Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rise of the Red corridor: Part I

Sunday, March 25, 2007 07:26:07 am

Deep within the blur of green on the map that comprises the dark forests of Chattisgarh, lies a sea of ‘red’ – arguably one of India’s biggest security threats, the living, breathing and training Naxals.

TIMES NOW takes you into an area few have gone before, the western Chhattisgarh jungles called Abhuj Madh, or the Unknown Hills. Security forces have so far only been able to circle its periphery, as going further could spell certain death.

The TIMES NOW team which accompanied patrolling commandos found that police personnel here live a very treacherous life, as nearly the entire forest is strewn with land mines. However the commandos seemed unafraid or else had learnt to take the looming threat in their stride – quite literally.

Similar dense forests extend north of Abuj Madh, and it is here that the Naxals have a full-fledged operational centre, training camps and propaganda machinery rivaled by few, aided with state-of-the-art technology.

The Naxal ‘congress’

Here in the jungle, 100 top Naxal leaders met secretly in late January 2007. The leaders gathered over three days in a secret hideout, and sat and chalked out a strategy which soon saw repercussions.

Within a month, Jharkhand MP Sunil Mahato was brutally shot dead. The killing marked the beginning of a year in which Naxals want to take their "revolution" to the next level.

The Naxals, in fact, have not stopped at Mahato - on March 16, over 200 naxalities massacred 55 policemen in Ranibodli village in Chattisgarh. Their new resolution does not stop with Chhattisgarh – the Naxals plan to strike with similar intensity from all along the their area of influence – this area, best termed the ‘Red’ corridor, extends from Uttar Pradesh to Bihar and all the way down to Andhra Pradesh, with Jharkhand and Chattisgarh being their strongholds.

What is more even disturbing is that the Naxals’ future plan is to extend the Red corridor from east to west, starting from Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra along the northern border of the state, all the way to Surat.

Through TIMES NOW’s three-part series we plan to reveal the ways in which this silent force is becoming a lethal army attacking with preparation and precision and growing so fast that before long it could be the most dangerous enemy the country has ever seen - the enemy within.

(By Abhishek Choudhari)

Survivors of Chhattisgarh Maoist attack plead for justice

From our ANI Correspondent

Ranibodli (Chhattisgarh), Mar.24: Survivors of one of the worst Maoist attacks in Ranibodli in Chhattisgarh, which claimed 49 lives of the police and tribal militia, have lamented meager or noelief from the government.

Nearly 500 Maoist rebels stormed a police camp on March 15. The aggrieved villagers said the attack could not have happened, if the security forces were alert to the situation in the region.

"Earlier the police at least patrolled the area, but now their attitude has become lackadaisical. They remain drunk. They would patrol the roads as if the Naxals will move around on the roads. They should comb the jungles. The policemen receive the information about the movement of the Naxals through satellite links but they lack efficiency," Gopal Rande, a villager said.

Thousands of policemen were deployed to comb the affected region, but they stayed away from the deep forests, fearing more attacks by the rebels and landmines.

The survivors said the government's responsibility doesn't end with just giving the victims a meager compensation for the lives of their loved ones.

"I carried so many dead bodies, no official came down to us to see our condition. We were handed out 10 thousand rupees and that's it, we did not receive any other help from the authorities," said Kirtipalamannayu, another villager.

The latest attack underlined the presence of Maoist rebels in much of rural India where they have formed a "red corridor" stretching from the southern tip all along its southern, central and eastern forests and up to the border with Nepal.

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

More than 700 people were killed in the insurgency last year. Chhattisgarh is worst affected in Maoist attacks, accounting for about half of national casualties in 2006, according to the Asian Centre for Humanights.

Maoists launched a violent movement in 1967 from a village in West Bengal and claim they are fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless workers.


‘States can promote officers out of turn’

Dhananjay Mahapatra
[ 24 Mar, 2007 2329hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

NEW DELHI: Luck favours the brave, so goes the adage, but the Supreme Court has given practical meaning to it by ruling that there is nothing wrong if a state gives out-of-turn promotions to police officers who volunteer postings in Naxal or terrorist-affected areas.

It set aside an order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which had quashed an incentive service rule promising accelerated promotions to inspectors and DSPs to the next higher rank in recognition of their outstanding field work in Naxal-infested areas.

The HC, allowing petitions by those who did not get an opportunity to work in Naxal areas, said that fortuitous circumstances cannot be made a basis for creating a separate class within a class of police officials.

