Saturday, February 16, 2008

ORISSA : Maoists 100km of power hub

SUBRAT DAS



Nayagarh (Orissa), Feb. 16: Nayagarh last night, Bhubaneswar tomorrow.

Hours after hundreds of Maoists stormed police stations and outposts in this sleepy Orissa town, authorities in Bhubaneswar woke up to a chilling realisation — the rebels were within striking distance of the state capital barely 100km away.

Sources said the simultaneous strikes that left 14 policemen dead was the worst Orissa had seen in terms of casualties, that too in a place never identified as a rebel stronghold.

The Maoists also raided an armoury and took away over 1,000 weapons, including AK-47s, light machine guns and carbines which were loaded onto two vehicles they had hijacked.

In Delhi, a senior police officer and an expert on the Maoist menace said the situation was “more than serious”. The Centre has rushed a high-level home ministry team to Orissa to assess the situation.

Police sources in Orissa said over 300 rebels, including 100 women, gunned down six policemen at a police reserve which houses an armoury, four others at a training school and two at Nayagarh police station in the heart of the town.

On their way back, they attacked a police outpost and two police stations, killing two more cops. A cycle shop owner who refused them tyres was also gunned down.

State police chief Gopal Chandra Nanda said “our men” were surrounded by the rebels from all sides and asked to surrender. “But they did not, which is why the casualty figure was so high.”

Nanda said hundreds of police and paramilitary personnel were searching for the rebels in the surrounding countryside.

The rebels, witnesses said, entered the town around 10.30 and split into three groups. “They were speaking Hindi, Bengali, Telugu and Oriya,” constable Jugal Chandra Swain told The Telegraph.

People were told not to come out of their houses, said Jitu, who runs a paan shop. “They told us they wouldn’t harm ordinary people. Their target was the police to loot arms.”

Before leaving, the rebels regrouped near a bus stand, shook hands with stunned residents, had tea at a roadside stall and gave Rs 500 to a beggar.

At the police training school, blood-spattered furniture and bullet marks on the walls were grim reminders of the nocturnal strike.

The recruits had just finished dinner and were playing cards when the rebels struck

Maoist menace : Urban scare

Urban scare
17 Feb 2008, 0000 hrs IST,Mateen Hafeez,TNN

Naxals are no longer confined to jungles. Recent Naxal attacks on our cities point towards a greater danger lurching in the neighbourhood (TOI Photo)

MUMBAI: The Maoist menace is no longer confined to the jungles. Last year, India’s financial capital got a Naxal scare. With the arrest of a few activists in August, the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) of Maharashtra police claimed to have busted a Maoist think tank, which was trying to indoctrinate and recruit people, and collecting funds for the organisation. Police believe that the Maoists are slowly and quietly making a base in the city. The police also suspect that the rebels might have some dangerous plans for the city. These fears stem from the fact that during the arrests of the suspected Maoists last year, the police recovered some detonators, a hand grenade, two firearms and 20 gelatin sticks.

According to police sources, Maoists have also articulated a new strategy to target urban centres in India, drawing up “guidelines for working in towns and cities”, and for the revival of a mobilisation effort targeting students and the urban unemployed. In 2006, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil told the Lok Sabha that Maoists were planning to target important installations in major cities, including Mumbai.

But, there is no immediate threat. “There is no armed activity in Mumbai at the moment and the Maoists have kept their activities limited to propagating their ideology, setting up secret cells for frontal organisations and recruiting people,’’ says a police sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The Maoists are trying to spread their movement among trade and labour unions, poor people and students. According to police sources, there are some 75 Maoists in Mumbai. Most of them are not active members of the banned CPI (Maoist), but they sympathise with the leftist group’s cause. “We have come across several such people and are in the process of identifying them and preparing dossiers on them,” says an officer involved in the investigation.

The police believe that the Maoists come to Mumbai to regroup. “They are using Mumbai as a place of rest, planning and recruitment. The guerrillas who get injured in encounters with the police are sent to Naxal dens in Mumbai for treatment, education and relaxation,” says the officer.

Apprehending a major problem cropping up sometime soon, the ATS is getting inputs from the Special Branch and the State Intelligence Department (SID) about the Maoists and keeping an eye on some people. “Over half a dozen lawyers are on our radar but we cannot arrest them if there is no evidence against them,” says an ATS officer.

While Mumbai may be safe for the moment, sources claim that the Maoists definitely have plans to take their war to other urban centres. The rebels, the sources add, have plans to strike in the industrial belts of Bhilai-Ranchi-Dhanbad-Calcutta and Mumbai-Pune-Surat-Ahmedabad to take their battle into the heart of India.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com

Orissa pays floral tributes to slain policemen




Bhubaneswar, Feb 16 (IANS) Thousands of people, including senior government and police officials, Saturday afternoon paid floral tributes to the 14 policemen killed in an overnight Maoist attack in Orissa's Nayagarh district.

The bodies of the policemen killed by Maoists in three police stations and two police posts were brought to the district headquarters.

While people and officials offered floral tributes, fellow policemen gave a gun salute, a senior district police official told IANS.


Relatives of the victims were seen weeping near the bodies draped in the tricolour and garlanded.

The city residents observed a shutdown, voluntarily closing all shops, educational institutions and offices.

Rajesh Kumar, the Nayagarh district police chief, told IANS that more than 500 armed Maoists simultaneously attacked three police stations, a government armoury, a police training centre, and two police posts in the district.

A group of rebels, including some women guerrillas, attacked the district police headquarters at Nayagarh, about 85 km from here, as well as a nearby armoury and police training centre at about 10.30 p.m. Friday.

Orissa launches massive anti-naxal operation

KalingaTimes Correspondent
Bhubaneswar, Feb 16: Orissa government woke up to the Maoist challenge on Saturday and launched a high profile operation against hundreds of Maoists who killed 15 persons and looted at least 1100 weapons and around two lakh live bullet by attacking arms depots and police stations in Nayagarh district on Friday night.

Even as Opposition parties demanded resignation of the Chief Minister Naveen

Patnaik in the State Assembly, the administration deployed around 600 policemen to track own the Left wing extremists who had gone inside the forestareas bordering Nayagarh and Kandhamal districts.

According to sources, the police were able to gun down two Maoists and arrest two others during the ongoing anti-Maoist operation. Two Air Force helicopters were being used to track down the Maoists in the hilly and forested locations.

Three platoons of greyhound force had also reached in the disturbed area following a request from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik before the Centre.

In Nayagarh, the District Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said that 1100 arms of different make were looted by the 500-odd Maoists who stormed the town and attacked Nayagarh town police station, district police armoury, police stations at Daspalla and Nuagaon and police post at Mahipur and the arms depot at the police training school in the town. Around two lakh live bullets had also been looted by the Maoists.

All the attackers, many of them women, were in plain clothes and used high-tech communication gadgets while carrying out their attack on the police stations and armouries. They spoke Hindi, Tegulu and Oriya.

The attacks on all places were carried out simultaneously between 10-30 pm on Friday and 12-30 am on Saturday.

Although there was no conclusive proof, police sources said a majority of the extremists belonged to Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Making a statement in the State Assembly after visiting Nayagarh, the Chief Minister said the attacks were caused by heavily armed militants of Communist Party of India (Maoist).

He announced that ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakhs each would be given to the next of the kin to the deceased police personnel in addition to Rs. 10 lakhs of insurance coverage. One member from the family of the deceased would be provided with a job as a measure of rehabilitation, he added. A sum of Rs. 2 lakh would be paid to the next of the kin of the lone civilian who was killed during the attack on the Daspalla police station.

The Chief Minister also reviewed the situation at a meeting in Bhubaneswar and directed the administration to track down the Maoists.

Patnaik further asked the authorities to tighten the security arrangements at the jails and police arms depots across the State.

He directed the Home Secretary to conduct a thorough inquiry into the loopholes that existed in the security arrangements in the police armouries and submitted a report within seven days.

Centre sends crack team to Orissa

Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 17, 2008
First Published: 02:31 IST(17/2/2008)
Last Updated: 02:35 IST(17/2/2008)


The message from the central government is clear. Naxalites cannot expect to get away after daring attacks. The government sent a team of senior home ministry and intelligence officials to Orissa and coordinated the launch of a massive search operation to track down Maoists who carried out last night’s attack.

In an unusually detailed statement within hours of the attack Union home minister Shivraj Patil said, “I am confident that the culprits will be nabbed soon and brought to book”. He condemned the Naxal operation and condoled the death of the 13 policemen.

Friday’s attack was the biggest Naxal attack in the state so far and is being followed by a matching police response, a home ministry official indicated. Seventeen people had died in 67 incidents of naxal violence in Orissa last year. “The home ministry is in touch with the Orissa government. The state government has been asked to utilize our forces… for taking immediate and strong action against the culprits,” Patil said.

A high-level team of bureaucrats, senior para-military and intelligence officers led Special Secretary ML Kumawat was also sent to the state to review the situation. "They will also hold detailed discussions with the state government with regard to further action," the union home minister said.

The Union home secretary Madhukar Gupta coordinated movement of central security forces and deployed two IAF choppers to move security forces – including Grey Hound commandos – into the interiors to launch search operations.

