Saturday, April 29, 2006
New Delhi, April 29: The battle-worthiness of the Central Reserve Police Force for anti-Naxalite operations is in doubt even as the Centre is giving final touches to a major offensive against the rebels.
According to a recent presentation made by the CRPF to Union home ministry officials, only 7 per cent of its personnel — approximately 14,700 — were able to complete a two-month compulsory training this year because of constant deployment.
Even fewer personnel — 12,600 or 6 per cent — were able to take the training last year.
A CRPF official said the two-month training is considered sacrosanct to keep the forces fighting fit, as it not only provides relief from the fatigue that they undergo during deployment but also sharpens their skill in tactical warfare and use of weaponry.
Occupied with deployment duty, only a small fraction of the force is able to train for extreme challenges like fighting Naxalites or militants.
With about 2.10 lakh personnel at its command, the CRPF is the main central paramilitary force dealing with security problems arising out of insurgency.
So heavy has been the deployment of CRPF during the last four to five years that even its director-general’s reserve battalions, which are meant for recreational duty and emergency situations, had to be deployed for counter-insurgency duty.
“When deployed in anti-insurgency operations, CRPF personnel are considered to be on duty seven days a week and 24 hours a day. This drains them. The refresher training course provides them the energy to go back to their highly demanding jobs again,” said the official.
Officials also consider this as a major reason for not achieving enough success in their operations against Naxalites and insurgent groups in Kashmir and the Northeast.
In its presentation, the CRPF asked the Centre to allow it to keep one company in reserve in every battalion so that it could be spared for the two-month training. On a rotational basis, it would take a year and two months to allow all the battalions to undergo the training.
With demands for deployment of more central paramilitary forces coming from Naxalism-affected states, the home ministry has assured to consider this suggestion
KADAPA: The CPI (Maoist) suffered a major setback with police gunning down as many as 11 of its cadres in the Bulusugunta forest of Tsundupalli mandal in Kadapa district this morning.
Though the slain radicals -- six women and five men -- were yet to be identified, police officials are of the view that some senior cadres of the outlawed Naxalite outfit could be among the deceased.
According to police sources, the joint committee of Kadapa and Anantapur district was camping at the site of the ‘encounter’, about 25 km deep in the forest from Tsundupalli, on the Kadapa-Chittoor border, for the last six days. Acting on information, Greyhounds teams had been combing the forest for the last two days.
This morning, around 8 am, the police team spotted about 30 Naxalites and there ensued a fierce exchange of fire lasting over an hour.
The encounter left 11 Naxalites dead while the rest managed to escape. The police suspect that CPI (Maoist) state committee member Ganesh and at least two other district-level leaders of the party could be among the dead, sources said.
Thirty kit bags, two self-loading rifles, five other weapons, Claymore mines, ‘tiffin’ bombs, six tents and Rs 3.5 lakh in cash were recovered, as also a map. However, sources did not reveal what the map was.
Though Tsundupalli is a Naxalite-affected area, it had not witnessed much activity during the last six months. This probably could be the reason for the Naxalites holding a camp deep in the forest. But police appeared to have received specific information resulting in the encounter, sources said.
Superintendent of Police Y Nagi Reddy rushed to the spot with additional forces to supervise the combing operations.
In Hyderabad, Director-Gerenal of Police Swaranjit Sen also hinted at the possibility of some senior Maoist leaders among the deceased.
“Police forces in Chittoor and Kadapa districts have been put on high alert. All the escape routes have been sealed to track down the fleeing Naxalites,” he said.
Police suspect that CPI (Maoist) state committee member Ganesh could be among the dead.
"The Naxalites raged to ground three houses in these areas and are planning similar attacks. It is high time the security forces are sent for long-range patrolling and setting up pickets," the water resources minister told reporters here.
The Maoists had on April 20 blasted Singh's ancestral house at Karamgar village, destroying what the minister claimed property worth about Rs 45 lakh. Soon after, the ultras perpetrated two more such explosions in the houses of a trader and an ex-Mukhia in Palamau district.
Denying that it was a 'caste war', the minister said the Naxalites want to ruin the somewhat-well-to-do farmers to spread panic among the poor farming community.
"They want to create havoc among the people, so that they could dictate terms among them...I have sent a letter to the Director General of Police requesting him to step up patrolling and pickets to thwart the Naxalites' evil designs," he said.
Describing how the Naxalites have been taking advantage of the hilly terrains and close proximity with areas in Bihar, the minister called for joint operation by bordering states like Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Jharkhand.
"The joint effort will check Naxal activity in Hussainabad and Hariharganj as also other places," Singh said.
Raipur, Apr 29: Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi today demanded repeal of the newly enacted Special Public Security Act, saying it was a draconian law.
''This legislation has every potential to be misused,'' the Congress leader told reporters here.
Replying to a question, Jogi admitted the opposition Congress did not protest against the legislation as was required against any such draconian law. He said the people of Chhattisgarh would raise their voice against the new law.
The BJP government has enacted Special Public Security Act to contain unlawful activities, including Naxalism which has spread its roots in 10 out of 16 districts in the state. The state government recently appointed former Punjab DGP K P S Gill as its security adviser to stamp out the Naxal menace.
Saturday, April 29, 2006 (Patna):
Maoists in Bihar have been increasingly targeting Railway property.
The rebels have blown up several railway stations and tracks in the state in the last few months, and most of these attacks have been carried out during the night.
Tired of the lack of security personnel at several stations, the Railway authorities have now decided to suspend Rail movement in the Maoist-affected areas during the night. Naxal targets
Jan 25: Track at Paraiya
Apr 3: Rail post at Nadaul
Apr 8: Rail post, track at Bansinala
Apr 25: Narganjo station
Apr 26: Dasrathpur track
"I want protection for my staff and passengers, which is why we are trying our best to run the trains in the Naxal-affected areas with the help of RPF or GRP," said K C Jena, General Manager, Eastern Central Railway.
"We will be forced to stop the rail services in the areas where we believe there is a lack of protection and security measures," he added.
Passing the buck
Railway authorities feel it is the state government's responsibility to provide security to trains running through Bihar.
But Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who once held the Railway portfolio, disagrees. He has instead advised Rail Minister Lalu Yadav to strengthen the Railway Police Force.
"Railways have adequate funds for security. The department should use the money to strengthen the RPF and the safety category vacancy should be filled so that the Railway tracks are properly manned and guarded," Kumar said.
"Employment of the gangman in the Railways, which was started during my tenure as Rail Minister, has now been stopped," he added.
The Naxal problem is only getting worse by the day, and it is now clear that passing the buck will not help improve the situation.
"We have recovered 13 bodies from near the Manikonta village of Erroabore police station, about 550 km. from the state capital," Dornapal police station sources told PTI by phone.
The outlawed Maoists had killed two persons yesterday, they said adding, 37 villagers who were kidnapped from the village from opposing naxalites were released.
"The released villagers are in a state of shock and are not able to tell where they were and how they were treated," the sources said.
Senior officials have rushed to the spot as Chief Minister Raman Singh and many of his Ministers and top officials are in district headquarters in Dantewada in connection with a meeting of the Bastar Development Authority.
About 60 villagers, who are staying in Dornapal relief camps, had gone to their Manikonta village to look after their belongings on April 25.
The Maoists, who were present in the village, surrounded them and assaulted them, police said.
Three men and five women escaped and ran to nearby jungles and reached Dornapal relief camp and then informed the police.
These villagers were staying in government relief camps after naxal threat and were participating in peace campaign against the Maoists in Dantewada and Bijapur districts.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Naxalite (Maoist agrarian peasant movement) terrorism, which covers a broad region of
eastern, central, and southern India, is growing in sophistication and lethality and may pose a
significant long-term challenge. The Naxalites launched two mass attacks in the second half
of 2005, destroying buildings, capturing weapons, and killing several local policemen in an
attack on an Uttar Pradesh village. They also attacked the Jehanabad Prison in Bihar, killing
two persons, freeing more than 300 inmates, and abducting about 30 inmates who were
members of an anti-Naxalite group.
India’s counterterrorism efforts are hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems. The Indian court system is slow, laborious, and prone to
corruption; terrorism trials can take years to complete. An independent Indian think tank, for
example, assesses that the estimated 12,000 civilians killed by terrorism in Jammu and
Kashmir from 1988 to 2002 generated only 13 convictions through December 2002; most of
the convictions were for illegal border crossing or possession of weapons or explosives.
Many of India’s local police forces are poorly staffed, trained, and equipped to combat
terrorism effectively. Despite these challenges, India scored major successes, including
numerous arrests and the seizure of hundreds of kilos of explosives and firearms during
operations against the briefly resurgent Sikh terrorist group Babbar Khalsa International.
In August, the Indian Government announced a new policy on airplane hijackings that
included directing ground crews to obstruct a hijacked plane from taking off, and a clearance
procedure for authorizing the shooting down of a hijacked plane in flight that might endanger
civilians on the ground.
Link to the report
The Indian Government has an excellent record of protecting its nuclear assets from terrorists,
and is taking steps to improve further the security of its strategic systems. In May the Indian
Parliament passed the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Delivery Systems (Prohibition
of Unlawful Activities) Bill, designed to prevent the transfer of WMD, delivery systems, and
associated technologies to state and non-state actors, including terrorists.
Washington, April 29, 2006
India’s fight against terrorism is “hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems”, says the US State Department's annual country reports on terrorism. But the report also praises India for improving its “tactics against terrorists and making significant arrests.”
While listing India as one of the worst victims of terrorism in 2005, it says militants staged “hundreds of attacks on people and property”. Unlike previous years, the report does not provide country-specific data on the number of incidents and casualties, but its South Asia section talks of increased activity by terrorist groups in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
While commending Pakistan for “significantly increasing the effectiveness of its counter-terrorism operation” by capturing or killing hundreds of terrorists, the report retains a host of Pakistan-based outfits including Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba on the list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations”. Indian outfits, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the Communist Party of India (Maoist), figure on a companion list “Other Groups of Concern” after being under the State Department's scanner last year.
