Friday, December 18, 2009

Stint in Maoist areas will toughen IPS officers

Nikhil S Dixit / DNAThursday, December 17, 2009 2:03 IST

Mumbai: Welcoming the government's decision to make postings in Maoist-infested areas mandatory for new IPS officers, former director-general of police PS Pasricha said this will toughen them and help them understand the situation that the force is facing.

Pasricha said: "When I was DGP, I used to send young people there. It will not result in any problem, as the young IPS officers will be working under a senior police officer."
Ex-DGP Kamal Kashyap said, "No posting is a punishment posting. In fact, it's a good idea to send young officers there. Terrorism and Naxalism are a growing menace and seniors are always there to guide the fresh officers."
But former IPS officer YP Singh felt the government resolution had been issued without consideration. "How can they say that an officer won't get a promotion if he refuses to take a posting?" Singh said. "Action should be taken under the conduct and discipline rules if someone avoids going there. No one can block the promotion on the basis of a specific misconduct."
"A fresh officer will be inexperienced and will have no knowledge to combat Naxalism or terrorism," he said.

EDITORIAL: The crumbling red fort

Suhit Sen
December 15, 2009
First Published: 21:29 IST(15/12/2009)
Last Updated: 21:30 IST(15/12/2009)

Approximately 15 kilometres beyond Midnapore town, the landscape starts to resemble a war zone, from where the large and once moderately prosperous village of Pirakata is located. A little over a week ago, a mine explosion killed a securityman nearby. Lalgarh is a further 30-odd kilometres away.

There is first the ubiquitous presence of the security forces — patrolling or hunkered down in schools taken over for the past five months or so. Facing a court order, they have to vacate all schools by December. Camps are now being constructed for the forces in good numbers. But more than that behind the deceptive peace of sylvan — and beautiful — countryside the tension is palpable. My guides advise against straying off the main road that winds through the war zone.

The camps are a good place to start if you want to understand the perversity of the Bengal government’s operation against the Maoists. Just over a week ago, the advocate-general of Bengal argued in court that in some contingencies education could take a back seat. The argument was not countenanced. The tribals of West Midnapore and elsewhere had been staunch supporters of the Left 1977 onwards — in fact, the CPI(M) won a number of seats in this belt, including Jhargram, of which the Lalgarh area is a part.

This is a constituency that the CPI(M) has systematically deprived of the right to proper education, healthcare and decent employment opportunities. But that is history. Even after the Lalgarh insurgency happened on the back of police atrocities added to deprivation, the government and the party refused to draw the right conclusions — its joint operations have
deprived a large number of children an education. Some will now have to forfeit a year. And the government justifies this.

Moreover, the operation has not succeeded in landing a single significant Maoist leader, other than Chhatradhar Mahato, if he can be called a Maoist at all. The ultra-Red squads continue to operate in the area with something approaching impunity.

All that the operation has succeeded in doing is alienate the tribal people further for exactly the same reason why the insurgency started in the first place — police atrocities. Security personnel are known to pick up villagers randomly and give them the treatment. Property is routinely vandalized. Villagers are caught in the crossfire. They can’t offer assistance to locate Maoists for fear of reprisal — it would be madness — besides which many for explicable reasons sympathise with the insurgents. And when they don’t help, they face the full force of the farcical operation.

The joint operation and the CPI(M)’s policies have also created a big divide in the Jangalmahal area. I was speaking to a CPI(M) member in Ramgarh, near Lalgarh. He was candid that there had been little development in the area and that the tribals were deprived. But he wasn’t carrying a candle for them. He was intensely critical of both the Maoists and the tribals, berating the latter for not making the best of some of the extra opportunities provided to them by the government in the field of education, for not integrating with the Bengalis and for pushing the case for their own language.

The point is not whether the government has provided educational advantages, of which more later, it is the growing divide between the caste Hindu Bengali people and the tribals. Growing, not least because the joint operation and the intensification of the Maoist offensive has thrown life out of gear in the area. The CPI(M) man says that many people have fled the area — it is obvious. Village after village is littered with shuttered shops, restaurants and other establishments.

As for the educational opportunities, the hyperbole is equally obvious. As we make our way to Lalgarh and back we come across a number of 'primary' schools. They are a joke - ill-clad, famished children scattered around derelict cottages.

This is in the more prosperous areas along the road. In the interiors it is understandably worse. My guides confirm this as they confirm that the party and government have not bent their energies to deliver basic services in the area. And they admit cheerfully that the game is up, not afoot.

The Lalgarh story is part of the bigger story of the CPI(M) in Bengal and more specifically Midnapore. Take corruption. A school teacher, a local committee member, says that substantial funds have been sanctioned for his school, though not released. But already plans are afoot among party leaders in local and zonal committees about how the funds are going to be misappropriated.
The problem, many party men say, is that Alimuddin Street has ceded control over party affairs to its all-powerful district secretary, the notorious Dipak Sarkar, who runs the party and the district like a minor kingdom.

Suhit Sen is a Kolkata-based writer

The views expressed by the author are personal

Maoists announce ‘loan waiver’ for farmers

Snigdhendu Bhattacharya , Hindustan Times

Kolkata, December 17, 2009
First Published: 00:18 IST(17/12/2009)
Last Updated: 00:27 IST(17/12/2009)


Farmers in West Midnapore district of West Bengal may not have to repay their crop loans. The Maoists have announced a waiver. This is the first time the rebel group has announced such a decision.

“Several peasants who took crop loans over the last two years have suffered losses. So, we have decided that they don’t have to pay back their loans,” said Koteshwar Rao, alias Kishenji, member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

“Moreover, no agricultural cooperative, bank or private money lender will be allowed to charge more than two per cent interest on loans they advance to peasants this year,” he added.

Cooperative and public sector banks usually charge 7 per cent interest on agri loans. Private moneylenders charge much more – between 3 per cent and 5 per cent a month.

“If anybody, be it from public sector banks or private moneylender tries to squeeze money out of the farmers, he will be branded a people’s enemy and tried in a people’s court,” Kishenji threatened.

These “courts” usually hand out the death penalty to those who defy their writ.

“We will look into the matter and take action if anybody lodges a complaint,” said Manoj Verma, superintendent of police, West Midnapore.

State Bank of India, United Bank, Allahabad Bank, UCO Bank and a few co-operative banks have branches in this district. No bank executive was willing to speak on the issue. They were also unwilling to share data of total loans or farmers who may be impacted.

“More than 50 per cent of all loans in the district are advanced by private moneylenders,” several of them said on condition of anonymity.

Maoists wield considerable influence in 180 of India’s 626 districts, where they have killed more than 300 security personnel this year.

Kishenji claimed that farmers have suffered losses and that “no one is in a position to repay the loans. Since the government did nothing, it was left to us to give relief”.

Injured Maoist ultra makes extortion calls

TNN 16 December 2009, 10:13pm IS


VARANASI: In the gang war that had taken place in the jungles of Amila on December 2, while dreaded Maoist ultra Ramvriksha Kole had been killed,

his rival Munna Vishwakarma had sustained bullet injuries. The exchange of fire had taken place near Chakaria police outpost of Kone police station in Sonebhadra. It is now being said the injured Vishwakarma is wandering in the jungles and making extortion calls to traders for money to treat his wounds.

If sources are to be believed, security force deployed in the jungles of Maoist-affected districts of Sonebhadra and Chandauli have got inputs in this regards. Vishwakarma has taken shelter in the bordering area of Sonebhadra district that is surrounded by four states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Sources also claimed that during surveillance, it had come to light that Vishwakarma was demanding money from some contractors for his treatment. Keeping the same inputs in view, police have geared up their exercise to arrest Vishwakarma.

When IG Range Gurdarshan Singh was contacted, he confirmed that the possibility of threatening contractors for extorting money by Vishwakarma could not be denied. Singh, who visited the jungles of Naugarh to review security arrangements in view of the on-going assembly election process at Jharkhand, said Vishwakarma was in search of money for his treatment. He said efforts to arrest him had been intensified.

Teacher shot at by Maoists in school

Express News Service Posted online: Friday , Dec 18, 2009 at 0322 hrs

Kolkata : Maoist squads today opened fire inside a primary school injuring a teacher and a student at Goaltore in West Midnapore district. In a separate incident, a CPI supporter was beaten to death by armed members of People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA).

Six miscreants came to the Shiarboni primary school on motorbikes at 2.30 pm and entered the room where Udaybhanu Lohar was teaching students of Class III and started firing at him. Lohar was hit in the back. A student, Marshal Murmu, was also shot in the stomach. As the students panicked and started screaming, the miscreants rode off, thinking that the teacher had died.

Both Lohar and Murmu have been admitted to a local hospital.
This is the second time Maoists squads have targeted teachers inside schools. On September 14, Maoists had gunned down Kartyk Mahato, a para-teacher in Jamda High School, while he was taking classes. According to police, Udaybhanu, who is a member of CPM’s local committee in Goaltore, had been the target of the Maoists for some time now. Earlier he had received death threats.

In a separate incident, CPI supporter Nishikanto Bera was dragged out of his house Boilashol village at 9.30 pm yesterday and beaten up. An injured Bera was found near a forest on Thursday morning. He was taken to Midnapore Medical College Hospital where he succumbed to injuries. Bireshwar Bera, a relative of Nishikanto, said: “The Maoists and the PCAPA members were asking him to leave CPI. But he refused to budge. They came last night with their faces covered. They were saying that he was a police informer.”

In another incident a former policeman, Chidam Hembram (70), was hacked to death in Belpahari. The police said he may have been murdered due to family feud. The body of Hembram, a resident of Barra village, was found on Thursday morning.

The PCAPA has, meanwhile, called for a bandh in Lalgarh and adjoining areas from Friday. They have asked the police to trace Raju Adak and Joydeb Bera, two of its committee members picked up by the police a week ago, but not produced before a court.

Superintendent of Police Manoj Verma, however, said the duo was detained for interrogation and was released later. Asit Mahato, spokesperson for the committee, said: “The police have to show us where the duo is. They have not returned home after being picked up last week. From tomorrow we will block all roads and rail tracks in the area. This will continue till the two persons are shown to us.”

Arms and ammunition recovered from ‘abducted’ Trinamool worker’s house
The police today recovered a rifle and 250 rounds of ammunitions from the residence of a Trinamool Congress worker in West Midnapore.

