Saturday, May 01, 2010

CRPF jawans, policemen arrested in U.P. arms racket

Published: April 30, 2010 17:46 IST | Updated: May 1, 2010 09:16 IST

Atiq Khan
It is suspected that stolen arms and ammunition were being supplied to Maoists

The Special Task Force (STF) and the Uttar Pradesh police have busted an arms and ammunition racket, involving CRPF and police personnel, following simultaneous raids in Rampur, Moradabad, Kanpur and Jhansi.

Six persons, including two CRPF jawans and a retired sub-inspector armourer of the State police, said to be the kingpin, were arrested. The police seized 5,000 live cartridges, 16 magazines of Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles and about 245 kg of used cartridge shells from them.

It is suspected that arms and ammunition were being supplied to Maoists, as investigations revealed the alleged involvement of some police personnel of the naxal-affected districts of Chandauli, Mirzapur and Sonebhadra in the racket.

According to police sources, the arms and ammunition, allegedly siphoned off from the armoury of the Central Reserve Police Force's 62 battalion Group Centre in Rampur and Police Training College-I in Moradabad, were being supplied to naxalites and anti-socials through a “contact” in Allahabad, whose identity has not yet been disclosed.

Additional Director-General (Law and Order and STF) Brij Lal did not rule out the involvement of more persons in the racket. He confirmed that the security personnel arrested on Thursday and Friday from four different places belonged to the same gang.

How the racket was bust

The operation to bust the arms racket was launched — soon after the April 6 naxal ambush of CRPF jawans in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh — following information received by Naveen Arora, Senior Superintendent of Police, STF, that arms and ammunition stolen from the Rampur centre were being supplied to “anti-socials” through a “person” in Allahabad. It was during this time that the STF came to know about the retired SI armourer Yashodanand Singh, who bought used and live cartridges of different bores and ammunition from different sources and sold them.

Working on the informers' input that a contact person from Allahabad was coming to Rampur to procure arms and ammunition, the STF team laid siege and seized 8-10 bags and arrested three persons under the overbridge on Shahabad road on Thursday.

The arrested are besides, Yashodanand, Vinod Paswan and Vinesh Singh, both posted in the Rampur armoury. The gunny bags contained live and used cartridges of INSAS and AK-47 rifles. The police also seized a mobile phone and Rs.1.76 lakh in cash from the three. Paswan, assisted by Vinesh, supplied the stolen cartridges and ammunition to Yashodanand, the police said.

Following the interrogation of Yashodanand, the STF arrested constable armourer Nathi Ram Saini, posted in Police Training College-I, from the District Eye Hospital in Moradabad on Friday. Another huge cache of used and live ammunition was seized from Nathi Ram, who Mr. Lal said, was to hand over the cartridges to Yashodanand on Friday.

In simultaneous police raids in Kanpur and Jhansi, head constable armourer Bansh Lal and constable armourer Akhilesh Pandey were arrested and a sizeable quantity of cartridges was seized from them.

According to Mr. Lal, interrogation of Yashodanand points to the alleged involvement of Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel of 30 PAC battalion, Gonda, and 36 PAC battalion, Varanasi. Police personnel posted in Varanasi, Kanpur, Basti, Jhansi, PTC-Moradabad, and Chandauli, Mirzapur and Sonebhadra districts allegedly abetted in Yashodanand's activities.

'Broiler murga' CRPF soft targets for Naxals

Soumittra S Bose, TNN, Apr 23, 2010, 05.18am IST

NAGPUR: The incidents of firing by Maoists at three CRPF camps, two police stations and a Salwah Judum camp in Dantewada two days ago is nothing but the ‘mental disintegration' tactics used by Australian cricket team against opponents. It was Steve Waugh's side which used to incite and irritate rivals to lure them into a trap before crushing them.

After killing 76 jawans, the Naxals are playing mind games with the security forces, especially the CRPF, with their hit-and-run tactics. Again, like the Aussies, the Naxals targeted the ‘captain' — former director general of police for BSF EN Rammohan who has been appointed by Union home minister P Chidambaram to carry out a probe. The team was fired at as they were heading to the ambush site on Tuesday.

The Maoists consider the CRPF as a soft target. Their personnel have been deployed in large numbers in Naxal-hit states. As the Tarmetola tragedy proved, the Naxals are clearly enjoying the upper hand against the CRPF. Security personnel informed TOI that the Naxals term CRPF as ‘‘broiler murga (hen)'' in Chhattisgarh.

“Like the hens, CRPF patrol in big clusters. Attacking such a big group and finishing them off is easy for the Maoists,” a Chhattisgarh police said. “More often than not, the coordination is poor between state police and paramilitary forces at the ground level. There are ego clashes and other complexities dampening the spirit and there is none to bridge the gap,” he added. Before bring the opponents down on their knees, the Aussies would poke at their confidence. After Tuesday's firing, the CRPF at Dantewada has been pushed on the backfoot. After the Tarmetola incident, there is also widespread discontentment in the rank and file of the CRPF.

Arrests of tribal activists as Naxals in S Gujarat flayed

TNN, Apr 30, 2010, 10.19pm IST

SURAT: Tribal leaders and human rights activists have joined hands to launch a non-violent movement against the arrests of tribal activists on the charge of spreading Naxalism in South Gujarat in the last two months.

Terming the arrests of the tribal activists as violation of human rights, they organised a meeting in the city's Navsarjan Trust Hall at RTO Circle on Friday, under the leadership of former Gujarat finance minister Sanat Mehta. Later, they submitted a memorandum to the district collector demanding a transparent police investigation against those arrested.

Addressing the meeting, Mehta said, "People working to uplift the marginalised tribal have been facing the wrath of the police and other government agencies. This is the only reason why they (tribal activists) have been arrested on the pretext of spreading Naxal movement in the Dang."

Mehta said it is unfair on the part of the police and the state government to project those arrested as Naxalites. There have been no violent incidents in the Dang or other tribal areas in Gujarat to prove that Naxal movement was active here. What has been reported is the fact about the long struggle of the poor tribals for their rights on the forest lands, he added.

The meeting was attended by president of Adivasi Loksangharsh Samiti Raman Chaudhary, senior journalist Digant Oza, director of Adivasi Academy at Tejgarh Ganesh Devi, and social activists Amarsinh Z Chaudhary, Sahdev Chaudhary and Manish Jani.

Digant Oza said, "There is no Naxal movement in Gujarat. In other states where the Naxal movement has taken roots, the class differences are very sharp. In the Dang and other tribal-dominated areas in Gujarat, there is no such movement. Those facing the charges of spreading Naxal movement in the state are tribal activists working to spread awareness among the tribals about their forest land rights."

