Friday, June 02, 2006

Kaarnataka : Yet another Naxal review panel

BANGALORE: Even as several study reports on Naxal problem continue to gather dust in government offices, chief minister H D Kumaraswamy on Friday ordered another review of the socio-economic situation in the Naxal-hit districts.

The move comes against the backdrop of media and intelligence reports on increasing Naxal activity, Kumaraswamy justified while speaking to reporters here.

Revenue secretary S M Jaamdar has been asked to submit the report. Kumaraswamy said he will shortly tour the Naxal-hit districts of Chikmagalur and Udupi to hear grievances of the people and know the magnitude of Naxal problem



ANSWERED ON 17.05.2006



Will the Minister of HOME AFFAIRS be pleased to state:-

(a) whether in his address on 13th April, 2006 at the meeting of Chief Ministers of the Naxalites affected States, Naxalism has been identified to be the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by the country;

(b) if so, broad justification of the observation so made;

(c) the measures being evolved, if any, to face this challenge comprehensively instead of continuing to treat it as a law and order problem of the respective States; and

(d) the salient details of the monitoring mechanism, if any, established at the Centre to deal with situations evolving due to activities of left-extremist outfits in various States?




(a) & (b): In view of the naxal movement now characterized by growing militrarisation, army style organization, better trained cadres, attacks on large targets through large scale frontal assaults and better coordination, the Prime Minister, while addressing the 2nd meeting of the Standing Committee of Chief Ministers of naxal affected States on 13.4.2006, inter-alia, observed that naxalism is the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by the country.

(c): The Government does not consider naxalism to be merely a law & order problem. The policy of the Govt. is, therefore, to address this problem simultaneously on political, security, development and public perception management fronts in a holistic and coordinated manner.

(d): Monitoring mechanisms set up by the Central Govt. include Standing Committee of the Chief Ministers of the naxal affected States chaired by the Union Home Minister, Quarterly Coordination Centre meetings chaired by the Union Home Secretary with the Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police of the affected States and the monthly Task Force meetings of Nodal Officers of the naxal affected States and Central agencies chaired by Special Secretary (IS), MHA.

Government effort to crack Pro Naxal websites

To to question whether the naxalites have now become `hi-tech` by launching their own website and have issued serious threats from website to the State and Central Government , the Minister SRIPRAKASH JAISWAL stated ,certain websites with pro-maoist/naxalite contents are found to be hosted on Internet. These websites are largely hosted outside India . HE said to face the situation, Government is intercepting any information transmitted through any computer resource in relation to interests of the sovereignty or integrity of India, security of the State, Public order etc., the Central Government can also issue instructions to Internet Service Providers for blocking of such websites in India

Source : Parliament



ANSWERED ON 17.05.2006



Will the Minister of HOME AFFAIRS be pleased to state:-

(a) whether it is a fact that helicopters are not being used in launching anti-naxal movement in naxal affected States due to shortage of pilots;

(b) whether Government have received any information from States in this regard; and

(c) if so, the action being taken by Government in this regard?




(a) to (c): Helicopters are provided to the naxal affected States mainly for need based movement of police personnel and evacuation of casualties. In the recent past, helicopters have been provided to Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra for such purposes.



ANSWERED ON 17.05.2006



Will the Minister of HOME AFFAIRS be pleased to state:-

(a): how many meetings with the State authorities of the naxal-affected States have been convened in last two years and the details of the outcome;

(b)whether Government have been able to set up an institutionalized mechanism to coordinate anti-naxal operations and intelligence sharing;

(c) whether Government recognized that the resolving naxal-problem would require rapid economic development of affected areas; and

(d): if so, what steps Government are considering to monitor the delivery of Centre sponsored developmental schemes at the village level and has any system to fix accountability of district and village level officials been evolved alongwith details thereof?




(a): Two meetings of the Standing Committee of CMs of the naxal affected States, six meetings of the Coordination Centre and eleven meetings of the Task Force on naxalism have been held with naxal affected States since April, 2004.
The important decisions taken during these meetings include strengthening of intelligence gathering and sharing mechanisms by the affected States, long-term deployment of Central police forces, inclusion of additional districts and items under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme, modernization and upgradation of State Police forces and Police Stations for anti-naxalite operations, mounting of focused, coordinated and sustained intelligence based anti-naxalite operations, effective implementation of various development schemes, land reforms, PESA Act and in the affected areas, formulation of Resettlement and Rehabilitation (RR) Policy for local people etc.

(b): The States have been asked to set up mechanisms for coordinated inter-State anti-naxal operations and expedite constitution of Inter-State Intelligence Support Teams (ISISTs) within the framework of Joint Task Force on Intelligence (JTFI).

(c)& (d): Keeping in view that the naxal problem is not merely a law & order problem, the Government policy essentially deals with the problem on both security and development fronts. The Central Government has been advising the affected States to improve monitoring and delivery mechanisms to ensure faster socio-economic development in the naxal affected areas.



ANSWERED ON 17.05.2006



Will the Minister of HOME AFFAIRS be pleased to state:-

(a): whether it is a fact that Maoists are now using sophisticated weapons like INSAS and AK 47 rifles and explosives to fight security forces;

(b): if so, whether Government have made any assessment about the number of armed naxalites and arms and ammunition acquired by them and if so, the details thereof;

(c) the country wherefrom they had procured these arms and what is Government`s reaction thereto; and

(d): whether Government have formulated any policy to tackle this problem?




(a): The naxal groups are reported to have looted sophisticated weapons including some INSAS and AK 47 rifles from the security forces. They continue to use IEDs/landmine blasts to kill civilians and security forces.

(b): As per available information, the present strength of armed naxalite cadres is about 7200 and their arms holding is estimated to be about 5450.

(c): There are not reports to suggest that Indian naxal groups are getting arms from abroad.

(d): The Government has been pursuing a multi-pronged approach to address the problem on political, security and development fronts in a coordinated manner.

Choppers for VIP's but not for Security personnels for combat

Buy-aircraft bug bites again
- Rs 137-crore nod to shop for six choppers, single-engine planes and one hi-tech glider

The eight-seater helicopter hired from Agusta in Italy. A Telegraph file picture
Jamshedpur, June 1: Dreams can have wings, so does the Jharkhand government. The administration, bitten by the flying bug, especially after chief minister Arjun Munda himself took to the cockpit of the civil aviation department, has loosened its purse strings to shop for the flying machines.

