Saturday, May 03, 2008

Lathicharge on Maoist supporters

RANAGHAT, May 3: An activist of Bandi Mukti Committee (BMC) was injured and 11 detained after police resorted to lathicharge to control an agitation they staged at the Ranaghat Court compound today to protest the arrest of a few Maoist activists.
Ms Rangta Munshi, state executive member of BMC, alleged police resorted to lathicharge without provocation. Mr Hari Kishore Kusumakar, SP Nadia, said three policemen were injured after activists pelted them with stones. SNS

Chilkhari arrest

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Giridih, May 3: Giridih police arrested on Friday one Sriram Turi, area commander, of Jamui (Bihar) and accused in Chilkhari carnage in which the son of former chief minister Babulal Marandi had been killed along with 19 others.

He was arrested from Kolwa river area under Tisri police station. Sriram Turi, alias, Sita Ram Turi, is a resident of Sone village under Chakai police station of Jamui district.

The 25-year-old Maoist had come to meet his in-laws when he was arrested by Giridih police.

“Acting on a tip-off we arrested him from Tisri. After arresting him we had to cross check his identity since the rebel had not been active in this area and as a result there is also no case against him in Tisri police station”, the superintendent of police Murari Lal Meena said.

Politics of separation

Amarnath K. Menon
May 1, 2008

For the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) it is virtually a referendum on carving a separate state out of Andhra Pradesh. With by-elections to 18 Assembly constituencies and four Lok Sabha seats scheduled for May 29, retaining all the seats is a Herculean task for the party.

TRS legislators resigned en masse recently to protest the UPA Government’s failure to award separate statehood to Telangana, vacating 16 Assembly and four Lok Sabha seats.

Having decided to field all of them again, TRS can only hope that the Telangana sentiment in favour of a separate state will muster enough votes. The ruling Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are poised to retain the other two constituencies, in which the death of party incumbents has forced by-elections.

TRS supremo K. Chandrasekhara Rao, however, is upbeat. “Rivals will forfeit their deposits. The people of the region have been betrayed and know that their future will be bright only in a separate Telangana state,” says Rao, who is travelling extensively through all the 42 constituencies in the hope of scoring a victory.

But the gimmicks he’s resorting to—having a bath in the open in a village, making tea at a wayside stall and staying in a tribal hamlet on the eve of Ugadi, the Telugu new year’s day, with a camera trained on him throughout—give him away.


TRS supremo K. Chandrasekhara Rao rides a bullock cart as part of his campaign
TRS is on slippery ground, as anti-incumbency is likely to hurt the party’s prospects badly in six to eight of the 16 constituencies that it is trying to retain.

For the Congress and Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, it is a question of prestige. Reddy, who cannot afford to let the Telangana sentiment override his slogan of development, launched the Rs 2-a-kilo rice scheme on April 9, ahead of the announcement of the poll schedule.

Apprehensive about how his party will fare, Reddy has roped in ministers and influential MLAs to oversee the campaign in all constituencies, cautioning them that if they don’t put up a good show, they could lose out on party tickets for the 2009 Assembly elections.

It is easy to see where this worry stems from. In the last two decades— except in two constituencies, Mydaram and Mushirabad—the Congress has never won any of the 16 Assembly constituencies for two consecutive terms.

Its tally dropped to just two in 1994 from seven in 1989 and showed no improvement in 1999. The party has had a poor record since it handed over the constituencies in the region to TRS to contest as part of the 2004 poll pact between them.

With the Congress learning from past experience that it is better to rely on a strong leader than to shuffle chief ministers, the by-elections, coming less than a year ahead of the general elections, are an acid test for Reddy too.

Even as several political heavyweights have declined to contest against TRS on Congress tickets, fearing that they would be perceived as being anti-Telangana, Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee President D. Srinivas argues that the by-elections cannot be seen as a referendum.

“Our party leaders were the first to ask for a separate Telangana. The question of a referendum would crop up only if we said no to the idea, and we never did,” says Srinivas. But Congress as well as TDP cadres in the region are likely to vote for TRS candidates in large numbers, in support of the Telangana sentiment. BJP, too, is in favour of a separate state.

TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu has meanwhile taken advantage of the by-elections to join hands with CPI(M) to make it a tough triangular contest in most constituencies. The irony is that though TDP was anti-Telangana, it had done well in these constituencies before the advent of TRS.

No sooner was the poll schedule announced than a carefully ambiguous Naidu declared, for the first time, that his party is not against the formation of Telangana and that the issue will be discussed by a five-man committee of the party before taking a final stand.

“There are conflicting demands, with sections in Telangana and coastal Andhra Pradesh pitching for separate states and others opposing the idea. The best way is to discuss the issue thoroughly and then arrive at a decision,” says Naidu.

Rao believes that Naidu is not serious about the division of Andhra Pradesh. “If he is sincere, let his party write to the Cabinet Subcommittee headed by Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee, withdrawing its letter supporting a unified state of Andhra Pradesh,” he says.

Clearly, Naidu, whose communist allies are against a division, is keeping his options open in a bid to regain lost ground in the region.