Allowing an appeal of the AP government last week, an apex court Bench comprising Justices A K Mathur and Tarun Chatterjee said the service rules were amended looking into the dire need of the state to give some incentive to police officers for voluntarily coming forward to tackle the Naxal menace.

“The purpose is laudable and nobody can take exception to this,” the Bench said, and wondered as to why persons who are prepared to take more risks in life be not rewarded as against those who do not want to take risks.

“As a matter of fact, those who take risk in their life and prefer to face hazardous duties, such kind of persons form a class and such class of persons stand differentiated from the other class of persons who are not prepared to take risk in their life and want to continue with normal police duties and seek their promotion in due course of time,” said Justice Mathur, writing the judgment for the Bench.

It continued and said the difference is — one is desirous of taking risk in his life and do service to society by taking up a hazardous assignment as against the other person who wants to continue with his usual police duties

Naxals attack police station again

Posted Saturday , March 24, 2007 at 23:04

New Delhi: Within 15 days of the massacre of 55 policemen, Naxals on Saturday attacked a police station again in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, police said.

However no policeman was injured in the second Naxal attack in the region.

"Several armed naxalites attacked Maraiguda police station in Dantewada district, about 550 km from Raipur in hyper-sensitive Bastar region," as quoted by PTI, police sources from Dantewada said.

Exchange of fire between police and Naxals continued for a long time, police said, adding no policemen were injured in the fire.

Since the Maraiguda police station is located close to the Andhra Pradesh border, most likely the Naxalites had crossed the border as police had launched combing operation of that area to trace the armed rebels, police said.

On March 15, naxalites had attacked the Rani Bodla police station of Bijapur district of the region and killed 55 policemen and injured 11 security forces and looted a huge number of weapons and explosive materials.

Ranibodli : Double-edged Dagger

The villagers of Dantewada have no choice but to chant the anti-Naxal mantra. Shivam Vij reports from Ranibodli, where Naxals killed 68 cops and Salva Judum volunteers

Along the NH 43 from Raipur to the strife-torn Dantewada district lies Jagdalpur, where survivors of the March 15 massacre of police officers are recuperating.

One of them is Poyam Lakma, who escaped along with two others in Ranibodli. So when did Lakma become a ‘Special Police Officer’ (SPO) with the Chhattisgarh government as part of the Salva Judum? Two years ago. How? “The Salva Judum people came to the village and said villagers could become SPOs.” Just that? What was his personal motivation to join the Salva Judum? Was he forced to or did he really want to wage war against the Naxalites?

Lakma, who has a bullet injury, freezes, gesturing towards the next survivor: ask him. The other survivors are more forthcoming about driving the Naxals away and bringing peace to Dantewada. They loot and plunder, they don’t let us work for the government, how would we earn, and besides we are all fighting for the country.

In Bhairamgarh Block deep inside Dantewada, Sukli Soma lives in a Salva Judum camp. Her son Sudru is an SPO at the Bhairamgarh police station, which looks more like a military academy. The Salva Judum has managed to make many Naxals surrender, she says, at least the ones from her village. Her neighbour Lachchu, though, says he was better off in his village, on the other side of the Imravati river. There isn’t enough rice to eat here in the camp, and rarely does he get work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
Iron in the soul: The room in which the police were sleeping when the Jan Militia of the CPI (Maoist) attacked
Photos Shailendra Pandey

But that’s all he would volunteer. “Why do you ask so many questions? What will happen if you write?” Don’t ask, especially the difficult questions. Did he join the Salva Judum out of his own volition? Is he a free man here? Does the Salva Judum commit atrocities on suspected Naxals?

After this barrage of queries, Lachchu rushes back into the camp.

Unlike Lachhu, Lakma and Sukli, Shivram Yadav is not a tribal, but he too lived across the river, in Bail village. “The Naxals,” he says, “would collect food and money house to house, saying they would kill government officials for our benefit.” Now at the camp, Yadav can’t even muster the courage to visit his village a few kilometres away.

At the Bhairamgarh police station, Central Reserve Police Force personnel play volleyball as the sun prepares to set. The Salva Judum SPOs, who are readying for the evening vigil, refuse to be photographed. While the adivasis are not known to open up easily, the police have drilled into them not to speak to journalists and activists. This has made Dantewada one of the most difficult places for journalists; many have had their cameras snatched away by SPOs.

Travelling through Dantewada, there are several things that stand out. The roads: the Border Roads Organisation has been building some of the best roads here. An attempt at development to prevent the the Communist Party of India (Maoist) from using the adivasi’s discontent.

