Saturday, March 08, 2008

Was Binayak Sen a pawn in Maoist Conspiracy ?

http://offstumped.nationalinterest.in

For those of you not familiar with the background on the series of blog posts on this subject, it started with this post by Offstumped followed by this one by Nitin and then this response from Binayak Sen’s friends and family.

In one of the comments by Binayak Sen’s family it appears that the December 2005 press release by Dr. Sen on Narayan Sanyal that prompted Offstumped to post on this subject in the first place was uknown to his family as Sanyal was referred to by an alias in that release.

The circumstances of the December 2005 press release are curious and should lead one to question if the Maoists played Dr. Sen into unwittingly helping them.

How ?

Well consider this, the press release speculates that Sanyal may have been arrested in Raipur on 28th Dec. Then we hear nothing of him till January 4th when we are told of his arrest in Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh during the wee hours of the morning at a Bus Station.

Now for those unfamiliar with the geography here check this blog out on a road trip to Raipur from Hyderabad. Bhadrachalam is right there on the border with Chattisgarh, the blogger talks about the heavy BSF presence and checkposts along the border.

So coming back to the December 2005 press release why should the CPI-Maoist send a letter to the PUCL on the 28th in Raipur when Sanyal surfaces in Bhadrachalam 350km away on the other side of the border about a week later ?

One theory floated by the Maoists is in this interview by the elusive Ganapathi alleging illegal detention and torture by police before going public with his arrest.

Hard to believe for if a prize catch like Sanyal was netted by the police in Raipur and handed over to Andhra they would have taken him to Hyderabad and paraded him in full media glare to earn maximum brownie points. It defies logic why they would stage an arrest in Bhadrachalam on the border risking a road trip through what is treacherous Maoist territory.

So we must consider an alternate hypothesis here that the December 2005 press release was a smokescreen put out by the Maoists to confuse the police while Sanyal makes his way out of Chattisgarh into Andhra.

What makes this hypothesis plausible ?

The Maoists have a track record of directly making press releases and even speaking to the media as in the case above. In fact a scan of the PUCL website shows no previous instances of letters and press releases being delivered exlcusively to PUCL office bearers for release to the general public.

So it is entirely possible the Maoists used this channel to make the smokescreen seem credible. We dont know if Binayak Sen was in the know on this or not. We have only have his family’s word on this.

This goes to highlight Nitin’s point on how inadvertently Human Rights Activists could end up playing into the Maoists hands. The Maoists have clearly mastered the art of playing the morality of Rights Activists to their advantage as in this case while the Binayak Sens pay the price in Jail.

Offstumped Bottomline: This case must go to highlight the immorality of the Maoists cause and a lesson for Human Rights Activists in aiding and abetting the Maoists inadvertently while championing causes like illegal detention. As for Dr. Sen one hopes he is innocent and the powers that be can influence the BJP Government in Chattisgarh to take a sympathetic second look at his case.

Rahul Gandhi wants to “Discover” India !

Source: Offstumped

Media reports:

In a virtual launch of the campaign for Lok Sabha poll, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday embarked on his ‘Discover India’ journey from Orissa’s poverty-stricken Kalahandi area attacking the BJD-BJP government for its alleged poor implementation of the Centre’s flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Rahul, who is on a four-day tour of Orissa, went deep inside Niyamigiri Hills and met members of the Dongria Khand tribe in the Ejrupa village of the district

The “neither here nor very apparent” heir apparent has decided to do his version of Bharat ek Khoj in the run up to the next general elections. The populist scoialist rhetoric that has been the hallmark of Congress politics since Independence is back.

This time however Rahul Gandhi is neither showing imagination nor conviction with these remarks that are a direct lift from the election rhetoric of John Edwards (the democratic also ran for President in the United states).

there still exist two Indias - one growing rapidly while the other backward as ever

Shame on you Rahul, We always knew you wanted talking points, your mother has not been very good at coming with some lines of her own either so isnt it high time you got some of your own ?

So what else did Rahul Gandhi “discover” on day one ?

Some new found love for tribals.

Projecting himself as a protector of tribal rights, Rahul said: “Your fight is mine too. I am a soldier for adivasis (tribals). I have heard your voices (of concern).”

Well let us see how much of a Soldier for Adivasis Rahul has been to date since his debut into Congress politics.

Offstumped did quick scan of news archives to find only 67 news stories with references to both Rahul Gandhi and Tribals to find some real gems on “how good a soldier” Rahul Gandhi has been for Tribals.

First this open letter to Sonia Gandhi from a freedom fighter complaining that Rahul Gandhi does not understand Tribal Sensitivities.

This lack of understanding about delicate sensibilities of people is often reflected in utterances and actions of present congress leadership. It is because of this factor that Sri Rahul Gandhi was not able to establish a rapport with the people in his tour of Uttar Pradesh.

Then this tug of war on the Tribal Rights Bill that saw Rahul Gandhi working behind the scenes dilute the provisions of the Bill.

That was pretty much it in terms of any significant reference to Rahul Gandhi and Tribal Affairs apart from of course dancing with Tribals in Arunachal and taking a crash course on Tribal Affairs.

So on the basis of what is Rahul Gandhi claiming to be a “soldier for adivasis” when there is nothing in his public record to suggest the same ?

Offstumped has also reviewed his Parliamentary record to find about 295 references to Rahul Gandhi across Government of India websites, only 3 with any reference to adivasis and none of them carry any references to any direct contribution from Rahul Gandhi on Tribal issues. About 23 references to Rahul Gandhi and Tribals and none of them again carry any references to any direct contribution from Rahul Gandhi on Tribal issues.

Offstumped Bottomline: As Rahul Gandhi attempts his version of Bharat Ek Khoj 4 years after his Parliamentary debut it is clear that his record of the last 4 years has little to show by way of imagination, conviction or real accomplishment. As the poor Adivasis of Orissa dance to his tunes, they may as well realise that this Bharat ek Khoj could end up just being a case of “dhoondte rahe jaooge”.

Female naxal cadre surrenders in Orissa

KalingaTimes Correspondent

Deogarh (Orissa), March 8: Continuing with the discontentment within the naxals cadres, in particular among those of the area who had been lured with a promise of freedom from poverty, yet another naxal surrendered this time in Deogarh district of the State.

Pushpita Tirkey (28) of village Mendiakani under Laimura police outpost of Deogarh Police Station surrendered before the district Superintendent of Police Safin Ahmed K in presence of District Collector Ambica Prasad Mishra with a rifle on Saturday.

Dressed in green uniform, Tirkey, who worked as a daily wager before joining the naxals, disclosed that she joined the banned outfit as she had been promised a job and good money.

But on her joining she was taken to Jharkhand where she was imparted with training and forced to continue with the organisation despite her unwillingness, she added.

Admitting her involvement in the attack on OSAP jawans at Banadurga Temple at Badrama in which a jawan was stabbed to death and other cases of murders, Tirkey said that she managed to flee during an encounter with police.

She said lack of concern of the naxals for those killed in the encounter and their refusal to help them financially when they extorted huge sum of money from contractors, traders, businessmen and rice millers left her disgusted and frustrated. She even said that the naxals had planned to blow up Deogarh police station but dropped the plan for unknown reasons.

Tirkey was handed over a sum of Rs 15,000 in cash and an assurance of providing her four decimals of land as per the provisions of surrender and rehabilitation policy of the State government.

The District Collector also assured to rehabilitate her under Swarnajayanti Gramya Rojgar Yojana (SGRY) while the Superintendent of Police promised of all help to expedite her cases and a speedy trial to enable her to join the mainstream.

Four Maoists arrested

Saturday March 8 2008 10:10 IST

ENS

MALKANGIRI: Police, in a joint operation with Special Operation Group (SOG) and District Voluntary Force (DVF), have nabbed four Maoist cadres from Tonkelguda forest area under Motu police limits on Thursday.

The arrested include Madhi Desa, Madhi Dulla, Lachha and Kanha, SP Satish Kumar Gajbhiye informed. According to Gajbhiye, the joint operation team, on a tip off, conducted a raid and arrested the Maoist cadres.

The cadres were, in fact, having a feast in the forest and a fierce encounter followed before the arrest. One SOG Jawan Ravi Patra was also injured during the encounter.

Several cadres belonging to the Malkangiri divisional committee were also present, the SP told mediapersons here.

While Madhi Desa and Lachha were involved in the killing of Motu OIC Durga Charan Mishra few years back and the Kondapalli encounter on January 25 this year, Madhi Dulla and Kanha were involved in Kondapalli and Tonkelguda encounters, Gajbhiye said, adding, the cadres were trained at Simrajkonda and Babapalli forest areas.

Meanwhile, during interrogation, it has revealed that the injured Maoist Motu Dalam Commandant Ashok alias Raju is alive and was present for the Tonkelguda feast, the SP revealed.

Rahul visit: Cops launch manhunt in Sukinda valley

Saturday March 8 2008 09:34 IST

ENS

BHUBANESWAR: Ahead of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s scheduled visit to Sukinda valley in Jajpur district, police today launched a massive manhunt in the area following a tip off about possible movement of suspected Naxalites.

Police said the place where some of them may be hiding was barely 35 km from Panikoeli, the venue of Rahul’s rally on March 10.

Meanwhile, Inspector General (IG) of Police S.K. Upadhaya on Friday rushed to Jajpur after the state intelligence wing received information about movement of suspected Naxalites in Sukinda.

Police said Upadhaya reviewed security arrangements for the Congress leader. The much awaited visit began today under the shadow of security threat because of the increased activities of the Naxalites in the State.