All this makes it a now-or-never situation for TRS if it is to carry its separatist campaign forward. An acerbic Rao accuses the Congress and TDP of conspiring to defeat his party nominees in four Assembly constituencies and says that they have joined hands only to claim later, once the results are announced, that there is no Telangana sentiment in the region.

“There is no difference between the two parties. Both the Congress and TDP regimes killed Naxalites in encounters, failed to stop farmer suicides, sold Wakf properties and diverted funds meant for Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Their flags may be different but their agenda is the same,” says Rao.

Unfazed, Reddy believes voters will not be carried away by the Telangana factor alone. “There is a strong sentiment for a new state, but the overriding factor will be development. Since Independence, no government in the country has done as much on the development front as ours,” he claims.

As the parties gear up for the battle, the grim prospect of violence is surfacing. Maoists, known to step up militancy at election time, might make polling a taxing affair for the state administration. And with Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi threatening to jump into the fray in time for the general elections, things can only get more theatrical.

India: 1,170 weapons seized from Maoists

NEW DELHI, April 30 (UPI) -- India's police said they seized 1,170 weapons this year from Maoist rebels in Jharkhand and Bihar states.

"The responsibility for maintenance of law and order including dealing with Naxalite activities lies primarily in the domain of the concerned state government," Junior Interior Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal told Parliament.

Maoists are called Naxalites in India as their armed struggle began in the 1970s in Naxabari, West Bengal state.

He said state governments also undertake investigation and prosecution of crimes. On the assistance the federal government provides to Maoist-hit states, he said the central government maintains a close watch on the situation and supplements the efforts and resources of state governments by various means.

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be reproduced, redistributed, or manipulated in any form.

Manipur to arm people against militants Salwa Judum style

Imphal, May 03: The Manipur government will provide arms to people in two villages and give them training to protect themselves from attacks by militants , a move akin to the controversial `Salwa Judum` in Chattisgarh.

The decision to arm 500 villagers--300 at Heirok in Thoubal district and 200 at Lilong Chajing in Imphal west district--was taken during a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh yesterday, official sources said.

Salwa Judum is a vigilante group formed to take on the Naxals in Chattisgarh. It has kicked up a controversy with even the Supreme Court voicing reservations.

Sources said police would train the villagers in Manipur to be known as special police officers and each would be paid Rs 3,000 per month after completion of training.

These armed villgers would be deployed at their respective villages from June next, sources said, adding that five barracks--three Heirok and two at Lilong Chajing--would also be constructed.

The Congress government`s decision followed a demand from these villagers that they be provided with arms to protect themselves from militants in the wake of killing of four innocent civilians--three at Heirok in March and one in Lilong Chajing in April last. The villagers also faced threats of extortions and kidnapping.

Sources said special police officers would be recruited along the lines adopted in Jammu and Kashmir. Any village which would want protection from militants would be given arms as in Heirok and Lilong Chajing, the sources said.

Bureau Report

Now, Sambalpur to get anti-Naxal funds

Saturday May 3 2008 09:18 IST

Express News Service


SAMBALPUR: SAMBALPUR district, which was earlier excluded from the pilot project launched by the Centre to tackle Naxalism by providing special security related expenditure (SRE), may now have reasons to cheer.

If official reports are to be believed, the district has finally been included under the project entitling it to receive the SRE. Although 15 districts in the State had been identified as Naxal-infested and were getting SRE, six districts including Sambalpur had been excluded.

Initially, nine districts comprising Rayagada, Malkangiri, Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Nabarangpur,Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Sundargarh were enlisted to receive SRE. Later the State Government recommended the names of Sambalpur, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Kandhamal, Jajpur and Nayagarh.

It is learnt that while the Centre is yet to consider the inclusion of all the six districts, Sambalpur has been included and this was conveyed at the meeting convened by Union Cabinet Secretary at New Delhi recently, which was also attended by State Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and the Director General of Police. The exclusion of the district was for the first time reported in this paper and the State Government was blamed for its failure to present the case of Sambalpur.

Additional funds under SRE would help the police strengthen its intelligence further besides facilitating several development projects.

Contacted Sambalpur SP Sanjay Kumar said that while he is yet to receive any communication regarding the matter, he admitted that the funds will help them improve mobility and make the force more effective to combat Naxalism.

He said that it will also help them pay 15 percent extra salary to personnel working in Naxal-prone areas, as declared by the State Government. Even the surrender policy launched for Naxals would become more lucrative, he added

Naxal dalam commander nabbed in Gadchiroli

Nagpur (PTI): A naxal commander was arrested from Tondel village in Aheri taluka of Gadchiroli district, police said on Thursday.

Police said based on the specific information an operstion was launched on Wednesday to nab Madaniyya alias Karpa Shankar Atram, (35) who was hiding here.

He did not have any weapon at the time of arrest, police said.

Madaniyya was a dalam commander since 2001 and was also a member of Perimili area committee and involved in several naxal violence incidents, including arson, blasting of land mines and killings.