You will see the schools every few kilometres along the highway. These are mostly run under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Centre’s scheme to increase literacy. Adivasis are known to be amongst the most resistant to education, and the Abhiyan has built “ashrams” or small boarding schools that house children from remote villages. Every Salva Judum camp has a school. Although resistant to modern education, tribals increasingly see the benefits of it thanks to reserved jobs. Sukli Soma in the Bhairamgarh Block, for instance, is most happy that her granddaughter has started learning Hindi.
Many tribals feel strongly about driving the Naxals away. The police say the people are their weapons

The village of Ranibodli has one such girls’ school, separated from a Salva Judum camp by half a football field. Sometime ago the government ordered the resident students to move out to another nearby school, but 30 girls and a teacher stayed on. The rest of the building was occupied by an operations unit comprising the Chhattisgarh Police and Salva Judum SPOs. Two bunkers on the roof, and two on the veranda at the back, with “Bastar Tiger” written on them, had sentries keep watch at night. At 2am on March 15, about 500 men surrounded the building and an exchange of fire followed until the sentries ran out of ammunition. The Naxals then hurled petrol bombs into the rooms where the police were sleeping. Those who came out were beheaded with a pharsi. Other units in the area were alerted but they arrived two hours after the Bastar guerrillas had killed the Bastar Tigers. Some say the delay was deliberate: troops didn’t want to find place in the list of ‘martyrs’. Even now, there is no crpf or police posted there: the abandoned school is a symbol of the state government’s attempt to explain the massacre away as an exception in what it says is the successful experiment of Salva Judum.

Unprintable photographs of the 49 bodies — the toll has now gone up to 68 — taken the next day by local journalists show heads matched with torsos. The floor is caked with dried blood, charred remains of beds and even two motorcycles that were deliberately burnt. In one corner of a room where the fire didn’t reach, dozens of letters by SPOs asking for leave lie in a heap. One SPO used to take leave so often that they shunted him out. It is now suspected that he was an informant.

Information is what the Salva Judum is about, more than the gun. The presence of villagers as SPOs in police teams helps identify the ‘sangham’ members — their fellow villagers who are part of the lower rung of the Naxal military cadre. They bring some of them from the interiors and make them surrender, while others are just killed. It is also true that areas where Salva Judum has been organised see less Naxal activitity, meaning they have been frustrated by the Salva Judum even if not to the extent the state government claims. The war in Dantewada is not so much about massacres. Both sides insist it is about hearts and minds.

Easy fodder? The villagers shot dead by the Gidam police station SHO for their ‘involvement’ in the Ranibodli massacre
Police File Picture

The security efforts here are not geared at combating guerrilla warfare

Letters in that heap say an SPO is being appointed because the jan andolan against Naxalism needs more security. Beneath the rhetoric of jan andolan, the contentious Salva Judum, the Chhattisgarh government’s hollowness with security efforts is visible. There is no more than one police station per thousand kilometres and the security efforts are not geared at combating the kind of guerrilla warfare the terrain offers the Naxals.

One of the victims of the Ranibodli massacre was Ramchandra Enka, 25, whose wife points to another reason why Salva Judum has found some support. Enka would give her wife a thousand rupees and keep the rest five hundred of his salary to himself. His wife and father speak the usual things against Naxal harassment and in support of Salva Judum, but our cab driver is making small talk with a neighbour who says she sent her son out of Dantewada because he was being forced by the police to join the Salva Judum.

After the Ranibodli massacre, the state home minister told the press that the massacre would be ‘avenged’. Intense ‘combing operations’ by eight battalions of police are taking place in a radius of 50 km around the village. There are unofficial reports of an exchange of fire between the Naxals and the police near Shangri village. Five Maoists are said to have died, a .303 stolen rifle recovered, but no casualties on the side of the police. It is in such ‘combing operations’ that the Salva Judum is said to commit atrocities: they are accused of burning and indiscriminately kill people in entire villages seen to be with the Naxals. There are even accusations of rape.

Two years ago Gidam police station was looted, a similar combing operaion had taken place. The Naxals just walked in, started firing and looting. The new Station Head Officer RL Senger learnt the security lesson: a zigzag of barbed wire is the most common strategy to delay the entry of attackers into a building, giving the sentry enough time to fire and flash the message on the wireless. The Ranibodli school didn’t even have this. But Senger did another smart thing: he even managed to find a few Naxals in a village nearby and shot them. They were harvesting the field — pretending to do so, claims Senger — and he shot them just after they had perpetrated a bomb blast. “There may be some mistakes,” says Senger, “just as the media may make some mistakes in reporting about the Salva Judum.” The local papers had reported the controversy over the ‘fake encounter’. Instead of an inquiry, Senger got a President’s medal. “People,” says Senger, “are the biggest weapons.”