Decks have been cleared for the government to spend Rs 137 crore to buy three new choppers and an equal number of single engine aircraft for the use of its VIPs and the police. Also, on the shopping list is a sophisticated motor-driven glider for the gliders’ club members.

The finance ministry, sources said, recently cleared the long-pending proposal of the civil aviation department for spending on the machines, an approval of which is mandatory for all departments planning to spend heavily from the state exchequer.

Two helicopters would be used for travel of the VIPs (read, the governor, ministers and bureaucrats) and one would be for the state police, which would also avail of the three single-engine aircraft for training of its jawans in anti-Naxalite operations.

“The file will now be forwarded to Arjun Munda for his stamp. Since Munda himself looks after the civil aviation department, his approval is a foregone conclusion,” said a senior finance ministry official.

The government, in the beginning of this fiscal, hired an eight-seater chopper from Agusta, an aviation company based in Italy. It has night landing and other facilities.

Further, about a month ago, the civil aviation department floated tenders to hire a jet aircraft for the use of VIPs. The deal is yet to be finalised. The jet, as the government specified in the tender, should have facilities for using telephone and fax, and provide for conferencing and emergency meetings during flying. An “Airforce One”, possibly.

Although civil aviation secretary J.B. Tubid was not available, sources in the ministry said now that the finance department has given its nod, the government would invite bids to make the purchases of the helicopters, planes and gliders. “Hopefully by another seven months deals will be finalised,” they added.

Some government officials, however, have been questioning for sometime the need to spend so much on either buying or hiring so many aircraft.

“It is true the state needs choppers and planes for the police to combat the Naxalite problem. But why for VIPs? You already have one and another jet is being hired. The political leadership could have been more prudent while using public money,” the senior finance ministry official commented.

Security, mass contact can thwart Naxals: DIG

Statesman News Service

BALASORE, June 1: Mass-contact programmes, backed by confidence- building measures and simultaneous strengthening of security, can check the growing menace of Naxalism, the deputy inspector-general (Eastern Range), Mr M Akshay, said.
The Mayurbhanj district has been witnessing Naxalite activities on a low scale and 99 villages have been identified. Most of the radicals in the district come from Jharkhand and West Bengal. Till date, locals have not been indoctrinated into their fold. “Our personnel regularly conduct patrolling and report the reasons for discontentment among tribals to the government,” the DIG, who assumed charge recently, said.
“We organise health and cultural programmes in the area. We are prepared to meet any eventualities. Hence, we have fortified the vulnerable police stations,” Mr Akshay said.
A few villages in the Jharpokhoria, Bisoi, Bangriposhi, Gorumahisani and Tiring police station areas of Mayurbhnaj have been identified as Naxalite-prone areas and hence, additional forces have been deployed.
The special operation group (SOG) personnel too are trained to handle the sophisticated weapons and communication equipment, he said. He ruled out their presence in Nilgiri of Balasore district.
Mr Akshay also talked about his plans to launch a Website for the Balasore police range. It will provide information to the public about the police

Violent times


The PM is worried at the increase in Naxalite activities. He even convened a meeting of the CMs of Naxalite affected states to discuss how to tackle the problem.

The Naxalites are believed to be well equipped to fight security forces and strike at will anywhere in as many as 170 districts across 14 states using sophisticated weapons.

Naxalite activities have acquired considerable strength in terms of its geographical reach and intensity to strike in the last few years. It is not difficult to see the reasons for increased Naxalite activity.

Some newspapers reported recently that thousands of farmers of Maan near Pune battled with police, opposing acquisition of over 464 hectares of their livelihood farmland for the Rajiv Gandhi IT Park Phase IV.

The land was being acquired at confiscatory rates. Two villagers were admitted to hospital with police bullet wounds, and many hurt in the lathicharge. Protests continue.

The adjoining hills and 587 hectares of agricultural land from Hinjewadi, Marunji, Wasve Bhoirwadi and part of Maan had already been acquired by the state government for phases II and III. This is not an isolated incident.

In the name of development, houses and livelihoods of poor people across the country are being officially plundered for making roads, building malls, making dams and IT parks.

In the above case, how was it decided that the land in these villages was most appropriate to make Rajiv Gandhi IT park? A farmer, when uprooted from his land, finds it extremely difficult to start living at another place.

Also, the land being snatched from farmers is fertile and should not be put to any use other than agriculture. Obviously, public interest would be best served if agriculture were done on fertile land rather than making an IT park there.

What would you have done if one day, government simply acquired all your property, including your house, and destroyed your source of livelihood, saying that they were doing so because they wanted to start a project, which would benefit the country in the long run?

First, you would try to stop government from taking over your house. But if government did not listen, you might try to fight for an adequate compensation.

If government now turned around and said that this was an inevitable cost of development, and if you protested, you would be termed anti-development. You have lost everything — your property, your livelihood.

There is not even a hope for a better future. Obviously, you would nurture a strong antagonism against those who brought you to this state. In the name of development, lakhs of people are being turned into refugees. They have nowhere to go.

Losing everything in their villages, when they reach cities, desperate to find employment and start a new life, they are hounded out by the police and branded as criminals.

Their jhuggis are again destroyed by the state in the name of development. Their very existence on earth is illegal. No one wants them. Solutions cannot be found through violence. But what would you have done if you were put in such a situation?

Almost every city, town and village in our country is fertile for Naxalite activity. The manner in which jhuggis are being mercilessly destroyed by government, even cities might become a hotbed for Naxalites.

Centuries back, the Pandavas demanded just five villages from Kauravas. The Kauravas' refusal led to Mahabharat, one of the bloodiest battles ever fought. Today, the poor are just demanding to retain their homes and livelihoods.

Another Mahabharat would be fought if government continues rendering them homeless and jobless. The PM mentioned lack of development as one of the reasons for Naxalism.

He does not understand that it is not the lack of development but the type of development that is the cause of Naxalism. Unfortunately, the PM's meeting ended by treating Naxalism as a serious internal security issue to be dealt with by security forces. But the PM did not realise that this solution will create many more Naxalites in future.