He was behind the killing of a SRPF jawan in weekly market recently. He was produced before a local court which remanded him to seven days police custodial remand, police added.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Top Naxal leader surrenders in AP

By Omer Farooq (Our correspondent)

30 April 2008




HYDERABAD — A senior Maoist leader Srinivasan, who had played a crucial role in establishing the CPI Maoist organisation in north India, especially Haryana and Delhi, yesterday surrendered before the Andhra Pradesh state Human Rights Commission.


An ailing Srinivasan told the Chairman of the commission, Justice Subhashini Reddy that he was surrendering because of the death of his father, old age of her mother and his own illness. On the directions of the human rights commission, Srinivasan was later taken to the state Director-General of Police SSP Yadav, who welcomed the decision of Srinivasan. He assured Srinivasan that he would lead a normal life in accordance with the law any where in the state and he would not face any problem from the police.

He also directed the police officials to see if any cases were pending against Srinivasan in the state.

Srinivasan was active in Delhi and Haryana since 1993 and built the organisation from the scratch. However, since 2004, when he had fallen sick, he was lying low and leading a semi-retired life.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Naxal violence in Giridih, Garwah, Gumla

PTI
Tuesday, April 29, 2008 16:12 IST


GARWARH: Naxalites blew up an under-construction government building at Madhuban in Giridih district in the wee hours today and in separate incidents they killed a villager in Garwah and burnt houses in Gumla district.

Around a dozen naxalites reached the vacant building site around 1.30 am and packed it with explosives before triggering the blast, according to police said here.

The explosion damaged a major portion of the building, they said.

In another incident, a group of armed naxalites dragged a villager out from his Dolh Gaon house in Garwah district and shot him dead last night, police said, adding the naxalites had branded the person as a "police informer".

A naxal group set fire to five houses in Nathpur village in Gumla district yesterday, Superintendent of Police, Baljeet Singh said.

The Maoists arson followed after the villagers allegedly continued to give shelter to one Manoj Yadav, who snapped links with the CPI (Maoist) to join Jharkhand Liberation
Tigers (JLT) a month ago, Singh added.

Household articles of four of the five houses were destroyed in the fire, the official said.

Teen ‘rebels’ to face action

OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Bhubaneswar, April 28: The government has reacted sharply to reports of a Naxalite outfit “grooming” teenagers to be cadre in Malkangiri.

Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, known to be Naxalite dens, border Malkangiri district of Orissa.

“We shall take strict action through our paramilitary and police forces if the charges are proven,” said chief minister Naveen Patnaik, while reacting to reports today at a media meet held to discuss this issue.

The matter gained prominence yesterday when a TV channel showed video clippings of a recent Bal Sangam rally in which more than 2,000 children between eight and 10 years had participated.

However, the clippings did not specify the date or the location of the rally.

Some sections of the media recently reported that a Maoist outfit, Bal Sangam, were inducting tribal teenagers to its fold taking advantage of the poverty and illiteracy in the remote part of the state.

Sources said the rebels were training children to collect information, handle sophisticated weapons like AK-47 and SLRs and plant mines. They were also being taught Maoist and Leninist ideology and the history of the Naxalite movement.
The recruits were also being engaged to collect intelligence inputs on police action, deliver messages and procure food from the market.

Bihar villagers appeal to God for change of heart of Naxalites

BBy Surya Pratap Singh Raniganj (Bihar), Apr 28 : Thousands of people belonging to 108 villages in Gaya District on the Bihar-Jharkhand border are performing Mahayajna (prayer with fire ritua...



Thousands of people belonging to 108 villages in Gaya District on the Bihar-Jharkhand border are performing Mahayajna (prayer with fire ritual) with the objective of convincing Naxalites to shun violence.

Organised in Raniganj, a market adjoining the Jharkhand border and in the vicinity of the Jangam mountain, the nine-day Mahayajna is being seen as an event of considerable significance given that the area has been a Naxalite bastion for three decades.

Residents of these villages gather at the Ranjganj market to buy their day-to-day requirements.

Local residents believe the Naxalites to be misguided individuals who need to be motivated to return to the mainstream.

"They are our own brothers who have strayed and taken the wrong path. They are a troubled lot, we need to help them to return for good. We should get them back into the mainstream," said Motilal Saawariya, one of the organizers of the religious ceremony. .

Scores of people have been killed by the Naxalites, who often move between the two States to avoid defection and capture by the security forces.

Villagers hope the Mahayajna will motivate the Naxalites for a change of heart and convince them to take to the right path in life..

The "Shri Ram Mahayagya", which includes the Yajna ceremony in the morning and religious discourses on non-violence and on Ram leela (the enactment of Lord Rama's ideal life) in the evenings.

About 100 seers, saints and priests from different parts of India have converged here to conduct the Mahayajna till May 1.

"We want to pray to the almighty that better sense prevails among the Maoists. We want them to come back to the mainstream and stop all violent activities," said Hanuman Das, a saint.

Daily meals and camping arrangements have been made in an area spread over 10 acres.

Gaya is notorious for its poverty and lawlessness and for an ongoing conflict between the Maoists and private upper-caste militias set against the backdrop of acute social disparities.

Maoists claim they are fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers and routinely call strikes, attack government property and target local politicians.

