Thursday, May 08, 2008

Woman Maoist shot

Thursday May 8 2008 13:39 IST
Express News Service


PARVATIPURAM: A woman Maoist was killed in an exchange of fire on Wednesday at Alamanda in Koraput district (Orissa), where a joint combing is on by the Andhra and Orissa special party police.

The police fired bullets at the Maoists for 15 minutes before recovering the body and arms including a self-loading riffle (SLR), two single barrel-bore loader (SBBL) weapons, one tapancha and eight kitbags.

Vizianagaram superintendent of police Vikram Singh Mann told this website's newspaper that the special party police were on a routine combing operation at Alamanda for the past few days.

The police found a Maoist group which opened fire at the police which was retaliated. Frightened, the Maoists fled the scene and left some arms.

The woman Maoist’s body was recovered at the spot. She is believed to have been a member of the Koraput Dalam.

Three Chhattisgarh policemen killed in Maoist blast

Bombay News.Net
Thursday 8th May, 2008 (IANS)

Three policemen were killed Thursday when Maoist guerrillas exploded a land mine in a forested stretch in Chhattisgarh, the police said.

The incident took place in Kanker district's Chindgarh village, some 310 km south of here.

Deputy Inspector General Pawan Deo told IANS that one of the dead men was an officer from the Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF).

The mine went off when an 11-member police unit tasked with checking roads for land mines stepped over the mine, Deo said over telephone.

Naxalites ignore writing on the walls

Kanchan Siddiqui
RANIGANJ (Burdwan), May 7: The ultra Left parties in the coal belt of Bengal are fighting the panchayat elections this time sans bullets. Setting aside its ideological differences, the Naxalites have come out to confront the parties politically. At some places, one of its factions have even shared seats with the Trinamul Congress and the Congress.
A fortnight back, the Durgapur administration and police were in a fix after receiving two separate complaints lodged by the CPI-ML. The Chandrapulla Reddy faction of the Naxalite party cited two separate examples of how the CPI candidates had flouted the electoral code of conduct by writing on the walls of the residential houses of the Naxalite candidates.
The SDO, Mr RN Basu Roychowdhury who is also the returning officer of the sub-division, had to ask the police to sort out the crisis immediately. Mrs Promila Devi Ram, Naxalite (CP Reddy faction) candidate for Khandra panchayat seat saw with utter surprise that the wall of her own house was bearing the wall campaign of Mrs Pukia Makhi of the CPI, who is her political adversary.
Mrs Makhi is also the sitting pradhan of Khandra panchayat. This, the Naxalites assumed was an attempt by the LF partner to provoke the Naxalites into employing violent tactics and earn a bad name before the elections. Mrs Ram said: “I felt quite embarrassed and my party leaders asked my cadres to exercise restraint.” In Khandra GP out of a total of 18 seats, the LF has won in 10 unopposed. "The Naxalites are contending in only two seats," she said.
The offence was repeated in the adjacent Bahula panchayat area within a week. At the courtyard wall of Naxalite candidate, Mrs Ashadevi Thakur, the CPI put up a wall campaign in favour of Mrs Lathadevi Paswan. Both the matters were immediately brought to the notice of the administration.
As stated Mr Sunil Pal, district secretary of the party: “Initially we felt humiliated. When this was repeated further in another panchayat area, the message was very clear to us. The LF was trying to provoke us to choose the path of violence.”
He said: “We are contesting in a total 33 panchayat and samiti seats in Raniganj, Jamuria, Laodoha areas. Our presence in the electioneering is to expose the fallacy of this so called democratic system.” His faction operates Iftu ~ a trade union among the coal field workers.
The Naxalites operating in this coal belt have got two factions, one led by the CP Reddy faction and the other dominating across the Ajoy riverbank in Pandaveswar and Laodoha is known as the Sanbtosh Rana faction. The Rana faction used to lead the Kendra panchayat. Ganesh Pal, the leader of the faction was shot dead following a dispute over the controlling of the Kendra panchayat that has 13 seats. The CPI-M was accused of masterminding the plot to kill the leader.
Now the faction has tied up with the Trinamul Congress in places like Pandaveswar, Ukhra and has fielded 20 candidates in panchayat and samiti seats. Mr Somnath Chatterjee, leader of the faction said: “Though there was no official seat adjustment with the Trinamul, but we have managed the sharing of seats amicably. We have compromised a bit to give the LF a big fight in the panchayats."
The LF has given no heed to the new Naxalite-Trinamul Congress equation in the coal belt.
Mr RC Singh, the CPI district secretary said: “All of them originally belonged to our party. Now a handful of our cadres have been lured by the CPI-ML in the name of revolution which is absurd here. Their candidates themselves have asked our party men to paint the walls in our favour.”
In Bhandardihi near Burdwan town, the Naxalites have been accused of grabbing the walls ‘reserved' for CPI-M candidates.
The Kartik Pal faction of the Naxalites has painted the wall in favour of Mr Annadaprasad Bhattacharya, who is their candidate.
The CPI-M has taken up the issue with the Burdwan DM, Mr Pal said: “I shall ask my people to rectify this.”

My friend the rebel, Maloy Krishna Dhar

http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?id=14667336



Ram Bahadur Rai is the editor of Pratham Pravakta, a Hindi news magazine published from Delhi. A former news editor of Jansatta newspaper, he is the author of Rahvari ke Sawal (on Chandrashekhar) and Manjil se Jyada Safar (on V. P. Singh). A founding organiser of J. P. Movement, Ram Bahadur declined to walk into the corridors of power. An eternal rebel, he explains why he wants to walk with another rebel, Maloy Krishna Dhar for as long as he can.

Friendship between a spymaster and a journalist is a curious thing. Both gather and disseminate information and intelligence; though for different consumers.

The JP Movement had galvanised India in the mid-1970s, and given the country an opportunity to rebuild the system. It failed because of the hunger of the political personalities. For us, (people like K. N. Gobindacharya, Nitish Kumar and I), the movement was a turning point.

I was one of the 11-member Steering Committee that piloted the JP Movement. I was the first person to be jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act, (passed by the Indira Gandhi government in 1973 giving superpowers to law enforcement agencies, and repealed by the subsequent Janata Party Government in 1977).

Later, during the heydays of the JP Movement, I was again jailed for eighteen months.

For me to befriend a jasoos-master was not a natural development. But we met, and slowly we realised that we shared a common dream, a common vision for the nation. Gradually Gobindacharya, S. Gurumurthy, Manoj Kumar Sonthalia and I discovered that Maloy was a rebel officer; he was in the system to earn his daily bread, but like us he wanted a change for betterment of the country. Our minds clicked, and we have been friends since then.

I remember Maloy Dhar started walking with us from 1978-79 onwards. An important functionary of the Intelligence Bureau and someone who had close proximity to Indira Gandhi, Maloy came to us with the zeal of a missionary.

He had seen the system, he said, and wanted to help us from within the system to destroy it decisively and offer another new beginning to the country. His grit and determination surprised me: no serving government official at such a high level would ever stick his neck out for an ideology.

Read all Maloy Dhar columns

But that is precisely what Dhar did. As the scandal-ridden regime of Rajiv Gandhi tottered, I saw Dhar displaying brilliant professional competence in Punjab Operations. We had heard about his exploits in the Northeast, but Punjab was happening before our eyes.

Sometime in September 1987, I visited his government quarter at Bapa Nagar only to be shocked by the presence of 12 odd heavily armed Sikhs in Nihang dress standing before the house. A posse of CRP guard stood nearby.

I entered the home with trepidation only to find Maloy closeted with three top Damdami Taksal leaders and the Jathedar of the Akal Takht.

