Saturday, March 17, 2007

Maoist arrested with huge explosives in Orissa

Sunday March 18 2007 03:34 IST


ROURKELA: A suspected maoist was remanded to jail custody after being arrested on Saturday for illegally possessing 290 detonators, 200 gelatin sticks and fuse wires.

Sukdeb Hota (37) of Bamra village under Badgaon police station in Sundargarh district was taken into custody for possessing huge explosives.

He was later forwarded to a local court in Rajgangour, which remanded him to judicial custody.

Police suspected that Sukdeb has links with the maoists operating in the area.

Five Maoist rebels shot in Chhattisgarh

[ 17 Mar, 2007 1941hrs IST IANS ]

RAIPUR: Police shot five Maoists in the forested region of southern Chhattisgarh on Saturday during a gun battle that lasted for two hours, officials said.

The encounter took place in the remote part of Bijapur, 510 km south of the state capital Raipur, where Maoist guerrillas carried out the biggest assault on a police camp on March 15, killing 55 policemen.

"The gun battle between police forces and rebels broke out in the forested Farsegarh area in Bijapur on Saturday afternoon, and five rebels were shot dead," a police officer said, adding "one body was recovered while the ultras carried away four bodies into the forest."

Maoists hold sway in Chhattisgarh's southern area in the hilly and interior Bastar region for at least three decades. It has witnessed a sudden rise in insurgency since June 2005 when thousands of local tribals launched a civil militia movement 'Salwa Judum' against Maoist extremists.

CPI(Maoist) leader justifies assassination of Mahato

"Killing was to stop him from raising a Salwa Judam-like militia''

New Delhi: Justifying the murder of Sunil Mahato, the CPI (Maoist) said the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MP proved an obstacle to the rise of naxals.

In an exclusive interview to a television channel, Somen, West Bengal secretary of the CPI (Maoist), said, "The decision to kill Mahato was taken at a very senior level in 2003. It was to stop Mahato from raising a Salwa Judam-like militia [against naxals]."

Mr. Somen said Mahato was planning to enact a Lango-like incident, in which villagers killed 14 Maoists in 2003. Mahato was gunned down when he was watching a local football match at Baguria in Jharkhand's East Singhbhum district on March 4. The Maoist leader, who did not show his face during the interview, said the naxals were changing their tactics and were now more focussed on mobile warfare. Thursday's incident in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district was an example of this."We want to convert the guerrilla war into mobile warfare.''

Commenting on the Nandigram issue, in which West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee alleged Maoist involvement, Mr. Somen laughed it off, saying CPI (M) members themselves were opposing the establishment of a Special Economic Zone in the area. "Maoist influence and involvement in Nandigram is extremely limited. We don't have to use pipe guns now; we have automatic weapons. It's a people's movement against land acquisition. Of course, we support the movement." — ANI

Bengal scores a self-goal

Swapandas Gupta

There is an irresistible temptation to gloat over the CPI(M)'s ignominy over the cadre-directed police action in Nandigram which left 14 people dead and forced many hundreds to flee their homes. Always intolerant of criticism and political opposition, the party transformed a small corner of East Midnapur into a war zone last Wednesday. It did so not because it wanted to sweep away pre-capitalist obstacles in the path of industrialisation but because it wanted to re-establish its physical control over an enclave that had seceded from Red Bengal.

Those who maintain that this state-cum-cadre heavy handedness is not politics but terrorism are only partially right. For the past 30 years, the CPI(M)'s near-impregnable control over rural West Bengal has been based on sanctimonious populism enforced by coercion. The CPI(M) has created two classes of villagers: Those who are with the party (out of choice or compulsion) and those who are the outcastes. In the heartland of rural Bengal (the border districts are an exception), where the CPI(M) majority is weighed rather than counted, it takes fierce, unflinching courage to flaunt a political affiliation which is not to the liking of the all-pervasive local committees. The CPI(M) not only preaches Stalinism; it practices it with brazenness in West Bengal. Under the smooth veneer of progressivism lurks a brutal party dictatorship.

The beneficial spin-off from Nandigram is that the ugly face of the CPI(M) has been exposed nationally. The next time the fellow-travellers from Sahmat get all worked up over a film which can't find a distributor in Gujarat, the next time Brinda Karat gets herself photographed outside Parliament in the company of happy tribals (as she was last Thursday), and the next time Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee spouts a verse from Mayakovsky or Neruda, you can offer one word of retort - Nandigram.

Nandigram was not the first in the bloody history of Communist movements and nor will it be the last. Yet, for the moment, it has become a euphemism for the smug arrogance of a group that pompously declares history is on its side.

And yet, gloating over Nandigram is painful. True, the CPI(M) has been put on the backfoot and the duplicity of the Congress leadership exposed. The Left intellectuals are in disarray and many have discovered their lost conscience. The debate over Special Economic Zones has merged into the national concern for the deepening crisis of agriculture throughout the country and triggered a populist backlash which will have a debilitating impact on the UPA Government. The Opposition NDA has rightly sensed an opening and drawn considerable strength from the Government's discomfiture - even if that involves parroting the likes of Medha Patkar. Amid this headiness, one minor point appears to have been forgotten - the likely impact of the Nandigram kerfuffle on West Bengal.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the flight of capital from West Bengal. The first CPI(M)-dominated United Front Government began the assault which the Naxalite movement and Congress hooliganism complemented. The decline of Bengal was, however, not purely economic. The upheavals bred a strange political culture based on self-pity, cussedness and envy - what a perceptive British commentator, in another context, described as the "grievance community." This negativism is not confined to the Left; it has infected the anti-Left forces as well. The protests - the product of a strange combination of the Trinamool Congress, the ultra-Left and Islamists - in Nandigram epitomise this self-destructiveness.

Investment in West Bengal is certain to be the biggest casualty of the Nandigram violence and the controversy over Singur. The turbulence of politics has offset all the promise and hope that its Chief Minister held out during last year's Assembly election. Ratan Tata, if not the Salem group, must be ruing the day he decided to repose faith in West Bengal.

Other investors are unlikely to make the same mistake. West Bengal has yet again scored a self-goal. Together, the CPI(M) and its opponents have thrown the baby out with the bath water.

Govt gropes in dark as Naxalite menace rages on


Shortly after the killing of Jharkhand MP Sunil Mahato by Naxalites on March 4, Union home minister Shivraj Patil admitted to lack of coordination between the Centre and extremism-hit states in counter-operations. But what he did not touch upon is that it is exactly this operational synergy that is the strong point of CPI(Maoist) cadres.

This perfect coordination among the Left-wing extremists, now spread over 182 districts across 16 states, has been touched upon by the intelligence agencies in their recent reports. The Naxalites, whose armoury is replete with weapons looted from the police, are now putting them to good use by organising their guerrilla fighters, by now ace marksmen in the stolen SLRs and INSAS rifles, into six “companies” (nearly 600 cadres).

Not only this, the military precision with which the Naxalite guerrillas operate is best demonstrated by the fact that these 6 companies are scattered across different locations in Abujmarh forests and come together only shortly before a major attack is to be launched.

It is therefore little surprise that the Chattisgarh armed police and SPOs housed in a police outpost in Rani Bodli village of Bijapur were caught unawares when nearly 400 Naxalites, armed with grenades, guns and even gensets to light the surroundings, descended in the early hours of Thursday.

The time of attack was carefully chosen: barring the sentry and personnel deployed for night vigil, the policemen and SPOs were fast asleep in their barracks. Also, the purpose was to inflict maximum casualty on SPOs, armed civilians drafted by the police to counter Naxals, so as to discourage popular uprisings like Salwa Judum.

Naxalites rained bullets and lobbed grenades, killing 55 of the 70 policemen lodged in the outpost. Though the Chattisgarh police claimed to have engaged the Naxalites and liquidated 10-12 of them, most of the attackers were able to retreat into the jungles, that too after blocking their trail with landmines.

Military precision, indeed! Cut to our response. As if the heavy police casualty was not bad enough, it is now learnt that the SOS messages sent to the neighbouring CRPF outposts were of little help as reinforcements arrived much after the Naxalite attackers had retreated. This is hardly surprising as the forces often have to travel on foot, not only because of the dense forest undergrowth but also for fear of landmines.

A helicopter was sent in, but only to evacuate the injured. Mr Patil, while making a statement on the attack in Parliament on Friday, declared the UAVs had been made available to the state government, but what he did not say is that these UAVs were out of use for the last 15-20 days owing to some technical glitches.

In any case, the data collected by UAVs is not being followed up with immediate operations. Naxals, who had their anti-UAV measures like hiding under thicker foliage and keeping their camps mobile, in place even before the Centre inducted them, are going strong given that the UAVs are not supplemented with adequate security manpower or force multipliers like helicopters to airdrop para-military troops for expeditious action on Naxal hideouts mapped by the UAVs.

Nandigram erupts again

The Nandigram SEZ site in CPM-ruled West Bengal became the symbol of anti-reform violence in India last week with the death of 14 people and injuries to over 63 in police firing there. While unofficial figures put the toll at much higher, the killing of a large number of women and children and the images of police brutality against villagers, ostensibly farmers, evoked horror.

West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the Mahatma’s grandson, “expressed a sense of cold horror” at the incident, Parliament was rocked by the deaths and the CPM, one of the biggest votaries of “pro-poor” rhetoric in politics, got sharply criticised by friends and foes alike.

Political opponents of the CPM claimed that the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee administration had unleashed terror on farmers protesting against the acquisition of their land by the state for the SEZ project.

