Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tough going for former naxals

Gollapudi Srinivasa Rao


Maoist rebels, who gave up their armed struggle and joined the mainstream, have been elected to local mandal parishads and zilla parishads, but have not been able to make it to the State Assembly or Parliament so far.

A commander of the Janashakthi naxal group, Danasari Anasuya alias Sitakka, secured a ticket for the Mulug (ST) Assembly seat from the Telugu Desam Party in the 2004 election, but lost to Congress candidate Podem Veeraiah. She is once again trying to get the ticket, but faces tough competition from within the party. Komalla Seshagiri Rao alias Gopanna, a senior Maoist cadre, surrendered along with his wife Manjula alias Swarnakka some time ago. They joined the Congress party and subsequently, Manjula was elected as Zilla Parishad Territorial Committee (ZPTC) member. Both are now in Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), trying for the Palakurthy Assembly ticket. Mr. Rao is also seeking a ticket from film star Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party as well.

Another top Maoist leader, Gade Innaiah, who lost a hand in a bomb blast, has also failed to make it in politics. He first joined the TRS and then left to join the Talli Telangana Party floated by Telugu film heroine Vijaya Shanthi. Ms. Vijaya Shanti has now merged her party with the TRS leaving Mr. Innaiah in the lurch. A former naxal commander, Saraiah Mudiraj joined the Congress soon after his surrender. He tried to get the Parkal Assembly ticket, but failed.

How Maoist guerrillas threaten Indian poll from their jungle lair

In Dantewada, in the heart of the world's biggest democracy, civil war is flaring, claiming nearly 1,000 lives in the past two years. Gethin Chamberlain reports from the jungle hideouts of the Naxal rebels who are ordering villagers to boycott the election - and whose increasing strength is straining the Indian security services to breaking point

Gethin Chamberlain The Observer, Sunday 29 March 2009 Article historyIn the heart of the Indian jungle, someone has built a war memorial, a stepped cement pyramid rising out of the red dirt. The names of three residents of the village of Pedda Korma are etched into it. They are not soldiers or police, but martyrs of the Maoist Naxal insurgency. Kursam Lakhi and Sukki Modiyam, raped and killed by the police and Salwa Judum militia on 6 February 2005; Comrade Korsa Bhima, martyred in the March 2007 attack on Rani Bodli, when 55 policemen died. "The martyrdom will not be in vain," it proclaims. "Long live the people's liberation guerrilla army."

This is the Naxal heartland, Dantewada in the southern end of Chhattisgarh, in the centre of India, the front line of a war that receives little or no attention outside India. And for all the fear generated by last year's Islamist bombings in Mumbai and the anger directed at Pakistan, the most potent threat to the world's largest democracy is internal.

For the reason why India will not be hosting the lucrative IPL Twenty20 cricket tournament is simple: the Indian government cannot provide enough security to cover the month-long general election campaign - which begins on 16 April - and the cricket. India's available internal security forces will be required to combat the Naxalite threat to the elections.

What it means for democracy in large areas of India is described by Ram Singh Oyam, who watched the Naxalites walk into the village of Pandewar the first time the state tried to hold local elections last November. "They brought out the voting machine and broke it with a knife and threw it in the river," the 27-year-old said. "You need to understand this area. We have been told that, if we vote, our hands will be cut off."

A policeman walks through the village holding a kukri, the curved Nepalese knife popular with Gurkhas. "In case he runs out of ammunition," Dhar explains. But the Naxalites have weighed up the odds and instead hit a convoy of election vehicles leaving Parden village, farther into their territory. Later, news filters through that eight policemen have been killed in an attack to the north.

At Kathia polling station, head constable Dinesh Kumar says his men walked for 20 miles to reach the village of Koilibeda, only to discover that it was empty. They trekked through jungle and over hills, fighting off a Naxal ambush, but found the village school locked. The Naxalites were waiting in the next village, and again they came under fire. "The officials decided it was not worth it," he says. Voting was abandoned.

The Naxalites - villagers call them dada, Hindi for older brother - get their name from an uprising in the Naxalbari area of West Bengal in 1967. Playing on the frustrations of India's hundreds of millions of rural poor, they have won support by redistributing the wealth of the landowners and opposing industrialisation. They are estimated to have a strong presence in at least 170 out of India's 602 districts and have warned that they will use violence to block the elections in those areas.

In Chhattisgarh alone, in the past two years, 578 civilians have died in Naxal-related violence. The police and special police officer death toll stands at 231, against 142 dead Naxalites. According to police figures, in the past eight years in the Dantewada district alone 72 roads have been destroyed, 18 banks, 291 public vehicles, 87 schools, two hospitals, 24 railway lines and 56 electricity stations.

To counter their influence, the Salwa Judum militia emerged in 2005, ostensibly out of the frustration of those who had suffered at the hands of the Naxalites. The result was more killing, as the SJ members turned on those they accused of harbouring and supporting the Naxalites. Caught in the middle are the tribal people who live in the forests. There was no voting in the state elections in November in once prosperous Nendra: it has been attacked three times; 145 houses have been burned down, 16 adults and nine children killed.

The few villagers who have since returned huddle together around the one building that still has a roof. Its pink walls are covered with neatly painted Hindi script. The message the Naxalites left would be unequivocal, were the villagers able to read Hindi: "Don't take part in elections. Don't listen to the Hindu fascist members of the BJP [the Hindu nationalist opposition party]. Throw away their leaflets, don't help the police."

Scared at first, they relax as night falls, the trees around come alive with fireflies and the local hooch emboldens them. Yes, the dadas come from time to time, they say, but what can they do? They feed them and send them on their way. Then the SJ comes and burns their houses and kills those who cannot run away. "We are just living and surviving," says a voice in the darkness.

In the foggy morning, Mutti Muchaki, in her 50s, is preparing the breakfast. She was with her husband, Rama Pula, and two grown-up sons, Ganga and Veko, when the SJ came the first time. "They tied our hands behind our backs. They took away the men. Later we heard they had been killed with a knife and their bodies thrown into the drain."

The headman, Timmaia Muchaki, says the Naxalites take the young people into the jungle to their own meetings. "One side is here, one side is there; we are caught in the middle. We just want to get on with our lives," he says.

The map on the wall of Rahul Sharma's operations room shows the extent of the insurgency. Sharma is superintendent of police for Dantewada. He points to the pieces of pink string glued to the map, which mark the roads known to be mined, encircling a huge area controlled by the Naxalites. "This is totally out of our command," he says. Around 40% of Dantewada is in Naxal hands; 40% is held by the police: they are fighting over the rest.

"It is the biggest casualty theatre for the Indian government in the country. It is a full-blown war and the Naxalites are migrating from guerrillas to a conventional army." Driving south into Naxal territory, the car passes a small group of policemen hiking along a dirt track. One is playing with a grenade, tossing it from hand to hand.

The Salwa Judum camp and police base at Errabore appears out of the dust. On the evening of 16 July 2006, 600 Naxalites attacked Errabore. A plaque on the wall of the main police building lists 24 police officers killed. Another 32 people in the camp also died.

Three young special police officers (SPOs) are on guard duty, sharing one rifle, which is chained to a log, to make it more difficult for the Naxalites to steal. The SPOs are young tribals, paid to augment the police presence. For this they receive 2,150 rupees (£30) a month.