IAF copters join hunt for naxalites

Special Correspondent


NEW DELHI: The government has drafted the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the hunt for Communist Party of India (Maoists) activists who had attacked police stations in Orissa on Friday night and decamped with several weapons and ammunition after killing over a dozen policemen.

Official sources said the IAF had set up a task force, headed by a senior officer, to oversee the search and reconnaissance operations. Two Chetak helicopters under his command took off from Bhubaneshwar on Saturday in an attempt to locate the fleeing Maoists, about 12 hours after they had concluded the operations with no casualty to their rank and file.

Other sources said the IAF’s assistance does not deviate from the policy of the armed forces not to intervene in counter-insurgency operations against the Maoists in central India. The IAF had earlier provided unmanned aerial vehicles to track Maoists but after a couple of initial successes, their efficacy had blunted leading to their withdrawal.

The IAF has also provided air support for reconnaissance operations before polls in some Maoist affected States but has so far steadfastly stayed away from using air power in the country’s heartland.

The Army too has declined to be drawn into anti-Maoist operations though the Chattisgarh government has drafted some of its former servicemen to train its security personnel in identifying and defusing improvised explosive devices and using mine detectors and jammers.

Patnaik orders probe into security lacunae at arms depots

Prafulla Das

Rs. 10 lakh each to family of policemen killed in naxal attack



NAYAGARH (ORISSA): Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik air-dashed to Nayagarh town on Saturday and visited the armouries looted in the naxalite attack late on Friday night.

Talking to presspersons before flying back to Bhubaneswar, Mr. Patnaik said a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh each would be paid to the family of the policemen killed.

On his return, Mr. Patnaik told the Assembly that a massive manhunt had been mounted.

In the evening, he held a high-level meeting at the State Secretariat to review the situation. The Centre had agreed to his request to send 100 greyhound personnel to assist the State police, he said.

Mr. Patnaik directed the State Home Secretary to conduct an inquiry into lacunae in the security at the arms depots and submit a report within a week.

Top officials from the Centre, including an official of Additional Home Secretary rank and a senior official of the CRPF, have arrived in the State to take stock of the situation.

Nayagarh Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said six policemen were killed at the district armoury, four at the police training school arms depot and two at the police station located close to the armoury.

As the attacks began in the district headquarters town, other Maoist groups at the same time struck at Mahipur police outpost, 11 km away, Nuagaon police station, 20 km away, and Daspalla police station, 40 km away from the town.

According to Mr. Kumar, at least 1100 arms, including pistols, rifles, light machine guns, single loaded rifles and AK-47s were looted. While around 650 arms were taken away from the police training school arms depot, 400 arms were looted from the district armoury and four guns each from the three police stations.

More than one lakh live bullets were also taken away from the police training school depot.

The number of bullets looted from the district armoury was yet to be ascertained, police said

ORISSA : Nayagarh caught napping by Maoists

17 Feb 2008, 0223 hrs IST,Sandeep Mishra,TNN


NAYAGARH: There was "no activity, no base, no inkling, no idea". It was a bolt from the blue. Superintendent of police (Nayagarh) Rajesh Kumar actually had no option — he had to make a quick assessment of the police preparedness to take on the Maoists. In the event, Nayagarh turned out to be a sitting duck, waiting to be "culled" by the Maoist terrorists.

The guerrillas knew this, too. Having planned their 'Operation 22' with clinical precision — the extremists, eyewitnesses said, entered the district headquarters at different times on Friday. And, like their previous spine-chilling offensives in Koraput (2004) and R-Udayagiri (2006), they executed their plan with impunity, killing hapless cops and leaving Orissa's anti-Naxalite preparations thoroughly exposed.

Eyewitnesses said a number of "outsiders" were seen at several strategic locations in the town, including the main market, around 8 pm. Police believe a good number of rebels had entered Nayagarh during the day on motorcycles and planned the operations.

While the choice of Nayagarh was perhaps because of poor police presence and its proximity to Gajapati and Kandhamal districts, another possible reason, not lost on the cops, is that Nayagarh is the home district of dreaded Naxal leader and Orissa's top terrorist, Sabyasachi Panda.

The only other Maoist incident here was a postcard addressed to the collector in November 2005. Never had the district administration admitted that Maoists were making inroads although the media has been writing about it.

"We still don't know how it happened. We are trying to find out," Nayagarh collector Paresh Nayak told TOI . "A marriage procession was passing through the main road and the Maoists used it as a shield after blocking the entry points of the town before launching the attack around 10.30 pm," he added.

Eyewitnesses said they blocked the entry points at Itamati, police training school square and Jagannath temple using vehicles and boulders and positioning their teams. "Each team comprised around 70 guerrillas. Even residences of the district collector and SP were under siege. The Maoists told people over loudspeakers not to panic as they did not intend to harm them. 'We are here for your good,' they were heard saying," said Ratan Kumar Sahu, an eyewitness.

"It's obvious that the operation was well-planned. The Maoists chose Nayagarh because security preparedness in areas considered extremist-hit is quite good. Of late, the Maoists have also suffered heavy losses in several parts of the state, especially Sambalpur, Malkangiri and Jajpur. Hence, they targeted a benign district like Nayagarh," a senior officer said.

The cop said Maoists entered Nayagarh from the southern side through Daspalla. "They possibly came from Gajapati and Kandhamal districts through the Daspalla route, gathered at some point, before launching simultaneous attacks. They did not drop any literature and retreated by the Daspalla route," the cop added.

Operation Nayagarh was waiting to happen

Operation Nayagarh was waiting to happen

K. Srinivas Reddy

Orissa was in the crosshairs of the central military commission of Maoists for carrying out a major raid




— Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty/AP

OUTRAGE: Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik flew to Nayagarh on Saturday within hours of the naxalite raids on police arms depots. (Right) Relatives of the victims throng the district headquarters hospital.


VISAKHAPATNAM: Intelligence agencies and police forces in different States were aware of the Maoists’ plan to launch synchronised attacks on security forces in Orissa, after the arrest of a top Maoist leader Misir Besra in Jharkhand in September last.

Not only Besra’s disclosures, but several Maoist documents seized in different parts of the country also indicated that Orissa was in the crosshairs of the central military commission (CMC) of the Maoists for carrying out a major raid like ‘Operation Nayagarh.’

Besra, who used the codename of Sunirmal, as a member of the CMC had talked about the plan to carry out a massive raid on the police headquarters in Bargarh district where at least 300 to 500 weapons could be looted.

Following this disclosure, security had been stepped up in Bargarh. However, now Intelligence agencies wonder whether this information was a red herring. “There are two possibilities. Besra could have told us the truth. Subsequently, the Maoists could have abandoned the Bargarh raid and planned these raids in Nayagarh,” a senior official involved in counter-Maoist operations in Andhra Pradesh conceded.

It was not just Besra’s confession that spoke of Maoist plans for synchronised attacks. A document detailing the resolutions passed in the meeting of the CMC, held sometime after January 2007, spoke of plans, albeit in code language. “Joint Operation must be conducted in 1-C, BJ-O. An operation must be conducted in …to seize weapons,” the resolution number two stated. Officials, well-versed with the cryptic language used by Maoists analysed that 1-C could have been Chhattisgarh, while BJ-O could refer to Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa.”

Besra, a prize catch for police in 2007, revealed that the rebel party had spent anywhere between Rs.20 lakh to Rs.30 lakh for Operation Bargarh and that Asuthosh, his colleague in CMC, was to supervise the attack. Asuthosh had taken shelter in Devgadh town while his three member recce team had been on the job from May 2007 onwards.





“In retrospect, we feel the attack could have been averted or repulsed, if only the Orissa police had been more alert,” was another senior officer’s comment.

Nayagarh, though largely unaffected by Maoist activity, borders with Ganjam and Kandhamal districts which have witnessed intense rebel activity in the recent times.

Police officials surmise that Maoist cadres operating on the Andhra-Orissa borders along with some rebels from neighbouring Chhattisgarh could have participated in the synchronised attacks on three police stations, armoury, police training college and on police posts in which more than 1,100 weapons and nearly one lakh bullets were snatched.

Orissa, one of the most affected States, technically falls in the Eastern Regional Board (ERB) of the CPI Maoists. Latest Maoist documents reveal that the strength of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) in Orissa is three companies (60 guerrillas in a company) in addition to 17 platoons (each having 21 to 27 fighters).

Friday’s raid, police sources said, had the participation of a large number of people’s militia raised by the Maoists.

In similar raids on Koraput town in February 2004, more than 525 weapons were snatched. In R. Uadayagiri town of Gajapati district, Maoists snatched 17 SLRs in 2006. Attacks involving people’s militia took place in Giridh of Jharkhand where 185 rifles were snatched in 2005.

Since 2002, seven people are killed in terror violence every 10 days


Since 2002, seven people are killed in terror violence every 10 days
Maneesh Chhibber
Print Email
Posted online: Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 0002 hrs Print Email
Official data shows new trend: J&K less violent, accounts for only a fifth of the dead; big surge in Naxalite toll after 2005

Chandigarh, February 16:As Congress and the BJP argue about national security and who can ensure safety in the time of terror, here is a reality check: at least 1333 persons — civilians and security personnel — have lost their lives across the country in attacks by terrorists and separatists between January 2002 and December 2007. This works out to seven people getting killed every 10 days. The number of injured in the same period is just under three times that number: 3678.