The report highlights the continuing activities of LeT and JeM in Jammu and Kashmir that also included attacks on politicians. “Hundreds of non-combatants were killed, most of were Kashmiri Muslims."
Apart from the terror let loose by separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir, the report focuses on Maoists in the “Naxalite belt” in eastern India and ethno-linguistic nationalists in the North-East. Civilian fatalities in J&K, however, have continued a five-year decline, it says.
The report mentions that the growing sophistication and lethality of “Naxalite terrorism” may pose a significant long-term challenge.
Varanasi, April 28
UNION MINISTER of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal said on Friday that the solution of Naxalite menace in different parts of country was not bullet but implementation of development and land reform schemes and removal of unemployment.
“All those elements trying to trouble the tribal populace in the Naxalite-affected areas of Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, UP, Bihar and Jharkhand, must be dealt with strictly by the concerned State governments,” he said.
Talking to mediapersons at the residence of Bharat Ratna and Sehnai maestro Bismillah Khan here on Friday afternoon, the minister said, recently a meeting of chief ministers of Naxal-affected states was held in New Delhi in which they were asked by the Union government to deal strictly with the problem.
Speaking over the problem of electricity in UP, Jaiswal made it clear that the Union government was providing electricity to the State as per directions from the Centre. If it wants additional electricity, it should also suggest the centre for the specific State to be curtailed from the allotted electricity.
“UP government is itself fully responsible for the power crisis as no power generation unit has been set up in the State for last 15 years. Tall claims of State government to solve the electricity problem through the proposed Dadri Power Generation Project of Noida has proved to be flop show as not even a single brick has been placed on the site of the plant there,” he said. It would be cheating with the public if the UP government promised to solve the problem in next two years, he added.
The UP government should not blame the Centre for its failure on the matter of poor electricity scenario, he said.
Jaiswal said the Union government was ready to fulfill the desire of Bharat Ratna Bismillah Khan to perform at the India Gate. His performance would definitely strengthen the communal harmony, unity and integrity of the nation.
“Since Khan Saheb has devoted his entire life for strengthening the mutual harmony, unity and integrity, so the Union government would also felicitate him at the India gate on July 15. He had been making efforts to perform in New Delhi at India Gate for the last four-five years. Now the government has fulfilled his desire,” Jaiswal said. The minister, accompanied by local MP, Dr Rajesh Mishra landed at the Varanasi Airport by a special plane and directly went to Bismillah Khan’s house. The city president of Congress, Vijaya Shanker Mehta, Dr Daya Shanker Mishra, Javed Ahmad Faridi and Dr Om Prakash welcomed him.
Later, the minister also held a meeting with the officials of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at its office in Sigra.
A day after suspending Superintendent of Police (SP) for not joining duty after transfer, the Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh today transferred 17 senior police officers, including six district superintendents of police.
In a late evening development, the state BJP government today shifted the Durg senior superintendent of police Ramesh Chandra Sharma to the police headquarters (PHQ) and in his place posted DIG-PHQ Rajesh Mishra.
Om Prakash Pal is the new additional SP of Dantewada and Dantewada SP Praveer Das is made the SP special investigation branch, looking after naxal event at PHQ. However, no one is made the new Dantewada SP, according to the transfer order.
Removing Raj Kumar Dewangan from Surajpur district S K Brahme is made the new SP Surajpur. Dewangan is posted in PHQ.
P S Gautam to replace B S Thorat as SP anti-corruption Bureau and Thorat is sent to PHQ.
Shifting Narendra Khare from Narayanpur, Sunderraj P is made the new Narayanpur SP. Khare is sent to eighth battalion.
After suspending Sanjay Tiwari for not joining at Bijapur, Ratan Lal is made the new Bijapur SP.
A M Juri is made new SP of Korea to replace H K Rathor, who has been made Jashpur SP.
N K S Thakur is shifted to PHQ from firth battalion, B P S Pousharya is shifted from sixth battalion to state human rights commission as SP.
Mohammad Hussain has been shifted from eighth battalion to ninth battalion and former Bijapur SP Dasrath Lal Manhar is posted in sixth battalion, the transfer order said.
BELGAUM: Rangareddy, a Naxalite leader wanted by the Karnataka and Andhra police who is said to have entered Belgaum district is not true, said a senior police official here on Thursday.
Rumours are rife that Rangareddy was hiding in Bailhongal taluk.
The police clarified that Rangareddy has no connections with Bailhongal or with Belgaum district.
Rangareddy who was responsible for a series of bomb blasts in Bellary and Raichur is wanted by the police of both the states. He is reportedly supplying weapons to naxal groups.
The police combed the entire taluk and came to the conclusion that there was no naxal activities in Bailhongal.
A police team raided a house at Sheoshan Kar Lane under Mithanpura police station here and captured them, Police superintendent Ratna Sanjay said adding that the raid was conducted after receiving a tip-off from intelligence sleuths that the militants were running an office there.
The arrested were identified as Jitendra Yadav, Amrit and Jivant Yadav, a self-styled commander of the Maoists, he said.
A computer, Rs two lakh in cash and some Naxal literature were seized in the raid, Sanjay said.
BHUBANESWAR: A day after clandestinely circulating leaflets in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, the Maoists made a brazen follow up attempt to shock the State administration on Thursday by sending campaign materials once again in which they urged people to join their guerrilla outfits to avenge death of their three cadre members in police encounter at Deogarh on April 18.
On Wednesday, the extremists had distributed leaflets in Twin City to celebrate last month’s R Udaygiri victory. They had even urged State police to alienate themselves from the Government and join hands with them.
On Thursday, a visibly-stirred State Government asked the Special Branch of Police to inquire into veracity of leaflets and verify the source.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the State Government is vigilant and will take all measures required to ensure security of the people.
Home Secretary Santosh Kumar said the special branch will find out under what circumstances these materials reached the cities.
With the State Government putting up a brave face, the Left Wing ultras seemed in no mood to relent as they were busy circulating a second set of campaign materials. This time though their tone was stern.
The leaflets, sent to media organisations, urged people to join PLGA and PGA to avenge the death of their three cadre members at Riamal last week.
Signed by Sunil, convenor of Orissa Coordination Committee of CPI (Maoist), the letter said: “A martyr’s sacrifice can only be compensated by the lives of its enemies.”
Giving personal details of three slain Maoists of Deogarh, the letter said, the only way people can avenge their death is by joining PLGA and PGA in large numbers and convert the guerrilla war into a continuous struggle, which in turn can be transformed into a sustained war against the administration.
Meanwhile, the Home Secretary informed that the State Government will soon fill up the 915 vacancies in 83 police stations in Naxal-infested districts apart from fortifying six prisons where the ultras are lodged.
Asked if there are Maoists in the Twin City, Kumar said, it cannot be ruled out. In the forests, they wear fatigues but here they can be in plain clothes.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
NEW DELHI: CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, when he lands in Nepal on Friday to talk to the Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists, will be on firm ground. Yechury, who has been associated with the two parties since last year, said they are only returning to an earlier consensus - the 12-point agreement signed in November last year.
“A four-point roadmap has already been agreed upon by the SPA and the Maoists as the way out of the impasse. Now, we are looking forward towards realisation of those objectives,” Yechury told reporters on Thursday . One of the four points is an agenda to implement the 12-point agreement with the Maoists.
Yechury said after August last year, it became necessary to have the seven- party alliance and the insurgents move ahead together for the pro-democracy movement to build momentum. Even the Maoists at the time, he said, were looking for a way out of the impasse. It was from this that the need for a common agenda was felt and the 12-point agreement was signed.
“The 12-point agreement, that was reiterated after February, galvanised the people's movement,” said Yechury. The Maoists, expectedly, had reservations about the road ahead. There were long discussions on ideological issues to bring them out of the underground.
They were also encouraged to state their positions publicly, which says the CPI(M) leader, the Maoist leaders did through interviews. “They agreed that the revolution of the 21st century could not be a replica of the revolution of the 20th century,” said.
Yechury, whose association with Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai goes back a long way. Bhattarai and Yechury are both alumni of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Yechury was more actively involved with the talks after March, around the time the pro-democracy movement picked up. “We (representatives of the all-party Nepal Democracy Solidarity Committee India headed by Harkishan Singh Surjeet) met the Prime Minister and told him of our position,” he said.
The PM was told that India could not just stand by and watch the turmoil in the neighbourhood; India would have to prevail upon the King to concede to the democracy movement.
When the Prime Minister went to Germany, he left instructions that Yechury and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the seniormost minister, should hold discussions. Yechury virtually got the government's sanction when Karan Singh's mission failed and the Nepalese political parties suggested the CPI(M) leader's name as interlocutor. That he had the Maoists' ear helped.
According to Yechury, the Maoist position will help the democratic movement. Besides, if the Nepal Maoists join the movement, he said, it would become ideologically untenable for the Indian Maoists to hold on to their present position.
PARALAKHEMUNDI, April 27: Radical activities continue to thrive in Gajapati despite claims of the police and the administration that there is a lull in such movements.
Security was upgraded after the R Udayagiri attack and a large number of armed security forces from the CRPF, OSAP and the Andhra Pradesh police force had conducted combing operations after the two hostages’ release.
The Police’s intention was to clear the area of cadres who may have stayed back in the district.
The SP Gajapati, Mr Amitendranath Sinha, accompanied the security forces during combing operations in the most interior villages of Mohona, R Udayagiri and Nuagada blocks of Gajapati.
But the radicals seem to be one step ahead of the police as they manage to maintain a safe distance from such combing operations and have divided themselves into smaller groups to avoid detection.