Inside their watch tower, a couple of old .303 rifles are propped against the concrete wall. A radio playing Hindi tunes in the corner fades in and out. Raju Soyam, 20, recalls the night the Naxalites attacked. "We fought with bows and arrows. They burned all the houses and threw people in the fire and killed them. They killed children and old people.

"We had search-lights and could see them. They looked like us, not like a lion or a fox, they had two hands and two legs." It is hot and the boys lounge around lethargically. "I don't know who will win this war," he says. "I think they have the upper hand at the moment."

The road into the Naxal heartland winds through the forest, over the Bailadila Hills and on and on through little villages.

It takes six hours of walking through the jungle before the clearing and the memorial appear. Finally, here are the Naxalites. "In this area, two or three hundred villages and thousands of houses have been burnt by the Salwa Judum," says 27-year-old Lakhmu Ram Mudiyam. He is the local Naxal leader in Pedda Korma, the village that was home to the young women whose names appear on the memorial.

"Our force is fighting for the poorest of the poor, the people who have nothing. We are fighting for the poor people and the people who are dying of hunger.

"I can tell you this. My force does not kill anyone without a reason. If someone makes a mistake, they are killed, but no one is killed who does not make a mistake. If you are in the police or a police informant, then that is a mistake and you will be killed for that."

He and his friends draw on their cigarettes, and there is no sound but the birds in the trees. "They are fighting for us, for the people, not for themselves," another man says, staring down at the red earth. "We are proud of them. They are our elders now."

The Naxalites' rise
• The Naxalites take their name from the Naxalbari district in West Bengal where the movement began in 1967.

• They started by organising uprisings among landless workers in West Bengal, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. They then moved into the mineral-rich areas of Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

• The movement, whose aim is violent revolution, has now spread to 170 of India's 602 administrative districts.

• The Naxalites consider themselves the heirs of Mao Zedong, although China has denounced the movement.

• With a force of up to 15,000 soldiers, it controls a fifth of India's forests.

• Two wings, People's War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre, combined several years ago to form the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

From Naxal heartland to tourism hotspot

29 Mar 2009, 0359 hrs IST, Soumittra S Bose, TNN


NAGPUR: Leave aside the actual meaning of the name. The word ‘Gadchiroli’ only evokes a spine-chilling fear and conjures up gory images related to
the Naxal movement. But it seems there’s an effort now to transform this district to a hotspot of tourism industry. District collector Atul Patne is planning an ambitious project ‘Destination Gadchiroli’ to repackage the underdeveloped district’s image.

“Employment generation is a only tool that can solve many of Gadchiroli’s present problems. A flourishing tourism industry can be the answer to the problem. It will also address other problems such as development at the village level and increase in per capita income,” said Patne.

Also among the district collector ’s plans is ‘Gadchiroli Festival,’ a week-long event that will bring out the best of the district in terms of forest products, local cuisine, tribal culture and customs, sight-seeing, traditional handicrafts and other attractions.

Patne has already started work on the project, identifying 35 tourist spots in the district. He plans to develop places like Beenagonda, Tippagarh, Venkatapura, Kaleshwara and Markendaya. Beenagonda, with its splendid scenic beauty, is also known as ‘Gadchiroli’s Kashmir’.

Patne said that niche tourism in the sectors of forest, agriculture, tribal, adventure and religion can be developed in the district. “My concept also includes development of aqua parks, forest parks, amusement parks and adventure sports and recreational parks. Sports-oriented institutions like mountaineering clubs, rock-climbing clubs, horse-riding clubs, boating clubs and even golfers can come down to Gadchiroli. We would plan stadiums where moto-sports and dirt track races can take place and develop golf courses. We also aim to develop facilities for pursuits like parasailing and paragliding,” said Patne.

The district collector added that tribal culture-based museums would also be set up to showcase the history, customs, culture and traditions of the local tribes. “Tourists can learn about the local tribal culture and also shop for tribal artefacts and products. The costs would be minus the showroom prices,” said Patne.

Mandatory videography at polling booths in Naxal hit areas

Raipur, March 28 (PTI) To check bogus voting in Naxal-hit areas of Chhattisgarh, the EC today said there will mandatory videography at sensitive and hypersensitive polling booths in the states, apart from deployment of observers.
Election Commissioner Navin Chawla told reporters here that the EC had received information on bogus voting being held in Naxal-hit areas in the past.

"To prevent such incident, the EC has decided that the polling will be videotaped at this booths," he said.

The EC will send 33 observers to the state to oversee the elections, he said In the worst-hit Bastar region, the polling will end at 3 PM.

The state's Chief Electoral Officer has been directed to complete the exercise of distribution of voter ID cards before the elections.

However, in case the voters residing in Salwa Judum camps and rurals areas have not got Voter ID card, then they will be allowed to vote after showing their employment card provided under the National Rural employment Guarantee Scheme. However, the family members will have to come together to vote, he said. PTI

Maoists arrested in Gaya

March 28, 2009


Anoop Mishra - March 28, 2009
PATNA — Gaya police arrested eight persons, including a self proclaimed area commander of Communist Party of India - Maoist, Jitendra Kumar alias Pintu Yadav, from Jaigir village under Barachatti police station area.


In raids conducted jointly by the Gaya police and the CRPF jawans, a loaded pistol, two cell phones, Naxal literature and a commander jeep were also recovered. Sahdev Yadav of Piprahi village is owner of the jeep.

In another incident, police recovered country-made rifle, gun and a katta from Hasra village under Wazirganj police station from the houses of Yogendra Yadav, Mahendra Yadav and Shivshankar Yadav.

Police also arrested Vinod Thakur alias Dayanand Thakur, a suspected member of People’s War from Karpi village under Khisersarai police station area on Friday.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Helicopter makes emergency halt near Gondia

Tags: Helicopter , Gondia , Maharashtra

Published by: Noor Khan
Published: Sat, 28 Mar 2009 at 10:17 IST Click Image to Enlarge


Gondia (Maha): A tragedy was averted when a VIP helicopter of the Indian Air Force, which was forced to make an emergency halt after developing a technical snag, landed safely in Purada village, around 50 kms from here, police said.

The MI-17 VIP helicopter, carrying nine passengers including IAF officials and technicians, was on a routine exercise from Delhi and on its way to Raipur via Nagpur, when the snag developed, district Superintendent of Police, Pradeep Deshpande said.

The helicopter made an emergency landing after the fault was detected at around 1130 hours, he said.

Wing Commander K Mukerjee, his assistants R Parija, R K Zha, S K Mishra, technician Tiwari, P K Singh, Omprakash, P Shayamal and one other person were travelling in it, Deshpande said.

Technical experts have left from Delhi, he said adding that the helicopter was likely to be repaired by tomorrow.

A police team has been deployed at the site where the helicopter landed, as the area falls under the Naxal affected Deori tehsil, the SP said.