Advertisment


Related Stories

DUAC set for new, young look
GoM’s talks on Sethu inconclusive
Screening images
Foreigner attacked, activists caned
CM: Book those involved in 8 days

These numbers, obtained from the Union Home Ministry by The Sunday Express under the Right to Information Act, show a couple of clearly new trends:

• In Jammu and Kashmir, long known as the epicentre of terrorism, there has been a marked decrease in casualties since 2002 in contrast to the trend in the rest of the country. For the period January 2002-December 2007, the total number of casualties in J&K in militancy-related incidents is 306, about 23% of the national total, while the number of injured is 794. In fact, 2006 and 2007 saw the lowest death toll in J&K: 14 and 11 respectively.

• The number of those killed in Naxalite violence has surged since 2005 — 98 in 2006 and 160 in 2007.

• In these five years, 211 persons were killed in separatist incidents in the North-East.


Incidentally, most of the terrorist-related incidents, be it in J&K, North-East or elsewhere, have remained unsolved, with the alleged masterminds continuing to evade the police and security agencies.

That terror has gone national is evident in a string of attacks over the last five years: in Mumbai on 7/11 (killing 187 people) and injuring 844; the attack on the Pakistan-bound Samjhauta/Attari Express near Panipat on February 18 last year that killed 68. The serial blasts in Delhi in October, 2005 killed 67 and injured 224. The August 2003 twin car bomb blasts that rocked South Mumbai’s Gateway of India and busy Zaveri Bazar left 52 dead and 184 injured. And the twin blasts in Hyderabad killed 42 people last August.

myrti@expressindia.com

To exercise your right, write to us

Maoist mayhem



17 Feb 2008, 0000 hrs IST,Vishwa Mohan,TNN


Naxals have become the biggest challenge for our country’s security but the states seem to be ill-prepared to take them on (TOI Photo)

Friday’s Naxal attack on police stations in Orissa’s Nayagarh district is the latest wake-up call for India’s security mandarins. With every passing day, the Maoist guerrillas seem to be tightening their grip on the country, claiming some 500 lives every year. In some areas, the situation is so alarming that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently described the menace as a “virus” that threatens the very idea of India. He asked states to pool their resources and crush the leftist rebellion once and for all. The states have been trying to fight the Maoists for some time, but with little success. The reasons are not too difficult to understand.

The state police forces are ill-equipped, poorly trained and lack motivation to take on the highly organised insurgents. Now, the Union home ministry is planning to tackle this problem by helping the states raise 35 India Reserve Battalions (IRB) to crush the rebellion. But the real problem is not the lack of forces. Both the Centre as well as the affected states lack a clear strategy to deal with the problem, making the threat even more alarming.

Now, the Centre has decided to take serious steps to curb the menace. There are already four layers of monitoring mechanisms. Since these have proved inadequate, the Union government has decided to have a fifth layer - a task force to be chaired by the cabinet secretary to promote coordinated efforts across a range of development and security activities so that the Maoist menace can be tackled comprehensively.

There are other issues that need to be resolved as well. Since law and order is a state subject, the Centre cannot take direct police action in the wake of an incident. Also, it is not possible for government to have a unified command for different states. So, what’s the Centre doing? The Union home ministry has provided 33 battalions (over 33,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces to states for deployment in Maoist-controlled districts. But even this is not enough. Chhattisgarh, for example, has over 13,000 personnel out of the total deployment of central forces, but it has still reported more than 50% of the total casualties (325 out of 601) in 2007.

The situation in other states is not very different. While they have all been demanding more forces from the Centre, the state governments drag their feet over filling police vacancies. There is also a blame game going on. Central government officials point out that the right to deploy central forces lies with the states. The states, on the other hand, complain that the Centre isn’t giving them enough manpower for taking on the Maoist guerrillas.

However, Andhra Pradesh has shown the way by creating a specialised force - Grey Hounds - to fight the Maoists and achieved huge success in minimising casualties in the past two years. The local police, backed by the armed reserve forces, the Grey Hounds and a well-developed intelligence network, have succeeded in beating back the Maoists to a large extent, and forced their leadership to take flight.

The other states - particularly Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand - have made no headway. One of the problems is that the terrorists, who are unified under the banner of the CPI (Maoists), can take advantage of the fact that the states do not have a ‘unified command’ to fight them. The rebels easily slip into another state after attacking civilians and security personnel in one, knowing full well that they can get away.

Though the number of casualties in Maoist violence declined in 2007 (601) as compared to 2006 (678), statistics do not tell the entire story. Incidents like the recent jail-break in Chhattisgarh where rebels attacked a jail and escaped with hundreds of their comrades reveal that the Maoists are only getting bolder. According to some figures, around 200 policemen were killed in the state last year. But, despite these attacks, the state has done little to improve the security situation.

In Orissa, the security build-up has slowly improved, with the setting up of a special operations group (SOG) and special intelligence wing (SIW) and raising of one India Reserve Battalion, but a lot more is needed to launch a really effective battle against the rebels as the latest attack has shown. ‘‘We have improved infrastructure in 114 of the around 450 police stations in the state under centrally sponsored police modernisation and security-related expenditure schemes. This includes around 70 police stations in severely hit pockets. We are in the process of scaling up infrastructure, equipment and manpower in 81 others,” says a police source, adding that the policemen now have sophisticated, automatic weapons.

The real problem, however, is manpower: posts of around 7,000 constables, 750 sub-inspectors as well as dozens of senior positions lie vacant in the state. “We have the equipment, but the manpower is not adequately trained. Moreover, we are recruiting people but we don’t have sufficient training facilities to put them on the job right away. It will take some time,” says a senior police officer. “We have made lots of arrests, but there have been large-scale acquittals because common people understandably do not want to stand witness against the extremists. We are taking a number of steps to quell the challenge.”

In Jharkhand, the police have miserably failed to curb the Naxal menace. Since the creation of the state in 2001 more than 150 CRPF men, district police jawans, one deputy superintendent of police, two inspectors and an equal number of sub-inspectors have lost their lives in anti-Naxal operations.

In terms of infrastructure the state police are on the last rung. Of the 45,000 policemen in the state, one-third don’t have weapons. About 11,500 SLRs and 400 LMGs were purchased in the name of police modernisation but most of these are still lying in stores. The state lacks a modern communication system and has not been able to connect all police stations to the headquarters with police network. The main reason why Maoists easily get all the information about police movement and plans is that these are communicated through the age-old wireless system.

With Grey Hounds on their heels, the Maoists have been on the run in Andhra Pradesh, but in other states the forces have not been able to take on the might of guerrillas. At this stage, it’s difficult to say if the new strategy by the Centre will be able to check the growth of Naxals in the countryside. In the past, states have failed to coordinate police operations to tackle such issues. But this time, as the Maoists increase their influence, the states have no choice but to join hands. Or else, the bloodshed will go on.

With inputs from Jaideep Deogharia and Sanjay Ojha in Ranchi, Sandeep Mishra in Bhubaneswar, and Amitabh Tiwari in Raipur.

India's tribals: Caught in the crossfire

17 Feb 2008, 0000 hrs IST,TNN

Land. Water. Minerals. Guns. They are all connected. In India’s heartland, after the last metalled road has turned into a dirt track, there are villages where people have not seen tap water and electricity. They have never met a doctor or gone to school. They live in the middle of dense forests, sharing space with dangerous animals. They live on fertile land, but there is never enough food in their stomachs. Hunger they are familiar with and now they are simmering with anger. They realise that they were never given a chance to live with dignity.

They are India’s original inhabitants - the indigenous people we call the tribals. Now, they are caught in a deadly crossfire between the rebels who claim that they are waging a war on their behalf and the State that says it’s trying to protect them from the Maoists’ mindless violence.

Not sure whom to believe, the tribals are confused. And they wonder why there hasn’t been any change in their lives for such a long time.

In Chhattisgarh, the state with the highest tribal population in the country, even basic civic amenities like roads, health centres and education facilities are lacking. Even the areas in the grip of violence are beyond the reach of the police forces. The wells here are dry. The land is parched. The roads are dusty. The people are famished.

It’s the same story in Jharkhand. Even after seven years of its creation, more than 80% of the tribal villages in Jharkhand are without roads, electricity, potable water and health centres.

There is no irrigation facility in more than 90% of the state. No wonder when the Maoists walk into a village and talk of revolution, people listen to them. No wonder when people hear about the mining companies coming and taking away their mineral wealth, they are enraged.

They want their land back. They want their forests intact. And they don’t want others to exploit their minerals. When they see everything slipping away from their hands, they turn to guns.

ORISSA : Naxals fled with 1,100 weapons

17 Feb 2008, 0225 hrs IST,Sandeep Mishra & Rajaram Satapathy,TNN

NAYAGARH/BHUBANESWAR: Residents of Nayagarh on Saturday said about 500 Maoists took control of the town, firing gunshots and shouting revolutionary slogans in Oriya and Hindi. "They blocked all roads leading to the town before swooping down on the reserve police office, the town police station and the district armoury (all located in adjacent buildings) between 10.15 and 10.30pm. Nobody had a clue because the rebels were in plainclothes," Nayagarh SP Kumar said.