The R Udayagiri attack was planned and executed by radicals from different groups who had congregated in the area about a week before the incident and most of the active, radical cadres had been invited from outside Orissa.
While it is known that the commander of the Basadhara Anchalika Committee masterminded and headed the operations, there were a few more commanders who took a secondary role in the execution of the assault. While members of the Basadhara Anchalika Committee returned to their safe camps in Rayagada, many a cadre had crossed over to Andhra Pradesh before the security forces could take position. One or two groups from the CPI (Maoist) based in Andhra Pradesh continue to stay back in Gajapati. A few days back, there were posters on walls against a sarpanch and the village secretary, warning them of dire consequences for their involvement in corrupt deeds. Though signed by the CPI (Maoist), many believe that this could be the handiwork of political leaders out to settle scores.
But the same posters with warnings have sprung up again. This indicates that the intention of the warning is more serious. A few days back, there were reports from NGO volunteers that they had come face to face with armed persons who wanted food.
During the visit of the Union labour minister Mr Chandra Sekhar Sahu, there was total restriction on his itinerary. He was not even allowed to move out to the blocks of R Udayagiri and Nuagada where a few meetings were cancelled at the last moment. Even at Badagam village, where the minister was to inaugurate a cashew processing unit, armed police were posted at the site the day before the function and the entire 13-km road to the factory site from Paralakhemundi was cleared and police posted at strategic locations.
“There is intense police combing in the districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and many a senior leader and commanders leading CPI(Maoist) groups have been killed in encounters or have surrendered.
“It is possible that a few groups have entered Orissa, waiting for the heat to abate in Andhra Pradesh and initially, these groups stayed in Gajapati or Rayagada but are now fanning out to such districts as Kandhamala and Nayagarh to avoid mass congregation which may lead to detection,” a senior Intelligence officer of Gajapati police said. There is another theory that radical groups are regrouping in Gajapati with the intention of recharging and revitalising ground-level support that they had received in 1994-95. “There are many issues that the radical groups can depend on to get local support, especially from tribals living in remote villages of this backward district.
Despite the large number of government schemes and projects aimed at luring unemployed youths away from the radicals, they have become inconsequential mired by red tape and corruption and above all, high expectation from the government. As a result, there is again a ground swell of support for Naxalite groups which are recouping fast,” Mr RK Bhahidar (name changed), who has been following radical activities in this district for long, said. The recent pasting of posters is an indication of the unfolding of events where the radicals have warned the SP, Gajapati to stop police combing and also warned the Uppalada sarpanch to stop his corrupt acts.
They have also warned against the setting up of new cashew processing units which is detrimental to the environment. The posters have come up at the Satamile junction, Badagan junction and the Uppalada village, thereby proving that the radicals have no intention of quitting Gajapati. This can be bothersome for the administration. The SP, Gajapati said over the phone: “I am not worried about the contents of the posters. These merely reveal that the radicals are getting desperate and under no circumstances will the combing be stopped or slowed down. Rather, we will be more active in arresting the culprits.”
BHUBANESWAR, April 27: Maoists came knocking at the door of the state capital over the last 24 hours by circulating two leaflets here asking people and police to join the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA).
The government directed the police Intelligence wing to probe the origin of the pamphlets and their distribution. While the chief minister, Mr Naveen Patnaik, insisted that the government was vigilant and closely monitoring developments as well as security arrangements, the home secretary, Mr Santosh Kumar, said he had asked the police to probe the distribution of the leaflets.
The first four-paged pamphlet was circulated here yesterday while another was doing the rounds today even as senior administrative officers were busy holding meetings and reviewing the security.
The radicals provided details of the R Udayagiri attack in the first leaflet and called upon the people as well as the police to join the PLGA.
The second narrated the Deogarh district incident where three Maoists were shot dead by the police and said the sacrifice of these martyrs should be avenged. The three dead were named in the leaflet as Raju alias Sanjeev Biswal, Tuna and Jayanta. The deceased, with others, were holding a jan adalat (people’s court) in five villages.
They were all tired and returning when villagers asked them to stop over and have food. While waiting for the food, police(described as goondas in the leaflet) attacked and killed them.
The pamphlet states that the police disclosed the incident and seizure of arms and ammunition but did not reveal that they had also recovered Rs 2 lakh left behind by those who escaped but left their bags behind. It urged people to avenge the death of the three comrades.
The earlier pamphlet, circulated here yesterday evening, had dealt with the R Udayagiri incident and asked people to celebrate the successful operation as Vijay Divas.
It said that the police were not its enemy and that the entire police force should join the PLGA to fight the dalals and exploiters.
For the first time in the history of the state, Maoist leaflets had been circulated here. Till date, the practice has been confined to Naxalite-infested areas of the state and remote districts where they are active.
Senior police officers held meetings to take stock of security measures in Bhubaneswar and certain VVIP residences.
A senior police officer confided that the preparedness level in Bhubaneswar was virtually nil. At least in the Naxalite-infested districts, police have learnt it the hard way and today, there is some level of preparedness, but here security measures are woefully inadequate, he said.
Whatever else may have been the fallout of the recent developments in Nepal leading to the re-convening of the dissolved Parliament and the humiliation of the King, one disconcerting outcome is the legitimacy and respectability with which the Maoists have been clothed.
Their consistent anti-monarchy campaign has got the stamp of public approval as never before, thanks to the muddle-headedness of King Gyanendra and his wayward son. They now hold the gun even to the seven-party alliance to comply with their demand to set up a constituent assembly to make monarchy irrelevant or else face renewed street battles.
The ascendancy of the Maoists can only contribute to disorder and instability in Nepal and jeopardize India’s security both through the Chinese route and this country’s own brand of Maoists or Naxalites who now hold virtual sway over 160 of the country’s 604 districts spread across 13 states.
As Sitaram Yechury of the CPM commiserates with the Nepalese Maoists and the Manmohan Singh Government looks the other way while the nexus between Nepalese and Indian Maoists grows, there is a lurking danger for India that we can ignore only at our peril.
For Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to cry ‘wolf’ as he did recently at a conference of ministers of 13 Naxalite-affected states, describing Naxalism as the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by the country, while flirting with the CPM and CPI for political survival is foolhardiness at its worst.
It is not for nothing that even a former director of India’s Intelligence Bureau, Ajit Doval wrote in the Hindustan Times recently that left-wing extremism was now a bigger threat to the country than Islamic militancy in Kashmir or separatist militancy in the northeast.
‘‘Unless some master strategic response is formulated and executed, the nation may find most of its rural hinterland overrun by an avalanche,’’ he wrote. Intelligence agencies believe that Maoists of India and Nepal have indeed begun joint operations. Sri Lanka’s LTTE and French Maoists provide full support to the Indian and Nepalese Maoists and Indian Maoists provide shelter and training camps to Nepal’s Maoists.
With Maoists levying taxes on every truck that passes through their area in the 160 districts in which they call the shots, distributing private land and now even government land through pattas and virtually hijacking the judicial system, the credibility of the administration is at its lowest ebb.
Central and state governments which have abdicated responsibility for years are now greatly rattled by some recent incidents like the massive Naxalite raids on a prison complex in Bihar, the hijacking of a train in Jharkhand, the killing of 30 tribals in one incident in Chhattisgarh and abduction of police officials and factory workers in Orissa.
The time to act is now because any further delay will have serious repercussions on the nation’s security. The Prime Minister has all the right answers. What he needs is the resolute will, drive and initiative to act which is where the administration is always found wanting.
As he put it at the conference of state ministers: ‘‘Our strategy has to be to walk on two legs.---to have an effective police response while at the same time focusing on reducing the sense of deprivation and alienation (among the people).’’
What is vital, however, is to ensure that the state governs in a true sense and restores order while reclaiming the regions lost to the Naxalites. For this the police force needs to be better trained and equipped and clothed with adequate authority. Social justice and development must doubtlessly follow after the administration has re-established its hold, so that the alienated masses could be won back.
Andhra Pradesh, for long the Naxalite (Maoist) heartland, has recently witnessed a relatively low dose of violence, though the Maoist presence continues across the state. In a stark contrast with the preceding year, when there were 114 incidents of Maoist violence in the first two months of 2005, year 2006 saw just 26 incidents over the same period, according to Ministry of Home Affairs data. The contrast is the more dramatic when compared to other affected states, such as Chhattisgarh which recorded 95 incidents (86 in the same period in 2005) and Jharkhand, with 56 incidents (72 in 2005). It would, of course, be presumptuous to conclude that the state has turned the tide in Andhra; but recent developments certainly reflect a marked change.
The ‘peace process’ in Andhra Pradesh over the period May 2004 - January 2005 had significantly weakened the position of the state forces vis-à-vis the Maoists, who had used the interregnum for a massive drive of political and military consolidation. As such when the ‘honeymoon’ ended, the state had to come up with an effective response to recover the ground earlier vacated. In contrast to the halting of all combing operations during the ‘peace process’, the Andhra Pradesh Police, with the help of intelligence inputs from across the state and country, resumed these operations, emphasizing improvements in the local intelligence network, so that they could pinpoint the movement of Maoist dalams (armed squads).
The resumption of police operations came even as Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy unveiled a ‘two-pronged strategy’ to tackle the Maoists, on September 19, 2005. Reddy declared that the strategy included the implementation of developmental programmes in Maoist-affected districts to wean away potential recruits from Left Wing extremist groups and strict law and order enforcement to check violence. As part of the strategy to speed up development in Maoist-affected areas, a new department of Remote and Interior Areas Development was created. 15 districts were identified under the scheme on the basis of the Naxalite-related incidents: Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, Guntur, Prakasam, Nellore, Anantapur, Kurnool, Mahabubnagar, Warangal, Nizamabad, Adilabad, Karimnagar and Khammam. About 500,000 families in 3,000 villages across 280 mandals (blocks) in these Districts were identified as affected and sought to be brought under the scheme, for which a sum of four billion rupees was budgeted. Given the record of ‘developmental schemes’ in these regions in the past, the eventual impact of these measures remains uncertain. However, the ‘second prong’ – strict law and order enforcement – has already shown demonstrable results.