Maoist leader held in Bhongir

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 27 Mar 2009 03:28:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 27 Mar 2009 02:43:26 PM IST

HYDERABAD: Apprehensions that action teams of CPI (Maoists) are present in the State and could strike during elections came true after the Nalgonda district police picked up an Area Committee Secretary and seized three weapons from him today. It is learnt that this team was all set to target an MLA in the coming days. According to sources, the police picked up Talla Yadaiah from Bhongir this afternoon based on specific information.


“We seized three weapons (.303) from him.

He has given us leads and more arrests will follow,” a senior police official said. Unconfirmed reports suggests that at least five more extremists are in the custody of the police. Police sources also claimed that the cadre were reportedly planning to target an MLA of the ruling party. Yadaiah previously worked in the Rachakonda dalam and he was instructed to re-group so as to strike on the eve of elections.

When contacted, Nalgonda district SP, B Srinivasulu refused to comment saying they would be in a position to reveal the details only tomorrow.

Bangalore: Give Information on Wanted Naxals - Get Rewarded

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Bangalore, Mar 27: In an effort to curb naxalism in the state, the police department has announced a lookout notice for 24 persons identified as Naxals.

Interestingly, of the 24 who are identified as Naxals, half of them are girls from different parts of the state.

Announcing the lookout notice, DG & IGP Ajai Kumar Singh said the general public who will give information to the police about the Naxals' whereabouts and activities would be rewarded.

Asked about the previous incidents where informants faced Naxals' wrath, Singh said the identity of the informants will be kept secret.

Total of Rs 60 lakh has been announced as reward - with Rs 5 lakh for giving information on 8 persons, Rs 3 lakh on two persons and Rs 1 lakh on 14 members.

The persons listed by the police

* B G Krishnamurthi, Shringeri

* Hosagadde Prabha alias Sandhya alias Vindhu alias Nethra alias Madhu, Hosagadde, Thirthahalli

* Neeluguli Padmanabha alias Paddanna alias Harish alias Vivek, Neelugude in Chikmagalur

* Latha alias Lokamma alias Shyamala, Bukkadibailu in Chikamagalur

* Kanyakumari alias Kanya alias Suvarna, Mavinakere in Mudigere

* Vikramagouda alias Srikanth, Koodlu Nadvalu village near Udupi

* A S Suresh alias Mahesh alias Pradeep alias Thungappa alias Mahadeva, Angadi village near Mudigere

* K M Krishnamurthi alias Mahesh

* Devendra alias Vishnu alias Vikrama, Sorab in Shimoga district

* Vasantha alias Anand, Kuthlur village

* Savithri alias Usha, Mavinakere in Chikamagalur

* Horale Saroja alias Sarala, Megur in Chikmagalur

* M Vanajakshi alias Jyothi alias Kalpana, Bhadrasitu in Chikmagalur

* Srimathi

* C M Noor Zulfikar, Chitradurga

* Leelavathi alias Leela, Bantwal

* Thombattu Lakshmi alias Lakshmi Pujari, Kundapura

* Kalpana alias Nirmala alias Rizwan Begum, Raichur

* N Nandakumar alias Rangappa alias Ranganatha, Somalapura in Chikmagalur

* Sundari alias Geetha, Kuthlur in DK

* Asha, Malagavagoppa in Shimoga

* Sirimane Nagaraju

* Jayanna alias John

* Ravindra alias Kotehonda Ravi, Hitthalamane

150 polling booths to be WLL connected

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 27 Mar 2009 03:33:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 27 Mar 2009 02:03:39 PM IST

MANGALORE: For the first time in the history of elections, the district election office (DEO) will network 150 polling booths in the naxal-infested areas in Dakshina Kannada district with the BSNL's Wireless in Local Loop (WLL) mobile phone connections.


Departing from convention, the EC had endorsed a 'special communication plan' envisaging a free flow of information from polling booths to the district election office in the LS elections. Thus under the plan, 1,368 polling booths, including an additional 106 polling booths proposed in the district will be connected with district election office either by landline or cell phone. ''Most of these booths were identified as hyper sensitive due to their proximity to forests frequented by naxalites,'' sources said.

Police bounty for Naxal informers

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 27 Mar 2009 03:24:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 27 Mar 2009 12:20:16 PM IST

BANGALORE: DG&IGP Ajai Kumar Singh on Thursday, announced cash awards to informers who give information regarding 28 Naxalites who are active in the state. The informers’ identity would be kept a secret.


“Many Naxalites are being held from different parts of the state and we will need the support of the public to trace them,” he told reporters. A reward of Rs 5 lakh per head, for information on eight Naxalites - BG Krishnamurthy, Hosagadde Prabha, Neeluguli Padmanabh, Latha, Kanyakumari, Vikram Gowda, AS Suresh and KM Krishnamurthy - would be given.

A reward of Rs 3 lakh each will be given for information on Devendra and Vasanth. Eighteen Naxalites carry a reward of Rs 1 lakh on their heads.

The information could be given over the toll-free number 18004250100. On election arrangements, Singh said the city always had the threat of being targeted by anti-social elements.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

NAXAL FEAR :Retired govt officials shun election duty

AMIT GUPTA

Gearing up: Poll workers check EVMs in Bokaro on Thursday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Ranchi, March 26: An appeal to retired government employees to render their services during the Lok Sabha elections has evoked a lukewarm response much to the discomfort of district administrations struggling hard to arrange for an adequate number of polling personnel.

Following a directive from the Election Commission (EC), the authorities of Ranchi, Garhwa, Palamau, Lohardaga and Gumla districts put up advertisements. “There was hardly any response. We had set a March 24 deadline, but now we have decided to wait for some more time,” said Gumla deputy commissioner Rahul Sharma.

Approximately, 1.25 lakh officials are required for smooth polling in all the 24 districts of the state. Currently, the number is falling short by 15,000.

District officials said that retired government employees were supposed to be deployed as micro-observers in sensitive booths. Their job will be to assist observers, normally an IAS officer appointed by the EC. A single booth requires a presiding officer, at least three polling officials and a micro-observer.

While the problem of inadequate polling personnel is acute in small districts like Gumla, districts like Ranchi are in a tad better position. “We have received responses from a couple of retired government employees. We are going to ask banks and semi-government set-ups to provide us with personnel,” said Arvind Kumar Mishra, the district establishment deputy collector.

Mishra pointed out that this was the first time micro-observers were being deputed. “Besides, the number of polling stations have also increased significantly. So, it is natural that more number of personnel will be required,” he added.

Speaking about alienating themselves from the biggest festival of democracy, a senior government official said: “It is not mandatory for the retired employees to render their services in elections. But as far as serving government employees (for whom poll duty is mandatory) are concerned, many are not keen on the job. And the reasons are obvious — past incidents of violence and fear of Naxalites,” he said.

Although the last date to respond for retired government employees has expired in four districts, it is March 28 for Lohardaga. But the districts made it clear that the employees can still opt for poll duty.

Police seize explosives in Udupi, one held







UNI/S.O. News, Friday, 27 March 2009 - 00:34:08 IST
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Bangalore : Police today arrested a person and seized 350 kg of gelatine and 1500 detonators from his possession in Uduppi District.

Talking to newspersons here, Director General of Police, Karnataka, Ajay Kumar Singh said Suresh Pujary was arrested while transporting explosives this morning.

To a question whether the accused had any links with Naxals in the district, he said no criminal case has been registered against him in the past.