"The Maoists launched simultaneous attacks on the Nuagaon and Daspalla police stations and the Mahipur police outpost. They looted about 1,100 weapons, including pistols, light machine guns, AK-47s, SLRs and INSAS rifles from the district and police training school armouries," Kumar said.

The first move the Naxalites made on Friday night was to surround SP Kumar's house, preventing him from coming out. It's not clear if he could even communicate with his forces. The guerrillas arrived in the town in buses, trucks and on motorcycles, residents said. They burnt many jeeps and two-wheelers and documents belonging to police and ransacked the residence of inspector A R Champatiray at Daspalla. Champatiray and his family managed to escape.

The government announced ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh each for the families of the policemen who died in the attack. Families of the two civilians who were killed will get ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each.

Naxal strike an eye-opener for Orissa Govt.

Bhubaneswar, Sat, 16 Feb 2008
NI Wire


The Orissa assembly has adjourned after an uproar by the opposition parties seeking state Chief Minister’s resignation following Government’s inability to tackle Naxal menace in the state here on Saturday.

Certainly the manner in which the large number of armed naxals attacked and killed policemepointed a clear-cut intelligence failure.


The incident came as an eye-opener for the Orissa government.


In a well-planned attack by naxals in the Nayagarh district of Orissa at least 14 persons including 13 policemen have been killed. The incident also completely surprised the state administration with the number of Naxals being active at a single point of time.


On late Friday night (around 10:30 pm) a group of over 100 fully armed Naxalites including women cadres entered the town and attacked the local police station killing away 13 policemen and they also looted weapons from the Nayagarh Police station armoury.


Naxals too raided the police training school with bombs and arm guns. Another police station at Daspalla was also attacked where a civilian killed during the crossfire.


Though with the help of additional forces the police had launched a massive operation against the Maoists but it is still unknown the number of naxals killed in the process.


The injured police personnel were admitted to the Cuttack SCB Medical with some of them are said to critical.


This is the second such type of major Naxal attack in recent years. In last year March armed naxalites attacked Udayagiri town of Gajapati district and freed its prisoners after killing two policemen.


This year too on January 02, one man was killed and 7 others were injured in a naxal attack in Sundargarh district of Orissa.


CRPF on the march to track down naxals


After Friday night’s unfortunate incident and a severe criticism on the intelligence failure from the state opposition party, the Orissa government has asked CRPF personnel to track down the armed Naxalites who attacked and looted the police station.


As per the latest report the state borders have been closed and security personnel are on their hunt to nab naxals.


Prime internal threat to National security


Although the Home Ministry had earlier declared Naxals as the single most important threat to national security, no major development has been made so far to curb naxal nuisance. As far as Orissa is concerned Maoists are active on 11 of the 30 districts of Orissa.


The state government in 2006 banned certain pro-naxal groups including Communist Party of India (Maoist) but so far not enough positive result have come out to save people from naxal influence.


It seems that the groups like Daman Pratirodh Manch and Revolutionary Democratic Front who were banned by the state government are still active in the state helping naxalites to propagate their ideology.

Orissa on high alert after Naxal attack (Update-Naxal attack)

From our ANI Correspondent

Nayagarh, Feb 16: The Government of Orissa today declared a red alert across the State and ordered an intensive search operation for Naxals involved in the killing of thirteen police personnel, two women, and a
civilian in Nayagarh late on Friday night.


At least 600 CRPF personnel and two Indian Air Force helicopters have been deployed for the operation, State Government sources said.

The Union Home Minister Shivraj patil has condemned the Naxal attack in Orissa.

He said that the Central Home Ministry is in constant touch with the State Government, which has been asked to take immediate action against the culprits.

A high level team of para-military forces and other central security agencies has been sent to Orissa.

After Friday's attack, Orissa's borders with Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand have been sealed.

Orissa's Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said that around 500-armed naxals had carried out the attack in Nayagarh.

"A group of some 500 Naxals, including women cadres, with bombs and firearms raided the police training school, the district police station and the armoury at around 10:45 p m," Superintendent of Police, Rajesh Kumar, said.

"Four policemen were also injured in the gunbattle that continued till around 12:15 a m," he added.

One of the policemen killed in the attacks has been identified as Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Nandpani Misra.

The injured are being treated at the SCG Medical College in Cuttack.

The Naxalites also reportedly looted the Nayagarh Armory and the police training school and made away with a large cache of arms and ammunition.

Before launching the attack, the Naxals announced that they would not harm the public, as their target was the police.

According to sources, the Naxals were speaking in Hindi and Telugu, and therefore, could be from Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

This is the second major incident of Naxal attack on the police in the last two years.

On March 24, 2006, over 500 heavily armed Maoists, including a large number of women, swooped down on Orissa's R Udayagiri town in Gajapati District, and freed 40 prisoners.


Copyright Asian News International

Maoist violence not biggest security challenge: Patil

Saturday, 16 February , 2008, 18:07


New Delhi: A day after 14 people were killed by Maoist rebels in a major offensive in Orissa, Home Minister Shivraj Patil Saturday denied that leftwing extremism was the single biggest security challenge to the country.



"I don't think it (Maoist violence) so. Now, don't ask me to comment on my colleagues or what the prime minister said. You asked me for my opinion and I will give you my opinion," Patil told CNN-IBN's "Devil's Advocate" in an interview.

Patil's statement flies in the face of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's repeated assertions in many forums that Maoists posed the single biggest security challenge to India and even exhorted chief ministers at a recent conference to cripple their rebellion with all means at their command.

"Not a day passes without an incident of leftwing extremism taking place somewhere or the other. There also seems to be a consolidation of various groups with better coordination and strike capabilities," Manmohan Singh told chief ministers at a conclave on internal security in December last year.

"I have said in the past that leftwing extremism is the single biggest security challenge to the Indian state. It continues to be so, and we cannot rest in peace till we have eliminated this virus," he said.

Fourteen people were killed and at least five injured after Maoists launched major offensives at Nayagarh and Daspatalla in Orissa on Friday night.

During the interview, Patil said there had been an overall improvement in states affected by Left extremism except for Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

"Let us not create a fear psychosis. We are here to understand the problem and find a solution," he said.

Referring to the surge in violence in both Chhattisgarh, the epicentre of Maoist violence, and Jharkhand, Patil said the non-availability of infrastructure and the terrain were factors responsible for the increased attacks.

"We (union government) are doing whatever possible to help states affected by this violence. Almost 37,000 policemen have been detailed by the centre and deployed in Naxalite (Maoist) affected states. In Chhattisgarh alone, we have provided 17,000 men," said Patil.

Patil also revealed that the government wanted to make constitutional changes to give itself special powers to handle Maoist violence, but the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party as well as other parties refused to accept such amendments.

Although the number of violent incidents blamed on the Maoists fell from 1,509 in 2006 to 1,285 until Oct 31, 2007, the number of security personnel killed by them rose from 157 last year to 188 until the end of October 2007.

Naxalism not single biggest security threat, says Patil

Press Trust Of India
New Delhi, February 16, 2008
First Published: 16:08 IST(16/2/2008)
Last Updated: 16:17 IST(16/2/2008)

Naxalism is not the single biggest threat to the country, Home Minister Shivraj Patil has said, a view that runs contrary to the assertion by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"I don't think so," Patil said in an interview to Karan Thapar's Devil's Advocate programme on CNN-IBN when asked whether naxalism was the "single biggest security threat" to the country as has been stated by the Prime Minister.


Patil, while refusing to comment directly on the Prime Minister's assertion, contended that the scourge could not be termed as the single biggest threat as barring Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the situation on this front has improved in other states.

Singh has been maintaining that naxalism poses the single biggest threat to the nation. To justify his argument, Patil cited statistics for the period 2003 to 2007 and said there was 70 per cent improvement in Andhra Pradesh and in Bihar too the position was better.

"But the two worst affected states are Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand," he said, adding that another state where the problem existed on a large scale was Orissa.

The Home Minister said while in some states there was improvement, in others the situation had deteriorated. "But the sum total is not different," he said.

The Home Minister said there were various ways of looking at the naxal problem. If one said ten states were affected it would mean 30 per cent of the country. If one went by 130 districts affected, it would mean 25 per cent. But if one took into account the number of police stations, it would give a picture of only three per cent, he explained.

Patil said some particular kind of statistics would create "fear psychosis" in the country. He said the Centre had provided 37,000 para-military force personnel and officials for tackling the naxal problem and 17,000 personnel have been sent to Chhattisgarh alone.

To a question, he said the Centre will try to build a consensus among political parties before trying to carry out any constitutional changes to give itself special powers to handle naxalism. "The Government will not do it unless there is a consensus," Patil said.

Asked if the Centre contemplated constitutional changes to take direct action against the naxalites, Patil said for deployment of forces in the states, the constitution has to be amended by two-third majority support in Parliament and backing from half of the state legislatures. "I don't think BJP will support it," he said.