The CPM claimed Nandigram had become a lawless area with the state administration being kept out of region and said it was high time police was allowed to restore peace in the area. To justify the violence against villagers, the party also claimed ‘armed outsiders’ and Naxalities had attacked the police which forced them to retaliate.

This explanation, however, did not convince even the party’s own allies in West Bengal. With pressure mounting on the government, Mr Bhattacharjee put all SEZ projects on hold in the state. At the Centre, the incident led to call for a re-evaluation of SEZs norms and land acquisition procedures.

All in all Nandigram became a precedent for all that could go wrong with reform initiatives in rural India. The incident could very well redefine the way governments approach land acquisition for SEZs and other developmental projects.

Dantewada police camp didn't even have fence

Suchandana Gupta
[ 18 Mar, 2007 0023hrs IST TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

RAIPUR: The 55 policemen, who died in the Maoist attack at Rani Budli police camp in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh on Thursday, had locked themselves into room with their arms, awaiting for a firefight. What actually happened was a fire, which claimed their lives.

The tragedy is that most of the men were operating from a building that also served as a 'balika ashram' (girls' hostel) and did not even have a fence.

When the 500-strong armed Maoists attacked the camp, the commandant was missing and the sentries, who were to sound the alert, ran away.

The policemen and special police officers (SPOs) locked themselves inside a room armed with SLRs, waiting for the Maoists to enter the room for confrontation.

Instead, the Maoists threw grenades and petrol bombs and burned the room, killing most of them instantly.

Next day, it took the state administration more than seven hours to retrieve the bodies from the camp. "They planted landmines everywhere," state home minister Ram Vichar Netam said.

"After looting the ammunition, they planted the landmines for more casualties. The entire area had to be sealed and taking every step into the police camp required a search for hidden explosives. We recovered five landmines from inside the police camp premises."

Whether Rani Budli or Errabore massacre of July 2006, the incidents make it quite clear that the security forces are totally outnumbered and isolated when guerrilla attacks occur.

But IG Bastar range R K Vij disagreed. "There were only 74 police personnel and they were more than 500. They used petrol bombs, fire-arms, grenades, tiffin bombs, choppers and spears. It was the sheer numbers that they had for which our forces could not retaliate," Vij said.

When two neighbouring police stations at Kutru and Farsegarh were informed, the back-up reached at 6 am. By that time, the battle was over.

"The two police stations are at a distance of 18 km. Rani Budli outpost was in the centre. The police camp was set-up to have more police presence in the area. The forces from Kutru and Farsegarh were rushed but Maoists had blocked both ways. They cut trees and blocked the path while also planting explosives. There would have been more casualties if they tried clearing the road," the IG said.

"This is the reason why we had been asking for helicopters. We could air-drop reinforcements under these circumstances."

B K Ponwar, a retired brigadier helping the Chhattisgarh government train policemen to counter red violence, said what is required is dynamic deployment of forces and early warning signals from locals of the area.

"Police stations in Naxal-affected areas are places at a distance of 20 to 30 km from each other. This is too far away for effective law and order duties during disturbed times. There has to be more deployment of forces and they need to be constantly on foot visiting the villages with people friendly operations. People can be the sources of information, the tribals in the villages will have to be won over," the brigadier said.

Decades of exploitation, lack of development, poverty and Forest Acts usurping rights to tribals over "jal, jungle and jameen" have made locals suspicious of any government move.

Manish Kunjam, a former CPI MLA from Konta said, "There is no administration. Only a police force which is still not people friendly. After salva judam (anti-Maoist movement by tribals), the situation has worsened. On the one hand is the terror of Naxals and on the other the terror of salva judam. Tribals are leaving villages and sleeping in forests. Salva judam cannot be the answer to Naxalism, it will only result in more bloodshed. The Centre and the state have to start dialogue with Naxals."

Pratap Agarwal, an advocate in Bastar who fights cases on behalf of tribals said, "It is not as though tribals don't know that Naxals are outlaws. They are aware of it and accept them because so far the administration has been a bigger goon. In undivided MP, Bastar was treated as a punishment posting. Officials who came here did not work but cheated tribals of their forest produce."

Cop seriously hurt in Naxal attack in Andhra

[ 17 Mar, 2007 2118hrs IST PTI ]

RAJAHMUNDRY: An Assistant Sub-Inspector of police was seriously injured on Saturday in a mine blast triggered by Naxals in Andhra Pradesh's East Godavari district.

Ramana Murthy, attached to the Visakhapatnam unit of Grey Hounds (a special anti-Naxal wing of state police), was hurt when the Naxals blasted a claymore mine at Singamkota village of Y Ramavaram mandal, police said.

The injured ASI was air-lifted and admitted to KGH Hospital in Visakhapatnam, they said.

"After the blast the militants, said to be of Gurthadu Dalam, opened fired at the police party which was retaliated," Officer on Special Duty for East Godavari Satyanarayana said.

In a joint combing operation, Grey Hound's Visakhapatnam and East Godavari units moved into deep forest areas in Singanikota, but the Naxals managed to escape after the gunbattle, he said.

Policemen unprepared for the naxal attack

NDTV Correspondent

Watch story

Saturday, March 17, 2007 (Rani Bodlee):

The naxal attack in Chattisgarh on Wednesday left almost 55 policemen dead. Most of them belonged to the Rani Bodlee police station.

But the more shocking truth is that not only were the policemen outnumbered by the naxals, they also ran out of ammunition. If only they had enough bullets, a few more men might have been alive today.

One can notice shock and disbelief in the small village of Rani Bodlee in Chattisgarh. The village has lost six of its men who were special police officers in one of the biggest naxal attacks in the state.

"The bullets finished. We couldn't do anything but run," said Sanoo Patel, survivor of the attack.

The policemen were tragically unprepared for the well-planned attack at the dead of night on Wednesday. Hundreds of naxals stormed in, disconnected the electricity supply, and blocked all outlets of escape.

Now villagers don't want to sacrifice any more lives in the war against naxals.

"What's the use of money? Life is everything," said Gora Sama, a villager.

'Naxal frustrated'

The government says the attack makes it clear that naxals are growing increasingly frustrated.

"The armed forces had killed a lot of naxals. I am shocked at the recent killings of the policemen," said Ram Vichar Netam, Chhattisgarh Home Minister.

The police post is still as potent as a live bomb, waiting to explode.

With reports of mines and bombs planted in the area every step has to be taken with caution but what will haunt this village for years to come is the thought that a few more bullets might have made a difference.

Naxal killed in Chhattisgarh; looted weapon recovered

Raipur, March 17: Chhattisgarh Police on Saturday killed a Naxal militant in a gunbattle and recovered a weapon which they said was looted after the recent attack on a police outpost in Bijapur district.

A .303 rifle, looted from the Rani Bodli police outpost after Thursday's attack that left 55 securitymen dead, was recovered from the slain Naxalite in Pharsegarh area of Bijapur district, police said.

Since Naxalites are active in Pharsegarh, which is not very far from Rani Bodli, personnel of the Special Task Force (STF) and paramilitary forces had launched a combing operation during which the gunbattle took place resulting in the death of the ultra, they said.

The outpost is not far off from Abujhmad area, where the Naxalites have set up their headquarters. Since it was a difficult terrain and police face threat of landmines, security forces made an aerial survey on a helicopter provided by the Centre, they said.

After the survey they took into account intelligence inputs and prepared a plan for combing operations and dispatched teams to various parts of the region, surrounded by thick forests, they said.

Meanwhile, commandant of the 9th battalion of the Chhattisgarh armed police Mohammed Hussain, deployed at Rani Bodli, was suspended and the CRPF given charge of the outpost.

Although, he was not suspended for failing to prevent the attack, Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam, on his visit to Rani Bodli, found Hussain was on unauthorised leave at the time of the incident, they said.

Bureau Report

NAXAL ATTACK : Survivors Story , 'I fired blindly until ammo ran out'

Suchananda Gupta

[ 17 Mar, 2007 0051hrs IST TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

RAIPUR: "Seeing their numbers, fear of death struck me so suddenly that I fired at random. I didn't think as there was no time. I blindly fired at all directions until I finished 180 rounds from my SLR," recalled Sagau Ram Patel, one of the 19 cops who survived the Maoist blitz on their camp on Thursday.

"Then I realised what had happened. I had no ammunition left and most of my colleagues were dead."

What Patel said from a hospital bed in Jagdalpur, where he was evacuated to from the scene of the ghastly massacre in Bastar, showed how unprepared even the camp on the frontline of the war against Maoists was.

With authorities trying to piece together one of the worst-ever Naxal attacks on security forces in the country, survivors like Patel recounted the terror trail unleashed by ultra-Left guerrillas in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.

A day after 55 security personnel were mowed down, the shaken survivors on Friday were trying to come to terms with the macabre act by the Naxals after almost a year's lull.

Patel (26) was guarding the Rani Budli police camp from a watch-tower on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday when the Maoists attacked the police camp.

Realising he was out of ammunition, Patel jumped from the tower and ran towards a nearby girls' ashram. The Maoists spotted him and chased him for 100 metres.

"Though I was hit on my leg, I didn't stop. I scrambled to the ashram's terrace and took shelter with another policeman, Faraduram Netam. We both survived," he said.
In fact, those who survived had either taken shelter in the ashram or pretended to be dead. Netam said, "The security personnel (74 in number) fought a three-hour-long battle with the Naxals hoping that additional forces from neighbouring Kutru and Farsegarh police camps would soon reach. However, no one came."