Addressing a news conference here on Thursday, Union Urban Development Minister and AICC Secretary in charge of Orissa Ajay Maken said that Rahul’s four day trip to the State will be the first outside Uttar Pradesh. Described as the ‘discover India’ visit, Rahul will meet people of different sections in Orissa.

Stating that Rahul’s programme will be issue based, Maken said that the focus will be on to expose the failures of the BJD-BJP Government in the State. The programme started from Sinapali in Nuapada and a ‘jungle bachao’ rally at Bhawanipatna. He interacted with tribals,dalits and farmers at most of the places.

Rahul will visit Gunupur in Rayagada district, interact with players at the Panposh hockey hostel, address a dalit and farmers rally at Bamda and attend a programme at Angul on Saturday.Rahul visit: Cops launch manhunt in Sukinda valley
Saturday March 8 2008 09:34 IST

ENS

BHUBANESWAR: Ahead of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s scheduled visit to Sukinda valley in Jajpur district, police today launched a massive manhunt in the area following a tip off about possible movement of suspected Naxalites.

Police said the place where some of them may be hiding was barely 35 km from Panikoeli, the venue of Rahul’s rally on March 10.

Meanwhile, Inspector General (IG) of Police S.K. Upadhaya on Friday rushed to Jajpur after the state intelligence wing received information about movement of suspected Naxalites in Sukinda.

Police said Upadhaya reviewed security arrangements for the Congress leader. The much awaited visit began today under the shadow of security threat because of the increased activities of the Naxalites in the State.

Addressing a news conference here on Thursday, Union Urban Development Minister and AICC Secretary in charge of Orissa Ajay Maken said that Rahul’s four day trip to the State will be the first outside Uttar Pradesh. Described as the ‘discover India’ visit, Rahul will meet people of different sections in Orissa.

Stating that Rahul’s programme will be issue based, Maken said that the focus will be on to expose the failures of the BJD-BJP Government in the State. The programme started from Sinapali in Nuapada and a ‘jungle bachao’ rally at Bhawanipatna. He interacted with tribals,dalits and farmers at most of the places.

Rahul will visit Gunupur in Rayagada district, interact with players at the Panposh hockey hostel, address a dalit and farmers rally at Bamda and attend a programme at Angul on Saturday.

Maoist activities unabated in state

Pranesh Sarkar
KOLKATA, March 7: At a time when a majority of the Maoist-infested states have managed to combat the challenge posed by the outfit successfully, the Naxalite activities are unabated in West Bengal.

A recent report prepared by the Union home ministry states the Maoists are steadily spreading their activities in new areas of the state whereas a majority of the Maoist-infested states have slowly pushed the outfit into a corner over the past four years.

In West Bengal, a total of 12 police stations were identified as Maoist-infested in 2006. The number was four in 2003. After 2003, the Maoists have gained ground in the state. In 2004, Maoists made their presence felt in six police station areas and in 2005, the number of affected police stations reached to seven. As the number reached to 12 in 2006, it clearly appeared the state failed to stop the spread of Maoist activities here. In comparison to West Bengal, other Maoist-infested states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand dealt with the problem more efficiently. These states not only stopped the spread of Naxalite violence but also “recaptured” some areas where Maoists had earlier made their presence felt. In Andhra Pradesh, the total number of Maoist-infested police stations were 183 in 2003 but it came down to 93 in 2006. Similarly in Bihar, the number of Maoist-infested police stations came down to 69 in 2006. In 2003, the state had a total of 100 affected police stations. Jharkhand also dealt with the problem efficiently. In 2003, the state had 96 affected police stations in terms of Maoist violence but in 2006 the number came down to 85.

However, in some states like Orissa and Chhatisgarh, Maoists have spread their activities in new areas during the period. Overall in the country, Maoist activities have been curved significantly. In 2003 the total number of Naxalite affected police stations was 491 but in 2006 the number came down to 395.

Though the report was prepared with the the figure available till 2006, the Maoists continued to spread their activities in the state. Mr Raj Kanojia, IG (Law and Order), said till date 13-14 police stations in three districts, Bankura, Purulia and Midnapore West, were affected. He, however, expressed hope that the Naxalite activities would be curbed in the state following the arrest of Somen, the eastern region head of the outfit.

The State As Landlord

OPINION

Naxlism feeds off genuine issues. It calls for policy, not police.


Prem Shankar Jha


Lakshmi Mittal of Arcelor fame is finally about to deliver on his promise to invest in his home country. The plans he has unveiled are mind-boggling: Rs 1,00,000 crore ($24 billion) to be invested in two steel plants and iron ore mines in Jharkhand and Orissa that will produce 24 million tonnes of steel when they come on stream. Planning for the project is going well: all that remains is to identify a source of iron ore for its Orissa plant. Herein lies the rub. For, if the Maoist insurgency in central India continues to develop at its present speed, he may never find the iron ore he needs to operate his plants.

That would be tragedy for both the states, which are among the poorest in the country. At a conservative estimate, Mittal's investments will generate at least a hundred thousand jobs directly, in the two plants and associated mines, and anything between a million and three million jobs indirectly. But to get there, the government will first have to displace thousands of tribals from land and forests. And those thousands have decided that they will fight to defend their rights.

Twenty-nine months after the first 'swarm attack' by 500 Maoist cadres backed by local tribals on the jail, police station and armoury in Jehanabad, 'Naxalism' is no longer considered a fringe phenomenon. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has candidly acknowledged that it is the most serious threat the country faces. But there is a huge gap between this realisation and the efforts that the government has made so far to meet it. Literally, all that it has done so far is to meet state governments' increasingly urgent demands for modern weapons, additional CRPF battalions, and the training and despatch of counter-insurgency forces. But New Delhi knows that repression alone is not the answer. The Approach Paper for the 11th Plan could not have put this better or more explicitly: "Our practices regarding rehabilitation of those displaced from their land because of development projects are seriously deficient and are responsible for a growing perception of exclusion and marginalisation. The costs of displacement borne by our tribal population have been unduly high, and compensation has been tardy and inadequate, leading to serious unrest in many tribal regions. This discontent is likely to grow exponentially if the benefits from enforced land acquisition are seen accruing to private interests, or even to the state, at the cost of those displaced. To prevent even greater conflict...it is necessary to frame a transparent set of policy rules that address compensation, and make the affected persons beneficiaries of the projects, and to give these rules a legal format."

Despite its clear perception of the problem, the Manmohan Singh government has done nothing to 'frame a transparent set of policy rules' and give them a 'legal format'. A part of the problem is that the power to acquire land for mines, in particular, was largely devolved to the state governments during the NDA regime, through an amendment of the 1957 Mines and Minerals Act. The NDA government also allowed foreign companies to enter this politically charged area of mineral development. These two enactments have given Naxalite leaders all the moral justification they need to mobilise armed resistance. With only a few exceptions, state leaders have used their powers of land acquisition to enrich themselves or fund their parties. It is no coincidence that the Communist Party (Maoist) came into being only two years after these amendments.

While India Inc dreams of overtaking China, the Maoist insurgency has intensified. Since '04, there have been more than 50 'swarm' attacks on jails, police stations and armouries. All have met with total success.In two attacks in Orissa last month, the Maoists captured 1,600 weapons, including machine guns and AK-47s.

In Orissa, 12,000 out of 30,000 posts in the police are vacant, and in three districts they have stopped wearing their uniforms. But Orissa pales into insignificance before the intensity of the uprising in Chhattisgarh, which recorded 531 incidents and 413 deaths in 2007. The Maoists have a single rallying cry: "Development projects are taking away our land and our traditional rights. We will not allow them to proceed." They are succeeding.

The only way to arrest the further development of this insurgency is to make the affected people its beneficiaries. Offering them a price for their land is often not possible because they have no recognisable property rights. But in addition to being resettled, both individuals and entire villages can and should get a royalty in perpetuity from the income generated on their land. Mittal's steel plants will, at present prices, generate Rs 70,000 crore of revenue a year. A half per cent royalty divided among the villages and individuals who lose their land and rights would make them rich beyond their dreams, enable them to send their children to schools, and lift them out of poverty forever. He can, of course, afford it. But what is preventing New Delhi from making this a part of the law and indeed the constitution of our land?

The State As Landlord

OPINION

Naxlism feeds off genuine issues. It calls for policy, not police.


Prem Shankar Jha


Lakshmi Mittal of Arcelor fame is finally about to deliver on his promise to invest in his home country. The plans he has unveiled are mind-boggling: Rs 1,00,000 crore ($24 billion) to be invested in two steel plants and iron ore mines in Jharkhand and Orissa that will produce 24 million tonnes of steel when they come on stream. Planning for the project is going well: all that remains is to identify a source of iron ore for its Orissa plant. Herein lies the rub. For, if the Maoist insurgency in central India continues to develop at its present speed, he may never find the iron ore he needs to operate his plants.

That would be tragedy for both the states, which are among the poorest in the country. At a conservative estimate, Mittal's investments will generate at least a hundred thousand jobs directly, in the two plants and associated mines, and anything between a million and three million jobs indirectly. But to get there, the government will first have to displace thousands of tribals from land and forests. And those thousands have decided that they will fight to defend their rights.

Twenty-nine months after the first 'swarm attack' by 500 Maoist cadres backed by local tribals on the jail, police station and armoury in Jehanabad, 'Naxalism' is no longer considered a fringe phenomenon. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has candidly acknowledged that it is the most serious threat the country faces. But there is a huge gap between this realisation and the efforts that the government has made so far to meet it. Literally, all that it has done so far is to meet state governments' increasingly urgent demands for modern weapons, additional CRPF battalions, and the training and despatch of counter-insurgency forces. But New Delhi knows that repression alone is not the answer. The Approach Paper for the 11th Plan could not have put this better or more explicitly: "Our practices regarding rehabilitation of those displaced from their land because of development projects are seriously deficient and are responsible for a growing perception of exclusion and marginalisation. The costs of displacement borne by our tribal population have been unduly high, and compensation has been tardy and inadequate, leading to serious unrest in many tribal regions. This discontent is likely to grow exponentially if the benefits from enforced land acquisition are seen accruing to private interests, or even to the state, at the cost of those displaced. To prevent even greater conflict...it is necessary to frame a transparent set of policy rules that address compensation, and make the affected persons beneficiaries of the projects, and to give these rules a legal format."