The Home Minister said BJP's support had been sought "not only once, but many times" at various meetings. While some leaders in that party say "yes", others say "no".

He said the matter has been discussed on the floor of Parliament and added that the Government will not do anything unless there is a consensus.

BJP blames Centre for naxal attack in Orissa

16 Feb, 2008, 1737 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: With naxals striking terror in NDA-ruled Orissa, BJP on Saturday put the onus of combating Left-wing insurgency on the Central Government and alleged that it has failed in this responsibility.

The party said the Congress-led UPA government has remained a mute spectator while naxalites extended their influence from Pashupatinath in Nepal to Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

"The UPA government has completely failed to address the issue of naxalism and the Orissa attack vindicates our stand. The red corridor now extends from Pashupatinath to Tirupati," party spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters here.

Although he blamed the Centre of failure in combating Left insurgency, the party spokesman claimed that the whole process of "checkmating" naxalism has "demolished" after the ban on naxalism was lifted in Andhra Pradesh.

He was reacting to the Maoist attack on a police station and a police training college in Nayagarh district of Orissa late last night, which claimed the lives of 14 people, including 13 policemen

New Delhi: Fifteen people were killed and at least five injured after Naxals launched major offensives at Nayagarh and Daspalla in Orissa on Friday and looted sophisticated arms and ammunition from three trucks.


The first attack was on the Nayagarh Police Training School and the district armoury. Police say the attack was carried out by a group of around 400 Naxals, including women cadres, equipped with bombs and firearms.


Within a few minutes, another attack was launched at a police station in Daspalla town.


Fourteen police personnel and one civilian were killed in the attack. There are no reports of any casualties on the Naxal side. The injured policemen have been taken to the SCG hospital in Cuttack.


"Around 400-500 Naxal cadres attacked the place around 10.30 last night. The offensive went on for about two hours," IG Central Range SK Upadhyay told CNN-IBN.



"Combing operations are on and inventory is being checked. Naxals took all the weapons in these facilities," Upadhyay added.


According to some reports 50-60 armed Naxals have also surrounded a village called Janegoda near FourGhatsila in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand.


The offensive is believed to be a retaliatory attack targeted towards the Nagrik Suraksha Samiti people there who helped the security forces kill seven of their cadres earlier on Thursday.


Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is in Nayagarh to take stock of the situation. Patnaik has sought three units of Greyhound commandos from the Centre for the search operations. He also announced Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the 14 police personnel killed in the attack.


Orissa assembly was adjourned after an uproar on the incident. The state opposition has demanded CM's resignation.


Union Defence Minister A K Antony has offered the use of two Indian Air Force helicopters to search for the Naxalites, who are believed to be hiding in the forests near the area, which is just an hours drive from state capital Bhubaneswar.


Just a day earlier CNN-IBN had carried an exclusive interview with CPI (Maoist) Politburo Comrade Sonu where he had said that the Naxals were involved in the Nandigram violence in West Bengal.


"The Indian Prime Minister says Naxalites are the main threat to internal security. We know the State is at us. So we have adopted guerrilla tactics,” Comrade Sonu had said.


“With the common man we will defeat the state. We will die for the people, we will work for the people. We the servants of the people."
________________

14 people, including 13 policemen, killed in naxal attack

Nayagarh (Orissa) (PTI): Striking in a big way for the first time in coastal Orissa, Naxalites killed 14 people, including 13 policemen, besides injuring 10 others and looting the district armoury here after virtually laying siege to the town, police said on Saturday.

In a daring and meticulously planned attack late on Fridaynight, the ultras targetted a police training school, armoury and a police station in Nayagarh and another police station at Daspalla, the police said.

A huge cache of arms and ammunition was taken away in a truck and a bus they had hijacked, the police said.

A group of nearly 100 naxals, including women cadre, with bombs and firearms carried out the attack killing 13 police personnel, including two women, and a civilian besides causing injuries to about nine persons, Nayagarh Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said.

While 10 police personnel were killed at the PTS, armoury and Nayagarh police station, a civilian caught in crossfire died at Daspalla, he said.

Two police personnel were shot dead by the naxalites while they were returning after carrying out the operation at Mahipur police outpost.

One injured policemen succumbed to his wounds today.

Five of the injured were sent to SCB medical college hospital at Cuttack and the rest admitted to hospitals here and at Daspalla, the police said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visited the armoury and the police training school at Nayagarh.

Landmines laid by the naxalites at Majuriapali near here also caused injuries to one person, the police said.

The attack, the first of its kind in coastal Orissa at a place around 120 km from the state capital, was launched around 11 pm and continued up to past mignight, they said.

The district armoury and PTS were virtually emptied by the Maoists, the police said.

Police personnel in strength have been deployed in the district and its borders sealed, while efforts were on to trace the ultras who were believed to have left in two separate directions, the police said.

Though Nayagarh district had been unaffected by the naxal menace, the ultras are active in neighbouring Gajapati and parts of Kandhamal district.

Nayagarh happens to be the home town of prominent maoist leader Sabysachi Panda.

In a similar attack in 2005 at the district headquarter town of Koraput, naxalites had looted a large quantity of arms and ammunition from the police armoury.

Before launching the attack, the ultras which included women cadres, asked the people to stay indoors, making it clear that their intention was to carry away arms and ammunition, local residents said.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Naxal Terrorism on raise along with North East




Airborne Paramilitary Primacy

02.14.08 | By Shlok Vaidya
Source: NaxaliteRage

As the Border Security Force tries to establish itself as an effective counterinsurgency force, it finds that the first challenge is to establish primacy of violence (in order to eventually establish a monopoly on violence - the trademark of a state) in any geographical location it operates in. This is accentuated in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, both areas that have been covered in some depth here.

To this end, the BSF has had an “air wing” of five aircraft for some time. This unit has been chronically underfunded, undermanned, and relegated to what an officer I met called “polishing its boots.” Now, the central government is signing on to pay for another six rotary wing aircraft to help evacuate wounded BSF personnel as well as the staff, facilities, and knowledge to maintain the entire wing.

Control of the skies is a key factor in determining primacy of violence. Without extensive jungle warfare training, as another officer put it, “we get down and dirty, but we are blind.” Airborne assets increase the scope of operations, the kind of missions that can be accomplished, and the speed with which the BSF can operate. The fog of war is cleared to some degree.

The problem thus far has been that this sort of primacy is expensive. Helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, and the associated training and equipment are big-ticket items. And they increase the visibility of the counterinsurgency being fought in the red corridor.

More on military modernization soon

India Won't Support Separatist Demands in Nepal's Terai Region

By Michael Heath

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- India won't support demands for a separate state in Nepal's Terai region, a leader of the ruling Congress Party said, adding the ethnic Madhesi groups in the area should resolve their autonomy claims through negotiations.

The government in New Delhi wants to help its northern neighbor's peace process and won't back groups that undermine Nepal's sovereignty, Digvijay Singh said yesterday, Indian state broadcaster Doordarshan reported. Singh met with Nepal's Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala in the capital, Kathmandu.

``Koirala told me that he is ready to fulfill all of their demands except compromise in the matter relating to Nepal's sovereignty and territorial integrity,'' Singh said. Nepal's government has offered to hold talks with the Madhesi.

Nepal is scheduled to hold a general election on April 10, its first since a peace accord in November 2006 ended a 10-year civil war with communist rebels. Terai is currently paralyzed by an indefinite strike called two days ago by the United Madhesi Democratic Front, an alliance of three parties that is pressing the government to boost the rights of ethnic groups.

It has threatened to blockade the region if the government doesn't agree to an ``autonomous Terai state'' with the right to self-determination and set quotas for ethnic groups in state institutions including the army, Nepalnews.com reported.

Militant Groups

There is no question of India supporting any militant activity in Terai, Singh said. The Madhesi and other groups should negotiate with the government in Kathmandu, he added.

Nepal sends almost 68 percent of its exports to India and its southern neighbor accounts for about 62 percent of Nepal's imports, according to U.S. government data for 2006.

Security in the Terai region has ``diminished markedly'' and there are more than two dozen armed and criminal groups operating there, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an October report.

The government needs to hold ``urgent'' talks with Nepal's more than 40 ethnic groups to ensure they take part in the ballot, the UN said last month.

Singh said Koirala opposes UN involvement in resolving the demands of the ethnic groups in Terai.

The government yesterday wrote to the United Madhesi Democratic Front inviting it to hold talks, Nepalnews.com said.

The government asked the front to agree to resolve issues through dialogue and ensure a successful ballot, it said, adding the letter was signed by Peace Minister Ram Chandra Poudel.

Nepal's election, previously scheduled for Nov. 22, was postponed after the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) quit the Cabinet in September when other parties refused to immediately scrap the monarchy. The Maoists returned in December after lawmakers agreed to amend the interim constitution to declare Nepal a republic, subject to ratification at the first meeting of the newly elected National Assembly.

``A significant section'' of the Madhesi, Janajati and Dalit communities consider they were left out of the December accord between the ruling parties to hold the ballot, UN envoy Ian Martin said last month.

