Saturday, June 04, 2005

Naxalites and Muslims

By Ayub Khan

The recently concluded first round of talks between the Andhra Pradesh government and the Naxalites have received widespread (if sometimes cautionary) approval from all sections of the society and polity with the understandable exception of the Sangh Parivar affiliates. The merger of the People's War and the Maoist Communist Centre of India into a new outfit called the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is also being watched with great interest by observers as it will determine their future strategy in accomplishing their goal of creating a classless society. Naxalite leaders who emerged out of their hideouts for the talks also focused on some issues relating to Indian Muslims. This is significant because for quite some time they have been accused of being indifferent to Muslim issues.

Naxalite leaders with Siasat
editor Zahid Ali Khan

Writing in the November 1, 2003 issue of Economic and Political Weekly Suman Banerjee blasted them for being "inert" during the past decade in fighting communalism.

"During the last decade which saw the emergence and rise of the Sangh parivar in its most demoniacal form under which some of the worst cases of genocide of Muslims were carried out, the various Naxalite outfits - ranging from the armed to the parliamentary groups - were found to be totally inert. Beyond issuing fiery statements (and these also few and far between) condemning the Sangh parivar, none of these outfits came out on the streets to actively resist Advani's rath-yatra, or deploy their armed squads to oppose the marauding gangs of the RSS-Bajrang Dal. I have not yet found any report of such acts of protest in any of their various publications and reports. Are they scared? Or is it because communal riots are considered lowest in the list of their priorities of intervention? Or - let me hazard a dangerous guess - is it because all these various Naxalite groups are still dominated by Hindu upper and middle castes and the Hinduised tribal poor (for whom the plight of the minority Muslims remains an invisible issue)?"

Naxalite leader Rama Krishna welcomes Maulana
Naseeruddin and Lateef Khan

Naxalite leaders have obviously taken such criticism to heart. Ramakrishna (People' War State secretary) addressing a press conference while meeting Dalit and minority representatives vowed to target "the fascist and communal forces'' in the country and reiterated their decision to "physically eliminate'' the forces which were out to disturb communal harmony and perpetrated atrocities against the Dalits."

Their interaction with Muslim leaders was however limited to fringe elements with the notable exception of Lateef Khan of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee and Zahid Ali Khan (Editor of Siasat Daily) .

They met with Mehboob Ali of Darsgah-e-Jehad-o-Shahadat and Maulana Naseeruddin of Tehreek Tahaffuz-e-Shair-e-Islam, who complained to them about the increasing harrasment of Muslim youth in Hyderabad. The Naxalite leaders reportedly assured them that protecting the minorities is their obligation. Later on when Naseeruddin was arrested by Gujarat police for allegedly having links with ISI and terrorist organizations, Ramakrishna issued an open letter to the state government calling for his unconditional release. He demanded the suspension of officers who permitted the arrest, filing of a criminal case against Gujarat police, public condemnation of its action and a public apology. He also wanted the state to issue a blanket order to prevent police from entering Muslim houses or areas without permission.

Their only interaction with a mainstream Muslim leader was that with Zahid Ali Khan on October 19th when they arrived unannounced at Siasat's offices. Ramakrishna, Sudhakar, Ganesh and Jan Shakti's Amar and Riyaz attended the meeting along with legendary balladeer Gadar. In their interaction with the staff of Siasat, the Naxalite leaders reiterated that their fight is against five forms of injustices:

1. Class divisions

Oppression against women

Injustices against and harassment of Muslims

Backwardness of the tribals

Lack of development of backward areas

Ramakrishna said that Muslims are being treated like outsiders in their own country and blamed the Hindutva forces for creating divisions in the citizenry which have led to tragedies like Gujarat. He further claimed that Maoist forces have "always supported Muslims" and said that Naxalites support an eleven percent reservation policy for Muslims. He said the "revolutionary forces" are totally committed to secularism and are the only ones who can effectively combat the Hindutva organizations. His appeal for the Muslim community was to join their struggle and work unitedly on a single platform.

While the Naxalites' sentiments and concerns need to be appreciated, it would be suicidal for Muslims or anyone else to join an armed struggle. Whatever grievances there might be they should be addressed within the democratic framework of the country in ways that are legitimate and non-violent and which do not violate the sovereignty and integrity of India. Naxalites have already proven their point and highlighted the exploitation and oppression that is rampant in the country. Now is the time for them to hang in their guns, join the mainstream and bring in the desired change through democratic and non-violent means. They are disciplined and committed and can make ideal politicians. However, this scenario seems highly unlikely at least in the near future. This does not mean that there is no scope for Naxal-Muslim cooperation. Muslims can still work and cooperate with "overground" Naxalites like Gadar. He routinely attends Muslim events and was instrumental in Jamiatul Ulema's Dalit-Muslim communal meal programs which were designed to foster brotherhood between Muslims and other communities. Efforts should be made to increase the occurrence of such constructive social justice and equality campaigns

Six powerful landmines recovered in Jharkhand

Chatra (Jharkhand), June 04: Six powerful landmines, concealed under a bridge by the Cpi (Maoist) activists, were recovered in Jharkhand's Chatra district, a senior police official said today.

Superintendent of Police Shashinath Jha said a police patrol team while conducting a combing operation in Pratappur and Juri area under Vasistnagar Police Station area recovered the landmines, weighing about 20 kg each.

The extremists were planning to blow up the bridge but the alert security personnel detected the explosives concealed under bridge and foiled the naxalites plan, he added.

Bureau Report

Massive Maoist attacks on Andhra police repulsed

Hyderabad | June 04, 2005 12:44:14 PM IST

Hyderabad, June 4 : Police repulsed two major attacks by Maoists at a police station and an outpost in Mahabubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh.

About 100 guerrillas belonging to the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) launched simultaneous attacks on the Amarabad police station and the nearby Mannanur police outpost, about 150 km from here, at around 9.30 p.m. Friday.

The extremists opened indiscriminate firing at the Mannanur police outpost and hurled hand grenades. Alert policemen guarding the outpost retaliated and a heavy exchange of fire continued for two hours. The Maoists fled the scene after additional forces were rushed to the area.

Police said two constables, Ilyas and Raghunandan, who were posted at the outpost, were injured. A civilian was injured when Maoists opened fire on his van, which was coming towards the police outpost.

Last month, Maoists had launched a similar attack with rocket launchers and hand grenades on Addanki police station in Guntur district. No one was injured in that attack.

Mahabubnagar Superintendent of Police Vikram Singh Mann said alert policemen repulsed the attack though the rebels used hand grenades and rocket launchers.

Simultaneously another group of Maoists attacked heavily fortified Amrabad police station. They hurled grenades and opened fire from a hostel adjoining the police station building. Policemen retaliated and after a gun battle lasting for more than an hour, the Maoists ran away.

Both the outpost and the police station are located on the fringes of Nallamala forests, a stronghold of Maoists.

In April, Maoists had killed two policemen in an attack on Acchampet police station in the same area.

Seven people, including five policemen, were killed in a Maoist attack on the Chilkaluripeta police station in Guntur district in March. The same month, Maoists gunned down three policemen in Nalgonda district.

