minister and Visakhapatnam MP N. Janardhana Reddy through a landmine attack.
Shelter zones

After sensing that their action zone had started being squeezed out of the Nallamala forest area stretching across parts of Guntur, Prakasam, Kurnool and Nalgonda districts as well as some parts of the Telangana region with the police curtailing their presence to a large extent by making inroads into naxal strongholds, they reportedly took shelter in many boarder mandals. Besides, they chose some hideouts in some educational institutes at Vidyanagar and Kavali as well as at Busanaidupet fort in Siddeswaram forest area of Sitarampuram mandal.

However, some of them, especially the key members of the CPI (Maoist), were forced to leave the forest areas of Rapur, Sitarampuram, Duttalur, Varikuntapadu, Udayagiri, Dakkili, Venkatagiri and other border mandals after the sensational weapon seizure case. and the subsequent police encounters.
Optimum use

The police then realised that the CPI (Maoist) had made the best use of the district’s road and rail and connectivity, particularly National Highway (NH-5), for transporting arms and ammunition from Tamil Nadu by cargo movers to Prakasam, Mahabubnagar and other districts.

But the Maoists, after keeping mum for several months, reportedly activated sleeper cells in the district with the help of sympathisers, particularly students of some educational institutions, including an engineering college, with a view to launching attacks.

Though the police initially succeeded in arresting a few of the sympathisers besides nabbing the wife of Erra Satyam, who was the mastermind behind the attack on former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu at Alipiri near Tirumala, and two other women at Ramalingapuram as well as arresting three Maoists at Bujabuja Nellore, they may not have completely broken the naxal network.

Security up in Dharmapuri district

Wednesday September 12 2007 10:42 IST
M Sankararamanujam

DHARMAPURI: To prevent any untoward incidents on account of former naxal leader Balan‘s 27th death anniversary on September 12, the police have tightened security in Dharmapuri district.

The former naxalite R Balan of Naickenkottai village in Dharmapuri was killed in an encounter at Seriyampatti in Palacode taluk on September 12, 1980.

Followers of Balan and the People’s War Group (PWG) activists erected a statue after his death in Naickenkottai village, where every year naxalites and their supporters observe his anniversary by hoisting the naxal flag.

Activists also circulate handbills bearing messages against the police and the government on this day.

At present, naxal supporters are opposing the nuclear deal with the United States of America using posters to spread the word across the district.

These posters bear messages condemning the Left’s support to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government and demanding that the ban on Maoists be lifted.

Police in the Dharmapuri district see chances for trouble as the nuclear deal is a burning issue at present and now with Balan’s death anniversary, there may be added fervour to naxalites’ activities. Police stations at Marandahalli, Panchappalli, Palacode, Karimangalam, Pennagaram, Eriyur, Hogenakkal, Mathikonpalayam and Adhiyamankottai have been deployed with additional forces.

According to sources, the police are also watching all naxal supporters keenly and have appealed to the villagers to inform the nearest police station or the striking forces on patrol about any untoward incidents.

Police teams panning blast site for clues

Wednesday September 12 2007 14:25 IST
ENS

NELLORE: Following the direction of Special Intelligence Bureau SP Kalidas, excavation was taken up at the blast site in Chendodugutta of Vakadu mandal today to find out remnants of landmine triggered by Maoists.

The SP along with a 15-member anti-Naxal team examined the blast site. The police teams with the help of sniffer dogs rummaging out culverts and bridges, all along the 10 km road from the residence of former chief minister N Janardhan Reddy, who and his minister wife Rajyalakshmi escaped unhurt in the Maoist attack, for vital clues.

Kalidas and the anti-Naxal team climbed up Gudali Konda, a hillock near the blast site, which was said to be used as a hideout by Maoists.

The SP also inspected the temple of Bhimeswarakona and a dilapidated rest room on the hillock with a dense tree cover.

A contractor reportedly told the police team that he observed movement of people on the hillock in recent times.

The SP visited NBK Educational Institutions at Vidyanagar and verified registers to know details about dropout students.