Nepal's government has pledged that a new constitution to be drawn up after the election will give greater rights to ethnic minority groups in the country of about 29 million people.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Heath in Sydney at mheath1@bloomberg.net .

Last Updated: February 14, 2008 22:21 EST

ORISSA: Maoist shot dead by Greyhound cops of Andhra Pradesh

Friday February 15 2008 10:50 IST
ENS


KORAPUT: A team of Greyhound police from Andhra Pradesh gunned down a CPI (Maoist) Koraput Area Committee cadre at Lauwalsa village under Parvatipuram police limits near the AP-Orissa border on Thursday morning, according to Parvatipuram DSP Sudarsan Rao.

ANDHRA PRADESH : ‘Bifurcation may boost extremism’




CM makes his point on Telangana; TRS members suspended from both Houses


— Photo: Satish. H

Punishment: TRS MLA Nayani Narasimha Reddy being carried away for disrupting the Assembly proceedings in Hyderabad on Thursday.

HYDERABAD: Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy quoted Central and State intelligence inputs on Thursday as suggesting that there was scope for the extremist problem to escalate in the event of bifurcation of the State

Dr. Reddy said separate Telangana was a “complex and delicate” issue which could not be resolved “today itself”. He counselled TRS members to await the decision of the Congress high command which was examining it from all angles. Citing how Chhattisgarh was severely affected by extremist problem, he said the naxalites were also seeking a separate State.

The Chief Minister was making his first ever detailed statement on the Telangana issue in the Assembly after it was rocked for the third day by placard-waving Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) members.

All 13 of them were suspended and some bodily lifted out but the suspension was revoked later. Even in the Council, three TRS members were suspended till February 18 after Chairman A. Chakrapani rejected their demand for admitting an adjournment motion.

Recalling the two separatist movements that rocked the State more than three decades ago, he said the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi convinced the people to live harmoniously in an integrated State.

Referring to the efforts of the UPA committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee to build a consensus on Telangana, he said some parties supported formation of a separate State, while others opposed it. The TDP which initially favoured an integrated State was now saying that an appropriate decision would be taken at an appropriate time.

Mr. Mukherjee tried to speak to all stakeholders, including leaders from different regions. Some wanted greater Rayalaseema by including Nellore and Prakasam districts, while others wanted statehood for north coastal Andhra comprising three districts.

Still others, including representatives of some political parties, wanted a State to be carved out from Greater Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy district.

In such circumstances, the problem was left to the Congress high command to be resolved.

He said the Congress had promised in its manifesto to constitute a States’ Reorganisation Commission but it was no longer relevant as it was vehemently opposed by the TRS and a section of Congress leaders.

He recalled that former TRS leader A. Narendra had signed a letter at Gandhi Bhavan before the elections that both the parties were agreeing for second SRC.

Development


Dr. Reddy sought to clarify that he was not standing in the way of formation of Telangana but was only trying as Chief Minister to develop all backward regions.

He said Congress MLAs sought separate Telangana when he was Leader of Opposition as they felt that the then Telugu Desam Government neglected the region, especially in irrigation.

Appealing to the TRS to work together with the Congress in the development of every backward region, he said both these parties ran the risk of being weakened if there was confusion as happened in the Zilla Parshad elections three years ago.

Nagpur police to acquire hi-tech gadgets

15 Feb 2008, 1718 hrs IST,PTI

NAGPUR: The city police is in the process of acquiring hi-tech gadgets for tackling crime and is also increasing manpower in the force, Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh on Friday said.

"We will shortly be launching Distress Call Management System in Police Commissionerate which will include Geographical Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS), Singh who is also the Additional Director General of Police, told a meet the press programme in Nagpur.

This would enable police to locate the caller, its exact location from where the nearest available policemen or police van can be sent to respond, Singh said.

Similarly as part of its drive against tackling terror and Naxalite menace, police will be installing 133 CCTV at strategic locations, police chief said.

He said an automatic tracking system will be through in the near future to thwart criminals from fleeing the scene of crime.

In view of the city's growing population and its fast development, police have proposed new police stations at Khapri (near the airport), Bajaj Nagar and Somalwada and other areas, Singh said.

An additional 750 policemen will increase the present strength shortly, he said.

`Communist unity first priority’

Friday February 15 2008 03:45 IST
Express News Service


KOLLAM: CPI district secretary Prakash Babu has said the priority of the party was the unity of communist parties.

Speaking at a meet- the-press programme at the Kollam Press Club on Thursday, he said the party gave much emphasis on unity rather than reunification or merger of the two communist parties.

However, he said that a re-unification with the Naxals or Maoists who were trying to topple the West Bengal and Tripura governments was out of question. He hoped that the CPM would change its party programme in the next party congress and that it would become similar to the party programme of the CPI.

Asked about the vehement criticism against ministers by the delegates during the district conference, he said in spite of the criticism there had been appreciation of Kisansree project and formation of Agricultural Credit Commission.

On whether there was criticism of Civil Supplies Minister C Divakaran’s controversial statement on the need for a change in the food habits by Keralites, Prakash Babu said there was nothing wrong in calling for a change in food habits. The speech was made at a function of dairy farmers and it was quite natural for the minister to deliver a speech promoting dairy and poultry farmers at the function.

Regarding the defeat of the CPI candidate at Pathanapuram , he said that while the CPI had actively worked for the victory of the CPM candidates at Kottarakkara and Neduvathur the same response was lacking from the CPM workers in Pathanapauram which led to the defeat of the candidate.

At Neduvathur, there were problems within the CPM. But CPI workers had worked hard for the CPM candidate’s victory, he said

We're behind Nandigram turmoil, admit Maoists



Hemender Sharma / CNN-IBN



Published on Fri, Feb 15, 2008 at 18:11, Updated at Fri, Feb 15, 2008 in Nation section

Tags: Maoists, Nandigram

HARD TALK: Top Maoist leader Comrade Sonu (back to the camera) says his party received major setbacks of late.




Maoists trained Nandigram boys, had no active role
The Maoists never participated in any gun-battle with CPI-M cadres.


From an undisclosed location in Chhattisgarh: The Communist Party of India (Maoist) and its People's Liberation Guerilla Army are gearing up to meet the strongest possible offensive from the Indian state in Chhattisgarh.


In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, a key member of the Maoist organisation has accepted that the Maoists are being cornered and survival is now an issue as security forces are mounting a strong pressure on them.


The Maoists, however, claim they are preparing for a long-drawn battle against the security forces. They call it teer khale jung


It was an interview organized by the Maoists to send out a message to the Prime Minister and the state. And it took a 10-day trek to reach the Maoist heartland.


Walking with an armed escort, this correspondent managed to meet Comrade Sonu, the Number Two in the politburo of Communist Party of India (Maoist) after Ganpathi.


First, Comrade Sonu admitted to the presence of Naxals in Nandigram.


"Yes, we are in Nandigram, we have worked there. But the people themselves are fighting there. We have just joined them to fight the CPI-M goons," Comrade Sonu reveals.


Explaining his party's opposition to SEZs, Comrade Sonu says: "There are 432 SEZs all over India. The Central and State governments are giving our land to multinationals. Many laws are being changed. So the people are opposing it. We are also opposing it."


Asked about the wrong tactics adopted by his party in Andhra Pradesh, he says: "Actually we have had setbacks in Andhra Pradesh. We adopted some wrong tactics in the state, so we are very weak over there right now."


The CPI (Maoist) politburo member admitted some of his key comrades are now behind bars. "Many of our comrades are in jail. On December 17, Kerela Central Committee member Comrade Satena was arrested. Central Committee member Comrade Vijay has been arrested. Comrade Sanyal is also in jail. This is normal in any revolution. But certain arrests have happened because of our weaknesses," he says.


Asked to comment on the Salwa Judum movement, Comrade Sonu said his party will defeat the Salwa Judum. "Because it is a threat to the tribals. It is the duty of the people to defeat it. It is a fascist organisation. It must be defeated."


Narrating his party's war tactics against the Indian state, the CPI (Maoist) leader said his men have adopted guerrilla tactics to fight the Indian state. "The Indian Prime Minister says Naxalites are the main threat to internal security. We know the state is at us. So we have adopted guerrilla tactics. With the common man, we will defeat the state. We will die for the people, we will work for the people, we are the servants of the people."

Central forces to combat Naxalism in Chh'garh

Posted at Friday, 15 February 2008 10:02 IST

Raipur, Feb 15: Additional Central forces, armoured vehicles and other assistance will be provided to Chhattisgarh for combating Maoist violence in the state, the Centre has said.

The decision was taken at a three-hour high-level meeting on the Naxal issue at Raj Bhawan here.

The Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said the Centre would give five more battalions of central forces besides the current 13 battalions of CRPF to the state to combat the situation.

The state has been given permission to raise one Indian Reserve Battalion and other assistance was also promised. Patil said both sides held a "free and frank discussion" to address the issue.

The Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Raman Singh, said the two sides have also decided to strengthen road networks and police stations in the Naxal-hit areas.

The government wants to improve the economic condition of the people living there, he said.

Maoists are active in 15 of the 19 districts in Chhattisgarh.