More than 200 people have been killed in the Maoist violence that resumed in January this year after an eight-month-long ceasefire with the government and the peace process collapsed.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Naxals force cops to go without uniforms


NEW DELHI, JUNE 3 The Union Home Ministry has directed policemen and paramilitary forces deployed in the 76 Naxal-affected districts to ‘‘avoid’’ wearing uniform and travel in unmarked vehicles. They have also been asked to keep their movements secret and not use unmetalled roads for fear of landmines. Also, remote sensing satellites will be employed to generate images of Naxalite camps.

‘‘Deterrence attached to the uniform is lost but there are some areas where the population is accustomed to see Naxalites and not policemen. It is in these areas that we have asked policemen to refrain from wearing their uniform,’’ a senior Andhra Police official said.

These decisions, which clearly indicate that the government is struggling to meet the challenge posed by the Naxalites, were taken at the last meeting of the co-ordination committee to decide on operational strategy.

Most Naxal training camps are located in heavily forested border areas of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chattisgarh. According to Ministry officials, as many as 48 security personnel were killed by Naxalites till January 31. The number in 2004 was 566 and 515 the year before.


Miraculous escape for Patil, Deshmukh, Pasricha

Friday, June 03, 2005 13:46:10 IST
Trio's aircraft caught in stormy weather

for :
Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil, PWD Minister Anil Deshmukh and Director General of Police Dr. P.S. Pasricha had a miraculous escape when their aircraft was caught in a stormy weather earlier this week. The three were returning from Gondia to Mumbai on May 31 after visiting the families of the policemen killed in naxal attack, when over Nasik the eight-seater was caught in a thunderstorm, Deshmukh told reporters yesterday. For nearly 17 minutes the aircraft had to cruise in a rough weather, the minister said. The authorities at Mumbai were alerted and emergency equipment were put in place, he said adding that the pilot, however, landed the aircraft safely. Immediately after landing in Mumbai, the three rushed to Siddhivinayak temple to offer their prayers, he added.

Success of anti-Naxalite operations is paramount if the promised foreign investment

Reality Bites
For the Chhattisgarh government, the success of anti-Naxalite operations is paramount if the promised foreign investment is actually to materialize; 'a state within the state' is hardly reassuring for investors.


Addressing a luncheon organised by the Consulate General of India and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) at New York on May 17, 2005, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said: "We are India's youngest, smartest state without any liability from the past. We intend to become the country's hottest investment destination." Heading a team of senior officials, Raman Singh was pitching for foreign investment for his state, which sits on some of India's richest mineral reserves of coal, iron ore, dolomite, bauxite and limestone. Returning home after the trip, on May 27, Singh declared that foreign investors would invest close to INR 56 billion in the coming months in the state. The Chief Minister's boast may, however, seem somewhat incredible, considering the security environment prevalent in Chhattisgarh.

On May 7, 2005, Naxalites of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) attacked the Samri Aluminum unit of Asia's largest primary producer of aluminum, the Hindalco Industries Limited (a flagship company of the Aditya Birla Group) at Saridih in the Surguja District, destroying the company's buildings and documents. Following the attack, the Balrampur Superintendent of Police, Sitaram Kaluri, stated that security forces involved in combing operations in the region had earlier stayed in the company's residential premises, which may have prompted the attack. However, this was not the first attack on the Hindalco group by the Naxalites. On April 25, 2002, they had attacked Hindalco's Kutku Bauxite mines in the Balrampur area, damaging machinery and equipment worth INR 20 million.

The latest assault did not end immediately. On May 8, in an attack reminiscent of the Koraput incident of February 6, 2004, in Orissa, CPI-Maoist cadres attacked the Kanker District Headquarters, setting afire buildings belonging to the revenue and forest departments, as well as a branch of the State Bank of India. The offensive was meticulous and according to Kanker Superintendent of Police, Pradeep Gupta, "the attack was unexpected. The armed guerrillas blocked all the roads leading to the incident site by felling trees on roads." An interesting aspect in both the attacks - at the Hindalco unit and in Kanker - was the reported involvement of more than 200 cadres in a methodical operation, in both cases taking the security, corporate and bureaucratic machinery by surprise.

With 43.7 per cent of the state under forest cover, and a 31.75 per cent tribal population, Chhattisgarh has provided fertile ground for the Naxalites to operate in and dominate. According to a recent state government intelligence report, the Naxalites have become a "dominant force in nine of the 16 districts and have partial but fast growing impact in four districts". Among the worst affected districts include Kanker, Dantewada, Bastar, Surguja, Rajnandgaon, Koriya, Kawardha and Jashpur. The report has also predicted that the Naxalites could capture nearly 60 percent of the state's land by 2010, if decisive operations are not carried out by the Union government to dismantle their bases.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Annual Report 2004-2005, "In Chhattisgarh, Naxal violence led by the CPML-PW (Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist - People's War) sharply increased during 2004. The increase was primarily on account of coordinated Naxal attacks on police as a part of the CPML-PW/ MCCI (Maoist Communist Centre of India)-led poll boycott campaign." The MHA report further stated that, there were 37 fatalities in Naxalite violence in 2001; 55 in 2002; 74 in 2003; and 83 in 2004. In 2005, according to the Institute for Conflict Management database, till May 28, 16 security forces (SF) personnel, 11 civilians, and 3 Naxalites have been killed in different incidents. The preponderance of SF fatalities in 2005 has been alarming and has been attributed by official sources to increasing combing operations carried out in the districts of Kanker, Dantewada and Bastar, in an apparent effort by the government to enter the 'liberated zone' (areas where Maoist influence and activities are dominant).

In May 2005, a senior CPI-Maoist leader, Ayatu, speaking to the media in the Bastar forest area had said, "Who said we are running parallel administration? We have liberated some of our areas through our sustained people's war in the Abujhmad (Abujhmar) area of Dandakaranya zone (of Bastar region) where we have established people's governance." The local media has often substantiated this claim with reports of the Naxalites administering a 'taxation' system in these areas; of police not venturing into the villages after dark; and of government officials traveling in vehicles that bear a 'Press' sticker to avoid Naxalite attacks. Way back in 2000, (Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in November 2000) the Madhya Pradesh's Commissioner (Land Records) and Chief Conservator of Forests (Land Management) had admitted in a report that the Naxalites had forcibly occupied 20,000 hectares of forest area in the Bastar division and were running a parallel government there by appointing their own 'rangers' and 'deputy rangers'.

Similarly, in other districts like Surguja, there have been recent reports of sales tax officials leaving their inter-state check gates on the borders of Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand well before sunset for fear of the Naxalites. In the Bastar region, the Indian Army's Border Road Organisation's (BRO) attempt to construct the 200 kilometer long national highway between Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh has hit bottlenecks due to Naxalite attacks.

Acknowledging the difficulties faced by the police in entering this 'liberated zone', the state government had approached the Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) in January 2005, to conduct a survey of the Abujhmar Hills, in order to provide them with the geographical locations of the Naxalite camps.

The Abujhmar Hills are located in the western part of Bastar District. The terrain varies from 450 meters to 750 meters above sea level, is densely forested, and comprises many high ridges and deep valleys created by numerous streams, which provide an effective natural barrier from all sides, isolating it from the rest of the region. The Hills are inhabited by the Maria tribes.

The task of recovering control and restoring governance in the Naxalite affected areas of Chhattisgarh appears far from easy, as evidenced by the May 19, 2005, incident, when senior police officials, supervising operations to enter the Abujmarh Hills, came under heavy Naxalite attack at Narayanpur in the Bastar District. Military helicopters were used to evacuate them.