In Gudur, the sleuths summoned some mine contractors to get information pertaining to extortion by Naxals in the area. According to sources, some people from Gandhi Nagar in Gudur town, which is known as a safe haven for antisocial elements, were taken into custody for questioning.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tackling terror

R.K. RAGHAVAN


A policy declaration that we stand firm against terrorism and have done all that is needed to guard our assets will only enhance India’s image as a mature nation.




EVERY time a tragedy such as the recent blasts in Hyderabad takes place, columnists like me perform a painful ritual of analysis of what went wrong. This is often assailed as a perfunctory armchair exercise that does not take anybody anywhere and definitely does not save lives. Such scepticism is understandable against the backdrop of the frequency of terrorist violence against innocent people.

People look up to the government for protection and feel betrayed when their dear ones are snatched away. It makes no difference to them which militant group was responsible. Who can fault the widely held perception that it is the terrorist who always wins while the civil administration just watches helplessly?

Forty-two innocent persons were killed on August 25 when terrorists struck in the heart of Hyderabad at two venues, one where a laser show was being held and the other a popular eatery. On May 18, the city witnessed a similar act of mindlessness. The target was an essentially Muslim gathering at the Mecca Masjid. The five casualties were a miraculously low number, considering the huge gathering present at the midday prayer.

In both the May and the August attacks, the aggressors were almost certainly from Islamist terrorist groups but it is difficult to explain why dissimilar targets were chosen. Muslims killing Muslims has now become the order of the day. In Iraq this is understandable, with its pronounced Sunni-Shia schism. In Hyderabad, the motive appears more specious.

The Mecca Masjid explosion was possibly part of an orchestrated endeavour to intimidate Indian Muslims into shedding their disdain for Wahhabism and a preference for tolerance of the Hindu way of life. This may appear simplistic, but the interpretation will be hard to reject in the absence of any other plausible theory. In all probability, those who were behind the August explosions just wanted to spread terror and panic.

A few arrests have been made in connection with the latest incident. All reports more than suggest a Bangladesh link. I am not surprised because the few contacts I have in that country tell me of a rapidly deteriorating situation and the government’s helplessness in stemming the tide. It may be unfair to speak of any connivance, although that country’s track record vis-À-vis India is poor. There is definitely palpable incompetence flowing from a dependence on milit ant elements for political survival.

The principal suspect in the recent Hyderabad incidents is the Harkat-ul-Jihad-el-Islami (HuJI), especially one of its activists, the deadly Shahed alias Bilal, a native of Hyderabad, who is believed to be in Bangladesh. One of the arrested persons, Imran, subjected to narcoanalysis in Bangalore, is said to have confessed that the explosives used in the two incidents had been hidden at his house. Further, three of those responsible for the action were “foreigners” (read Bangladeshis) still in Hyderabad. The HuJI’s links with Al Qaeda have been written about frequently for several years. As early as October 2002, Time magazine’s correspondent in Delhi was categorical that fleeing Taliban and Al Qaeda activ ists from Afghanistan, unable to withstand the United States’ bombardment in Tora Bora and elsewhere in the mountains, had landed at the Chittagong Port where they were received by a government representative

Although the Bangladesh government denied this, all subsequent indications were supportive of the magazine’s account. Actually, the Jamat-e-Islami, a militant group, was part of the Begum Khaleda Zia government in 2001. Concerns expressed by Indian intelligence on the happenings within Bangladesh are further proof that all is not well with that country’s sincerity in neutralising extremism.

The HuJI’s links with Al Qaeda assume importance in the context of the latter’s growing recklessness globally and evidence of an absence of a clear central control in the organisation. There has been no news of Bin Laden for quite a while although U.S. intelligence agencies do not rule out the possibility that he is still alive. But his second-in-command, Al Zawahiri, the most-wanted in the U.S. list of terrorists, is reported to be still very active. His role in the Lal Masjid (Islamabad) siege of July 2007, as revealed by the letter seized at the site and his subsequent video exhortation of action against the Pakistan government, is an index of the poisonous edge the organisation retains.

The U.S. stands at the top of the hit list that Al Qaeda flaunts with the arrogance that only it can command. My own feeling is that India does not lag behind very much in this dreaded list of targets. Our bonhomie with the U.S., especially after the civil nuclear agreement, places us dangerously high among Al Qaeda’s adversaries.