As 1984-85 started tolling the bells for the Rajiv Gandhi government, Maloy helped us immensely by devising strategy, planning and insider estimates that helped V. P. Singh and his BJP friends to form a coalition.

Initially working on the platform of anti-corruption, clean national life and systemic reforms the VP regime was our dream, a realisation of the J. P. Movement.

However, when everyone was expecting Dhar to walk away with a big reward, he simply walked into Punjab, Kashmir and Pakistan operations. We could not convince him to accept a reward.

A rebel is usually more punished than rewarded.

It happened in January 1995, when the Narasimha Rao government decided to cancel the ‘age-correction’ order of Maloy that would have given him another 30 months and the top post. The media was agitated. This happened simply because the name of Prabhakar Rao (a son of the PM) had come up during interrogation of a ISRO espionage case suspect. Rao had later forced the CBI to bury the case and punish a few other IB and Kerala officers.

We wanted to fight for Maloy. He declined on the plea that it would take him 10 years to complete the legal tangle. He might get a little extra money, but he would be wasting time. Instead, he decided to write as freelance journalist and talked about authoring books.

The print media gladly accepted his specialist views (he has written over 300 articles). But I was pleasantly surprised when the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission agreed to launch Maloy’s first dynamic book-Bitter Harvest, A Saga Of Punjab. It was a roaring success and was translated into Gurmukhi.

His journey thereafter was a story of a rebel shaking the country with wonderful stories, in books like Open Secrets, Fulcrum of Evil-ISI, CIA and Al Qaeda Nexus, Operation XXX, Mission Pakistan, Black Thunder and his latest offering, We the People of India-A Story of Gangland Democracy.

A rebel does not retire. I only hope Maloy will give more shock treatment to the country through his powerful pen. He need not, as he often dreams, join the Naxals for starting another rebellion. His writing will surely shake the System. I would like to walk the same road with Maloy as long as the flesh and spirit permit.

The views expressed in the article are of the author’s and not of Sify.com.

Maoists kidnap 8 tribals

Thursday May 8 2008 10:22 IST
Express News Service


KHAMMAM: A red alert has been sounded along the Khamma-Chhattisgarh border what with the CPI-Maoists whisking away eight tribals, six of them Guttikoyas - believed to be traditional Maoist sympathisers - suspecting them to be police informers, on Tuesday night.

The operation is believed to be a revenge against the March 18 encounter at Kanchala in Chhattisgarh, which saw the elimination of 17 Naxals, including some top leaders. The Naxals suffered heavy losses in this encounter, the single biggest in recent times.

Two of the kidnapped tribals are from Tippapuram, a border village in Charla mandal and six Guttikoyas from Yampuram of Bijapur in Chhattisgarh.

The tribals were lifted following the information given by one Pandu of Appapuram in Charla mandal, who was kidnapped on April 14 and then killed. Based on the information provided by Pandu, six tribals have already been killed.

The persons kidnapped from Tippapuram last night are: D Chandra Rao (35) and G Srinivasa Rao (34) of Tippapuram. The fate of those kidnapped is yet to be ascertained.

In India, Death to Global Business

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_20/b4084044908374_page_1.htm
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_20/b4084044908374_page_2.htm

How a violent—and spreading—Maoist insurgency threatens the country's runaway growth
by Manjeet Kripalani

A Naxalite exercise in the central state of Chhattisgarh Mustafa Quraishi/AP Photo

On the night of Apr. 24, a group of 300 men and women, armed with bows and arrows and sickles and led by gun-wielding commanders, emerged swiftly and silently from the dense forest in India's Chhattisgarh state. The guerrillas descended on an iron ore processing plant owned by Essar Steel, one of India's biggest companies. There the attackers torched the heavy machinery on the site, plus 53 buses and trucks. Press reports say they also left a note: Stop shipping local resources out of the state—or else.

The assault on the Essar facility was the work of Naxalites—Maoist insurgents who seek the violent overthrow of the state and who despise India's landowning and business classes. The Naxalites have been slowly but steadily spreading through the countryside for decades. Few outside India have heard of these rebels, named after the Bengal village of Naxalbari, where their movement started in 1967. Not many Indians have thought much about the Naxalites, either. The Naxalites mostly operate in the remote forests of eastern and central India, still a comfortable remove from the bustle of Mumbai and the thriving outsourcing centers of Gurgaon, New Delhi, and Bangalore.

Yet the Naxalites may be the sleeper threat to India's economic power, potentially more damaging to Indian companies, foreign investors, and the state than pollution, crumbling infrastructure, or political gridlock. Just when India needs to ramp up its industrial machine to lock in growth—and just when foreign companies are joining the party—the Naxalites are clashing with the mining and steel companies essential to India's long-term success. The threat doesn't stop there. The Naxalites may move next on India's cities, where outsourcing, finance, and retailing are thriving. Insurgents who embed themselves in the slums of Mumbai don't have to overrun a call center to cast a pall over the India story. "People in the cities think India is strong and Naxalism will fizzle out," says Bhibhu Routray, the top Naxal expert at New Delhi's Institute for Conflict Management. "Yet considering what has happened in Nepal"—where Maoists have just taken over the government—"it could happen here as well. States, capitals, districts could all be taken over."

Officials at the highest levels of government are starting to acknowledge the scale of the Naxal problem. In May a special report from the Planning Commission, a government think tank, detailed the extent of the danger and the "collective failure" in social and economic policy that caused it. The report comes five months after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shocked the country with a candid admission: "The Naxal groups…are targeting all aspects of economic activity…[including] vital infrastructure so as to cripple transport and logistical capabilities and slow down any development. [We] cannot rest in peace until we have eliminated this virus."

Why such rhetoric now about a movement that has coexisted with the rest of India for more than 40 years? One reason is the widening reach of the Naxalites. Today they operate in 30% of India, up from 9% in 2002. Almost 1,400 Indians were killed in Naxal violence in 2007, according to the Asian Center for Human Rights.

Collision Course
The other reason for sounding the alarm stems from the increasingly close proximity between the corporate world and the forest domain of the Naxalites. India's emergence as a hot growth market depended at first on the tech outsourcing boom in Bangalore and elsewhere. Now the world is discovering the skill and productivity of India's manufacturers as well. Meanwhile India's affluent urban consumers have started buying autos, appliances, and homes, and they're demanding improvements in the country's roads, bridges, and railroads. To stoke Indian manufacturing and satisfy consumers, the country needs cement, steel, and electric power in record amounts. In steel alone, India almost has to double capacity from 60 million tons a year now to 110 million tons. "We need a suitable social and economic environment to meet this national challenge," says Essar Steel chief Jatinder Mehra.

Instead there's a collision with the Naxalites. India has lots of unmined iron ore and coal—the essential ingredients of steel and electric power. Anxious to revive their moribund economies, the poor but resource-rich states of eastern India have given mining and land rights to Indian and multinational companies. Yet these deposits lie mostly in territory where the Naxals operate. Chhattisgarh, a state in eastern India across from Mumbai and a hotbed of Naxalite activity, has 23% of India's iron ore deposits and abundant coal. It has signed memoranda of understanding and other agreements worth billions with Tata Steel and ArcelorMittal (MT), De Beers Consolidated Mines, BHP Billiton (BHP), and Rio Tinto (RTP). Other states have cut similar deals. And U.S. companies like Caterpillar (CAT) want to sell equipment to the mining companies now digging in eastern India.

The appearance of mining crews, construction workers, and truckers in the forest has seriously alarmed the tribals who have lived in these regions from time immemorial. The tribals are a minority—about 85 million strong—who descend from India's original inhabitants and are largely nature worshippers. They are desperately poor, but unlike the poverty of the urban masses in Mumbai or Kolkata, their suffering has remained largely hidden to outsiders and most Indians, caught up as they are in the country's incredible growth. The Naxalites, however, know the tribals well and have recruited from their ranks for decades.