Unified Command against Naxalites in Chhattisgarh

Raipur: A Unified Command comprising officials of the Centre and the State governments will tackle the naxalite menace in Chhattisgarh, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil announced on Thursday night. It was decided to have a Unified Command, as in Jammu and Kashmir and Assam, led by the Chief Minister, to have a better coordination between State and Central forces to deal with the menace, Mr. Patil told reporters at the Raj Bhawan after a meeting on the problem.

To avoid a situation of the State forces working under Central forces or vice versa, it was decided to put the command under the Chief Minister, he said. Besides Mr. Patil and Mr. Singh, the meeting was also attended by Union Special Secretary Internal Security M.L. Kumawat, CRPF DG SIS Ahmad, Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam, Chief Secretary Shivraj Singh and DGP Vishwaranjan.

Chhattisgarh has 13 battalions of Central paramilitary forces deployed for anti-naxal operations with the operational command under the State DGP. There were reports of differences over the style of operations and in dealing with the Maoists by both the forces. — PTI

Separate Telangana state can spur naxal activity: Reddy

Hyderabad (PTI): The creation of separate Telangana state could spur naxalite activity, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy said on Thursday quoting intelligence reports.

Intervening after the suspension of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) members from the Assembly for disrupting the proceedings, the chief minister said intelligence agencies of the state and the Centre had warned that Maoists could step up their activities in the event of formation of a Telangana state.

The Maoists have already thrown their weight behind the statehood movement.

"There is a view that naxalite activity could be strengthened if Telangana is carved out since they are backing the statehood demand," Reddy, who hails from Rayalaseema region, said.

Once the stronghold of Maoists, Telangana region is now largely peaceful and free from extremist activity.

Pointing out that Maoists had considerably weakened in the state in the last few years, the chief minister said, "In this situation, there is a view that a separate Telangana state might help them".

He also cited the example of Chhattisgarh becoming the hub of naxalite activity ever since the formation of the new state.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Separate Telangana might help Maoists: CM


Thu, 02/14/2008
By IANS

Hyderabad : Intelligence agencies have warned that separate statehood for the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh could strengthen Maoists, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy told the state assembly Thursday.

He said that intelligence agencies of the state and the central government had warned that Maoists want a separate Telangana as this would strengthen them.

The Maoists had been considerably weakened in Andhra Pradesh during the last couple of years, he said, adding: "In this situation, there is a view that a separate Telangana state might help them."

According to Reddy, the intelligence agencies had cautioned that a separate Telangana could prove to be another Chhattisgarh, where the rebels have a strong presence.

YSR, as the chief minister is popularly known, spoke after opposition Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) members were suspended from the house for stalling proceedings over the demand for Telangana.

Responding to opposition criticism over the Congress' ambiguous stand on the issue, the chief minister said it was difficult to say "yes or no" to the demand. "It is not a simple problem. It is a very complicated issue and hence it is difficult to say yes or no to a separate Telangana," he said.

In his nearly hour-long speech, which was marred by frequent interruptions from the main opposition Telugu Desam Party, YSR denied that he was a hurdle in the formation of a separate Telangana.

"The Congress leadership is looking into the issue. We have left the issue to the party leadership. It is looking into all aspects including reports by intelligence agencies, the view by some Telangana leaders that development of the region is possible only in a separate state and similar demands of statehood from other regions," said YSR, who hails from Rayalseema region.

"Till the leadership takes a decision, I request TRS and all other parties to cooperate with the government in ensuring comprehensive development of the entire state," he said, while turning down the TRS demand that the house pass a resolution urging the central government to grant separate statehood to Telangana.

The chief minister recalled that the Congress had entered into an electoral understanding with TRS in 2004 on the basis of their agreement over the need to constitute a second States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) to look into the issue.

He pointed out that some people were demanding Rayalseema state, others were seeking Greater Rayalseema by merging the region with two coastal districts while leaders of north Andhra want separate statehood for their region.

Forest rangers up in arms

Thursday February 14 2008 11:16 IST
Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Demanding a total revamp of security measures and service benefits including insurance cover for field staff, members of Orissa Forest Rangers Association (OFRA) and Orissa Non- Gazetted Forest Services Association (ONGFSA) threatened to launch an agitation if the State Government failed to implement them with immediate effect.

Agitated over the inaction by the State Police to nab the culprits who launched a series of murderous attacks on two forest officers of Bhubaneswar Range recently, the forest officers have also called for implementation of a ‘10-point charter of demands’.

Addressing a media conference here on Tuesday, the office-bearers of the two bodies alleged that despite two FIRs at Chandaka and Capital police stations, police have failed to nab the culprits even after seven days.

“The State Government shows immediate attention towards victims of Maoist attacks, but there was no statement issued for these unfortunate forest officials,” they said adding even though the Chief Minister himself holds the Cabinet portfolio of Home and Forest departments.

It can be noted here that forest guard Prafulla Mohapatra and range officer Pranab Kumar Mohanty of Chandaka Division were seriously injured in two separate incidents allegedly by timber smugglers on Wednesday last within the city limits.

“Though the timber smugglers are professional criminals and armed with modern weapons, the forest officials are yet to be updated with arms and empowered with adequate provisions to use them if required,” said OFRA president Rabi Panda.

OFRA secretary Dillip Singh, while emphasising their demands, said there should be forest police stations instead of ‘beat house’ system, provision of striking force, empowerment of forest officials to implement IPC and CrPC provisions, salary and incentives at par with police personnel, shiftwise duty, division of case investigation process among all forest officials according to hierarchy, welfare fund for emergency expenditure and change in policy to award prizes.

“Currently the prizes are decided by the State Government but it could be more effective if the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests is given the responsibility,” he said.

ONGFSA general secretary J.B. Pattnaik demanded provision of at least Rs 2 lakh health insurance and Rs 10 lakh life insurance for the forest staff adding the District Forest Officers be entrusted with power to deal with government money with proper security cover or the forest work be done by contractors to ensure safety for forest employees.

Gaya Police seize huge cache of Maoist arms

February 14th, 2008

Gaya (Bihar), Feb.14 (ANI): A senior police officer in Bihars Gaya District today confirmed the capture of a huge cache of arms and ammunition from Maoist rebels during an encounter with them on Wednesday.

Amit Kumar Jain, Superintendent of Police, Gaya, said: We have recovered two regular police rifles, about 54 live rounds in a charger and magazines.
Jain said the Maoists had escaped from the site of the encounter, and a search was on for them.

The police party encountered the Maoists in Jhalar village, which lies on the Bihar-Jharkhand border.In Bihar, 32 of its 38 districts are Naxalite affected. Gaya is notorious for its poverty and lawlessness, as also for the ongoing conflict between Naxalites and the Ranvir Sena, a group of private upper-caste militias. The acute disparities within society make it one of the worst affected regions in the state.

Out of Indias 602 administrative districts, 165 are considered to fall in the “Red Corridor”, which is dominated by Naxalism.Naxalism has been a menacing force since 1967. (ANI)

Jolt to jail shield plan

RANJAN DASGUPTA
Ranchi, Feb. 13: Chief minister Madhu Koda has spiked a proposal of the state home department to hire over 800 ex-defence personnel on contract to beef up security in jails.

A crucial issue for Naxalite-affected states like Jharkhand, Koda’s stand hasn’t gone down well with prison officials responsible as they are for over 800 Maoists held captive in 26 jails across the state.

Koda, who looks after home portfolio, favours a long-term solution to the jail security issue and hence is in favour of permanent recruitments.

Though the sanctioned strength of securitymen for state prisons is 1,500, there are 800 vacancies.

Home secretary Sudhir Tripathi confirmed that the state government had shot down the proposal to hire ex army jawans. “We will now go in for regular appointments and the nitty-gritty is being worked out,” he added.

But, prison officials were unhappy with the government’s decision. “We desperately needed the ex-servicemen to guard jails as some of them housing Maoists are extremely vulnerable. The recent jail break at Chattisgarh should have alerted the higher-ups,” lamented a prison official.

Prison authorities are largely dependent on home guard jawans for securing the outer periphery of the jails. In July last year, over 180 rebels lodged in Garhwa had attempted a jail break by forcing open the main gate. But additional forces from the district police rushed to the spot and prevented the rebels from fleeing.

Among the prisons considered more vulnerable to Maoist attacks are the ones at Daltanganj, Koderma, Ghatshila, Garhwa, Gumla, Simdega, Lohardaga and Chas.

“Appointment of security personnel on a regular basis is a cumbersome process. There could be political interference, too, that could further delay the process as it was in the case of police recruitments,” said a prison official explaining their apprehensions about the government move.

“That’s why we were thinking of an interim measure,” he added.

Five naxals killed in Jamshedpur

February 14th, 2008 - 1:33

Jamshedpur, Feb 14 (ANI): At least five naxalites, including two women, were killed in a gunbattle with security forces in Jharkhands Jamshedpur District today.
According to a CRPF spokesperson the incident took place in the districts Baiparmada village this morning following a raid by a joint team of the CRPF and the local police.

Four rifles and a pistol were recovered from those killed.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who had reviewed the Naxal situation in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, was informed about the steps being taken by the State Governments to deal with the threat.