While this is no ground for backtracking on the deal, there is a definite case for observing all the precautions that the U.S. has taken to protect itself and its citizens, both at home and abroad. We need not use the war rhetoric of President George W. Bush but we can express more decisively our resolve to fight the violence that Al Qaeda and its allies use against us.

Here, I would like to draw liberally from the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that was released in July by the Director of National Intelligence in Washington. This is only to place the recent terrorist attacks in India in their international perspective. As we approach the seventh anniversary of 9/11, the NIE’s import can hardly be overemphasised.

The report is categorical that the threat to Homeland Security in the U.S. remains high at least for the next three years and that everything needs to be done to contain it. It goes on to say: “We assess the group (the al Qaida) has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safe haven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)…. Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al-Qa’ida senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al-Qa’ida will intensify its efforts to put operatives here…continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the Homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups... seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), …al-Qa’ida’s Homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets with the goal of producing mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the U.S. population. The group is proficient with conventional small arms and improvised explosive devices, and is innovative in creating new capabilities and overcoming security obstacles. (It) will continue to try to acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material in attacks and would not hesitate to use them if it develops what it deems is sufficient capability.”

It is my conviction that whatever the NIE describes as impending dangers is eminently transferable to the Indian scene. It would be facile to believe that the threat to our internal security is any less grave. I would, therefore, expect a frill-free pronouncement to the nation on these lines by no less a dignitary than the Prime Minister himself. Nothing else will make a qualitative difference to the nation.

Critics will argue that such action will push up the levels of fear, as if these are low at present. Let us not deceive ourselves that the threat is confined to just one or more cities and there is no need to widen or escalate it through a declaration that we are a threatened nation.

Yes, there is a real prospect that this would send a wrong signal to those in the developed nations who would like to invest more capital in India. I can say with some authority, after all my travels in the past few years, that India stands high among the few large nations in the world that have displayed economic vibrancy and pragmatism. There is widespread admiration for its political stability and adherence to democratic norms.

A policy declaration now from the highest levels in the Executive that we stand firm against terrorism and have done all that is needed to guard our assets will only enhance our image as a stable and mature nation.

We have had far too many incidents – New Delhi, Varanasi, Mumbai, Samjhauta Express, and now Hyderabad – in the past few years to ignore making a frank admission that whatever strategy we have now has been far from successful. At the same time the Opposition should realise that there is no case for politicising the failures. But there definitely is a case for rising above partisanship in order to build a national consensus and a new plan of action.

According to the respected New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a great admirer of India, this was the tragedy in Iraq, where ruthless de-Baathification of all structures robbed the nation of a chance to build peace. Again, in Friedman’s view, it is the de-democratisation that Bush and Dick Cheney have been obsessive about that has cost the U.S. dearly in terms of building a pool of talent from which to choose for tackling all the ills of Iraq.

The analogy extended to India does not need to be spelt out. We require new ideas from a wide spectrum of talent that we undoubtedly possess but is possibly being ignored because it is at politically the wrong places. To absorb such talent into policymaking bodies is not being merely magnanimous. It is actually being pragmatic in the interest of the nation.

Five more ‘former Naxals’ arrested

Tuesday September 11 2007 06:12 IST
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

NELLORE: The police today took five more persons suspected to be former Naxals, into custody in connection with the abortive attempt on the lives of former chief minister Nedurumalli Janardhan Reddy and his minister wife Rajyalakshmi at Chendodugutta.

However, the police did not make any disclosures pertaining to the arrest of the former Naxals from Kota, Vakadu and Gudur mandals.

The sleuths probing the landmine blast triggered by the CPI (Maoist), also questioned some staff members of Nedurumalli Balakrishna Reddy Educational Institutions about the whereabouts of some old students.

Investigation officials, accompanied by CLUES team and sniffer dogs, intensified combing operations on Gudali Konda, a hillock located 1.5 km away from the blast site.

The extremists reportedly made the hillock with thick green cover their hideout and spent three months gathering information pertaining to the movements of Janardhan Reddy.

The investigation officials strongly suspect the involvement of some outsiders in the mine blast with the recovery of a Tshirt bearing the label of a hosiery unit in Tamil Nadu from the spot.