Judging from their past experience with development, the tribals have a right to be afraid of the mining and building that threaten to change their lands. "Tribals in India, like all indigenous people, are already the most displaced people in the country, having made way for major dams and other projects," says Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia chief researcher for Human Rights Watch, which is compiling a report on the Naxal movement. The tribals are supposed to be justly compensated for any land used by the companies, but the states' record in this area is patchy at best.

The Biggest Threat
This creates an opening for the Naxalites. "If there is a land acquisition issue over a project, the Naxals come in and say, 'We will fight on your behalf,'" says Anami Roy, the director general of police for Maharashtra, the western state that has Mumbai as its capital. Upon his appointment to the post in March, Roy declared Naxalism to be the biggest threat to the state's peace.

For those who see things differently from the Naxalites, the results can be terrifying. In January in Chhattisgarh, a village chieftain, suspected of being a police informer, was kidnapped, mutilated, and killed with a sickle—an example to any of the villagers who dared to oppose the Naxals. Company executives talk sotto voce about how dangerous it is for a villager to support business projects. "No villager has the courage to stand up to the Naxalites," says one manager who is often in the region. The possibility of violence has contributed to the slow progress of many mining projects. Nik Senapati, country head of Rio Tinto, which has outstanding permits for prospecting in eastern India, knows the threat. "It's possible to work here," he says. "But we avoid parts where there are Naxals. We won't risk our people."

The Naxalites often don't hesitate to kill or intimidate their foes, no matter how powerful they are. Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who is credited with turning the state capital of Hyderabad into a tech center, narrowly avoided death at their hands.

Targeting Cities
But the Naxalites can offer their followers clear benefits. Lakshmi Jalma Khodape, 32, alias Renuka, a petite tribal from Iheri, Maharashtra, was just 15 when she joined up. "I had no education," she recalls. "My father was a guard in the forest department. The Naxals taught me how to read and write." Eventually disgusted by the Naxals' violence, Lakshmi surrendered to the state police and now lives under their protection.

Undeniably, the Naxals are viewed as Robin Hoods for many of their efforts. "The tribals have benefited economically thanks to the Naxals," says human rights lawyer K. Balagopal, who has defended captured Naxalites in court cases. In Maharashtra, tribals pick tender tendu leaves, which are rolled to make a cigarette called a "bidi." Contractors used to pay them the equivalent of a penny for picking 1,000 leaves from the surrounding forest. The contractors would then take the leaves to the factory owners and sell them for a huge markup. But the Naxals intervened, threatening the contractors and demanding better wages. Since 2002 the contractors have increased the price to about $4 per 1,000 leaves.

According to the Institute for Conflict Management, the Naxalites are now planning to penetrate India's major cities. Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Institute, says they are looking to encircle urban centers, find sympathy among students and the unemployed, and create armed, "secret, self-defense squads" that will execute orders. Their targets are the two main industrialized belts that run along the east and west coasts.

That's an ambitious plan, but the Institute estimates there are already 12,000 armed Naxalites, plus 13,000 "sympathizers and workers." This is no ragtag army. It is an organized force, trained in guerrilla warfare. At the top, it is led by a central command staffed by members of the educated classes. The government also fears the Naxalites have many clandestine supporters among the urban left. The police have recently been rounding up suspected allies in the cities.

Ready Recruits
The Naxalites are already operating on the edge of industrialized Maharashtra state, about 600 miles from Mumbai. The litany of complaints from village women in Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district is endless and is one reason the Naxalites find ready recruits here. The teachers don't come to teach in the government school, and when they do, say local parents, they drink and gamble on the premises. In one village, the sixth-graders don't know how to read and write despite the fact that the state pays teachers 20% extra for volunteering to work in Naxal-infested areas. In the civil hospital in Gadchiroli, poor villagers have to purchase all the equipment for treatment themselves, from scalpels to swabs. (The hospital says it's well stocked.) "This is what happens in nontribal villages," says Dr. Rani Bang, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine physician who runs a popular tribal hospital in the nearby forest. "You can imagine how bad it is for tribals."

Despite the need to ease the tribals' poverty and blunt the appeal of the Naxalites, New Delhi still treats the insurgency largely as a law-and-order problem. States like Chhattisgarh, whose ill-trained police force is overwhelmed, have unleashed vigilantes on the Naxalites and the tribals and given the force arms and special protection under the law. The vigilantes, called Salwa Judum ("Peace Mission"), have made homeless an estimated 52,000 tribals, who have fled to poorly run, disease-infested government camps. Allegations of rape and unprovoked killings have dogged the Salwa Judum. Efforts to reach Salwa Judum were unsuccessful, but the state government has vigorously defended the group.

The problem is so severe that, in March, a public interest lawsuit was filed in India's Supreme Court by noted historian Ramachandra Guha, who demanded an investigation into Salwa Judum's activities. The court granted the request in April. Guha himself is not sanguine about the state's ability to address the Naxal issue. "The problem is serious, it is growing, our police force is soft," he says. "Thousands of lives will be lost over the next 15 years."

Kripalani is BusinessWeek's India bureau chief.

Policeman killed in naxal attack

Thursday May 8 2008 00:00 IST
PTI


HAZARIBAG: A policeman was killed and two others were injured when suspected naxalites opened fire at their vehicle near Tatijharia near here on Wednesday.

Additional superintendent of police Kuldeep Dewedi said the policemen were going to Ranchi from Giridih to fetch some articles when they came under fire.

The policemen also retaliated. He said the two injured were admitted to a hospital at Meru near here.

Eight tribals abducted by Maoists

Hyderabad, May 07: CPI(Maoist) naxals kidnapped eight tribals, branding them as police informers, on Andhra Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border, about 250 km from here in the wee hours of today.

Police said the Maoists kidnapped two tribals -- Chander Rao and Srinu from their houses at Tippapuram village of Cherla mandal in Khammam district, on the border area.

The other six tribals were abducted at Yampuram village in Chhattisgarh state. The kidnapped persons were taken into thick forests on the border. police added.

Police have intensified combing operations on the border and deployed additional forces to guard the tribal villages, whch were badly affected by naxal violence recently.

--UNI

Extracts from 'Red Sun, Travels in Naxal Country'

Extracts from Red Sun, Travels in Naxal Country by Sudeep Chakravarty….

“200 hardcore Maoists with some technical expertise can control vast areas across three districts?..It took only 19 radically converted young Islamist men to bring down the towers of the World Trade Centre....Numbers, I’ve told by many don’t need to be large. They merely need to be effective...”

We speed on towards Shantiniketan. We are to meet my parents-in-law. My father-in-law is a former revolutionary who lapsed into the corporate world and later into aeronautical engineering, and I am eager to talk to him about the old times..

We pass endless fields of paddy.

Place names flash past. Shaktigarh, Bardhaman, Panagarh. Between Bardhaman and Panagar, the paddies have an accompaniment—brick kilns, or bhattas. This eastern edge of the Gangetic plains is well known for it. The soil is rich, and has provided food and shelter for millennia. It’s from where Kolkata’s growth comes, a brick at a time. This region and others like it in a ring around Kolkata will help build International City.

Brick kilns like these are also symbols of some of the greatest exploitations in the area and other parts of the country, where profits are made on the back of cheap labour from dirt-poor tribal men and women trucked in by brokers or sardars, often tribal themselves, hardened by their own ordeal and survival for reduced pay and maximum work to lead lives of bonded labour. What they get at home is often less, their traditional rights over forest land lost to legislation that allowed land grab by the state- revenue land- and to local and migrant traders, petty businessmen, landlords and moneylenders.