Local journalists have been muzzled into ignoring the Salva Judum’s excesses and journalists reporting Naxal atrocities have paid their price: one was even shot dead. There is a pro/anti Salva Judum divide amongst journalists, most of whom don’t even know the Gondi language and do not hire translators to get the adivasis’ version. Local journalists may never know what happened in the ‘combing operation’ after the Ranibodli bloodbath and those who may know about it may not be able to write it. The tribals of Dantewada, then, are only the second biggest casualty of the strife. The biggest casualty is truth.

Hooghly Meets Volga

The Stalinist streak is back in the CPI(M), a throttled media is added proof

Balbir K. Punj

Those three days—March 13, 14 and 15—best exposed the brutal mindset of the Left parties in the country and the chicanery of the Indian liberals at different levels. On the first day, we saw the Left MPs in the Lok Sabha attack members of one of their own political allies in the government. The Marxists surged towards Union shipping minister T.R. Baalu of the DMK when he sought to place a bill on creating a maritime university in Chennai. No sense of parliamentary etiquette, not even calls for restraint from a senior partyman who is now the Speaker, stopped them.

The assault on Nandigram was not to establish the majesty of law, but to reclaim it for the CPI(M).

The papers were yanked out of Baalu's hands and torn, worse, the Communists threatened the minister and hit him. But for the intervention of some members of other parties, there would have been bloodshed in the House.

The next day, the Communists again vented fury, this time it was a massacre in the Left-ruled West Bengal. The cadres surrounded the green fields of Nandigram where the locals were protesting the government's plan to take over their land for setting up a chemicals complex by a foreign business group. The protesters—closely chased by party goons who had even ensured that all the approach roads to the area were cut off—were run through and shot dead. Like cattle.

Women and children, who formed the frontline of the protesters, ended up as the major casualty. Even two days later, none could agree on the exact count of the dead and the injured.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya claimed only five died, while the district magistrate put it at 11. As for eyewitnesses, they said many bodies were rowed across the river and dumped in the marshes. The assault on Nandigram was not to establish the majesty of law,

The Marxists are using their hold on the Centre to disband the Judum, to give Maoists freedom to operate.

but to reclaim it for the CPI(M). No wonder, the party and the police worked in tandem. The report submitted by a Congress fact-finding team said "it is proved beyond doubt that CPI(M) cadres, along with the police, were involved in the killing of innocent men, women and children". Preliminary inputs sent by a probing CBI team say the injuries to the victims were caused by bullets not used by the police. And most of the villagers were fired at on their chest, shoulders, hips and other parts of the torso. Obviously, the idea was to teach the villagers a lesson for daring to stand up against the CPI(M).

What's more shocking was the systematic way the Marxist cadres kept the media out of the scene. They even manhandled and injured many who were covering the events, snatched their cameras and mobile phones. Some of the scribes and lensmen are still untraceable, the others are nursing a bloodied face. Even more shocking is the conspiracy of silence on the part of self-proclaimed human right activists, rent-a-cause ngos and media organisations. Even those who chose to condemn the violence at Nandigram did so only after blaming the victims in a subtle manner.

The third incident was the bloodbath in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, where Maoist extremists destroyed a police outpost and butchered a host of village self-defence force members and their families. A chunk of the over 55 people confirmed dead are policemen, there's no final figure on the injured. Those killed were hacked to death while they were fleeing the burning Rani Bodli outpost and shelters for Salwa Judum, the village self-defence force. The accounts of the event as narrated by the few survivors is chilling; it only reinforces the barbaric face of the Communists.

Of all the things, the absence of any protest for the kind of treatment the mediapersons got from Communist goons should be surprising. Cut back to 2002, when some demonstrators in Ayodhya manhandled the media. There was a prompt chorus of protests before the BJP office in Delhi.
Scurrilous slogans were hurled at the party even though its leaders had regretted the attack and expressed apology. So, why is there a hush-hush now after a similar episode in Nandigram stagemanaged by CPI(M) goons? That the entire media was forcefully prevented from reporting this event from the spot has been splashed across the newspapers. But then, apparently the "progressives" have preferences. Marxists can do no wrong—whether it is on the eastern banks of the Volga in Stalinist Russia, in the cultural cauldron of Mao, the killing fields of Cambodia, or now in Nandigram.