The police also intensified combing operations in Venkatagiri, Dakkali and Balayapalle mandals to track down Jana Sakthi group leader Eswar, who earlier threatened to eliminate Rajyalakshmi if she failed to change her style of functioning.

Meanwhile, the police let off Krishna Prasad of Pellakur mandal, who was taken into custody after the blast on Friday.

A flawed concept





V. VENKATESAN
in New Delhi


The Government of India’s efforts to accelerate development in naxal-affected districts seem to have fallen flat.








IN 2003, when the Government of India identified 55 districts affected by left-wing extremism (naxalism) across nine States to address the issue of backwardness, its decision stemmed from the realisation that people were drawn into naxalism and forced to take up arms in order to meet their socio-economic needs. These districts are in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

The objective was to accelerate the development process in these districts and ultimately prevent people from joining the naxalites. The pursuit of this goal warranted a certain degree of commitment on the part of the States concerned. But has the effort succeeded?

Even as the scheme progressed, it revealed an in-built flaw. While the identification of the districts affected by extremism was carried out by the Ministry of Home Affairs in terms of the number of violent incidents, these districts were clubbed with the Backward Districts Initiative (BDI) under the Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY) being run by the Planning Commission. The RSVY has three components: the BDI, a Special Plan for Bihar and a Special Plan for the KBK region of Orissa (the undivided districts of Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi, which have now been divided into eight districts). Its objective was to address the problems of low agricultural productivity and unemployment and to fill critical gaps in physical and social infrastructure. Under the BDI scheme, programmes and policies were to be initiated jointly by the Centre and the States to remove barriers to growth, accelerate development and improve the quality of life of people.

The BDI component was to cover 100 districts. The identification of backward districts within a State was made on the basis of an index of backwardness comprising three parameters with equal weightage: (i) value of output per agricultural worker; (ii) agriculture wage rate; and (iii) percentage of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe population of the districts.

Thirty-two of the 55 districts identified to have been affected by extremism did not satisfy the above criteria of backwardness. It showed that in terms of ranking, these naxal-affected districts would not strictly qualify to be labelled as backward districts. Still, these districts were brought under the BDI in the hope that State intervention would help them overcome major bottlenecks in development, and make a dent in poverty in a time-bound manner.

This was a basic flaw as the development paradigm (rather than the rights paradigm) has been found to be unsuitable to formulate an effective response to naxalism. At the end of three years, major bottlenecks in development remained unresolved in these districts, and the States concerned appeared less than enthusiastic in tackling poverty within a specific time frame. The sense of urgency was not visible on the ground, thus defeating the very objective of this mission approach to development.

Nevertheless, the implementation of the scheme needs to be closely examined as it throws light on the lack of seriousness of the stakeholders in realising its objectives. A sum of Rs.15 crore a year was to be provided to each of these districts for three years. That is, a total of Rs.45 crore for a district. The scheme envisaged release of funds by the Centre to the State governments on a 100 per cent grant basis, in suitable instalments linked with the satisfactory progress of the three-year Master Plan and nested Annual Action Plans to be prepared by district administrations and panchayati raj institutions.

The scheme also required the State governments to release the funds received under the programme, within 15 days of receipt, to a separate head created for the purpose under the District Rural Development Agency. Failure to do so would lead to forfeiture of subsequent instalments and the funds released earlier would be treated as a loan, according to the scheme’s guidelines laid down by the Planning Commission. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Planning Commission and the State government governs the implementation of the scheme.

The financial assistance provided to the districts under the scheme may be insignificant, but it could well be considered as a test case to see whether the development paradigm could help tackle naxalism. An interim review by the Planning Commission in 2005 revealed that there were many defaulting States. Expenditure by the States/districts on the earmarked schemes was found to be not up to the mark. The 2005-06 period was the last year of the scheme when the entire balance amount of Rs.3,000 crore would have been released to the States. Yet, the Planning Commission noted with dismay on November 21, 2005, in an internal note, that the States had so far been indifferent – they had not made requests for further release of funds after exhausting the earlier instalments.