Despite its clear perception of the problem, the Manmohan Singh government has done nothing to 'frame a transparent set of policy rules' and give them a 'legal format'. A part of the problem is that the power to acquire land for mines, in particular, was largely devolved to the state governments during the NDA regime, through an amendment of the 1957 Mines and Minerals Act. The NDA government also allowed foreign companies to enter this politically charged area of mineral development. These two enactments have given Naxalite leaders all the moral justification they need to mobilise armed resistance. With only a few exceptions, state leaders have used their powers of land acquisition to enrich themselves or fund their parties. It is no coincidence that the Communist Party (Maoist) came into being only two years after these amendments.

While India Inc dreams of overtaking China, the Maoist insurgency has intensified. Since '04, there have been more than 50 'swarm' attacks on jails, police stations and armouries. All have met with total success.In two attacks in Orissa last month, the Maoists captured 1,600 weapons, including machine guns and AK-47s.

In Orissa, 12,000 out of 30,000 posts in the police are vacant, and in three districts they have stopped wearing their uniforms. But Orissa pales into insignificance before the intensity of the uprising in Chhattisgarh, which recorded 531 incidents and 413 deaths in 2007. The Maoists have a single rallying cry: "Development projects are taking away our land and our traditional rights. We will not allow them to proceed." They are succeeding.

The only way to arrest the further development of this insurgency is to make the affected people its beneficiaries. Offering them a price for their land is often not possible because they have no recognisable property rights. But in addition to being resettled, both individuals and entire villages can and should get a royalty in perpetuity from the income generated on their land. Mittal's steel plants will, at present prices, generate Rs 70,000 crore of revenue a year. A half per cent royalty divided among the villages and individuals who lose their land and rights would make them rich beyond their dreams, enable them to send their children to schools, and lift them out of poverty forever. He can, of course, afford it. But what is preventing New Delhi from making this a part of the law and indeed the constitution of our land?

Beyond the Red Corridor

THE STURDAY INTERVIEW



Sudeep Chakravarti began his career in journalism with The Asian Wall Street Journal. He subsequently worked at Sunday, India Today, and Hindustan Times and is presently Editor-at-large with Rolling Stone.
Following his debut novel Tin Fish (2005), Mr Chakravarti has recently published Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country, an itinerant description of Maoist realities in India that exposes individual apathy, bureaucratic farce, endemic corruption, armed rebellion, and state sponsored atrocities. Mr Chakravarti spoke to SHIV KARAN SINGH.

Excerpts:

What made you decide to write Red Sun?

Three key reasons. The first is that, Red Sun was a story waiting to be told. There is a fairly large and excellent body of writing on the Naxalite movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, and various subsequent extreme-Left incarnations through the 1980s. But besides the occasional writing and display in media around the time of major skirmishing between rebels and security forces, there isn’t a book on the movements of today as driven by CPI (Maoist) that attempts to demystify it. The second reason: there is a great lack of telling the human story about the present play of Left-wing rebellion. Typically, one comes by statistics and glib sound bites. The dispossessed and the dead are not numbers; they were ~ and are ~ people. With Red Sun I have attempted to humanise a very tragic conflict, one of a country at war with itself. There is no “foreign hand”, no xenophobia to feed on, no fingers to point anywhere but at ourselves, at the abysmal failure of governance, stunning apathy and callousness of our rulers and administrators, and the indelibility of how badly we treat our own people. A third reason is that learned writing about Maoism in India (it continues to be interchangeably referred to as Naxalism) is generally restricted to academic journals and analysis by think tanks. There is a crying need to mainstream the discussion, tell the lay reader, as it were, about what is going on, shake Middle India out of its mall-stupor, and diminish the delusions of grandeur of India’s lawmakers.

To certain disaffected, Maoism provides a structured process for armed rebellion, not a strategy of rule. What could be the ramifications of this if Maoists were to increase areas under their control?

History shows us that it’s usually easier to rebel than to rule. It has happened in every ancient civilisation and nearly every modern one-barring, possibly and notably, the United States. Mao is as good an example as any. He brought off a stunning rebellion, ruthlessly united a country, and then ruled it at whim. Nepal is today dealing not merely with the absence of war, but the chaos of peace, reconciliation and a scheming monarchy. But history moves on, as it has in Russia, China, and it will in Nepal. In India, Maoist rebellion ~ indeed, any rebellion, conceivably even a Dalit one ~ is and will surely continue to provide impetus to change. The wise ought to see the writing on the wall and ensure socio-economic, administrative and judicial delivery so that Mao and his principles needn’t have to show the way in India. Until this happens, rebellion in India is a no-brainer. We have asked for it.

With the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2006, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2004, the arms of the state have put a gag on human rights voices and media. Dr Binayak Sen still languishes in jail. Why is the state government eliminating the middle ground, i.e. people actually providing essential services to the local population?
To my mind, Dr Sen’s imprisonment is nothing but a paranoid reaction of the state. It’s a classic tactic of retaliation to focus on “soft” targets in order to divert attention from real failures ~ of governance, administration, policing, and socio-economic development. In addition, there is the grinding exploitation of tribals and the poor that no amount of finessing or propaganda can hide. The government of Chhattisgarh is now engaged in denying legitimate NGOs space to function in rural areas. It’s a stupid, knee-jerk strategy that will bring immense harm. Besides further fracturing society, it will only serve to escalate the conflict. The Chhattisgarh government is quite obtuse; even looking at things from their point of view, they do not appear to realise that the longer they incarcerate Dr Sen, the more people who normally would not be empathetic to the cause of left-wing revolution would be drawn to it.

If Salwa Judum is not a spontaneous uprising, what is it? Why is it only restricted to Chhattisgarh?

The truth about Salwa Judum is that it is not spontaneous. It is a monster created cynically from a real grouse that some tribal people and farmers harboured against the heavy-handedness of Maoists in the area. The government tapped into this partial resentment and created Salwa Judum with state support ~ financial, logistical and moral. But by setting brother against brother, Chhattisgarh has created a situation of mutually assured destruction of tribals. Homes are razed, lands are lost, livelihoods are destroyed, and futures erased. The chaos that Salwa Judum has caused is perhaps the only reason that has kept other states from employing similar methods as strategy. Senior policemen, intelligence officials and security experts have told me Salwa Judum is a no-hoper. But Chhattisgarh can’t retract it; it has become a prestige issue, a noose.

Is government reaction in Chattisgarh a realisation of people’s deprivation or a desire to wrest back areas rich in resources? In other words, are we witnessing another instance of “disaster capitalism”, i.e. accelerating a crisis with violence, to weaken the control of local populations over resources, in order to ultimately privatise the same?
Absolutely. And I say this as a person, journalist and writer with no left-wing credentials whatsoever.

Are surrendered Maoists a reality?

Yes and no. In certain states ~ Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh ~ it is a partial reality, where Maoists come above ground for personal reasons, which could range from illness to intimidation to plain battle fatigue. It’s happening a bit in Orissa. The key really is to ensure effective rehabilitation in these cases, or there will inevitably be a backslide into cynicism, resumption of arms or even, sending out a signal to Maoist cadres that the state is not serious, and “surrender” is just an euphemism for “give up your arms and go back to being oppressed.”
In states such as Chhattisgarh, surrender is mostly a cynical farce, as is much the case with just about everything in that state related to Maoism. Even BJP legislators have trashed the claim of the state government on surrendered Maoists as being little more than hogwash. In one famous instance from a couple of years ago, a BJP MP claimed he personally knew some of the “surrendered” Maoists as they happened to be BJP cadres! Each state to one’s own, evidently.

The time of shokher Naxals has passed. What are the present realities of inequality, disaffection, and Maoism in Bengal?

The shokher Naxals, as well as the present-day Maoists, are driven by similar things: outrage against state apathy and grotesque inefficiencies in our society. Perhaps the government of West Bengal needs to consider that the districts most affected by Maoism in the state are also the ones fairly untouched by land reform measures ~ a key reason for the success of CPI (M)-led political domination of West Bengal. Having said that, and also accounting for the fact of the recent capture of Somen, the CPI (Maoist) leader in West Bengal, the state could, in the near to medium term future, see an upsurge in Maoist violence. This is expected in and around Kolkata, as well as the districts from north to south bordering Bangladesh. In the throes of new flyovers, condominiums and a handful of info-tech campuses, perhaps the masters of West Bengal need to consider a brutal truth: there is wretched rural and urban poverty and inequity in the state. And this time around, a far more deliberate group of rebels are preparing to leverage these infirmities. The intent isn’t shokh, but shock.

Your book on continuing subversion, and violence, against and by the state, is now available in elite bookstores. Would you not describe this as apt, considering the nature of the issue?

It is entirely apt, and entirely natural. Red Sun is available at large bookstores as well as small ones, places where the elite and the not purchase books. The story of Red Sun is for everyone to read, and should ideally be available everywhere. I sincerely hope it is translated soon into various Indian languages; that would be appropriate ~ perhaps even necessary. The story needs to go beyond English. The point to remember is that Red Sun is not “elite”. It’s the truth about today, a reality check, a story of the great shame that India carries today, a country of stupendous economic growth and verve, and equally, overwhelming poverty, oppression and corruption. A country where common people are driven to take to the gun for justice and redress that is their constitutional right but is denied to them by the state machinery. I would urge the “elite” to read Red Sun, if only to realise how much further India needs to travel for even a semblance of spreading equity in development. It’s what corporations practice as a matter of routine for its shareholders; why can’t a country, for its citizens?