‘The sardars prefer young unmarried girls. They are better workers and good for sale,’ activist and writer Mahasweta Devi elaborates in a recent collection of her work, Dust on the Road. The brokers, she writes, force the girls to sleep with owners, the supervising staff, the truck drivers, ‘khalasis and local mastans’. …..‘In political conscious West Bengal these [people] are denied a minimum wage, medical facilities, maternity leave or any kind of leave, and of course, the right to form a union. There is no attendance or pay register, identity card or employment card….These unfortunate beings live in jhopris worse than pig holes. There are no sanitary arrangements or drinking water where they work through the summer days. The kiln is closed with the onset of the monsoons and [they are] sent home.’

Mahasweta Devi wrote this in 1981, in the fourth year of CPI (M) rule. Till 2006, the government of West Bengal refused to even acknowledge bonded labour existed in the state.

This habit of denial continues. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, in a fit of pique against card carriers of the extreme Left who use his cadre as target practice and pick them off at will, claimed in 2006 that West Bengal didn’t really have a Maoist problem of its own. Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar, the states that share borders with West Bengal, were to blame for it.

R. K. Majumdar, self professed Naxal-hunter, and director general of West Bengal Armed Police, had claimed to me in an interview that Bhattacharjee is partly right. That West Bengal’s Maoist problem ‘is a two on a scale of ten, compared to states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra’, which he said were close to the top of the scale. ‘We don’t have much of a problem,’ he told me, ‘an average of a couple of murders a month. That’s hardly….’

On seeing my raised eyebrows, he had stopped.

‘Tribals are fighting back, aren’t they?’ I queried. ‘How many armed Maoists are there in West Bengal?’

‘The core strength would not be more than 200. Hardcore. People who have been trained in tactics, weapons and so on. When they go to a village, the entire village is theirs.’-------

‘You’re saying 200 hardcore Maoists with some technical expertise can control vast areas across three districts?’ I persist, despite having similar assertions from other security officials. One of them, from Andhra Pradesh, had waxed about the Maoist philosophy of ‘destroy to build’ and ‘kill one to terrorize 10,000’-pretty much the standard doctrine of political violence. It took only 19 radically converted young Islamist men to bring down the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, attack the Pentagon and trigger the still unwinable global war against terror.

So numbers, I’ve been told by many, as I was by Majumdar, don’t need to be large. They merely need to be effective for the purpose at hand.

'My secret wish is to become a Naxal'

Fearless crusader. Super-sleuth. Bestselling author. Angry old man. Popular Sify columnist. Former Intelligence Bureau joint director Maloy Krishna Dhar is all that, and much much more.

Dhar, who joined the IPS after a brief stint with journalism in Kolkata, was seconded to the Intelligence Bureau in 1964, retiring as joint director in 1996 after many years in the northeast, Kashmir, Punjab, and of course New Delhi. Subsequently, renouncing his political aspirations in disgust after a year with the Congress Party, he took up his pen with a vengeance.

Probably privy to more national secrets than many Prime Ministers ever were or are, Dhar’s latest offering, We the People of India-A Story of Gangland Democracy, (Excerpts) is a very thinly veiled –and shocking--expose of how our politicians are using democracy to gangrape our nation.

Published despite terrible threats and plaintive pleas from powerful people, the book is a scathing indictment of the Indian political system, with skeletons tumbling out of each page.

In an exclusive interview with Ramananda Sengupta, he explains how the book was conceived, and how ‘Our combined will to enforce change can send the mafia, dynastic and corporate political leaders to the dungeon they deserve.’

You have earlier written some bestsellers on the state of India's intelligence and other related issues. But what was the driving force behind your writing this particular book?

The driving force was the same that pushed me to write-Open Secrets-India’s Intelligence Unveiled. In Open Secrets I did not have the scope, space and legal shield to write about the Great Indian Fraud called Electoral Democracy, which is made and unmade by money, muscle and mafia. There were problems about opening secrets about personalities in power. You often get run over by a tanker or get shot.

I was pasted with four contempt notices and two direct “feelers” from Agencies after Open Secrets was published. I spent six months in courts to overcome the petitions and deflect the “feelers” to withdraw the book.

Therefore, to present the people of India a mirror to have a deep look into the system they are living in and the personalities who govern them, I wrote We the People of India-A Story of Gangland Democracy, as a thinly veiled novel. One should read it in continuation of Open Secrets. That will give a complete picture what our political and bureaucratic class are doing to our beloved country.


You have reportedly used some rather obvious 'fig leafs’ while describing some home truths about the Indian political system. Were you nervous about the fallout?

No, I was not nervous. I was aware of the legal issues when writing about “happening history”, existing “constitutional institutions”, and “reigning personalities.” If a discerning reader has any sense of current history he/she can have a clear glimpse into the personal lives, their political meanness and siphoning of national wealth to foreign accounts. Besides the criminal cases I was more scared about the bullets-which killed the hero of the story at the end of the new Mahabharat, that is We the People of India…

Could you recount some interesting anecdotes or feedback in response to this book post its publication?

It is a problem question. Before the book was released by George Fernandes (Congress, BJP, Left leaders declined) two officers of an Agency accosted my publisher and obtained two copies. I was later contacted by a former colleague to say that the reigning deities were very unhappy with the book as it contained direct personal attacks against them. My answer was: “They are welcome to move the courts. They did not and adopted a policy of ‘conspiracy of silence.” However, a Bihar stalwart had conveyed that all sins are rewarded with punishment. I am waiting for that.

Without violating your Oath of Secrecy and the Officials Secrets Act, could you tell us what you consider your most memorable achievement during your tenure as Joint Director of our Intelligence Bureau?

The most memorable incident happened at a remote village Soraphung on Manipur (Ukhrul) and Nagaland border (Jessami). Travelling with my wife and son (1971) in a jeep we were stranded as the vehicle had broke down. Some Naga Army (underground) unit wanted to attack and take us as prisoners. A Christian village belle and her teacher husband mobilsed the entire village, gave us shelter for the night and saw us off to the safety of Assam Rifles camp at Jessami, in Chakesang country. We developed lasting relationship with that noble lady. Incidentally the Gaonbura of Soraphung had adopted me as his son. Officially I can claim to be a Naga.

Your association with the bureau must have exposed you to a lot of political and other national secrets. Would you subscribe to the US system which insists on declassifying such secrets after a certain period, say 50 years? Or should some secrets be buried forever?

Yes. I would opt for the US system, minus names, details and operational secrets of the Intelligence Agencies. Revelation of any secret that jeopardise internal security and relationship with geopolitically connected countries should not be disclosed without proper editing. These are matter of tradecraft trust and war and peace.

Your former colleagues in the bureau insist that you were never scared of anything. What gave/gives you that kind of courage?

I migrated through bloodbath; I have struggled immensely after my father’s premature death. I have seen my father, a kind of revolutionary, not being afraid of anything, but dishonour from his own people. He had taught me to look into the eyes of death and say: you are not the end of life. Even at this age my secret wish is to become a Naxal and fight for change.

One of your enduring themes in your books-- like Open Secrets and others --has been accountability. Do you seriously believe that we, the people of India, are ready for that kind of accountability?

Dear friend. If our people do not know the meaning of “accountability, “conflict of interest” and “constitutional systems operations” they deserve living under Mugabe or Musaharraf. Why do they need a democracy? The people should forget the legacies of thousands of years of indigenous feudalism, 800 years of Muslim tyranny and 190 years of British exploitation. If they have to enjoy the fruits of liberty, equality and fraternity they should demand and rise in peaceful revolt for enforcement of “accountability at all levels” and “implementation of the concept of conflict of interest” in every sphere of national activity. It is time, our countrymen, to wake up from Rip Van Winkle’s dream journey.

On a personal note, how did the constant transfers and movement during your long stint with the bureau affect your family life?