Outlining the police strategy, Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Swaranjit Sen stated, "We are very careful about whom we arrest. We made a decision to arrest only hardcore Naxals and not those who might have helped Naxals by providing them food or shelter out of fear… We have recruited about 3,000 tribals from Naxal-affected areas in the Andhra Pradesh Special Police Battalion. Physical and educational requirements were relaxed for them. Such measures would further dry up the recruiting ground for Naxals." Moreover, close to 894 extremists surrendered in 2005, as compared to 396 in 2004 and 1,035 in 2003.
As in the late 1990s, an apolitical decision to tackle the Naxalites has allowed the police to apply the squeeze, especially in the Telengana region. The region also witnessed the highest number of Naxalite fatalities in 2005, with 93 out of the 167 Naxalites (ICM data) killed across the ten Districts
Significant improvement was also witnessed in the ‘heartland districts’, such as Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Adilabad.
According to Superintendent of Police Devendra Singh Chauhan, Naxalite violence has come down drastically over the years in Karimnagar district. During 2005, out of 12 incidents of exchange of fire, a total of 20 Naxalites, including 10 CPI-Maoist, six Janasakthi and the remaining Singareni Karmika Samakhya (Sikasa) activists were killed. Among the top cadres who were killed in encounters were the Janashakti ‘state committee member’ Riaz and the Maoist ‘east division committee member’ Dharmula Mallikarjun. There was a record number of 104 surrenders during the year.
Similarly, in the Nizamabad District, Naxalite activity was brought under control in 2005, with the exception of the encounter at Manala hills on March 7, in which 10 Maoists were killed. The Maoists received a major setback in this operation as its ‘district committee secretary’ Ramesh was eliminated. 17 Maoists surrendered in the District, opting to join the mainstream, as compared to just one in 2004. The police also arrested 79 Maoists and two Janashakti Naxalites in 2005.
In Adilabad District, police action over the past five years has led to the neutralisation of 50 Maoists, including three of ‘district committee secretary’ rank, three of ‘district committee member’ rank and nine ‘dalam commanders’. Some 242 Naxalites surrendered over this period.
Successes were also seen in Warangal District, when on March 19, 2005, CPI-Maoist ‘North Telangana Special Zonal Committee’ member, Damera Vijaykumar Swamy alias Yadanna, and three of his associates were killed in an encounter. Similarly, in Mahabubnagar District, on April 2, ‘district committee’ and ‘action team’ member, Gajji Srisailam and his wife, Puspakka were killed at Achampet.
Following reverses in the Telengana region, the Maoist ‘hideouts’ in the Nallamalla Forest region, spanning five districts, also came under increased combing operations. This sustained operation has been achieved through inter-district cooperation between the police officials at the highest level. For instance, following reports of movement of cadres from the Telengana region to the Nallamala forests, senior police officials of the five districts of Kurnool, Mahabubnagar, Chittoor, Cuddapah and Anantapur met in February 2006, and prepared an action plan to deal with the development. Intensive combing operations in the Nallamalla Forest have achieved positive results. February 2006 reports indicated that the CPI-Maoist had to postpone its ‘AP state committee’ meeting due to the heightened security presence. The ‘state committee’ meet was supposed to be held in February at Erragundlapalem in Prakasam district, but was cancelled at the last minute after police moved their forces to the meeting venue in the Nallamalla Forest. All alternative plans for the meeting also fell through due to intensified combing operations.
The Maoist threat in Andhra, however, is far from being neutralized, or even adequately contained. As in the past (in 2002, for instance), the outfit has cleverly shifted its operations towards the Rayalaseema and the coastal districts (especially the districts adjoining Orissa), as it comes under pressure in the ‘heartland’ areas. According to police intelligence reports, in the month of February 2006, Maoist dalams from Mahabubnagar and the South Telangana Districts were moving into Guntur and Prakasam district areas, while some of the top cadres of CPI-Maoist migrated into the Andhra-Orissa Border (AOB) region which, due to the hilly terrain and presence of easy escape routes, combined with weaker policing in Orissa, provides significant advantage to the Maoists.
To further strengthen and consolidate their presence in this region, the Maoists have also formed a separate ‘Orissa state committee’.
Increased Maoist activities have been witnessed in the districts adjoining Orissa for quite some time now, interspersed with major attacks like the one at Kuneru. On December 25, 2005, Maoists shot dead four Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel, and critically wounded another two in an attack at the Kuneru Railway Station in Vizianagaram district. The extremists also took away INR 1.3 million and eight weapons being carried by the police personnel. The incident happened within hours on the heels of a Maoist attack on the Sileru police station in Visakhapatnam District on December 24 night, in which one policeman was injured. Srikakulam district has also witnessed significant Maoist activity, especially in the Uddahanam area, Bhamini, Vajrapukotthuru, Palasa, Mandasa and Sitampeta mandals.
Following the attack on the Ramagiri Udaigiri town in Orissa on March 24, the Andhra Pradesh Police had to intensify its efforts to prevent the movement of cadres into Andhra through the Srikakulam, Vishakhapatnam and Vizianagaram Districts.
The Maoist tactics to strengthen and expand in Orissa, with the help of the cadres operating in Andhra Pradesh, have also borne fruit, as revealed in a White Paper on the law and order situation tabled in the Orissa State Assembly in March 2006, which noted: "Naxalite activities, which were reported from southern and northern districts of the state, have affected (the) law and order situation of the state. Of the 30 districts of the state, Naxalites were active in 14 districts in 2005."
The diminution in violence in Andhra does not, consequently, indicate that the Maoists are in any measure a spent force. There has, in fact, been a conscious decision on the part of the Maoists to retreat into the forests and safer areas, rather than emerge in village areas, where police presence could lead to losses. Although, this ‘moderate’ or tactical line of retreat may suggest a temporary setback, there are other areas transcending state boundaries (Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh), where the consolidation continues.
The Maoists have also continued with weapons upgradation and improvements in their technological capacities, as revealed, for instance, when the Nizamabad district police seized a mobile frequency modulation (FM) set following the arrest of a Maoist from Akkannapet railway station on March 6. Nizamabad Range DIG Anjani Kumar stated that the seizure was the "tip of the iceberg", and the Maoists are able to listen in on police communications through improvised communication systems manufactured by in-house experts. Further, the Maoists have acquired the technology to blast claymore mines using wireless sets as remote controlling devices. They can now blast a claymore mine from a distance of five km making use of the US-made Icom IC-V8 wireless sets, considered to be the best in the world. Prakasam Superintendent of Police N. Balasubramanyam disclosed that the police had seized 30 such wireless sets from the place of an encounter in which three persons were killed in the district on February 7, 2006,. The seizure confirmed the fears of the police that Maoists now had the capacities to use the wireless sets not only for communications but also as remote control devices to blast claymore mines. A demonstration of this capability was provided on April 8, 2006, when a State Legislator belonging to the Congress Party, Udumula Sreenivas Reddy, narrowly survived a landmine attack at Kakarla in the Prakasam District.
Maoists have also continued with extortion and to maintain their linkages with their established sources of income in Andhra Pradesh.
On April 4, 2006, the Anantapur district police arrested a Maoist, Venkatrami Reddy, and seized Rs 300,000 in cash. Reddy was arrested when he was en route to hand over the cash collected from a contractor of the Hendri Niva irrigation project to the ‘Penna Area committee secretary’, Kranti. The police officer on special duty, G. Vijaykumar, disclosed that the Maoist was acting as a key member of the dalam (squad) and had already extorted about Rs 5 million from contractors executing works in Uravakonda, Guntakal, Vajrakarur, Pamidi and Garladinne and had handed it over to the Penna Ahobilam dalam. In a similar operation on April 3, 2006, police had recovered Rs five million from two Maoists in Mahabubnagar district.
Andhra Pradesh has had cyclical periods in its history, when the state machinery has been able to gain a transient upper hand over the Naxalites, only to be circumvented by political opportunism, and the failure to implement the very reforms that are loudly proclaimed whenever Naxalite violence peaks. Focused counter-insurgency campaigns fractured by intervals of political interference and slackness have contributed to a patchy record. The state machinery has once again succeeded in making life difficult for the Maoists, but their existence is not in question. The top rung Maoist leadership in the ‘state committee’ continues to survive and operate, although the police have neutralized a few ‘district committee’ leaders. The state has also failed to comprehensively root out their presence in any of their areas of activity. The Maoists continue to display high levels of ingenuity and craft, lying low, as in the past, in times of stress, devising means to sustain their existence till a favourable and lame polity allows them to hit back again.
Saji Cherian is Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management. Courtesy, the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal
NEW DELHI, APR 27 (PTI)
The Centre today sanctioned raising of nine more battalions comprising 9,000 police personnel for naxalite-affected Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Karnataka, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana (one each) and two for badly-hit Chhattisgarh.
It is also considering sanctioning one India Reserve Battalion (IRB) each for Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, which are also affected by the menace.
In addition to these, the government has also given its nod for raising five IRBs for Jammu and Kashmir and six for the North-Eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, where insurgency prevails. One battalion consists of approximately 1,000 personnel.
"The Centre has been assisting the naxalite-affected states to enable them to deal with the problem. The sanction to raise the additional battalions is also part of the exercise to wean away unemployed youth from attracted to alternative sources of livelihood offered by naxal elements," a Home Ministry spokesman said.
The battalions sanctioned for the eight states, facing naxal problem, is under a new scheme that will ensure higher central financial support of over Rs 20 crore per battalion towards the cost of raising and infrastructure assistance as compared to Rs 13 crore earlier. The previous scheme had 50 per cent loan component.