The writer is with Parivartan, a Delhi-based rights group



Shoma Chaudhury and Vikram Jit Singh travel to Mansa to find a rebel whose flaming spirit will not be doused

Click on the picture below to see a photo-essay on the subject

Nothing can prepare you for the man in the ambulance waiting under the seething keekar tree. The arms are stumps; the left leg is amputated at the knee. The right leg socks the wind out of you. Four steel screws plunge out of his bone from shin to knee, girded together by a steel bar. The skin strains against the intrusion, protesting in blood. Inside another steel plate grates against bone, struggling to keep the smashed pieces together. The bandaged foot cannot hide the gangrene setting in. Bant Singh, 45, is about to lose his remaining toes. But his spirit — it soars. Spiralling unimprisoned beneath the baking hot sky.

“What is a little more pain?” he laughs. “They left my real weapons intact. My tongue, my voice, my mind.” His stump reaches up — a memory of earlier agility — to touch his lilac turban with pride. Every time he speaks, you sense his missing limbs. He cannot move, but everything about him suggests quick movement. Bant Singh is a handsome man. It is one of the reasons a band of upper caste Jat Sikhs beat him so mercilessly in the field that fateful January night. He wore his head too high, his turban too proud, his moustache too stiff. He insisted on living like a man in a land accustomed to shirking his shadow. That was the root enmity; the rest was just trimmings.

The ambulance waits in the compound of the CPI (ML) office in Mansa, a district in Punjab. Bhagat Singh is everywhere. A little distance away, legions of dalit landless labour and small holding Jat farmers are gathering at a rally beneath surging white canopy and red flags. The Naxal movement of the 70s had staggered feudal excesses in the better part of Punjab, but Malwa remained a preserve of old ways. Now Bant Singh has become a defining moment.

In a few minutes, he will be among the crowd, a powerful tableau on a stage, a symbol of gathering resistance across the region. As his story is told again, people break down and cry. “I remember what he looked like once. Then I remember all the suffering of my own life,” says Gulab Kaur from neighbouring Barnala. Leader after leader approaches the mike and thunder for a change in social order. Then Bant breaks into song: “The history of our country teaches us this, the oppressed always wins, and our looters are destroyed.” The song rips through the crowd like electricity. Out of this will Bant has turned his broken body into an effulgent sign of hope.

It is four months since Tehelka first wrote of Bant Singh, the dalit revolutionary singer brutalised for his rebel spirit. Three, since it put out an appeal for support. Readers across the country responded with generous cheques. We are travelling now to deliver the tribute — Rs 3,85,000 sent by strangers — to him. He receives it at the rally with quiet grace. “We will never forget the people who have reached out to give strength to poor men,” he says. “We will continue to fight till we have breath.”



You need guts to call a spade a spade. Like the way Bant Singh and Aamir Khan did. So when I read about Bant Singh, I was moved and wanted to contribute in my own little way. Even in the future, I shall contribute in whatever manner possible.
Dr PK Lakhani | New Delhi

I felt mad to read of another rape case. “My tongue is there. I can still sing.” His willpower touched me. Hats off to his fighting spirit. We hardly meet such strong-willed people and I am glad though in a small way I was able to touch his life.
Sona Sareen | New Delhi

In spite of being one of the most developed states of the country, Punjab still has landlordism. Bant Singh’s story testifies to the existence of caste system there. Every secular and progressive person of this country should support him. In fact, I felt guilty at sending in my contribution two weeks late.
Sheoraj Singh Bechain | New Delhi

We hear of injustices but do nothing about it. But Bant Singh did. He had everything to lose, he lost everything, including his motion. But he still went on and on. He is one of a kind. In what he has done, he is an inspiration to many of us.
Kunal Kapoor | Mumbai

You would not expect the village of Burj Jhabber to throw up a giant spirit. But Bant Singh’s hut — a smudge of packed mud and crumbling, loose brick, a structure so tentative in its expectation of the world, it is not even cemented together — is testimony to the unpredictable gifts of Nature, the unpredictable visitations of the human spirit. Bant grew up in this village, the son of a landless labourer. Hungry, barefooted, often possessed of no clothes, a restlessness ran in his blood. When he was about 10 or 12, he heard the wandering mazdoor poet, Sant Ram Udasi sing at a gathering. “I heard him and felt he was singing about us,” says Bant. He was rivetted. “After that I would chase him everywhere, I thirsted after his songs.” The Sant’s voice illuminated a world Bant could never have imagined. It sang of equality and pride and revolution. It evoked the possibility of change.

Bitten, Bant signed up with the underground Vinod-Mishra led Indian People’s Front when he was about 17. Around 1992, he moved away briefly, then rejoined the overground CPI (ML). The faultlines in the village began to grow. Mentored by veterans leftists like Sukhdarshan Singh Natt, Bant began to mobilise landless labour within and around the village, enlisting membership into the Mazdoor Mukti Morcha, galvanising them to demand minimum wages and relief from debt traps. He insisted his pigs drink from the same pond as the buffaloes of upper caste landlords. He ran a thumbprint campaign against Amrik Singh, a corrupt ration depot holder, and got his license cancelled. He took up people’s cases with the police and negotiated better deals for them from the establishment. In 2000, he committed the ultimate transgression. His 17-year old daughter Balwant Kaur was raped by two boys, Mandhir Singh, a Jat, and Tarsem Singh, a Mazbhi Sikh. Breaking established custom, Bant and his family refused to compromise. Hostilities mounted dangerously. One day, Navdeep Singh, the depot holder Amrik Singh’s son, banged his motorcycle into Bant’s pigs. According to Amit Prasad, ssp, Mansa, the police had to take preventive action on both sides. But these were just symptoms. As Prasad told Tehelka, “Bant used to give them back in equal measure what had traditionally been the right of the upper castes. Undoubtedly the upper castes harboured a bias against him.”

On 5 January, 2006, the bias erupted into a brutal beating. Bant Singh was cycling home late after collecting memberships for the Mazdoor Mukti Morcha from neighbouring villages. A group of youngsters attacked him in the field with hand pump handles. Bant tried to give them the slip, but they ran him down on a scooter and pulped his limbs. When Bant’s rescuers came hours later, one of the farmhands fainted at the sight. But Bant retained consciousness throughout. “I was a very strong man,” Bant laughs in the ambulance, a quicksilver gleam in his eye. “I was full of muscle. I could eat two chickens at a go!” His wife, Harbans Kaur, a stoic sturdy woman, mother of eight, smiles slightly at his side.