Mr Singh said so far, 416 cases under the Excise Act have been filed and liquor worth Rs 60.69 lakh seized, besides Rs 13.63 lakh under the 'Representation of People's Act' in the State.

However, the police were interrogating him and probing his possession of huge explosives without any license, he added.

KARNATAKA: Cops on lookout for 24 Naxals

27 Mar 2009, 0301 hrs IST, TNN




BANGALORE: In an effort to curb naxalism in the state, the police department has announced a lookout notice for 24 persons identified as Naxals.


Interestingly, of the 24 who are identified as Naxals, half of them are girls from different parts of the state.

Announcing the lookout notice, DG & IGP Ajai Kumar Singh said the general public who will give information to the police about the Naxals' whereabouts and activities would be rewarded.

Asked about the previous incidents where informants faced Naxals' wrath, Singh said the identity of the informants will be kept secret.

Total of Rs 60 lakh has been announced as reward - with Rs 5 lakh for giving information on 8 persons, Rs 3 lakh on two persons and Rs 1 lakh on 14 members.

The persons listed by the police

* B G Krishnamurthi, Shringeri

* Hosagadde Prabha alias Sandhya alias Vindhu alias Nethra alias Madhu, Hosagadde, Thirthahalli

* Neeluguli Padmanabha alias Paddanna alias Harish alias Vivek, Neelugude in Chikmagalur

* Latha alias Lokamma alias Shyamala, Bukkadibailu in Chikamagalur

* Kanyakumari alias Kanya alias Suvarna, Mavinakere in Mudigere

* Vikramagouda alias Srikanth, Koodlu Nadvalu village near Udupi

* A S Suresh alias Mahesh alias Pradeep alias Thungappa alias Mahadeva, Angadi village near Mudigere

* K M Krishnamurthi alias Mahesh

* Devendra alias Vishnu alias Vikrama, Sorab in Shimoga district

* Vasantha alias Anand, Kuthlur village

* Savithri alias Usha, Mavinakere in Chikamagalur


* Horale Saroja alias Sarala, Megur in Chikmagalur

* M Vanajakshi alias Jyothi alias Kalpana, Bhadrasitu in Chikmagalur

* Srimathi

* C M Noor Zulfikar, Chitradurga

* Leelavathi alias Leela, Bantwal

* Thombattu Lakshmi alias Lakshmi Pujari, Kundapura

* Kalpana alias Nirmala alias Rizwan Begum, Raichur

* N Nandakumar alias Rangappa alias Ranganatha, Somalapura in Chikmagalur

* Sundari alias Geetha, Kuthlur in DK

* Asha, Malagavagoppa in Shimoga

* Sirimane Nagaraju

* Jayanna alias John

* Ravindra alias Kotehonda Ravi, Hitthalamane

Fear vs democracy in Gadchiroli

Rahi Gaikwad



Elections in this remote area of Vidarbha will be held under the threat of violence

Calls for boycott of the polls have already been given out




PHOTO: VIVEK BENDRE

(Above) A road in naxalite-dominated Gadchiroli; (right top) poster calling for a boycott of the election.

Sounds of the election bugle are muffled in Maharashtra’s naxal-dominated district of Gadchiroli. Calls for poll boycott and threats of violence have been frequent in this remote, forested area in Vidarbha, which shares its border with Chhattisgarh,

In Kotmi village in Etapalli taluka, calls for boycott have already been given out. An anti-election notice has sprung up on a solitary electric pole in the village, which serves as a polling station for about five to six nearby villages. The poster reads: boycott fake Lok Sabha elections and create a people’s government. Courtesy Gadchiroli Division Committee, Communist Party of India (Maoist). Locals say the notice has been there for the past two months. Even local body elections also meet the same fate. “There was no election for sarpanch because of ‘these people,’ ” says Vilas Moharevar of Kotmi.

Gadchiroli’s Superintendent of Police Rajesh Pradhan says that boycott calls are a feature of every election. The naxals try to threaten people and burn vehicles. “But we have counter-strategies. In addition, the police conduct meetings in the villages, and educate and sensitise the people about the democratic process and their rights.”

Many residents of Kondavahi village in Etapalli say there is no such threat but some differ. “Since 15 years, people here have not voted,” says Sudhakar Hitchami. Village teacher Hemraj Naik says: “The people are too scared,” — a likely fallout of double murders the village witnessed last year.







Mr. Pradhan says there has been a rise in naxal activity recently in retaliation to successful police crackdowns in 2008 and surrenders. On March 14 this year, in Venesara village of Etapalli, a group of Maoists in uniform slit the throat of a woman ex-sarpanch Geeta Topo — the first incident in the State where a woman became the target.

The act has gagged the people of Venesara. A demolished church bears testimony to the horror looming large. “Don’t ask anything. Just look. I cannot talk,” pleads a local. “We just wait for the night to end and the day to break,” others say.

Security arrangements for the coming elections are a top secret in Dhanora taluka, says inspector S.P. Ghorpad. In Dhanora’s Marke village, a group of 15 police officers were ambushed and killed in February 2009, in the biggest ever naxal attack in the State.

Mr. Pradhan says that “naxal-chasing” operations have begun 25 days before polling.

The State plans to deploy “a good number” of personnel from the Central paramilitary forces and commission choppers to provide security.

Refuting the general threat perception, he says: “The tribals don’t open up easily, so the inference that they are scared is not a sound one.”

Ashok Nete, Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate from Gadchiroli-Chimur, appears undeterred by his constituency’s danger-zone image. “I have been campaigning for one and a half years and our booth-wise workers are in the areas. People are becoming aware.”

The usual voter turnout in Gadchiroli has been in the range of 60 to 70 per cent, says Mr. Pradhan. After delimitation, the district has become a Lok Sabha constituency and the number of polling booths has gone up from 712 to 838.

Only April 16 — when Vidarbha goes to polls in the first phase — will decide whether fear or democracy prevails.

Oraon intensifies campaign in Naxal-hit areas

26 Mar 2009, 2157 hrs IST, K A Gupta, TNN


GUMLA: Congress nominee and sitting MP Rameshwar Oraon has intensified his campaign in remote areas of Lohardaga parliamentary constituency.


He is trying to woo the electorate on the basis of performance of Congress-led UPA at the Centre as well as work he accomplished during the last five years as people's representative of this ST seat.

On Tuesday, Oraon campaigned in number of Naxal-hit villages in Bishunpur block of Gumla district. During his visits to Keda, Longa, Mahuwatoli, Bendi, Samdari, Chatakpur, Banari and several other villages, he asked voters to elect an able candidate who has public interest at heart.

He also asked party workers to go to villages to apprise the people of the achievements of Congress-led UPA government at the Centre. For the last two days, Oraon also extensively toured several villages in Naxal-hit Chainpur and Dumri blocks urging the electorate to support the Congress.

"The Congress is contesting the polls on the basis of its performance during the last five year," Oraon said. "Development of villages had always been the priority of the party and NREGA, RTI Act, Forest Act, Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Programme and National Health Mission have been the biggest achievements of the UPA at the Centre," said Oraon, who seemed serious about retaining this prestigious seat for the second time.