I would have been ruined if I did not have a wonderful wife of excellent understanding, who was my life-long love, my children’s mother, my secretary, and my companion even to the most dangerous areas in the North East, Punjab and Kashmir. She was the anchor. I know very little how our children grew up and did so well in life.

Coming back to your book, do you think dynastic rule is here to stay?

Regretfully, Yes. It is for the people of India to opt for a System Change. My book is all about that-in a rather revolutionary way; written under the philosophic context of the Gita and the Mahabharata.

If you had the power, what would be the first thing you would change in the political system as it exists in India? Something practical and doable, as opposed to just idealistic?


The first and foremost thing is: total overhauling of the “electoral practices.” It is the mother of most corrupt practices and resultant rot in the entire System. It is possible, if the mandate to run the country by the present breed of political class is handed over to a person—say of the honest colour of APJ Abdul Kalam and he is backed by the Higher judiciary and the strongest spine of the nation—the armed forces and the “People”. I cannot imagine ever walking into the shoes of Mr Kalam. But I have the courage and vision. I can be the small squirrel that also threw pebbles to make the Ram Setu to materialse. All of us count with our small stature and intense will. Our combined will to enforce change can send the mafia, dynastic and corporate political leaders to the dungeon they deserve. I wait for the day when this Windsor Democracy turned to Dynastic Democracy would be challenged by the People- by whichever means possible.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Maoists call for bandh in Purulia

Express News Service
Posted online: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 01:15:13
Updated: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 01:15:13 Print Email To Editor Post Comments

Kolkata, May 6 Maoists in West Bengal have called for a bandh in Purulia district on May 8 and have urged people to boycott the forthcoming panchayat polls.
Apart from Purulia, Maoists have stepped up their activities in Bankura, West Midnapore and Birbhum districts ahead of the panchayat polls.

The state has already deployed additional forces in these districts.

After the murder of CPM leaders in Purulia, the district police are not taking any chances.

It has beefed up security to prevent further attacks by the Maoists, said Rakesh Gupta, IG (Western Zone).

On Monday night, six Maoists activists raided the house of Dubraj Hembram, local committee member of the CPM, at Gattinglohar village in Purulia and shot him dead.

Meanwhile, the CPM leaders in the district have urged its cadres to be careful and urged them not to venture alone during night. Bandhu Maji, CPM legislator, alleged that the district police have failed to check the activities of the Maoists in the district.

Maoists kill cop, teacher in Jharkhand (Lead)

Ranchi, May 7 (IANS) Maoist guerrillas Wednesday killed a sub inspector and a school teacher in two separate incidents, the police said. Sub-Inspector Kolibar Purty, posted in Giridih district, was travelling to Ranchi along with two constables when suspected activists of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) ambushed their jeep near Vishnugarh area of Hazaribagh district at around 11 a.m.

The Maoist rebels first hurled bombs at their vehicle and later fired at them. While the sub inspector was killed, the two constables and the driver were wounded. The injured have been admitted to a Hazaribagh hospital, a police official said. The district headquarter is around 160 km from the state capital.

In another incident, a group of Maoist guerrillas killed a school teacher in Chatra district. Arjun Sao, a school teacher of Khangadda primary school of Chatra, was killed by suspected rebels belonging to Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC). TPC is a breakaway group of CPI-Maoist.

According to the police, around five TPC members dragged Sao outside the school building and shot him. He was killed as he was considered a CPI-Maoist supporter.The two extreme left outfits - CPI-Maoist and TPC - are fighting among themselves for supremacy.

The police have launched a search for the guerrillas.

Maoist rebels are active in 18 of the state’s 24 districts. As many as 614 civilians and 290 security personnel have died in Maoist-related violence since Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in 2000.

'Maoists forcibly recruiting child soldiers in Chhattisgarh'

Raipur, May 7 (IANS) Maoist guerrillas are forcibly recruiting minors in their ranks as child soldiers in large forested areas of Chhattisgarh, police say.

"Rebels are conducting a massive drive for child soldiers in their forested hideouts in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region, which is close to Andhra Pradesh," Inspector General Girdhari Nayak of the state's anti-Maoist operation told IANS here.

"It's a forced recruitment. Rebels are carrying away children without their parents' consent and are training them to handle even sophisticated weapons and use them for attacks on civilians and police installations," the officer said.

"We have reports that insurgents have been forcibly taking away tribal boys and girls from schools in poverty-stricken hamlets of the Bastar region," he added.

For about two decades, rebels have been running a parallel government in a 40,000 sq km area in Bastar, particularly in Bijapur and Dantewada districts.

Police officials in Dantewada and Bijapur say the present drive of recruitment of minors is for a child unit - Krantikari Adivasi Balak Sangh - a banned frontal organisation of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) in Chhattisgarh.

According to them, the rebels are targeting children in the age group of 12-18 years and are focussing on school dropouts.

The government has set up 23 make-shift relief camps in Bijapur and Dantewada where about 50,000 people, mostly tribals, are living following threats from the Maoists since June 2005 when the anti-Maoist civilian resistance movement Salwa Judum was launched. The movement was later backed by the government.

In 2007, 436 people, including 200 policemen, died in Maoist violence while the toll was 458 in 2006. The majority of deaths were reported from Bijapur and Dantewada districts.

IANS

Security beefed up to counter Maoist ahead of Bengal panchayat polls

May 6th, 2008 - 4:50 pm ICT by admin - Email This Post

Bankura (West Bengal), May 6 (ANI): Authorities in West Bengal have made elaborate security arrangements to counter the Maoists ahead of the three-phased panchayat polls in the state beginning this weekend.
Additional forces are being deployed in Purulia and Bankura Districts, which border Jharkhand.
The authorities have declared 700 out of 2447 polling booths in Bankura District as highly sensitive, while another 900 booths have been declared sensitive.
Bankura Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar Singh said that armed police personnel would be deployed at all sensitive and super- sensitive booths.
“Our first priority is Naxal areas affected by Naxalite Maoists. There, we will be deploying sufficient number of forces. Every polling booth will be covered by more than 10 armed police personnel,” said Singh.
Areas under Maoist influence would be patrolled by personnel equipped with radio communication sets and equipment for anti-mine operations, he added. The local body polls in West Bengal will be held on May 11, 14 and 18. The counting will take place on May 21 and the results will be announced thereafter.
Locals expressed enthusiasm about the elections and said they would cast their votes.
“All our requirements have been met, so we will vote for the one whom we have always supported,” said Rita Chandra, a voter.
The 100-days employment scheme under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is the main issue during these polls, followed by facilities for irrigation, drinking water, sanitation, education and medical services.
Poll experts say that the upcoming polls could probably be a referendum on the ruling Left Front Government’s land acquisition policy in the backdrop of Nandigram and Singur industrial land row controversies. (ANI)

Congress a family enterprise, full of sycophants: CITU

Sunday, 05.04.2008, 11:07pm (GMT-7)


KOLKATA: Accusing the Congress of becoming a 'family enterprise full of sycophants,' CPI(M)'s trade union front CITU said it was working for a third alternative without the Congress and the BJP. "The Congress has become a family enterprise.

It is full of sycophants. Therefore, the Left trade unions and the Left parties are working for a third alternative 1,000 personnel comprising highly professional commandos, both men and women.

"The battalions to be deployed in the two eastern states will be the first of its kind in the country with highly skilled commandos being deployed for anti-Maoist operations," Mishra said. Mishra who attended a task force meeting chaired by union cabinet secretary in Delhi recently, told reporters that the move came in the wake of the failure of the country's biggest anti-naxalite operation following the Nayagarh mayhem in Orissa on February 15.

"We have been asked to provide only land for the requirement while Centre will look after everything including infrastructure, training and other requirements of the security personnel," Mishra said. Sources said the members of the Cobra battalion would be trained in jungle warfare and other activities in which commandos were considered as experts.