The story of Bant Singh is the story of a giant spirit. Fired by that spirit, it is easy to forget that symbols are smelted out of the pain of flesh. The grist of life has to be lived. The brute contraption must be borne. Bant Singh’s songs spiral unimprisoned beneath the baking hot sky, but as his daughter Balwant Kaur takes her place next to him on the stage, she weeps uncontrollably by his side. His stoic wife trembles briefly. After the crowds leave, there is still the hospital bed, and the jerking, wincing ride home. The pigs are gone — there is nobody to look after them. The family is scattered. And when you enter the tentative structure of loose brick and crumbling mud, the heat hits you like a nuclear blast. There is not enough space for five people to stand.

Yet, yet, the spirit is indomitable. Soon after the savage attack, the Congress government in Punjab awarded a Rs 10-lakh compensation to Bant and his family. (It has still not denounced the incident publicly though.) Sukhraj Natt, a local Congress politician and a known supporter of Bant’s assailants, went along with the dc and ssp for a photo-op to hand the money over to Bant’s wife. Harbans Kaur, sick, needy, marooned alone in the village with her eight children, scorned the cheque. “Take that man Sukhraj out of my sight,” she raged, “if he touches the cheque I will not take it.” Natt had to beat an undignified retreat. The officers were forced to return later with the cheque.

What will Bant do with the money, you wonder. “Raise my children,” he says quietly, lying in a charpoy outside his failing hut, flanked by two police guards. The seven boys who beat him are in jail, but their benefactors, the two sarpanch brothers Niranjan Singh Sidhu and Jaswant Singh live barely half a kilometre away in a faux haveli, with bougainvillaea spilling out of their walls. “And when I am better, I will build a pucca house a little further away, closer to my people. We are too isolated here. If they ever come again, it will be too late before anyone can come to our help.”

Ask the thin, attractive daughter what she will do if the men come their way again. Fire flashes in her eye. It is not easy for a rape victim to speak out in these parts. She was having an affair they say. But Balwant Kaur refuses to be cowed down. She has spoken at a labour conference in faraway Rajahmundhry, Andhra Pradesh. “I will answer their bricks with stones,” she says now. “My father never stopped fighting for me, I will never stop fighting for my father. When I went to meet him the first time in the hospital, he broke down. I told him there is no time for tears now. We must be strong.” Her ailing mother is having a fit outside. Balwant steps to her without a fuss, grips her nose tightly, and waits for her to open her eyes. Her young siblings watch her mutely. Her tiny baby, Satwant is passed from arm to arm. The heat presses down on everyone. Bant, lying a little away, holds himself quietly, unable to turn.

Then suddenly, it is dusk, and time to leave. The men gather around Bant to heave him onto the stretcher. “Careful, careful,” he jokes, “if any of you get a jerk, you’ll drop me like a moongphali!” Harbans Kaur enters the ambulance with him. The children must remain behind. Two daughters married, one son studying in a police school in Bhatinda, and five left to fend for themselves with neighbours and aunts.

Bant Singh’s song will soon be summoned to sow thirst for dignity elsewhere. Another rally, another stage, another place. As the years pass, his story will pass into folklore and strangers will draw strength from it. For the moment, we cross his ambulance in the twilight on our way home, his eyes agleam in the shadows, his leg held aloft by his wife to ease the pain of the ride.

Send your cheques in favour of Bant Singh to
Tehelka, M-76, Greater Kailash Part II,
M Block Market, New Delhi-110 04

NALGONDA: Woman Naxal surrenders before Mahesh M Bhagwat

Friday June 2 2006 13:07 IST
NALGONDA: Twenty-four-year-old Rudavat Sakkubai alias Sakki, a Naxalite of Nallamala dalam, surrendered before the police, Superintendent of Police Mahesh M Bhagwat said. She had quit the path of militancy after Maoists failed to keep up the promise made to her, he revealed.

Addressing media persons here on Thursday, he said Sakkubai, a native of Guntibai tanda in Devarakonda mandal, got married to Hari Singh of Mallapuram in Errakunta tanda at the age of eleven.

Unable to withstand the torture meted out to her by Singh, she obtained a divorce. At this time, the Naxals organised a meeting in the village during which she poured out her woes before the militants. They promised to do justice and took her into the party. But the Naxals failed to keep up their promise, the SP said.

She was first taken into Acchampet dalam in 2005 where she worked for six months. Later, she was shifted to Nallamala dalam. She attended several district and state-level committee meetings.

12 CRPF personnel killed in landmine blast in Jharkhand

Twelve members of a CRPF bomb bomb disposal squad were killed when their vehicle was blown up to pieces in a landmine explosion triggered by maoists near Kiriburu in naxal-affected West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand today.

The personnel were returning this afternoon after defusing 16 bombs planted in a camp school, used by police during long-range patrolling in Thalkobad, when the landmine exploded killing all of them, Inspector General of Police (Zonal) D K Pande said.

The squad had defused eight bombs yesterday and an equal number today, planted by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), at the camp.

Zonal IG and Superintendent of Police of the district N K Sinha rushed to the spot after the explosion, which occurred between 1:30 pm and 2:00 pm.

At least 12 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in a landmine blast after being trapped by Maoist guerrillas in Chaibasa district of Jharkhand on Thursday, police said.

The blast took place at around 2 pm near Karmapada forest, 230 km from Ranchi, when the security personnel were returning in a jeep to the district headquarters after defusing bombs that were planted in a school, police said.

Activists of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) had trapped the CRPF personnel, as the victims were new to Jharkhand and were unaware of the Maoist trap tactics, police said.

"The CRPF personnel had gone on a long range patrolling on Wednesday. They went to the Thalkobad secondary school for night stay and found landmines planted there," said GS Rath, additional director of general of police (special branch).

"They called in the bomb disposal squad. Eight bombs were defused on Wednesday and the rest of them were deactivated on Thursday. They were returning to the district headquarters after completing the job when the blast triggered by the Maoist guerrillas took place," the official said.

Three of the victims belonged to the bomb disposal squad.

The blast is seen as a move to revenge the arrest of two Maoists in Chatra district Wednesday.