Oraon had won the seat in the last election by defeating his arch rival Prof Dhuka Bhagat of the BJP by an impressive margin.

Maoists get ready for battle ahead

26 Mar 2009, 0507 hrs IST, Sukumar Mahato, TNN


JHARGRAM/KOLKATA: The road from Jhargram station leads to an undulating meadow at Simlipal, surrounded by hillocks at a distance with a lush-green
cover. Beyond that point, the winding village road leads to the far-flung hamlets where Maoists have a strong presence. A 60-member strong Maoist Guerrilla Army has already taken position atop Kanaisar Hill bordering Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Villagers of Loboni, Pachapani and Jamjurki are keeping their fingers crossed. They fear a bloody battle in this area as soon as the central forces start flush-out operations. "The Kanaisar Hill acts as a watchtower. One can figure out the police movement at least 10 km from Simlipal. Those who have gathered in the hills will retaliate immediately," a villager from Pachapani said.

The message has reached Belpahari police station. Scared of the Maoist retaliation, some of the serving sub-inspectors have managed to get transferred to Kotwali and other "safe" places. Others are waiting with bated breath for the central forces to take the lead.

Chhatradhar Mahato, spokesperson of the Maoist-led People's Committee against Police Atrocities, sounded defiant. "How is it that the state home secretary talks of police action when the district magistrate is holding talks with our representatives? If police have their way, we will resist the move come what may," he said.

Mahato also denied charges brought against them the day they mobbed the team of central forces. "Villagers gheraoed them, but nobody opened fire as claimed by the administration," he said.

Home secretary Ardhendu Sen was categorical about the police action. "We have to send polling parties to these areas. How will they reach there without police presence?" he said.

Prodded by seniors, Mahato on Wednesday came to Kolkata to meet ailing writer Mahasweta Devi, who could not make it to their meeting at Pirkata some days ago. "Mahasweta Devi has been fighting for the cause of Kherias, Sabars and Adivasis since long. I have briefed her about the situation in Lalgarh," he said.

Back in Jangalmahal, the situation remains tense. Police spread over in the camps are not in a position to venture out into the villages. "We don't want political parties to come to our village. Where were they all these months?" said a youth from Pachapani.

SP Manoj Verma seemed unperturbed. "The directive has come from the EC. Police could not enter the villages for the last three months. A total of 13 people have been killed in the past four months. We could not investigate the assault on the CM's convoy. This cannot go on," he said.

Aerial eye on Maoists

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Bankura, March 26: Policemen today did aerial surveys of Maoist-infested Bankura and Purulia districts three days after a similar exercise in West Midnapore.

In Lalgarh, West Midnapore, restive tribals have said they would not security forces to be deployed in the area for elections. The tribal resistance group, the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities, threatened to boycott the Lok Sabha elections if police are deployed.

Today, top police officers met the district officials in Purulia and Bankura to assess how many policemen and central forces would be needed for the polls. Bhupinder Singh, the director-general of police (coordination), who is looking after poll arrangements in the state, said: “Forces will be deployed well in advance. Patrolling will be carried out in the sensitive areas.”

Another major attack in India 'inevitable': Stratfor

Washington, Mar 26 (PTI) India faces the threat of another major terror attack after the audacious 26/11 Mumbai strikes with the "jihadist insurgency" intensifying along the western border and Pakistan seemingly losing control of its militant proxies, a leading US think tank has warned.
India already has "an array of militant threats" to deal with, ranging from Naxalites to northeastern insurgents to Kashmiri militants, Stratfor said in its latest analysis.

"Given the jihadist insurgency also intensifying along India's western frontier and Pakistan seemingly losing control of its militant proxies, another major Islamist attack in India is inevitable," it said.

"Regardless of whether the upcoming elections go off without a hitch, this is a reality Indian policymakers and security agencies will face for the foreseeable future," the think tank said.

The Mumbai attacks last year, it said, had "exposed Indian security forces' lack of preparedness and coordination." PTI

Karkala: Naxal Activity in Mutlupady Village raises Apprehensions

Daijiworld Media Network - Karkala (SP)

Karkala, Mar 26: On Wednesday morning, various handwritten wall-posters were found to have been stuck to bus shelter, public well and walls, supposedly by the naxals. It is thought, that they were pasted on the previous night.

The posters seek better wages for workers, payment of wages without any discrimination between male and female workers and wants political parties which chant the mantra of development to be severely punished. Some pamphlets were also found, issued in the name of CPI (Maoists) dated May 23, 2008, in which the naxals have sought to justify their action in killing Seetanadi Bhoja Shetty some months back.

After a motor bike belonging to a villager here had been burnt down some time back, the Anti Naxal Force personnel had intensified their vigil in the village. Thereafter, the naxal movement had become very scarce.

It is suspected, that a gang of seven or eight armed naxals had visited the village at around midnight. The villagers however feign ignorance, at the same time admitting that dogs of the village had intensified barking. The villagers are worried about the police questioning and the need to face the ire of the naxals thereafter, if ever they suspect that information about them had been leaked by someone in the village.

Nayagarh arms recovered

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 26 Mar 2009 03:56:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 26 Mar 2009 02:36:56 PM IST

PHULBAN: Two rifles recovered from the spot where a woman Naxal was killed in encounter at Kerubadi village under Daringbadi police limits, were looted from Nayagarh Police Training College two years back.


Yesterday, the SOG jawans during combing operation found some villagers along with Naxals preparing for a feast in the village. There was an exchange of fire between the jawans and the Naxals wherein a woman Naxal was killed.

While other Naxals managed to escape from the spot, police arrested a villager, Dukhiram Kadamseth. Police also recovered an INSAS, a 303 rifle, a bundle of wires, Naxal literature, leaflets, a hand grenade and some live bullets from the spot.

SP S. Praveen Kumar informed today that the INSAS rifle found in the deceased cadre’s hand besides the 303 rifle, had PTC(Police Training College) inscribed on them. Combing operation in the area has been stepped up and efforts are on to ascertain the identity of the deceased, the SP added.

Naxal threat: Bihar seeks four choppers for aerial patrol

Patna (PTI): The Bihar government has sought four helicopters from the Centre for aerial patrol in view of the threat to 19 out of the 40 parliamentary constituencies identified as 'naxal-infested'.

"We have approached the Centre for making available the helicopters for poll-related works, including aerial patrol in constituencies facing naxalite threat in Kaimur, Rohtas, Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada and Jamui districts bordering Jharkhand," a senior police official told PTI.

Naxalites have also made their presence felt in other districts like Jehanabad, Munger, West Champaran, East Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur and Vaishali.

"These choppers will be used for undertaking rescue operations in case naxalites attack polling personnel or the security forces and also closely survey movement of proscribed ultra-left outfits in forest areas," the official said.

The State police was also undertaking a rigorous exercise of mapping the most naxalite threatened areas and the information would be provided to the Election Commission, which would in turn be used as an input while deciding the force deployment during the polls, he said.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Police heat on Maoists in Lalgarh

25 Mar 2009, 0506 hrs IST, TNN



KOLKATA: The state government is planning a police crackdown in Lalgarh to flush out Maoists before the elections. But learning from the mistakes in
Nandigram, the police offensive will "confront Maoists without endangering local people".