Interestingly, the ongoing religious ceremonies have attracted many Naxalites. (ANI)
© 2007 ANI

Sarpanch shot dead by Naxals

Statesman News Service
RAYAGADA, April. 28: The sarapanch of Rekhaguda in Rayagada district was killed by suspected Naxals this morning.
Sources said the incident took place, when the sarapanch, Ananta Kodagiri was returning home after a meeting.
The radicals, who were waiting for him near a dense forest, shot him killing him on the spot.
Police rushed to the spot and started combing operations immediately.
Though such murder of village heads and supposed informers of police have taken place in Malkangiri district, this is such first case for Rayagada.
It is said that after 15 February Nayagarh mayhem and following intensified patrolling and combing operations.
Naxals now target the village heads and persons, they believe, work for the police as informer.

Three hard core Naxals nabbed

Statesman News Service
MALKANGIRI, April. 28: Police got a major success today, with arrest of three most-wanted Naxal leaders along with arms and huge cache of explosives, after fierce gun battle in the dense forest of Jakalmudi under MV 79 police limits today. The arrested trio has been identified as Soma Kabasi alias Kama, Ramesh Kabasi alias Bhima and Deba Kabasi. It is learnt that the trio was wanted by Malkangiri police.
Sources said, after Naxals allegedly killed one unidentified person at Telerai chowk over state highway at Kalimela recently, police operation has been increased at this region and raided several suspected hideouts of Naxals.
At Jakalmudi forest, Naxal opened fired on police party and in return, police opened fire on them and encounter lasted for hours. The three were then arrested. From their possession, one SBBL gun, one live tiffin bomb and one high-explosive grenade and other explosive materials and Naxal literature were seized.
Later, briefing the media, SP Mr Satish Kumar Gajbhiye informed that they were into extortion business creating panic and fear among the common people. He said that none of the 17 central zonal committee members are non-tribal and reportedly possess properties worth crore.
"They usually put the gullible tribals on frontal defence and escape, when police approached," Mr. Gajbhiye pointed out.
On being asked about the bal sangathan training camp, which is allegedly going on in Malkangiri, he admitted that such organisations are active in the region, but refuted that it has never been such massive one.
"Police are successful in combating the Naxal menace quite efficiently;" he said and added that arrest of 37 Naxals within a year is a pointer in this direction.
In Bhubaneswar, replying to queries by reporters about the sangathan, chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik said that para-military forces will take necessary steps for the same.

Naxal violence in Giridih, Garwah, Gumla

Giridih-Garwah (Jharkhand) (PTI): Naxalites blew up an under-construction government building at Madhuban in Giridih district in the wee hours on Tuesday and in separate incidents they killed a villager in Garwah and burnt houses in Gumla district

Around a dozen naxalites reached the vacant building site around 1.30 am and packed it with explosives before triggering the blast, according to police said here.

The explosion damaged a major portion of the building, they said.

In another incident, a group of armed naxalites dragged a villager out from his Dolh Gaon house in Garwah district and shot him dead on Monday night, the police said, adding the naxalites had branded the person as a "police informer".

A naxal group set fire to five houses in Nathpur village in Gumla district on Monday, Superintendent of Police, Baljeet Singh said.

The Maoists arson followed after the villagers allegedly continued to give shelter to one Manoj Yadav, who snapped links with the CPI (Maoist) to join Jharkhand Liberation Tigers (JLT) a month ago, Singh added.

Household articles of four of the five houses were destroyed in the fire, the official said.

India Is Urged to Meet With Maoist Rebel Group

By KRISHNA POKHAREL and PAUL BECKETT
April 29, 2008; Page A6

New Delhi -- A government-appointed panel is urging Indian officials to consider negotiations with Maoist rebels who are securing a widening foothold in the center and south of the country.

An openness to talks would mark an about-face for the Indian government, which until now has viewed the insurgency as a law-and-order problem best tackled with security actions by individual states.

The recommendation was contained in a report by a panel appointed by the Planning Commission, the Indian government's internal think tank. The report was completed and given to the government earlier this month. A draft copy of the report was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, and the major recommendations in the final report were confirmed with a panel member.

"Both the central and the state governments should have an open mind about having peace talks with Naxalites without any prior conditionality," the draft report says. The Indian government's stance is that it won't negotiate before the rebels renounce violence and give up crime and their arms.

The report paints a bleak picture of the outcome of grappling with 40 years of so-called Naxalite rebellion -- a name given to the Maoist rebel movement after it started in the district of Naxalbari in West Bengal in the late 1960s. Those affected by the violence suffer from a lack of proper governance and poverty-alleviation programs while politicians have ignored their responsibility to help.

"To reduce the anger of the people, it is necessary that [those affected] should feel that they are a part of the mainstream of Indian society and not an external element to be looked down upon by others," the draft says.

