Saturday, December 01, 2007

Maoists to allot Rs. 30 cr. for weapons procurement

K. Srinivas Reddy

To manufacture rocket launchers, mortars & hand grenades

Extremists are also buying arms from gun runners

Running at least four weapon fabrication units

HYDERABAD: Maoists in India have decided to earmark Rs. 30 crore a year for improving the fire power of their fighters engaged in an intense guerrilla war in parts of five States — Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Security agencies have learnt that the extremists planned to spend a chunk of these funds for manufacture of rocket launchers, mortars and hand grenades. Called ‘Area Weapons’ in military parlance, they will enable the Maoists to attack security forces, without being seen.
‘3 battalion-strong’

With the information culled from Maoist documents and interrogation of recently arrested rebels, intelligence agencies estimate that the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA), the main force of the Maoists, consists of more than 29 companies, equivalent to three battalions in military parlance.

This is in addition to thousands of secondary forces and militia members. The PLGA will be observing its seventh anniversary on December 2.

The Maoist documents in possession of The Hindu indicate that the decision on allocation of funds and fabrication of area weapons was taken at a meeting of the Central Military Commission (CMC) last February.

Meeting held

The meeting was held in the Bhimbandh Wildlife Sanctuary in Munger district of Bihar, about 200 km from Patna. The CMC meeting was preceded by the 9th Congress, attended by all the top rung Maoist leaders from January 28 to 31. Police believed that the meeting was held in the Saranda forests of Jharkhand.

Weapons looted

Maoists snatched as many as 529 weapons, 16,000 bullets and 19 tonnes of explosives between January 2006 and June 2007 in different raids on security forces. More than 100 weapons were looted since then, including 10 automatic weapons, during the Konta ambush in Chhattisgarh on November 29.

The extremists are also buying arms and ammunition from gun runners, especially from the militant outfits operating in the northeast.

Fabrication units

Security agencies believe that the CMC is running at least four weapon fabrication units in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and in some South Indian States. Some units in different locations fabricate the parts of rocket launchers, mortars and hand grenades, which are assembled later.

The earmarking of funds for weapons was done after the Andhra Police seized rocket launchers and unassembled parts and busted a fabrication unit on the outskirts of Chennai last year. Later, another arms-making unit was busted in Bhopal, followed by another similar raid in Rourkela by the Andhra police.

Rourkela setback

After the Rourkela setback, Maoists shifted a mortar-making unit from Bihar to Jharkhand, one of the seized documents mentioned. The Central Technical Team of the CMC, responsible for fabrication and procurement of weapons, consists of seven persons — all hailing from Andhra Pradesh


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