This was made clear by state home secretary Ardhendu Sen on Tuesday at Writers Buildings. "The situation there is not conducive to holding the elections," Sen said, almost announcing a police encounter in the troubled Lalgarh area of West Midnapore, where local tribals had launched an offensive allegedly with the support of Maoists.

The state government has told the Election Commission about the impending trouble. "It would impossible to hold elections in Lalgarh in the current situation. We can't have isolated forces in the area. Flushing out of Maoists is essential for peaceful polls," Sen said. He added that preparations were on to initiate police action before the elections. "We can't reveal the tactical decisions," he said, not ruling out confrontation with common people. "It's a complex problem. We've got to be careful."

Hours before these announcements, West Midnapore district magistrate N S Nigam met Lalgarh tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato to try and convince him to let policemen enter the area ahead of the elections.

Mahato, the convener of People's Committee Against Police Atrocities, has asked for time to discuss the DM's proposal with other committee leaders before coming to a decision. The meeting focused on the need to send police force to Lalgarh, where PCPA activists are continuing their boycott of policemen. On Saturday, police were gheraoed when they tried to enter the area.

Mahato said, "I can't take a decision of my own. We have a committee comprising 108 members. All of them have to discuss the matter before a decision is reached." The DM explained to him the need to send police forces to the area once the poll process starts.

Red battlefield ready in Bihar

GAUTAM SARKAR
Jamui (Bihar), March 24: The men in khaki are ready for an unprecedented battle with rebel stronghold Jamui being announced a separate Lok Sabha seat.

In its recent report, the intelligence bureau noted that the rebels might strike before and during the poll in Jamui on April 16. Police outposts in forest areas had become particularly soft targets for the Naxalites, who enjoyed an edge in guerrilla attack in the hill corridors, it said. Besides, the report also proposed special alert for railway security personnel on the Kiul-Asansol section of Eastern Railway.

Jamui — created after delimitation process — has six Assembly segments — Chakai, Jhajha, Jamui, Sikendra (all in Jamui district), Tarapur (Munger) and Seikhpura (Seikhpura).

Topographically, Maoist-hit Jamui — which has over 13 lakh voters — is highly inaccessible as the hills with forest covers surround it from all the sides. It shares borders with Jharkhand’s Giridih and Deoghar districts and the rebels use the advantages of the borders for hideouts.

Jamui superintendent of police Binoy Kumar, however, appeared confident to take on the Naxalites before the polls. He said that the district had sufficient security personnel and special combing operation would be started soon with air-surveillance for peaceful polling process.

Kumar, who recently participated in a high-level inter-state police meet at Deoghar with Jharkhand police, said the neighbouring state had assured them to extend all support.

Amit Kumar, the deputy inspector general of police (Munger range) echoed Kumar and said all the booths would be under tight security covers.

Maoists nabbed

Shankar Yadav, alleged to be a Maoist area commander, was arrested during a raid in the Chandauti police station area on Monday night. Raj Bhallabh, a school student said to be a fresh recruit of the outfit, was also arrested.

Maoists attack police outpost in Orissa

Malkangiri (PTI): In a Maoists attack, the extremists virtually razed a police outpost and a government building to the ground at Malkangiri district in the wee hours on Wednesday, police sources said.

Around 100 armed Naxals attacked the police outpost and a nearby rest house at Padia, about 70 km from here, nearly razed the two buildings to the ground using machinery they had forcibly taken from a road construction site, the sources said.

According to the sources, at around 1 am the rebels woke up the bulldozer operator at the construction site and forced him at gunpoint to use the machine to bring down the buildings.

They also set ablaze the battery room of a BSNL tower and beat up the watchman and another person when they protested, the sources said.

Malkangiri SP Satyabrata Bhoi has confirmed the incident.

After destroying the building, the ultras put up posters in the area asking people to boycott the ensuing polls. They also warned that those campaigning and taking part in the elections would be punished, the sources said.

Additional security force had been deployed in the area and combing operation launched to track down the attackers, police said.

Woman Naxal killed in encounter

Express News Service First Published : 25 Mar 2009 04:14:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 25 Mar 2009 03:32:56 PM IST

PHULBANI: A woman Naxal was killed in a police encounter at Kerubadi under Daringbadi police limits this afternoon.


Sources said the SOG jawans during combing operation found some villagers along with Naxals cadres preparing for a feast in the village.

There was a exchange of fire between the jawans and the Naxals wherein a woman Naxal cadre was killed. While other Naxals managed to escape from the spot, police arrested a villager who was present during the feast.

Police also recovered an INSAS and a 303 rifle from the spot.

Kerubadi lies in the border of Ganjam district.

2 NAXALITES FREED FROM MYSORE PRISON

Mysore, Mar. 25 (BRS&ACP)- Two Naxalites, who were inmates of the Mysore Central Prison, were set free on Tuesday. Ujjayini Gowda, aged 40, a Naxalite who was put behind the bars in a case registered against him, was freed from the charges by a Chikka-magalur court, which was the reason for setting him free. Another Naxalite, Jagannath alias Umesh, aged 25, who secured bail from a Shimoga court, also was set free.

Another Naxalite Mallika, who was accused along with Ujjayini Gowda in the same case, had also been cleared of the charges in the case, could not be set free because some cases involving her are pending in the Court.

Ujjayini Gowda hails from Gulagatta village, Malavalli taluk, Mandya. Police had charged that he had shifted to Chikkamagalur and was an active Naxalite. Many cases had been registered against him on charges that he was an active member of 'Tunga' naxal group. He was set free after charges against him in a case registered in Sringeri Police Station were cleared.

Jagannath alias Umesh hails from Gopigondanahalli, Honnali Taluk in Davanagere. He had taken residence near the popular rice mill in Shimoga.

The Shimoga Police had charged Jagannath of indulging in Naxalite activities and had registered cases against him under Arms Act and Explosive Materials Act.

Suspected Naxals arrested

25 Mar 2009, 0315 hrs IST, TNN



GAYA: Shankar Yadav, a suspected area commander of dreaded Naxal outfit CPI(Maoist), was arrested in a raid conducted in the Chandauti police
station area on Monday night.

Raj Bhallabh, a school student, said to be a fresh recruit of the banned outfit has also been arrested. However, Chander, who is said to be Shankar's superior in the outfit's hierarchy, and some other activists gave the police a slip and managed to flee. The raid was conducted by Tekari SDPO Hari Shankar Kumar.

Confirming Shankar Yadava's arrest, Gaya SP M R Naik said that Shankar was involved in several Naxal operations, including the attack on the Paraiya police station a few years back in which four policemen were killed by the marauding Naxals. More details would be available only after the completion of Shankar's interrogation, the SP said.

Surveillance hit by Naxal menace

Bibhuti Barik

First Published : 24 Mar 2009 03:41:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 24 Mar 2009 03:49:13 PM IST

BHUBANESWAR: The growing Naxal menace in the tribal pockets — especially in the bordering districts of Orissa — has jeopardised the health-care sector too. For, the tuberculosis eradication drive has been seriously hit in the process as neither the locals dare to come to the nearest community health centres (CHCs) for detection nor the health workers reach them regularly for the usual door-to-door survey and assistance.