With Opposition Congress demanding Raman Singh's resignation, Chhattisgarh CM on Friday told the assembly that the time had come to change the policy dealing with the Maoists.

"There has to be a new strategy. We will soon set up a committee to work out ways to deal with the Naxals. The committee will submit a report to the state government in a month's time," the CM said.

Until Friday, however, the only action the government had taken was the knee-jerk suspension of the commandant of the 9th armed police battalion to which the policemen belonged.

On Thursday night, the CM, accompanied by the chief secretary, DGP and the home secretary, submitted a report to governor E S L Narasimhan.

State home minister Ram Vichar Netam said, "During our meeting with Union home ministry officials, we sought helicopters, additional forces and ammunition to fight the Naxals. We will ask the Centre to do a survey of Naxal-hit areas."

Around 400 Maoists targeted the heavily-fortified Rani Budli police camp early on Thursday.

The guerrillas lit the periphery of the security camp with portable gen sets, lobbed grenades and set the place ablaze with petrol bombs, leaving more than 55 securitymen dead and 10 others injured after a three-hour gunbattle.

Centre set to combat naxal challenge in Chhattisgarh

Posted online: Saturday, March 17, 2007 at 0000 hours IST

NEW DELHI, MAR 16: The Union home minister, Shivraj Patil on Friday said the Centre was determined to combat the challenge posed by naxalites across the country. He also promised all possible aid to the naxalite-infested states. On Thursday in a major strike, the natalites killed 55 police personnel in Chhattisgarh. This was one of the biggest naxalite operation in the state.

Patil informed the House that at 12 ultras were killed in a counter attack by the security forces. He also said the naxalites managed to snatch away a cache of arms during the attack. Currently, about 70 police police personnel have been deployed in the Bijapur district in the state. The police have also launched a massive combing operation in the area.

Patil further said the Centre has been regularly reviewing the naxalite situation in Chhattisgarh. He said that 13 battalions of central para-military forces have already been deployed in the state to supplment efforts of the state police force. He informed that Rs 25 crore is being provided to the state under the police modernisation scheme to help the state police machinery to set up demining units with latest equipment.

Patil caught unawares: UAVs made available, never used

Vishwa Mohan
[ 17 Mar, 2007 0050hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

NEW DELHI: Union home minister Shivraj Patil on Friday told the Lok Sabha that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were made available to Chhattisgarh but he seemed to have forgotten to tell the members that the sophisticated aerial equipment was not used even once to track Naxals' hideouts in the past couple of months.

Though Patil's lack of awareness can be understood given the fact that he had to state what his officials told him, the revelation made by security officials in Raipur can be an eye-opener.

It reveals as to how poorly Centre and states coordinate with each other in utilising available resources to fight the red ultras.

Sources in security agencies said that had the UAVs, provided by Indian Air Force, been used by the state to gather information about Naxals' hideouts, it would not have been difficult to foil the Maoists' attack on a police post in Bijapur district.

Though officials in the home ministry remained tight-lipped over the use of UAVs, sources in the agencies blamed poor coordination between the Centre and the state for not utilising the sophisticated equipment for the purpose it was given to Chhattisgarh.

A senior official said, "Using this technology requires a lot of coordination on the ground. There has been no operation problem at all with the UAVs but the state police has not been able to coordinate properly with the IAF in utilising the service."

Govt. has an open mind about refining SEZ policy: Patil

Bangalore, March. 17 (PTI): Amid a raging controversy over acquisition of land for Special Economic Zones, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil today said the government has an "open mind" about "refining" the SEZ policy.

"If the SEZ policy has to be refined, it will be done. Government has an open mind on the issue," he told reporters before inaugurating a private hospital here.

On the Nandigram incident, where protest against land acquisition led to police firing killing 14 villagers and injuring many others, Patil said, "the SEZ policy will be refined in consultation with the state government, the farmers who own the land and the industrialists who want to put up the SEZs."

On the killing of 55 police personnel by naxalities in Chhattisgarh, he said "the Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand governments must follow what has been done in Andhra Pradesh to curb naxalism."

Describing Chhattisgarh as "one of the worst affected states by naxalism followed by Jharkhand", Patil said naxal-related incidents in Chhattisgarh had shot to 47 per cent and "such deaths have increased to 57 per cent compared to Andhra Pradesh where naxal activity has come down by 30 to 40 per cent."

"The situation in Chhattisgarh is causing some concern and we have asked the state government to look into it," he said, adding the Centre has provided 13,000 police personnel, 15 armed vehicles, helicopters and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to the Chattisgarh Government to contain naxalism.

"It is for them (Chattisgarh Government) to use it properly," he said.

Naxal attack: Rani Bodli in-charge suspended

Posted at Saturday, 17 March 2007 17:03 IST

Raipur, March 17: Chattisgarh government today suspended the officer in-charge of Rani Bodli police outpost in the Bastar region, Sahara Samay sources said.

Mohammad Hussain, Commandant of Ninth Battalion, which was deployed in Rani Bodli, has been placed under suspension a day after naxalites attacked the outpost, about 525 km from here, police sources said.

Police said the Bastar region, including the Bijapur district where the attack took place in the wee hours yesterday, was peaceful and no incident of naxal violence was reported from any parts of the region today

Chhattisgarh DGP scripts ‘battle song’

Express News Service
Saturday, March 17, 2007 at 0000 hrs Print Email

Raipur, March 16: Entangled in a seemingly losing battle against the Maoists, Chhattisgarh’s Director General of Police O P Rathore is working on a unique strategy. For the past few weeks, he has been busy composing a marching song to motivate his embattled troops.

Being the police chief of a state that is combating Naxalism in a major part of its territory and also has one of the highest casualty figures in the country — 65 police personnel have been killed in Naxal attacks during the past 12 months, apart from over 450 civilians — the DGP feels this may be the answer to boost the morale of his men. However, the move has come under severe criticism from several of his own senior officers and former police officers. Few of them have even questioned as to how the DGP of a state which has the highest casualty figures in the country in Naxal attacks can “indulge” himself like this.

“With his troops engaged in a constant battle against extremists how does the DGP find time to do such things? This shows that the entire police force is out of focus, and even senior police officers are busy doing work that is not in their job profile,” said a senior police officer.

But unfazed, the Chhattisgarh Police plans to distribute cassettes of the song to all police stations once the music is composed, so that its personnel can learn and practise marching on the song. Rathore himself too sees nothing wrong in his composing a song for his troops. “While most state police forces in the country march to almost similar songs, they also have some special compositions which are relevant and seek to invoke and involve local population,” he told The Indian Express.

“The song calls on the troops to battle the enemies of the state (in this case Naxalites) and to remove them from forests and cities of the state. It also calls on the Chhattisgarhi ethos to fill the police ranks with patriotic soldiers. How can this be termed as something wrong?” he asks.

The music for the song is expected to be composed within the next few weeks after which the police band is likely to perform the song before Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh. However, even the move to unveil the song in front of the Chief Minister is facing criticism from several quarters.

“Dr Singh and Home Minister Ramvichar Netam already suffered at the hands of some over-enthusiastic police officers during the Naxal surrender episode which was enacted in front of them earlier this year.

Some officers had tried to gain the limelight without checking the antecedents of the people who were being made to surrender before the Chief Minister,” said a senior official.

Naxal attack haunts hostel inmates

Nitin Mahajan
Saturday, March 17, 2007 at 0000 hrs Print Email

DANTEWARA, MARCH 16: The horrors of Wednesday night will perhaps haunt six-year-old Pratima Mandal forever. As the Maoists went about killing 54 security personnel present at the Rani Bodli outpost, Pratima, along with 29 other girls, huddled on the floor in another wing of the same building, waiting for help to arrive.

A Chhattisgarh government policy, allowing use of community buildings to house security forces engaged in anti-Naxal operations, was the reason why the security men were staying within the same premises as the inmates of the SC/ST welfare hostel.

Most of the girls spent the entire night lying flat on the floor to avoid being caught by a stray bullet. Neeta Kudiyam, who had been staying at the hostel for the past few months, said she won’t ever be able to return to school.

“The bullets were flying everywhere, with bombs exploding at regular intervals. I almost cried,” she said. Interestingly, the Maoists only targeted the part of the building which was being used by the security forces and the entire section was set on fire. However, the adjoining section, which housed the girls, remained untouched. While windows of the section used by troops were blown off or burnt down, the windows and doors of the hostel section remained intact.

All through the night the students had an assistant teacher and two helpers posted in the hostel for company. “As our teacher told us to stay down and not make any noise we kept praying that we would be rescued from this hell,” said Sudfa Vachan, another student.

Finally, the group was rescued by “advanced” parties of troops which arrived at about 6 am. The girls had to wade through blood and scattered bodies as they were secretly shifted to another hostel at Somanpalli village, about five km away from the massacre site. The secrecy was to ensure that the media did not get to speak to the girls.

Following the incident, most of the children were taken away home by their parents.

Meanwhile, the Chhattisgarh government today suspended the officer in-charge of Rani Bodli police outpost in Bastar region. Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam has decided to give Rs 2 lakh to the family of slain Special Police Officers and about Rs 16 lakh to the Chhattisgarh Armed Force Jawans

Friday, March 16, 2007

Maoists` poor hotbed rich in ore

R Krishna Das / Raipur March 17, 2007

Maoists are not the favourites of Bastar tribals. For the traditional inhabitants of forests, these men represent death, terror, destruction and a perpetuation of poverty. For businessmen, they act as natural repellants.