The capacity to mount affective anti-Naxalite operations in the state is undermined by low police strength. According to the Crime in India, 2003, report published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), for an estimated mid-year population of 21,721,000 in Chhattisgarh, the police strength (civil and armed) was 20,472; this yields a police-population ratio of 1:1,061. The all-India ratio is 1:814, but in Delhi it goes up to 1:269; and in Mizoram: 1:129. [The worst ratio in the country obtains in Bihar - 1:1,652]. In an attempt to replenish this deficit, the Chhattisgarh government requested the Gujarat government to send police personnel to help man police stations when the local police was sent out for combing operations. This request has apparently been accepted, with Gujarat Director General of Police, A.K. Bhargava stating on May 4, that a battalion comprising six companies of the Special Armed Force would be sent to Naxalite-affected areas in Chhattisgarh. A similar request has reportedly been made to the Nagaland Government. Whether this will result in any dramatic improvement in operational capacities remains to be seen. The presence of outside troops often adds to disenchantment among the locals, and tends to yield unreliable human intelligence.

Nevertheless, as the state government fires up its efforts to penetrate Naxalite dominated areas in Chhattisgarh, the coming months may well see body counts rising. For the government, the success of these operations is paramount if the promised foreign investment is actually to materialize; investor confidence can hardly be expected to improve as long as the Naxalites continue to function as 'a state within the state.'

Saji Cherian is Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management. Courtesy, the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The main operation base of the Maoists in Bengal is near Calcutta

Maoist hub close to city
Calcutta, June 2: The worst fears of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee turned out to be true with the discovery that the main operation base of the Maoists in Bengal is near Calcutta.

The government has intelligence inputs that Maoists were using the fringe areas of the city as hideouts and the state capital is regularly used as a transit point, the chief minister had said six weeks ago in a speech at the police headquarters in Lalbazar. Bhattacharjee had urged the police force to look out for such “safe havens”.

Today, Maoist politburo member Asit Jana, who was arrested from Hind Motor area yesterday on charges of waging war against the state, confessed during interrogation that the house where he and his associates had been staying was their main operational base of the region.

“We used this house as our base as nobody would have any clue about our operations here,” Jana said in the face of intense grilling.

The rebels also used to travel to Calcutta quite frequently and ask courier agencies in the city to deliver consignments to all parts of the country.

“They used small-time courier companies to even send consignments of explosives to states like Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and Assam. They also used to ferry secret documents back to Calcutta, including some plans,” said a senior police official connected with the probe.

A list of the courier agencies that used by Jana for ferrying the Maoists’ consignments has been prepared. A team of officers has already left for Patna, Guwahati and Bhubaneswar to dig out more details about Jana’s connections.

“Based on the information passed on by Jana, we are already conducting raids in many cities,” said another officer.

Several incriminating documents seized from the house in Hind Motors mentioned details of foreign connections of the rebels, who are suspected to have also got foreign funds.

The police have also recovered several grotesque photographs. Some of the photographs are of executions, while others showed Maoist rebels holding traditional jana adalats in jungles.

“Everything has been well documented by them and this will help us frame the case against them much better,” said an officer.

Jana’s revelation also comes in the backdrop of national and international intelligence agencies having for years warned the Bengal government about the increasing trend of militants hiding in Calcutta.

Most criminals from the Mumbai underworld also hide in Calcutta to escape the clutches of the police whenever the heat is on.

Heat is on Maoists in West Bengal

Indo-Asian News Service

Kolkata, June 2, 2005

Police have turned the heat on Maoist guerrillas in West Bengal, arresting three top leaders and busting a hideout from where the rebels apparently ran a global network.

Besides launching a special drive against the Maoists, the authorities are launching new initiatives to woo people in economically backward areas who get influenced by extremist Maoist ideology.

The interrogation of two arrested Maoist leaders - Sushil Roy and Patitpaban Haldar - Tuesday led to the arrest of a third leader, Asit Jana, in Hooghly near here.

Roy and Patitpaban were arrested from the Maoist citadel Belpahari in West Midnapore May 23.

Jana was operating from Hind Motor house, which police believe was the headquarters of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist for the past two years.

A huge cache of arms, explosives and valuables were recovered from the hideout. The police also seized cash, jewellery, olive green uniforms, Maoist literature and electronic gadgets like computers and CDs.

Police also arrested two suspected Maoists from North 24 Parganas district's Kakinara and Bijpur Wednesday. They were believed to be leaders of the labour wing of the Maoists.

West Bengal has beefed up operations against Maoist guerrillas by setting up a special squad to interrogate captured extremists and to probe their attacks.

A 15-member Special Operation Group (SOG), which began functioning Tuesday, has been set up in view of the growing subversive activities.

The SOG combines sleuths from both the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and state police Intelligence Branch.

The SOG would keep in contact with their counterparts in other Maoist affected states like Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

The West Bengal police engaged in anti-Maoist operations are opening educational centres in Belpahari area of West Midnapore.

Six educational centres, to be funded fully by the police department, were inaugurated by West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Ajay Nanda. The students were given books and other learning materials free of cost.

Orissa police launched combing operations in in eight districts

Orissa cops get after Naxalites


Bhubaneswar: Stepping up its offensive against Naxalites, the Orissa police on Thursday launched combing operations in eight districts in the northern and central parts of the state.

This the first occasion that combing activities are being undertaken in such a large area ever since the state’s battle with left wing radicals began in the late nineties.

DGP B B Mishra said the police have started simultaneous combing operations in the contiguous districts of Sambalpur, Deogarh, Angul (Chhendipada area bordering Deogarh), Dhenkanal (Kankadahada block), Jajpur, Sundergarh, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar to hunt down extremists.

The offensive coincided with a review meeting on law and order, chaired by chief minister Naveen Patnaik, where he reportedly expressed concern over the spiral in extremist activities and asked officials concerned to initiate remedial measures forthwith.

The CM, sources said, was particularly worried that the Naxalite violence might spin off disturbances in the upcoming industrial sites like Kalinga Nagar in Jajpur.

The police action comes in the wake of renewed violence by cadres of Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), which led to the gunning down of three villagers and injury to four others of Burda in Jujumora area of Sambalpur district on May 27.

On Wednesday night, the police engaged in an eight-hour-long exchange of fire with the Naxalites; two militants are believed to have died in the gun battle.

"We are yet to confirm the deaths, but have reasons to strongly believe that two Maoists were killed during the encounter," the DGP said.

According to police sources, about 20 platoons of police besides security personnel from CRPF have been pressed into service for the "biggest-ever" combing operation in the state. The CRPF men are being used in Sundergarh and Keonjhar districts only.

At least 50 MCC ultras, including over a dozen from Jharkhand, are believed to be deep inside the contiguous jungle in and around Sambalpur and Deogarh belt.

"We will attempt to hound the extremists from all sides. It could result in more gun battles. They are heavily armed and we are also fully equipped. There could be casualty from either side, but we are ready for any eventuality," a senior police official involved in the anti-naxalite operations said.

Despite top cops' tough talk, the ground situation, going by sources, is proving very difficult for the khaki-clad men to negotiate.

The security personnel, unlike their Maoist rivals, are not used to the inaccessible and hilly forest terrains, which consequently is adversely hitting their job to track and crack down the radicals.