"They will mainly target Lwes and anti-insurgency elements," they said. The need for engaging highly professional commandos in their fight against Maoists was felt as the police, CRPF or the CISF personnel were not fully trained to put challenges before the hardcore Lwes, sources said.

Block bosses bow to red quit threat

OUR CORRESPONDENT
Gaya, May 4: In what is being seen as a boost to Maoists, 64 NDA activists, including six BJP and JD(U) block chiefs, tendered their resignations today following a Naxalite diktat.

The resignations were tendered 12 hours before the expiry of the deadline set by the Maoists last week.

The NDA men tendered their resignations in Imamganj.

The mass resignation was witnessed by a number of political activists and reporters on the Sanjay Gandhi College premises in Imamganj — an area represented by Speaker Udai Narain Chaudhary.

Days ago, Naxalite cadre herded together more than 36 NDA activists of three blocks (Dumaria, Imamganj and Banke Bazaar) of the Imamganj Assembly constituency, took them to a Maoist base in the nearby Chakarbanda forest and directed them to tender mass resignation before Sunday.

The frightened NDA cadre and leaders were provided “texts” of their “resignation letters”, and supposedly they signed on the dotted lines.

According to reports reaching the district headquarters, those who resigned from the party and their posts include Sanjay Kumar, Sajid Ahmed and Brajesh Kumar, the JD(U) presidents of Imamganj, Dumaria and Banke Bazaar blocks, respectively. Akhilesh Singh, Ashok Gupta and Narendra Kumar, BJP presidents of Imamganj, Dumaria and Banke Bazaar blocks respectively also quitted.

Without mentioning Naxalite pressure as the cause for their resignation, the block NDA leaders gave three reasons for quitting.

Alleged police atrocities and false implication of innocent persons in Naxalite-related cases, “arbitrary, whimsical and high-handed” attitude of officials and the government’s “failure” to protect the honour and dignity of the NDA leaders were cited as the causes.

Gaya superintendent of police Paresh Saxena rubbished the charges levelled by the NDA leaders against the district police as “vague” and “non-specific”.

“They have not cited any instance in support of their allegations,” said Saxena.

District presidents of the JD(U) and BJP made themselves unavailable in view of the crisis-like situation facing the NDA in the district at present.

According to sources, some senior officers are of the view that the “resignation” drama is a part of a larger game plan and nexus between a important politician belonging to the NDA and Naxalites, whose support is crucial for winning and retaining political power in the area.

What had angered Naxalites and their political patrons was the alleged increased police visibility in the area claimed as a “liberated” zone by the Naxalites, said police sources.

Political observers are of the view that the unprecedented mass resignation under Naxalite pressure is bound to have far reaching political and administrative ramifications.

The possibility of a direct confrontation between a politician occupying an important seat of power and senior police and civil officials is not being ruled out.

Banks face security crisis

OUR CORRESPONDENT
Ranchi, May 4: Nationalised banks may soon be heading to a crash if security issues and recruitment problems are not sorted out.

All nationalised banks would send a petition to the Indian Bankers’ Association, the apex body of banks in the country, demanding adequate security on bank premises as well as for the personnel in the Naxalite-dominated areas.

In a startling revelation, All India Punjab National Bank Officers’ Association national general-secretary, K.D. Khera pointed out that a general feeling of insecurity has adversely affected employee performance in the Naxalite areas. Security arrangements at most of the branches of the Punjab National Bank in Jharkhand are inadequate.

“In Jharkhand there are 59 branches of PNB. Most of these branche have no security guards and the entire task of ensuring safety of cash lies with bank managers. In addition, the PNB staff deputed at the more vulnerable areas are exposed to increasing insecurity,” Khera said.

To add to the problem, no fresh recruitment drive has been undertaken by various banks since 1986. Hence, a minimum of 1 lakh vacancies exist in all the nationalised banks.

“The average age of bank employees are between 46 and 48. Unless banks take immediate steps to fill up the increasing vacancies, the entire financial system is headed for a crash,” Khera warned.

Bank officials are forced to work late till midnight on all days of the year and in the absence of proper security arrangements, particularly in the extremist areas of Jharkhand.

“We are co-ordinating with other banks, including the State Bank of India, on these issues. Soon, we would together petition the Indian Bankers’ Association to demand immediate recruitment at all levels in the banking industry and proper security at all branches,” Khera stressed.

The association general-secretary further warned that the banking industry was heading for a crash following serious imbalances between assets and liabilities.

“Banks are accepting deposits for a maximum of three years. However, they are lending for longer periods, as much as 10 years. While deposits are vanishing within a maximum of three years, banks continue to lend for longer.

“IDBI and other financial institutions have already collapsed. It is now the turn of the nationalised banks,” Khera warned.

Three Naxals killed in Andhra Pradesh

Bhadrachalam (PTI): Three Naxalites were on Monday killed in an exchange of fire with police in Khammam district.

Police party on combing operation spotted some Naxals on the outskirts of village Rullapadu and asked them to surrender. The extremists, however, ignored the warning and opened fire at the police who retaliated, they said.

In the ensuing firing, three ultras were killed on the spot, police said.

The deceased were identified as Daya, a state committee member of Janashakti, Arun and Bhaskar, members of the outfit's district committee, the police said.

Nitish calls for investigation into Maoist threat

Patna, May 5 (PTI) With 64 NDA leaders and workers quitting their parties in Gaya district under threat by the Maoists, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today asked the IG (Patna Zone) to investigate.
"I have taken a serious note of media reports of several NDA workers having left their parties in three blocks of Gaya district," the chief minister said.

He said he had asked IG (Patna Zone) Sunil Kumar to investigate alleged police atrocities and implication of innocent persons in false cases in naxalite-related cases that led the Maoists to issue threats.

Kumar said the IG was authorised to take action against police officials responsible for alleged atrocities.

A high-level committee comprising senior party leaders from the state and from outside would also be constituted in consultation with JD(U) President Sharad Yadav to look into the charge of lack of development in three blocks.

The three blocks were represented in the state assembly by Speaker Uday Narain Chaudhary.

"Effective political and police action would be taken to tackle the problem in the naxal-hit district after the two committees submit their reports," he told reporters on the sidelines of his 'janata durbar'.

The NDA activists including three JD(U) block presidents and as many from the BJP had resigned from the party at a press conference yesterday on the diktat of Maoists.

Earlier, 24 of them were reported to have been kidnapped last Tuesday by the Maoists, who later released them after they agreed to resign from their parties. PTI

Maoist optimist

When South Asia is experiencing a fresh democratic wave and peoples' power, Nepal's Maoists should be seen as a powerful, positive manifestation of rising popular aspirations

SD Muni Delhi



Almost none among the competitors of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) — CPN (M), rival parties like the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) expected them to emerge as a dominant political force in the elections to the Constituent Assembly. Similarly, almost none among the international community, including India and China, expected the Maoists to perform so well as they have done. With the results, the process of coping with the newly emerged reality has begun.

There are conflicting voices among the political parties on working with the Maoists, within or outside a coalition government. There are strategies being crafted and redefined by the members of the international community to begin engagement with the Maoists so as to nudge them on the democratic roadmap and ensure that Nepal remains stable, peaceful and friendly.

There is no dearth of forces and factors within Nepal and outside that would want to see the Maoists goof up in governance and falter in Constitution- making, thereby get discredited and erode their newly acquired credibility and legitimacy. Such forces may be in for shock and surprise again. They have yet not objectively assessed the degree of prudence and resilience that the Maoists leadership is capable of and have been displaying regularly.