'Naxals have to be tackled politically'

Q&A: K Keshava Rao
Saubhadro Chatterji / May 2, 2010, 0:15 IST

There are no differences within the government on tackling the Naxal problem, K Keshava Rao, general secretary of the Congress and Rajya Sabha MP, tells Saubhadro Chatterji

Many of us were surprised to see you as the first speaker for your party in a recent Rajya Sabha debate on the Naxal menace. Was it to show that a section of the party doesn’t endorse the home minister’s anti-Naxal tactics?

I was the first speaker because I am a senior leader and I know the subject. I also come from a state which has faced Naxal problems.

There are no differences within our party over the issue. Our policy is there in our party resolutions, which says that it is a socio-economic problem. My reservations pertain to the focus of the debate. Dantewada is a symptom of a larger malaise. I believe violence has no place in a democracy and the government’s action to quell violence is legitimate. It is a constitutional obligation of the government, not any party’s policy formulation. The policy concerns the development aspect.
The home minister said his policy was two-pronged: Development and maintenance of law and order. In fact, they are intertwined. To my mind, there is yet another aspect — talks. Talks are the only way out. While we admit that this is a socio-economic problem, we find immediate solution in guns and police. This is a wrong approach.

I have differences with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the issue. We believe a state is as an organic body and hence seek a human face to it. BJP believes it is inorganic and hence impersonal. For BJP, law and order is the prime concern of the state, while for us, social order comes first. Law should come into the picture to maintain this social order and equity.

Chidambaram has termed Naxalites as cowards, and critics accuse him of being aggressive.
It all depends on one’s mindset. There is no difference over policy issues. It is a question of how you present it. Somebody might talk about law and order first and development later. I will talk about development first and then, if necessary, police action. Chidambaram may call them cowards but I call them misguided friends and misadventurous youths.

Last month, Naxalites killed 76 people in Dantewada. Do you still believe talks are possible?
I am in favour of talks for many reasons. That is the only way to resolve the crisis, particularly its socio-economic aspects. Once talks begin, they will get all the attention, giving the government a credible opportunity to tell the people about its commitment to the poor and tribals, its flagship social programmes, etc. This will counter the propaganda of Naxalites.

Talks will be an earnest attempt to bring the Naxalites into the mainstream. Of course, one cannot expect wonders in just one or two sittings. Naxalism has been a 40-year-long struggle. We do not expect Naxalites to close shop even if we concur with all their views. In Andhra Pradesh, it took two years to convince them to agree to talk. During these 40 years, we had the same firmness and strategy, but we didn’t reach anywhere.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, said Naxalites have built iron walls with the help of arms in tribal pockets and these walls have to be crushed by force to bring development in these areas.
No one is against his own welfare. If someone puts hurdles, we need to devise strategies to reach out to the targeted groups. We need to win over the people and remove their distrust.

The common theory is that Naxalite movements have resulted from the lack of development in tribal regions.
The tribes, no doubt, are far away from the benefits of economic growth and development. We need to reach out to them. They have been living in an area for years. Suddenly someone comes and says there is coal beneath this land and we will mine this place. The people are getting displaced. And what do you give them? Rehabilitation in some other place and some money. The man loses his space, his cultural moorings. He can’t be sent to Delhi and rehabilitated. Development is the key but it can’t be thrust upon the people. In Jharkhand, roads are built in villages but villagers use short cuts. What is the need for such roads? Along with development, the tribes need to be empowered.

How do you propose to end this violence?
We need to find the reasons. We cannot be blind to existing socio-economic realities. How many of us can today say that we have not indulged in violence of one sort or the other in our political lives? We know that we wake up to a social reality only when such violence or pressure is applied. I am not defending violence. I am a pacifist. But I am drawing the attention of the government.

Naxalites need to distinguish between revolutionary and criminal violence. They must also realise that their potential for violence is no match to state violence. At the same time, it does not give democratic regimes the right to use their forces for oppression. A balance has to be struck. That is what talks will arrive at.

For the last 40 years, we have been talking of ending Naxal violence, but in vain. The reason is simple. Our concerns have not translated into actions. Our laudable growth has not “trickled down”. Rahul Gandhi also said “the government has not reached the tribal areas”. He did not use the word “development”. The nuance is: It is the legitimacy and empowerment of government that one is looking at, which do not merely concern material benefits, but social conditions and exploitation as well. That is social justice.

What is your prescription for Naxalism?
I will advocate a three-pronged approach: Remote area development (RAD), peace talks and law and order. The Planning Commission should take upon itself the implementation of RAD with time- and target-specific programmes. There should be unconditional talks with Naxalites to bring these groups into the national mainstream. Lastly, the government must do its duty to maintain law and order sternly. Naxalites are our own people, as the Supreme Court and our prime minister and home minister say. A stern but imaginative action is the need of the hour, instead of ruthless operations.

Are you confident that the Congress’ efforts for inclusive growth will yield results?
Of course. Our agenda of inclusive growth is spearheaded by Sonia Gandhi. She refused to take power, but she has her eyes on the government’s social programmes. Her vision is clear and it has started giving results in many areas.

You are in charge of Jharkhand and West Bengal. How do you see the role of the two state governments in curbing the Naxal menace?
I believe law and order and development are essentially the responsibilities of state governments. They have to win over the local people. The buck stops with them. I totally agree with the West Bengal government that we have to tackle this problem politically.

Fight against naxalism will continue: Chidambaram

Published: May 1, 2010 23:16 IST | Updated: May 2, 2010 02:38 IST

Special Correspondent

THE HINDU Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram (second from right, presenting a certificate to a participant in the Congress Seva Dal training camp in Coimbatore on Saturday. TNCC president K.V. Thangkabalu (third from right) and State Seva Dal organiser K. Selvaraj (fourth from right), are in the picture. Photo: K. Ananthan
Says terrorism, naxalism among challenges facing the nation

Union Minister of Home P. Chidambaram asserted here on Saturday that the fight against naxalism would continue and stressed the need to keep up the resolve in battling the problem.

“Terrorism and naxalism are among the challenges facing the country. We need to be resolute in overcoming these. We can win,” Mr. Chidambaram said while addressing the valediction of a six-day training camp for Congress Seva Dal members.

Explaining to the members the various public welfare initiatives of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government since 2004, he said while the nation registered a good growth rate of eight per cent on the one hand, there were challenges in the form of terrorism sponsored from across its borders and the naxal problem created from within.

The country had been facing problems from insurgent groups in the States in the North-East. But, a number of them had laid down arms. Now, the problem was in some of the States in the Central region. “I assure you that we will overcome this challenge with resolve.”