Maoist guerrillas are active in 16 of the 22 districts of the state. Nearly 550 people including 230 security personnel have been killed in the last five years in Maoist related violence in the state.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

AP Chief Minister cautions police against custodial deaths

Special Correspondent

Calls for transparency in functioning of department

Says even a single death is a blot on administration
Says constables did not even have seats in the premises
Every station should become people-friendly

HI-TECH STUFF: Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy watching the functioning of the Andhra Pradesh Police Computer Data Centre at the DGP offices in Hyderabad on Monday. PHOTO: P. V. Sivakumar

HYDERABAD : Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy has sounded a word of caution to police about the death of people that continued to occur in their custody.

Inaugurating the computer data and network centre at the State police headquarters here on Monday, Dr. Reddy said even a single death is a big blot on the administration. He called for fairness and transparency in the functioning of police.

Poor amenities

Turning to the poor amenities available at the police stations, the Chief Minister said sometimes constables did not even have seats in the premises. They sat under trees or loitered around. Such conditions lowered the esteem of the police force. Efforts should be made to enhance their prestige and make them approachable to common public.

Dr. Reddy wanted steps aimed at securing ISO certification to all police stations in the State. Every station should become people-friendly. He urged the personnel to shed slackness or else events would overtake them. In this context, he lauded the proficiency of anti-naxalite Greyhounds units of police. They earned acclaim across the country. Director General of Police Swaranjit Sen said the centre was a centralised web-based data storage system for police network in the State.

Cut off date

Home Minister K. Jana Reddy, Chief Secretary T.K. Dewan and Principal Secretary, Home, M.A. Basith, also attended the function. The Minister said the Government was yet to finalise the cut off date to determine the upper age limit for the ensuing recruitment of constables. This had delayed the issue of notification for recruitment. The Government was consulting the State Public Service Commission and the law department in the matter.

He also said the killing of a CRPF constable by Maoists at Sileru in Visakhapatnam district on Sunday was an isolated incident as the movement of naxalite squads had come down drastically.

NCERT launches 'Peace Education' training for teachers

New Delhi, May 31 (PTI): The National Council of Education Research and Training has taken an innovative step to spread the message of peace among students by sensitising the teaching community towards this.

A group of 35 teachers from across the country are being taught conflict resolution, suppression of aggression and coping with stress. The six-week training programme began here yesterday.

"The programme aims to arm teachers with skills to promote a sense of harmony in oneself and social environment among students for avoiding conflict with law," NCERT Director Prof Krishna Kumar told PTI.

"It is not an additional course for the students. But the teachers need to follow certain values and advise these to their students which will greatly influence the learners in shaping a healthy society," he said.

"I have come from a naxalite belt marred by violence. The methods of coflict resolution which I will learn here, is of immense help for students in our area in combating naxalism," said R N Pande, a teacher from High School Tamar, a state-run school in Jharkhand.

Similar was the views of S B Pande, a teacher from Government High School in Arrah in Bihar.

Anti-Naxal movement mired in controversy ?


NEW DELHI: When it comes to former Punjab supercop KPS Gill, can controversy be far behind? Barely a month into his posting as security advisor to the Chattisgarh government, Mr Gill is once again the target of the so-called ‘human rights watchers’ who have alleged that the ongoing anti-Naxal mass movement, or Salwa Judum, is causing “harassment” to poor tribals in Dantewara.

Fortunately, the Union home ministry has come out in defence of Salwa Judum, saying that findings of the citizen’s panel which has slammed the movement are based on “selective” research done over a brief period of 6 days.

The panel — comprising historian Ramachandra Guha, senior journalists BG Verghese and Harivansh and former bureaucrat EAS Sarma — had travelled to Dantewara between May 17 and 23 and spoken to a cross-section of people, including tribals and government officials and based on its “findings,” accused the Chattisgarh government of “outsourcing law and order to an unaccountable, undisciplined and amorphous group called Salwa Judum.”

Countering the panel’s claims one by one, the MHA said that the SPOs, in the first place, had not been given official arms for the very reason that it would make them vulnerable to Naxal attacks aimed at looting those weapons.

In fact, the Salwa Judum activists are asked to arm themselves with traditional weapons like bows and arrows to defend themselves, even as the police personnel are posted nearby to do the more important counter-attacking in the event of a Naxal strike.

As for the allegation that most of the SPOs are underage, a senior MHA official pointed out that the finding was based more on “presumption” rather than hard facts. The official also added that the state government was committed to providing basic facilities including food and shelter to all the tribals housed in the relief camps.

However, it was not possible for the state government to permanently sustain around 46,000 people entirely at its own expense and the camp inhabitants needed to work in due time to provide for themselves.

As for the panel’s call for a national dialogue, the MHA said it was never averse to the idea but remained firm on talking to only those who shunned violence and gave up arms. In any case, there seemed to be no willingness from the CPI(Maoist) to cease armed operations, as was evident from the rising graph and deadliness of their attacks.

Though the MHA agrees that the displaced villagers must be resettled in due course, it does not see this possibility unless Left-wing extremism is uprooted from there. Given that a ceasefire at this juncture does not seem likely, the Centre and the Chattisgarh government have chalked our a detailed plan to launch surgical strikes against Naxalite camps and hideouts in Abujmarh forests.

The plan involved identification of blocks in which the counter-strike will be undertaken one by one. As these blocks are sanitised, the administration and police will move in and then resettle the villagers in these “liberated” zones. Only then can development can be taken up in the right earnest as the Naxalites are known to put up armed resistance to any attempt at socio-economic uplift ofthe regions dominated by them.

Home Ministry seeks report from Chattisgarh over US officials visit

New Delhi, May 30 (PTI): Notwithstanding denial from the US embassy here, the Union Home Ministry has sought a detailed report from Chattisgarh Government over the visit of two American mission officials to Raipur where they "assured" assitance to the State Government for fighting naxal violence.
According to senior Home Ministry officials, the State Government has been asked to furnish a detailed report on the visit of the US mission officials to the state and the nature of discussions held by them with senior state government officials including the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) B K S Ray.

The move by the Home Ministry comes after a statement by the US mission contradicting reports that it had offered any assistance to Chhattisgarh Government to fight the naxals.

Reports by central security agencies claimed the US officials did discuss the naxal violence and had extended support to the state government, the officials said.