(The interviewer is a Special Representative of The Statesman, Kolkata)

State Pulse: Chhattisgarh: No arms to fight Naxals

The State's 'no-arms' policy has cost the State dearly with scores of policemen and innocent villagers being killed by the militants- Insaf

Chhattisgarh's best known secret has now got the official seal. No less than the Chief Minister Raman Singh confessed that "some 50-odd police stations located in the Dandkarenya forests running through its inter-state borders of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Maharashtra have to fight the AK-47 and SLR-wielding Naxalite guerrillas with just batons." Adding that the police were denied arms and ammunition because of fear that they may be snatched or looted by the Naxals. Shockingly, the decision not to give arms to certain police stations in the "orange" and "green" zones was justified on two counts. One, it was to ensure fire power availability for the arms-strapped Central forces and the police to take on the Naxalites. Two, the risk of the innocent villager being caught in the crossfire between Naxals and the police was minimised. Never mind, that the State's 'no-arms' policy has cost the State dearly with scores of policemen and innocent villagers being killed by the militants. Even as the State prepares for what could be its biggest counter-operation against Left-wing extremists.

Telangana issue hots up again

The Telangana Statehood issue is hotting up again with Parties gearing up for General elections next year, if not earlier. All four Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MPs resigned from the Lok Sabha on Monday and 16 of its 26 MLAs and 3 MLCs followed suit the next day. The reason: Sonia Gandhi and UPA Government's "betrayal of promises made to the people of the Telangana region. In the 2004 Assembly elections the TRS President K Chandrasekhara Rao had formed an alliance with the Congress and joined the Government both in the State and at the Centre. In 2006 it withdrew its support to the UPA on the grounds of being cheated and set 6 March as the deadline for the Centre to start the process of carving out a separate Telangana. Will the resignations help the cause? While their numbers may not rock the boat at the Centre and State, it could affect the vote banks in the coming polls. Moreover, it could help the TRS to carve out an alliance with the BJP, which is supporting their demand for Statehood.

Home coming for Pandits

Winds of change are blowing in the Kashmir Valley. After 18-long years, displaced Pandits are finally getting a roof over their heads they can call their own again. On Monday last, 26 non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit families moved into the Valley's first exclusive "safe zone" Pandit's colony in Sheikhpora, on the outskirts of Srinagar. About 200 families would shift into the colony, with 16-feet high walls and guarded, in the first phase of the rehabilitation package of the J&K Government. With terrorism taking roots in 1989 in the State, the minority Pandits were forced to flee their homes and live in wretched dwellings. Migrants in their own country, the Pandits may never get what they lost, but if their Kashmiri Muslim neighbours so desire, their return could be a major step forward towards normalcy.

Nagaland goes to polls

Not only has Nagaland had a record polling of over 85 per cent, but it has been the "most peaceful" election for the 60-member Assembly. The two underground factions of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim had asked its cadres to keep away from the poll process. The troubled North-Eastern State is poised to have a popular Government again after President's rule was imposed this January. Whether a new Government will help the peace talks between the Centre and the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-I-M) is to be seen. Much however, depends on whether the Congress yields on its election promise of integrating all the Naga-inhabited areas or it turns out to be just another poll gimmick? Specially against the backdrop of the Congress President Sonia Gandhi's assertion that there was enough space in the Indian Constitution to find an amicable solution. Rebutting this, the NSCN-I-M argues, "It is the very Constitution which has divided the Naga people," and 10 years of ceasefire has passed "simply like that" without any significant progress.

Mob fury in Bihar

Mob fury is ever-increasing in Bihar. Two boys were beaten and shot dead by villagers as they tried to flee after killing a man in Teka Bigha, in Patna district and a man was lynched by villagers in Munger district after he shot dead a school boy in a drunken state on Monday last. Shockingly, the two boys were lynched just 4 km away from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's backyard Bakhtiarpur. Recall, in September last 10 suspected thieves were lynched by villagers in Vaishali, another person was lynched ten days later in Gopalganj and yet one more in October. Needless Police enforcements have been sent and patrolling has been intensified, says the Patna Police. The horrific incidents once again underscore that there is no rule of law in the State despite intensification of police patrolling and more forces.

"Dirty" Delhi

It's bad news for Delhi. The country's Capital has been tagged as one of the dirtiest cities in the world. The rating comes from none other than the Forbes magazine. In its report dated 22 February 2008, the renowned magazine rates Delhi as the "24th dirtiest city." Obviously, the "filthy waters of the Yamuna and its unhealthy surroundings" haven't gone unnoticed by the magazine. The report consults Mercer's Health and Sanitation rankings Quality of Life report, 2007 in which Delhi scores a sad 46.6 on health and sanitation index while the most polluted city Baku in Azerbaijan scored 27.6. With Delhi to play host to the Commonwealth Games 2010, its time the municipal authorities clean up their act.

-INFA

Naxal sympathisers held

Saturday March 8 2008 10:36 IST

PTI

MANIPAL: Eight supporters of naxalites were arrested and arms seized in a joint operation by Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) and Udupi district police on Friday.

The security forces surrounded Hebri-Kudlu forest area following a tip-off and arrested the eight persons who were waiting for the arrival of naxalites to hand over various goods, police said.

The police said they seized a single barrel gun, 30 detonators, two gelatin sticks, one motorcycle, naxal literature and a naxal flag during the operation.

During interrogation, the arrested persons admitted they were regularly supplying food and other materials to the naxalites, police added.

Eight held near Udupi for helping naxalites

Udupi March 8: The Anti-Naxalite Force (ANF) and the police in a joint operation on Friday arrested eight persons allegedly involved in helping naxalites at Kudlu coming under the Hebri police station limits in Udupi district.

Inspector-General of Police (Western Range) A.M. Prasad told The Hindu over telephone from Hebri that the ANF had arrested eight persons at Kudlu. They had recovered a single barrel muscle loader (SBML) gun, 30 detonators, two gelatin sticks, naxalite literature and flags, and a motorcycle, from them.

The eight accused were interrogated at Hebri. During the interrogation, the eight persons had confessed to helping the naxalites by supplying them food and detonators and giving them logistic support. They also allowed the naxalites to use their motorcycle, Mr. Prasad said.

Explaining the events leading to the arrest of the naxalites, he said the ANF and the police were doing their routine combing operations at Kadlu on Friday, when they nabbed one of the naxalite accomplices.

On his information, the other seven accomplices were caught and their hideout raided. The arms and ammunition were recovered from the hideout. There was a possibility of more cache of arms and ammunition being found, Mr. Prasad said.
Identity

The police in Karkala gave the names of the eight accused as Dayananda Gowda, Sudhakara Shetty, Kempe Gowda, Krishnappa Gowda, Kariya Gowda, Ananda Gowda, Satish Shetty, and Suresh Gowda. The gun was recovered from Dayananda Gowda’s house.

The other items such as 30 detonators, gelatin sticks, 20 pamphlets containing naxalite literature, naxalite flags and a motorcycle were recovered from the other naxalite accomplices. The eight accused would be produced before the court by Saturday evening, the sources said.

Hindu

Somen's bail plea rejected

Express news service

Posted online: Saturday , March 08, 2008 at 01:31:15


Updated: Saturday , March 08, 2008 at 01:52:08 Print Email To Editor Post Comments

Kolkata, March 7 The Barasat court rejected CPI(Maoist) general secretary Himadri Sen Roy alias Somen's bail plea and request to be treated as a political prisoner of state. It, however, granted his plea for medical assistance before sending him to jail custody till March 20.

"We had submitted three petitions demanding his bail, political-prisoner status and asked for medical assistance as he is suffering from several diseases. The court, however, refused to grant the first two pleas," said Somen's lawyer Mallinath Ganguly. He added, The Naxalites are carrying out a mass movement and people are its strength."

Twelve days after his arrest from Hridaypur in North 24 Parganas, Somen was produced in Barasat court amid tight security. Till date he was in the CID lock-up at Bhawani Bhavan. On Friday, the police picked up Somen from Bhawani Bhavan and drove to the Barasat police station at 7 am in a convoy of three cars under strict vigilance of the State Armed Police (SAP). Around 8.45 am, a bomb disposal squad arrived and conducted a thorough inspection of the court premises.

Somen's wife Sikha Sen Roy said, "My husband was the leader of a democratic mass movement. He was never a criminal nor did he have any link with militant groups. All imprisoned Naxal leaders should be treated as political prisoners."

She criticised the fact that the police had tied up Somen with a rope before producing him in court. "He is a political leader and not a criminal. So police should not treat him as other criminals."

When Chief Judicial Magistrate Susmita Ray asked Somen whether he had anything to say about the charges against him or his stay in the police custody, he said: "The food was okay. But I could not sleep and am tired."

His mother Binapani Sen Roy said his blood pressure has shot up because he has not been sleeping well.

Meanwhile, protesting against Somen's arrest, the members of Bandi Mukti Committee staged a dharna in front of the court.

Four hardcore Naxals arrested

MALKANGIRI, March 7: Police claimed to have achieved a major success with the arrest of four hardcore Naxals during a combing operation at Tonkelguda forest under Motu police station limits today.
Police sources said the arrested Naxals were Desa Madhi, Dula Madhi, Lacha MAdhi and Kanta Madhi. Police also seized some Naxal literature from them.
Police sources said that after 15 February Nayagarh mayhem, combing operations had been intensified in this Maoist-infected district. n sns

Friday, March 07, 2008

Red bandh peaceful

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Giridih, March 6: The 24-hour bandh called by the Naxalites to protest the killing of two “innocent” farmers passed off peacefully today with police staying on their toes.