The table compiled by the Planning Commission on the release of funds to the States and the cumulative expenditure reported by the State governments as on October 5, 2005, for the first two years revealed the extent of indifference. It showed that even as the Government of India was keen that regional imbalances should be removed, the State governments were not serious enough and approached the issue in a routine way. The implementation of the schemes was slow and, as a result, the release of further instalments to the States was delayed.

The latest table on the release of funds to States for RSVY, as carried in the Ministry of Panchayati Raj’s website, shows some improvement in the cumulative expenditure reported by the State governments at the end of the fourth year (2006-07), but there is still a huge amount to be released to the States under the scheme. This has not yet been released because of the poor utilisation of the funds released earlier.

It is easy to infer that the States probably found it difficult to utilise the funds in the naxal-affected districts because of a security threat from the naxalites if they went ahead with implementation of the development programmes. But statistics suggest the contrary. In Chhattisgarh, most of the naxalite-affected districts have reported better utilisation of funds compared with other districts. In Bastar – a naxalite-affected district – the entire Rs.45 crore has been released by the Centre, with the State government reporting a cumulative expenditure of Rs.27.26 crore. In Dantewada, another affected district, the Centre has released the entire Rs.45 crore, with the cumulative expenditure in the district showing Rs.30.37 crore. Kanker district is another success story: here the cumulative expenditure shows Rs.35.62 crore out of the sanctioned Rs.45 crore.

These figures may be compared with other districts in the State receiving funds under the RSVY. In Bilaspur district, only Rs.37.50 crore has been released, while the cumulative expenditure out of this sanctioned amount stands at Rs.27.07 crore.

It is instructive to further compare the figures for Chhattisgarh with those of Andhra Pradesh. Chittoor and Vizianagaram – both non-naxalite districts in Andhra Pradesh – reported cumulative expenditure of just Rs.12.06 crore and Rs.7.50 crore respectively. Similar examples abound in other States.

With the underutilisation of funds by the States, the scheme has been continued through 2006-07 and beyond, until the earmarked amount is fully released to each district. These districts would then shift to the newly-launched Backward Regions Grant Fund’s (BRGF) standard mode of funding. The BRGF scheme covers 250 districts and is to be administered by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

The Ministry of Home Affairs’ annual report for 2006-07 reveals that financial assistance of Rs.2,475 crore was provided to the naxal-affected States under the scheme to fill in critical gaps in physical and social infrastructure. Only a final appraisal by the Planning Commission could reveal how this money has been spent and whether it had any impact on the causes of naxalism.

New battle zones





AMAN SETHI
in Bastar and Dantewada


Projects and policies unveiled in Chhattisgarh suggest a reorganisation of priorities to favour Big Business.





AKHILESH KUMAR

Tribal people who fled their villages fearing attacks on them in the fight between the naxalites and the Salwa Judum take refuge in a relief camp at Konta in Dantewada district.

FINALLY, it was a scrawl in the cryptic shorthand of a court stenographer that almost ruined Sudaram Nag’s monsoon crop. “Sudaram Nag, 50 yrs, Takraguda, Bastar. Section:107.116(b), 03-08-07,” it said, communicating to the 50-year-old rice farmer in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh that he was hereby summoned to present himself at the Magistrate’s Court on August 3, 2007, to show cause why proceedings should not be initiated against him for a breach of peace under Section 107.116 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

Since early this year, more than 60 of Sudaram’s neighbours and other residents of the village have spent more time in the courts in Jagadalpur than in tending to their fields and harvests. Their crime: they protested against the rigging of gram sabha hearings initiated to acquire 2,161 hectares of fertile agricultural land for Tata Steel Limited’s greenfield steel plant in the district.

In an instance of truly Orwellian coincidence, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Tata steel plant was signed on June 4, 2005, two days after the formal launch of the controversial Salwa Judum programme in the Bastar and Dantewada districts, and marked, in the eyes of many, the point of coalescence of the administration, industry and the security agencies. The State government also signed an MoU with the Essar group the same day.

Meanwhile, the Tata proposal had kicked off a controversy in Raipur, the State capital, with the issue being raised in the Assembly too. Soon after the deal was signed, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led State government refused to share the details, claiming that disclosure was specifically prohibited by a clause in the MoU. It refused to give copies of the MoU to members of the Opposition in the House. The Member of Parliament for the constituency encompassing Lohandiguda – the area earmarked for the project – went on record stating that he had no detailed information about the project.