Admitting the difficulties, a senior cop said: "It’s definitely very tough, but we are giving it our best shot."

Swoop on Naxalites

Calcutta, June 1: A joint team of West Midnapore and North 24-Parganas police raided several places in Barrackpore last night in search of CPI (Maoist) activists.

Sources said a duo was picked up. West Midnapore police chief Ajay Nanda led the raid with his North 24-Parganas counterpart Praveen Kumar following reports that the rebels had pasted posters at Barrack- pore station, 25 km from Calcutta. At Hind Motor, Hooghly, the police found a computer, cartridges and Rs 1 lakh in a room where a Maoist leader allegedly took shelter.

Jailbreak rod

Calcutta: Jails minister Biswanath Chowdhury has showcaused the superintendent, deputy jailer and security officer of Midnapore Central Jail in connection with life-term convict Debasish Chakraborty’s Friday escape. Three warders have been suspended.

Math toll

Calcutta: Soma Akure and Mandira Nandi, who could not score pass marks in Madhyamik math, committed suicide at Durgapur and Bongaon. The suicide toll since results were declared is four.

Naxal posters now decorate temple walls


In the remote villages of Jharkhand, the think-tank in the ultra left organisation, the Community Party of India (Maoist), has found a unique way of getting across their message to the people of the villages. Now, their posters decorate the temple walls. And reportedly, they are intimidating messages targeted at visitors of the temple.

The State police have recovered a large number of the posters from the temples in the extremist-infested Chandil-Chowka-Bundu areas. And this is seen as a shift in the ultras’ strategy. “Containing the intimidating slogans and warnings to the people, these posters were pasted on the temple walls with an aim to terrorise the temple visitors only,” sources in the police said.

According to sources, a large number of Maoist guerrillas paid obeisance to a Khunti Hari temple near Chowka square on Tuesday evening and later put up a huge poster in the temple premises cautioning the businessmen and affluent persons against some fraud organisations which are out to defame the outfit by collecting levy. The local police removed the poster on Wednesday morning.

Cautioning the people, the Maoists, in their message written with red ink, have reportedly asked the businessmen and affluent members to give the levy to the men belonging to the CPI (Maoist).

“Some people are out to defame our outfit by collecting levy decoying themselves as members of the outfit. But beware! Do not get carried away by such fraud people. Our men have a very distinct ideology as well as identity. Always give the levy to the men in uniform carrying LMGs, assault rifles and other sophisticated weapons,” the poster reads.

M’rashtra plans joint drive after Naxals kill seven

DH News Service Mumbai:

After a Naxal ambush in which seven policemen were killed in Gondia district bordering Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra Government is contemplating launching a joint police campaign against the extremists.

Seven policemen were killed when their vehicle was hit by a landmine blast on Monday. Among the dead were two PSIs and five constables.

A civilian who was driving the vehicle too was killed. Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil who rushed to the blast site told reporters here later that he would discuss with his counterparts in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh the possibility of launching a joint anti-Naxal campaign.

Naxals belonging to Balaghat Dalam, Deori Dalam and Platoon Dalam were suspected to be involved in the attack. The Naxals later opened fire on the policemen wounding two constables.

Gondia has so far been safer than Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts which are Naxal-dominated. The policemen who fell victims to the attack were attached to Darekasa police outpost in Salekasa tahsil of Gondia district. They were travelling by a private vehicle. They had gone to a place close to MP-Chhattisgarh border to provide security to a PWD team which was engaged in constructing a dam there. T

he Naxals in this area move freely from one state to another, making it difficult for police to track them down. It is believed that the Naxals who attacked policemen in Gondia must have fled to Chattisgarh. It was in this background that the state is planning to work in coordination with the border state.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

CRPF asst commander, 5 jawans killed in Naxal ambush in Bastar


Six CRPF personnel, including a Deputy Sub Inspector, were killed today and 14 security personnel injured, in two land-mine blasts and firing by Maoists in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, police said.

Assistant Commander R K Mishra and five other CRPF personnel were killed on the spot when the extremists ambushed a combing party of the security forces near Injaram of Konta police station area of Dantewada district, Bastar range Inspector General of Police Giridhari Nayak said.

Maoists triggered land mine blasts and fired indiscriminately on the CRPF party, in which 10 securitymen were also injured, many of them seriously, Nayak told PTI by phone.

The Maoists triggered land mine blasts and fired on a police party led by Konta Sub-Divisional police officer Ravi Shankar at Fandiguda, when he was going for rescue operations on getting information about Injram incident.

Four policemen were injured in firing and blasts, police said.

The injured policemen had been brought to Konta from where eight of them were taken to Jagdalpur, the divisional headquarters of Bastar, for treatment, police said.

Additional police force and military helicoptor were rushed for rescue operation.

Prakash Karat of "misleading" the country on his reported meeting with Maoist leader

BJP smells fish on CPM's Karat

Press Trust of India

New Delhi, June 1: The BJP today accused CPI-M leader Prakash Karat of "misleading" the country on his reported meeting with Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai and sought an explanation from the government whether the intelligence agencies were instrumental in arranging it.
"There were reports that Bhattarai had met Karat in New Delhi. This was denied by the CPI-M leader and we took it as a gentleman's word," BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar told reporters here.

He noted, however, that there were media reports today quoting Nepali leaders as saying that the meeting did take place.

"In the wake of this, it is clear that Karat misled the nation," Javadekar said.

Alleging that something was fishy in the matter, he said the government should make a statement on it, particularly whether the intelligence agencies were involved in arranging the meeting as suggested by media reports.

According to media reports last week Karat had a meeting with Bhattarai but after the former's denial, government also quoted him to dismiss it.


Two CRPF personnel killed in Bihar gun battle by Naxalites


Press Trust of India

Bettiah (Bihar), June 1, 2005

Two CRPF personnel were killed and another injured in a fierce gunbattle with proscribed CPI (Maoist) Naxalites in Bihar's west Champaran district, police said on Wednesday.

On a tip-off, a police team assisted by the CRPF contingent cordoned off Bhelhai village under Laukaria police station in the district late on Tuesday night.

Heavily-armed Naxalites, planning a crime at the village, fired bullets on seeing the policemen, leading to the gunbattle, the police said.

While sub-inspector Ishwar Singh and constable Nitin were killed on the spot, one Havildar (all members of CRPF contingent) was injured, police said.

Some Naxalites were also believed to have been killed in the police operation, sources said, adding a combing operation has been launched to nab the ultras.

Maoists put India on the spot

South Asia
Jun 2, 2005

By Ranjit Devraj

NEW DELHI - While India denies that its security agencies helped arrange meetings between a top Nepali Maoist leader and its political establishment, analysts welcome dialogue with the rebels as a key to ending a seemingly intractable crisis in the neighboring Himalayan kingdom.

According to S D Muni, a widely acknowledged expert on Himalayan affairs, engaging the Maoists is "a good idea". He pointed out that India's ruling elite had initially shied away from the communists, who are in an armed struggle to create a kingless republic, because of pressure from various right-wing lobbies that "are working on behalf of Nepal's King Gyanendra and his coterie".

Speaking to Inter Press Service in an interview, Muni - who teaches international relations at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University - identified these lobbies as "the Indian army, the United States [with which New Delhi works closely on the Nepal crisis] and members of India's high society, some of whom have blood ties with the Nepalese monarchy".