Rebels had called the Giridih bandh to protest against the police gunning down two suspected Maoists on February 8 on Parasnath hills. The Naxalites claimed that the two victims — Rati Murmu and 60-year-old Mane Marandi — were farmers.

During the bandh, the rebels pasted posters in several areas, including Giridih-Dumri road, Chainpur, Harladih, Bander-Kuppi and Parasnath railway station.

The railway station was the first place the rebels pasted their posters, said sources.

Hundreds of Maoists took out a torchlight march at Chainpur, they added.

At Bander-Kuppi, the Naxalites hoisted the organisation’s flag.

Yesterday, the Maoists had put up posters at Topchanchi (in Bokaro)asking people to bring the Giridih superintendent of police and his deputy to a jan adalat to punish them for killing the two farmers.

Traffic on the four main roads at Giridih was minimal throughout the day and no long-route buses and passenger vehicles plied today.

Understanding, the sensitivity of the situation, the deputy inspector-general of police (Hazaribagh range), Ajay Kumar Singh, camped at Dumri to ensure that the strike was peaceful.

Giridih police force, led by superintendent of police M.L. Meena, additional supe- rintendent of police Kuldeep Divedi and deputy superin- tendent of police A. Kishpotta, were on high alert.

Naxal Threat : Dhoni to get Z category security cover

Posted at Friday, 07 March 2008 16:03 IST

Ranchi, Mar 7: The Jharkhand Government has decided to provide Z category security cover to Indian one-day cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Samay sources said.

According to the sources, the decision to provide security to Dhoni was taken after intelligence reports that Maoists may target the young Indian captain.
Meanwhile, Dhoni returned home here to a rousing welcome after winning the cricket tri-series in Australia.

Sporting a black top and jeans, Dhoni waved to his fans at the Birsa Munda airport, where he was greeted with tribal songs and dances.

"We are happy that Dhoni is back among us after a long tour. He will have his favourite home-made dishes, particularly milk items he is fond of," Dhoni's cousin Prem Chandra told the waiting media.

Sports Minister Bandhu Tirkey said "we will honour Dhoni on March 16, the last day of a tribal festival at the historic Mohrabadi Ground. The government, however, has not yet decided on what gift Dhoni should be given."

It is learnt that Dhoni led the Indian team to a historic tri-series win against world champions Australia on their soil a couple of days ago.

Jharkhand to appoint young sub inspectors to combat Maoists

Ranchi, March 7 (IANS) The Jharkhand government has lowered the age ceiling for sub inspector aspirants to its police force by 11 years so that young and energetic cops can fight Maoist rebels better. The state government plans to appoint 400 sub inspectors (SI) and 4,500 constables soon.
According to officials in the police headquarters, the maximum age of those seeking to be sub inspectors will be 24 years while the maximum age for constables will be 35.

Earlier, the age ceiling was 35 years for both categories.

“We have decided to cut the age by 11 years keeping in mind the fact that the young and energetic SIs will be able to fight Maoist rebels and hardened criminals better. Even Indian Police Service officers are appointed at a young age,” said a police official.

There is a provision of age relaxation of five years for Dalits and tribals and three years for backward castes.

Justifying the move, state police spokesperson R.K. Mallik said: “We need young Sis who will help us in launching operations against Maoist rebels”.

Three Maoists arrested

Malkanagiri (PTI): Four persons, including three Maoist ultras were arrested from Tankalguda and Billiguda in Orissa's Malkangiri district, police said on Friday.

The three ultras arrested on Thursday night were identified as Madhi Desa alias Rama alias Damodar, Madhi Lachha alias Nagraj, Madhi Dula alias Durga. The fourth person was identified as Madhi Kanta alias Kosa, district police superintendent Satish Kumar Gajbhiye told reporters here.

Madhi Desa was involved in the killing of former Motu police station in-charge, D Mishra and Kondapalli and Tankelaguda encounter.

Madhi Kanta is not a Maoist cadre but a member of its frontal organisation Sangam Party, the SP said adding Madhi Dasa and Madhi Lachha had completed training in various places on maoist activities.

A large number of Moist posters, literature, a manual displaying operation of rocket launcher, bomb, landmine.

An attendance register with daily routine work of Maoists was also seized from their possession, Gajbhiye said adding some primary school text books were also found in the Maoist camp.

Later the Maoists on interrogation said a commander of the outfit Ashok believed to have killed in the encounter with the security forces at Kondapalli on March 5 was alive. The man who was killed was identified as a person named Raja, he said.

India not to commercialise sex work





March 8 - Women's Day Special

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) India will not consider legalising commercial sex or giving licences to brothels, Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury has said.

"I am ready to legalise brothels or red light areas if the sex workers say their decision is informed. In most cases their choice is not informed but is forced due to poverty or other reasons," Chowdhury said.

"Many sex workers ask me why I am withholding this issue. But I patiently listen to them and, in turn, ask them whether they would allow their daughters to enter the trade. The answer has always been a complete silence - and they drop their demands," Chowdhury told IANS on the sidelines of a human trafficking conference.


The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Women & Child Development, Smt. Renuka Chowdhury lighting the lamp at the inauguration at a workshop on female foeticide during the celebration of international women day.

The conference was organised by the UN office on Drugs and Crime along with the ministry of women and child development ahead of the International Women's Day March 8.

The minister said her government has no intention of legalising or licensing brothels, but would remain committed to combating human trafficking, especially of women and children.

Human trafficking means recruitment, transport, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people by means of threat, use of force or other forms of coercion like abduction for the purpose of exploitation.

According to UN estimates, approximately 150,000 people are trafficked within South Asia annually, with children and young women being lured from their homes with promises of a good job, good marriage or stardom in the entertainment industry.

Many are forced into prostitution or slavery where they suffer unspeakable indignities and hardship.

Organisations like the Bhartiya Patita Uddhar Sabha have been demanding the legalisation of commercial sex workers since 1984.

Khairati Lal Bhola, president of the Sabha, said: "The government must accept this demand for at least the better health and education of the 5.4 million children of sex workers."

Bhola said a survey conducted during 1990-96 revealed that there were more than 7.5 million call girls, 2.38 million prostitutes, 1,100 red light areas and 300,000 brothels across the country.

Now, more than a decade later, the numbers has gone up manifold and the condition of sex workers is still vulnerable, especially due to the threat of diseases like AIDS.

Pressing for the need to legalise prostitution, he said: "Not only will the government earn a tax on their income, it will help in chucking out agents, middlemen, goons and corrupt police officials who take hafta (protection money) from them.

"Sex workers can earn more to provide education to their children, who can be prevented from inheriting their mother's profession."

Chowdhury, however, said human trafficking of women largely depends on the principle of demand and supply.

"My government is planning to bring amendments to the existing Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and clients visiting brothels would be penalised," she said.

Asked why the government was not directing police to clamp down on red light areas in the country, the minister said: "It is feared that it may spread to residential colonies if we take such measures in the present scenario. After analysing the consequences, we will act accordingly," she said.

Chowdhury appreciated the 24 percent increase in fund allocation to her ministry by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and said: "The government understands the needs and demands of women and is committed to its promise to empower them."

Micro-finance schemes that allow women to borrow money from the government to start their own small industries of weaving, knitting, painting and others have yielded tremendous results, she said, adding that now the focus would be on encouraging women to do highly skilled jobs and earn more.



Patil congratulates women for shaping destiny of country

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) Indian women were transforming the "social order into a more just and equal one", President Pratibha Patil said Friday as she greeted women a day ahead of International Women's Day.

India's first woman president said successful women should assist in eliminating social evils like female foeticide, infanticide and dowry system and educate the underprivileged girl child.

"On the occasion of International Women's Day, I extend my greetings and felicitations to all my sisters in their continuing role and their relentless effort in shaping the destiny of our country," she said in her message.

International Women's Day, which will be observed Saturday, is a global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Highlighting the role of the women in the freedom movement, Patil said: "Our women folk inspired by Mahatma Gandhi came out of their homes to take part in the freedom struggle."

"Beginning with their determined efforts in the days before our freedom, today our women continue to strive to transform the social order into a more just and equal one."

She said women continue to make their mark but should help in removing social evils from the country.

"Now, many gifted women are making their mark in their chosen professions and each one of them can assist in eliminating social evils like female foeticide, infanticide, dowry etc.

"They should come forward and help to educate the hapless underprivileged girl child. The empowerment of women is the most effective tool for development as well as poverty alleviation."

Someday, there'll be women combatants: Antony

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) In a significant statement Friday, a day ahead of International Women's Day, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said women could someday be inducted as combatants in the Indian armed forces.

"I'm sure that at some point of time it will happen," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function organised by the Armed Forces Organ Retrieval and Transplantation Authority (AORTA) here.

On Wednesday, Antony had cited operational reasons to rule out inducting women as combatants into the three services.

"A study carried out by the services has recommended that women officers be excluded from induction in close combat arms where chances of physical contact with enemy are high," the minister said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

Antony's statement Friday is a clear indication that the issue is far from closed.

Currently, women are eligible for permanent commissions in the medical, nursing and dental services of the armed forces. They are also eligible for short service commissions in these services as also in the support arms of the armed forces.

In this context, Antony noted that women were initially inducted in the medical streams of the armed forces in 1927.

"In 1992, they were inducted on five-year commissions (in the support arms). Then we raised this to 10 years and subsequently to 14 years.

"It's an ongoing process. It is possible that some day women will be inducted in the combat arms," Antony maintained.