For a state so rich in mineral wealth, the tribal parts of Chhattisgarh have had remarkably little investment in the last two years. While the Vedanta group set up shop at Korba for aluminium and also a captive power plant with an investment of around Rs 15,000 crore last year, this is far away from Naxalite areas. Not one paisa has been invested in Kanker and Dantewada – both loaded with iron ore, but also the heart of Naxalite insurgency.

It was on May 8, 2005, that Maoists picked out a mining unit of Hindalco, India’s largest aluminium and copper producer, for the biggest guerrilla attack on a corporate facility in the country.

Around 200 Maoists stormed and shut down operations of Hindalco’s aluminium mining unit at Saridih in the Maoist heartland and razed several buildings in the complex. Production remained affected for about a month.

The second attack came a year later. On February 10, 2006, hundreds of Maoists raided the magazine of National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), India’s largest iron-ore producer, manually carrying away enough explosives to fill six trucks.

The NMDC’s entire stock of explosives, used in mining, was stored at Hiroli in Dantewada district and was guarded by the Central Industrial Security Force.

On October 30, 2006, rebels raided NMDC again, this time at Bacheli, and destroyed a conveyor belt. Production remained affected for more than 15 days, causing a huge loss to the mining major.

Though the rebels have opposed the proposed steel plants of Tatas and Essar in the Bastar region, stating that they would not allow the companies to exploit minerals, they have not come out in the open.

The villagers are opposing land acquisition by both companies. But the Maoists are yet to share the dais with them, as in Nandigram.

Economy & Policy

The Chhattisgarh War in India

The Chhattisgarh War in India
March 16, 2007
Amrita Rajan
War has pretty much broken out in Chhattisgarh but everybody is too busy playing ostrich to acknowledge it.

The headlines in every newspaper across India today featured reports of a massacre carried out in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh by a group of naxalites led by the State Military Commission (Maoist). They were reportedly supported by sections of the CPI (Maoist).

Of the 55 individuals (and counting) killed, the majority were tribal youths who were part of a counter insurgency effort. Most of these men were murdered in their sleep and there seems to be some question as to why their calls for reinforcement were not heeded especially when the entire region is undergoing something of a crisis.

Read more The Chhattisgarh War in India

Naxal attack: Chhattisgarh govt caught unprepared

Friday, March 16, 2007 (Bijapur):

A day after the massacre of 49 police personnel by Naxalites in Chhattisgarh there is a sense of disbelief.

It was one of the biggest ever attacks by Naxalites and the security forces who were massacred were hopelessly out numbered and outgunned.

The administration is trying to cope with the aftermath in the state's Bijapur district.

Still dazed

Bereaved relatives have been given Rs 10,000 in cash part of Rs 2 lakh compensation announced by the government.

But most are still too dazed by what happened the night before.

An attack of unprecedented magnitude on the base camp of the Chattisgarh Armed Force and Special Police Officers all of who were part of the anti-Naxal operations in the area.

Faced by a well-armed group of 500 Naxals, the security forces soon ran out of ammunition and lost 55 of their men.

"Some, who tried to hide in the building were dragged out and burnt. Others were hacked to death," said Mahendra Karma, opposition leader.

"The government's flawed security plan is responsible for the massacre. The government must own up to its failure and resign," he further said.

Forces outnumbered

The government too admits its forces were outnumbered and outsmarted.

"More than 500 naxals were involved in the attack. They used bombs, grenades and automatic weapons. Our forces need better training in tactics," said OP Rathore, DGP, Chhattisgarh.

At least 676 people have been killed in Maoist violence in Chhattisgarh over the last two years.

Its Special Police Officers like Santosh who need the special training.

A rifle, a bulletproof jacket and a few rounds of ammunition aren't enough for villagers like Santosh to take on the well-armed and well-trained Naxalite.

As expected after the massacre Santosh is having second thoughts about the job.

"Let me see if I want to continue," said Santosh, Special Police Officer.

Getting more villagers like Santosh to fight the Naxals is now the biggest challenge the Chhattisgarh government faces.

Naxal attack: Chhattisgarh govt caught unprepared - - News on Naxal attack: Chhattisgarh govt caught unprepared

Naxal attack on outpost follow border sealing

Updated: 03-16-2007

HYDERABAD: One of the reasons for the early morning operation by the Maoists against Rani Bodi outpost in Chattisgarh in which 49 policemen were killed could have been the lack of

This was the preliminary analysis arrived at by the Andhra Pradesh police officials who got in touch with their Chattisgarh counterparts within hours after the attack. Both the two states are badly hit by the Naxal problem.

“As soon as the Maoists reached the place, our men retaliated by opening fire. The exchange of fire went on for nearly three hours. Finally, when our personnel ran out of ammunition, the heavily armed Maoists entered the outpost and went about the killing spree. Some of the police personnel were beheaded,” an IG rank official told his counterpart here over phone.

Confirming the death of 49 policemen including 15 Special Police Officers (SPOs), he said that 12 policemen perhaps have fled into the nearby forests for safety.

“Most of the personnel were armed with self-loading rifles and some had AK-47s. May be out of panic, they fired continuously which led to the ammunition getting exhausted within a short time. During training, we told our men that in case of an attack, they should make the enemy fire more. If the enemy fires two, we should fire one and thus prolong the battle during which more troops could be sent,” the Chattisgarh official said, but the men at the spot apparently did not do so.

After executing the operation, where could the Naxals have fled? Chattisgarh and AP officials suspect they must have fled towards Indravati river on the borders of Maharashtra. There is no chance of the killers entering Andhra Pradesh, as the terrain is difficult though Dantewada district is just 80 km from the Nizamabad highway. From the scene, Maharashtra border is 40 km away.

Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, the Andhra Pradesh police have sealed the borders with Chattisgarh and intensified checking. It is likely that Greyhounds personnel from AP would be asked to leave for Dantewada shortly to assist the Chattisgarh police.

Suspected Naxal Woman Sent to Mangalore Prison

Kundapur: Suspected Naxal Woman Sent to Mangalore Prison

Daijiworld Media Network - Kundapur (GA)

Kundapur, Mar 16: Chennamma, a suspected Naxalite who was arrested near Amavasebailu near here on Sunday March 11 has now been sent to Mangalore women's prison after producing her in the court on Thursday March 15.

Chennama alias Suma has now been remanded to judicial custody upto Wednesday March 28. She was produced in the court after initial investigation in the police custody. As per the details provided by her during the investigation her first nexus with Naxalites was some 3 years ago when she met Naxal leader Neelaguli Padmanabh when she was active in the Thungabhadra protests. She has studied only upto class 3.

Neelaguli in the later days managed to establish rapport with the parent of Chennamma. Being a good singer she lent her voice to several revolutionary songs penned by him. She was taken to Chikamagalur subsequently and from there she was sent to Amavasebailu along with comrade Mahesh.

During her stay in the Varahi Group of Naxals which is primarily operating in Amavasebailu and surrounding areas she learnt various skills such as using guns, mountaineering etc. She was also the part of the Naxal group which was indulged in a shoot-out with police sometime ago.

Three Maoists arrested in AP

Friday March 16 2007 13:46 IST

KARIMNAGAR: Three Naxals, including a woman, of the CPI (Maoist) on Friday surrendered before the district police along with their weapons.

Speaking to newspersons, district Superintendent of Police (SP) Y Gangadhar said P Sammakka alias Jhansi, Maoist commander of Khammam district, K Syama Sundar, deputy commander of the party and B Lachaiah alias Lakshman, a Dalam member surrendered before the police.

Mr Gangadhar said the three Moaists surrendered before the police because they were dissilusioned with the party ideology. The three Naxals also surrendered their weapons, he added.

Welcome to

Maoists' dream can become India's nightmare

Ajai Sahni | March 16, 2007 | 17:18 IST

Revolutionary warfare is never confined within the bounds of military action. Because its purpose is to destroy an existing society and its institutions and to replace them with a completely new structure, any revolutionary war is a unity of which the constituent parts, in varying importance, are military, political, economic, social and psychological.

Mao Tse-Tung on 'guerilla warfare'

The 'Red Corridor', extending from 'Tirupati to Pashupati' (Andhra Pradesh to Nepal), has long been pass?he Indian Maoists (Naxalites') conception. Maoist ambitions in India now extend to the farthest reaches of the country, and this is not just a fantasy or an aspiration, but a strategy, a projection, a plan and a programme under implementation. A multiplicity of Maoist documents testify to the meticulous detail in which the contours of the current and protracted conflict have been envisaged, in order to 'intensify the peoples' war throughout the country'.

These documents reflect a comprehensive strategy, coordinating all the instrumentalities of revolution -- military, political, economic, cultural and psychological -- harnessed through the 'three magic weapons' Comrade Mao spoke about: the Party, the People's Army, and the United Front.

After a great deal of dissembling and vacillation, India's security establishment, both at the Centre and in the 'affected' states, appears to have conceded, finally, that the Maoist threat is, in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's words, the country's "single biggest internal security challenge." But the threat is still restrictively envisaged as afflicting only parts of those states where Naxalite violence is visible, and is assumed to follow the erratic trajectory of incidents and fatalities from year to year. However, as the Chhattisgarh Director General of Police, O P Rathor, recently observed at a conference in Raipur, 'Statistics of incidents never give a real picture of the ground. Whatever is visible is only the mere tip of the iceberg. Unless caution is exercised, volcanoes can erupt.'