Interestingly, Shyamal Acharya went missing three days ago. Thereafter, the party district leadership lodged a complaint with the police superintendent, following which the police visited his residence. “The Trinamool Congress had filed a complaint stating that one of their party workers was abducted. The police team visited his house and found arms and ammunition. Investigation is being carried out,” said Manoj Verma, Superintendent of Police of West Midnapore.

According to police, Acharya used to reside in Udaypalli in Tantigeria near Midnapore town. He is originally a resident of Keshpur. Trinamool Congress, however, lambasted the police and accused them of stage managing the entire episode. Pradyut Ghosh, general secretary of district Trinamool Congress, said: “The police have planted the arms and ammunition at his house to malign us. We went to the police after our worker went missing. They did not take any action nor were they able to trace him. They stage managed the entire thing.”

On the other hand, the CPM once again accused the Trinamool Congress of working in tandem with the Maoists and spreading violence in the districts.

Two policemen killed in landmine blasts

RANCHI: Two policemen were killed and two others injured in landmine blasts triggered by Maoists in West Singhbhum and Palamau districts of Jharkhand during the final phase of the Assembly elections on Friday.

A landmine, triggered at Mahur in the Hussainabad constituency of Palamau district, killed a policeman and injured two others, Superintendent of Police Jatin Narwal said. A Central Reserve Police Force jawan was killed in the blast at Titlighat in the Saranda forest, under the Jagannathpur constituency, in West Singhbhum district. — PTI

FIRs lodged against Maoist leader, 300 cadres

Uttam Mukherjee, TNN 17 December 2009, 09:41pm IST

LOHARDAGA: The Kisko police on Wednesday lodged three separate FIRs against Maoist zonal commander Nakul Yadav and 300 unidentified cadres hailing from Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand. The rebels have been accused of creating law and order problem in Kekrang, Chandalgi and Rorad villages in the district in the past three days.
Two FIRs were lodged by the owner and driver of two buses while the police lodged a third FIR against Maoists for killing two policemen of the motorcycle squad.

On Monday, the Maoists killed two policemen of the motorcycle squad and later blew up a bus and a school building. They also set two buses ablaze in the early hours of Tuesday.

Kisko police station in-charge Sunil Kumar Tiwari said that the police lodged an FIR (case no. 74/09) against Maoists under the various Sections of the IPC, Arms Act, Explosive Substance Act and Criminal Law Amendment Act.
In the past three days, security forces, including the CRPF, were airlifted to other places. Even personnel manning the Peshraar police picket were replaced by JAP personnel.

SP Subodh Prasad said security forces have been relocated to other districts where the fifth and final phase of elections would be held on December 18. He said that the police are keeping vigil on Maoist activities and even recovered landmines planted at certain places in Kekrang area. He said the state police headquarters have been requested to send additional forces to combat Maoists who are present in the area in strong numbers. Besides, the rebels have also planted landmines at several places in the region.

"The Maoists have outnumbered security forces in the district. We are waiting for additional forces to arrive from the police headquarters in Ranchi," the SP said.

Police sources said that over 150 jawans and 19 officers of the Lohardaga police would be sent to Chatra on election duty. Besides, the state election authorities have directed the Lohardaga police to arrange for vehicles to send all the 85 companies of security forces, who had come to Lohardaga on election duty, to other places where polls are scheduled for December 18.

Though the district has at its disposal one company of Indian Reserve Battalion, the police are waiting for more forces from the state police headquarters before launching any operation against Maoists, who have captured the Kekrang area.

Maoists trying to cash in on potato farming crisis

Caesar Mandal, TNN 18 December 2009, 07:04am IST

KOLKATA: With security forces zeroing in on the Maoist core area in Jangalmahal comprising parts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, the ultras are busy spreading their network in neighbouring Hooghly and other parts of West Midnapore.

The target is to organise wage labourers and marginal farmers working in potato fields, whose lot did not improve despite spiralling potato prices. At a time when everyone is blaming the market or the futures trading, Maoists are reaching out to the deprived with an immediate solution the people's court. Maoist activists are promising that they will drag the middlemen to the people's court, impose huge fines on the offenders and help the marginal farmers.

Small farmers could not get the best of a good harvest last year. They sold their produce at a much lower price to the middlemen as the crop was badly hit by wart disease.

"We have contacted the farmers in the potato producing areas of South Bengal and told them that CPI (Maoist) will extend their support to them," said Maoist leader Kishanji, who has been controlling the Maoist insurgency in Lalgarh.

The Maoist leader has also announced drawn up a charter of demands for rehabilitation of the poor farmers. "The government has to waive all agricultural loans that farmers took last year. At the same time the state has to arrange for interest-free loans," said Kishanji, who also supports other demands of the farmers subsidized rate of fertiliser and potato seeds.

Maoists blow up Orissa panchayat office

Indo-Asian News Service
Bhubaneswar, December 19, 2009
First Published: 10:51 IST(19/12/2009)
Last Updated: 10:57 IST(19/12/2009)


More than 50 Maoist guerrillas blew up a gram panchayat (village council) building in Sundergarh district of Orissa, police said on Saturday.

"Maoists blew up the gram panchayat office of Rehlatu village in Sundergarh Friday," Superintendent of Police Diptesh Pattnaik said.

The Maoist attack comes after the villagers had sought police protection about 15 days ago to fight the rebels.

The guerrillas Friday pasted posters in the area, threatening the villagers of dire consequences and blasted the building in Sundergarh, over 400 km from here.

Maoists run riot, kill four CPM men

TNN 19 December 2009, 03:18am IST JHARGRAM: The Maoist-led People’s Committee against Police Atrocities ran amok in many places in Jangalmahal, with its militia squad killing four CPM cadres and setting several vehicles and three oil tankers on fire. They also set a sponge iron factory and a forest beat office ablaze.

On Thursday night, suspected Maoists dragged two CPM cadres — Anil Chalak and Dayal Chalak — from Bandhgora in Jhargram and hacked them to death. Police found their bodies on Friday morning.

A CPM leader escaped with injuries. Also on Thursday, Maoists beat a CPM supporter at Dherua in Kotwali.

Maoists hinders development of Gaya region

From ANI

Gaya (Bihar), Dec 18: School buildings have become the sitting ducks for the violent Maoists as they have been blowing up and damaging the educational institutions by contending that rural children do not need such storied structures to study.

Top brass of the police in Gaya district, one of the worst affected regions in Bihar acknowledged that the presence of Maoists and their influence have retarded all developmental activities.

"After blowing up a school building, they left a note which says that children of poor people do not require an expensive two-storied school to study, they only want simple food, clothes and a good teacher. The government built a good school to inspire confidence in these poor children so that they do not suffer any inferiority complex when they go out on account of their schools back here. This is a complete anti-development rebel group. Their aim is that these children stay in mud huts, work in fields and that there will be no development," said Ranjan Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Gaya.

However, the Maoists say that they plan to destroy all such buildings, which they fear might be used by the government as future 'garrisons'.

"Till now all those buildings which we have destroyed and all these kind of buildings which we'll keep targeting...these are not schools and not just schools; even those buildings made in the name of hospitals, they are also being destroyed. All these buildings are just a preparation for war as is the announcement made by the central government to drag away or finish up Naxalites all over India," said Paramjeet, a Maoist commander.

Out of fear from the barrel of a gun, villagers are meekly surrendering to the rebels' forced recruitment to join the cadre, including children besides indulging in widespread extortion.

The Maoist violence-estimated to have caused 600 to 700 deaths annually and the displacement 100,000 civilians-has spread to 182 of India's 602 districts and has been declared as the country's single biggest internal security threat.

The Maoists have stepped up violence across eastern and central India. They have attacked schools and police stations, and used landmines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to disrupt infrastructure development projects.

The main objective of the Maoists is to prevent the development of infrastructure in remote areas, which so far has remained their exclusive domain.

Thousands have been killed by Maoists in the recent past. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist threat one of the gravest homegrown threats to India's internal security.

The Maoists claim they are fighting for the rights of poor farmers and landless labourers, but they are fast losing credibility as they continue attacking schools, hospitals and infrastructure projects.

Poll snub for Maoists

- Month-long elections a success, thanks to security forces
SUMAN K. SHRIVASTAVA


Ranchi, Dec. 18: Jharkhand’s month-long Assembly elections came to an end today with the unprecedented security blanket ensuring people came out in large numbers in the final round of voting in the 16 remaining constituencies, most of them located in Maoist strongholds.

The focus now shifts on counting that will be taken up amid high security on December 23.

Initial figures released by the Election Commission suggested today’s voting turnout was around 58.12 per cent, likely to go up after collating final tallies.

Given that the earlier four phases recorded turnouts of 53.10, 58.82, 57.21 and 64.30 per cent, the state was looking at an overall voting percentage of around 60 per cent, something the Centre would consider encouraging.

Barring two landmine blasts that left two policemen killed and two others injured, today’s voting was largely peaceful throughout the seven districts of Palamau, Garhwa, Chatra, Latehar, Hazaribagh, West Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan, most of them known to host Maoist pockets.

In all, five security forces personnel lost their lives in these Assembly elections. In the 2005 elections, the number stood at eight, while in the Lok Sabha elections of April, seven policemen died in rebel violence.

If people voted aggressively in Simaria (62 per cent) and Chatra (61), they also turned up in large numbers in Garhwa, Bhavanathpur, Hussainabad, Chaibasa and Barkatha.

Significantly, Latehar recorded 57 per cent turnout, 11 per cent more than what it polled in 2005. Manika, where candidates were scared to campaign because of the rebel presence, logged 54 per cent voting.

If the Jharkhand elections were a trial run for the Centre before the possible launch of a co-ordinated offensive against Maoists, then the experiment seems to have succeeded as the number of casualties among security forces were minimal.

Union home minister P. Chidambaram’s appeals to the people to come out and vote to defeat the rebels’ terror tactics, coupled with the systematic and extensive deployment of a massive posse of Central and state forces, helped create an atmosphere of safety that was conducive to elections.

“The security forces could screen the resources of the Maoists during the one-and-a-half-month-long deployment in difficult terrain,” explained DIG R.K. Mallick, deputed today in Latehar to oversee security arrangements.