A press release issued by Chhattisgarh Government issued on May 25 had said "American Consulate General officers William Inman and Kevin Green queried about problems arising out of Naxalite violence in Dantewada district of the State." and had assured all possible help to the State Government for ending naxal violence from the state".

Heavy rush for police recruitment in Vidarbha, Gadchiroli

Nagpur, May 30 (PTI): The drive to recruit personnel for the police department in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra has received a tremendous response from both boys and girls with more than 70,000 applicaiton forms being sold for nearly 3,000 posts in Vidarbha region, police sources said today.

On the first day of the recruitment, a large number of aspirants were seen near Police Line Takli headquarter in the city since early morning. Strict security arrangements have been made at the venue, sources said.

All over Maharashtra, recruitment would be made to fill 12,000 posts of police personnel.

In naxal infested Gadchiroli district, the response was equally tremendous as over 5,500 aspirants turned up at the police ground for 332 posts.

Meanwhile, in a bid to make the recruitment process transparent and impartial, the authorities have asked the candidates to refrain from malpractices and also approach higher officials, if anyone demands a bribe, assuring strict action against the accused.

Naxal acts come in handy for border villagers

Tuesday May 30 2006 14:16 IST
BHADRACHALAM: For once, the people of the villages that border Bhadrachalam Agency area and the Chattisgarh state are thankful to the Naxals for their acts of destruction.

But for their destructive activities, these people could never have communicated with their relatives on both sides of the border at such cheaper rates.

Till recently, the people of Kunta division in Chattisgarh had to pay roaming charges for making calls to their relatives in neighbouring villages in Andhra Pradesh.

Though the distance between Chintoor in Andhra Pradesh and Kunta in Chattisgarh is a mere 10 km, but for the BSNL, calls between these two towns amount to inter-state communication and calls for application of roaming charges.

However, the Maoists had recently destroyed the two BSNL cellphone towers and the optical fibre network recently.

Due to this, the people of Kunta have now been allowed to buy pre-paid cards from Chintoor and make calls to their relatives in Andhra Pradesh without inviting roaming charges.

"Most of the residents of Kunta are settlers from Andhra Pradesh, who mainly deal with places like Bhadrachalam, Khammam, Rajahmundry, Hyderabad and Vijayawada for educational, trade and medical purposes.

This new facility is proving to be a boon to us,"said S Tagore of Kunta.

‘‘We are happy, thanks to the Naxals,’’ quipped K Srihari of Chintoor. The BSNL officials too are happy, as their revenue has gone up.

Eight Maoists surrender

Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh), May 29: Eight Maoists, including a woman, surrendered in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh today.

The maoists, surrendered to the district Superintendent of Police Sanjay Kumar Jain giving various reasons.

Woman Maoist G Ratnamma alias Swarna (18), who was member of Maddileru Platoon, said she has decided to come out from the movement as there was no "protection" for women.

Swarna, who was involved in various naxal offences, stated that "sexual" harassment of women cadre was on the rise and this was one of the reasons for her surrender, police said.

Another surrendered militant, Boya Degal Sunkanna alias tiger Sunkanna (51), who was working in Penna Ahobilam group for the last six years, said that he surrendered against the decision of his group leader who wanted his son and daughter-in-law to join the movement.

Naxal's bail plea rejected

[ Tuesday, May 30, 2006 01:18:09 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

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BANGALORE: A suspected Naxal, Suresh from Andhra Pradesh, came before the high court seeking bail which was rejected by Justice Ajit Gunjal. Suresh was accused of committing murders in the Venkatammanahalli massacre, in Tumkur.

Public prosecutor S Dore Raju said he was waging war against the state and was involved in serious crimes and deserved no leniency.

Rowdy's detention:The high court ordered notices to the police commissioner, government and the superintendent of Parappana Agrahara prison for the detention of 37-year-old rowdy Istiaq Pahelwan alias Istiaq Ahmed under the Goonda Act.

Istiaq Ahmed has about 35 cases against him. His wife came Fareeda came before the court contending that he had been wrongly detained.

Monday, May 29, 2006

CRPF constable killed in Maoist attack (The Hindu)

VISAKHAPATNAM : In a surprise attack, Maoists on Sunday morning fired on a CRPF contingent at a crowded weekly market at Sileru, some 200 km from here, killing a constable. A head constable and two tribal women were injured in the incident, the first against CRPF men by Maoists in the Naxalite-infested G.K. Veedhi mandal of the district on the Andhra-Orissa border.

A CRPF contingent is stationed at Sileru to protect the police station. At around 11 a.m., six CRPF men went to the weekly market to buy vegetables. Five Maoists, including two women, who lay in wait, caught them unawares by opening fire with 9 mm pistols.

AK 47 rifles snatched

P.K. Sharma, a constable, died on the spot. Burman, a head constable, reportedly engaged one of the Maoists in a scuffle trying to snatch the weapon from him. He was injured in the head and his AK 47 rifle was taken away. The Maoists also managed to snatch another AK 47 from the CRPF men. In the melee, the Maoists left behind a 9 mm pistol. An action team of Maoists is reportedly responsible for the attack.

In serious condition

Two tribal women suffered bullet injuries. One of them was identified as Korra Jammu. The trio, said to be in a serious condition, was admitted to local hospital. Efforts were under way to shift them to Visakhapatnam. The CRPF men later rounded up some locals, took them to the station and let them off later, it was learnt.

Panel calls for end to Salwa Judum campaign : Why they don't condemn NAXALS ??


Panel calls for end to Salwa Judum campaign

Staff Correspondent

Team found evidence of excesses committed by members in tandem with local administration

Disarm members, State Government must reassert control
Form independent body to probe incidents of violence
Special Police Officers are untrained, underage men
Civil strife has gone up, administration on verge of collapse

NEW DELHI: An Independent Citizens' Initiative of writers, senior journalists and former civil servants that visited Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh has recommended that the Salwa Judum campaign in the district be stopped immediately, its members disarmed and the State Government reasserted its control.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, the team members said they had found evidence of burning and looting of houses in villages, unrecorded killings, violence against women and summary arrests by the Salwa Judum in collaboration with the State Government.