The spokesman said the naxalite-hit states have also been asked to progressively reduce their dependence on central paramilitary forces by raising the IRBs. These states have also been asked to arrange specialised commando-type of training to the new IRBs whose personnel are recruited locally and are better suited to tackle the extremist problem as they know the demography, customs and traditions, ethos and culture of the area.
The Centre, the spokesman, said has also offered support in training of these battalions by the paramilitary forces and the Army.
The battalions sanctioned for Jammu and Kashmir and the North-Eastern states will be totally funded by the Centre as per the scheme.
Condemning the April 24 Naxal killing of six people in Aurangabad, Kumar said that Bihar's Home Secretary Hem Chandra Sirohi is in New Delhi to seek more Central security forces for the state in view of the forthcoming local self-government elections.
"I condemn the killing (in Aurangabad). This is not the problem of a particular state now, but it is the problem of the entire nation. That is why the Prime Minister often holds discussions to deal with the Naxal menace. I have informed the Central Government about the increasing Naxal problem in the state. We have made some demands to the Central Government, which should be fulfilled. The state cannot tackle the problem alone. The state would do what it can in this matter and people should be prepared for it," Kumar said.
The Maoist Communist Centre is one of the most dreaded Naxal outfits in Bihar and neighbouring Jharkhand. Formed on October 20, 1969 with Kanhai Chatterjee and Amulya Sen as its founding members, the MCC entered Bihar in 1971, it has carried out a string of massacres, particularly targeting upper castes, in the state and is constantly at war with landlords' private army Ranvir Sena besides another ultra-leftist outfit PWG, contractors and traders. It is active in six naxalism-hit districts of Bihar and 14 districts in Jharkhand.
These districts include Patna, Jehanabad, Gaya, Aurangabad, Nalanda, Nawadah, Bhojpur and Rohtas in Bihar and Chhatra, Palamu, Garhwa, Hazaribagh, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Palamu, Dhumka, Sahebganj, Gumla, Lohardagga, and Ranchi in Jharkhand.
It has 300 professional revolutionaries, 60 armed squads and 30,000 members, informed sources in Bihar say.
Some of its frontal organizations are the Jan Pratirodh Sangharsh Manch, Krantikari Budhijivi Sangh, Krantikari Sanskritik Sangh, Krantikari Chhatra League, Communist Yuva League, Naari Mukti Sangh and Mazdoor Mukti Sangh are affiliated to MCC.
Its Central Committee is the main decision making body. MCC leadership in Bihar lies mainly with backward castes, particularly Yadavs and Dalits. It has declared a liberated zone in Bihar, which include Aurangabad district. Its Bihar-Bengal Special Area Committee, Preparatory Committee for Revolutionary Peasant Struggles and Revolutionary Peasant Councils constantly monitor, review and enhance the MCC activities in the region.
Besides the MCC and the PWG, a number of other smaller ultra-left groups are also active in Bihar. They are as follows:
• CPI (ML) Provisional Central Committee: Formed in 1977, it is active in Bokaro and Dhanbad.
• CPI (ML) Red Flag: Formed in 1980, it has a presence in Jamshedpur.
• CPI (ML) 2nd Central Committee: Formed in 1972 by Mahadeo Mukerjee, it is active in Vaishali, Bhagalpur and Banka.
• CPI (ML) Santi Pal Group: It is active in Sahebganj, Godda, Saharsa and Purnea.
• CPI (ML) ND: Formed in 1988 by Yatendra Kumar, it is active in Rohtas, Kaumru, East Champaran, Darbhanga, Samastipur, Mazaffarpur, Dhanbad and Ranchi.
• CPI (ML) Bhaijee Group: Formed in 1990 by S R Bhaijee, it is active in West and East Champaran.
• CPI (ML) Jansakti: It is active in Kaimur and East Champaran.
• CPI (ML) Unity Initiative: Formed in 1990, it is active in Ranchi, Gumla and Dhanbad.
• CPI (ML) Organising Committee: It is active in Kaimur under the leadership of B N Sharma.
Orissa government today ordered its special branch of police to inquire into the circulation of Maoist leaflets which have justified the attack on Ramgiri Udaygiri subjail in Orissa's Gajapati district on March 24.
The leaflets also gave a detailed account of arms and ammunition looted from the Orissa State Armed Police Force camp.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that they had not received any leaflet from Naxalites. "However, we are inquiring into the allegations of leaflet distribution." State Home Secretary Santosh Kumar meanwhile confirmed the distribution of the leaflets, saying the special branch would investigate the matter.
Yesterday, hundreds of leaflets allegedly addressed by the Orissa state organisational committee of CPI (Maoist) were posted to different people in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
The Maoists had called upon people to take part in what they said "people's war" against injustice meted out by "corrupt" ministers and bureaucrats.
The Maoists said in the leaflet that they retaliated against the police, killing three of them and injuring 12 because their call for surrender had gone unheeded and instead the policemen opened fire on March 24.
The home secretary said the state government was taking steps to fortify six jails situated in the Naxal-infested districts. Also, 915 vacant police posts in 83 police stations would be filled up.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Jhajha (Jamui), April 26: In an alleged retaliation against the killing of a Naxalite leader, Maoist rebels struck twice blowing up a portion of railway tracks and setting fire on a railway cabin near Jhajha in Bihar last night.
Although no one was hurt during the twin raids, the rebels took three railway staff of Narganjo — 8 km from Jhajha under Kiul-Asansol section of the Eastern Railway — hostage soon after demolishing the cabin in the halt station. The hostages — assistant station manager Sanjeev Kumar, D.K. Panday and Harku Mahato — were, however, set free this morning. Panday said they were taken to an unknown place in a forest, some 7 km from Narganjo.
Santosh Kumar, a passenger of 8182 Chapra-Tata Express, said: “When the train reached Narganjo, we saw the cabin was aflame.”
According to Asansol assistant commissioner (security) Raj Kumar, the driver of 3021 Up Howrah-Raxaul Mithila Express who witnessed the cabin burning reported the incident to Jhajha and traffic on the section was immediately withheld. Kumar added that one platoon (20) of CRPF personnel, who were deployed for Simultalla, incidentally boarded the train at Jhajha to reach to their destination. “The CRPF personnel rushed to a nearby railway bridge to prevent further damage,” he said.
Jamui superintendent of police Sharukh Majid said two powerful bombs were also recovered from the tracks near Narganjo. “Two can bombs of 5 kg and 10 kg were fixed with the tracks and attached to detonators by a 100-metre-long wire,” he said.
In the other incident, the Maoists blew up railway tracks near Dashrathpur railway station on Kiul-Bhagalpur loop section around 3.30 am. Like the earlier incident, the explosion took place soon after Jamalpur-Kiul DMU Passenger passed from Dashrathpur station in Munger district. The Delhi-bound Guwahati Sampark Kranti Express, which was scheduled to pass the station at 3.45 am, was detained at Jamalpur.
Due to the twin raids, railway service remained disrupted for hours in both the sections, which were opened around 9 this morning.
Sources said that the attacks were pre-planned by the rebels, who seemed to be aware of the timings of the trains and did not want to hurt anyone except sending a message against the killing of their leader Manjit Hembrom, who was gunned down at Judapania village under Jhajha police station on April 14.
Senior police officers, on condition of anonymity, said that they had sent reports to the railways on a possible raid a few days ago after the encounter in which Hembrom was killed.
Blaming Jamui subdivisional police officer Ajoy Panday and CRPF deputy commandant Umashanker Kanth for killing Hembrom, a news release issued by the eastern Bihar zonal committee of CPI (Maoist) stated: “We have done what we had claimed earlier and will continue our struggle for the cause of the poor.
Patna, April 26: Barely a few hours after the Nitish Kumar administration talked about taking on Left-wing rebels, suspected CPI(Maoist) guerrillas blasted a railway cabin and tracks in the eastern Bihar districts of Jamui and Munger early on Wednesday.
Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi had yesterday announced that the government would provide arms to villagers of Naxalite-affected Aurangabad district, where he had gone after the rebels killed six persons in a Monday-night ambush.
Just after midnight, an unspecified number of extremists raided Narganjo station near Jhajha in the Asansol division of Eastern Railway (ER) in Jamui district, about 180 km east of Patna, and blew up its signalling cabin after ordering railway employees to vacate the place.
The chief public relations officer of ER, Soumitra Majumdar, told The Telegraph from Calcutta that all train movement was immediately stopped and, as a result, more than a dozen Up and Down trains remained stranded on the Howrah-Delhi route till morning.
Two live bombs were also recovered on the tracks, 1.5 km from Narganjo, railway officials said, adding that a police party defused the explosives around 8 am.
Traffic on the route resumed after 9 am and the Gangasagar Express was the first train that was allowed to pass, after a pilot run and foot-patrol combing.
Three hours later, another group of Naxalites detonated bombs near Dashrathpur station after Jamalpur, which falls in the same railway division, in Munger district and blew up nearly one metre of the Up track.
The two sites, though on different sections, are less than 100 km apart.
“As this route is not that busy, movement of only two trains was affected and traffic resumed around 7.30 in the morning. After the Narganjo incident, we diverted three trains — the Howrah-Amritsar Mail, Vibhuti Express and Himgiri Express — through the Dhanbad-Gaya-Mughalsarai route,” Majumdar said.
The attack by the rebels threw traffic on the Howrah-Delhi line out of gear and most of the trains reaching Patna — including the Howrah-Danapur Express, South Bihar Express, Howrah-Delhi Lal Quila Express, Hatia-Gorakhpur Maurya Express, Howrah-Delhi Janata Express, Chhapra-Tatanagar Express, Durg Express and Tata-Danapur Express — were running several hours behind schedule.