According to senior police officials, area domination by Central forces that were deployed soon after the elections were declared in the last week of October, led to the Naxalites being forced to abandon their hideouts. Prior to this, a series of meetings were held between senior police officers of bordering districts of Bihar, Orissa and Bengal to chalk out a deployment pattern to plug the vulnerable inter-state borders.

Around 75,000 security forces personnel, drawn from CRPF, BSF, ITBP, RPF, SSB and CISF, besides state armed forces, were deployed, aided by a fleet of 10 helicopters used for air surveillance and transportation of poll officials.

Joint chief electoral officer Ashok Kumar Sinha said today’s voting was peaceful, except for some stray incidents. The Election Commission and the chief electoral officer monitored voting at eight booths via web cameras — one each in Chaibasa, Adityapur in Seraikela-Kharsawan, Garhwa, Chatra, Latehar, Barkatha and two in Daltonganj.

State police spokesperson V.H. Deshmukh said two security personnel were killed and two were injured in separate landmine blasts.

According to CRPF DIG Alok Raj, who is nodal officer for the central paramilitary forces deployed in the state, Maoists also blew up two schools — one in Gomia and another in Kawal in Palamau — and a small bridge.

Mobile found in Hazaribagh jail, maoist plan foiled

Hazaribagh (Jharkhand), Dec 18 (PTI) Police today claimed to have busted a Maoist plan to cause disturbances during polling at Palamu and Chatra assembly seats with the recovery of a cell phone and charger from the high-security Hazaribagh Central Jail, where over 100 Naxalites were lodged.

The devices were recovered from a cell during a search following a tip-off that top Maoists, lodged in the jail, were conspiring with their counterparts in Palamau and Chatra to create disturbances during today's polling and to trap the security personnel, Superintendent of Police Pankaj Kamboj said.

Deputy Commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey said investigations were on how the devices reached the hands of the Maoists despite strict security.

Choubey said he has already lodged a complaint with the Inspector General, Prisons about the 'security lapse' inside the jail and the IG, Prisons assured him about necessary action.

Naxalites raid farmhouses, loot over 550 quintals of paddy

Agencies

Munger Heavily armed activists of the CPI (Maoist) raided farmhouse and godowns at Lakadkola village in Bihar's Munger during the wee hours Friday and looted over 550 quintals of paddy, police said.
About 200 naxalites swooped on the farmhouse of late Akshyay Lal Singh, a freedom fighter, and godowns of other farmers and looted over 550 quintals of paddy after beating up a guard, they said.

The naxalites also fled with the tractor parked in the farmhouse.

Superintendent of Police Shredhar Mandal said that a few anti-social elements were also involved in looting the paddy. The naxalites also posted stickers saying "zamindaro ke zameen ko CPI (Maoist) adhigrahan karta hai"(The CPI-Maoist is taking over the lands of Zamindars).

Comparing Pakistan’s Islamists to India’s Maoists

Dec 16, 2009 13:03 EST

One of the more controversial arguments doing the rounds is the question of whether you can compare Pakistan’s Islamist militants to Maoist insurgents in India. Both claim to champion the cause of social justice and have been able to exploit local grievances against poor governance to win support, and both use violence against the state to try to achieve their aims.

The differences are obvious: the Islamist militants come from the religious right; the Maoists from the far-left. In Pakistan, the militants have become powerful enough to strike at the heart of the country’s major cities. In India, the Maoists remain largely confined to the country’s interiors, although their influence is spreading through large parts of its rural hinterland.

In Pakistan, the military initially nurtured Islamist militants to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan – with U.S. and Saudi support – and later to fight India in Kashmir. In India, the Maoist movement has grown organically from its origins as a local 1967 uprising by communists over a land dispute in the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal, from where its followers derive their name as Naxalites.

In Pakistan, the question of whether support for Islamist militants is underpinned by local grievances over social injustice is highly contentious. Many in Pakistan dismiss the Pakistani Taliban as right-wing ideologues, fired up by an alien religious philosophy imported from the Middle East by al Qaeda, and joined by a motley crew of criminals and thugs bent on the pursuit of pursuit of power and money.

In India, even those who oppose the Maoists’ violent methods acknowledge that poverty and the alienation of its rural poor – especially among the indigenous tribal people - have contributed to their appeal. (I have rarely been so powerfully struck by the desolation of hunger than on a trip some years ago to Chhattisgarh, the heartland of the Maoist revolt. It is a state where deep in the forests you find children with the protruding bellies and vacant eyes of the seriously malnourished, whose fathers use bows-and-arrows to catch animals (see pix). It also has vast mineral resources which villagers hope might one day make them rich, and which Maoists argue will be exploited by international mining companies.)

But granted the obvious differences, some of the similarities offer a perspective which at the very least allows room for discussion about the challenges faced by national governments in dealing with insurgencies, both from the Islamist right and the far left.

In Pakistan, the Islamist militants are recognised by many as an existential threat to the state. In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist insurgency as “perhaps the gravest internal security threat our country faces”.

Both the Islamists and the Maoists have aimed to take control of parts of the country, using violence to keep out the writ of state. In this respect, argued Faisal Devji in an article in Britain’s left-leaning Guardian newspaper, insurgencies behave more like private companies which operate independently of the state.

“Pakistan’s Muslim militants are developing into the analogues of Maoist rebels in India, who also take over certain areas and attack government forces there to provide an alternative but non-governmental form of order. Managing territories within a state without apparently wanting to form a new government suggests a privatised and non-political ideal of governance, one that both Indian Maoists and Pakistani militants seem to espouse. The task before both governments is therefore not to de-politicize but rather bring these groups into the political arena…” he wrote.

“In Pakistan, however, this task has been made difficult due not to the extent of militant support and firepower, but because institutions of the state appear themselves to have become a set of non-governmental actors like their enemies. In this sense Pakistan is not a failed state so much as the perverse culmination of a more familiar process of privatisation that affects us all,” he said.

Both Islamists and Maoists have also been able to exploit the divide between rich and poor opened up by globalisation in two countries where rapid economic growth failed to make a significant difference to the poorest sections of the population. As a result the poor have been able to catch only a glimpse of the consumer gains offered by global capitalism – at least enough to know what they are missing. Al Qaeda and its Islamist allies have rejected this capitalist model wholesale; the Maoists have taken up arms against its perceived excesses.

In openDemocracy, Paul Rogers argues this gap between rich and poor will be aggravated by climate change and ultimately present a far greater security challenge to governments than al Qaeda.

“A more relevant symbol of the pattern of conflict that will result from an increasingly divided and constrained world is less al-Qaida than the resurgent Naxalite rebellion in India,” he says. ”India has achieved impressive economic growth since the 1990s, but it is facing pervasive internal dissent from the marginalised and dispossessed. The same can be said of China … The experience of these Asian giants is but one part of what is likely to become a much wider predicament – and it cannot be controlled by force.”

Citing a study from the Oxford University Group titled “Global Security after the War on Terror”, he says: “In a divided and increasingly constrained world, an elite minority will not be able to prosper at the expense of the majority – a transition to a sustainable security policy rooted in emancipation and justice is essential. The war on terror has been a disaster, but recognising its failure might at least help us develop our understanding of global security in a manner appropriate to the 21st century.”

No two insurgencies are the same. But in understanding the challenges in bringing stability to the region, their similarities are worth studying, if nothing else but to understand the risks they pose in a world where competition for scarce resources, food and water is likely to intensify.

(File photos from Jashpur, Chhattisgarh/Kamal Kishore)

Manpower shortage crippling Border Roads Organisation

By IANS December 17th, 2009

NEW DELHI - As the defence ministry plans revamping of road infrastructure along the India-China border, shortage of manpower in the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is proving to be a major hindrance.


The total sanctioned posts in BRO is 42,646. However, only 34,966 posts are currently filled, a senior BRO official said.

In the officer cadre, there are 1,540 vacancies but the organisation has been able to fill only 880 posts.

The BRO is currently undertaking projects in treacherous terrains and harsh weather of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir and in northeastern states bordering China.

Hard and difficult working conditions in far flung remote areas of the country, non-family stations, inclement weather conditions, inhospitable terrain and Naxalite (Maoist) or militancy problems inhibit young people from joining the BRO, said the official.

The shortage of manpower is affecting the completion of 61 roads that are being constructed along the Line of Actual Control between India and China. So far, only 12 roads have been completed and the remaining 49 are facing delays.

Many roads pass through high altitude areas where working season and daily working time is limited. Also no labour is available in most of the areas. As the labour is getting employment locally under NREGS (national rural employment guarantee scheme) they are hesitant to migrate to difficult areas.

Good contractors are also not available in far-flung and difficult areas, the official added.

The government is undertaking steps increasing budget, delegating of power to various functionaries in BRO, permitting outsourcing of work and expediting process of recruitment through Union Public Service Commission and General Reserve Engineering Force Centre, Pune, he said.

We are seeking cooperation of state governments of Jharkhand and Orissa for recruiting migrant labours from these states. Incentives are being provided to contractors, and casual labourers are given more facilities to attract more manpower, he revealed.

Maoists blow up Gomia school building

TNN 18 December 2009, 07:33pm ISTText Size:|Topics:

GOMIA: Maoists blew up a high school building late on Thursday night. The incident occurred at Tiskopi under Gomia police station, around 70
kilometres from the district headquarters of Bokaro. Ten rooms of the school were damaged in the blast. But there were no casualties.

As many as seven blasts were triggered by the Maoists to demolish the school building. The thunderous explosion woke up residents even three kilometre away.

Sources said Maoists had earlier threatened the school management to stop allowing security personnel, who used the school as camps during the anti-Naxalite operations, to stay there. Still, the security forces again camped at the school for the third phase of the Assembly election that concluded on December 8.

After they left the building a couple of days back, 50 armed Maoists came to the school around 11 pm and detonated the landmines. Before leaving, they put up posters on the walls of the school, describing the explosion as revenge' taken by them against police personnel using schools as a camp. A school employee said important documents, students' certificates and other things have been completely destroyed in the blast.

Bokaro superintendent of police Saket Singh said combing operations have been launched to arrest those responsible for the blasts.

Naxalite fear leaves important NH 75 in shambles

The highway is in dilapidate condition as it passes through the naxal infested but mining rich Chaibasa and Chakradharpur belt in West Singhbhum to the borders of Orrisa. Government officials blame naxals for causing fear among contractors.