Mr. Chidambaram called upon Congress workers to highlight among people the achievements of the government and the people-friendly measures it had initiated. “We brought the Right to Information Act and the Right to Education Act. Now, we are preparing a Bill on the right to food.”

Other parties, such as the Bharatiya Janata Party, too had been in power. But, they did not introduce these. The Opposition, including the Left parties, was trying to pick holes in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. “Why was this scheme not implemented in West Bengal where the Communist government has been in power for 33 years and in Kerala where the Left parties have come to power many times?”

The strength of the Congress lay in adapting to changes; absorbing from these whatever meant good for the country and the people. That was how the country saw a huge increase in foreign investment.

Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.V. Thangkabalu said training camps of the Seva Dal were among the many efforts of the party to strengthen itself at all levels.

State chief organiser of the Seva Dal K. Selvaraj stressed the need to take the achievements of successive Congress governments to people in all the Assembly constituencies in the State.

Red alert in Congress as Jharkhand workers quit after Naxal threats

Manoj Prasad Posted online: Sunday , May 02, 2010 at 0310 hrs

New Delhi/Ranchi : While a section of the Congress led by Digvijay Singh has questioned Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s anti-Naxal policy, the party has asked Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren to provide “protection” to Congress workers in the state who are resigning en masse following threats from Maoists. Party leaders have also apprised Chidambaram of this issue.

Last month, CPI(Maoist) put up posters and distributed pamphlets in Palamau, Garhwa, Latehar and East Singhbhum districts of Jharkhand telling Congressmen to quit the party or face the consequences. “If you don’t leave the party and tell its leaders to stop Operation Greenhunt, be prepared to get shortened by six inches from the top,” stated a hand-written CPI(Maoist) poster found in Palamau district on April 24.

“It is a fact that our workers in Jharkhand are resigning from the party due to threats from Naxals, although it is becoming less now. One of our party workers was even killed by Maoists in Jamshedpur recently. It is a serious issue and we are looking into it,” said K Keshava Rao, who is the AICC leader in charge of Jharkhand.

He was referring to the March 28 incident in which Gobardhan Mahali, the Congress Dalbhumgarh block president in East Singhbhum district, was gunned down, reportedly by the CPI(Maoist)’s squad led by Kundan Pahan.

“Jharkhand PCC president Pradeep Balmuchu met Home Minister P Chidambaram to take up this issue. Earlier, he and the Congress Legislature Party leader even met the Chief Minister to seek protection for our workers. We want the state government to protect out party workers,” said Rao.

Incidentally, on April 15, Rao had stated in the Rajya Sabha that Maoists were “no enemies” and there was need to talk to “Naxalite friends”. Speaking to The Sunday Express today, he said: “What we are saying about other states is different. But in Jharkhand they (Maoists) have to be dealt with firmly.”

It was against this backdrop that the Congress high command was learnt to have refused to break bread with Soren after the BJP threatened to withdraw support. Soren is perceived to be soft on Naxals and has been reluctant to cooperate with the Centre in its offensive against Maoists.

Although the Congress has not compiled the actual figures, there have been daily reports about Congress workers resigning in different parts of the state. The Jharkhand PCC had earlier set up a five-member panel to look into the issue. “We have prepared a report and submitted it to the party leadership,” said the panel’s convenor, Radha Krishna Kishore.

“Nobody can be expected to do party work at the cost of one’s life,” said Javed Alam, who resigned as the party’s Manika block president in Palamau recently.

“We have issued instructions that the safety of partymen working at the grassroot level must be ensured,” said state DGP Neyaz Ahmad. But Congress workers remain apprehensive about their safety.

In Jharkhand, 22 out of 24 districts have been identified as Maoist-infested and 2,200 out of 3,500 panchayats are categorised as “most affected”.

Chidambaram picks 33 MPs for Naxal lessons


NDTV Correspondent, Friday April 30, 2010, New Delhi

The government has identified MPs from 33 Naxal-hit districts, who shall be briefed by Home Minister P Chidambaram on the national strategy to deal with Naxals. Chidambaram will seek their cooperation.

The Home Minister is also expected to discuss hurdles in the implementation of various development plans in Naxal-hit districts.

A Planning Commission task force had reported after the Dantewada massacre that development plans had been slowest in the areas with big Naxal presence.

The report found that in Dantewada, claims for the land allocated under the Forest Rights Act had not been given.

Only 35 per cent of the funds meant for roads had been used and only 16 per cent of the
healthcare money had been spent.

The government is focusing on connectivity in these terrains as that has been the biggest disadvantage
security forces face during anti-Naxal operations.

Girl raped for leaving Maoist ranks: police

May 01 2010

Latehar (Jharkhand): A 16-year-old girl affiliated to a Maoist outfit was allegedly raped by other members for fleeing the camp in Latehar district of Jharkhand, police said on Saturday.

"The girl ran away from a camp about five days ago. She was caught by the ultras, beaten up and raped when she refused to return," Superintendent of Police Kuldeep Dwivedi said.

The Maoists had asked their sympathisers to trace her alleging that she had fled with arms.

The SP said the girl was dumped at a lonely place from where villagers rescued her. She was admitted to a health centre. The girl was arrested and shifted to the Sadar Hospital, Latehar, he said.

The girl had run away once earlier following physical and mental pressure on her and had been jailed after being arrested from the Manika area.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shot at by Maoists, left alone by own

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Mihir Singh, who has a bullet embedded in his spine, in hospital. (Samir Mondal)
Midnapore, April 26: His hands tied behind his back and a bullet embedded in his spine, a Lalgarh villager lay next to his dead neighbour after being shot at by Maoists and cried for help for nearly 10 hours.

But the residents of Bamal, from where the duo had been marched by the guerrillas to a kangaroo court, dared not venture out to help him. The gunmen had left both for dead after warning the villagers against going anywhere near the bodies.

As daylight broke, the villagers, goaded by Dulali Singh, gathered courage, they called police and walked to a paddy field, 1km from the village.

Dulali’s husband Mihir, 32, was still breathing. Biswanath Namota, 50, wasn’t.

“I did not expect my husband to be alive,” said Dulali.

The villagers carried Mihir to the primary health centre in Lalgarh town, 5km away. From there, he was shifted to Midnapore Medical College and Hospital in an ambulance.

“The bullet is lodged in the spinal chord and he has been paralysed waist down,” said Partha Pratim Pradhan, the superintendent of the Midnapore hospital.

Biswanath was shot in the head and throat.

The police said a group of seven, armed with revolvers, approached farmhand Mihir and asked him at gunpoint to accompany them when he was having tea with his friends at a stall in Bamal bazaar last evening. The gang picked up fish trader Biswanath from another part of the village.