The issue had blown up into a major controversy two years ago after the then Indian Army vice chief, Lt. Gen. S. Pattabhiraman, was quoted in his report as saying the forces "could do without" women.

Political parties and women's organisations were quick to react, demanding that Pattabhiraman apologise and withdraw his remarks.

Pattabhiraman complied, adding for good measure that he had "been quoted out of context".

Currently, 5,137 women officers serve in the armed forces. They include 4,101 in the Indian Army, 784 in the Indian Air Force (IAF), and 252 in the Indian Navy. This includes women granted permanent commissions in the Army Medical Corps and the Army Dental Corps and their equivalents in the other two services, as also in the Military Nursing Services.

In the army, women serve in support arms like the Corps of Signals, Army Ordinance Corps, the Corps of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers, and the Army Service Corps.

In the Indian Air Force, women are inducted in all streams barring the fighter stream. In the Indian Navy, there are restrictions on posting women officers aboard ships and submarines.

Most militaries worldwide induct women but only a few allow them to perform active combat roles. Among these countries are Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland.

Countries like Britain and Israel allow women to serve in combat arms positions like the artillery roles but exclude them from infantry units.

The US allows women in most combat flying positions.

Winds of change blow among rural Indian women

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) Most of them are illiterate and many conform to the stereotypical image of the ghunghat-draping rural Indian woman. But they are the harbingers of change at the grassroots - raising their voice against alcoholism among men and for educating girls and delivering speedy justice.

Be it in Uttarakhand in the north or Gujarat in the west or Jharkhand in the east, this IANS correspondent came across the same story during her journeys in the country.

Shanti Devi, who took up a campaign against alcoholism, hails from a village in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand.

"We couldn't tolerate that our hard earned money was being spent carelessly by our men on alcohol. It was becoming a serious problem. That's why we decided to take up the campaign against alcoholism," Shanti Devi told IANS.

"The problem of alcoholism was widespread in our region. So instead of just one village, we formed a federation of three groups called Chakdalar, Choti Nai and Chamma. More active participation by women was a solution to the problem," she said.

The women raided liquor shops in their area and in the process were roughed up by some of the men.

"It was not easy raiding the liquor shops. We were often slapped and beaten up by the men. Fortunately, some men supported us and together we went on hunger strikes and took out campaigns to the streets shouting "Jua Sharab Band Karo".

"We also approached the Block Development Officer to help us," Shanti Devi, 40, said.

Radhika Devi, vice president of the Chakdalar group, is illiterate but when it comes to discussing issues that affect society and actually doing something about it, she never steps back.

"Most women in our groups have to face a lot of problems because of constraints from the family. But I have been lucky as my family always supported me and let me travel to tap my potential," she said.

"As women community leaders, we are closer to the ground realities. That's why we can assess the situation and come up with practical and creative solutions to problems."

The women are now planning to improve the education scenario in their villages and ensure that girls go to the school.

In the Kutch district of Gujarat, where the literacy rate is as low as 64.06 percent for men and 40.89 percent for women according to the 1991 census, women have taken it upon themselves to educate their daughters.

The Kutchi women, who do embroidery and earn as much as their male counterparts, if not more, play a major role in taking all household decisions.

"The young girls go to school and are not taught the art of embroidery and making handicrafts. But once they attain puberty, they start doing so and drop out of school," Natha Behn of the Ludiya village in Kutch said while smiling at her 14-year-old sister-in-law.

Pavitran Vittal, an official of the state's tourism ministry, said that considering Kutch's low literacy rate it was encouraging to see young girls going to school.

"People have to understand that it's important for girls to complete their education, but this is the first step in the right direction. Considering that women have an important say in the family, this initiative by them is a ray of hope.

"Moreover, they make sure their daughters are capable of earning their own bread and butter. They are empowered," Vittal told IANS, during one of the visits to the Kutch region early this year.

In Andhra Pradesh, Satyavathi, who is part of a women's self-help group, spearheads the movement in her village to solve issues of land to the poor.

The group of 83 Scheduled Caste households that she is part of has been cultivating 54 acres of government land for more than two generations. Despite government rules that landless people in possession of government land should receive titles to the land, they had not received legal ownership.

"I raised the issue with paralegals who documented the issue and through our self-help group we submitted the issue to the district administration. The paralegals had to work hard to gain access to all the records.

"Finally in February last year all the 83 households received legal titles to the land," she said.

"It feels good to bring about a change, no matter how big or small it may be," Satyavathi added.

Nari Adalats are another institution through which rural women are making their presence felt. These are women's courts that deliver speedy justice in tough cases like rape, child marriage and even divorce - mostly in just two weeks.

Madhu Lakra, a member of the Nari Adalat in Ranchi, Jharkhand, said stopping the marriage of a 12-year-old girl to an "aged" man who claimed to be a Maoist and putting a wealthy man behind bars after he raped a minor girl were her achievements in life.

"I have been hearing cases for the last two months and have solved at least 15 of them," said Lakra, a postgraduate in Hindi from Ranchi University.

What started as a small gathering of rural women in Gujarat in 1995 has gained credibility over the years. Nari Adalats across India have solved over 23,000 cases so far.

Police launch manhunt for naxalites near Rahul's venue

Bhubaneswar (PTI): Ahead of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's scheduled visit to Sukinda valley in Jajpur district, police on Friday launched a massive manhunt in the area following a tip off about possible movement of suspected naxalites.

Police said the place where they them of hiding was barely 35 km from Panikoeli, the venue of Rahul's rally on March 10.

At least seven Telugu speaking men were spotted by locals at Balitutha village under Sukinda police station area. "We suspect these people are naxalites," said a senior officer said.

Meanwhile, Inspector General (IG) of Police S K Upadhaya on Friday rushed to Jajpur after the state intelligence wing received information about movement of suspected naxalites in Sukinda.

Police said Upadhaya reviewed security arrangements for the Congress leader.

Official sources said the central intelligence wing had also cautioned the Special Protection Group (SPG) on the threat perception during the Congress leader's four-day visit to the state.

"All arrangements have been made for the security of the Congress leader," said Orissa's Director General of Police (DGP) Gopal Chandra Nanda.

It’s a total betrayal. We’ll decimate the Congress’




Telangana champion K. Chandrasekhara Rao tells SHANTANU GUHA RAY allying with the Congress was a painful mistake

What prompted this spate of resignations?
Good question. But I am a little tired of answering this one. I feel cheated, really cheated by the Congress and the UPA. Please remember that the Telengana issue is not a figment of a child’s imagination. Telengana was a prosperous state. When India was reeling under famine, our surplus was Rs 63 crore. When the state reorganisation commission started its work, Justice Fazal Ali categorically recommended the formation of a Telengana state. That was more than five decades ago and we still haven’t got what we were promised.

Would you call it a complete betrayal?
Absolutely. There have been countless agitations, violence and deaths in the region over the demand and I still do not know why no one’s listening. Remember the agitation in 1969 when more than 400 students died in police firing and thousands suffered injures? Life came to standstill in the region for more than a year and a half. I would like to remind you that the agitation was spearheaded by the Telengana Praja Samity (TPS). Then came the 1972 elections when the entire nation was swept by the Indira Gandhi wave. TPS bagged 11 out of 14 seats from the region that year. Even then, the mandate was dishonoured. In 2001, the Congress once again approached us to join hands, ostensibly because the party was reduced to a shambles in the state by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). We joined hands, routed the TDP and see what happened next. What do they expect me to do now? Drown myself?

You are being impractical.
I have every reason to be. Please understand my point. This is a very, very old agitation and the entire nation agrees this state must be carved out. The NDA agrees, the CPI agrees, Mayawati agrees, Laloo agrees, even the CPM agrees. I am sure even the Congress agrees. Yet, they will not move an inch on it.

Who’s the devil of the show?
There are many. But I would say the man who has single handedly destroyed our ambition is YS Rajashekara Reddy. He has told the Congress that Telengana should not be recognised. He is spreading this big rumour about the Telengana region being the hub of Naxalites. It is nonsense, utter nonsense. If Telangana had been created in 1969, this so-called Naxalism would have vanished from the region. More than 4,000 farmers have committed suicide ever since YSR took charge. Large chunks of Andhra Pradesh are reeling under starvation. He is making Naxalism an issue only to frighten the public and water down the Telangana demand. He has pushed us back into a crisis zone.

So nothing can be done now?
I think we have co-operated to the maximum extent. I resigned and have been a minister without portfolio for more than seven months. But then, who cares about a minister without a portfolio?

Did you meet Sonia, Manmohan Singh?
I have met her more than a hundred times and I must have met the prime minister more than 150 times. They all sympathise with us and then go back on their word. In short, they are just not interested in creating Telengana. This is nothing but total betrayal. They need to understand that in coalition politics you have to address the concerns of your ally.

What do you want to do now?
We have resigned, 23 of us: four MPs, 16 MLAs and three MLCs. We will take the agitation back to Andhra Pradesh and decimate the Congress in the next elections. Let the elections happen, the Congress will gasp for breath in Andhra.


From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 10, Dated Mar 15, 2008

Rebellion In Red Fort

Across Kerala, a dozen people’s struggles have erupted against the Left regime’s cosying up to industry and its repression of dissent. KA SHAJI reports

KA SHAJI
Thiruvananthapuram

HISTORY REPEATS itself as farce, so went Marx’s dictum. In Kerala, where his footsoldiers pulled off the first democratic win in the world, the Red party has turned against the people in a vicious somersault.