CJ: Anbwesh Roy.. Wed, Dec 16, 2009 17:24:10 IST

Development the only way to combat Naxals The National Highway (NH) 75 that connects Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to Parsora (Keonjhar) in Orrisa, 1175 kilometers, through Jharkhand, 447 kilometers, lies in a depleted state between Ranchi- Chaibasa- Chakradharpur- Parsora.

The highway is in dilapidate condition as it passes through the naxal infested but mining rich Chaibasa and Chakradharpur belt in West Singhbhum to the borders of Orrisa.

The 30 kilometers stretch between Chaibasa and Chakradharpur, which falls under the purview of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), of that would ideally take 25 to 30 minutes to cover, now with craters and muddy stretches takes an easy one-hour or more.

The dusty highway to hell will be the most used roads by political parties to fruitfully complete their last leg of campaigning in the rural parts of the district headquarter, Chaibasa assembly seat, in the fifth phase of polls on December 18.

Sadly while driving down the stretch between the Chaibasa and Chakardharpur, barring the scenic beauty, one will find waiting road rollers, empty tar drums, unused stone chips and boards reading drive carefully, bridge in damaged state
Government officials blame naxals for causing fear among contractors and always threatening to use force if work begins on the 30-kilometer stretch.

"The NHAI has floated tenders for the improvement of the highway but contractors don't take heed fearing that naxalites would take penalizing action and also demand huge levies which they cannot cope up to," said Vijay Kumar, engineer-in-chief of the state road construction department adding that in the past there have been violence towards contractors due to which work was stopped.

He also added that the State road construction department and the Union Government are in constant discussion to improve the condition of the highway but also worried about the growing threat form extremists.

As the government blames naxalites for the stalled work on the 30-kilometer stretch of the NH 75 contractors are no less in producing financial obstacles.
"There are some contractors who are demanding more than the sanctioned budget. The NHAI cannot step down to such irrational demands," said Kumar adding that the Union ministry moreover doesn't clear cases exceeding 5 percent of the financial bid.

Most road authorities believe that after a stabled government is formed in the state the situation would be better and road constructions can resume. Kumar added that there are no lacunae on the part of the State and the Union and that both are in constant discussion to improve the condition of NH 75 from Ranchi - Chaibasa - Orrisa.

As India grows in infrastructure Jharkhand seems to be the late wheel on the road to development. Chaibasa and its neighboring district Saraikela- Khrasawan have seen negligible work being done in their respective national and state highways.

India to set up special training centres for cops

A Central Academy for Police Training, two Central Detective Training Schools and 20 Counter Insurgency & Anti-Terrorism Schools will be set up

Published on 12/17/2009 - 08:22:12 AM New Delhi: The Government of India has planned to set up a set of special training centres to train state police forces to deal with naxals, terrorist and face chemical and biological warfare challenges.


Under the plan a Central Academy for Police Training (CAPT), two Central Detective Training Schools (CDTS) and 20 temporary Counter Insurgency & Anti-Terrorism (CIAT) Schools in different states will be set up to improve capability of the state police forces in various aspects of policing. These are to be set up in the 11th Plan Period (2007-12).
CAPT is to be set up at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, two CDTSs would be set up in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat and four each temporary CIATs are proposed to be set up in five states namely Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

It is proposed to provide training to the newly recruited Deputy Superintendents of Police of all states, police trainers in CAPT and investigating officers of all states in two CDTSs. Police Personnel of five states namely Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa would get training in counter insurgency and anti-terrorism in twenty temporary CIAT schools.
—iGovernment Bureau

Efforts on to initiate dialogue with Naxals

Rajat Roy / Kolkata December 18, 2009, 0:40 IST



While an operation is on to destroy the infrastructure of the Naxalites in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, a move is also being initiated for a dialogue.
From tomorrow, a two-day session will be held at Delhi with some human rights activists to chalk out the talking points before the Naxalites are approached formally. Though the meeting is being held under the aegis of a newly formed Delhi Policy Study Group, it appears to have the Union home ministry’s blessings. The meeting will be chaired by veteran journalist B G Vergese and attended by noted Gandhian Himangshu Kumar from Chhattisgarh, activist and social scientist Radha Kumar, Haragopal from Andhra, Shankar Sharma from Jharkhand, Sujato Bhadra from West Bengal and some other known activists.

According to Bhadra, the agenda is to evolve a strategy for starting a dialogue with the Naxalites (CPI-Maoist). Once the major talking points are agreed, the body will approach the Naxals. The main problem is that they have been waging a war against the state, notes Bhadra. Unlike the ULFA in Assam, where the main contentious issue was their demand for sovereignty, here the situation is complicated. If an outfit is determined to overthrow the elected political power and capture state power by armed process, how could one initiate a dialogue with that?

Bhadra argues, “So, perhaps at the initial stage we will have to make them agree to reduction of violence. If they agree to stop the indiscriminate killings of people (both security personnel and ordinary villagers), then we can ask the government to suspend Operation Green Hunt (the supposed term for the official offensive) for the time being.”

Another concern is to make the Naxals agree to some formula whereby state-sponsored development works could be started in the areas under their influence. The idea is to make the Naxals understand that the continued attempt to resist all pro-poor development work in tribal areas would ultimately alienate them from the poor.

Once the Naxals are agreed on certain points, then a monitoring mechanism would have to watch how things are taking shape and another mechanism for regular meetings between the state and the Naxals to sort disputes in these areas.

Bhadra agrees that much will depend on how the Naxalites respond to these initial attempts. It is possible that some representatives of the Centre will also attend the Delhi meeting.

MAHARASTRA: Biggest offensive against Maoists begins in state

Gyan Varma / DNAFriday, December 18, 2009 1:32 IST


Mumbai: After quietly preparing for several months, the Centre has finally launched its biggest ever offensive against the Maoists.

Authoritative sources told DNA that as of now the operation will be limited to Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Senior officials said more aggressive and better coordinated operations will start in Jharkhand and Orissa, but that will take time.

Sources in paramilitary forces said though the Union home ministry, especially incumbent minister P Chidambaram, wants talks and has been appealing to the Maoists to give up arms, securitymen were being pushed to start the operations against the rebels at the earliest.

"We are not part of these initiatives (offer for talks) of the government," said a senior home ministry official.

Senior officials revealed that the original plan was to simultaneously start the operations in four worst-affected states -- Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa -- but it was altered because of the on-going assembly elections in Jharkhand.

Police sources in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, and Manpur in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh, on Thursday confirmed that a joint anti-Maoist operation had begun. "Around 3,000 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were deployed strategically in Gadchiroli for over a month as part of the operation," a senior police officer said.

CRPF and Border Security Force (BSF) personnel have also taken strategic positions in villages on the other side of the border in Chhattisgarh, sources said.

More than 45,000 trained personnel drawn from the three paramilitary organisations - CRPF, BSF and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) -- posted in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra will take on the rebels. Around 25,000 personnel are to be deployed in Jharkhand and Orissa, officials in the Union home ministry said.

The highest number -- 37,000 -- of CRPF personnel will be deployed in Chhattisgarh. Sources said initially 25,000 personnel were sent to the state, but another 12,000 men, who were taken out from Kashmir, were specifically trained and sent in.

"We had to tamper with the training part because in Kashmir operations take place in residential areas or public places, whereas in Naxal-affected areas it is jungle warfare that matters," said a senior home ministry official, adding that help also came from the army, which was part of the training programme.

"Most of the men are already in place as per the plan but they got busy with the election process so we could not start the operations in all the [Maoist-affected] states," added the officer.

In Maharashtra, the troops are combing the Maoist-infested villages in Gadchiroli to get acclimatised to the terrain. The district is spread over an area of 15,000 square km -- the north-south stretch spans 350 km. "Knowing the terrain and the forest routes is very crucial and our men are helping the central troops with that," a senior police officer said.

Officials said the role of the BSF is also crucial because five of its field units - in addition to the police and intelligence agencies - have been specifically deployed to collect intelligence by mingling with villagers.

"The basic idea is to go inside these jungles and clean them up, both of Maoists and landmines. We have to hold the ground and better coordination will be needed with the state police and within paramilitary forces," the officer said.

Around 5,000 BSF personnel, including field intelligence units, have been posted in Chhattisgarh while help is also coming from the ITBP, which has deployed about 2,000 men for the first time in Maoist strongholds.

--With inputs from Jaideep Hardikar in Nagpur

CRPF Likely to Protect Salwa Judum Camps

New Delhi | Dec 18, 2009

The over 2,000 SSB personnel protecting state government-run Salwa Judum camps in Chhattisgarh are likely to be replaced by CRPF men for better coordination of operations ahead of the all out offensive against naxals in the country.

The two Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) battalions will be shifted to Assam for counter-insurgency and internal security duties. SSB already has five companies (about 500 men) deployed in the state, official sources said.

The SSB personnel have been protecting around ten Salwa Judum camps, comprising 2,000 people in the two districts of Bijapur and Dantewada in Chhattisgarh since April last year.

The force which will replace SSB could be the CRPF, they said.

The Home Ministry had ordered the replacement and the movement of the troops will take place now as it was held back for sometime due to elections in few states. The move has been initiated to achieve a streamlined and focused output of operations and administration, sources said.

The SSB has spent an approximately Rs 16 lakh for civic action works in the last year in these camps, an SSB officer said.

As mandated by the Union Government, the unified operational command of central para-military forces for naxal-hit areas constitute forces like CRPF, ITBP and BSF.

Almost 50 battalions (50,000 personnel) of central security forces have already started reaching the respective areas of operations and are currently undergoing area familiarisation process.

The SSB had initiated civic action programmes like providing health care facilities, educational facilities and supply of sports goods at these camps.

The SSB troops also carried out security-related duties like opening of roads and detection of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

As paramilitary and state police personnel prepare for the offensive any time next year, central security agencies and state intelligence agencies have been asked to keep a tab on the top-rung naxal leaders.

As per an estimate, there are about 7000-10,000 armed naxals operating in about 40,000 sq km area of the country

Official team visits Naxal-hit villages

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 19 Dec 2009 07:24:41 AM ISTLast Updated :

ROURKELA: An administrative team today visited some interior villages under K Balang police limits in the Naxal-infested Bonai sub-division to assess the developmental needs of the villagers after they pledged support to the Sundargarh district administration, fed up with Maoist violence.