Mihir’s friends trailed the gang for some time and then someone told them they would be shot if they moved further.

“We stayed back,” said Mithu Singh. However, one villager kept following the gang maintaining a distance.

“Around 9pm, I heard four shots but I started walking in that direction much later. In moonlight, I saw the two sprawled on the ground with their hands behind their backs. I spied a movement and went closer. Mihir was groaning, crying and begging for water. I stood helplessly for a few minutes and then ran back to the village and told everyone he was alive and we should take him to the health centre. But no one was ready to go,” said Babu.

At the Midnapore hospital, Mihir mumbled what he went through. “They branded us police informers at a kangaroo court and shot at us. Something piercing and hot entered my back, I lost consciousness. But I regained consciousness sometime later. I tried to sit up, but could not. I was feeling terribly thirsty and cried for water. I again lost consciousness but came around before dawn,” he said.

Hospital superintendent Pradhan said Mihir had been referred to NRS Hospital in Calcutta because “we don’t have the infrastructure for such surgeries here”.

People often survive if a bullet does not affect vital organs like the heart, lungs or kidneys. “In Mihir’s case, the bullet has not torn away any vital artery. So, there was not much bleeding also,” said Pradhan.

Bodies found

The joint forces today found the remains of three bodies stuffed in gunny bags in the Bhalukbasha forest in Goaltore.

In Belpahari, CPM local committee member Panchanan Dutta Khanra, 48, was shot at thrice in front of his house.

Maoists kill tribal man on spying charge

Posted on Apr 23, 2010 at 11:51 | Updated Apr 23, 2010 at 12:24


Raipur: A group of about 40 Maoist guerrillas murdered a tribal man in Chattisgarh's violence-hit Dantewada district allegedly because he was a spy, police said on Friday.

The incident took place on Thursday night at Bhusaras village, about 40 km south of state capital Raipur.

The Maoist rebels stormed into 35-year-old Marwi Manoj's house and beat him up severely before slitting his throat. They then walked away shouting slogans in support of the Maoist movement, officers at the police headquarters said.

Primary investigations suggest that the Maoists killed Manoj because he was a police informer.

Maoist killed, two CRPF personnel injured

A Maoist was killed and four men including two CRPF personnel were injured in a fierce gunbattle between security forces and Naxalites at Bandu village in west Singhbhum district on Friday.

The encounter broke out when the Maoists opened fire on a CRPF team. in the return fire a maoist was shot dead and two Maoists were wounded west Singhbhum superintendent of police Akhilesh Jha told reporters.

Two CRPF personnel were also injured with one suffering bullet wounds in his hand and another in his foot he said adding they have been admitted to a hospital in Chakradharpur. The CRPF personnel were patrolling near Bandua when the Maoists started firing at them.

Three villagers shot dead by Maoists

Three villagers were shot dead by Maoists in separate incidents in Jharkhand Police said on Friday. The Maoists shot dead two persons at Lanjo village in west Singhbhum district on Thursday night. The Ultras said the two were killed because they were allegedly collected extortion in the name of CPI Maoist villagers told the police.


For Maoists willing to give up guns, Bengal has little to offer

Madhuparna Das Posted online: Thursday , Apr 29, 2010 at 0244 hrs

Kolkata : West Bengal is perhaps the only Maoist-affected state that does not have any rehabilitation policy for ultras desiring to surrender their arms. Even as all other Maoist-affected states in the country have implemented the policy with varying degrees of success, the Left Front government in West Bengal is sitting quiet on a similar proposal submitted by the state police.

DGP Bhupinder Singh said: “All the Maoist-affected states have implemented the rehabilitation and surrender packages in the states. Our neighbouring state of Jharkhand also implemented the policy recently.”

He added: “Our state, however, is yet to consider a similar proposal, a draft of which was submitted to the government two months ago.”

The non-implementation of such a proposal has intrigued state police officers who claim that had there been a rehab policy, a sizeable number of tribal-turned-Maoists would have opted to surrender their guns.

A senior West Bengal Police officer said: “Several people willing to give information about the Maoists have approached us. There are a good number of Maoists who are disillusioned and want to quit.”

He added: “But for quitting and supplying information to the police, they demand security and good financial packages for their family. Since we do not have any such policy, we cannot take them into confidence.”

A senior bureaucrat pointed out: “There may be some ideological hang-ups the Marxist government suffers from while offering such a package to Maoists. Such a possibility cannot be ruled out, considering that the Marxist government has till date not officially banned the outfit.”

Even as political bigwigs contend that economic rehabilitation packages have been tried without much success with the Kamtapur Liberation Organisaton, senior officers cite the examples of states like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh where such surrender policies have been successfully implemented.

Jharkhand Home Secretary J B Tubid told The Indian Express over phone: “We had implemented the policy in 2009 and it is quite successful in our state. We have sought help from several NGOs whose members meet the tribals and Maoists, and explain them our policies.”

Tubid added: “We translated our policy guidelines into tribal languages and started distributing leaflets in the villages. The reward money ranges from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 12 lakh, depending on the seniority of cadres. For politburo and central committee members, the reward money is Rs 12 lakh.”

If Maoists surrender on their own, they are given land to construct houses besides the reward money. They are also given vocational training and the government bears the cost of education of their children, if any, said Tubid, adding: “The Maoist is rehabilitated in safe places, most often outside the state. We have probation of pre-bargain agreement between the prosecution and the accused, under which the government considers the cases against the Maoist and can set him free if he helps the police.”

Adding that a considerable number of Maoists have surrendered over the past one year, Tubid said: “A group of 25 armed Maoist cadres approached us yesterday. We are verifying their cases.”

While the Chhattisgarh government implemented the policy in 2004, the Orissa government implemented the same in 2006.

“We have declared Rs 10 lakh per head for the 27 central committee members of the Maoists. For cadres, we have several other schemes, including giving them land and providing assistance in constructing their houses,” said Ram Niwas, ADG, Naxal Operation, Chhattisgarh.

Niwas added: “Besides their being rehabilitated in safe places, criminal cases against them will also be considered if they help police in anti-Maoist operations.”

Orissa IG (Operations) Sanjiv Marik, meanwhile, said: “We have built a data bank based on information provided by the surrendered Maoists. We are now fighting Maoists strategically, instead of combating them by force alone.”

Seized laptop reveals Maoists' superb accounting skills

Sumanta Ray Chadhuri / DNAThursday, April 29, 2010 2:40 IST

Kolkata: Apart from underground guerilla warfare techniques, Maoists operating in West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand have excelled in effectively organising their accounts.