Yet another lobby that has been vocal in supporting the king against the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) are Hindu fundamentalists that belong to various organizations affiliated to the powerful Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that leads the national opposition in India's parliament.

Prominent BJP leader, and chief minister or the western state of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, is only one member of India's erstwhile royalty that has blood ties with Nepal's royal family.

Apart from the compulsions of domestic politics, India has strong grounds to fear the spreading of the violent Maoist insurgency - which has gripped its northern neighbor since 1996 and claimed more than 11,000 lives - across the porous borders and into its own poverty-ridden states, where left-wing extremists are active.

The Maoist insurgency, and failure of Nepal's democratic governments to deal with it, provided King Gyanendra the pretext to do away with democracy altogether. On February 1 he dismissed a party-based government and began ruling directly, imposing emergency rule and severely constricting political, civil and press freedoms.

The international community, led by India, decried the coup and imposed tough sanctions. The king partially relented and on April 29 rescinded emergency rule, though political and press freedoms continue to be restricted.

But Nepal's Maoists have the sympathy of India's communist parties which, after the last elections in May, emerged stronger than ever before and are influential for the fact that they lend critical outside support to the Congress-led, United Progressive Alliance ruling coalition.

Last week, when India's leading newspapers reported a secret meeting between top Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai and Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Marxist Communist Party of India (CPI-M), it drew every shade of reaction from open approval to outright condemnation.

India's External Affairs Ministry led the condemnations. "There is no change in respect of our policy with regard to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). We unequivocally condemn their terrorist and violent activities that have caused enormous suffering to the people of Nepal," spokesman Navtej Sarna said at a press briefing.

"Durable peace and stability in Nepal can only be achieved through a political settlement, which, among other things, requires the Maoists to forswear armed struggle and lay down their arms," added Sarna.

Sarna's reaction followed published criticisms by analysts like C Raja Mohan, who said India's flip-flops in foreign policy sent some very confusing signals. He pointed out that New Delhi's position on the global "war against terrorism" was actually supporting an absolute monarchy, in a neighboring country, that just dismantled democracy.

News reports suggesting that Indian security agencies had escorted Bhattarai - who's on Interpol's high security risk list - to a meeting with Karat did not elicit a response from Sarna. The spokesman just repeated Karat's earlier denial.

For his part, Karat carefully denied the role of Indian security agencies but steered away from categorically denying any rendezvous with Bhattarai.

According to Muni, Bhattarai and Karat needed no help from Indian security agencies if they wanted to meet each other since they were students together at Jawaharlal Nehru University during the 1970s.

"No solution to Nepal's problems is possible without taking the Maoists on board, although unfortunately the fact remains that official India, especially the External Affairs Ministry, has refused to touch them with a barge pole," said Muni.

Muni said that the episode had to be seen in the context of a move by Kathmandu to discredit Bhattarai, who advocates better coordination between the Maoists and mainstream Nepalese political parties in order to isolate the king.

On May 19, the Royal Nepal Army released at a press briefing a dated videotape showing the elusive Maoist supreme Prachanda telling his cadres that he had divested Bhattarai of all his responsibilities since he was too close to India.

Apart from discrediting Bhattarai on charges of being an "Indian stooge', the army has also been keen on highlighting differences between Bhattarai and Prachanda - with added claims that the rift has deeply split Maoist cadres.

But, according to Muni, the fact remains that New Delhi will eventually have to win the confidence of the Maoists if it wants to have a role in brokering peace in Nepal.

Other analysts, including Hari Roka, a Nepali student working for his doctorate in Jawaharlal Nehru University, agree with Muni's assessment.

"The fear that Nepal's political parties could forge an alliance with the Maoists was a restraining factor with the hawks in the New Delhi-Washington-London axis," said Roka, who has been critical of India's dogmatically repeated official line that stability in Nepal rested on the "twin pillars of a constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy".

Said Roka: "The reality is that stability in Nepal now depends on the twin pillars of multi-party democracy and the mainstreaming of the Maoists."

(Inter Press Service)

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Naxal Terrorists bomb police jeep in central India, 8 killed

BOMBAY (Reuters) - Suspected Maoist insurgents set off a bomb under a police jeep in central India, killing seven policemen and the vehicle's civilian driver, a police officer said on Tuesday.

Two policemen were wounded in the blast late on Monday near Salekasa town in Maharashtra state, about 1,000 km northeast of Bombay, India's commercial capital.

The policemen were part of a unit providing protection to officials supervising the construction of a nearby dam in an area with a strong Maoist presence, the police officer said.

Maoist guerrillas, who operate in at least eight Indian states, say they are fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers and regularly ambush police patrols.

The latest attack by the rebels came as police in the eastern state of Bihar arrested a Maoist leader who was wanted for the murder of 80 policemen in the past decade.

Bihar police said Maoist leader Kameshwar Baitha, who was arrested late on Monday night, was wanted in three Indian states and had a reward of 200,000 rupees on his head.

"This is the biggest achievement of Bihar police," Director General of police Ashish Ranjan Sinha told a news conference in Patna, the state capital, on Tuesday.

He did not say from where Baitha was arrested.

Officials say Indian Maoists have links with Maoist rebels in Nepal who are fighting to overthrow the rugged nation's monarchy.

(Additional reporting by Anita Mishra in PATNA)

'Most wanted' Naxal commander held

In a prize catch, 'most wanted' self-styled commander of the proscribed CPI (Maoist) Kameshwar Baitha, who was carrying a cash reward of Rs five lakh on his head and was evading arrest for the past one decade, was nabbed by the STF from the city, a top official said today.

Acting on a tip-off, STF commandos assisted by local police and STF men from Uttar Pradesh carried out intense search operation and captured Baitha from the outskirts of the city last night, Director General of Police Ashish Ranjan Sinha told a press conference here.

Baitha, who was also wanted by Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand police in some criminal cases, was allegedly responsible for the murder of more than 70 policemen, the DIG said. Soon after his arrest, he was brought to the Kotwali police station where he was subjected to interrogation by the STF personnel, Sinha added.

STF personnel from Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand too are arriving here to question the dreaded naxalite leader.

While Bihar and Uttar Pradesh governments had announced cash reward of Rs two lakh each for the person providing clues about him, Jharkhand also had announced a cash reward of Rs one lakh for those who would help in arresting the naxalite.

Baitha, believed to be an expert in laying and manufacturing landmines and other explosive devices, was wanted by police in connection with a number of landmine blasts claiming several lives, murders and incidents of abduction of government officials and attacks on police stations, official sources said.

Significantly, no sophisticated weapons were recovered from Baitha's possession, Sinha said. Baitha was the chief of the outlawed erstwhile People's War Group (PWG) before its merger with the banned Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) to form the new outfit CPI (Maoist) last year.

In another operation, dreaded naxalite Rambachan Yadav of the same outfit was arrested by STF personnel from a village in Rohtas district today, police said.

Yadav was one of the accused in the killing of Sanjay Singh, Divisional Forest Officer (Rohtas range) near Sasaram on February 15, 2002.

Seven policemen killed in naxal mine blast

Nagpur: UNI

Eight people, including seven policemen, were killed and two other police personnel injured in a landmine blast executed by naxalites at Bevartola village in Gondia district.