Copies of the MoU were leaked over a period of months and by the time the documents became easily available a full-scale protest was under way in the 10 villages earmarked for the project.

While the provisions of the MoU, made available to Frontline, do not seem to have any clauses that are particularly exploitative in the context of a steel plant with a captive iron-ore mine; the protests have centred round acquisiti on of land for the plant.

The documents suggest that the plant will require approximately 2,161 hectares of land, close to 90 per cent of which (1,861 hectares) is Adivasi-owned agricultural land and will directly affect around 225 tribal families. The MoU contains no reference to rehabilitation, and residents of the area say that they had to invoke the Right to Information Act to receive a copy of Tata’s rehabilitation package.

“We are not against the project per se,” says H.R. Mandavi, Sarpanch of Takraguda. “However, we are firmly against the forcible acquisition for our land at paltry compensation rates.” According to Mandavi, th e protests began when the district administration and company officials ratcheted up the pressure on the people.

On May 27, 2006, representatives from the 10 villages, organised under the banner of the Prastavit Tata Steel Punarvasi Samiti, presented the district administration with a charter of 13 demands that set the rates of compensation at Rs.5 lakh an acre for unirrigated land and Rs.10 lakh an acre for irrigated land.

They also insisted on a permanent job for at least one member of each nuclear family; a transparent examination and rectification of the district’s land records; and the provision of free high-quality primary and secondary education for all children from the affected families.

The administration responded after two months. On July 20, 2006, the Bastar administration imposed ban orders under Section 144 of the CrPC, threw a security cordon around the area and convened a gram sabha meeting of the tribal panchayat comprising the villages of Takraguda, Kumli, Dhuragaon, Chindgaon, Bhadeparoda and Dabpal.

At the meeting, the District Collector and officials from the Tatas were said to have appealed to the people to give their “consent” to the project. Ban orders were imposed once more on August 3, 2006, when gram sabhas were organised in Belar and Sirisguda villages.

Through the year, the area saw skirmishes between residents and the police, which invariably culminated in cases being foisted on anti-displacement agitation leaders and their detention for short periods of time. Relations between the residents and the administration hit a nadir on February 24, 2007, when residents of Takraguda, Kumli, Dhuragaon, Chindgaon, Bhadeparoda and Dabpal held a gram sabha meeting independent of the District Collector and recorded in the minutes of the meeting their refusal to hand over “any land at any cost”.

For the next three days, the administration imposed a virtual martial law in the area and residents claimed that hundreds of policemen were posted in the six villages. In this period cases of rape and molestation were reported. A complaint filed to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) from residents of the area has testimonies of victims, each one holding policemen responsible for these horrifying acts. The NHRC’s report is yet to be made public.

The administration’s resorting to such tactics could perhaps be explained by the fact that panchayats in Bastar, a designated tribal area, are governed by the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA). The PESA gives tribal panchayats a fair degree of control over their land and requires that all activity involving minor minerals and development projects have the expressed consent of the panchayat. For major development works and major minerals, however, the terrain is uncertain.

State officials that Frontline spoke to said the PESA required that the gram panchayat merely needed to be “consulted” for major projects. Residents, however, refer to legal precedents that state that tribal land cannot be acquired without the express permission of gram sabhas. Since the incident in February, matters have reached an unstable status quo and Sudaram and his neighbours have to still visit the court every other month to mark their presenc e.

The Tata plant in Lohandiguda is not the only site of conflict. A hundred kilometres to the south, in the Dhurli and Bhansi villages in Dantewada district, a similar battle is being played out between the administration and people protesting against land acquisition for the proposed steel plant of the Essar group.

There are, at present, few reliable sources of information on how many people have been displaced in Chhattisgarh over the past few years. The Salwa Judum itself may have been responsible for the displacement of more than 50,000 people from their homes to government-run “camps”. Rumours, bolstered by a stray paragraph in a Collector’s memo in Dantewada, suggest that these makeshift camps may be converted into permanent colonies, making land acquisition across the State much easier.