That’s what West Bengal Police CID recently discovered after it decoded a laptop seized during an operation in Lalgarh.

“It seems a qualified chartered accountant has prepared the accounts. The distribution of remuneration [to whole-time and part-time activists] has been done by someone highly qualified in human resource management,” a CID official said.

“Details of every single penny earned and every paisa spent for various purposes have been mentioned in the accounts. Records of purchase, allotment of uniforms, food items and even innerwear handed to each guerrilla, is mentioned,” the official added.
The records reveal that they have collected nearly Rs120 crore as ransom from Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore districts. “You can imagine how much they have collected from the entire region,” the CID official said.

While decoding the seized laptop, it is learnt that the CID sleuths also recovered a planned remuneration package allocation budget for the region for 2010.

“The budget for remuneration for both full-time and part-time activists for theyear stands at Rs15 crore. We are trying to decode more information to find out how much they have spent on arms and ammunition,” the CID official said.

Maoist blow up culvert in Orissa's Koraput

Koraput (Orissa), Apr 28 (PTI) Maoists tonight blew up a culvert in Orissa's Koraput district on the fifth day of their week-long economic blockade agitation, police said.

The incident took place at D D Ghat near Laxmipur, 55 km from here, said SDPO Y J Rao.

As it was raining heavily, the police could not reach the spot, he added.

The ultras continue to block roads connecting Narayanpatna-Bandhugaon and Bandhugaon-Parvatipuram as part of their agitation, organised to protest the special anti-Maoist operation in southern Orissa districts comprising Malkangiri and Koraput.

Maoists gun down forest guard in Orissa

Bhubaneswar, Apr 29 (PTI) Maoists gunned down a forest guard and ransacked a check-gate inside the Sunabeda sanctuary in Orissa's Nuapada district, police said today.

A group of about 40 Maoists killed forest guard Sangram Swain last night, a senior police officer engaged in anti-Maoist operations said.

"They may be the same ultras who were responsible for the Dantewada massacre. They are suspected to have taken shelter in the sanctuary area since then," he said.

Who will fight the robber barons pillaging India?

Mallika SarabhaiSunday, April 25, 2010 9:35 IST

How distant is your civics class from you today? In any case, when you were in school, did the Constitution make much sense, especially in the lousy way your teacher probably handled it? And, of course, if you are the normal educated Indian you have had neither the time nor the inclination to read it since.

In view of the continuing shenanigans of our greedy moneymakers — various ministers, the Reddy brothers, and Mr Modi, to name three of ten thousand names — I revisited the Constitution of India. To figure out what our great thinkers thought the state should be doing to citizens. And what it should be doing to protect the masses from the goonda robber barons out to sell our country and the earth.

The Constitution is made up of fundamental rights and directive principles, the first enforceable by courts, the latter not, but nonetheless fundamental and politically enforceable. Among the politically enforceable directive principles there are specific ones that forbid the concentration ofwealth and the unequal distribution of material resources to the detriment of the common good.

The government has the duty to constantly monitor the welfare of the people, securing their social, economic, and political justice. To do so, the government provides Rs32 lakh to each member of Parliament (MP) per mensem.

In 2006, with the rapid increase in civil unrest and the resultant violence, the Planning Commission set up a special committee to look into the causes of this unrest and violence. In its report published last year, the committee states that traditionally the poor have resorted to gathering forest materials and things grown in common lands to make two ends meet.

With the increasing use of common lands for profit by certain businesses or political interests, their livelihoods have been becoming even more tenuous. This, the committee feels, is the real cause of the spread of "Naxalism" and violence.

It further states that this widespread unrest has plagued the polity for some time. For a large section of people, basic survival is a problem. "The constitutional mandate (Article 39) to prevent concentration of wealth in a few hands is ignored in policymaking."

Have you noticed this principle being followed except in the breach? Can you say that you have seen the Rs32 lakh used by your MP in any way (every month) that has visibly changed the lot of the poorest? I certainly can't. And the travesty continues.

It is in this backdrop of governmental failure that Mr Chidambaram's violent statements against the Maoists and Naxalites and his unleashing of brutal force against Adivasis needs to be seen. Who is the bigger public enemy — someone who rooks the nation daily of hundreds of crores or a group of Adivasis agitating not to be deprived of ancestral lands?

Who needs the army out against them, the ministers and robber barons raping and pillaging India or allowing this rape for profit, or a bunch of women and children trying to eke out a living and protecting their menfolk even if they have killed wrongly?

Why is Mr Chidambaram not using the same language against Mr Modi and the Reddy brothers as he is against the Maoists? Why are these not seen as 'Enemy Number One' instead of bedraggled groups of protesters having to steal arms from the forces?

I am in no way condoning the violence of the Marxists or Naxalites. I abjure violence in all circumstances, and abhor it. But picking up a gun is only one obvious form of violence. The rape of the country in the name of business, of development, and the amassing of colossal sums of money at the cost of millions of people and the land is a much greater form of violence. Yet, it gets the blessings of our governments. In fact, it is lauded by the same inner circle with awards and plaudits.

The Naxalites are petty change as violence mongers compared to these avaricious robber barons. Let us call a spade a spade and go after the true enemies of our people.

Learning from Maoists

RB SreekumarSunday, April 25, 2010 22:48 IST

The official rhetoric on the security forces’ anti-Maoist operations is not of much use. The shortcomings were exposed dramatically by the Dantewada killings in Chhattisgarh. Abysmal intelligence failure at the macro and micro levels left the Centre and state administrations in a quagmire of confusion about the strategy, tactics and ground methodology of Maoists, resulting in politicisation of the problem and endless blame games. At the ground level, security personnel have had to bear the brunt of the dangers.

Ancient wisdom on war strategy by Sun-Tzu (in his book, The Art of War) and our own Chanakyaniti would have told us that “to win a war (one should) learn from one’s enemy”. Do our intelligence and security functionaries have a proper perception of the ground situation about the inception, growth and sustenance of Maoists in an area and the process of establishment of a parallel Maoist government? The gestation period and stages of Maoist-Naxalite domination in a location needs to be studied before launching matching police operations.

The Maoists do a lot of home work and proceed meticulously before selecting a territory for their activity and deputing their grassroot-level pioneers. The naxalisation of an area has various stages, beginning from the survey stage, when the identification of contradictions in the form of the exploiter (class enemy) and the exploited is done.

In the second stage of indoctrination, covert fraternisation is practiced with the most down-trodden and agonised victims of violence and injustice by the wealthy and powerful in society and government. In the third stage of grievance redressal, action to bring relief and solace to ‘the wretched of the earth’ is done through the activation of administration and mobilisation of the aggrieved through Maoist over-ground front organisations.