Inspector General (IG), Nagapur range S M Mushrif, who is camping in Gondia, told UNI over phone on Tuesday that two sub-inspectors and seven constables were returning from Kadvanda dam when the incident occured at 4:00 pm on Monday in the village located in Salekasa taluk. The police personnel had visited the area to protect the explosives stored there for blasting purposes, he said.

The deceased have been identified as Waman Gadekar, Kirankumar Jhodape, Sagar Raut, Amberraj Bisen, Bhajrang Dhabhare, Ravikumar Javanjal and Mulchand Bhoyar. The driver of the vehicle was also killed in the blast.

Constables Jayant Kumar Ukare and Sachine Sonole sustained injuries in the attack.

Naxalism hits 30 crore people: Raman

Bhopal, May 30 Admitting that Chhattisgarh's Bastar and Sarguja districts were in the ``area of influence'' of the Maoist Communist Centre, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Raman Singh today pointed out that the naxal menace was impacting on six surrounding states, and added that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Union Home minister LK Advani were `clearly told' to perceive the issue in a national perspective.

``Such extremism is affecting a population of about 30 crore across more than 100 districts. An integrated action plan is required and the problem cannot be resolved in a year. There is a need to strengthen the police force and we proposed that a ten-year 'special status' be granted on the development front to naxalism-affected states,'' he told a packed press conference here on Monday. This was the visiting chief minister's first formal interaction with the state capital's media after he assumed the post in 2003.

``The will exists for the formation of a unified command for naxalism-affected states but there's no concrete plan. When it came into being, Chhattisgarh had a below-average police force that translated into a mere 21 personnel per 100 sq km. Night-vision equipment and anti-landmine devices were the need of the hour,'' he pointed out.

When quizzed on whether his government would adopt a policy of 'blood and iron' or a soft rehabilitative approach towards the rebels, Dr Singh said, ``any state-level action plan has a safety valve. If a person is willing to abjure violence and join the mainstream, he may do so.''

A Chhattisgarh reserve police force was formed and if the Centre provided a green signal, locals could be trained within the state itself and would have the added advantage of being familiar with the terrain. When it was pointed out that the number of extremist incidents were comparitively far more in Chhattisgarh, Dr Singh shot back, ``our police reaches even the remotest of villages while conducting operations and retaliation is natural.''

Claiming that Chhattisgarh topped in the previous fiscal with regard to ''actual investment inflow,'' the Chief Minister put the figure at a whopping Rs 7,300 crore.

``My tour of Europe and the United States was very successful and Chhattisgarh's identity and potential were advertised. I met NRIs at no less than eight places. Presentations were made before local investors and some MoU inked right then. But more importantly, the lack of awareness regarding my state was met with help from media such as Asia TV,'' he explained.

On the power front, Dr Singh said that the subject was related to the Centre. As opposed to a demand of 900-950 MW at the time of creation, Chhattisgarh now required 1,800 MW. ``Industrialisation will only multiply demand. However, first 280 MW and then 90 MW were slashed from the Central quota. But work has begun on generating projects including Korba and - in the next five years - we will have 8,000-10,000 MW of additional electricity,'' he claimed.

Every year, a whopping Rs 25 crore are spent by the Bastar-Sarguja development authority that also implements both Central and State-level programmes. When quizzed on missionary activity, the chief minister said that organisations toiling in the education and health sectors would be allowed to continue their work sans hindrance.

``My government will ensure that no conversion takes place on economic basis. Any social service organisation is welcome,'' he added. On the recent Supreme Court ruling against the state's private universities, Dr Singh said that more than a 100 such varsities immediately ceased to exist but individual legislation would be framed for saving the better ones among these institutions.

``E-governance has found maximum use in the education sector where medical and engineering colleges are being linked to other institutions. The chief secretary and other senior bureaucrats can E-confer with officials in district headquarters,'' he explained.

Indicating a spurt in tourism, Dr Singh said that ``after Niagara, the second such horseshoe-shaped waterfall was in Chitrakoot.

``Tremendous possibilities exist, good hotels are being set up and proper roads laid,'' he said. Claiming that his government met 50 per cent of electoral promises, including easy loans and irrigation, the chief minister said, ``over the past roughly 15 months, I tried to meet the state's foremost priorities.''

On media, Dr Singh said that the Fourth Estate's role was increasing in the global village. ``Both politicians and media persons ought to be alert as what we say and what you report affects society,'' he felt.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Karat did meet Nepal Maoists, admits party

Aloke Banerjee

Kolkata, May 30, 2005

A secret meeting between CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat and top Maoist leaders of Nepal did take place in the second week of this month, according to CPI-M central committee leaders here.

Karat told the Maoists to give up violence and join the political mainstream, sources said.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) confirmed to the Hindustan Times that a high-level delegation, including Baburam Bhattarai and Krishna Bahadur Mahara went to meet Indian political leaders.

In an e-mail message, CPN (Maoist) chairman Prachand said the objective of the meetings was to gauge India’s stand if the CPN(Maoist) were to accept a multi-party system as a political solution to the ongoing civil war in Nepal, and agreed to work with other political parties in a constituent assembly.

Karat, a friend of Bhattarai during their days in JNU, has denied having met the Nepalese leader, who carries a red-corner Interpol notice.

In his message, Prachand said, "Taking constituent assembly as the means of minimum political solution, the party is maintaining relations with different political parties and forces not only within the country but of the world including India, Europe and US."

"To learn the position of Indian political parties, including that of the Indian government, and also to explain the party's viewpoints, the central office had dispatched Comrade Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Comrade Baburam Bhattarai for this purpose," Prachand said. But he did not mention the political leaders or the parties in India who had been approached.

`Centre-state action plan will beat Maoist menace

Bhopal | May 30, 2005 9:44:28 PM IST

Bhopal, May 30 : Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh Monday called for an integrated action plan between the central government and the affected states to combat Maoism.

"A long-term policy is needed to solve the Maoist problem. It cannot be solved in one month or a year. It may take 15 years," he told reporters here.

The Maoist menace should not be considered just the problem of a particular state, Singh added. "An integrated action plan by the central government and the states inflicted with the problem is needed."

The problem affected 300 million people in 120 districts of the country, he added.

He said all Maoist-infested states should be given a special status for development.

Singh lamented that the formation of an integrated action plan was taking a lot of time. "I feel that it should be given shape as soon as possible," he said.

"A lot of inter-state movement by the rebels is there in Chhattisgarh," said the chief minister.


No plans to give arms to the people of naxal affected villages: DGP

Tuesday May 31 2005 00:00 IST

TALCHER/CUTTACK: Director General of Police Bipin Bihari Mishra has ruled out any plan to give arms to the people of naxal affected villages in view of the recent violence in Sambalpur district.

However, he said that police will go to each of affected village to restore the confidence of the people.

All aspects including the safety of the weapons will be taken into account before police decides in favour of arming affected villagers, he said.

Mishra reviewed the situation at a high level meeting at Talcher attended by senior officials of the Department. He said that the police has chalked out a new plan to effectively counter left wing extremists. Focus will be on to block the escape routes of the fleeing naxalites during combing operation.

The DG said a fresh request has been made to the Centre to include Sambalpur and Deogarh districts under the centrally sponsored security scheme. He said that the Government will launch effective policing as well as take steps for socio-economic development of the tribal dominated areas to tackle the activities of the left wing extremists.