It is necessary to recognise, crucially, that the phase of violence, which is ordinarily the point at which the State takes cognisance of the problem, comes at the tail end of the process of mass mobilisation, and at a stage where neutralising the threat requires considerable, if not massive, use of force. Within this context it is, consequently, useful to notice not merely the current expanse of visible Maoist mobilisation and militancy, but the extent of their current intentions, ambitions and agenda.

Significantly, the Maoists have established regional bureaus across a mass of nearly two-thirds of the country's territory (Map 1) and these regions are further sub-divided into state, special zonal and special area committee jurisdictions (Map 2) where the processes of mobilisation have been defined and allocated to local leaders. As these maps indicate, there are at least five regional bureaus, 13 state committees, two special area committees and three special zonal committees in the country. This structure of organisation substantially reflects current Maoist organisational consolidation, but does not exhaust their perspectives or ambitions. There is further evidence of preliminary activity for the extension of operations to new areas including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Meghalaya, beyond what is reflected in the scope of the regional, zonal and state committees. A 'leading team' recently visited Jammu & Kashmir to assess the potential of creating a permanent party structure in the form of a state committee to take the Maoist agenda forward in the state.

In 2004, moreover, the Maoists also articulated a new strategy to target urban centres in their 'Urban Perspective Document', drawing up guidelines for 'working in towns and cities', and for the revival of a mobilisation targeting students and the urban unemployed. Two principal 'industrial belts' were also identified as targets for urban mobilisation: Bhilai-Ranchi-Dhanbad-Kolkata; and Mumbai-Pune-Surat-Ahmedabad.

Within this broad geographical spread, the Maoists include, in their inventory of 'immediate tasks', among others, the following:

'Coordinate the people's war with the ongoing armed struggles of the various oppressed nationalities in Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and other parts of the Northeast.
'Build a broad UF (United Front) of all secular forces and persecuted religious minorities such as Muslims, Christians and Sikhs?T>
'Build a secret party apparatus which is impregnable to the enemy's attacks?T>
'Build open and secret mass organisations amongst the workers, peasants, youth, students, women and other sections of the people?T>
'Build the people's militia in all the villages in the guerrilla zones as the base force of the PGA (People's Guerrilla Army). Also build armed self-defence units in other areas of class struggle as well as in the urban areas.'
The Maoist strategy is clearly to fish in all troubled Indian waters, and to opportunistically exploit every potential issue and grievance to generate a campaign of protests and agitations. The principal vehicles for these 'partial struggles' are 'front' or 'cover' organisations of the Maoists themselves, on the one hand, and a range of individuals and organisations best described, in a phrase often attributed to Lenin, as 'useful idiots' -- well intentioned and often gullible people who are unaware of the broader strategy and agenda they are unwittingly promoting through their support to specific and unquestionably admirable causes.

As the political and organisational review of the erstwhile Communist Party of India, Marxist-Leninist ?les War (CPI-ML-PW), also known as the Peoples War Group, which merged in September 2004 with the Maoist Communist Centre to create the Communist Party of India ?st noted, 'Cover organisations are indispensable in areas where our mass organisations are not allowed to function openly? are two types of cover organisations: one, those which are formed on a broad basis by ourselves; and two, those organisations led by other forces which we utilise by working from within without getting exposed.'

This strategy has already contributed to the 'eruption' of a few unexpected 'volcanoes' in the recent past, with the role of Maoist provocateurs often discovered much after the event. Two of the most recent and impeccable causes that have been embraced in this cynical strategy include the caste conflict in Khairlanji and the escalating tensions and violence over the displacement and Special Economic Zones issues, including Singur and Kalinga Nagar. Sources indicate that current Maoist debates and documents condemn the 'second wave of economic reforms' as a 'violent assault on the right to life and livelihood of the masses', and call for 'an uncompromising opposition to the present model and all the policies that are coming up.' Internal debates on the issue have further underlined the 'need to build a huge movement against displacement and the very model of development itself', and to unite all 'genuine democratic and anti-imperialist forces?reate a tornado of dissent that forces the rulers to stop this juggernaut'.

The issues at stake envisaged for potential mobilisation comprehend 'development driven through big dams, super highways and other infrastructural projects?ntic mining projects, Special Economic Zones, urban renewal and beautification'.

Within the same pattern, United Fronts and Joint Action Committees have focused on 'burning issues of the peasantry such as for water, power, remunerative prices for agricultural produce, against exploitation by traders, against suicides by the peasantry, against the World Trade Organisation, and on worker, student, women, Adivasi and Dalit issues.' Thus, 'Issue-based joint activity with other forces has been the general form of UF (United Front) undertaken by our Party at various levels?table 'issues' are not picked up randomly or opportunistically, but are based on extensive 'investigations' into 'social conditions and tactics', and are meticulously reconciled with the broader Maoist strategy and agenda.

These various causes, as already noted, are impeccable, and no one can be faulted for extending support to demands for greater equity, justice and access in these various spheres. For the Maoists, however, these various causes, whether they relate to 'oppressed nationalities', minorities, caste excesses, or other social and economic issues, are an integral component of their strategy of political consolidation, leading to military mobilisation.

In Maoist doctrine, these 'partial struggles' are no more than a tactical element in the protracted war, and they have no intrinsic value of their own. These 'struggles' create the networks and recruitment base for the Maoist militia and armed cadres.

Where partial struggles thrive, an army is being raised. These 'peaceful' or sporadically violent movements are eventually and inevitably intended to yield to armed warfare and terrorism. Their objective is to 'isolate the enemy by organising the people into various cover organisations and build joint fronts in order to mobilise the masses into struggles to defeat the enemy offensive.' Army formation, the Maoists insist, 'is the precondition for the new political power', and 'all this activity should serve to intensify and extend our armed struggle. Any joint activity or tactical alliances which do not serve the cause of the peoples' war will be a futile exercise.'

Moreover, the integrity of the 'partial struggles' and the overall aims of the protracted peoples war is underlined by the fact that cadres of the Peoples Guerrilla Army are required to engage in these agitational programmes as well. As the PGA's 'programme and constitution' notes: 'The PGA will participate in the propaganda and agitations programmes as directed by Party Committees. It will organise the people. The PGA will extensively employ people's art forms in its propaganda. It will try to enhance the consciousness of the people.'

The Maoists' Urban Perspective Document, moreover, envisages the formation of 'Open Self Defence Teams' and armed 'Secret Self Defence Squads' in urban areas. The document notes, moreover, that for the Secret Self Defence Squads, 'One significant form of activity is to participate along with the masses and give them the confidence to undertake militant mass action. Other tasks are to secretly hit particular targets who are obstacles in the advance of the mass movement.'

It is useful to recall, in this context, that when talk of the 'Red Corridor' was first heard at the turn of the Millennium, most security, intelligence and political analysts simply scoffed, dismissing the very idea as a pipe dream and a propaganda ploy. Since then, however, the Maoist consolidation has occurred precisely along the axis of the then-projected 'Red Corridor'.

If the State is to prevent a further consolidation of Maoist subversion and violence across the country, it is crucial that the futile debate on, and disputable enumeration of, 'affected' states, districts and police stations, be abandoned, and the scope of the state's defences be extended to cover the contours of the Maoist projections.

The Maoists are -- and have long been -- working to a plan, and have explicitly rejected the 'Left Opportunism' which they believe led to the failure of the original Naxalite movement (1967-73). This gives the movement great strength -- but to the extent that this design is well known -- makes it enormously vulnerable. Regrettably, while there is a handful of officers in the security and intelligence establishment who are aware of the details of this design, the general grasp in the security and political leadership in the affected and targeted states (the latter category now comprehends the entire country) and at the Centre is, at best, poor. There is, moreover, the added constraint that the Maoist strategy exploits the vulnerabilities of constitutional governance and its freedoms to the hilt, and the security apparatus has only limited instrumentalities of containment available in the initial stages of subversion and mass mobilisation.

The Maoists believe that there is, at present, an 'excellent revolutionary situation in India', and have clearly declared that 'the seizure of State power should be the goal of all our activity'. Building bulwarks against their complex strategy is a challenge, it would appear, that is yet to be imagined by the national security establishment.

The fire-fighting responses of the past, the 'battalion approach' of deployment of Central Paramilitary Forces from one theatre to another, and the preferential allocation of financial resources to 'disturbed' states and areas, may help fitfully contain the violence of Maoist armed cadres. However, if the nation-wide campaigns of subversion are not addressed, and if prevention, rather than containment, does not become the sheet-anchor of national policy, there will be a tipping-point beyond which national capacities for emergency management will begin to fall disastrously short. That is the Maoist dream; it could become the country's nightmare.

The author is Editor, SAIR (South Asian Intelligence Review) and Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management

C`garh CM announces expert panel to overhaul Naxal policy

Raipur, March 16: A day after 55 policemen were killed by naxalites in Bastar area, Chhattisgarh government on Friday said an expert committee would be set up to firm up a new strategy to deal with the ultra-Left problem.

"We want a new strategy on naxalites to end the menace for which a committee will be formed of experts on the naxal issue," Chief Minister Raman Singh told the state assembly.

Later talking mediapersons, the Chief Minister said the committee would have senior officers, who are familiar with the naxal issues, as members.

"There is every need to change the current naxal policy, for which the state government is taking several steps," he said.

The state wanted to have short and long-term policies to end the menace, he said while talking about increasing naxal violence in the state in recent years and especially yesterday's massacre at a police outpost.

About 500-armed naxalites had yesterday surrounded the Rani Bodli police outpost and killed 55 policemen.