In the fourth stage of enrolment, the training of a militia of indoctrinated and committed activists of underground armed bands is achieved. In the fifth stage, efforts are made to enforce ‘people’s justice’. In this stage, landlords, government functionaries, anti-Maoist leaders and so on are punished and/or intimidated through physical violence and extortion. Police informers and those who resist the Maoists are usually killed or maimed.

At this stage, many “class collaborators” from the affluent sections escape punishments by paying regular ‘protection money’. The contractors and agencies engaged in industrial, productive and economic activities pay ransoms to the Maoists, who, in turn, utilise the funds to procure fire arms and explosives, apart from maintaining their infrastructure.

In the sixth stage of Maoist domination, called class war, armed squads (Dalams) are used by the Maoists to pulverise and neutralise governmental presence in the area. Once the suzerainty of the Maoists becomes unchallengeable it will be called a “Liberated Zone”. This stage will, in the long run, usher in the establishment of a ‘people’s revolutionary government’.

As admitted by the government, over 50 districts in six states are under the total supremacy of Maoists, where any effort to exorcise the evil would result in full-scale conflict. Perhaps the CRPF personnel who lost their lives in Dantewada did not gauge the armed hardware of the insurgents in this liberated zone properly. Hence, the huge casualities.

The government should decide on a multi-dimensional strategy through multi-agency involvement for ensuring a purposeful response system that is suited to the socio-economic terrain of the area and the degree of Maoist subversion of the system.

Merely calling the Maoists to join the mainstream of party politics, whose perversions and corruption created the political and administrative vacuum in the first place, is of no use. The government should be people-oriented rather than Maoist-centric in its counter strategy. By implementing existing welfare schemes, devoid of corruption, it can impede the flow of people to the Maoist camp.

The policy of treating the Maoist insurgency as a law and order problem emanates from ignorance about the dimensions of the Maoist support base among the people and the chemistry between them. Plans to confront the Maoists head-on can only lead to more innocent civilian casualties. The Salwa Judum experiment was counter-productive and the Maoists have succeeded in projecting the security forces engaged in Operation Green Hunt as an invading force.

The government should opt for a strategy that first involves obtaining information from micro level functionaries, NGOs and social workers before it gets into action mode. This will enable it to customise its counter-strategy based on ground-level realities. In place of conceptual skills, the authorities should invoke their human and situational skills to achieve success in war against the Maoists.

Maoist Menace: A lesson from the past

By Dr TH Chowdary

THE Naxalites and Maoists who are now in operation in 160 districts of the country (one quarter of the total) have no faith and in no loyalty to the Indian Constitution and State. They themselves are describing as People’s War Groups (PWG) and they have military formations like People Liberating Guerrilla Army in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu border areas and Commanders of Guerrilla Zone in Dandakarunya Special Zonal Committee, Andhra and Orissa Special Zonal Committee and so on. These are like our army’s fighting divisions, corps and eastern and western etc., commands. By the very designation of Maoists, it is clear that their inspiration is not from this soil, form this country’s history, philosophy or society but from a foreign country and foreign ideologies. They are waging a war. As if they are already a government, in their supreme self-confidence, they are offering ceasefire and most stunningly, they offered compensation to the families of the 76 CRPF Jawans they killed in the latest battle. It is clear from their formations, from their ideology, from their actions and their declarations that they are an army and a State in the making, challenging the State of India itself. They are operating not in state by state but across the states. Is it not absurd for the Home Minister to say that the fighting these Maoists is primarily the responsibility of the state police and that the Center could only aid and guide them? Can a state or a few states together fight an all-India insurgent army with its police trained and deployed to keep law and order?

No rebel army can be sustained in the field without a support structure operating openly by utilising the freedoms and rights that are guaranteed by the democratic Constitution which is mainly applicable to citizens who are loyal to the Constitution and who are peaceful. The infrastructure to sustain the Maoist armies is provided by the above-ground Maoists under different descriptions like the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, revolutionary writers associations, revolutionary students union, people democratic students union, Student Federation of India, progressive writers, societies for civil liberties human rights and so on, all of which are under the command of the Maoist armies. The former are making use of the democratic freedom, liberties and rights guaranteed by the civilised State, India. Can any state, which has the responsibility of defending itself and the Constitution and guarantee the life and limb and liberties of its peaceful citizens, treat an all-India armed revolution, and organised armies—be they guerrillas—as though it is a local problem, a social problem, a problem of development, social justice, tribal rights etc?

All the political parties with perhaps the exception of the BJP had been either by fear or by populism at one time or the other, have supported the Maoists calling them patriots fighting for social justice (which they as rulers for sixty years failed to deliver). The PWG, the Naxalites and various such groups seem to have forged common armies to take on the might of the Indian State. Politicians and political parties while in opposition have fraternised at least in words and statements with the Maoists. Even Lok Satta party says that they are “peaceful Naxalites” little realising that the aim of Naxalite/Maoist army and party is to destroy the present State and its Constitution and put in place, a Marxist dictatorship of the proletariat like in China, North Korea, Cuba and earlier, in the Soviet states of eastern central Europe besides USSR. The Maoists are drawing inspiration from a historic past when the People’s Liberation Army under Chairman, Mao Tse Tung fought for more than two decades against the established State before he finally becoming the victorious in 1949. The UPA government at the Centre and many ramshackle governments in the states are in no better position than the corrupt Ko Ming Tang in China before 1949. While the KMT showed the will to fight the Chinese communists, many political parties and governments in India are compromised, maybe out of fear from violence of the Maoists, their people’s courts and instant justice. That is why the Maoists have been able to spread their armies in several district in different states, each ruled by a different party there.

If the Maoist armies are to be defeated, first it is necessary to destroy their above-ground infrastructure by resorting to Preventive Detention Acts, which were used for the same purpose against the same communist insurgency in 1947-51. Then the Government of India had no hesitation in using the armed forces to fight the armed communists. Even Pakistan is using its army and air force to put down the Taliban terrorism and insurgency. Russia has repeatedly used its army and air force to put down the armed revolts in one of its provinces, Chechnya. China does not hesitate to use the People’s Liberation Army against the Islamist secessionists in Xinxiang and the Tibetans aspiring for freedom in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Philippines has been using its armed forces against the secessionist Moros. Indonesia used its armed forces (though unsuccessfully) against the armed rebels in Papua-New Guinea, which was called Irian Jaya by Indonesia. Sri Lanka used its armed forces against the LTTE and wiped them out. In all these cases, the insurgents and armed gangs swore enmity to the established State and to achieve their aim, they took to arms. India must make up its mind whether it recognises the Maoists as enemies of the State as they themselves have declared or will use policemen as canon fodder for the Maoists. There is the serious prospect of defections and meek surrender when confronted by the Maoists as the State itself is not serious against the enemies. It is time enough for the Indian State to label the Maoist armies and their above-ground infrastructure as insurgents and put them down with all the might of the State, as Malaysia did in the 1950s, and Sri Lanka in 2009. It is worth while to recall the most instructive call of Winston Churchill: “If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

Coordination failure led to Dantewada bloodbath: Report

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Coordination-failure-led-to-Dantewada-bloodbath-Report/articleshow/5861683.cms

NEW DELHI: The one-man committee, which probed the Dantewada massacre in which 76 security personnel were killed by Maoists in Chhattisgarh on April 6, is learnt to have blamed "leadership failure" and "lack of coordination between CRPF and state police" for the incident.