In recent years, the Naxalites, who favor the overthrow of the Indian government, have made significant inroads in the center and south of the country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called Naxalism the biggest internal security challenge that India faces. Some state governments have responded by backing or tacitly encouraging local vigilante groups -- known as Salwa Judum -- that aim to counter the Naxalites. In the state of Chhattisgarh, the violence between the two sides has displaced about 100,000 people, many of them from indigenous tribes. The report also recommends the winding up of Salwa Judum, which means "purification hunt" in local dialect.

A spokesman for India's Home Ministry said the government has dealt with the Naxalites in a "holistic manner, in the arenas of security, development, administration and public-perception management."

Some experts said the report's recommendations are unlikely to be adopted wholesale by the government, given the extent of Naxal violence and the rebels' continuing and frequent attacks on security personnel. More than 220 people have died so far this year in Maoist-related violence. The death toll was 650 in 2007 and 742 in 2006, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, a New Delhi-based research outfit.

"The developmental approach, as suggested by the report, takes time -- maybe 20 to 25 years -- to address the Naxal problem," said Ajai Sahni, the organization's executive director. He said it is more important for the government to restore control and start winning back land lost to the rebels. "Talks are possible when they have lost the will to fight," he said. "Right now, they are still ascendant."

Write to Krishna Pokharel at krishna.pokharel@wsj.com and Paul Beckett at paul.beckett@wsj.com

Antony promises better deal to armed forces

Special Correspondent



Ensure fair play and transparency, commanders told



NEW DELHI: While assuring the armed forces a “fair solution” to their demand for a better monetary deal, Defence Minister A.K. Antony advised the top brass of the Army to balance their expectations by being equitable and fair to their juniors.

“The services have pointed out various anomalies which are being taken up at the appropriate level. I hope a fair solution will be arrived at the earliest,” he told the bi-annual army commanders’ conference. “But the officers must ensure equity, fair play and transparency so that the faith of soldiers in the system is reinforced.”

Noting that cases of suicide and fratricide had decreased, Mr. Antony nevertheless wanted army commanders to continue with the efforts to ensure better and more humane man management, respecting the dignity of jawans and promptly redressing their grievances. Officers must exercise their authority without arbitrariness or bias and streamline the process of promotions. Urgent remedial steps were also needed to reduce the increase in statutory complaints.

Mr. Antony said it was time women were granted their due in the services. “I have given an assurance in the Rajya Sabha that the Ministry will look into the grant of permanent commission to women in the non-combatant stream, to begin with. It is a commitment that we all must honour and endeavour to achieve this objective on priority,” he said. This is one of the issues the commanders will deliberate over the next few days.

A ‘defining moment’


On the international front, India continued to abide by confidence-building measures with China but it must constantly upgrade military and economic capabilities as “there is no room for complacency.”

Describing the current phase as a “defining moment” in the history of Nepal, New Delhi was committed to helping Kathmandu in every way to ensure an orderly and constitutional transition to multi-party democracy.

On the domestic front, he reiterated the Army’s involvement in J&K and the northeast, but felt its role in countering naxal violence was limited. “The Army has provided assistance to States by setting up counter-terrorism institutions. The task [of countering naxalism] lies clearly in the realm of State police forces and paramilitary forces. They must develop the requisite capacity and efficiency to deal with this menace effectively. However, they must benefit from the Army’s immense experience and expertise in these areas,” he said.

The conference, on till May 2, is expected to discuss an eclectic set of issues such as a different uniform, merger of regimental centres, study leave policy, and payment for land occupied in J&K.

COUNTER VIEW: Don't engage with terrorists

29 Apr 2008, 0001 hrs IST,Tara Gupta



Reports that a high-powered committee appointed by the Planning Commission has recommended that the government hold peace talks with Naxalites are a cause for concern.

While some of the measures prescribed by the committee to counter the Naxal movement look like good advice, the idea that the state should confer legitimacy on what is essentially a bunch of terrorists by negotiating with them, is ridiculous.

Salwa Judum should be called off, yes. It amounts to vigilantism and only deepens the law and order problem in areas affected by Naxalite violence.

It is also true that the Naxalite movement has managed to gain a foothold in tribal and hilly areas where the state has failed. But this does not mean that the government should compound its errors by agreeing to engage the Naxalites in talks.

A democratic government should attempt to resolve a conflict via diplomacy and negotiation. But not when the other party is a violent political movement that is opposed to the very existence of the state.

There are no calls to negotiate with Lashkar-e-Taiba or engage with Jaish-e-Mohammed. The Naxals are every bit as bad as those two organisations.

They want the destruction of the Indian state. There is nothing to gain from even trying to conduct a dialogue with them.

Contrary to what the committee has said, the Naxalite problem is a law and order issue. To sit across the negotiating table with the Naxal leadership will send a signal to the people in those areas that it is acceptable to resort to violence to make a point.

It would also legitimise the Naxal movement itself. Negotiation works only when all involved parties agree on certain basic principles and want an end to a conflict.

With the Naxalites, who don't believe that the state is a legitimate entity, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to arrive at a mutual point of agreement.

By talking to the Naxal leadership, the government would give stature to a terrorist organisation that has no intention of allowing Indians to ever live in peace.