While that is still to happen, naxal violence and State legislation to counter it have created a situation where all space for opposition has been stifled. “Legal instruments like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005, have been systematically used by the State government to silence all voices of dissent,” says Ilina Sen, a human rights activist and Professor of Women’s Studies at Mahamata Gandhi University in Wardha.

Her husband, Binayak Sen, a paediatrician and a human rights activist, has been detained since May under the provisions of this Act on the charges of being a covert naxal courier. Ilina Sen believes that the reasons for his arrest and subsequent detention lie in the fact that he had spoken out against the excesses of the Salwa Judum and the State government’s land-acquisition practices.

Activists say that Binayak Sen is not the only one who has been persecuted for speaking his mind. A number of members of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and cadre of parties such as the Communist Party of India (CPI) spoke of how anyone criticising the State government or its policies was branded a naxal and threatened with arrest. Advocate Inder Deo Nag’s is one such case.

“With the Salwa Judum being extended to all districts, Special Police Officers are organising themselves into paramilitary forces,” says Nag, an Adivasi and worker’s rights lawyer based in Sarguja district in North Chhattisgarh. Nag has been fighting for the rights of displaced families and workers at Hindalco, a flagship company of the Aditya Birla Group.

He said that when Hindalco set up its opencast bauxite mine in Sarguja in 1996, the company and the Madhya Pradesh government arrived at an agreement that promised permanent employment to the 100-odd families displaced by the mine. However, to date only three persons have been offered permanent employment; the rest have been forced to find daily-wage employment with subcontractors at the mine. People who opposed the exploitative practices of contractors found their employment terminated immediately and those who persisted were threatened with violence.

Nag said he himself was attacked several times and illegally detained by people who he believed were goons working for the contractors. The most recent incident was on March 24, 2007, when he was kidnapped at gunpoint by one Dheeraj Jaiswal, who happens to be a Special Police Officer under the Salwa Judum programme, and warned against interfering in the “company’s affairs”.

Nag said that by arming anyone ready to join the Salwa Judum, the State government had actually created vigilante groups that hired themselves out to the highest bidder.

Targeting sezs

A review of naxal attacks in Chhattisgarh over the last few months suggests that the extremist group is also striking out against the industrialisation drive in the State. A series of statements released in March by the central committee of the CPI (Maoist) called upon the “oppressed masses” to “turn every Special Economic Zone (SEZ) into a battle zone”.

On May 16, the 40th anniversary of the Naxalbari uprising, a statement released by the CPI(ML) New Democracy demanded the abandonment of the SEZ Act, 2005, on the grounds that it diverted fertile agricultural lands to large multinational firms. Besides issuing statements the naxals have, in recent months, targeted the mining industry for attacks.

On June 2, they destroyed three high-tension transmission towers in the Bastar district, resulting in an 11-day power blackout that, according to industry insiders, crippled mining activity and movement of iron ore in the Bailadila mines. On June 11, naxals attacked the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) complex in Dantewada and burnt over 100 metres of conveyor belts hampering operations for 10 days.

The summer of attacks culminated in a largely successful economic blockade on June 26 and 27 in Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand, orchestrated to protest against the economic policies of the governments at the Centre and in the States.

Chhattisgarh today perhaps presents a microcosm of the choices that the Indian state shall increasingly have to make. While the economy’s growing thirst for minerals and fuels will push mining companies deeper and into lush, ecologically sensitive tribal-owned land, the lack of rehabilitation policies and state insensitivity to those affected by mines can only lead to impoverishment, alienation and, ultimately, violence.

‘A question of rights, not development’





V. VENKATESAN


Interview with D. Bandopadhyay, Chairman of the Expert Group on Development Issues to deal with Causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism.







D. Bandopadhyay, Executive Chairman, Council for Social Development, New Delhi.

IT may be a coincidence, but the signals are far-reaching. After having witnessed for three years the State governments’ indifference to utilising Central funds meant for socio-economic programmes in the naxal-affected districts, the Planning Commission appears to have developed doubts about the efficacy of the New Delhi-driven development approach to tackling the Maoist challenge. On May 29, 2006, the Commission appointed a 16-member Expert Group on “Development Issues to Deal with Causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism”. The Expert Group, chaired by D. Bandopadhyay, Executive Chairman, Council for Social Development, New Delhi, has prepared a report. Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline:

As the Chairman of the Expert Group, could you outline its terms of reference?