Meanwhile, the State police has decided to impart self-defence training to villagers in naxal-dominated border areas in a bid to protect them from extremist attack. The decision was taken in the wake of gunning down of three villagers in Burda of Sambalpur district by suspected Maoists on Friday last.

The training of villagers will begin in Burda and then in the other extremist-dominated border villages in phases. Mishra said that the training programme will start after the combing operation is completed

Kodgi: No root for Naxal cause


TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ SUNDAY, MAY 29, 2005 10:58:53 PM ]

Surf 'N' Earn -Sign innow

UDUPI: As Naxalite movement in and around the forest ranges bordering Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Chikmagalur and Shimoga districts becomes more visible, landlords put the blame on harsh government policies.

No parallel can be drawn between Karnataka, which has gone a long way in ensuring land reforms and literacy, and Naxal-infested states like Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, they insist. State BJP vice-president A.G. Kodgi, a farmer with large agricultural holdings in Amasebail, feels the Naxalites have been capitalising on people's feelings against revenue and forest authorities.

"We have heard that Naxal movement began in West Bengal as an armed protest against the exploitation of the economically backward people by the landlords and the rich. But what is the reason for Naxalites to choose areas in Udupi district where the economic and social status of the people are comparatively higher than other parts of the state?" the former MLA asked.

He sees no meaning in the Naxalites propagating the violent Maoist ideology in a region totally free from social evils like bonded labour. There are not even many landless people in the area as the Land Reforms Act has been successfully implemented way back in 1967, he said.

He said many of the landlords had voluntarily handed over land to their tenants when the government introduced the Land Reforms Act. Unlike Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, literacy rate in the region was high as no child was deprived of primary education, if not higher learning, he said He admits, however, that some poor people living in encroached forest lands face problems from revenue and forest department officials who often harass them. "But these are minor problems that can be solved through talks or by making certain adjustments in the rules and regulations. This in no way compels people to raise arms against the government," he said.

Being a resident of the Naxal-infested area, he feels that the extremists would never gain the people's support here. He said he had heard about the Naxalites extorting money from landlords in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, but no one has ever come to him or any of his kind with such a demand.

"It is only through media reports that I have learnt about Naxalites visiting and holding meetings in the houses of labourers in and around Amasebail village. While their activities were limited to holding meetings in sympathisers' houses and distributing Maoist literature, no local person has yet joined their groups," he said and added that he had no information about the Naxalites trying to instigate the agricultural labourers in the area to revolt against the land owners

Centre asks states to use its money in time to fight Naxals

Ranchi, May 30: The Centre today asked states facing Naxalism to use its funds fully and timely to fight radical leftists and cross-border terrorism, citing one of its schemes promising full reimbursement for money spent on security items in 76 districts on the affected belt.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil told the Eastern Zonal Council meeting that Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa governments were also required to put special emphasis on equipping themselves better to deal with organised mafia and extremism.

The meeting, held after 13 years since the Council came into being as a forum for the four eastern states to coordinate and discuss issues of common concern, was attended by Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda, Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, Orissa's Navin Patnaik and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Bihar Governor Buta Singh, under NDA fire for recommending dissolution of the state assembly, however, did not turn up for the event.

''The (Central) scheme for reimbursement of Security Related Expenditure (SRE) enables states to undertake more effective anti-Naxalite action. The scheme covers 76 districts of the nine Naxal-affected states and the Ministry of Home Affairs reimburses 100 per cent of the expenditure incurred on security-related items,'' Patil said in his address.

He asked states to improve criminal justice system and conditions in their prisons that, he said, required urgent reforms.

''Today, a prison is no longer considered a place for punishment and its functions have changed from (being) custodian to coercive to corrective. Reformation, rehabilitation and re-socialisation are the basic components of correction,'' the Home Minister remarked.

Patil also underlined the need to prevent misuse of power, saying effective implementation of laws and timely corrective action were key to good governance.

Also, the Centre was worried over a low priority accorded by police to trafficking in women and children, the Home Minister said, adding state governments were required to evolve a comprehensive strategy to effectively deal with such crimes.

Patil, however, appreciated the standing committee of the Eastern Zonal Council to have included a wide range of issues facing the region on their agenda for the meeting.

The meeting discussed drug abuse, mineral royalty, flood management, soil erosion, labour migration, tourism and eco-biodiversity besides security and other inter-state issues.

The Home Minister asked the states to plan disaster management through coordination with different agencies and among themselves.

''The tsunami experience should become an example and a guiding force for tackling an unfortunate disaster that may visit us again,'' Patil said, adding states should set up their own disaster management authorities.

Bureau Report

Shivraj Patil says 4% reduction in Naxal violence

Asked about the present status of Naxal activities, Mr Patil confirmed the Maoist links of the radical Leftists, but said there was an overall four per cent reduction in Naxal violence.

''But certainly, this four per cent does not mean a complete end of Naxalism.'' The Home Minister, however, regretted that states were not using Central funds aimed at modernising their police force. He told reporters on board Avro, the BSF plane flying him from Latur to Ranchi yesterday

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Naxals' bandh hits tendu trade in Chhattisgarh

NDTV Correspondent

Sunday, May 29, 2005 (Bastar):

In the Naxal-dominated districts of Chhattisgarh the past few days have seen heightened violence as local Naxalite groups called for a bandh.

In Bastar, the Naxal bastion in south Chhattisgarh, Naxalite groups have called for a bandh, Daman Virodhi Saptah, or campaign against exploitation as they call it.

In reality the violence has cast a long shadow not just over the lives of people, but also over the region's most invaluable product – the tendu leaf.

Tribals' income hit

A multi-crore trade, it brings much needed income for local adivasis, but windfall gains to traders.

It's the peak season for plucking tendu leaves and for people like Shantibai and her family, the harvest could fetch at least Rs 2,000 in just two weeks.

But no sale can be made without the approval of the local Naxal dalam.

"They have told us we should not supply leaves to the government co-operatives at the current rate of Rs 45 per bundle. Only if we get Rs 90," said Shantibai.

Sharing profits

The Naxals claim their fight is to get better returns for the tendu collectors, but the fear they perpetuate has a more direct aim – to get a share in the multi-crore tendu trade.

The call for the bandh means no traffic dare pass through the state highway, which is crucial for transporting forest produce.

Last year, in Bastar alone, the tendu trade fetched close to Rs 100 crore. The chain of supply in the trade is complex.

The collector sells to government run co-operatives which in turn take bulk orders from private contractors, most of whom are drawn from the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

With the collector getting just Rs 45 per bundle, the maximum profit is siphoned off by private contractors.

Shadow of violence

In a region controlled by Naxals, it means the profit must be shared. Every contractor must pay off the local Naxal group or else he can't pick up the produce.

It's common knowledge that it's this money from the tendu trade that finances Naxalism in the region, but so deep is the terror that no contractor will admit to it.

"No one troubles us. We do not face any intimidation or extortion threats," said Mohammad Sana-ullah Khan, tendu trader.

Fear factor

But for the people in the region, the crisis goes beyond just economic loss. It means a life lived in constant confrontation with both the Naxals and the police.

"It is out of fear for our life that we don't step out to pick tendu leaves," said Dayawati, a tendu leaf collector.

In Sattighat village, through last week, no one has ventured out. The fear that a possible encounter with Naxals evokes is almost tangible.