The Maoists have called a general strike in the eastern Bihar districts of Banka, Bhagalpur, Munger and Jamui in protest against alleged police excesses against their cadre.
A source close to the Naxalites said the recent string of incidents — the attack on a Janata Dal (United) leader in Aurangabad, abduction of villagers in Chhattisgarh and targeting of train movement in Jamui and Jamalpur — are the “outcome’ of decisions taken by the CPI(Maoist)’s “central command”.
“The Bihar government’s announcement to provide arms to five persons in each village of Aurangabad district smacks of a campaign on the lines of Salwa Judum (peace campaign) that the BJP government has initiated against the CPI(Maoist) in Chhattisgarh,” the source added.
Naxalites had been lying low in central Bihar for several weeks till they killed six persons in Aurangabad on Monday night.
The Jamui-Munger-Banka belt is relatively new territory for the Maoists but they are understood to be consolidating their influence in the area at a fast pace.
The government yesterday deferred the panchayat elections by a fortnight, citing security concerns, after the Naxalite attack in Aurangabad.
The administration also called for a massive deployment of central paramilitary forces and state police as a prerequisite for conducting rural polls, now staggered over 10 phases to facilitate force movement in the volatile state.
KOLKATA, April 26: The division bench of Mr Justice DP Sengupta and Mr Justice SK Gupta of Calcutta High Court today rejected the bail prayer of Mr Dinabandhu Biswas.
Police recovered Naxalite literature from his house in Nadia.
Police had submitted a chargesheet against Mr Biswas for waging war against the State.
The sessions judge, Krishnagar had framed the charges and fixed a date for his trial. Public prosecutor Kazi Safiullah produced a leaflet before the division bench showing that in April, supporters of Maoist Mr Biswas had threatened the witnesses with dire consequences if they deposed against Mr Biswas.
BARANAGAR, April 26: The public works minister and Baranagar’s Revolutionary Socialist Party candidate, Mr Amar Chaudhury, is now being projected as something of a “go-getter.”
That the constituency, sandwiched between Cossipore and Dunlop, is a traditional Left bastion mattered little when Naxalite rebels were butchered by the police, with active political support, here in a blood-curdling 1970s massacre which lasted for quite a few days.
Mr Jyoti Basu contested it till 1972, when he was defeated by a Communist Party of India candidate. The seat has been won by Leftist parties since 1952 but the three-time winner, Mr Chaudhury, is obliged to pull out all the stops yet. Mr Chaudhury became a member of the legislative Assembly for the first time in 1995, when Matish Roy, Baranagar’s previous RSP MLA, died. He was elected also in 1996 and 2001.
He also became PWD minister in 2001 but his winning margin had come down to 2,541 in the last election when the Trinamul and the Congress were together. “I am confident of victory and want to increase my margin,” said Mr Chaudhury, who had completed the second Vivekananda Setu and widened the Barrackpore Trunk Road and Jessore Road, with work on the Belghoria Expressway being close to conclusion.
He spent about Rs 28 lakh on improving roads in Baranagar’s municipal area.
His opponent, Mr Atin Ghosh of the Trinamul Congress, is equally optimistic, though. “In the last election, I got 83,106 votes and Mr Chaudhury, 85,647. I led in 24 out of 42 wards and the polling in 100 booths was rigged. If the voting pattern remains the same, I am sure I will win,” said Mr Ghosh.
He said a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate had polled 8,800 votes the last time around, undermining his chances. The BJP votes will now be his, he said. Though the Congress has Mr Purnendu Dutta in the fray, its workers have sided with the Trinamul. He alleged the PWD minister had failed to provide Baranagar with drinking water.
“Electrification of a crematorium and maintenance of municipal roads are among his unfulfilled objectives,” he said.
Mr Chaudhury, who started his campaign on 4 March, has visited all the constituency’s 42 wards, including nine in southern Dum Dum. The Trinamul candidate, in contrast, is being looked upon at as an “outsider.’’
Mr Ghosh lives in Shyampukur and such Baranagar Trinamul leaders as Mr Ram Krishna Pal and Mr Dipu Chatterjee are not campaigning for him.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006 22:32 IST
NEW DELHI: A day after 52 villagers were abducted by Naxals in Dantewada, the Chhattisgarh Government on Wednesday sought several battalions of para-military forces and helicopters to tackle the menace in view of the increased incidents of left-extremism in the state. The Centre reportedly was agreeable to providing four Cheetah helicopters to the state.
At a security review meeting held specifically for the state, top officials of the state including the ‘supercop’ KPS Gill, who took over as security advisor to the state government last week, participated in the meeting and gave their presentation.
Reviewing the security situation at a meeting, convened by Union home secretary V K Duggal, state chief secretary R P Bagai demanded additional security forces and helicopters which could be deployed at various Naxal-sensitive places such as Dantewada.
Chhattisgarh has demanded that the state be provided seven additional battalions for fighting naxalism. For surveillance, evacuation, transportation of troops and other supporting roles, they also demanded helicopters. Models for local intelligence gathering and raising of a special task force on the lines of Andhra Pradesh’s Greyhounds were also discussed.
“We demanded additional support and more helicopters for immediate deployment of forces in remote areas at the time of any naxal attack. The Centre assured to provide all types of assistance,” Bagai said.
Meanwhile, Maoist guerrillas have blasted railway tracks in two different places in Bihar disrupting train services on the busy Patna-Howrah route. Both the incidents took place on Tuesday. In Jamui district, guerrillas damaged a railway building and blasted a portion of the track.
Posted online: Thursday, April 27, 2006 at 0000 hrs
RAIPUR/New delhi, APRIL 26: Even as supercop K P S Gill, security advisor to the Chhattisgarh Government, held talks with the Union Home Secretary in New Delhi over the Naxal conundrum today, the Chhattisgarh Police remained clueless about the whereabouts of 52 villagers abducted by Naxals on Tuesday afternoon.
These villagers, who were staying in Dornapal relief camp of the Salva Judum movement in Jagdalpur district, had left the camp on Tuesday morning to bring foodgrain from their native village Manikonta, about 13 km away from Dornapal.
Police sources told The Indian Express late this afternoon that Superintendent of Police Pravir Das himself was leading search operations in the Dornapal area but no information on whereabouts of the villagers was available.
Naxals belonging to the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoists) stopped the tribals around 6 km away from Manikonta and sent some of the female Judum members back to the relief camp. After the women broke the news at the camp, the police sent a search party towards Manikonta village but there was no information about the whereabouts of the abducted villagers till this afternoon.
At the Dornapal Judum camp, a large number of villagers from Manikonta have been staying for the last two months. The village falls in the heart of the Naxal-dominated Jagdalpur district and it is here that the Salva Judum movement has taken on the Maoists.
K P S Gill, who assumed charge as the security advisor to the Chhattisgarh Government on April 16, was in New Delhi today for a meeting with the Union Home Secretary on the Naxal menace along with other senior police officials from Chhattisgarh. Sources in the Chhattisgarh Government told The Indian Express that Gill and Director General of Police, Chhattisgarh, O P Rathore made a strong case for deploying more police force in the state. ‘‘Gill is working on an action plan with an emphasis on aerial survey of the Naxal bastions, intelligence inputs, and deployment of more force,’’ a senior police official told the paper.
The plan, it is learnt, will at least take a month or so to get finalised before which Gill is unlikely to make any public comment on the Naxal issue.
State Chief Secretary R P Bagai too was present in the meeting. ‘‘We have asked for more forces and helicopters. The Centre has assured us all assistance in our efforts,’’ Bagai said.
NEW DELHI, APR 26 (PTI)
A day after 52 villagers were abducted by naxals in Dantewada, the Chhattisgarh Government today sought additional forces to tackle the menace in view of the increased incidents of left-extremism in the state.
Reviewing the security situation at a meeting, convened by Union Home Secretary V K Duggal, State Chief Secretary R P Bagai demanded additional security forces and helicopters which could be deployed at various naxal-sensitive places such as Dantewada.
Briefing the reporters after nearly a two-hour long meeting, Bagai said "the Centre has assured to provide additional forces and air support to the state to tackle the problem." Besides Bagai, the meeting was attended by Special Advisor to the state government K P S Gill, DGP O P Rathore and other senior Union Home Ministry officials.
"We demanded additional support and more helicopters for immediate deployment of forces in remote areas at the time of any naxal attack. The Centre assured to provide all types of assistance," Bagai said.
The meeting took stock of the situation in the state in view of increased naxal attacks occurring in the state. The naxals yesterday abducted 52 people from Manikonta village of Dantewada.
"Naxalism has become regular affair in the state," Bagai said.
Army, weapons, funds, Maoists have 'em all
Navin Upadhyay | New Delhi
In the dense jungles and remote hills of India, hundreds of
hardcore Maoists are undergoing tough training in the art of guerrilla
warfare. Equipped with sophisticated weapons, these men have been
indoctrinated to wage a war against the nation, a protracted war that they
hope to win in the next 30 to 40 years.
In the vanguard of the Maoist army is the hardcore People's Guerrilla
Army (PGA) with an estimated strength of 8000 cadres spread mainly across -
Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra and West
Bengal. The PGA is responsible for carrying out all daring strikes,
including setting up ambush against the police and para military forces,
snatching their weapons, eliminating 'enemies', and letting loose a reign of
The guerrilla army is equipped with sophisticated weapons like light
machine guns, self-loading rifles, rocket launchers, land mines, carbines,
grenades and Insas rifles. Police and intelligence agencies have learnt that
most of these weapons have been acquired from militant outfits operating in
the northeast and underworld elements. A large chunk of the their armoury
also consists of weapons looted from the police and para military forces.
The Maoists are also involved in indigenous production of explosives
and rocket launchers through their own research and development programmes.