The team comprised historian Ramachandra Guha, editor of Prabhat Khabar Harivansh, social activist Farah Naqvi, former Secretary to the Government of India, Vishakhapatnam A. S. Sarma, Professor of Sociology in Delhi University Nandini Sundar, and former editor of Hindustan Times and The Indian Express B. G. Verghese.

"Remove top police brass"

The team appealed to the Central Government and the Chhattisgarh Government to constitute an independent body like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to institute an impartial, credible and time-bound inquiry into the incidents of violence by Maoists and Salwa Judum cadres in Dantewada during the last one year. They said those found guilty of violence, murder or destruction of property should be tried and punished according to law.

They recommended that the Chhattisgarh Government revamp all top police officials in the district.

Pointing out that many of the 3,200 Special Police Officers (SPOs) appointed by the State Government were unemployed, untrained and under-aged, the team said that young people were becoming the "cannon fodder of militarisation in the State."

They said the district administration had lent full support to the Salwa Judum, and that according to villagers, people were deemed to be Naxalite supporters if they did not join the Salwa Judum campaign.

A failure

"We believe that as a method of combating revolutionary violence, the Salwa Judum has been a failure. The State cannot outsource law and order to under-aged, untrained and unaccountable civilians. In the year since Salwa Judum started, civil strife has increased and the administration is on the verge of collapse," Nandini Sundar said.

According to the team, a national dialogue must be initiated on the most humane and effective method to combat revolutionary violence.

Salwa Judum movement in Bastar can't be suppressed: Raman

New Delhi, May 29 (UNI) Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has said the tribals in his state cannot be weaned away from their ''Salwa Judum'' movement as they want nothing short of peace and development in their villages.

The regions worst affected by the naxalite menace in the State could be developed much faster than other parts of Chhattisgarh if it is possible to put an end to the wave of killings and planting of landmines by the naxalites, he said.

Describing the anti-naxalite people's movement ''Salwa Judum''(peace mission), originating from tribal Bastar region in Chhattisgarh as ''spontaneous'', the Chief Minister said the movement was born out of frustration among the native tribals, who are peeved at no development taking place in their areas during the last 15 years owing to this problem. On the other hand other parts of Bastar, unaffected by naxalite movement, are witnessing developmental activities.

The tribals are fed up with the violence unleaashed by the naxalites and have come out of their homes to wage a war against these extremists with bows and arrows despite the fact that it was an unequal fight as the ultras possess sophisticated AK-47 rifles, the Chief Minister told reporters here last night.

The tribals now want nothing short of peace and development in their villages, the Chief Minister said, adding ''their determination cannot be broken now and they cannot be weaned away from continuing their 'Salwa Judum' movement as they are confident that they are bound to win.'' Denying that the naxalites enjoyed the local people's support in their armed attacks on the innocent people, Dr Singh said the victims were fleeing their homes and taking shelter in Government camps. As many as 50,000 such displaced persons were taking refuge in such camps where they were being provided food and police protection.

The Chief Minister said the State was going to receive in a day or two three battalions of para military forces from the Centre to combat naxalites while two additional battalions would be despatched there shortly.

The Government, meanwhile, had initiated filling up the posts of 6,000 policemen, which have been lying vacant in naxalite-affected areas.

Asked about the American Embassy offering help to weed-out naxalites in the Bastar region, he said ''this is neither possible nor desirable''.

He said he had already contradicted the reports published in a section of the press. ''It was a subject that fell under the jurisdiction of the Union Government, not a State, to negotiate with a foreign power,'' he said.

Naxal's bail plea rejected

[ Tuesday, May 30, 2006 01:18:09 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

BANGALORE: A suspected Naxal, Suresh from Andhra Pradesh, came before the high court seeking bail which was rejected by Justice Ajit Gunjal. Suresh was accused of committing murders in the Venkatammanahalli massacre, in Tumkur.

Public prosecutor S Dore Raju said he was waging war against the state and was involved in serious crimes and deserved no leniency.

Rowdy's detention:The high court ordered notices to the police commissioner, government and the superintendent of Parappana Agrahara prison for the detention of 37-year-old rowdy Istiaq Pahelwan alias Istiaq Ahmed under the Goonda Act.

Istiaq Ahmed has about 35 cases against him. His wife came Fareeda came before the court contending that he had been wrongly detained.

Soan promises change in 2 years

Soan promises change in 2 years


Deputy commissioner of Latehar, KK Soan. Picture by Hardeep Singh

Manika (Latehar), May 28: He is known as a deputy commissioner with a difference, one who wanders off into Naxalite-prone areas without bodyguards.

But on Saturday DC K.K. Soan found himself explaining more than his forays into sensitive areas, as residents from 82 villages across the district convened on the block premises for a public hearing of their grievances.

The gathering was an initiative of social activist and economist Jean Dreze and his team, which undertook a survey of the on-going Prime Minister Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (PMREGS) as part of the Union ministry of rural development’s stock taking process.

The DC was affronted by the likes of Jharo Devi from Harijan Tola, who is paid Rs 30 for her labours when she was entitled to Rs 73, and Hulsi Devi, who even after filling up the PMREGS form four months ago, was yet to gain employment. Speaking on behalf of villagers who could not get the PMREGS forms, para teacher Uday Yadav from Newari village asked the DC whether he was aware that the forms were being sold for Rs 2 at places. Some villagers also spoke on the issue of irregularities in the muster roll, complaining that the rolls were not being maintained.

Though it is alleged that the DC knows some Naxalite-outfits closely, local people also believe that he is a man who is serious about his work.

On this day, he ordered BDO Rajesh Pratap Singh to identify people selling the forms and take strict action against them. He also ordered the gram pradhans to display the muster roll with all the necessary details at the work site.

After listening to the people’s problem, Soan turned the gun on them.

He asked: “Who are the middlemen? They are your neighbours, whom you chose as pradhans. So, if you choose the wrong person, whose fault is it? The administration’s responsibility is to ensure the transfer of money. You will have to ensure its proper distribution by person elected by you as your representative.”

Soan begged for two years’ time to transform Latehar into an ideal district and he sought the people’s support to bring about change.

Tackling Naxals: Railways modernising protection force

New Delhi: Indian Railways is modernising its protection force and equipping it with advanced weapons in the wake of increasing naxal attacks on trains in various parts of the Country.