Patil has accepted the request of the Jharkhand Government to provide an additional five companies of paramilitary forces for the required period.Patil, however, asked the State Government to make use of the paramilitary forces for operational purposes and not for normal law and order or static guard duties.The Central Government has already provided five battalions of paramilitary forces to Jharkhand.

The Home Minister expressed satisfaction at some successful anti-Naxalite operations carried out recently, and emphasized the need to follow a pro-active strategy in the State. (ANI)



Seven Naxalites killed in Jharkhand encounter
14 Feb 2008, 1631 hrs IST,PTI

JAMSHEDPUR: Seven Naxalites, including an accused in the killing of JMM MP Sunil Mahto, were killed in an overnight encounter with security forces at Phuljore in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand.

Five men and two women Naxalites were among those killed in the gunbattle, DIG (Kolhan) Manoj Mishra, said.

Two ultras were killed in an exchange of fire with Nagarik Suraksha Samiti (NSS), a vigilance organisation formed by villagers with tacit support of the district police, at Phuljhore bordering Orissa, Mishra said.

When a joint team of CRPF and local police rushed to the area to assist the NSS, an encounter took place with the ultras in which five Naxalites were killed taking the toll to seven. Among them was Vikash who was accused of killing Sunil Mahto on March 4 at Baghuria in Ghatsila, Mishra said.

The incident was a major blow for the ultra outfit after the Lango incident in 2003, when 11 Naxalites were lynched by the villagers, police said.

Eight weapons and live cartridges were found from the spot, Mishra said.

Fire-arms looted from the police in the past were also recovered from the spot, he said.

"We are verifying the exact number of arms and ammunition", he said.

Police officials of the adjoining state have been alerted.

5 Naxals injured in gunbattle with cops

14 Feb 2008, 0340 hrs IST,TNN

CHANDRAPUR: At least five Naxalites were injured in an encounter with C-60 team of Gadchiroli police on Tuesday evening in the jungle of Kotni under Kasansur sub-police station in Etapalli tehsil. Fours guns and a small cache of explosives along with other Naxal material were recovered from the hideout of the Naxalites, sources informed.

According to Gadchiroli police, they had prior information about the Naxals’ camp in Kotni jungle and accordingly the C-60 team of Gadchiroli police initiated the combing operation since last two days. On Tuesday around 6 pm when a police search party reached near the camp, they opened fire at the police. Police team retaliated and the encounter lasted for about half an hour, after which the Naxalites fled from the spot.

Trupti Deshmukh, PSI and PRO of Gadchiroli police said at least 5 Naxalites were injured. Small cache of arms including a rifle, 3 manually loading guns (Bharmars), 3 kg of explosives, a hand grenade, 41 live cartridges, 300 feet long wire, along with pittus (backpacks), uniforms, literature and medicines were recovered from the site.

MHA signs MoU with Defence Ministry

New Delhi (PTI): To tide over the shortage of pilots leading to virtual grounding of the BSF Air Wing, the Union Home Ministry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Defence Ministry.

"The MoU is basically to get pilots, ground support and maintenance facilities," BSF Director General A K Mitra told said.

He said BSF will get six MI-17 helicopters from the Indian Air Force to add strength to its existing fleet of one Embraer, two King Air and two Avro aircraft. "The IAF agreed to provide the helicopters to us," Mitra said.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Naxalite held in Nandigram

13 Feb 2008, 0303 hrs IST,TNN

NANDIGRAM: The arrest of a “suspected Maoist” from Sonachura in Nandigram triggered a flurry of activities in the West Midnapore police with all senior officers rushing to the district headquarters to interrogate the “prize catch.”

The arrest is reason enough for the state government keep the CRPF in Nandigram for some more time. The government had earlier promised to keep the forces in the troubled zone for three months. On Tuesday when the CRPF teams completed their three-month stay, state home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray ruled out chances of withdrawal of the central forces at the moment. “They will stay there for some more time,” Ray said.

Acting on a tip-off, a police team, along with the Rapid Action Force (RAF), raided Sudhangshu Das’s hut on Tuesday morning and rounded up Mithu Ghosh, the suspected Maoist who had taken shelter there.

Das is an organizer of the Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) that has been at war with CPM and police since the government tried to acquire parts of Nandigram for the chemical hub.

Mithu Ghosh, however, happens to be a member of the Shramik Sangram Committee (SSC) — a Naxalite organization that has no links with the Maoists. Police confiscated from Ghosh a copy of the SSC party organ, Shramik Istehar, and a copy of Krishak Path, the mouthpiece of its peasant wing.

“Police are spreading malicious lies in their bid to project Ghosh as a Maoist activist. He has been with SSC for long and has been frequenting Nandigram to organize a movement among the rural poor against state repression. The papers that police found with Mithu are all our idelogical organs,” said SSC spokesman Tushar Bhattacharya.

Later in the afternoon, the police went on a low key but continued to call Ghosh a Maoist. According to police, he denied having Maoist links during interrogation. The police will produce him to court on Wednesday and will pray for taking him in their custody for some more days.

Maoist influx in Assam tea estates feared

IANS

Guwahati : There are fears that tea plantations across northeastern India's Assam state may have been infiltrated by Maoist rebels with trade union leaders sounding the alarm and asking state authorities to focus their attention on the threat.

"Such a possibility of penetration by Maoist elements is not unlikely, considering the fact that the situation in the tea garden areas is very fluid now," Madhusudan Khandait, general secretary of the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), told IANS Wednesday.

The Sangha is the apex trade union body representing about one million tea garden workers in Assam. The state accounts for nearly 55 percent of India's total tea production of 900 million kg a year.

The workers in Assam's 800-odd tea plantations are tribals who had migrated to the state nearly 200 years ago from what are now Jharkhand, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh states.

Tea community leaders from the ruling Congress' Tea Cell and the ACMS called on Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi this week and told him of their apprehension.

"The state government should address various grievances of the tea communities immediately so as to nip such threats in the bud," Khandait said.

Tea garden areas across the state are restive with the tribal immigrants intensifying their demand for inclusion in the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST).

The Assam government favours the move and is already considering setting up a development council for the tea tribes independent of whether or not the communities are included in the ST list.

The possibility of Maoist rebels infiltrating into tea garden areas in Assam has increased with the emergence of a shadowy tribal insurgent group in Assam with definite links with some of northeastern India's frontline separatist groups and a possible nexus with the Maoists.

The All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA), formed in 2004 to push the interest of the tribal or tea plantation workers' community across the state, has shot into the limelight after the group claimed responsibility for the Dec 13, 2007 bomb attack on a New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express in eastern Assam that killed five passengers and injured nine others.

"The AANLA has a written agreement with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) for possible joint operations against the security forces and of not carrying out extortion in each others' areas of influence without prior notice," an Assam Police official told IANS.

The AANLA is trying to capitalise on the tribal sentiments after the community's agitation for ST status has gained momentum after the rally in state capital Guwahati Nov 24 last year that turned violent after protesters clashed with local residents.


Tea cell rings Maoist alarm
- Team advises CM to cleanse gardens

A STAFF REPORTER

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1080213/jsp/northeast/story_8894590.jsp

Guwahati, Feb. 12: The Congress’s tea cell and the apex tea labour union of the Brahmaputra Valley today confirmed what police had feared: tea estates in Assam are turning into Maoist breeding grounds.

Leaders of the PCC’s tea cell and the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha called on chief minister Tarun Gogoi last night to apprise him of their apprehensions about Maoist militants infiltrating the tea estates and instigating the Adivasi community.

The delegation said the state’s security would be threatened if the trend was not immediately checked.

The chairman of the tea cell, Bhagirat Karan, said his organisation had received information about Maoist elements sneaking into the plantations dotting the state to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere.

The police suspect a link between Maoists and the Adivasi National Liberation Army (ANLA), which has become active of late.

Karan said the chief minister assured the delegation of steps to rid the tea belt of Maoist influence.

The Congress leader said Gogoi also hinted at tabling a bill to create a development council for the tea tribes during the budget session of the Assembly next month.

“The chief minister is very keen to get the bill passed in the budget session and expedite the process of forming the council for the development of the community. Economic development is a tool to curb the menace of militancy,” Karan added.

The tea tribes — inclusive of the nomenclature “Adivasis” — have been restive over Delhi’s indecision on granting them Scheduled Tribe status. The ANLA, which claims to represent Adivasi aspirations, has added a dose of violence to the ST campaign since the November 24 incident in Beltola when a protest rally went out of control and a mob of residents retaliated in an unprecedented manner.

Karan said the government was in agreement with organisations of the tea tribes about lack of potable water, healthcare, education and self-employment opportunities being the core problems that need immediate attention. “The chief minister assured us that these problems would be taken care of.”

He quoted Gogoi as saying that the state government would also continue to pressure Delhi to grant ST status to the tea tribes. “The chief minister supported our idea of sending a delegation of tea organisations to New Delhi soon to put pressure on the central leadership to accord ST status to the tea community.”

The tea cell and the ACMS received praise from the Congress high command and the state leadership for playing a role in the party’s impressive performance in the panchayat polls.

The delegation urged the chief minister to reserve at least three posts of zila parishad presidents for elected representatives of the tea tribes.