They also managed to acquire weapons from surrendered ULFA cadre between
1990 and 1996. Some of the weapons airdropped in Purulia also reached them,
At the second level of the Maoists army network is the 25,000-strong
Jan Militia, which is less heavily armed, but provides intelligence and
logistical support to the PGA. The militia performs pre-strike
reconnaissance, guards exit routes, blocks police entry and lends back up
support when the guerrilla army retreats.
Below them come 50,000 unarmed Sangam cadres who have been roped in by
the Maoists in villages to spread the gospel of armed struggle. The exercise
to spread public propaganda is carried out by the frontal organisations who
have unidentified numbers of dedicated supporters.
The Maoists have also set in place money-minting mechanisms, which
rake in approximately Rs 750 cr each year. A study jointly carried out by
the Bihar Police and intelligence agencies in 2000, before the formation of
Jharkhand, showed that the MCC and PW, which later merged to form the
Communist Party of India (Maoist), used to raise Rs 250 cr each year from
the State. As the ultras have grown both in size and influence, agencies
estimate that at least Rs 750 cr is collected annually by the Maoists across
Another major source of funding is collection of levy from those
awarded Government contracts. It is common knowledge that in the Maoist
strongholds, nearly 15 to 20 per cent of development fund are pocketed by
the ultras. In fact, even Central undertakings pay a "levy" to carry out
their development activities and day-to-day functioning.
The ultras have also raise substantial sums of money through
membership and fine imposed on those who defy their diktats. Contractors and
officials engaged in mining and coal extraction are also compelled to pay
huge sums of money. Interrogations of the arrested Maoists have revealed
that they collected Rs 1000 from each truck that rolls out from coal or
metal mines in Jharkhand and Orissa.
The funds are used to acquire arms and infrastructure like satellite
phones, sustain cadres, provide training, run propaganda campaign,
distribute and print literature. The Maoists effectively use money power to
manipulate media and judicial organs. They are also spending a large chunk
of money on expansion programmes to find a toehold in States where they have
Experts say the Government needs to work on a two pronged approach.
The first and foremost task was to restrict the Maoist area of influence
through effective governance and develop regions adjoining their domain.
"They need to be quarantined and areas falling outside their influences be
immunised to prevent the growth of the malice," an official said.
Side by side, the Government needs to raise Special Task Forces, on
the pattern of Grey Hounds of Andhra Pradesh and modernise the police force,
set up a Central coordination committee and put in place a long-term
strategy to deal with the Maoists.
But so far, apart from admitting the seriousness of the problem the
Governments seems to be doing precious little. This indifference could
internally bleed the nation and make it ineffective in taking on the full
fore of the Maoist onslaught as and when they decide to go for the final
People's Guerrilla Army ------------ 8000 men
Jan Militia ------------------------- -- 25,000 men
Village level cadres --------------- 50,000 men
Arms: Light machine guns, self-loading rifles, rocket launchers, land
mines, carbines, grenades and Insas rifles.
Fund: Rs 750 cr per year.
Source of fund: Extortion, Levy, penalty, membership, cut from
development fund, coal extraction and mining.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The Centre is considering the creation of a separate reserve commando force for each of the Naxal-affected states.
Talking to this correspondent, a high-ranking official of the Union home ministry said: "The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has constituted an elite anti-Naxal force on the pattern of Andhra Pradesh’s ‘Greyhounds’. The CRPF has trained 11 battalions of anti-Naxal force, which are expected to be deployed in all Naxal-affected states. Commandos of this force are being trained at ‘Silchar’ training camp. The matter was discussed at length at a recent meeting which was chaired by the Union home secretary."
It’s a dedicated commando force for anti-Naxal operations only, he said, adding that it will not be used for any other assignments at all.
The official further said: "Trained as a strike force capable of sustaining itself for days together in tough war-like conditions without reinforcements, it will be kept as reserve force in Naxal-affected states. It will be the first Central force exclusively dealing with Naxal insurgents."
Commandos of this elite force will soon be equipped with modern equipment, he added.
The Union home ministry has also asked all Naxal-affected state governments to train policeman in "jungle warfare". The expenditure incurred on training will be covered under the security-related expenditure scheme of the Central government.
"In the 19th meeting of the coordination centre with the chief secretaries and directors-general of police of the Naxal-affected states, they were asked to take immediate steps for imparting training to the police personnel engaged in anti-Naxalite operation in counter-insurgency and jungle warfare. For this purpose training facilities of Central security forces are being made available to the Naxal affected states," said the official.
Besides, in its effort to check increasing Naxal violence in the country, the Centre has started recruiting people from Naxal-affected areas in the Central police forces. A total 29,000 people from Naxal-affected areas were recruited in 2004.
"With a view to wean away youth from the path of violence by providing them gainful employment, the government has earmarked a certain quota of vacancies in Central police forces to be filled from Naxal-affected states," said the official.
Bihar government today sounded an alert in the Naxalite-hit areas in south Bihar and asked the police to intensify anti-Naxalite operations following the killing of a JD(U) leader and five of his supporters by CPI (Maoist) guerrillas in Aurangabad district last night.
After visiting the spot, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, while condemning the incident, told reporters that he had directed the Inspector-General of Police (Patna zone) and DIG of Magadh range, besides other senior police officials to step up combing operations against the ultras.
He said that the authorities were also asked to provide licenses for weapons to five persons in each of the affected villages on a priority basis to counter the Naxalites.
Modi announced that the state government had decided to immediately pay a compensation of Rs one lakh and find suitable government employment for one family member of each of those killed in Naxalite violence.
Earlier, Modi, Panchayati Raj minister Ram Nath Thakur and zonal inspector general of police Rajvardhan Sharma flew in to Aurangabad for an on-the-spot inquiry, Amanullah said.
Heavily armed Naxalites had ambushed the convoy of Madanpur block JD (U) president Ashok Singh near Devjada village in the district around 10 pm last night when he was returning after campaigning for zila parishad election. Singh was a candidate in the election.
The underground rebels, who have called for a boycott of the elections to three-tier panchayati raj bodies scheduled next month, sprayed Singh's vehicle with bullets leading to a fierce exchange of fire for about an hour and a half in which six persons, including Singh, were killed.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Ranchi, April 24: Red alert has been sounded in the state following recovery of two bombs along the railway tracks between Jonha and Kita railway stations in Ranchi late last night even as Maoists blew up of a police picket at Mcluiskieganj under Khelari police station area in the wee hours today.
Railway traffic control officials said the bombs were not very powerful and the train services were not affected.
The Railway Protection Force and the Railway Protection Special Force have stepped up vigil along the railway tracks following the recovery of bomb.
State police sources said additional re-enforcement of Jharkhand Armed Police, Special Task Force and the para-military forces have been done in the sensitive districts, while important government establishments and jails have been placed under surveillance.
The recovery of the explosives is being linked to the ongoing martyrs’ week being observed by the CPI (Maoist), which will conclude on April 28.
Most of the police stations in the Naxalite-infested districts, especially Palamau, Chatra, Latehar, Garhwa, Simdega, West Singbhum, Giridih, Hazaribagh and Ranchi, have been put on a high alert following a tip-off that the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army could trigger blasts.
Though there have been reports of the Maoists organising meetings in remote forest areas of Latehar, Garhwa and Palamau districts besides taking out processions, the authorities denied having any such information.
Apparently, a bandh would mark the end of the martyrs’ day on April 28, but there has been no official communiqué from the outfit in this connection.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006 (Aurangabad):
Maoist guerillas killed seven people in Aurangabad district of Bihar on Monday.
Heavily armed Naxalites ambushed the convoy of Ashok Singh, a local JD(U) leader, when he was returning after campaigning for the Zila Parishad elections.
Singh and six supporters were killed in an exchange of fire that lasted 90 minutes.
The CPI (Maoist) have given a call for boycott of the Panchayati Raj elections scheduled next month.
(Top) Siddhartha Shankar Ray, Ashim Chatterjee
Calcutta, April 24: Former chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray has offered to campaign for former Naxalite leader Ashim Chatterjee and re-script years of bloodshed in Bengal’s modern history.
Chatterjee is contesting on a Trinamul Congress symbol from Beliaghata constituency and Ray, who says he is not a member of any party now, is campaigning for Mamata Banerjee and her friends against the Left Front.
“I am not in active politics any more. I am 86 years old. But I believe the Congress is wedded to the Left because of compulsions at the Centre. In this context, I am campaigning for Mamata Banerjee because I believe she is the only person sincerely fighting against the CPM. I am with all of her allies, including Ashim Chatterjee. I am willing to campaign for him. But I do not think his constituency is on the list given to me,” Ray told The Telegraph in an interview.
Last week, the former chief minister, who ordered Ashim Chatterjee’s arrest and who is still held responsible for “atrocities” against Left activists of all hues during his 1972-1977 tenure,campaigned in Maniktala — within earshot of adjoining Beliaghata.
When the question was put to Chatterjee, the former Naxalite leader was not a little stupefied.
In separate responses he first said “no” to such an offer. Later, he explained that “I do not want any support from the Congress in my campaign and Ray is a Congressman”.
The vision of Ray campaigning for Chatterjee is the equivalent of blasphemy in the language of Left radicals.
Azizul Haque, who knew Chatterjee even before the CPI(ML) was formed in 1969, was livid. “You should ask if he (Chatterjee) will contest elections also with Rabri Devi and Narendra Modi!”
In Chatterjee’s own constituency of Beliaghata, there are those who have not yet lived down the tragedies that overcame them in the 1970s. One of them is Nishith Bhattacharya, who formed the second central committee of the CPI(ML) with Azizul Haque after Charu Majumdar’s original party splintered.
Bhattacharya’s modest house is opposite the CIT quarters off Beliaghata Main Road. “In those quarters,” recalls Haque dramatically, “S.S. Ray’s police came and shot seven youths in cold blood. Then the constables tried to wash away the bloodstains but the stains remained. Ashim Chatterjee is now coming in to finish the job, broom in hand. The eyes of the dead and the martyred are watching".