This is clearly reflected in the post-election promises by the Maoists: to work with all other political parties, deal with King Gyanendra softly — even while showing him the exit, respect the role of private business and industry in carrying forward new Nepal's economic agenda and seek a constructive engagement with the international community, particularly India.

The Maoist leadership is acutely aware of their internal political constraints in dealing with the unfolding challenges before them. Such constraints are inherent in the exploded aspirations behind the mandate in their favour, in the 10-year-old insurgency and impatience of their militant cadres who find it painfully slow to come to terms with the complexity and patience of the democratic competitive processes. Besides, the Maoists are short of absolute majority in the newly elected Constituent Assembly.

In looking at Maoist Nepal's unfolding relations with India, three myths carefully nursed so far — out of ignorance or vested interests — need to be shed off. The first is that they will soon become instruments of either the Chinese or Pakistanis to create security nightmares for India, as the discredited monarchical regime in Kathmandu had been used to in the interest of its own political survival. The China of Deng Xiao Ping and his successors have been embarrassed by all those who glorified Maoism. The China of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao was an ally of the monarchy in Nepal and instrumental in crushing the Maoists militarily. The Maoists cadres seeking shelter or sourcing arms and herbal trade in China were chased away by the Chinese soldiers.

China is fast making up for its past slips and trying hard to cultivate the Maoists. But Chinese success would depend more on the failure of the rest of the international community — rather than artificially using the rhetoric of Mao's thoughts. The Maoists would accept a friendly and cooperative relationship with China but not at the cost of India's interests, that is, if India treats them with respect.

The second myth is about close operational links between the Nepal Maoists and Indian underground Naxalites. India's home ministry establishment has repeatedly denied the depth and relevance of such links. The Maoist and Naxalite leaders have openly exchanged bitter words during the past couple of years. The Maoists have declared that their political agenda has been fulfilled by the election results and what remains is their agenda of economic revolution in Nepal. Fanning the Naxal insurgency and helping them achieve power in India was never the goal of Nepal's Maoists. In meeting the challenge of their economic revolution, they cannot afford to alienate India by cozying up with the Naxalites.

The third myth is about Maoists being anti-India. Not many people know that the Maoist leadership has been ardently seeking understanding and goodwill of the Indian political class since 2002. They have been wanting engagement with the Indian leadership. Their 'anti-India' demands, including the revision of the 1950 Treaty, are not only their original issues but a compilation of such demands made by successive regimes and political parties in Kathmandu.

Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee has done well to reach out to the Maoist leadership soon after the flow of election results. India is hopefully taking the Maoists as a popular force, as the architect of a politically vibrant and socio-economically progressive Nepal. What the Maoists need from India is their acceptance and recognition as the leaders of a confident, self-respecting neighbour which is willing to build a mutually advantageous and cooperative relationship in areas ranging from economic growth, security concerns and people-to-people exchange.

India has earlier indicated its willingness to discuss the treaty of 1950 with Nepal. India changed its treaty text with Bhutan without hurting its long- term security interests. If need be, there should be no difficulty in doing the same with Nepal.

The Maoists know that their economic agenda cannot move forward without creative harnessing of the country's potential resources including hydro-power. They know that this cannot be done with out cooperating with India, and this is India's need as well. They also know that a growing India is an opportunity in the areas of trade, investment, technology and human resources development. In building cooperation, India should ensure a fresh approach. The old policy mindset has to be set aside in writing a new chapter of close relations with South Asian neighbours like Nepal.

India's approach towards the Maoists will considerably influence the attitude of the international community. With the arrival in Kathmandu of the new US ambassador, Nancy Powell, signs of change in the US assessment are already visible. After the elections, the US ambassador has assured that American assistance and cooperation with Nepal will continue even when it is ruled by the Maoists.

Even before the elections, President George Bush had expressed the desire that the Maoists will hopefully work in cooperation with other political parties, thus accepting to deal with them as partners in the government. Former US President Jimmy Carter held talks with the Maoists leaders after the results and accepted that keeping the 'terrorist' tag on them is not a correct approach. The UK and other European Union members have also shown strong inclination to engage with the Maoists.

Indian and international engagement with the new Nepal and its Maoist leadership is desirable and necessary in the interest of Nepal's stability and mainstreaming of the Maoists. The Maoists know that if they have to consolidate their power base among the people of Nepal, they have to deliver on the promises made. And this cannot be done without generous and sustained support from the global community.

Today, when South Asia is experiencing a fresh democratic wave and peoples' power, Nepal's Maoists should be seen as a powerful, positive manifestation of rising popular aspirations. Harnessing these aspirations to build strong democratic institutions within and extensive cooperation among the countries of South Asia is in the mutual interest of both the international community as well as the Maoists of Nepal.

The writer is Senior Visiting Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore, and former Indian ambassador to Laos

Ajai Shukla: A CRPF manned by soldiers

BROADSWORD

Ajai Shukla / New Delhi May 6, 2008



Officers constitute less than 5% of the defence services, but the military's objections to the 6th Pay Commission recommendations appear to centre largely on the concerns of officers, particularly issues of status parity with their IAS counterparts. But the crucial military manpower issues actually revolve around the 1.6 million soldiers, sailors and airmen who are grouped under the somewhat dehumanising acronym of PBOR (persons below officer rank).

This year, India has budgeted over Rs 22,000 crore for salaries for its fighting men and women. How much the pay commission will add to this figure is still unclear. In addition, defence pensions will absorb more than Rs 15,500 crore. But the big manpower question — can India be defended by fewer people — remains a hot potato. If thought has been given to personnel issues, it is on two other issues: reducing the pension bill, and keeping the fighting forces young.

EASE OF PAYING TAXES RANKINGS OF SOUTH ASIAN COUNTRIES
Country Tax
Payments Time to
Comply Total
Tax Rate Ease of
Paying Taxes
Bangladesh 42 141 74 81
Bhutan 46 109 75 68
India 162 105 159 165
Nepal 93 143 35 92
Pakistan 138 156 80 146
Sri Lanka 163 90 153 158
Source: Paying Taxes 2008: The Global Picture, World Bank, 2008


The military's plan for meeting both these objectives involves enrolling jawans for shorter service periods, after which they would transfer laterally to other government forces, which would benefit from an inflow of trained and disciplined manpower. The 5th and the 6th Pay Commissions have recommended that India's plethora of central police organisations (CPOs) — which include the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP) and others — take in large numbers of soldiers who have finished seven years in uniform.

There are huge financial benefits to such a policy. The CPOs and civil defence organisations, numbering some 750,000 men and women, spend Rs 100 crore each year just on recruiting and training. Taking in the 50,000 trained jawans who retire from the military every year would save this amount. Even larger savings would accrue in the defence pensions bill. Instead of receiving pension from the age of 37 onwards (the average age of retirement after 17 years in the military), the jawans would serve for at least another 13 years in the CPOs. That would save the exchequer Rs 700 crore each year, growing cumulatively for 13 years. At the end of that period, pension savings would be Rs 9,100 crore annually. The military would also save the money it spends on resettlement schemes and courses.

A leavening of trained and battle-hardened soldiers would enormously boost the capabilities of the CPOs, which appear depressingly weak in the face of a growing extremist threat in J&K, and from the Naxals and the north-eastern militant groups. Pakistan, in contrast, has long used ex-servicemen as the backbone of its armed police forces (the Rangers, Scouts and the Frontier Constabulary), which function far more effectively than our CPOs.

But every sensible idea has at least one government agency opposing it. The 29th report of Parliament's Standing Committee on Defence points out that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) is resolutely blocking the 5th Pay Commission's sensible suggestion for the CPOs and the military to jointly recruit people who would serve seven years in the military and then sidestep into the CPOs. The MoHA's arguments against this proposal make little sense and add credence to the belief that the CPOs are simply safeguarding the financial windfalls and networks of patronage that are associated with recruitment.