Karivellur village in north Kerala has seen an arc of history come full circle. On December 22, 1946, the British regime’s police had gunned down Communist activists who were preventing the local ruler from seizing the farmers’ produce. In February this year, a farmer in the village sent a bagful of rice seeds to agitating farmers in Erayamkudy in the south as a mark of solidarity. The Erayamkudy farmers were trying to rescue their farms from real estate mafia and a number of big industrial units manufacturing clay bricks for construction work. The LDF government had persistently dismissed the farmers’ pleas against leasing out rice fields and the backwater region to brick manufacturing sand mining units.

Rice seeds were one of the Erayamkudy farmers’s demands from the government, and farmer Veluthambu sent his share in the face of threats from local CPM men. His dispatch got rousing receptions at almost all the railway stations en route. In Erayamkudy, noted Malayalam writers Sugathakumari, Sarah Joseph, P. Surendran and KG Sankara Pillai helped farmers in sowing Veluthambu’s seeds.

In November last year, around 3,500 families in Erayamkudi had begun protesting against the brick manufacturing units in the area. The units were not only ruining the rice fields but also polluting the air and water. To the utter shock of the locals, the CPM and its government took the units’ side.

When the agitation began receiving support even from Communist citadels like Karivellur, the CPM turned furious. It accused the protestors of having Maoist links. On Republic Day this January, the police raided the house of C. Jayasree, a leader of the agitation, to search for the laptop of Mallaraja Reddy, a Maoist leader in Andhra Pradesh who was arrested in Kerala in December. But the search proved vain, and the incident infuriated civil society across the state.

“What wrong has that lady done? She is doing what the organised Left should do. Such struggles are inevitable in today’s India,’’ says eminent jurist VR Krishna Iyer, who was a minister in the first EMS Namboodiripad Communist government in Kerala.

Erayamkudy is not an isolated flashpoint. At least a dozen people’s struggles are being waged in different parts of Kerala where the CPM is cast as the proverbial “class enemy”. What is also distinct about the struggles is that the involvement of NGOs is marginal. Leaders like Jayasree come from families of traditional Left supporters and are not anti-Marx in their beliefs. A reason why the CPM has branded them as Maoists.

IN THE heart of Kochi, a few yards from the High Court, a land struggle is being fought by 40 families evicted from Moolampally village to make way for the proposed multicrore Vallarpadom Container Terminal. The families were forced out of their homes in the dead of night when they refused the compensation offered to them. “We are not against the terminal, but we demanded proper rehabilitation and tax exemption for the compensation package. But the government action was vengeful,” says Francis Kulathingal, the leader of the agitation. Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan called the agitation a handiwork of Naxalites but retracted the statement the very next day after civil society groups rose in outrage.

“You can ensure road and rail connectivity to Vallarpadam terminal without evicting any of Moolampally’s residents. Revival of the old rail link to the defunct Ernakulam Rail Good Yard was suggested as one alternative. It needed no acquisition and the expenses were also lesser,” says CR Neelakantan, a social worker who is participating in the struggle. “But the government evicted the poorer farmers who owned about three cents of land. The old rail link was not considered because it passes through an area owned by Hindustan Lever where the company is planning to build posh apartments and villas.’’

Valanthakkadu is another hub of public anger against the LDF’s development agenda. Located two kilometres from Moolampally, the entire Valanthakad island is being sold off to a Bangalore-based real estate developer for a multi-crore “knowledge city”. Around 40 families of Dalits have been evicted and several hectares of mangrove forests razed.

Farmers at Mooriyad in Thrissur began an agitation last year to protect about 11,100 acres of rice fields from brick makers, sand mining mafia and tile factories by holding portraits of Ayyankali, a Dalit social reformer of the early 20th century. The CPM cadre retaliated by damaging Ayyankali’s portraits. “With the CPM’s support, the mafia has already ruined 4,000 acres of rice fields,” says Varghese Thoduparambil, leader of the farmers’ front there.

The strong resistance in Chakkamkandam village against the setting up of the Guruvayur temple town’s sewage treatment plant in their locality, the tribal uprising in Aralam in Kannur demanding distribution of land of a loss-making public sector unit among landless tribals, the struggle by Dalits in Chengara near Pathanamthitta demanding the ousting of a powerful plantation group from government land after the lease period was over, movements against illegal clay mining in Mangalapuram in Thiruvananthapuram and in Kollam, the struggle against a proposed hydel electric project at Athirapally – such resistances are fast eroding the CPM’s mass base.

“Farmers were committing suicide in Wayanad because of debt. The CPM only shed crocodile tears,’’ says AC varkey, leader of the Farmers’ Relief Forum in Wayanad, a district that has competed with Vidharbha and Anantapur for headline space in news media for “farmers’ suicides”.

According to social activist R. Ajayan, the Plachimada struggle against Coca Cola and the Kasargod struggle against pesticide giant Endosulphan were inspirational. Coca Cola was left trying to convert its bottling plant into a mango juice production centre, and Endosulphan has been banned in the state. Similarly, even though cases are still pending against about 300 activists, a polluting pig breeding centre at Kainoor in Thrissur has been shut down. The agitation against illegal bauxite mining in Kasargod is also gaining in strength.

But the CPM continues to be one-eyed. In December last year, its cadre in Chinnakanal in Idukki grabbed government land occupied by landless tribals at the behest of the tourism lobby.

WRITER’S E-MAIL
shaji@tehelka.com




From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 10, Dated Mar 15, 2008

Sheds red to look for quitter hubby

Friday March 7 2008 10:17 IST
K MAHENDER



WARANGAL: Majority of the Naxalites give up either after being disenchanted by the party policies or due to ill-health.

But here is a woman Naxalite who has surrendered in search of her husband. P Lakshmi alias Pushpa, one of the five Naxalites who surrendered before SP Soumya Mishra on Thursday, had married one Sagar, also a Naxalite, when underground.

But Sagar had surrendered, some time ago, without informing even his wife about it.Lakshmi does not know Sagar’s native place. She only knows that he is a native of Andhra Pradesh.

Learning that he had given up, Lakshmi, a native of Koval village in Bijapur district in Chattisgarh, thought laying down arms would help her find Sagar.

Being a tribal of Basthar forest area, she does not understand Telugu properly.Lakshmi and Sagar worked in Maddedu squad. After their marriage, Lakshmi was promoted as commander of Avupelly squad and she got separated with Sagar.

Knowing that several of her colleagues working in Basthar region were natives of Warangal district, she decided to surrender in Warangal.

Another reason, she stated, was that the district police ensured that the surrendered Naxalites get their compensation promptly.

Meanwhile, the district police, knowing about Lakshmi’s mission, through their contacts found that Sagar was a native of Nalgonda district.

The SP said that efforts were on to reunite the couple. The police are also trying to contact Lakshmi’s parents living in Bijapur district in Chattisgarh, she said.

Sources said Lakshmi will get an immediate relief of Rs 5,000. Her name has not been listed in State reward rolls, but the district police are trying to propose her name for a reward.

ROAD TO ANOTHER INDIA





Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country By Sudeep Chakravarti, Viking, Rs 495

The road to revolution passes through many Indian states. Red Sun is the account of Sudeep Chakravarti’s journey across some of them — Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The journey takes Chakravarti to villages, dusty towns, even glittering cities where he meets a myriad people: Maoist leaders and ideologues, policemen and bureaucrats, as well as defenceless citizens caught in a conflict between armed revolutionaries and the State. Chakravarti gives each of them a voice. What emerges as a result is the sombre story of an India of inequalities at war with itself.

At a meeting of chief ministers and senior officials in April 2006, the prime minister described the Maoist violence as “India’s greatest internal security threat”: a grudging admission that the State had failed to contain an armed insurrection which, Chakravarti writes citing government records, now rages across 165 of India’s 602 districts.

The writer’s journey unveils the reasons behind this “stealthy spread of Maoist practice and intent”: entrenched social inequality and the State’s abdication of responsibility. While India’s policy-makers gloat over the bullish economy that will rank third in the world in a few decades, the National Sample Survey Organization estimates put a third of India’s rural population as living on less than Rs 12 a day. Apathy breeds anger and, then, violence. This perception takes on keener shape as Chakravarti rides pillion through forested Chhattisgarh or travels on rickety buses over India’s vast, impoverished countryside. The rebellion survives and spreads by feeding on the anger of the deprived.

There is only one word to describe the State’s response to Maoist outfits: brutal. In Pondum village, Chhattisgarh, Chakravarti meets the beautiful Bhagwati, who tells him of the horrors perpetrated by Salwa Judum — an army of thugs reared and armed by the State to thwart Maoists, that maims and kills innocents indiscriminately, often turning them into refugees in their own land. The government calls it Jan Jagaran. Bhagwati has no words for it, only tears.

For pesky civil rights activists, there is also the Special Public Safety Bill, a law to counter objective reportage. Even the law, Chakravarti shows, takes sides in this theatre of war.

Those looking for a theoretical template to understand Maoist philosophy would be disappointed with Chakravarti’s work, for it (mercifully) has no pedagogic airs. But what it does offer is an insightful analysis of the situations in India and Nepal. Chakravarti also differentiates between Maoism in its present form and its earlier strands. India’s extreme Left may have mutated, both ideologically and in praxis, into splinter groups. But there are ties that bind factions, as well as the old order with the new.

Red Sun, essentially, is about people: B.K.S. Ray, the bureaucrat poet, O.P. Rathor, the director general of police, P. Varavara Rao, the ideologue, Punjabda, the failed revolutionary, Kavita, the urban guerrilla. Each of the characters, the black and the white, merge in the end, in an indelible shade of grey.

Chakravarti is a gifted writer. But his pace does flag at times. His vision of a futuristic India comprising gated city-States with captive hinterlands might find few takers, even among professional futurists. Yet, Red Sun is an important work, simply because it chronicles a forbidden India whose reality we deny.