More than 300 villagers, including children and women, returned to their respective places of Sanbalijodi, Langalkata and Relhatu with security escort provided by the team comprising the Bonai sub-collector Sarat Mishra among others. Two days back fearing reprisal from the Maoists they had taken shelter at K Balang ME School.

At a meeting, people from five villages told the team about their miserable plight with no road communication, lack of infrastructure development and crumbling education and healthcare system.

Mishra said the government would be apprised of the development needs of the areas.

Earlier, more than 1,000 people from five villages, threatened by the Maoists, took shelter at K Balang on December 10 before they returned home amid tight security. With the help of villagers, police later recovered nearly dozen landmines and arrested five suspected Maoists.

Meanwhile, around 10 Maoist posters written in Oriya reading ‘stop police atrocities’ and ‘boycott Jharkhand Assembly polls’ were found pasted near the railway station at Renjda under K Balang police limits. Express News Service Rourkela, December 18 AN administrative team today visited some in¬terior villages under K Balang police limits in the Naxal-infested Bonai sub-division to assess the developmental needs of the villagers after they pledged support to the Sundargarh district administration, fed up with Maoist violence. More than 300 villagers, including children and women, returned to their respective places of Sanbalijodi, Langalkata and Relhatu with security escort provided by the team compris¬ing the Bonai sub-collector Sarat Mishra among others. Two days back fearing reprisal from the Maoists they had taken shelter at K Balang ME School. At a meeting, people from five villages told the team about their miserable plight with no road communication, lack of infrastructure development and crumbling education and healthcare system. Mishra said the government would be ap¬prised of the development needs of the areas. Earlier, more than 1,000 people from five vil¬lages, threatened by the Maoists, took shelter at K Balang on December 10 before they returned home amid tight security. With the help of vil¬lagers, police later recovered nearly dozen land¬mines and arrested five suspected Maoists. Meanwhile, around 10 Maoist posters written in Oriya reading ‘stop police atrocities’ and ‘boycott Jharkhand Assembly polls’ were found pasted near the railway station at Renjda under K Balang police limits

17000 more troops for anti-Naxal operations

Vishwa Mohan , TNN 19 December 2009, 04:58am IST

NEW DELHI: With Jharkhand assembly polls coming to an end on Friday, the Centre is set to send an additional 17,000 paramilitary personnel to states to step up their anti-Naxalite operations under its plan of a “major offensive” against Red ultras in all affected states.

Though the operation is underway in Chhattisgarh, the idea is to extend it simultaneously at the junctions and tri-junctions of the affected states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and Maharashtra. A senior home ministry official said the states already had 58,000 paramilitary personnel — drawn from CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB and CoBRA — at their command. The additional deployment would increase the strength of central forces for the anti-Naxalite operation to nearly 75,000.

Stating that there is nothing called a “Green Hunt” as such, which could have possibly been coined by some state police for some local operation, the official said the home ministry was already on track to pursue its plan of a “major offensive” against the ultras. The Jharkhand polls, which saw the deployment of nearly 40,000 paramilitary personnel, made the Centre postpone the simultaneous operation for a couple of months, but there was hardly any period when the forces were not after Naxals in one or the other affected state, he added.

“Operations are supposed to be launched secretly so that the forces can catch the ultras offguard. We are on the job and we will expand the area of operation gradually,” said a senior CRPF official, adding its a “long haul”.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nagpur court acquits four Naxal leaders

Nagpur, Dec 17 (PTI) A local court today acquitted four Naxal leaders, including top brass of Naxalite movement Arun Thomas Ferreira and Murli Satya Reddy, for lack of evidence of unlawful activities against them.

Dharendra Bhurale and Naresh Bansod were also let off by

Additional Session Judge R B Patil who said the police had failed to substantiate charges against them.

The court took into account contradictory evidence produced by police against them. In one such instance, police disclosed that a pistol had been seized from Ferreira at the time of his arrest but during the trial a firearm of different make was produced.

The four were arrested here two years back and were given the benefit of police lapses for producing contradictory evidence against them.

Maoist strategy session caught on camera

17 Dec 2009, 1734 hrs IST

As Jharkhand enters its final phase of polling the Maoists have given the centre and state governments an open dare. TIMES NOW has accessed to a Maoists training session that promises to do all they can to disrupt the polling process in Jharkhand.

In Palamu, around 200 maoists can be seen at a a meeting preparing for more violence. One of the maoist leaders who spoke to TIMES NOW said they would traget schools and hospitals because they believe the buildings are being used as a cover for police camps. They also say, any political leader part of the polling process would also need to face their wrath.

Prasenjit, Naxal Zonal Commander, said, "All leaders who are part of the elections are our targets. We will also target schools and hospitals. That's because those buildings are being used as police camps."

Meanwhile, Jatin narwal, SP, Palamu, said, "Our police force is equipped and well prepared to fight the Naxals."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Must recapture Gadchiroli: Maoists

16 Dec 2009, 0904 hrs IST
TIMES NOW has accessed an exclusive Maoist manual that has helped Maoists accelerate their activities in Gadchiroli. After a subdued stint in Gadchiroli, Maoists have resolved to recapture their turf in the eastern district of Maharashtra.

Inducting new militia, modernisng weaponry and much more is the new Maoist strategy to carry out red terror in Gadchiroli. TIMES NOW has accessed a Maoist Manual prepared by Kosa also known as Satynarayana Rao -- Secretary of the CPI (ML) militant wing.

This report, prepared late last year, is an analysis of the Maoists decline in Gadchiroli. A future strategy, that's found resonance in attacks this year, including the gruesome encounter in Laheri that killed 17 policemen is mentioned in the report.

The report also states reasons for an unsuccessful Maoist stint in Gadchiroli since 2003. According to Kosa's observations in the report, Gadchiroli has eluded Maoist attacks due to inadequate recruitment.

The recommendations of the manual have now been taken very seriously. Three major attacks this year alone have massacred around 50 policemen.

Kosa's recommendations include,

militia induction drives,

classes for women in Upper Bastar based on new syllabus,

formation of another revolutionary cell of locals and


change from guerilla warfare to mobile warfare.

The Union government's anti-Maoist operation 'Green Hunt' is in its first stage. And Gadchiroli forms the first phase of this operation. Given this, Kosa's analysis could help the forces to beat the Maoists to their own game.

Chandauli farmers protest Mamata’s freight corridor plan

Manjari Mishra , TNN 16 December 2009, 03:25am

LUCKNOW: Mamata Bannerji, the saviour of Singur, could well be a closet capitalist to 30,000-odd farmers in Chandauli. The Maoist-ridden district 30

km off Varanasi, known as the ‘Rice bowl of UP’, is on the simmer against the alleged highhandedness of the Union railway minister who has ordered acquisition of 10,000 hectare of fertile agriculture land for the proposed freight corridor between Howrah and Ludhiana.

Giving the development a bizarre twist is firm support coming from state Congress leaders for the beleaguered farmers. UP unit in charge Digvijay Singh shot off a terse letter on September 17 expressing his reservation against the ‘folly’. And now CPM, finding the opportunity too good to miss, has also jumped in against Didi’s ‘‘expansionist designs’’.

The project, covering a cluster of 70 villages between Chari (the last post of Chandauli bordering west Bihar) and Jivnathpur (first block right next to neighbouring Mirzapur) was launched in UP in April 2009, says Kameshwra Nath Mishra, the legal counsellor to Krishi Bhumi Bachao Sanghrash Samiti. The outfit, along with Satya Foundation, has been actively rooting for the farmers’ rights and also networking with politicians. The first phase out of its four phases covers 30 villages stretched over 622 hectare of land. Ten villages have already been surveyed. But that was before the public could smell a rat.

Over the last five months things have hotted up. At least thrice, angry mobs have chased away teams that came to measure and mark the area, Mishra said on Tuesday

Unprecedented security measures for J'khand polls

Press Trust of India / Ranchi December 16, 2009, 14:12 IST



Unprecedented security arrangements have been made for elections to the 16 Naxalite-hit constituencies, including Latehar and Chatra, for Friday's fifth and final phase of voting in the wake of the Maoist call to boycott the ongoing Jharkhand assembly polls
.


About 750 companies of para-military and state forces backed by helicopters will keep vigil in the sensitive and super-sensitive assembly segments, IGP V H Desmukh said today.

"An estimated 700 to 750 companies, each comprising 80-100 personnel, have been deployed at various places while the state's borders with Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa have been sealed," Deshmukh said.

The Jharkhand police also held a meeting with its counterparts from Orissa, as the two states share border in some areas.

"The fleet of helicopters has been doubled from the previous phase of the polling as 65 per cent of the booths in the fifth stage have been marked as supersensitive," he added.

As many as six helicopters were deployed for air surveillance in the last phase which passed off without any major incident. All the four previous phases had been peaceful.

Besides Chatra and Latehar, the other seats going for polls on December 18 are - Simaria, Panki, Bishrampur, Husseinabad, Chhatarpur, Garwah, Bhavnathpur, Manika, Chaibasa, Barkatha, Jagannathpur, Sareikella, Kharsawan and Daltonganj.

Maharashtra to stick to bullet-for-bullet policy on Naxalism

Posted: Wednesday, Dec 16, 2009 at 1538 hrs
Nagpur:

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Wednesday said the state will stick to 'bullet-for-bullet' policy on Naxalism.



"We will stick to our bullet-for-bullet policy as far as dealing with Naxalites is concerned. However, we are also ready to talk with them, provided they abjure violence first," Chavan said.



The Chief Minister who visited 'Suyog', where journalists covering session are put up, said he personally favoured united Maharashtra and will accept the high command's decision on the issue.



He also rued that several important issues related to Vidarbha could not be taken up during the ongoing winter session.



On proposals worth several hundred crores for renovations of Mantralaya, Bandra government colonies and others, Chavan said the state government would seek an opinion from independent financial consultants in this regard.

Orphan kids of Bastar want 'all out war' against Maoists

2009-12-16 16:00:00


A group of 50 tribal kids, who lost one or both of their parents in the Maoist violence in Chhattisgarh, left for Delhi to meet President Pratibha Patil to request her for an 'all out war against Maoists'.

'They (Maoists) brutally killed my parents before my eyes and the murder always horrifies me. Naxals (Maoists) must be eliminated,' Rajendra Kumar, one of the children in the group, told reporters before leaving for Delhi Tuesday.


Kumar said he could 'never forgive Naxals for killing my parents and spreading bloodbath in Chhattisgarh'.