Bureau Report

Centre sends more forces to Chhattisgarh

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Centre has assured Chhattisgarh of all possible assistance in dealing with the situation in the wake of Thursday's naxal attack on a police post in Bijapur district.

Strongly condemning the incident, Home Minister Shivraj Patil said such attacks would not weaken the Government's resolve to deal with the naxal problem. He spoke to Chief Minister Raman Singh and expressed the confidence that the culprits would be nabbed soon.

The Home Ministry sent a helicopter from here to assist the Statein rescue operations. Two companies of the CRPF have been rushed to Rani Bodli village for rendering assistance in search and combing operations. A general alert has been sounded in the neighbouring areas of Maharashtra.

"Maoists will be dealt with strongly"

"Maoists will be dealt with strongly"

Staff Reporter

MEETING AN EMERGENCY: The police personnel injured in the naxal attack at the Ranipotili outpost in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh being treated at a hospital in Jagdalpur on Thursday. — Photo: PTI

KONTA (CHHATTISGARH): Chhattisgarh Home Minister Ramvichar Netham on Thursday said there would not be any change in the Government policy on combating Maoist naxalites.

Mr. Netham visited the Ranipotili police camp along with senior officials after the Maoist attack, which left 54 persons dead, and took stock of the situation.

He said the Government had taken a serious view of the violence sponsored by the Maoists. It would come down on them with a strong hand. The police camps set up at various places in South Bastar to protect the lives and property of the people would be strengthened further. The naxals resorted to violence to prove their existence in areas where their support base was eroding. Such attacks would prove them costly.

The Andhra Pradesh police sounded a high alert along its border with Chhattisgarh. The police camp at Ranipotili is less than 100 km from Perur in Khammam district. The participation of Maoist dalams from both Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in Thursday's attack is suspected. It is one of the major operations orchestrated by the Maoists.

India looks to "avenge" Maoist killings

16 March 2007 | 13:05 | Source: Reuters

RAIPUR -- Thousands of police poured into the dense forests of eastern India on Friday after Maoists massacred 55 policemen.

The operation, involving about 8,000 police, was described by the Chhattisgarh state government as an act of revenge for the Maoist attack.

"Police have launched one of the biggest exercises in Chhattisgarh on Friday to avenge the killings," the state's Home Minister Ramvichar Netam told Reuters.

"The rebels have to pay the price."

The attack was one of the deadliest in recent years by Maoist rebels, who are also called Naxalites after the village in east India's West Bengal state where the group's campaign on behalf of poor peasants and landless workers began in 1967.

Between 300 and 400 rebels attacked the camp in the state's south in the early hours of Thursday, throwing grenades and petrol bombs and shooting people fleeing the burning buildings before escaping with weapons and explosives, police said.

The rebels killed 16 officers from the state's armed forces and 39 members of local tribes recruited to a police militia, police said.

The state has recruited about 5,000 tribal people into its militia, paying each about 1,500 rupees ($35) a month. Most are armed only with bows and arrows.

"I never witnessed such a gruesome scene of killings," said Netam, who visited the site on Thursday. "Some of the bodies were repeatedly axed and heads were smashed."

Analysts say India's response to the insurgency is under-staffed and under-resourced, with poor intelligence gathering leaving police camps in rebel areas easy prey for guerrilla tactics.

Last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the insurgency was the gravest threat to India's internal security since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

The Naxalite movement has spread along a "red corridor" occupying much of India's south and eastern flank and stretching up to the Nepal border.

The Maoist rebels continue to find support among poor, rural Indians who have not benefitted from the country's booming economy.

India: The Escalating Naxalite Threat

March 16, 2007 12 23 GMT


Indian Maoist rebels, known as Naxalites, attacked a police post in the jungles of the central-western state of Chhattisgarh on March 15, killing approximately 50 policemen. The attack is one of the worst in the insurgency's nearly four-decade history and is part of the Naxalites' move to escalate operations.


Approximately 300 Maoist rebels, called Naxalites, attacked an Indian police post at Rani Bodli in the central-western state of Chhattisgarh the night of March 15. Armed with guns, grenades and homemade firebombs, the attackers overwhelmed the 79-man post, leaving approximately 50 policemen dead and making off with weapons and ammunition. Eleven days before the Rani Bodli attack, Indian member of parliament Sunil Mahato was assassinated in neighboring Jharkhand state -- an operation in which Maoists were allegedly involved.

The Naxalites have been increasing their militant activity over the last two years. They have attacked police stations before, but not in numbers like the Rani Bodli attack. They also have targeted Indian government officials, but almost exclusively on a local or state level. Thus, the Naxalites' recent activity signals a notable escalation that will get worse before it gets better.

The police post assault also comes on the heels of an incident March 14 in Nandigram -- 90 miles north of West Bengal state's capital of Kolkata -- in which police opened fire at protesters demonstrating at the site of a planned special economic zone (SEZ), killing at least four and wounding seven. Police said the protesters attacked officers with sickles as they tried to enter the area. Later, a crowd of approximately 2,000 people began a protest outside the hospital in Nandigram where the wounded were taken. Police dispersed the crowd with tear gas and batons. The proposed SEZ has inspired clashes since January, with at least seven people killed and more than 100 wounded -- not to mention the economic effect of most of the 230 proposals concerning SEZs in West Bengal being put on hold because of the friction. Because parts of West Bengal have a heavy Naxalite presence, the recent deaths and subsequent protest could be a catalyst for the Naxalites to launch reprisal attacks. The Naxalites have long capitalized on privatization, globalization, SEZs and Dalit (Untouchables) issues, so the Nandigram SEZ clearly falls into the rebels' area of interest.

The Naxalite insurgency is located primarily in eastern India in a "red corridor" comprising the states of Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Karnataka, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. To a lesser extent, Naxalites also are active in parts of other states such as West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Some estimates claim that Naxalite activity is spread across as much as 25 percent of India's territory. To date, the Naxalites have carried out attacks mainly in rural areas and have refrained from taking their fight directly to the capital of New Delhi or India's larger population centers. It appears that the Naxalites' recent escalation is the result of a change in policy from the existing leadership. The shift in the insurgency began with the unification of the Maoist Communist Center and the People's War Group -- the two main factions involved in the armed insurgency -- in September 2004. This changed the entire scope of the struggle from scattered localized cells to a more unified force operating in the "red corridor."

This policy shift was formalized at the Ninth Party Congress of one of the three Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)) factions participating in the insurgency. The meeting was held in late February in a remote undisclosed location somewhere in Jharkhand and 100 senior leaders of the movement from 16 states attended. The leaders decided to shift to a wider-based insurgency, expanding the armed struggle from what was referred to as a "People's Guerrilla War Army" to a "People's Liberation Army." CPI-M General Secretary Muppala Lakshman Rao (aka Ganapathi) reportedly told the gathering, "No more hit and run. Now [the] time has come to spread in the towns and identify specific targets, hit them precisely and with impunity." This would include expanding Naxalites' operations into urban areas in the states where they are active. Like any insurgent movement, the Naxalites will likely begin this shift by carrying out low-intensity attacks in urban areas in the "red corridor" in order to gauge state governments' reactions.

Some of the "red corridor" states are less well equipped to handle an escalation in Naxalite activity. For example, Andhra Pradesh has had some success in dealing with the Naxalites. Jharkhand, on the other hand, is more impoverished and has fewer police officers (the state's police force has a 29 percent vacancy rate, with a police-to-population ratio of 85:100,000). These circumstances, combined with a lack of government capacity to project power in the rural areas -- Jharkhand is 30 percent jungle -- mean there is little to prevent the Naxalites from expanding their insurgency in Jharkhand.

For its part, New Delhi has two options for dealing with the Naxalites. The first is to send in the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force. These forces, while more capable than local police and village militias in dealing with the Naxalites, do not represent the full extent of New Delhi's power.

The federal government could also call out the army, but this is the most distasteful option and would be considered as a last resort. The army has only been used twice to eradicate militia movements in India. In June 1984, the army was sent to Punjab to fight Sikh militants in Operation Blue Star, which included storming the Sikhs' sacred Golden Temple at Amritsar -- the motivation for Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's Sikh bodyguards to assassinate her. The other example is the much larger ongoing operation against separatists in Kashmir. New Delhi would be reluctant to engage in another ongoing counterinsurgency operation in the jungles of eastern India while engaged in the mountains of northern India.

Potential military consequences aside, there are two main arrestors to an all-out assault on the Naxalites by the Indian government. The first concerns the perception of the problem. At this point, New Delhi would prefer to allow the Naxalite problem to be handled at the state level, since making it a central-government issue would be an admission that the problem is out of control. The other arrestor is that the current government relies heavily on left-wing parties for its coalition. A massive campaign against the Maoists would put a strain on that arrangement.

The Naxalites also face arrestors preventing a total escalation. The most serious one is the idea that New Delhi will throw the whole weight of its military at the rebels if they begin to seriously affect the country's growing economy. The rebels are as reluctant to take on the Indian military in a protracted campaign as New Delhi is to wage one. The other arrestor is that the Maoist rebels do not have a monopoly on the Indian left. There are legitimate Indian communist political parties and leftist movements that are integrated into the political process. If the Naxalites are perceived as being responsible for a drawn-out, low-intensity war like the one in Sri Lanka, they stand to lose whatever popular support they have.