"If we run into them, they ask us where we are going. Then they detain us, take us away into the hills. They think if they let us go we might inform the police of their whereabouts," said Devlu Ram, resident of Sattighat.

And then there's the danger of being mistaken for the Naxals.

"If the police see us they think we are Naxals and gun us down. How do we feel safe when we are caught in the crossfire," added Devlu Ram.

So far, the Naxals have enforced their bandh, hitting out at district headquarters and shops and establishments in the region.

But in the end, it is the poor tendul leaf collector who has face the brunt of the violence.

Orissa Naxal victims to get compensation

NDTV Correspondent

Sunday, May 29, 2005 (Bhubaneshwar):

The Orissa government has announced Rs 1 lakh as compensation for the families of three people who were allegedly killed by Naxalites.

The three victims were killed and four others seriously injured when six people opened fire in Burda village near Jujumara in Orissa's Sambalpur district late on Friday night.

The injured are admitted to a hospital.

The Maoists had come to the village to demand ransom from the village sarpanch who was kidnapped by them two weeks back and set free after he agreed to pay a certain amount.

The rebels opened fire when the villagers refused to co-operate with them.

Villagers however, blame the police for not taking any preventive steps to protect them despite the Maoist threat.

"We asked them to drop the guns and talk to us. But they said they had come to kill. They started firing indiscriminately and then ran away. There is a police camp two kilometers away but neither they nor the Jujumara police could be of any help to us," said a local.

Naxal letter to this website’s newspaper slams police action

Sunday May 29 2005 12:25 IST
UDUPI: A letter from a certain Vishwa, claiming to be a member of Karavali Area Committee of CPI(M), Karnataka, which reached this website’s newspaper’s office, said at the time of the police raid on Wednesday their team was busy ‘‘reading, discussing and studying’’.

The letter dated May 27, posted from Udupi said: ‘‘We condemn the police attack led by Superintendent of Police S Murugan and inspector Ashokan on our team on May 25. On that morning at around 11.30 a.m. our team was reading, discussing and studying in a village near Amasebailu. The police came in a bus and two jeeps surrounded us with sophisticated arms.”

“As we were in a highly located area we observed the police surrounding us from far and alerted our members. In quick action our team withdrew from the place making the police action futile. There was no necessity to open fire. But the police, 25 minutes after we withdrew from the place, fired in the air four rounds. They could seize our three kit sacks of literature and also a defused grenade.’’

The letter also said the Naxalites killed police informer and politician Sheshaiah at Menasinahadya for being instrumental in the murder of their members Capt Saketh Rajan and Capt Shivalingu.

‘‘In retaliation the government has sent hundreds of police to finish us. It has also deployed anti-people and notorious STF to crush us,’’ the letter said. ‘‘Government has been spending crores of rupees to suppress our movement, but has not tried to solve our problems. Instead it has been snatching people’s right to live.’’

The letter also called upon the pro-democratic and pro-people organisations to counter the government’s anti-people policies and Fascist actions.

The letter sympathises with the policemen who follow the diktat of senior police officials.

Addressing the policemen the letter said: ‘‘You police constables either from STF or anti-Naxal squad, might have joined the police force without knowing the anti-people policies of the police.”

“You people generally come from poor families belonging to the farming community. You know the hardship suffered by your parents. In spite of that you might have joined the police force thinking that this employment would be useful in solving the problems. But you should understand the scheme of the government to suppress common people using common people.”

“Your strength and capacities are being utilised against your own people. If you understand this, it will be a concern shown by you towards your own people. Our agitation is pro-poor, pro-landless farmers, pro-small businessmen and pro-craftsmen. We do not have any grudge against you (constables) people."

"But when you, under pressure from your senior officials and the government, act against us, it will be inevitable for us to fight against you. You should decide whether you are pro-people or anti-people. Anyway nobody can stop our revolutionary struggle.’’

No party ready for polls: Dharam

Sunday May 29 2005 11:50 IST
SHIMOGA: ‘‘In the present scenario no political party is ready for the polls. If the situation arises, the Congress will go it alone and will emerge victorious,’’ said Chief Minister Dharam Singh.

Speaking to mediapersons on the occasion of the first anniversary of the coalition Government at Kunchenahalli tanda, Shimoga taluk, on Saturday he said the outcome of the Shimoga by-election will not have an impact on the Government.

‘‘We are celebrating the successful completion of a year in office in this tanda as the Banjara community was very close to the late Indiraji,’’ he said.

He said the coalition Government, which came to power under severe political pressure, had focused on developmental projects. The Government had completed a year in office with the blessings of the party high command and president Sonia Gandhi, he added.

He said the coalition Government would focus on developmental works in the second year also as per the common minimum programme.

Reacting to Narendra Modi’s comment on the Government’s failure to tackle the Naxal problem, he said: ‘‘He is not aware of the situation in Karnataka. The Naxal problem is not very serious in the State. He should concentrate on his own state as the members of his own party are set to oust him in Gujarat.’’

He reiterated that the Government had made all efforts to resolve the Naxal problem and had even deployed the STF to control the ultras. Naxalism was a socio-economic problem arising out of unemployment and frustration. The Government would tackle it effectively, he added.

Replying to a question on the JD(S) taking credit for the achievements of the Government, he said: ‘‘The common minimum programme chalked out by us is being implemented and it is the success of the coalition Government. If they alone want to take credit for it, let them,’’ he said.

Ministers Mallikarjuna Kharge, R.V. Deshpande, H.K. Patil, Dr.A. Nagappa, former minister Kagodu Thimmappa, Prakash Rathod and other members of the KPCC were present.

SP hands over financial aid to ex-Naxal

Sunday May 29 2005 11:18 IST
NALGONDA: Superintendent of Police Mahesh M Bhagwat on Saturday handed over a cheque for Rs 5,000 to Rajakonda dalam member Doti Sydulu, who surrendered to the cops in February. A native of Eliveli village in Munugodu mandal, Sydulu had then laid down the arms in the presence of the joint collector. The SP said assistance in the form of rehabilitation would be given to the ex-Naxal later on.

The Rs 5,000 was given to him by way of immediate financial assistance, he said.

The SP also handed over cheque for Rs 5 lakh to P Rajagopal Reddy and V Jayasimha Reddy, whose machines were blown up by the Maoists in April 2003.

The two, who were executing government works under banner of the RJ Constructions at Kondamallepally, invited the wrath of the Naxalites for cooperating with the government. The Maoists had wanted to intimidate the locals and stop government works.

The SP handed over the cheques at a press conference held here on Saturday.

Naxal threat: 3 police stations to be fortified

Sunday May 29 2005 10:40 IST
BHUBANESWAR: With Left wing ultras striking at Sambalpur at will, the State Government, on Saturday, woke up to the menace and decided to further fortify three police stations in the district.

Kisinda, Jujumara and Naktideul are the three police stations identified for this purpose.

Home Secretary Santosh Kumar said the State Government has also decided that SPs, who have experience and are capable of handling Naxal problems, will be posted at border districts.

About Sambalpur, he said, two groups of Left wing radicals are operating in Jujumara area but some local goons, posing as Naxals, have been involved in illegal extortion.

Originally from Jharkhand and Bihar, these goons have settled in the area for last few years.

Kumar said Naxals have found a safe haven in Sambalpur after they were chased away from the neighbouring Deogarh district.

Bonai police station, which was under Sundargarh police district has been brought under Rourkela, he informed