The children, residents of state-run Astha Gurukul School for orphans in Dantewada, 380 km from here, are on a week-long educational trip to the national capital.


'The CRPF (central reserve police force) has arranged a week-long educational trip for the 50 orphans of Gurukul School and the students will meet several VVIPs in Delhi, including the president, and visit historical monuments, religious places and parliament,' Ramesh Chand, inspector general of CRPF, told reporters at the Raipur railway station.


The students, including 19 girls, were thrilled on boarding a train for the first time in their life.


Before boarding Chhattisgarh Express to Delhi, the children recounted stories of how their family members were killed or burnt alive by the Maoists.


Chhattisgarh's mineral-rich Bastar region, spread over 40,000 sq km, is known as India's nerve centre of Maoist terrorism where about 1,500 people have been killed in since 2004.

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India falters in combating Maoist guerrillas: Some Lessons

Source: Frontier India

Active Maoist Guerrilla warfare and passive expansion of the ideology of capturing power through the barrels of the gun is swinging imagination of masses living in the fringe areas of the society-the rural have-nots, forgotten forest dwellers and the exploited masses in different parts of the country. Statistically the Maoist headed movement has affected several states right from West Bengal to Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. The units in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are yet to start organized armed violence. Recent visit to certain areas in Punjab-Sangrur, Faridkot and Bathinda etc areas and certain pockets in Haryana educated me about existence of strong Maoist groups in these so called prosperous states also. Delhi, Kolkata, Patna etc cities continue to be the hub of intellectual sympathizers and promoters of the movement.

The speed with which the movement is spiraling has not been analyzed in the correct perspective by the political decision makers, intellectuals, intelligence agencies and law and order implementing agencies. The reasons are many, parts of which I had shared with the readers in my article Maoist Apparatus and Bridging Old Fault Lines, published in this portal. It is proposed to outline some more details in this essay concluding the last essay.

It is better to have a peep into the efforts of the Union and State governments in the direction of meeting the menace with approximated correct prognosis.

Some readers of the Part 1 of the essay asked me to explain Mass Control and its cyclic effect. Mass Control is both physical and psychological control on the people in a given area, who look up to the STATE for means of livelihood, basic amenities, protection of lives and properties and ensuring upward movement of the people from poverty to prosperity. In vast areas of rural India, forested areas inhabited by the Advasis (aboriginal tribes) and in mining, industrial areas huge segments of people live under extreme penury. In certain areas (including prosperous Punjab) peasants commit suicide in large numbers, marginal landholders become landless, forest areas are denuded by timber tycoons, Tendu leaf (for making bidi) cultivation is hijacked by the moneylenders, forest lands are forcibly grabbed for mining purposes and most of the government schemes to help the rural people with monetary help land up in the pockets of politicians, bureaucrats and middlemen. Over period such people lose confidence on the STATE and it is gradually replaced by the revolutionary group who seek emancipation through violence.

This inevitably follows by armed conflict between the STATE and the Revolutionaries; in this case Maoists. Gradually Law & Order takes priority over other mandatory duties of the STATE. Gradually the conflict takes the shape of guerrilla warfare between the STATE and the Maoists. The STATE tries to retain Mass Control by using police forces and that alienates people to greater degrees. Sometimes the Maoists deliberately attacks police posts located in villages. This invites increased retaliation on the village from the STATE. Under STATE pressure the people surrenders to Maoist Mass Control and the chain of STATE and MAOIST violence continue to haunt the people. Once small areas are “liberated” by the Maoists they run their own government and paralyze all government establishments including schools, health centres lines of communication and even stoppage of payment of revenue to the STATE. The economy of the area is paralyzed and the STATE continues to depend on force as a multiplier ingredient to smash the Maoist movement. The diagram below may illustrate the vicious circle.



Use of the expression Fringe People is an inclusive exercise for incorporating poverty stricken, landless, jobless, uprooted mass of people. The level of poverty, as per unreliable government data is also alarming. It is estimated that 456 million Indians (42% of the total Indian population) now live under the global poverty line of $1.25 per day (PPP). This means a third of the global poor now reside in India. The Planning Commission of India uses different criteria and has estimated that 27.5% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2004–2005, down from 51.3% in 1977–1978, and 36% in 1993-1994. The source for this was the 61st round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) and the criterion used was monthly per capita consumption expenditure below Rs. 356.35 for rural areas and Rs. 538.60 for urban areas. 75% of the poor are in rural areas, most of them are daily wagers, self-employed householders and landless laborers.

Indian economy has grown steadily over the last two decades. Its growth has been uneven when comparing different social groups, economic groups, geographic regions, and rural and urban areas. Between 1999 and 2008, the annualized growth rates for Gujarat (8.8%), Haryana (8.7%), or Delhi (7.4%) were much higher than for Bihar (5.1%), Uttar Pradesh (4.4%), or Madhya Pradesh (3.5%). Poverty rates in rural Orissa (43%) and rural Bihar (41%) are among the world’s most extreme.

The India State Hunger Index 2008, by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Punjab has the best nutritional situation, whereas malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh is worse than in Ethiopia or Sudan. Worse is the condition in tribal areas of Chattisgarh, Orissa, Garhchiroli area of Maharashtra, plain and hill regions of Jharkhand, rural areas of West Bengal and Bihar.

These are areas where the Maoists or Naxals have stepped up their Guerrilla warfare. On a given map the compact area looks like a liberated zone.

But what is the STATE response? I want to focus on two States, Chattisgarh and West Bengal, for sample profiling.

The State response basically veered around restoration of law & order, battling the guerrillas, decimating them through live action and forcing them out of the “liberated areas.” The nucleus of police response is the Police Station. For example Dantewada district in Chattisgarh has 21 police stations and 2 police outposts. Number of Police outposts has gone up during last two years. In addition to state police force a few central police force encampments have also been established. The hill district having 9046.29 Sq kms area has only 478.93 kms tarred road. Police mobility is extremely limited. Average strength of a police station is about 10-15, except on occasions Special Forces are attached to a police station for raiding Maoist hideouts. Previously most of the police stations were located in makeshift or dilapidated structures without any watch tower, perimeter defences and faster communication facilities. The phone lines are unreliable and are generally deactivated by the Maoists. Wireless communication is being improved and in recent times some police officers have been given mobile phones. The problem with mobile phones is that towers are very few and often some existing towers are blasted out by the Naxals.

A police station is supposed to dominate an area of over 450 kms. With the given available strength in a working day (normal average is 7 out of 10), poor motor transport facility, inadequacy of wireless communication and supply of antiquated rifles the presence of normal police force is considered insignificant; not fit for fighting Maoist rebels equipped with modern arms. The inventories of the Maoists include Kalashnikov rifles, Light Machine Guns, 2” mortars and assorted rapid firing weapons. In addition to these they possess several kinds of landmines and IEDs. The Maoists are well trained in guerrilla warfare, jungle warfare and tactics of ambush. Their encampments are mobile. The guerrillas have no fixed HQ. In fact, a given guerrilla group do not spend nights in the same village. The groups are mainly composed of compatible tribe members.

In Bastar area major tribes are Gond #, Abhuj #, Maria*, Bhatra #*, Halbaa#*, Dhurvaa#, Muria#*, Bison Horn Maria #*. The # marked tribes are by and large not supporting the Maoists; while * marked tribes are Maoist supporters. The #* marked tribes mean partly loyal to the government and partly to the Maoists. Loyalty to the government depends on quantum of presence of the government and governance. Most of these tribal inhabited areas are extremely poverty ridden. Cultivation, harvesting forest resources etc are main sources of livelihood. In most cases funds provided under Integrated Rural Development Programme, NREG, Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana and other social security programmes do not reach the real people. For example, if an amount of 300 is sanctioned per family under NREG the fortunate family may get rupees 100, if they are lucky. In most cases out of 100 about 7-9% people actually receive the amount; rest goes to pockets of the bureaucrats, local politicians, leaders of local self government and even petty clerks. The STATE government sanctions the amounts to the district collectors, allocated by the central government. From that point downwards the money develops wings and the real recipients remain where they were. Same is the fate with Anganwadi system introduced in some of the areas. Right from the district office to the lowest governing tool in the panchayat and certain elements in the Anganwadi institutions share the money and the real education and total child development system remain where they were.

We will discuss these aspects in later parts of the essay.

Police operations have three basic formats: group patrolling (often in platoon strength, rarely in company strength); village searches, and rare ambush parties. In group patrolling the general trend is to march in a column with 15-20 feet distance between two sepoys. These parties do not have mine sweeping vehicles and mostly they are not equipped with handheld mine detecting devices. This results in frequent mine explosions and police casualties. The information that a police party was planning patrolling in a particular direction somehow or other reaches the Maoists through their information network, interception of VHF radio talks. They plant antipersonnel mines on the likely routes to be taken by the patrol parties.

My experience in Nagaland and Manipur and the experiments conducted by army and paramilitary units indicated that instead of a single column patrol party or area domination party it was safer to send out two other parallel parties (smaller in size); one on both flanks of the main party. This tactics paid good dividends and guerrilla parties waiting in ambush were often taken by surprise.

Village searches are mostly perfidious. Police and Salwa Judum parties often enters homes, violate privacy of women and forcibly take away eatables including fowls, goats etc. Often the villagers are made to assemble in one place and some are tortured to obtain information. Police commanders do not realize that such tactics and illegal plundering and faulty operational methodology alienate the people more and they prefer the Maoists to buy protection.

Deployment of ambush parties are not done on the basis of precise human intelligence. This is the weakest area of anti- guerrilla operations. The tribesmen have basic distrust for State administration; they are alienated by malpractices of timber-tycoons, Tendu leaf contractors, loan sharks, Mahajans (who advance money against crop) and of course against police, whom they consider as ambassadors of State repression. In my discussions with three police chiefs in Maoist affected areas I noted with dismay that my serving colleagues have not been able to revamp the intelligence apparatus. The normal state intelligence outfit and its district detachments are burdened with multifarious-political errands to normal terrorist-jihad activities. They are supposed to keep track of dowry killing, starvation death by agricultural workers, village feuds and most law & order problems. They have no focused training and resource to gather human intelligence (HUMINT) about the Maoists.