Chatterjee, now 62, was arrested from Deogarh in Bihar in 1972. He was released in 1978.
A “reformed Naxalite”, he contested the elections in 1991 from Rashbehari, and lost, as a CPM-supported candidate. In 1995, his new outfit, the Communist Revolutionary League of India, was admitted into the Left Front but he was out of the coalition in the wake of a minor rebellion in the CPM by Saifuddin Choudhary.
“I was asked by somebody how come I am contesting elections after having supported the slogan of election boycott,” Chatterjee defends his position. “And I am surprised at the memory of people who recall my three or four years (from 1967 to 1971) of boycotting elections but conveniently forget my 40 years of association with mainstream politics.”
But Chatterjee, an alumnus of Presidency College, still sustains his image as the stormy petrel of seventies’ College Street. A handbill distributed by him among voters describes him as “a former Naxalite leader who has always been at the forefront of student movements, peasant movements and democratic rights movements”.
Chatterjee also heads a memorial committee that seeks to commemorate victims of the Cossipore-Baranagar massacre, one of several atrocities alleged to have been perpetrated by the police during Ray’s rule.
Such is the turn of the wheel that Chatterjee and Ray now speak the same language in politics.
“My aim in asking for votes is political, not electoral. I may lose in elections but I win in politics… But given the power equation between the Congress and the Left Front, the Congress cannot take a firm stand in Bengal. Therefore, I have entered into an alliance with the Trinamul,” says Chatterjee.
Asked if the bankruptcy of politics he accuses the Left of is also not applicable to him, he replies: “I am on a journey of exploration to find a democratic alternative.”
Says Ray: “The situation in Bengal today is such that it demands an end to the 30-year (Left) rule. I believe the Congress will not be able to say certain things against the CPM. Mamata, on the other hand, has given a call for all democratic forces to get together and oust the CPM.”
More than Ray’s it is Chatterjee’s shifting positions that is both a subject of ridicule and introspection among Bengal’s Left intelligentsia. Chatterjee and Ray have contributed to the politics of the state from antagonistic ends in the past but somehow their paths now converge.
Says political scientist Ranabir Samaddar of the Calcutta Research Group: “Insurgencies don’t die easily. The revival of the Maoist movement in Bengal shows that. But there aren’t too many options for the people of the past. You can choose to be a Medha Patkar, of course. Maybe Ashim Chatterjee’s problem is that he has to sustain his image as a Naxal without being a Naxalite.
April 24, 2006
Last week, Ajit Doval, former chief of Intelligence Bureau, spoke about the threat of Bangladeshi infiltration to India's internal security.
Part I: 'Bangladeshi infiltration is the biggest threat'
Today he tells Managing Editor Sheela Bhatt about the Maoist threat to India's hinterland.
Besides Bangladeshi infiltration and border management, which are the other prime concerns to the managers of national security?
The Naxal menace, also called the Left extremist movement, is another extremely important issue bothering India. It is another dangerous area for internal security.
When you talk of securing India we ask ourselves what you are trying to secure. When we try to put up a fence on the border we are securing our territorial integrity, our sovereignty. We are trying to secure ourselves from Inter Services Intelligence activities. But when we tackle the Maoists, we are trying to secure our rule of law and our Constitution.
When we talk of taking on the Maoists, we talk about securing our system of governance. The Maoists threaten our Constitution, rule of law and our type of governance. Through use of violence, and not through the ballot boxes, they want to change the rules and governments.
How to wean youth away from the Maoists
There are grave implications of this thinking to India's national security.
First, the sheer geographical expanse of the Maoist influence affects 40 percent of India. In terms of actual operational area it's four times more than Punjab militancy, Kashmir terrorism and North-east insurgencies combined. Second, the response to this problem will be difficult.
When in the presence of 10,000 people jan adalats are formed and punishment by death is handed out and the Indian police doesn't file even an FIR, what do you expect? The official response to Maoists is the trickiest part of the issue. When the Punjab problem started, the Indian government could not cover the countryside of Punjab even with heavy deployment of paramilitary forces. In J&K only a small strip of the Valley is affected but we need 5 to 6 Army Corps and paramilitary forces. And still it's difficult to police and dominate the interiors of Kashmir.
The Maoist struggle is in the huge hinterland of India. If at any place, 10,000 people jointly attack and if 30 percent of them are armed, security men can't retaliate because the resultant killings will do more damage than good. Do you know why in the Jehanabad jail-break more than 1,000 people joined hands? They need only 25 to 30 trained and skilled people to break the cordons and attack the jail. But as Charu Majumdar said, every revolutionary must soak his hands in blood.
As happens in underworld gangs, when a newcomer comes they ask him to commit a murder so that he becomes an accused and then he will not have any option but to join the gang permanently. All those who joined hands in raiding the Jehanabad jail will remain with Naxalite movement all their life because all of them are co-accused in a serious crime.
South-Asia's Maoist Web
There have been more than 500 such incidents committed by Maoists in the last two years. Imagine what a force they have at their disposal! The Maoist leaders know that eventually if they have to fight the Indian military they can't win against the 'occupying State', all those 'liberated areas' cannot remain liberated if you don't have the 'shield' of the masses.
Do you agree that the Maoists movement is a political one?
It's a 100 percent political movement. The Maoists want to usurp power through the barrel of the gun.
Is it a structured movement?
It's a completely structured organisation. They have a politburo, they have a central committee. They have regional offices and now they have regional area commanders. They have troops and they have commanders for the troops.
Jehanabad signals deeper malaise
Why can't the intelligence agencies arrest them and put them on trial?
Can you do everything you want? There is a big gap between what you wish and what you are capable of doing.
Is India capable of controlling or taking counteraction against the Maoists?
If India decides to do it, India can.
What is the major action taken by the government so far?
The government has started some welfare measures. The government is sending central troops wherever required. A committee of chief ministers of the Maoist-affected states is being formed.
There is a committee in the home ministry meeting from time to time to discuss the Maoist problem.
But so far nothing seems to be effective.
The government's reaction has not been enough. When some incident happens 5 or 7 battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force is sent irrespective of whether these troops make any difference or not. As the prime minister has said, we will have to think out of the box. We have got, so far, conventional responses.
It is a problem entirely different in character. It has social, security, economic and communication dimensions. I consider it a very important national issue because it is in India's hinterland. India's geological and forest wealth lies here. All the surface arteries of communication pass through it. When Punjab, J&K and the Northeast were disturbed, it did not affect the rest of India much. The Maoists are levying tax on every truck that passes through their area. The judicial system is hijacked. Rail traffic can't function smoothly because most trains pass through the areas. They are collecting taxes now. They are not only distributing private land but also distributing pattas of government land. If you abdicate your judicial function, if you abdicate your legislative function and if you don't collect taxes then, where is India's sovereignty left? The legitimacy and credibility of the government is at stake.
Where is the situation leading to?
The day realisation comes that this problem is very serious, it requires a national response. The first thing that should emerge is a political consensus in India.
Do Maoists get support from jihadi organisations?
Not from jihadis but they do have tactical linkages. They had tactical linkages with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for some kind of training.
How are they funded?
The government's development funds are their major source. They siphon off these funds because of poor governance. From the patwari to top government officials to local politicians, all keep quiet.
It's not a frightening scenario but it's a phenomenon requiring awareness.
They are treated as neither criminals nor terrorists.
There is no accepted definition of terrorism. If they use violence to achieve their political objectives then why do you say they are not terrorists? Terrorists are denounced because their means are unaccepted in civil society and their ends are therefore vitiated.
Home Minister Shivraj Patil has said the Maoists are the children of our country.
Well, Dawood Ibrahim is also the child of our country. The terrorists who killed Indira Gandhi were also the children of our country.
Let us have understanding at different levels. At the socio-economic level do the work. Build colleges and schools, provide employment and hospitals, and redress grievances of the people. But lack of these things doesn't give anybody a license to kill innocent people.
The Maoists think that beyond a point, they are unable to tolerate injustice.
Yes, they may think strongly about what they do but the Indian State can't accept their thinking. Anybody who resorts to violence cannot be accepted.
If the state tries to be soft then we should change India's Constitution. No person has a right to kill and no justification should be forwarded for their actions.
The bottom-line is to decide whether Indian society accepts violence as a justifiable instrument to achieve one's political objective. If the answer is no, then the Maoist movement is terrorism.
If you term them in black and white there will be much more reaction. It will be a kind of war.
This war has to be fought and won. When I am saying this it doesn't mean the Maoists don't have genuine problems or a cause. It doesn't mean that the government process has not failed in those parts of India.
In those parts we have failed in governing and we have failed on the economic front. But the question is of a framework to deal with the violence.
In other words, does it mean it is a civil war?
It is not a civil war, as yet. But it can lead to serious conflict. We have to set up the framework. We have to convince them to fight an election. It is possible to explain to them. After Charu Majumdar, when Vinod Mishra came in he formed the Maoist Communist Centre and fought elections. Some splinter ultra-left groups have joined the MCC in Bihar and the People's War Group in Andhra Pradesh.
Don't you think one of the major problems is that people in urban India have many more privileges, including access to technology, than these people who are joining or supporting the Maoists?
You have made a very valid point. The first task of the government is to reach out to the people. This job has to be done by political leaders. We need to access them and connect to them.
When you were IB chief, what do you remember most about the management of the Maoist issue?
At that point of time the government had decided to talk to them despite some discordant voices. Peace has to be given a chance but in conflict resolution clarity of mind is the most important thing. With whom to talk, what to offer and who can influence them the most should be decided clearly.
How well India is gearing up to tackle these problems?
India is capable of fighting back. How many countries have fought terrorism of so many varieties for so long and so successfully?