Consistent with their ideology and stated anti-globalization agenda, the Maoists could latch on to the anti-privatization sentiment in India. This could lead them to actively target and attack Western multinational corporations operating in India. This would particularly devastate the country's emerging high-tech sector, centered on hubs such as Bangalore, Chennai, Pune and Kolkata. New Delhi's reaction to attacks against this sector would be severe. If the rebels determine that the current scope of their escalation is not producing the desired results, they might decide to expand to these targets. Another significant shift such as this will take time for the Maoist leadership to decide on, and might not take place until the next Party Congress.

Naxal attack: Chhattisgarh sees red

Naxal attack: Chhattisgarh sees red

Posted Friday , March 16, 2007 at 13:00 Email Print

NAXAL NEXUS: Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh said the attack is a setback to anti-Naxal operations.

"You (Netam) have lost the right to continue in power any longer and as long as you are not resigning Congress will boycott the House proceedings," Leader of Opposition Mahendra Karma told the state assembly.

"How this incident took place in Chhattisgarh when the state was in high alert because of JMM MP Sunil Mahto's killing in neighbouring Jharkhand?" Karma asked.

Justifying his demand, Karma said despite SOS from the Rani Bodli forces no reinforcement were provided because of which so many were policemen were killed.

Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said that the attack is a setback to the anti-Naxal operations in the state.

“This is in retaliation to the campaign against Naxals. The sudden attack is a setback,” Chief Minister Raman Singh said.

(With PTI inputs)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Maoists kill 54 policemen in Bastar, flee with weapons

Nitin Mahajan
Posted online: Friday, March 16, 2007 at 0000 hrs

CHHATTISGARH: 400 attack camp, fire for three hours; we tried to retaliate but were heavily outnumbered, say injured policemen
DANTEWADA, MARCH 15: Carrying out one of their biggest strikes in recent times, Maoists today killed at least 54 security personnel by attacking a police post in Bijapur in the Bastar range of Chhattisgarh. At least 400 Maoist cadres were said to have been involved in the attack which began around 2 am and went on till 5 in the morning.

The raid on Rani Bodli, 525 km from Raipur, saw Maoists surround the outpost, lob grenades and petrol bombs before setting the camp ablaze. Thirteen security personnel, including an officer, were injured.

Of the 54 killed in the attack, 38 were special police officers (SPOs) while the rest were personnel of the Chhattisgarh Armed Police. Collector K R Pisda said 60 SPOs and 23 policemen were stationed at the post in the Maoist-infested area.

“Some bodies and weapons are still lying in the area. We have no exact count of the casualties,” IGP (Bastar Range) R K Vij told The Indian Express. Though the police claimed 15 Maoists had also been killed, none of the bodies were found.

Before fleeing with the weapons they seized — 50 weapons, including Ak-47s and SLRs are missing — the Maoists mined the area, Vij said, adding that a bomb disposal squad was trying to clear the area. Additional state police and CRPF personnel have been sent in as reinforcement.

After the Salwa Judum campaign, involving tribals taking on Maoists, the latter have stepped up attacks in the Bastar region, targeting both securitymen and civilians.

At the scene of the attack, the stench of death was unmistakable — there was blood all around, some of the policemen had been hacked to death.

“The Maoists fired indiscriminately at the police post from all sides,” Pisda said.

Injured policemen said they were unable to react because they were heavily outnumbered. “At least 400 came in battle fatigues. They overpowered the sentries and lobbed petrol bombs. There was panic. We tried to retaliate but were outnumbered,” said Ram Patel. Another injured policeman, Kamal Kaudo, said that “the Naxalites first set the building on fire and hacked to death anyone trying to get out.” He said he survived because they thought he had died of gunshot wounds.

State Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam, who reached the attack site with DGP OP Rathore, called it “a cowardly act... such acts will not shake our resolve... we will continue fighting extremists.” Netam and Leader of Opposition Mahendra Karma, who also leads the Salwa Judum movement, were gheraoed by angry villagers. At least 676 people have been killed in Maoist violence in Chhattisgarh over the last two years.

In New Delhi, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil condemned the killing of policemen and spoke to Chief Minister Raman Singh.

Assuring all possible assistance to the state government, Patil said such attacks would not succeed in weakening the resolve of the government to deal with the Naxalite problem, an official spokesman said.

Following Singh’s request to provide helicopters for evacuation of the victims, one chopper was rushed to the state.

Pattern shows Naxals gunning for Salwa Judum

Vinay JhaPosted online: Friday, March 16, 2007 at 0000 hrs

New Delhi, March 15: With special police officers accounting for 34 of the 54 killed in Chhattisgarh early this morning, speculations are rife that the Naxalites might have begun implementing their recent resolve to stamp out peoples’ movements directed against them. The attack comes nearly eight months after 25 Salwa Judum activists were killed by the Naxalites at an Errabore relief camp in Dantewada district.

The first sign indicating that Naxalites were back with a renewed vigour came in the form of the killing of JMM MP Sunil Mahato, a vocal opponent of the movement in Jharkhand. However, it was not clear if all the SPOs killed or injured were officially part of the Salwa Judum project. They were drawn from among the local tribal population and were part of a temporary police camp set up to control Naxalite activities in Bhairamgarh block of Bijapur district. The group also included a road opening party since there were instances of roads in the area being mined or blocked. Shortly after the incident, police and CRPF teams fanned out to adjoining areas amid apprehensions that mines or bombs may have been planted to inflict further damage.

After the attack, the Centre placed a BSF helicopter at the state government’s disposal to evacuate the injured police personnel. The Union Home Ministry has, however, turned down requests from Naxal-affected states in the past for air-power during operations, saying that helicopters should be used “mainly to transport people injured in attacks or speed up movement of police personnel during an operation”.

Recent figures show that Chhattisgarh accounts for a majority of incidents and casualties when it comes to Naxal violence. Last year, the state witnessed 715 incidents of Naxal violence that left around 304 civilians, 84 security personnel and 74 Naxalites dead. According to a ministry spokesman, 13 battalions of Central paramilitary forces, including the CRPF, are already deployed in Chhattisgarh to assist the state police in anti-Naxal operations.

Maoists kill 55 cops in Chhattisgarh


Raipur, March 15 In the biggest ever strike by Maoists on security forces in Chhattisgarh, at least 55 police personnel were killed and 11 injured today when more than 300 heavily armed rebels stormed a police station in the Bastar region.

The Naxalites, led by the military wing of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist attacked Rani Bodli police outpost, 525 km from here, in the wee hours today, police sources told PTI on phone from Bijapur district.

“There was fierce fighting by both sides, but when the security forces ran out of ammunition, the rebels lobbed grenades and petrol bombs on the barracks. The policemen were forced to come out from the shelter after it caught fire, and were subsequently killed in firing by the Naxalites,” a source said.

Sixteen Chhattisgarh Armed Force jawans and 39 special police officers were killed, while four CAF jawans and seven officers were injured in the incident. Nine other policemen, who were at the outpost, escaped without any injuries.

The Naxalites looted 48 weapons from the security forces, including rifles and a two-inch mortar, the sources said.

This was the biggest attack by the rebels in Chhattisgarh since the state was formed on November 1, 2000. The killing of 55 security personnel has put the state government in an embarrassing position.

After the incident, state police officers sought tougher steps by the government to deal with the Naxalite menace.

Talking to PTI, several senior police officers suggested a total overhaul of the state government’s policy for dealing with Naxalites and said the Maoists were no longer a local force.

“The Naxalites are not a local militia. They are working more on the line of a military wing of any well-trained organisation. Keeping this in mind, police and the state government need to change their strategy,” one officer said.

The officers felt the state government should stop experiments on the Naxal issue and said the people, who had a fair idea about the style of functioning of the rebels, should be included in anti-Maoist operations and field duty in insurgency-hit areas.

In the past 22 months, the state had witnessed as many as 1,187 incidents of violence related to Naxalites, in which at least 676 people were killed, official reports said.

During 2005-06, a total of 243 civilians, 43 Naxalites and 65 security personnel were killed while at least 226 civilians, 76 Naxalites and 23 security personnel were killed this fiscal up to February 4, the reports said.

Similarly, in 2005-06, a total of 639 violent incidents occurred whereas 548 such incidents were recorded up to February 4 in 2006-07.

Navhind Times on the Web: India

India - Govt jittery after Naxal attack - Daily News & Analysis

NEW DELHI: The death of nearly 50 policemen in one of the deadliest Maoist attacks in Chhattisgarh on Thursday has jolted the government out of bed and once again cast doubts on the strategy of luring locals in the fight against Left extremism.

There have been several reports questioning the idea behind the Salwa Judum campaign as well. Touted as a movement of tribals against Naxalites, it has been criticised both in reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs, social organisations and some teams of independent intellectuals who studied it.

In today’s massacre, 34 of those killed in the attack, were local tribal youth recruited as Special Police Officers (SPOs). The others killed were from the Special Armed Force (SAF) personnel. About 80 personnel from the Armed Police and SPO were in the camp at the time of the attack.

The Union Home Ministry is worried over the huge loss of lives of SPOs as it may deter the local tribals from serving the force. In fact, the Naxals had targeted SPOs in their attacks earlier as well. But this time, the casualty was high.

The SPOs are recruited from among the local youth for a monthly honorarium of Rs1,500 and are given training to handle weapons and extend other assistance to the security personnel during patrolling and other operations.

Home Ministry officials said the incident might also scare away the locals from actively participating in ‘Salwa Judum’.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil spoke to Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh and assured him of all required help.

Home Secretary V K Duggal and other home ministry officials were in constant touch with the State Chief Secretary and Director General of Police Om Prakash Rathore.