It is high time the State governments create special intelligence cells for Maoist problems. In a State like Jharkhand a special intelligence cell should consist of minimum 500 officers and men, specially trained by the Intelligence Bureau and other outfits handling commando and guerrilla warfare. Several meetings of the Union Home Minister with the State police chiefs and advisories to the Chief Ministers have not been able to make them understand that without high quality HUMINT it is not possible to carry out successful armed actions against the Maoists. Every district of the affected states should have a contingent of the special intelligence unit. These units should have attached compliments of trained commandos, who can move with lightening speed to intercept the Maoist group informed upon by the human assets. The DG police and the Operations Chief in each district may order immediate planned action without waiting for bureaucratic shenanigans. Unfortunately, in States like Chhattisgarh (despite an efficient DG Police) and Jharkhand such modern anti guerrilla concepts are yet to be implemented. Neither the Union and State governments have looked into the old British model in Malaysia, US model in Vietnam, and the models practiced in Greece and Italy nor they have gone for any other innovations improving upon India’s own experiences in insurgency infested areas. The politicians talk for the sake of befooling the people.

While examining the Maoist menace at Chhatisgarh I would like to conclude by observing that the State administration is not equipped with intelligence back up, sophisticated weapons, all weather communication system and speedy mobility. Even if some Central paramilitary forces are inducted they cannot operate without help of local police and intelligence. As newcomers they are more vulnerable. Central forces can only succeed if battalions are allowed to dig in the affected areas for years together, build up defences, sanitize the villages and develop their own HUMINT potential. Temporary visiting units are guests; they are not effective operative units. Delhi must understand this and persuade the States to borrow Central forces for at least ten years. Units may change, but CRPF must be replaced by CRPF for the sake of continuity and force-homogeneity. A contingent of CRPF to be replaced by a contingent CISF after three months is a useless exercise. Minimum rotation of forces can ensure better operational capability.

While on Chattisgarh the issue of Salwa Judum is required to be briefly examined. Pro-Maoist intellectuals have painted pictures of “village grouping” by the government in the name of mobilising villagers against the Maoists. “Village Grouping” was successfully tried by the army in Mizoram. The principle was to deny water to the fish and make them vulnerable to lack of oxygen. There is no doubt that the villagers, either out of “Mass Control” factor or fear of decimation provide help to the Maoists. Once the villages are “grouped” (temporarily) the Maoists would be denied the water to swim about freely. Human rights groups and even the judiciary have intervened in the matter. I would strongly advocate revival of the system of VVF (as in Manipur), Village Guards (as in Nagaland) and Special Police Officers (as in Punjab) for deployment after sustained training by a paramilitary force in guerrilla warfare and handling of medium and heavy weapons.

IN CASE THE MAOSISTS HAVE THE PROCLAIMED RIGHT TO WAGE PEOPLE’S WAR, THE PEOPLES’ HAVE THE RIGHT TO ORGANISE TEMSELVES WITH STATE ASSISTANCE TO DEFEND THEMSELVES. THE STATE CANNOT ABDICATE ITS DUTIES AND THE PEOPLE CANNOT WAIT TO BE SLAUGHTERED AT THE ALTER OF MAOISM, SIMPLY BECAUSE SOME HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS AND SOME COURTS INTERVENE.

The Constitution has bestowed rights on the people to defend themselves. No court can rule against this fundamental right.

Besides Chattisgarh I would like the readers to visit Lalgarh, Jangalmahal etc places in West Midnapore of West Bengal. Maoist activities (Naxal) are not new in this district of West Bengal bordering Bihar/Jharkhand. The Naxalite movement in Debra, Gopiballabhpur in mid-1969 had wrought the mass-killing violent movement for over 7 years, before the peak of the movement could be blunted. In fact, Debra, Gopiballabhpur, Jhargram, Shalboni, Jangal Mahal, Lalgarh etc areas are in West Midnapore district. These are most backward areas of Bengal. Except Haldia ports complex, Kharagpur and a few pockets nearer to Kolkata rest of the district is as backward as the adjacent districts of Purulia, Birbhum and Bankura are.

Some efforts were made, too late in the regime of the CPM, to start industrialization in Singur (Nano factory of TATA) and Nandigram (chemical complex of Salim group). Here is another classic case of political rivalry between the CPM and Trinamool Congress feuding over industrialization in agricultural area and politicization of land acquisition on the plea of displacement of the rural people. This feud helped TMC, Jamiat-ul-Ulama-e-Hind and several NGOs, and indirectly the Congress to create severe disturbances. The government had expressed intention of acquisition, the Haldia ports authority had issued a notice about likely acquisition, but no government action had been taken to forcibly occupy the land for the proposed SEZ at Nandigram. The TMC led agitation helped the Maoists to walk into the vortex of tornado created by political rivalry. There is no denial of fact that the issue of acquision of agricultural land for industrial use in Nandigram (Midnapore) and Singur (Hooghly) had kicked off bloody trails of political tornado, but these politicized movements might have had earned a few more votes for the TMC and the Congress, but the momentum had encouraged the Maoists to slip into Jhargram, Shalboni, Lalgarh and even Midnapore Sadar areas with arms and explosives. In Nandigram and nearby Singur area the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee and Jami Rakkha Committee etc bodies were organised and were highly infiltrated by the Maoists.

Nandigram and Singur were the stages where TMC and Congress rehearsed political revival and the Maoists initiated a new phase of sustained movement in west Midnapore, basically a forested single crop area, mostly inhabited by the tribal people-Santhal and Oraon, Majhi, Mahato, Ho, Munda etc and sprinkling of lower caste Hindus. Here also a front organisation was floated styled as Peoples Committee against Police Atrocities. This mass organisation was headed by CPM’s local committee member Chatrdhar Mahato. Besides this front organisation the Maoists also organised Solidarity Forum for Lalgarh, Shramajivi Swastha Udyog, Utsha Manush, Janaswastha Committee, and Janaswastha Swadhikar Mancha etc. These front organisations received support from Bengali intellectuals, writers and film makers.

The apex social organization of the Santhals, the Bharat Jakat Majhi Madwa Juan Gaonta took up the leadership of the struggle, although the leader of the organization, the “Disham Majhi” Nityananda Hembram openly professed that they were being guided by the people’s movement and they had no control on it. The upsurge of adivasis is continuing unabated and is also spreading to newer areas. They laid siege of Jhargram and only after discussion between the Bharat Jakat Majhi Madwa Juan Gaonta and the administration, the siege of was partially lifted. The blockade on the road connecting Jhargram and Dahijuri was lifted on 14th November but the Bharat Jakat Majhi Madwa could not convince the protesters to lift the blockades of the other roads connecting Jhargram. Besides Lalgarh, the movement has now spread to Binpur, Jhargram, Jamboni, Shalboni, Belpahari, Garbeta and Gopiballavpur. People’s response to joint State and Central operation was so spontaneous that the movement had spread to the last two blocks of the Jhargram sub-division, Nayagram and Sankrail. Nayagram block was disconnected by piling tree trunks on the roads in Dhankamra and Barpat. Dhankhori, Gajashimul, Mudakati and Kungarda areas of Sankrail block have also been blockaded. On the other hand, all connections to police stations and camps in the Belpahari block of Jhargram sub-division has been cut off. A group of around 500 armed tribal blockaded the Neguriya police camp near Chakadoba in Belpahari. The local shopkeepers and traders have declared that they would not supply anything to the policemen in the camps.

The West Bengal government cannot deny its responsibility for neglecting the area. While Below Poverty Line index in the state is 27% in West Midnapore areas the index is 43% to 37%. There are about 12 government aided schools in the tribal area, but hardly any teacher is available, The Health Centres are almost nonexistent. There is no regular doctor, least speaking of free medicine supply. Some sample study was made about a few central funded welfare projects in the Jhargram-Lalgarh areas. People have not even heard about Sampoorna Gramin Rojgar Yojana (SGRY), Rural Housing, Self Employment Programme, Berozgar Bhatta (unemployment allowance), and National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) etc schemes.

A sample study of Belpahadi indicated that the CPM leaders offered some NREG facility to their cadre. Only 7% of rest of the tribal people received some NREG support. Some sampling was made of Anganwadi (rural school) scheme in Sankrail and Nayagram areas. It was found that only 5 to 7% benefit reached the targeted people. Rest of the money was misappropriated by the village authorities, Block officials and even top notches of the Aganwadi scheme. A sample study of the Integral Rural Development Programme (IRDP) was made in Belda area. The findings were disheartening. The amount received by the district and Block authorities and the Panchayats were distributed amongst the political sharks. The real tribal people received nothing (CPM supporters excluded). It is not possible for one person to study the entire developmental activities. But the if samples are any indicator, it must be said that the governmental tools were misused and the benefits offered by Delhi were either eaten by the political-bureaucratic cartel and very little trickled down to the deserving tribal population.

The magnitude of the national problem of sharks eating up the smaller fries was horribly exemplified in a publication of the Times of India (Nov. 26, 2009) about 22,853 ghost employees drawing pay for decades from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to the tune of Rs. 17 crores per month. Statistics about only one agency has been dug out. There are about 10 such departments under Delhi government which maintain ghost employees costing the tax payers about Rs. 50 crores per month.

What is happening in the rural areas and in the forested tracts as well as in vast mining tracts in different parts of the country, where India’s shining global economy is yet to shine even for fractions of days in any given year. Nearly 30% of India’s population goes to bed in empty stomach and about 40% can barely manage two square meals in any given day. In Lalgarh area the same misfortune of the people was noticed by non-partisan observers.

Militarily the government of West Bengal failed miserably to control the Maoist movement. Local formations of the CPM (notoriously known for motor cycle groups) dominated the area and maimed all political opposition and even reasonable ventilation of genuine grievances. They were, at many places, supported by the local police. The ordinary people lost touch with the administration and the administration was blissfully ignorant about the Maoists building up local committees, arming the people, bringing in improvised explosive devices and building up comprehensive people’s fronts. Obviously, these fronts received support from Trinamool Congress and Congress, who thought of Nandigram like exploitation of the Maoists for retrieving political ground. This was a miscalculation. The Maoists are very active in adjacent Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar. The borders are open. When chased the Orissa and Jharkhand Maoists slip in Midnapore and Purulia districts of West Bengal. Similarly, the Maoists also recruit their cadres from West Bengal tribal population. The intellectual brains of Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa guide the movement. Local leaders are also emerging in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and other parts of the country.