VIEW: Government should talk to Naxalites

Monday, April 28, 2008

Orissa village leader shot dead by Maoists

Bhubaneswar, April 28 (IANS) Unidentified attackers Monday shot dead a village leader in Orissa’s Rayagada district, the police said. The assailants shot dead middle-aged Ananta Kondagiri, the sarpanch (village council chief) of Rekhapadar panchayat near his village Pandratola, some 35 km from the district headquarters of Rayagada and some 700 km from here, around 9.45 a.m., police official A.K. Deo told IANS.

The attackers opened fire at him when he was walking to his office, located about one-and-a-half kilometre away from his home, he said.

“We don’t know the exact reason for the murder but it could be either due to political rivalry or an act of Maoists,” he said. The police have reached to the spot and begun investigating.

Rebels of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) are active in more than half of Orissa’s 30 districts.

In the past three months they have killed at least eight villagers in neighbouring Malkangiri district, suspecting them of being police spies.

The 'business' of Maoist movement in India

P.V. Ramana



Financing a 'revolution' is not child's play. It is all the more tough when the organisation is proscribed and hence operates underground. For the Indian Maoists, also known as Naxalites, the conditions are a little more unfavourable because they claim to be fighting for the deprived and neglected sections of society who are poor. And the Maoists do not enjoy the support of the affluent.
But still the Maoists are being able to collect and manage vast sums of money. According to a media report of April 9, 2008, the annual 'extortion' by the Maoists is a whopping Rs.1,000 crore. A former official of the Intelligence Bureau and now a senior police officer in Chhattisgarh told this author in 2007 that the annual extortion totals Rs.1,500 crore! This is truly impressive.

The question that naturally arises is: how is this possible? The answer is not far to seek. The Naxalites extort money from those who they can reach, and those who have ill-gotten wealth. The fear of violent retribution makes people pay money. Those who pay up include politicians -- big and small, corrupt government servants, businesses and rich landlords. Besides, the rebels also raise funds through contributions from sympathisers and activists.

According to the 'constitution' of the Maoists, which was prepared in September 2004 during the foundation of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and reportedly amended at the Unity Congress of January 2007, each cadre (party member) has to pay an 'annual subscription' of Rs.10. Besides, the rebels will decide the sums to be paid annually by supporters who are gainfully employed.

Writing in December 2001, well-known environmental writer Richard Mahapatra claimed that in Orissa, bamboo fellers, who have been organised by the rebels, 'contribute' Rs.5 every day from their wages to the rebels.

Similarly, poor tribals who are engaged in the collection of kendu/tendu/beedi leaf (similar to tobacco) that is grown in forest areas also contribute to the Maoists. They have reason to do so. The rebels have organised them, fought for their cause against beedi leaf contractors and ensured that they get at least the minimum wages stipulated by the government, if not more. In the 1970s, when the minimum wage prescribed was 5 paise for a bundle of 100 leaves in Andhra Pradesh, the beedi leaf contractors were paying 4 paise.

And then the Naxalites came on to the scene. After that, every year they have been able to successfully negotiate with the beedi leaf contractors and secure better wages for the tribals. This has been the greatest success of the Naxalites. But they also 'extort' huge amounts from beedi leaf contractors in order to let them to do business. Indeed, extortion from these contractors is the single largest source of income for the Naxalites.

A variety of businesses generate money to the Naxalites. A senior intelligence official in Andhra Pradesh told this author that Class A, B, C and D public works contractors pay 8, 6, 4 and 2 percent respectively of the total bid. That apart, a large paper mill in Andhra Pradesh is believed to have paid Rs.5 million every month in 2001. Similarly, a rayon factory, also in Andhra Pradesh, pays Rs.10 million annually to the Maoists, a senior superintendent of police told this author.

The Naxalites demand and secure money from politicians of various hues and from different levels. The home minister of one of India's highly affected states is said to have paid a huge sum to the rebels to get elected from his constituency. Another political leader who went on to become a cabinet minister in the central government paid Rs.1.7 million to the Maoists to facilitate his election, a senior intelligence official from Jharkhand told this author in February 2007. Reportedly, a former union minister paid money to the Maoists to win elections.

A junior central intelligence official in Visakhapatnam said that government servants, including teachers in the GK Veedhi mandal were asked to pay a 'fine' of approximately one month's salary for continuously being absent from work.

The chief editor of the Ranchi-based Prabhat Khabar Hindi daily said in January 2005 that in Bihar and Jharkhand the Naxalites had circulated a limited number of booklets listing the sources of their funds. Reportedly, some government employees too have paid levy to the Naxalites. All this persuades one to wonder if Naxalism is indeed not a thriving business proposition!

CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE OF HOME MINISTRY DISCUSSES NEED FOR A FEDERAL AGENCY TO INVESTIGATE CERTAIN CRIMES

17:10 IST
A meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Home Affairs was held here this morning to discuss the subject of “Central Law Enforcement Agency/Federal Investigation Agency”.