Situation in districts like Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh and even Keonjhar - where the prevalence of TB is high among tribal communities - is becoming ‘alarming’ as the benefits of the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) cannot reach the target population.

For example, two blocks in Mayurbhanj — Bijatala and Gorumahishani —bordering Jharkhand, the programme remains a non-starter due to increasing extremist activities in the localities, according to Health Department officials here.

Even benefits of the information, education and communication (IEC) activities for awareness generation on the killer disease are not effectively reaching people at the grass-roots and in the traditional tribal pockets other than the Naxal-hit areas, admits officials.

"As a result, maximum detected persons are not completing the mandatory six-nine months course of taking medicine under Direct Observed Treatment Short Course Chemotherapy or DOTS. After 1-2 months of drug administration, they feel better and abandon the idea of completing the full course," says State TB officer Dr Gangadhar Rath.

Many died of TB in these tribal areas for late arrival after detection, alcoholism, shifting base or migration and the failure of IEC activities. These are again due to extremist activities and inaccessible locations, he adds.

Speaking to this paper on the eve of World TB Day tomorrow, Dr Rath, however, informs since the inception of RNTCP till 2008, a total of 3,11,765 TB cases were detected and treated under DOTS and 2,21,199 have been cured and completed treatment. As per reports of the fourth quarter of 2008, the case detection rate is 60-72 per cent against the national average of 70 per cent and the most important part is that the State’s success rate is 87 per cent against the national average of 85.

RNTCP, which started in Costa CHC of Mayurbhanj on October 3, 1997, covered all districts by December 2004, but there are hurdles like natural calamities, communal tensions and the Naxalite menace complete success of the programme, he clarifies.

Killer disease

Though fever, lingering cough and blood in the sputum with severe weight loss are some known symptoms of TB, malnutrition and unhygienic conditions (cramped surroundings) may contribute towards its spread.

But as the disease strikes when the body immunity level is low, persons with diabetes should be on alert. Also those who suffer from HIV are 80-90 per cent prone to contract TB, says city-based physician Dr Paresh Jena.

It is TB rather than AIDS which takes heavy toll in India, he says.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Murder finger at rebels, rights body

GAUTAM SARKAR
Kathikund (Dumka), March 23: Several theories are doing the rounds after the death of Chotalal Soren, the father of JVM’s Kathikund block president, in a mob attack at Bara Vhalki village yesterday.

The police suspect that Maoists incited the villagers to kill Chotalal, 60, the father of Santosh Soren. But several fingers point to Jharkhand Ulgulan Manch, a rights body, that is fighting for the villagers whose land were taken away by the administration for setting up a power project in Kathikund.

The manch had led the agitation in Kathikund when the police fired on the villagers. Two persons died in the incident and several injured. Sources said that tension had been simmering since that episode on December 6.

In fact, after the Kathikund police, the villagers had blocked all exit and entry points to their hamlets and imposed a “public curfew” not only in Kathikund, but also in neighbouring Shikaripara block.

But Dumka police alleged that Maoists and some Bengal-based coal mafia, who are engaged in excavation of coals from illegal coal pits in the region, had influenced the villagers to barricade the villages. “In reality, the Maoists and the coal mafia used the villagers to block police movements so that they could continue their illegal trade,” said superintendent of police of Dumka Arun Kumar Singh.

But the Dumka police recently managed to remove the blockades and started special drives against the rebels in Bara Vhalki, Bilaikandar, Amrapani and Chaipani.

Yesterday, the police came on a long range patrolling to Bara Vhalki. The villagers thought that Chotalal had informed them about the presence of Naxalites in the village. Soon after the police’s departure, a mob gathered in front of Chotalal’s house, dragged him out and beat him to death.

Close associates of the Soren family alleged that the manch had targeted Chotalal and Mirdha long back in 2007 when the survey of the power project started. “A few months ago, the Maoists had also threatened Chotalal,” a relative said.

“There were many unknown faces in the mob. We were seeing them for the first time here,” said another family member. They, however, did not mention any name in the FIR lodged with the Kathikund police last night.

When contacted, not a single manch activist was willing to speak on the incident.

Constable killed in Bastar attack

Express news service
Posted: Mar 24, 2009 at 1109 hrs IST



Raipur: Stepping up violence ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Maoists on Tuesday triggered a blast and later opened fire at the security personnel engaged in combing operations killing a constable and injuring two others near Vasinghbahar village, about 20 km away from Narayanpur district headquarters, in tribal Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.

The blast took place early this morning when the security personnel, led by Additional Superintendent of Police Sujit Kumar, were combing the area as a village fair was to be held during the day at Sonpur. Immediately after the blast, a group of about 80 Naxalites opened indiscriminate fire at the police party, leading to an encounter between the security forces and the rebels.

Police said constable Ashwin Kumar was killed on the spot while another constable, Ramnath, and a special police officer (SPO) Parsa Ram were seriously injured. Both the injured were admitted to the district hospital at Narayanpur.

Naxalites, who were lying low after the Assembly polls in November 2008, are apparently stepping up violence as the Lok Sabha polls draw closer. Two days ago, the rebels abducted four villagers, including a registered medical practitioner, and later their bodies were found on a hillock near Annaram in Bijapur district. Police said the rebels suspected them to be police informers.

Maoists kill 4 ‘informers’

B V Ramana ReddyFirst Published : 24 Mar 2009 02:45:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 24 Mar 2009 12:43:46 PM IST

BHADRACHALAM: Maoists today shot dead four persons branding them as police informers in the thick forest in Chhattisgarh, near Bhadrachalam, today.


The four persons were identified as Jangam Jagdish, A Srinu, Kurasam Sudhakar and P Rajasekhar of Dharma Tallagudem in Bhadrachalam division.

While Rajasekahar was an RMP, Sudhakar was a salesman, Srinu a trader and Jagdish an unemployed youth.

The police told to The New Indian Express that all the four youths had gone to Bhupalapatnam village, close to the border of Chhattisgarh state for different reasons, and were apprehended by the Maoists on their way back late in the evening. They took them deep into the forest between Dharma Tallagudem and Bhupalapatnam and crossed the border.

The Maoists, who decided upon interrogation that they were police informers, shot them dead.

Meanwhile, the fact that Maoists could walk away coolly after killing four people, has left the people in nearby villages a worried lot, as the Naxalites have already given a call for poll boycott.

Insurers gear up to cover officials on poll duty

Shilpy Sinha / Mumbai March 23, 2009, 0:25 IST



As the general election process starts this week with filing of nomination papers for the first phase, state governments are getting their act together to kick off floating tenders for providing insurance cover to six million officials and paramilitary personnel who would be deployed for on poll duty.



While the standard cover against death is expected to be worth Rs 10 lakh, partial disability insurance is likely to be in the region of Rs 5 lakh. But there are states where state government personnel on election duty are likely to get higher cover. While the premium quoted is expected to stay around the same level for all, a higher risk perception due to terror is something bothering insurance firms.

"Depending on the volatility and risk perception, the (premium) rates will vary. However, it will remain more or less the same," said Oriental Insurance Chairman and Managing Director M Ramadoss.

Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and parts of Bihar and Maharashtra, which have been the epicentre of Naxalite attacks, are expected to opt for higher cover, insurance company executives said.

Besides, the number of days for which the cover would be available would also determine the premium rate. States are expected to provide insurance for a 30-40 day period.

Though insurance cover for poll duty started a few years ago, the Election Commission (EC) has raised concerns over the delay in settling claims.

Almost all insurers are eyeing this business, which had fetched them a hefty Rs 15 crore premium income during the 2004 general elections. While the four public sector insurers — New India Assurance, United India, National and Oriental Insurance — have been providing such cover, some private players too participated in certain states during the last general elections. By purchasing group personal accident covers, states manage to keep the premium low.

"In 2004, there were certain states that did not purchase insurance covers. But now, with terror risks rising, almost all of them are expected to buy such policies this time," said a senior executive with a private sector insurance company.

Maoist focus at police poll meet

SHASHANK SHEKHAR


Bokaro, March 23: The IG of North Chotanagpur, K.S. Meena, has convened a high-level meeting of senior police officials from the bordering districts of Bengal namely Burdwan, Asansol and Purulia and their counterparts in Bokaro and Dhanbad on Wednesday to discuss strategy in controlling Maoist terror in the run-up to next month’s general elections.

The meeting comes in the backdrop of serious efforts by the Bokaro district administration to come up with a comprehensive plan for holding peaceful elections in the district 70 per cent of which falls under the Naxalite zone.

Elections in Bokaro district, which includes the two parliamentary seats of Dhanbad and Giridih, will be held on April 23.

After a series of meetings with security forces, top police officers including CRPF and CISF commandants, the district administration had declared that 1,150 booths of among the 1,462 in Bokaro were sensitive or super-sensitive, making them vulnerable to Maoist attacks or violent clashes between various communities.

Of the 1,150 booths, 550 falling under the Maoists’ area have been branded super-sensitive whereas the remaining 600 booths where political muscle-flexing could lead to rigging of votes have been marked as sensitive.

According to officials, the district administration would require about 25,000 security personnel that include 1,800 inspectors, 4,600 sub-inspectors and 18,000 constables, besides paramilitary forces for the smooth conduct of voting.

Forward Bloc leader killed by Naxalites

OUR CORRESPONDENT
Jamshedpur, March 23: Forward Bloc general secretary Shankar Das Goswami was shot by suspected Naxalites at Chaliama village under the Nimdih block of adjoining Seraikela-Kharsawan district late last night.

Goswami was returning home after attending a religious function at a nearby village. It was about 1.30am when Goswami left the venue and after travelling for about half-a-kilometre was attacked by a group. According to eyewitness reports, two men caught Goswami while two others opened fire. The Forward Bloc leader received four bullets and died on the spot.

The villagers, who witnessed the gruesome killing, could not muster courage to chase the assailants. Police rushed to the spot and shifted the body to the MGM Medical College and Hospital for post-mortem.

The attack has taken place only five days after the police encountered rebels at Chaliama and Dungri Pahar forests while patrolling. Chaliama is a Naxalite-dominated village and the police are not ruling out a rebel hand in the murder. “We are keeping all our options open while carrying out the investigation,” said Shital Oraon, the superintendent of police, Seraikela-Kharsawan. The police have started combing operations in areas bordering Bengal. As Chaliama is near Bengal’s Purulia district, the Naxalites find it easy to sneak into Bengal after executing their plans.

But no Naxalite outfit has claimed responsibility for the murder yet.

Sources in the police said it was the second such attack on Goswami. In November last year, the rebels had locked his house and created panic among his family members. Goswami has been associated with the Forward Bloc for the past 25 years and was the general-secretary of the Seraikela-Kharsawan district.

Former deputy chief minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Sudhir Mahto went to the MGM Medical College and Hospital and met the bereaved family members.

Mahto was certain that this is a Naxalite-sponsored murder. “The Naxalites have once again shown their ugly face by eliminating a good politician from the Nimidih area,” he said.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Maoist attack along borders feared

Snehamoy Chakraborty
BOLPUR, March 22: Following a tip-off from the Intelligence Branch that Maoists may launch attacks in the Birbhum-Jharkhand border areas during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, senior police officers of Jharkhand and Birbhum held a meeting in Bolpur last evening.

The officers discussed steps to counter the Maoist threat during the polls in the border areas. Birbhum SP Mr LN Meena, Dumka SP Mr Arun Kumar Singh and other senior police officers from the district and Jharkhand attended the meeting.
According to police, an e-mail fell in the hands of Intelligence Branch sleuths a few days ago. The e-mail indicated that Maoists may cause disturbance during Lok Sabha polls. After that the district police and Jharkhand Police decided to convene a joint meeting to increase security along the border.

“After receiving a tip-off about a possible Maoist attack during the Lok Sabha polls in the border areas of Birbhum and Jharkhand, police from the three districts of Birbhum, Dumka and Pakur decided to convene a meeting to keep the border areas under firm control during the polls,” said a senior district police officer.
According to police, Birbhum district’s Khoirasole, Rajnagar, Dubrajpur, Mohammed Bazar, Nalhati and Muraroi police stations lie on the border with Jharkhand.

Maoists attack on police station repelled

Garwah (Jharkhand) (PTI): The police on Monday repelled Maoist attack on Dhurki police station in Garwah district after a two-hour gun battle.

Between 50 to 100 Maoists in four groups launched simultaneous attack on the heavily guarded police station around 2 am firing over 500 bullets at, police said here.

The police counter attack forced the Maoists to retreat around 4 am without causing any harm to the police station, the police added.

Maoist blow up school building, health centre

Medninagar (Jharkhand), Mar 22 (PTI) Maoists blew up a primary school and primary health centre in extremist-hit Palamu district while a powerful land mine was recovered after the two incidents late last night in the run up to the general elections.
The Naxalites triggered explosives to blow up the primary school and health centre constructions at Nitar under Manatu police station last night, Superintendent of Police Ravi Kant Dhan told newsmen today.

The walls of both the buildings were badly damaged, while doors, furnitures and other goods including medical equipment and important documents of the health centre were reduced to ashes, he said.

Meanwhile, in a raid on the same day, 15 kg of explosives, attached with a timer device for land mine explosion, was found underneath Hussainabad-Alipur Road, Dhan said. PTI

Polling to end one hour early in naxal-hit areas in Orissa

Published: March 23,2009


Bhubaneswar , Mar 23 The Election Commission today decided to reduce by an hour the duration of polling in 19 assembly constituencies in naxal-hit areas in Orissa which will go to polls in first phase on April 16.

While polling would be held from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM in 51 assembly segments on April 16, the timing for 19 other seats under Nawarangpur, Koraput, Berhampur and Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituencies would be from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM, official sources said.

Though the EC did not mention the reason behind the change in poll schedule for 19 assembly seats, officials said that the areas were naxalite affected.

Polling for all the 14 assembly constituencies under Koraput and Nawarangpur Lok Sabha constituencies would be held from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Five other assembly segments fell under Berhampur and Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituencies.

Meanwhile, the process of filing nominations for 10 Lok Sabha and 70 assembly seats in the state was set in motion today with the issuing of notification for the first phase of polls on April 16.







Source: PTI