The Standing Committee has comprehensively rebutted each of the MoHA's objections. The first of North Block's objections is that soldiers who have already served seven years in the military would make the CPOs older and greyer. Not so, says the Standing Committee; the average soldier is recruited at 19 years and would be only 26 years old when he finishes seven years of military service. Since the current age cut-off for recruitment into CPOs happens to be 26 years, the soldiers would not just make the cut-off, but also come fully trained.

The MoHA then protested that soldiers are trained killers, used to employing excessive force, whereas the CPOs must function with a softer touch. The Standing Committee dismissed that objection too, pointing out that soldiers are extensively employed in counter-insurgency operations, and have conclusively demonstrated the restraint that such situations involve. Members of the Standing Committee snort that "CPO restraint" seems to occur most frequently when face-to-face with Naxals and militants.

The next objection from the Home Ministry was that military personnel would bring seven years of seniority with them, which would provide them an advantage over direct recruits into the CPOs. Admitting that ex-soldiers would bring their service seniority with them, the Standing Committee noted that direct inductees would be protected, both in salary as well as in promotion vacancies. In any case, the situation would be temporary; eventually all CPO recruits would come through the defence forces.

The CPOs are being shortsighted in getting the MoHA to stonewall a scheme that will greatly improve their manpower pool, and therefore their image and reputation. As the army withdraws from internal security duties in J&K, and as political will grows to confront growing Naxal extremism, CPOs will be called upon to handle increasingly challenging duties. Manning central police forces with ex-military jawans would make them qualitatively superior and save money all around. It is an option that must not be turned down.
ajaishukla.blogspot.com

Naxals gun down CPM leader in Purulia, another injured

Express News Service
Posted online: Monday , May 05, 2008 at 01:10:35
Updated: Monday , May 05, 2008 at 01:10:35 Print Email To Editor Post Comments

Kolkata, May 4 The CPM leadership in Purulia is on Naxal target list again. Today, suspected Maoists gunned down prominent district committee member Ganapati Bhadra at Bomragara village.
While Bhadra died on the spot, the condition of his companion and local CPM leader Rampada Mandi, who was shot in the stomach, is serious, district police sources said.

Purulia will go to polls on May 11 in the first phase of the three-tier panchayat elections. Local CPM sources attributed the attack to pre-poll violence. Bandwan zonal committee general secretary and local legislator Bhawani Hasda said the incident took place in a deserted road.

“Only Mandi can say exactly what happened. We are under attack here,” said Hasda.

Bhadra (45) was the cousin of Bandwan CPM leader Rabindranath Kar, who alongwith his wife, was shot dead by Naxalites on New Year's Day in 2006. After killing Kar, Naxals had used landmines to blow up the nearby Kuchia police camp.

Police sources said Bhadra was riding a motorcycle with Mandi on the pillion and was on his way home, when two other bikes bearing four persons began chasing them.

“One of the bikes overtook him and blocked its progress around 12 km from Bandwan police station. After confirming that it was indeed Bhadra on the bike, they opened fire from point blank range. Bhadra was shot thrice and succumbed to his injuries.”

Bandwan district committee members told The Indian Express over phone that Maoists had beaten up several party cadres in Bandwan a few days ago. “They (Maoists) had put up posters asking people to abstain from voting during panchayat elections and warned the CPM against contesting the polls,” said one of them.

Police sources added that senior officers including Purulia SP Ashok Prasad had rushed to the spot and were conducting an investigation into the killing. Prasad could not be reached for comment, as Bomragara is yet to be covered by a mobile network.

According to police estimates, there are over 50 villages in Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore under Naxal control. Local CPM leaders and police avoid visiting these areas, sources said.

Naxal-hit states seek relaxation

Font size: NewsByte 04 May, 2008 04:56:26
By NAMRATA BIJI AHUJA

New Delhi, May 4: As if the work pending under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna was not enough, the Union rural development ministry has floated a proposal seeking further ‘’relaxation’’ in the number of ‘’unconnected habitations eligible for assistance’’ under the scheme, taking the numbers down to 250 population in plain areas and 100 population in tribal areas. This fresh relaxation has been sought for the 33 districts identified as worst-hit by ‘’Naxal violence’’ spread across states of Chattishgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

The revised request by the rural development ministry has come at a time when the Public Accounts Committee, monitoring the release of funds for the scheme by the Centre, is irked by the fact that the data of ‘’habitations eligible for assistance’’ under the scheme is still changing ‘’frequently’’ even after eight years of the scheme being launched. The committee has voiced fears of ‘’corruption in PMGSY’’, calling for implementation of ‘’safeguards’’ and ‘’techniques to curb corruption’’ by the implementing agencies in its 72nd report tabled in Parliament recently.

Notably, the rural development ministry has already got the approval for Central funding (for the current year 2008-09) for connecting those habitations in the 33 Naxal-hit districts where habitation stands at 500 population in plain areas and 250 in tribal areas, revealed home ministry sources. This was a departure made from the original form of the scheme, launched in 2000, which said that such habitation will be covered which has above 1000 population in plain areas and above 500 population in hilly and tribal areas.

Responding to the fresh request made by the rural development ministry, the Union ministry of home affairs, which is coordinating developmental activities in Naxal-affected states, has asked the ministry to ‘’decide fast’’. "The rural development ministry, at the behest of state governments, has made a fresh appeal to give further relaxation to those districts which are worst hit by Naxal violence. The MHA has asked the ministry to take a decision as soon as possible," said a senior home ministry official. MHA sources revealed that the issue came up for discussion recently during the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) meeting on Naxalism convened by the MHA recently.

The Public Accounts Committee has noted that as on May 2001, the number of ‘’unconnected habitations eligible for assistance’’ under the scheme was 1.41 lakhs. The figures swelled to 1.6 lakhs in December 2003 and subsequently 1.71 lakhs in December 2004. "Later, the figure went up to around 1.73 lakhs in March 2005. The committee has revealed in its report that in Chattishgarh, which is worst-hit by Naxal violence, "initially 12,561 eligible unconnected habitations were reported to the ministry; however the figure was again revised to 13,761 habitations in the tribal and hilly areas without survey or any other evidence in support of the revised estimation."

The committee has expressed shock over ‘’reliable data ‘’missing under a scheme which involves such ‘’huge financial outlays’’. Further examination of records in the states by the committee has revealed a similar situation in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, where the habitation-wise population against the roads proposed under the programme were not supported by any documents. The Committee has recommended that responsibility be fixed for ‘’past negligence’’ and a time-frame be fixed for preparation and implementation of district/state-wise plans in order to avoid ‘’duplication of expenditure on existing roads and enable proper utilisation of the scarce resources’’.

Terror forces will be dealt by force in Gujarat , Modi

2008-05-04 20:54:01


Gujarat Global News Network, Gandhinagar

With all villages of Gujarat soon getting e connected, Gujaratis from the world over will be able to contact people in any village of Gujarat. People's participation and technology adoption has derived tremendous results.

This was stated by Gujarat Chief Minister in his 100 minute interaction with people of Gujarat in the US and Canada. The interaction through satellite was part of Gujarat Foundation Day celebration. This was held today.

In the question answer session during the interaction he said that the Naxal and Terror forces have gripped the nation but Gujarat is protected from it. There can not be any compromise with the terror forces; they deserve the response in the manner they act. We can not allow the innocent citizens to become victims of terrorism. Unfortunately the GUJCOC is not yet passed, Modi said.

Chief Minister appealed to the doctors to serve poor patients in Gujarat during the Nirogi-Bal year. To architect healthy tomorrow, we have focused the healthcare of children, Modi said

For news in Hindi see our Hindi news daily Chaupal Chronicle