The Union Home Minister, Shri Shivraj V. Patil who chaired the meeting welcomed the Members and solicited their views on the issue. Some members stressed upon the need for a Central Agency to investigate cases of terrorism and other related crimes that have interstate and international ramifications. The importance of taking the State Governments into confidence on this subject was highlighted and it was suggested that final decision on the form and functions of a possible Central Agency should be taken after consultation with State Governments. More meetings to discuss the matter with the Chief Ministers of the States may also be considered if need be. The Members also stressed upon the need for strengthening the existing intelligence and police apparatus in the States to deal with such crimes as Terrorism, Espionage, Naxalite attacks etc.

While responding to the views expressed by the Members, Shri Patil observed that whenever some incident takes place in a State, the Government of India is expected to take action, but Police and Public Order being State Subjects under the Constitution, the Centre has its limitations. It is therefore, necessary to discuss the issue of Central agencies to investigate certain types of crimes and to counter terrorism, and the manner in which it should be done, with the States, and this is being done. However, the decision in this respect can be taken up after developing a necessary consensus. He also reiterated the Central Government’s resolve to assist State Governments through deployment of para-military forces, providing funds for police modernization etc but he hoped that States would take time bound steps to fill up the vacancies in their Police Forces, and to further augment them.

The members who attended today’s meeting included S/Shri Nikhil Kumar, Mohanbhai Delkar, and Khagen Das of the Lok Sabha and Dr. K. Malaisamy, Mahmood A. Madani and D. Raja of the Rajya Sabha. The Ministers of State for Home, Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal, Dr. Shakeel Ahmed and Smt. V. Radhika Selvi and the Union Home Secretary, Shri Madhukar Gupta were among those present at the meeting.

Rahul Gandhi visits Chhattisgarh's tribal areas

Monday, April 28, 2008 (Chhattisgarh)
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi visited some of the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh that have not benefited from government schemes.

The Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has not reached them because it is so poorly implemented. Other rural schemes cover farmers and not the tribals, who are traditionally artisans.

In fact, the new laws actually restrict their access to forests and soil their primary resource. Rahul Gandhi was to examine this situation. But his trip was short and a last-minute change of plan left many villagers disappointed.

A poor tribal Chhigna cannot read, nor can anyone else in his family. The others in the family work to survive on a small piece of land. The rain gods rarely keep their monsoon promise, like the government with its schemes for free pumps and old age pension and the Employment Guarantee Plan.

The tribal of Chhattisgarh do not know who the PM is but all youngs and olds lined up to see Rahul Gandhi.

A little further away in Kumharpura village, 50 families of potters waited for Rahul Gandhi, but he didn't show up due to a last-minute change of plan for security reasons. For the tribal, it was heartbreak. They had hopes that Rahul's visit would change their lives.

The state has been of little help. Since they are not traditionally farmers. They have not benefited from the government's land-allotment schemes. Now, with no access to land and banned from collecting firewood, they have no resources to survive in their natural habitat.

All this makes them ripe for new leaders, like the naxals and Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress is hoping Rahul Gandhi's visit will have a huge political impact. The tribal await a impact that would make their life less difficult.

CRPF for synergy between state govts, para-military force

New Delhi (PTI): With its focus mainly on countering Left-wing extremism, the CRPF on Monday favoured a greater synergy between the state government apparatus with para-military force for ensuring result-oriented operations.

"We perform anti-naxal operations with the help of the respective state governments. In Jharkhand, CRPF has been successful only because of good intelligence. In Chhattisgarh, state government has got to do a lot of work in enhancing intelligence," Director General of CRPF V K Joshi told reporters here.

"Most of the work has to be done by states and they should be sharing it with us," he said in his first media briefing after taking over as the head of world's largest para-military force in April this year.

CRPF, which is mainly engaged in countering Naxalism in all the 11 states, has also made a proposal to the Centre for a separate intelligence wing as it feels that this would help in executing successful operations.

"Our operations in Jharkhand had been successful because of good intelligence. We will be asking Chhattisgarh to activate its intelligence cell," he said.

Joshi put all speculation to rest about the links between the CRPF personnel and the militants who had executed the sensational early morning attack on the para-military's recruitment centre in the Uttar Pradesh on January one.

"No connivance has been found in the Rampur attack. However, action has been taken against two Gazzetted and 10 Non-gazetted officers for dereliction of duty," the CRPF DG said.

CRPF wants own intelligence wing to fight Maoists

New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) The paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Monday reiterated its demand for setting up its own intelligence wing to combat Maoist rebels in the worst affected states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

“We have been long demanding our own separate intelligence wing. The proposal has been sent to the ministry of home affairs but no decision has been taken so far,” CRPF Director General V.K. Joshi told reporters here.

“For naxal (Maoist) operations, we have largely been depending on the state police and their intelligence wing. In Jharkhand, we had a series of successful anti-Maoist operations due to strong intelligence. But it is not the same in Chhattisgarh,” Joshi said Monday, addressing his first press conference after taking over from his predecessor S.I.S. Ahmed earlier this month.

The CRPF chief said: “The proposal is lingering in the ministry and we want it to be approved at the earliest.”

According to the ministry of home affairs, 76 districts in nine states - Andhra Pradesh (16), Jharkhand (16), Bihar (14), Orissa (9), Chhattisgarh (8), Maharashtra (4) and three each in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal - are the worst affected by the Maoist menace.