Let us look into the military formation in Lalgarh and Jangal Mahal area of West Midnapore. The Maoists have organised village level squads for cutting of road connection, planting IED or anti-personnel and anti-tank mines (to hit mine proof vehicles). These village committees are also assigned the task of attacking isolated police posts. Major police stations are at West Midnapore Kotwali, Sankrail, Jhargram, Lalgarh, Shalboni (also EFR headquarter) Manikpara (near Kalaikunda airbase) etc. Besides the District HQ the average strength of police stations were (before joint operations) 10-15. The police were armed with .303 obsolete rifles. One jeep per police station was the only means of communication. Phone lines were unreliable and cell phones were not in profuse use because of lack of towers. Wireless communication was also generally absent. The police depended on muscle support from the CPM cadre.

Once the organised Maoist activities started in Lalgarh, Jhargram, Shalboni, and Jangal Mahal etc areas police resistance evaporated. The State did not deploy sufficient numbers of the crack Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) and other State Armed Police Battalions. Kolkata depended on ramshackle police forces and party cadre. Once these efforts were blunted by the front organisations the trained Maoists’ reserve arms caches in the hill areas were brought in. This is proved by the daring attack on Sankrail police station by 100 Maoists and kidnapping of the officer in charge. The Maoists have attacked government establishments in West Midnapore Sadar (planting of mine), Jhargram sub-divisional HQ, Shalboni, Nayagram and other places.

The joint Central and State police operations (seen on TV) were mainly conducted in plains areas of Lalgarh, amidst populated segments and in some cases under pan of TV cameras. My enquiry with local people, not connected with the Maoist movement, mostly apolitical, some owing allegiance to CPM, revealed that the State government first tried to augment ridiculously low strength in the police stations. They also depended on the trained party cadre to build up local resistance. However, backed by other tribal organisation, Trinamool Congress and Congress the Peoples Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) organised sustained opposition to police incursion. The main Maoist guerrillas provided support by planting mines and opening fire on the Central and State forces under cover of deep forested areas. The joint operation was limited to regaining government control on the Lalgarh tract and no sustained and planned operations were conducted in the hills adjoining Jharkhand and Orissa. The hardcore Maoist cadres infiltrated from Jharkhand and Orissa and revived the Naxal movement in West Midnapore areas along with pockets in Birbhum and Bankura. If a bird’s eye view is taken of the compact Maoist affected areas in this region it would seem that the belt between Birbhum (home district of Union Finance Minister), Bankura, West Midnapore, Jharkhand and Orissa is painted either red or pink. This is what the Maoists call “liberated zone.”

What are the preparations of the West Bengal government? It is a sad and shady story. Without going into the political skullduggery it can be safely concluded that the CPM and other Left partners had built up groups of Banditos, often armed with lethal weapons and homemade bombs. After about 25 years other political groups, such as the Trinamool Congress and its passive partner the Congress have also started organizing groups of Banditos, who gradually gathered the courage of physically clashing with the Left opponents. Both the sides made West Bengal into a political killing field. The Maoists are known for taking advantage of such mass chaos and side with one or the other to progress in their planned advance in selected pockets. Working in conjunction with the violent political forces they establish their own bases.

Historically the CPI (ML), the hardcore Charu-Kanu-Jangal faction was against the CPM line. My personal experiences in Naxalbari operations gave me impressions that Charu Majumdar was vehemently opposed to any negotiation with the Left leaders like Hare Krishna Konar. However, later in 1972 elections elements of the Naxals supported the Congress in districts like Midnapore, Bankura and Birbhum, Jalpaiguri, Burdwan and Hooghly etc. Besides the Bangladesh war effect support from the Naxals also resulted in resounding victory for the Congress. That CPI (M) should crash from 113 in 1971 to 14 in the 1972 was totally unexpected so was the Congress party’s tally of 216 seats. The point made is that the Maoists are not averse to side with political parties of their choice to augment their own agenda. They enter a new area as tails of political parties and later establish bases of their own. If it were Congress in 1972 to seemingly exploit the Maoists, it is Trinamool Congress and its appendage, Congress in 2011. Political parties forget the universal lesson that the tiger they often ride devours the rider sooner than later.

The State government’s dependence on local police and party cadre misfired. The Maoists initially took advantage of anti-SEZ proposals of the government and often violent agitation started by TMC and its allies. Nandigram to Singur to West Midnapore was not reached in one lap. It took the Maoists and their political allies (tactical allies only) to build up movement in West Midnapore around the Union and State government’s proposal to allot 4,500 acres of land near Shalboni to Jindal Steel Works SEZ factory. The chain of events started after the 2nd November, 2009 land mine explosion targeting the convoy of West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and union steel and mines minister Ram Vilas Paswan as they were returning from the inauguration of the Jindal Steel Works SEZ. It was alleged by the Maoists and their political allies that the land in question belonged to the government and was earmarked for distribution among the tribals. The chain of events resulted in violence between CPM cadres on the one hand and Trinamool cadres supported by Maoist front organisations on the other. Unable to resist the “occupation” of Lalgarh, Jangal Mahal etc areas the State government requested for central forces and they seemingly “reoccupied” the tract from the Maoists.

The fact is that the government of West Bengal still does not have any plan to build up forces to fight the Maoist guerrillas. They, in collaboration with guerrillas from Jharkhand and Orissa have started hitting at targets even in the heart of the district head quarter. Some semblance of law and order is being maintained by the State police and the Central forces deputed to help the local authorities. There are plans to start another combing operation. But the holes in the government nets are so big that small Maoists Pisces swim in the area unhindered. The State governments in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa are yet to prepare a joint blueprint for fighting the guerrilla forces. The Central governments often announce certain offensive joint actions. However, except deputation of certain elements of central forces in the affected States no Joint Command has been conceived as yet.

There is no intelligence coordination between the State governments and the central intelligence agencies. Police stations are the best bases from where local intelligence is collected for tactical operational purposes. The intelligence networks in the rural and urban police stations have dried up. The area chowkidars, dafadars, lower revenue officials, gram sevaks, and other rural government employees have ceased to feed the police stations. Human intelligence is appallingly poor. Even the central intelligence agencies have not been able to build up HUMINT resources in the affected areas. Anti-Guerrilla warfare cannot be fought by wild goose’s chase. Forces have to act on precise intelligence.

As the Maoists often use cell phones it is not impossible to locate the GPS coordinate of the phone under use. Once located helicopter borne forces can raid the area and neutralize the target. This aspect of coordination between signal intelligence (SIGINT) and airborne attack has not been conceived as yet.
On the other hand the Maoists have excellent HUMINT assets from amongst the villagers and even educated sympathizers. Villagers not cooperating with the Maoists and suspected to be informers of the police are mercilessly punished. Recent incidents of cruel killing of police officers and innocent villagers prove that Mass Control mechanisms of the Maoists are near complete.

It is understood that the Maoists in Chattisgarh, Jharkhand. Orissa and West Bengal have obtained VHF communication sets from former LTTE members. These are used for communication between the Command with the Squads. VHF communications are able to transmit to shorter distances. If transmitted from a higher location the signals can be received even at a distance of 40 kilometers. Often the desired height is achieved by hanging an antenna on high rise trees. The State police are yet to install array of VHF monitoring instruments to pick up signals from the sophisticated VHF transreceivers used by the guerrilla forces. The police forces often use VHF sets in analog mode and not in automatic digital encryption mode. These can be easily intercepted either by identifying the frequency or by scanning the frequency logs. Police forces have not taken security precaution while using VHF sets during operations. These limitations are required to be attended forthwith.

The government agencies have just started thinking in terms of using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to survey the affected areas, locate hideouts and send the live broadcasts to the nearby forces to mount counter attack. Use of UAV in forested terrains may not yield expected results, unless the government acquires infrared equipped cameras for the UAVs to enable these flying machines to look down at precise targets through thick foliage and often mist covers.

Sample studies in Chattisgarh and West Bengal (broader study in all affected areas is necessary) it is found that the State police in Chattisgarh is better prepared and their mechanism of operations are more scientific. There has been marginal increase in HUMINT assets, but paucity of force prevents the State from comprehensive area domination. In West Bengal the police forces are yet to wake up to the reality that the Maoists of today are not ragtag Naxals of seventies and eighties. These guerrillas are well trained, well armed and indoctrinated. They follow the Maoist principles of guerrilla warfare scrupulously. Bengal police forces, paralyzed by political pressure, have not been exposed to anti-guerrilla warfare.

The thin police forces are so inadequate that they are not enough in numbers to take on sustained anti-guerrilla warfare, they lack in weaponry and training in anti-guerrilla warfare. Even the Central forces are not trained to fight the guerrillas by organizing them into effective counter-guerrilla forces. Some States have designated certain numbers of policemen as Special Forces with fancy names like Cobra Force etc. The Centre and the States may like to consider assisting each affected State to raise minimum 7 battalions of anti-guerrilla Special Forces trained in the army’s anti-insurgency warfare school. The present model of training some policemen in the model of National Security Guard (NSG) training manual may sharpen the efficiency edges. But the NSG is basically a static operations force for tackling static incidents like Mumbai incident of 26/11. It is not meant for deployment in anti-guerrilla warfare. The specially trained anti-guerrilla warfare police forces, like the VVF mentioned earlier live on and in the ground divided into strike squads coordinated by the battalion and higher commands. To fight guerrillas the forces have to adopt guerrilla ways of life.

The Central government often announces coordinated joint operations. This constructive idea can better be enforced if the entire mobilized forces (from different colours) are fused into a single operational force put under command of a Special Divisional Command (like the army) and operationalised in allocated territories for specializing in that territory till they are successful to retrieve the given territory from the Mass Control and military control of the Maoists.

However, it must be added that police action cannot alone eradicate the Maoist problems. An integrated and balanced approach and inclusive action plan is necessary to implement developmental works, providing employment, remodeling rural economy, education, health care and agricultural activities. Mushrooming of enrooted corruption in different welfare schemes, as discussed in this essay are required to be probed. The government must ensure that minimum 70% of the welfare funds and yojanas benefit the people. At present only 10-15% benefits reach the real affected people.

Combating Maoist guerrillas require total attention of the political decision makers and bureaucrats at macro and micro levels. Otherwise, present efforts would prove to be a war exercise between the State and certain segments of the people, who may ultimately be 25-35% of the population