As specified by the Planning Commission while setting up this Group last year, we had to identify specifically the processes and causes contributing to continued tensions and alienation in areas of unrest and discontent, such as widespread displacement, forest issues, insecure tenancies and other forms of exploitation like usury, land alienation and imperfect market conditions, and suggest specific steps to reduce the tensions and causes of discontent. Our task was to identify the causes of persistent and abysmally low social and human development indicators and suggest steps to bring these on a par with the rest of the country in a time-bound manner. Our effort has been to examine and suggest an appropriate strategy to ensure peace and life with dignity and to resolve conflicts in areas of chronic unrest.

Naxalism is a common name. What used to be called naxalism has now become Maoism. Naxals have all come into the open. Their party, CPI (ML), is now fighting elections. The People’s War Group in Andhra Pradesh and MCC of Bihar have merged to form the Maoist group. Naxalism is a misnomer now.

Should the government meet the Maoist threat with the force at its command or view it as a socio-economic problem?


There are two aspects to the issue. One is the seizure of power through armed force. You ignore that. They are a small band of committed political militants. But how are they operating? According to the government’s own admission, there are today roughly 150 to 165 districts, spread over 12 to 14 States and challenging the jurisdiction of 550 police stations.

The naxal movement started in 1967 under the jurisdiction of one police station in West Bengal. For 40 years, the state’s response has been basically to treat it as a “law and order problem” and counter it with superior state violence. Thirty per cent of the Indian land mass, the Home Ministry says, is naxal-infested. How has the militancy survived over the past 40 years against the stupendous state power called the Indian state?

It is not a question of development, but of rights, which have been denied. Development is peanuts. Forget it. If you look at Central India, you have the largest mining projects, very big dams, very big industrial projects; these are the areas predominantly inhabited by the Scheduled Tribes. There is no official figure estimating the number of displaced people due to coercive acquisition of land for development purposes. Scholars’ estimates vary. One scholar, Walter Fernandes, has estimated that between 1951 and 2005, roughly 5.5 crores of the Indian population have been so displaced. Of these, only 28 to 30 per cent has been properly resettled and rehabilitated. In the case of tribal people, it is estimated that only 18 to 20 per cent of them have been properly rehabilitated. Thus, a vast number of displaced, homeless, landless, jobless tribal people are roaming about as flotsam and jetsam of our development process.

What specific reforms would the Group suggest to tackle the growing Maoist threat?

According to the terms of reference, we will suggest measures to upgrade the levels of governance and strengthen public service delivery in areas where the Maoists are strong, through suitable administrative and institutional reform and mechanisms for prompt redress of grievances.

We are also expected to suggest measures for ensuring time-bound achievement of livelihood security, health and nutrition security, food security, etc. and also suggest changes in Central and State legislation impeding the achievement of these objectives. Specifically, we will suggest measures to strengthen the implementation of the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act (PESA) and the functioning of Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule and other areas to ensure empowerment of the communities.

The experience with the Backward Districts Initiative under the RSVY scheme is that the States are little interested in utilising the funds earmarked for development of naxal-affected districts. What is the reason for this?

This raises a basic question about the class character of the state. Branding does not change your character. There is no cap on finances. Yet, the States, whichever parties may be in power, are uninterested in utilising the funds for developing the infrastructure in the naxal-affected areas. It is a demand-driven thing. The more you want, the more the Centre will give. The States are not interested in looking at that segment of the population, which, according to them, are not part of the mainstream.

The Maoist crisis is like the proverbial fish in water. If water is taken as a metaphor for disgruntled peasantry and the fish for militants, so long as the peasants are disaffected and discontented, fish will move freely in that territory. If you can win over the peasantry to your side, fish will die for lack of oxygen. This is what West Bengal did within two years of the naxal uprising in 1967. Through massive programmes of wresting or sealing surplus lands within two and a half years, one million acres of land could be redistributed to the landless. What West Bengal achieved following that naxal uprising, other States failed to do.