Former BSF chief E N Rammohan, who submitted the probe report to the home ministry on Saturday, has also suggested certain measures to overcome lapses so that such incidents do not occur in the future. Though the contents of the report were not immediately known, sources indicated that the committee had touched upon all aspects of the ongoing anti-Naxal operation.

Rammohan suggested better coordination between state police and central forces, strict adherence to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), proper training and cross-checking of intelligence reports from various sources, they added.

Union home minister P Chidambaram is likely to submit the report with ATR in the Parliament this week.

During the fortnight-long inquiry, Rammohan collected relevant information like the command structure, hierarchy and the decision concerning the operation, quality of training imparted to the CRPF men who were attacked by Naxalites on April 6, and whether they followed the SOPs, the sources said.

During the probe, he had analysed call detail records of the mobile telephones used by the CRPF personnel killed and injured during the encounter. During his visit to Tarmetla in Dantewada district and state headquarters Raipur, Rammohan also interacted with CRPF officials, local police and civil officials and injured jawans.

Why operation Green Hunt won't win the war

April 26, 2010 14:59 IST


REDIFF

To win the war against the Maoist insurgency, the underlying issues of tribal alienation needs to be addressed first, writes Shyam G Menon.

For weeks we saw the deployment of security forces in Maoist-affected areas -- trucks, fatigues, AK-47 and choppers. Operation Green Hunt unfolded like a badly-made action film.

Then 75 soldiers were gunned down in Dantewada. The public response was shrill. Playing to the times, magazines declared war and television presenters reviewed weaponry -- from attack aircraft to laser guided bombs -- which they said the government could use against the rebels. Not a word mentioned that using warplanes would be to advertise civil war in India [ Images ] or that on the occasion it was done before in the northeast, and years of insurgency was the legacy. Such embarrassing over-simplification can be avoided if the existing security personnel acted and stopped complaining of terror being savage.

Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram was right when he observed that something had gone wrong. Except that happened long ago and it was with us at large. When India's tribal people and hill dwellers cite alienation, they speak the truth. In the first few decades of independence our struggle was finding resources to integrate remote locations.

In the years after that, while economic growth produced the required resources, our struggle has been to find people for the job. The teachers, doctors and other representatives of the mainstream, who ought to be at their posts in wilderness, are often absent. A posting to the wilderness has no social standing unless it is a civil servant or army officer. This is a story familiar to anyone who has lived away from cities and the fewer who explored the wilderness.

In contrast, to our discomfort and the greater discomfort of our proxy warriors ruing harsh terrain, the ideologues controlling the tribal people are with them. In power, they will inevitably change to exploiters. But for now they endure the forest to impress their cadres. Who should the tribal choose?

Compounding this, mainstream India's ambassador to its periphery is often mercantile interest. The trader and the businessman stomach hardship in the hope of distant fortune. That is also their undoing. Every part of India that rebelled against government had a grouse against these folks who were no doubt enterprising but rarely saw beyond commerce.

In the Indian context, where wealth is guarded by family and family is furthered to guard wealth, the exclusivity breeds apartness. Result: lack of inclusive society, disillusioned communities on our periphery and assessment in our mercantile capitals of dissent in remoteness as sacrilegious. There are parts of India where the plains dweller is addressed as Indian. Something acutely annoying in our behaviour has cast us as unwelcome intruder. We feel no need to introspect.

When remote India rebels the righteous mainstream dispatches its proxy warriors who put up a show of force. The dead on both sides become martyrs. All the time, there is somebody in those jungles with less of everything who can handle the terrain better than us. What motivates them? Ever heard rebels complain of uncaring attitude?

Following the Dantewada massacre, the Maoists took away the soldiers' weapons. As many soldiers killed for as many weapons taken betrays a chilling appetite for murder. You can't fault the mainstream for screaming war. That has been the public mood since. Still, there's something strange in everybody readily declaring war for these murders confined to particular geography, when we never said 'we declare war' against terrorists and religious bigots who killed recklessly all over India.

We didn't declare war against corruption and commercial crimes, which have hit this economy from north to south and east to west. We didn't declare war on inflation! Look back for a minute. Notice both the pattern and how we probably had this coming all along. The areas currently troubling us are so much the same old territories identified with caste wars, social and economic inequalities.

An entire generation grew up to urban wealth reading the worst possible news from these places. We allowed this administrative vacuum to bloom by the side and attract local panacea including Maoists. To then address it with firepower (not to mention, calls for airpower) puts us all monolithically on one side of the divide instead of exploring a solution or salvaging the tribal from totalitarian politics.

After all, how many of us can support mining interests and bulldoze the pleas of a tribal on his land? In the days of the Right to Education Act these would be questions to the meaning of education itself or the definition of an educated mind. You can't genuinely educate a mind and then wish it to see only the commercially relevant. While violence in the jungle must be snuffed out, we must ask who we are doing that for. Is it mining lobbies and feudal clans?

Critics would say that empowering the tribal makes the resources under his feet uneconomical in a world competing on low cost. Less than a decade ago when the global automobile industry writhed in pain, a few perceptive analysts highlighted a simple problem -- the issue of right cost. Rather than argue for still lower price to trigger demand they faulted ever lowering car prices for creating an unsustainable supply chain, vulnerable to demand swings.

First, the car had to be right-priced to make it a responsible product and free roads from consumerist excess. Two, if people in the automobile industry were to continue having their jobs, if the good times were to last longer, if industries were to sustain themselves then right cost was imperative.

Although it wasn't hard to see the logic in this argument as cars proliferated enhancing social cost of motoring and zero interest loans soaked up demand to periods of downturn, the message of right cost was ignored because it went against the grain of industrial scale and dominance. Once dominant, the pattern of business was familiar -- reap profit. That's the financial destiny of market enterprise.