As many as 236 security personnel have lost their lives in clashes with Maoist guerrillas in 2007, while the figure was 157 in 2006 and 153 in 2005.

"We always claim that state governments and the CRPF work hand-in-hand to fight Maoists. But in reality, there is a lack of coordination among the security personnel and the states' intelligence wing," A top CPRF official told IANS, requesting not to be named.

“For better functioning, we had sent a proposal (for a new intelligence system) of 1,250 posts to the home ministry in 2005. The administrative department cleared it, but the finance ministry rejected it after a year. They said there was no need of a parallel system as states already have an intelligence mechanism,” the official said.

He said the proposal was reworked and sent to the home ministry again last year. “We have been sending them reminders, but no communication has come from them.”

The official added: “The ground situation is different in each state. The state police focus on gathering micro intelligence, but tackling Maoists needs information at the macro level.”

The CRPF, which is responsible for maintaining security, has 201 battalions with 260,000 troopers and officials.

The force has deployed 72 battalions, around 40 percent of the force, to quell insurgency and maintain law and order in Jammu and Kashmir, while over 35 battalions are in Maoist-affected states like Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa.

IANS

Talk to Naxalites, says govt panel

28 Apr 2008, 0217 hrs IST,Akshaya Mukul,TNN


NEW DELHI: Admitting that the rise of Naxalism was a "political movement with a strong base among poor peasantry and adivasis", a high-powered government committee has ascribed its growth to people’s discontent and complete failure of the system and asked for immediate winding up of the Salwa Judum.

The report, prepared by a panel set up by the Planning Commission, said that measures like Salwa Judum "delegitimizes politics, dehumanizes people, degenerates those engaged in their security and above all, represents abdication of the state itself".

While criticising the crude violence practised by Naxalites, the committee asked the government to first deal with the problem of landlessness, ensure livelihood and have an effective land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement policy. It also asked the government to hold peace talks with the Naxalites.

Stating that "dissent or expression of dissatisfaction is a positive feature of democracy", the committee said, "What is surprising is not the fact of unrest, but the failure of the state to draw right conclusions from it."

The committee recommended that all debt liabilities of the weaker sections be liquidated where the debtor has paid an amount equivalent to the original principal and where intended benefit for which the loan was taken has not accrued to the borrowers. A policy and legal framework should be put in place to enable small and marginal farmers to lease-in land with secure rights while landless poor occupying government land should not be treated as encroachers. Instead, they should be declared as deemed patta holders on "as is where is" basis.

The committee recommended that the tribal sub-plan be brought under the fifth schedule and forest produce be provided protection of minimum support price.

"Public purpose" in the Land Acquisition Act should be limited to national security and public welfare and should not be stretched to acquisition for companies, cooperatives and registered societies. Police should undergo rigorous training not only on humane tactics of controlling rural violence but also on the constitutional obligation of the state for the protection of fundamental rights.

The committee, set up by the Planning Commission in 2006, is headed by D Bandopadhyay, a retired IAS officer who played a key role in dealing with Naxalites in West Bengal in the 1970s. Among the members are Prakash Singh, former UP DGP and an expert on Naxal issues; Ajit Doval, former director of Intelligence Bureau; B D Sharma, retired bureaucrat and activist; Sukhdeo Thorat, UGC chairman and K Balagopal, human rights lawyer. The committee submitted its report earlier this month.

On growth of Naxalism, the report said that while policy documents admitted direct correlation between extremism and poverty, in practice, the government treated it as a law and order problem. "It is necessary to change this mindset and bring about congruence between policy and implementation," the panel said.

The report has exhaustive details about social, political, economic and cultural discrimination faced by SCs/STs in the country and how that resulted in discontented people finding succour in immediate justice provided by the Naxalites.

To buttress its point, the committee did a survey of four districts affected by Naxalism and compared it with four comparatively more developed ones in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

It was found that the districts where Naxalism had grown were different from developed ones in 10 ways: high share of SC/ST population, low literacy, high infant mortality, low level of urbanization, high forest cover, high share of agricultural labour, low per capita foodgrain production, low level of road length, high share of rural households without bank accounts and high share of rural households without specified assets.

Blaming the growth of Naxalism on poor governance, the report said, "It is not fortuitous that overwhelmingly large sections of bureaucracy/technocracy constituting the delivery system come from landowning dominant castes or well-to-do middle classes, with their attachment to ownership of property, cultural superiority, purity-pollution governed behaviour and a state of mind which rationalizes and asserts their existing position of dominance in relation to others".

Arguing that land-related factors played an important role in the growth of Naxalism, as seen in the "land to the tiller" policy of the Naxalites, the report said Naxalites had done little to redistribute private land among poor. Pointing out that thousands of acres of land remained fallow, the panel asked the government to devise legal means to ensure that the landless got land.

It also suggested that land be returned to those landholders where it was taken by Naxalites for political reasons. "Excesses of the Naxalites in this regard are not only unjustified but deserve utmost censure," the report said.

akshaya.mukul@timesgroup.com