UDDALAK MUKHERJEE

Shivaratri Celebrations on,despite Naxals

Statesman News Service
PARALAKHEMUNDI, March 6: Shivaratri was once more celebrated with pomp, devotion and gaiety in all parts of Gajapati district, and the main function took place at the famous and historical Mahendragiri hills located in Rayagada Block.
The devotees made a rush to this hill top, where the Pandavas were supposed to have built the temples of Shiva, Kunti, Yudhitser and others during a sojourn of their exile. The administration had made elaborate arrangements for the organisation for a safe and smooth Shivaratri on the Mahendragiri hills. More than 50,000 devotees from all parts of the state had reached the footsteps of the Hills from where they trekked up the hills through the Burkat pass and the Baragan.

“Keeping in view of the Naxal threat and for the safety of the people coming to celebrate this important hindu festival, we have made very efficient and systematic arrangements for every body” said the sub collector Mr Madhav Chandra Bariha. Ladies and aged women in large numbers braved the chill and dark night to mount the hills to have a glimpse of the shiva lingas inside the three temples namely Bhima , Kunti (Gokerneswara) and the Yudhister. Police forces were present through out the route and even on the mountain top to face any difficult situation. Drinking water supply, generator run electricity, first aid, food and other arrangements were also efficiently maintained by the revenue department who are main force behind this annual function. As the day broke out there was a rush for the highest peaks for a vantage point by the devotees to spectacle the Suryo Udyog (sunrise) the major attraction of this function. Devotees waited for hours for the sun to come up. The sunrise with the sea as background is an enchanting spectacle. Many devotees had to return back disappointed as they could not enter the temples due to the heavy rush ."We have had an unprecedented flow of visitors mainly from the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh, and despite the Naxal threats devotees were present in large number” said Mr Sitaram Babaji the chief of the Mahendrataneya ashram on the hill top. In the other shiva temples of the town devotees had gathered in large numbers. The temples were spruced up and brightly decorated, coloured and lit up with lights for the occasion. Many temple administrators had organised for free food in the afternoon for the people who had come from distant places and in the night dance troupes and cultural troupes will present devotional dance programmes and drama through all night. In this context an epic play based on the life of Lord Krishna named ‘Bhoota Keli” of the Jajapur village is very famous and the artisans are in great demand during this period. In the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh the Raiwalsa temple near Tekkali, shiva temple with 1111 steps at Patapatnam, shiva temples at Makhalingam near Hiramandallam and Putingi temple near Mandaasa are the places where the rush of devotees is very high. Similarly the Panchalingeswar temple near Sitasagar and Mina Jhola in Rayagada district has a fair amount of devotees.

Fearing Maoists, Over 1200 Flee Villages In Madhya Pradesh

Friday 07th of March 2008

The residents of seven villages in Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh have fled from their homes due to Maoist threat.

The Madhya Pradesh police are putting up a brave face to the Maoist threat to kill top cops to avenge the killing of their 'commander' in a recent gun battle in Balaghat district's Dhiri village, but the people of Dhiri and six other villages have fled their homes.

Over 1,200 people, most from the Gond and Baiga tribes, living in the seven villages - Dhiri, Mahoutkhodra, Mundidadar, Raeily, Godradi, Bhave and Malaida - have deserted their places, fearing reprisals from Maoists for the killing of two Maoists, including a woman 'commander' of Darrekasa 'dalam', Sunanda Bai - in Jan 22 gun battle.

Balaghat District Collector Gulshan Bamra admitted that Dhiri and a few other villages have been deserted and the people were refusing to return to their homes. But he denied that this was because of fear of the police.

'It is too early to say why they want to leave the village,' he said, adding, 'exodus was mainly due to tough conditions in the village'.

'We assured them all facilities and security but they didn't budge. We are now putting up makeshift camps for them,' the collector said.

Last week, the Nagpur police recovered pamphlets and literature gthat said Maoists would avenge Sunanda Bai's killing. This led to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to deploy two additional companies of forces in the sensitive area.

But that has not helped restore the villagers' confidence.

'Tribals also rue lack of basic amenities and atrocities by forest officials, which they say have made their life miserable. Last year, they even approached the district authorities to help them migrate to better areas. Their exodus has, however, picked up after Jan 22 encounter during a raid on a training camp of Naxalites from Chhattisgarh,' said Kishore Samrite, Samajwadi Party legislator from Lanjhi.

'Dhiri, 40 km from the Lanji tehsil headquarters, is close to Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh and the police have been frequently questioning the villagers about Maoists' movements ever since the Maoists from the neighbouring states have started visiting here,' he added.

Besides Bamra, IG (Naxal-affected districts) Anvesh Mangalam, Balaghat Superintendent of Police H.C. Mishra and senior forest department officials visited the villagers last week to persuade them to return to their homes, but to no avail.

Manglam, however, said that the police were on alert and there was nothing to worry about. 'I can't say why they are leaving the village in such a hurry,' Lanji chief executive officer M.M. Prajapathi said.

Naxal fear: Security tightened

Friday March 7 2008 14:10 IST
Express News Service



PARADIP: Security was tightened in various temples of Ersama, Balikuda and Tirtol areas for ‘Shivaratri’ due to the Naxal fear that has gripped the coastal district post-Naygarh mayhem.

Recently, two injured Naxals had escaped from Ersama and Balikuda areas following police raids. Besides, a woman Maoist leader, Manju Muduli belonging of Ersama was arrested by Bhanjanagar police.

Security had been beefed up particularly at Grameswar temple of Panchpulli village under Ersama police limits as there were reports that the Naxals had targeted the 15th century temple.

Despite the threat, thousands of devotees thronged the Grameswar temple and other temples of Jagatsinghpur district. Assistant SP Paradip Jitu Patra said Naxal attack cannot be ruled out.

Cops challenged PLGA, had to be killed: Maoists

Friday March 7 2008 13:56 IST
Express News Service

BERHAMPUR: The CPI (Maoist) has claimed that they had no intention of killing cops in Nayagarh but they had to part with their lives to make their operation a success.

A week after owning responsibility for the loot of armouries in Nayagarh to strengthen the People’s Liberation Guerilla Army, the outlawed outfit has sent its second release to mediapersons.

The letter signed by Sunil, the organisational secretary of CPI (Maoist), Orissa State Committee, has called the armouries loot right under the nose of the police a fitting reply to the policy of Central and State Governments to suppress their movement forcefully.

It criticised the State Government for entrusting a ‘frustrated’ police force for combing and search operations, which in reality, is harassing the locals and innocent people, no way related to the operation.

While stating that the cops in Nayagarh had tried to challenge the PLGA, the letter also mentioned that one civilian was killed due to his own fault. "Despite the identity and warning by the PLGA, the youth tried to attack our cadres," said Sunil.

The PLGA also killed the Assistant Commandant and three jawans in the encounter at Gosama forest on February 16, he said, adding, two Maoists - Rambati and Ikbal, also succumbed. Though he did not mention anything about the whereabouts of their bodies, he criticised the Orissa Government for the false claim of Naxal killing.

While stating that the armed revolution of Maoists will continue, he exhorted the public to lend a helping hand to the ultras to save the innocent public from exploitation.

Prithviraj reaches the peak

Friday, March 7 2008


Prithviraj | Malayalam Actresses | Malayalam Actors | Movie Gallery Top
Find great deals and save! Compare products, prices & stores


The actor is also doing Robin Hood which reunites him with his Chocolate scriptwriters Sethu and Sachi. Incidentally, the film is produced by Santha Murali and P.K. Murali, who earlier produced Prithvi's biggest hits Classmates and Chocolate. Robin Hood, true to its name, is about a thief who steals from ATMs and helps the needy; it is directed by ace director Joshi.

Two more films are in the pipeline, one with debutant director Vipin Prabhar titled One Way Ticket and an untitled film with Shafi who gave us the delectable Chocolate.

Rahul Gandhi yatra under Naxal shadow

Friday March 7 2008 00:24 IST
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

BHUBANESWAR: Set to criss-cross 13 districts in four days, Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Discover India’ has put the security agencies on their toes.

After the Nayagarh mayhem and with most of the yatra routes being notorious for Naxalite activities, the administration is taking no chances.

Rahul will cover most of the places by helicopter and travel by road to some areas. He will visit mostly tribal pockets. Director-General of Police Gopal Chandra Nanda said security arrangements have been made as per requirements.

But he would not comment on whether there is a threat to Rahul from the Maoists. The security aspect has assumed importance as police are engaged in operations to flush out the Naxalites.

Union Urban Development Minister and AICC secretary in-charge of Orissa Ajay Maken said Rahul during his ‘Discover India’ visit, will meet people in Orissa.

Asked why Kalahandi was selected for launching the visit in Orissa, Maken recalled the emotional bond the Gandhi family has with the district. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi visited Kalahandi and Rahul also showed interest to begin his ‘Discovery India’ tour from there, he said.

Rahul’s programme will be issue-based. The programme which will start from Sinapali in Nuapada will focus on exposing the failures of the Naveen Patnaik Government.

Naxals woo fairer sex

7 Mar 2008, 0251 hrs IST,Soumittra S Bose,TNN


NAGPUR: When March 8 is being observed as International Women's Day, even the naxals will be singing paens for the fairer sex, to help increase their own tribe.

According to pamphlets distributed by suspected naxals - which have now landed in the office of senior police officers in Gondia - the ultras are now planning to appeal to the women folk in villages to join their "movement."

Police sources said that the pamphlets give descriptive details of women commanders from the naxal dalams who have been killed in encounters and champions their strive to fight for "women's rights."

Apparently, there is a shortage of cadres in the naxal dalams and it seems that the outfits are desperately wooing the poor tribals to join their fold. What's more, they want to increase their women's support base on March 8.