What is a tribal person's claim to cost, when right cost to industry is always lower price for greater demand and higher profit from higher demand?

Some years ago, when a South Korean steel company sought mining rights, the Indian steel industry responded like the tribal. At least one senior industry official called Indian iron ore resources 'strategic' and emphasised they were not to be wasted. He was absolutely right. However, he was heard because he spoke corporate language. In the years since, his company as well as others in India grew several times bigger including acquisitions overseas. Nobody mentions 'strategic' anymore.

They should, given the Chinese origin of Maoism. China is the world's biggest steel producer and a country with poor iron ore resources. India on the other hand has rich iron ore deposits. Why did our strategists lose their voice when the tribal was still an Indian tribal and not a brainwashed Maoist?

In the politically important shining economy with its scorn for divergent views, a lot of us don't mind ignoring these angles. The shining economy dislikes dissent, another hallmark of being corporate. Probably that's why politicians across party divides have joined hands to fight the terror. Normally, they can't unite on anything.

Their last recorded chaos was the Women's Bill. What got them so united this time -- was it the atheism of the threat; its challenge to caste, the importance of being corporate or the war game mood of the electorate? Whatever, they must have reckoned it is safer to be in the profitable mainstream than the losing fringe.

Decades ago, there would have been some revered political figure taking the initiative to end the bloodbath, park oneself at the trouble spot and encourage talks. It hasn't happened. Perhaps the era of such leaders has ended or the approach is way too fringe for mainstream interest. Today we have the market and its proxy warriors.

So the government takes the Maoists head on, hopefully targeting ideologue and not tribal, in a fight for governance of the land. This is a valid fight for Maoism advocates subversion of India's democracy. It also justifies violence as means. Should such war be the case, then one hopes that the government's approach, strategy and commitment would be different from the homesick huddles currently going into battle.

No more complaints of 'savage nature', 'harsh terrain' and 'nobody cares for us' please. What we brought upon ourselves, we must end it ourselves. There is no room for self pity.

Shyam G Menon is a freelance writer based in Mumbai [ Images ].

Shyam G Menon

Racy eye-opener of a book on the Maoist movement (IANS Book Review)

2010-04-26 10:10:00
: 'Jangalnama: Travels in a Maoist Guerrilla Zone'; Author: Satnam; Penguin Books, pp 206; Price: Rs.250

Why Bastar's tribals harbour Maoists?

This is undoubtedly India's answer to 'Red Star Over China', the epoch-making story of what the then obscure Mao was up to in China's rural areas at the head of a nascent Communist party that eventually took power in 1949. When American Edgar Snow came out with the classic of a book, the world sat up and took notice.

The Indian Maoists of Bastar are of course not an unknown commodity. Yet there has been no account of what they are doing in the huge, forested land of poverty amid plenty known as Bastar, a story as exhaustive and moving as this racy eye-opener of a book.

Unlike most books on Indian Maoism, this one does not dabble in ideology, party documents and polemics. Like Snow did decades ago, Satnam, a committed Leftwing writer-activist from Punjab, focuses on the impoverished people and the revolutionaries he meets in Bastar. He spent two months in the forests, living with his subjects to study why Maoists are on the ascendency in the mineral-rich region where governments have existed only in the form of greedy contractors and corrupt policemen, leaving the mass of tribals to wallow in poverty, disease and illiteracy while outsiders strip away Bastar's minerals.

The book was originally published in Punjabi early this decade . What has been published now is an excellent English translation by Vishav Bharti. But readers need not worry. The story that unfolds may have been written yesterday, so vivid is the harshness of jungle life; and those jungles are still the same. If anything, some of what the guerrillas said about their plans for the future seems to be coming true.

Bastar is where cadres from the former People's War Group (PWG), after facing reverses in adjoining Andhra Pradesh, first set up base in the 1980s. Those were hard times. Few tribals were ready to embrace outsiders. That was then. Today this is where the Communist Party of India-Maoist rules supreme, keeping at bay an Indian state determined to bring Bastar to the 'mainstream'. After reading this book, few people will buy the cliche that Naxalites are India's biggest internal security threat. They may be a threat to multinationals and others eager to exploit Bastar's wealth but they are certainly no threat to the region's tribal population.

Who are the tribals who form the backbone of the Maoists? 'They are neither Hindus nor Muslims nor Christians. They have never heard of Ram, Mohammad or Christ. They eat cow's meat, hunt pigs and eat insects too! Even today, many go without wearing clothes. Sin, charity, pity, cruelty, wickedness and psychological disorders have no place in their lives.' Although they live on territory that is India's most mineral-rich, they have been 'herded like animals, and used for clearing the forests or digging the earth' and their women abducted. 'The tribals languish in the same miserable existence of hunger, disease, death and helplessness.' Few cross the age of 50.

Who are the Maoists?

Satnam meets a mixed band of young men and women committed to the cause of revolution. There are plenty of Gond tribals; there are those who speak Telugu, Bengali and Hindi. There is also a scientist and a doctor. The guerrillas he meets are always in uniform, perennially armed, ever alert. When the guerrillas enter a village, the entire village turns up to welcome them and plies them with rice, vegetables and water. 'When they set up camp, villagers take turns to carry out chores and take responsibilities.' But 'each guerrilla has only one set of uniform, which has to be washed, dried, and worn again'. They don't camp in one spot more than one night. They drink water from the river. Diseases are a constant threat. They eat the tribal food. More than half the fighters are young women. 'They love life, but they don't care about death.'

Why are the Maoists popular among the ordinary folks?

For one, their entry into Bastar has ended the reign of contractors who loot and cheat, and policemen who abuse. Today tribal women can walk in the forests alone. Starvation deaths do not take place in Maoist areas. Prostitution is passe; so are human sacrifices. The Maoists have helped tribals construct dams to store rain water; set up mango, guava and lime orchards; rice mills in several villages where grain can be husked at nominal rates. Tribals are provided basic education, and medicines that they have never got from the government.

So are the guerrillas on the road to victory?

The CPI-Maoist knows its strength and weaknesses. A party leader admits 'the revolutionary movement has had little, or no, success in influencing the country's politics'. Also, building the party in cities has proved to be difficult - and dangerous. Maoist organizations are proving difficult to run. There is a serious dearth of activists - and weapons. But the guerrillas are confident. 'Even though we have started off at a slow pace, we will soon gain momentum.' Another Maoist says: 'Our battle can't be fought only in Bastar; it has to spread to the entire country.'

(26.04.2010 - M.R. Narayan Swamy can be contacted at narayan.swamy@ians.in)

Fighting India's Maoists Means More Than Guns