"There has been an increase in the naxalite attacks on the trains, railway stations and other railway property, particularly in the naxalite prone states in the recent months. Atleast 21 cases have been reported during the current year. Due to these attacks, five lives were lost and property worth Rs 1.85 crore was damaged.

"Considering these attacks and impending threats, Railways is modernising the Railway Protection force including equipping it with weapons to deal with the situation," Railway Ministry sources told PTI.

They said 480 Railway stations in affected areas were also given additional security by RPF with deployment of 2,705 personnel daily.

"These deployment are in addition to the government Railway Police (GRP) personnel deployed in trains and the Railway premises, in order to further strengthen the security, by state governments", they said.

Recently, presenting colours to RPF, President A P J Abdul Kalam had stressed the need for working out a "special strategy" for combating crimes in railways and ensure safe travel for passengers travelling across the country.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Naxalites set fire to godown during eco blockade

Bankura: Naxalites set ablaze a large godown stocked with leaves used for making beedis at Motgoda in West Bengal's Bankura district in the wee hours today, the third and last day of their economic blockade.

The blaze was brought under control by fire tenders after about 12 hours during which 'kendu' leaves worth Rs 12 lakh were reduced to ashes and other materials used in the making of beedis costing about Rs 38 lakh destoryed, police said.

While the district police said the Maoist Communist Centre was responsible for setting fire to the godown, Inspector General of Police (Headquarters) Jogesh Chatterjee said in Kolkata that the Peoples War activists were behind it.

The fire was so huge that it is yet to be ascertained whether it was triggered by a mine blast, the police said.

Motgoda falls in the naxalite-affected Ranibandh area of the district and the godown caretaker Parameshwar Murmu, who resides nearby, narrowly escaped, the police said.

Chatterjee told PTI that a number of posters and leaflets saying that the arson was to protest the lower price given by local cooperatives compared to the market rates and the protection given by the state government to CPI(M) leaders Tapan Ghosh and Sukur Ali indicted by the CBI for the 2001 Chhoto Angaria massacre in neighbouring West Midnapore district.

A combing operation has been launched and the area, where senior district police officials including the SP, Rajesh Singh rushed and cordoned off to apprehend the naxalites.

CRPF jawan killed as NAXALITE aka Maoists open fire

CRPF jawan killed as Maoists open fire

Hyderabad, May. 28 (PTI): A CRPF jawan was killed and three others, including two women, received injuries when Maoists opened fire at Sileru village in Visakhapatnam district on Andhra-Orissa border today.

According to information reaching to the state police headquarters here, three unarmed CRPF personnel were purchasing vegetables when five extremists opened fire at them.

The CRPF personnel, who were deployed on security duty to protect a power station situated on the outskirts of naxal-infested village had gone to purchase vegetables in the weekly market being held in the village today, police said.

Suddenly five unidentified persons opened fire indiscriminately killing a CRPF jawan P K Sharma (55) on the spot and injuring three others including two women who were selling the vegetables.

In the firing, another CRPF jawan was also injured.

The injured were being airlifted to Visakhapatnam for treatment.

Centre to spend Rs 2.20 lakh cr for rural development

Centre to spend Rs 2.20 lakh cr for rural development
Sunday May 28 2006 10:47 IST

DAVANAGERE: The central government has decided to spend Rs 2.20 lakh crore by 2009 to give drinking water, better roads, houses and power supply to all villages in the country, said Union Minister for Surface Transport, Highways and Ports K H Muniyappa here on Saturday.

Unveiling Rs 6 lakh worth bronze statue of Babu Jagjeevan Ram installed at the city municipal office premises here, Muniyappa said the UPA Government had committed for the welfare of even the last person in the country and for the development of all sections.

SCs, STs and other backward classes accounted for 27 percent population. Giving social justice, economic independence and education to all was a challenge and also a daunting task for the Government. Many programmes were drawn for to uplift the downtrodden, he stated.

He said for laying 500 km four lane express highway in the state Rs 3,000 crore was released and the work tenders would be called in next one month for the metro rail project. The international airport work is already started at Bangalore, Minister said.

The State Government should keep up its promise of inner reservation to all communities including SC, ST and economically weaker sections to giving social justice, he opined.

Water Resources Minister K S Eswarappa spoke on the occasion. Davanagere MLA Shamanur Shivashankarappa presided. Jaya Mruthyanjaya Swamiji, CMC president Ramesh, MLA H Anjaneya, former chairman Karnataka food and civil supplies corporation C Ramesh and H K Ramachandrappa, K Mallappa, Narayandas, councilors and L M Hanumanthappa, Neelagiriyappa, S Mallika rjun, Alesh were present.

Work for welfare of Dalits: MVR The representatives elected in the name of dalits and the bureaucrats should work for the welfare of dailts, suggested Union Minister for Planning M V Rajshekaran.

Rajshekaran said even after 58 years of independence, the development of dalits had not been achieved its target. Drinking water, housing and education have become mirage to dalits.

He said separatism and naxal activity were growing in 177 out of 600 districts. Naxalism was confined to only 42 districts earlier, but now it is spreading fast. It is a matter of concern, he added.

Official in spot over US help to tackle Naxals

Official in spot over US help to tackle Naxals

Saturday, May 27, 2006 19:31 IST

RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh's Additional Chief Secretary (Home) B K S Ray seems to be in a tight spot over his apparent nod to two Mumbai-based US consular officials' offer for assistance in Naxal-affected areas.

Amid reports of the External Affairs Ministry and Union Home Ministry taking cognisance of the matter, Ray clarified in a statement issued late on Friday night, ''It was talk about humanitarian aid and not any help in the anti-rebel campaign.''

The state government did not seek any assistance from the US in the anti-Naxal campaign and the Centre was fully cooperating towards combating the menace, the bureaucrat claimed.

The consular officials met Ray two days back and later issued a statement that stirred a virtual hornet's nest at the national level with the Left parties issuing separate statements condemning it as interference in the country's internal affairs and even seeking a clarification from the Centre.

"The state government heartily welcomes any voice against violence and terrorism but that does not mean foreign intervention will be accepted for solving the Naxal problem,'' Ray reiterated.

Squarely blaming the bureaucrat for the entire dispute, highly-placed sources said that a senior officer like Ray should profoundly contemplate prior to making a statement over any sensitive issue