A helicopter has been sent from Delhi to assist the state government in the rescue operations. The Central Government has also promised the state further assistance, if necessary.

Chhattisgarh has been the worst hit among the 13 Naxal-hit states during the past two years.

More than 700 people are killed in Naxal-related incidents during 2004-06. During 2005-06, a total of 243 civilians, 43 naxals and 65 security personnel died in several incidents in Chhattisgarh

DNA - India - Govt jittery after Naxal attack - Daily News & Analysis

Raise the strength,capacity and Presence of Police Force : Ajai Sahni

.....the head of New Delhi's Institute for Conflict Management, Ajai Sahni, says under-equipped and poorly armed security forces have not been able to tackle the threat.

"You have got to raise the strength, the capacities and the presence of the [police] force, you cannot have these little pockets of police camps with nothing in terms of administration, nothing in terms of successive barriers of security, and expect them to protect anybody, they cannot even protect themselves," said Sahni. "The people who died yesterday are not lazy policemen who were sleeping, they were the policemen who were unable to protect themselves."

Source: Voice of America

Maoist rebels kill at least 49 Indian police officers

Randeep Ramesh in New Delhi
Thursday March 15, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Maoist rebels march during their ninth convention at an undisclosed location in the jungles of Indian state of Chattisgarh. Photograph: AP

Hundreds of Maoist rebels armed with guns, grenades and home-made bombs have attacked a remote police station in the dense forests of eastern India, in a pre-dawn raid that left at least 49 police officers dead.

The attack, which began at just after 2am local time (2030 GMT yesterday), took the police station in the state of Chattisgarh, nearly 1,500km (930 miles) south-east of New Delhi, "by total surprise" said one official.

Between 300 and 400 rebels attacked the camp in the jungles in the southern part of the state, throwing grenades and petrol bombs. After killing 15 state police officers and 24 security officers from a state-armed militia force, the guerrillas set fire to the post before escaping with a substantial arms haul.

The Naxalites, as they are known, are part of a hidden war in the middle of India's mineral-rich tribal belt in central India. They are heirs of the revolutionary ideology of Mao Zedong. Chhattisgarh is the state that suffers most from Maoist attacks, accounting for about half of national casualties in 2006, according to the Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Unlike their ideological cousins in Nepal, the guerrillas are not prepared to consider swapping the bullet for the ballot box. Across a wide swath of India, from Andhra Pradesh in the south to the Nepalese border, there are reports of underground armies hijacking trains, mounting audacious jailbreaks and murdering local politicians.

Ajai Sahni, executive director at the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management told Reuters that the rebels have spent much of last year amassing an enormous cache of arms.

"This period has been a period of planning and of consolidation and you will now see the consequences," Mr Sahni said, adding that mass support continued to grow across the "red corridor". "You can expect a fairly abrupt escalation of violence over coming weeks and months," he added.

Last year the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, described the rebels as "the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country" but the Indian army has yet to be called up to take on the guerrillas.

Instead, the army's jungle warfare units have been drafted to create village militias which can take on Naxalites in the villages. Last year, army commanders in Chhattisgarh told the Guardian that the Naxalite menace would be finished "in months".

Following today's raid, there was immediate speculation on India's news channels that the soldiers would find themselves engaged in combat with the guerrillas, many of whom are barely out of their teens.

Like yesterday's unrest in West Bengal, the issue is one of land. New Delhi would like big business to dig out the mineral wealth to fuel India's industrial surge and appears to be depopulating the forests in preparation for the sale.

In clearing villages they have created a well of deep dissatisfaction, which can be exploited by the Naxalites. Last year city brokers CLSA said in a note that a "lack of policy initiatives and the inability to win over the tribals, the largest stakeholder in the hinterlands where the Maoists hold sway, means the Naxalite movement is becoming stronger".

Naxal attack police outpost kills 50 policemen

Smriti Rao

Thursday, March 15, 2007 (Raipur):

At least 49 policemen have been killed in a daring Naxal attack at a police outpost in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh.

Hundreds of armed Naxals attacked the police camp a little after 2 am (local time) on Wednesday night and fired indiscriminately, hurtling grenades and petrol bombs.

The bodies of five naxals have also been found. About a dozen injured police personnel have been taken to the Kutru hospital.

"It is a sad incident. At around 2 or 3 am, naxals attacked a police camp and used hand grenades and ammunition. Officials have rushed to the area," said Ram Vichar Netam, state Home Minister.

Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal has said they were in touch with the state and if required a central team would be sent.

Bijapur district is one of the most naxal-prone areas of Chhattigarh. Two years ago, 23 CRPF personnel were killed a similar attack.

Before fleeing away with the weapons of the forces, the Naxalites heavily landmined the area and the barrack, where the policemen were staying.

CRPF and additional forces of state police have reached the spot. With PTI inputs)

Naxals kill 22 CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh

From our Correspondent

Source: ANI
Bijapur (Chhattisgarh), Mar 15: At least 22 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed at their outpost in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur District by Naxals in the wee hours of Thursday.

According to sources, the attack took place at around 2.00 a.m. at the Rani Bodli outpost, located 525 km from Raipur.

There were about 23 Chhattisgarh Armed Force personnel and 55 Special Police Officers at the outpost, when the Naxals attacked the post, lobbing grenades and petrol bombs and firing indiscriminately.

Locals are demanding the resignation of state Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam.

According to a report titled 'Naxal Conflict in 2006'", 749 people were killed in Naxal-related conflict in 2006. These include 285 civilians, 135 security personnel and 329 alleged Naxalites.

The highest number of killings was reported from Chhattisgarh (363), followed by Andhra Pradesh (135), Jharkhand (95), Maharashtra (60), Bihar (45), Orissa (25), West Bengal (22), Uttar Pradesh (2), Karnataka (1) and Madhya Pradesh (1).

However, the number of killings in 2006 has declined as compared to 2005 during which 892 people were killed.

In some of the massacres, many of the innocent victims have been killed through repeated stabbing and slitting of throats in front of other hostages or villagers.

The Maoists' victims also included Salwa Judum cadres. An anti-Naxalite movement launched in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh in June 2005-- has prolonged the menace of Naxalism.

The Salwa Judum campaign had resulted in 48.5 percent of the total killings in Chhattisgarh.Naxalites have been responsible for the blocking of many development initiatives in areas where they exercise control. They target labourers, officials and companies, besides governmental buildings providing shelter to security personnel.

Naxals attack police camp in Chhattisgarh, 50 killed

At least fifty security personnel were feared killed and as many as 13 others were injured when Naxalites attacked a police outpost located in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh during the wee hours of Thursday. The armed Maoists fled after looting weapons.

According to the police sources, the Naxals came in large numbers and hurled grenades and petrol bombs besides opening indiscriminate fire on the security forces in the base camp at around 2 am.

“There were around eighty security personnel in the Rani Bodli base camp including 26 Chhattisgarh Armed Forces personnel and 55 Special Police Officers (SPOs) at the time of attack,” the source stated.

The security personnel retaliated the Naxal attack, resulting in the death of nearly six of the extremists, a senior police official said.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, the state's home minister, Ram Vichar Netam, expressed fear that the casualty figures could be high. Senior police officials and paramilitary forces rushed to the spot following the massacre.

Dantewada District Collector KR Pisda informed that around fifty dead bodies were recovered but they were yet to be identified.

15:58 IST
The Home Ministry is in touch with the Chhattisgarh government following the Naxal attack on a police force camping in Rani Bodli village of Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh this morning. As per the initial reports received from the State Government, at the time of the attack, there were about 70 police personnel of the State Armed Police camping there including Special Police officers appointed by the Chhattisgarh Government. In the attack, 15 police personnel of the State Armed Police and 34 SPOs have been reportedly killed and 12 police personnel and SPOs were injured. The injured have been taken to a nearby hospital.

The Union Home Minister, Shri Shivraj Patil spoke to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Shri Raman Singh after the incident. Senior Home Ministry officials are also in touch with senior officials of the Chhattisgarh government. A close watch is being kept on the situation. A helicopter has been sent from Delhi to assist the State Government in rescue operations in the aftermath of the incident. The Central Government has promised the State Government any further help, if required. Senior police officers of the State Government are supervising relief and search operations.

Strongly condemning the incident, the Home Minister has said that such attacks would not succeed in weakening the resolve of the Government to deal with the naxal problem. He conveyed his sympathies to the kins of those killed and expressed confidence that the culprits would be nabbed soon. The Home Minister said that the centre would continue to extend all possible assistance to the Chhattisgarh Government to deal with the Naxal menace.

The Central Government has been regularly reviewing the naxalite situation in Chhattisgarh. 13 battalions of Central Para-Military Forces have been deployed in the State to supplement the efforts of the State Police Force to control naxal violence. 4 India Reserve Battalions have also been sanctioned to the State and while 2 such battalions have been raised by the State, the other two are under raising. UAVs have also been made available to the State Government. 17 armoured vehicles have been given to the State to neutralize threats posed by IED/land-mine blasts used by naxalites against the security forces and civilians. Additional funds of Rs.25 crore are also being given to the State Government under the police modernization scheme primarily for helping the State police to set up de-mining units with latest equipment. This is in additional to normal funds given to the State every year under the police modernization and security related expenditure (SRE) schemes. In addition, three experts teams from the CPMFs for detection and disposal of explosives have also been provided. Need-based helicopter facility for evacuation of casualties and movement of police personnel has been given to the State Government.