There is little doubt that the mayhem at Nandigram was planned at the highest level of the CPI(M). By deciding to check media entry into the war zone, it was merely keeping in line with the Stalinist tradition. Obviously there was a lot of gory drama to hide. So plans were perfected to shut out any evidence of brutality against the local people by the Marxists and police combined. The Times of India reporting team has given a graphic description of how the CPI(M) cadres stopped them at all entry points to Nandigram, ordering them to go back. It even quotes the cadres telling them that they were only obeying orders from above, and would not hesitate to use physical force if they made any further bid to proceed. Result: those who disobeyed were mauled, their cameras and cellphones destroyed. The Times reporters who tried to contact the CM's office got no response.

Worse was the plight of two TV crew members who managed to get into the area and hide in separate huts. Bengali channel Tara News managed to get a blow-by-blow account from the cellphone of one of them. But not for long. He, as well as his cameraman, were brutally beaten up. The whereabouts of the latter, Guranga Deb Harja, were not known the whole day even as the reporter was admitted to hospital with injuries from beating.

The reply that the Times reporter who later got through to the CM's personal assistant was telling: "Why did you go there today?" There is no need for further proof about the collaboration between party goons and police to teach a lesson to anyone who dares to question the Marxist rule.

Surely, the Times should not have dared to cover the event. Like other newspapers, it should have echoed the tone of surrender, and parrot the official line: "The police acted in self-defence." The party, after all, is supreme. There was no better demonstration of darkness at noon in a Communist land. Now we know how the Marxists managed to win election after election for the last 25 years in West Bengal. Therein lies the danger. In Marxist-ruled countries, the media is supposed to serve the party and thereby the state. In West Bengal too, the Marxist leaders have enforced the silence of the lambs by patronising the "progressive" section of the media, and bludgeoning the others. The largest newspaper in West Bengal, Ananda Bazar Patrika, has been a constant target of Marxist hoodlums. The CMO itself has been witness to incidents of Marxists beating up mediapersons, and the then CM, Jyoti Basu, going on to justify it.

The Marxists are in the habit of deflecting public discourse on the atrocities the Maoists are wreaking—by claiming that the CPI(M) and the CPI stand for parliamentary methods. The Baalu incident is ample example of their dedication to parliamentary methods. As for extremism, it was the Left that had been demanding vociferously—inside and outside Parliament—that the Salwa Judum, not the Maoists, should be held guilty.

Earlier, the Marxists did make an attempt to paint these village self-defence forces as BJP-inspired, but the fact soon came to light that it was the local Congress leadership that had organised them to counter the Naxalites.

The Marxists are using their hold on the UPA government to disband the Judum, obviously to give the Maoists wide freedom of operation. That these Maoists have carved out a wide swathe of the country—all the way from eastern Maharashtra through Andhra Pradesh and Orissa to Chhattisgarh and Bihar—and could any day link up with their ideologues in Nepal should be the major concern of the Centre. From Gaya to Jagdalpur, there have been many incidents where Naxals have demonstrated their capacity to run their writ. But the UPA government seems to be closing its eyes to this development.

The level of organised violence the CPI(M) cadres demonstrated in Nandigram is no less virulent than the March 15 Naxal attack. While the Nandigram residents were protesting the deprivation of their land for industrial purposes, the CPI(M) had, with the connivance of the state government, decided to evict the protesters by force. They cordoned off the area in a war-like operation. And then, over 5,000 armed police entered the place and brutally beat up, teargassed and fired upon the locals, entering even their huts and dragging them out, beating them all along. In no uncertain way, the Marxists are implementing what is basic to their ideology—that the party is supreme and there's no freedom to criticise or find fault with it. Nandigram is also a demonstration of the Stalinist streak in Marxism. Remember how the Russian dictator allowed millions to die in his attempts to relocate people from one area to another often as a punishment and as a means to thrust industrialisation down their throat.

Now that the CPI(M) in West Bengal has become the champion of industrialisation—of even MNCs—the Stalinist purges and killing fields are being re-enacted in West Bengal. To succeed in these battles, the Marxists need a mute media and a guaranteed blackout—like the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident in Beijing. And Nandigram is the best example. It stands to the eternal discredit of the "progressives" within the media and outside that they are, through their silence, party to this throttling of the freedom of the press.

(The writer can be contacted at

Combating the Naxalist menace

Combating the Naxalist menace

[ SATURDAY, MARCH 24, 2007 12:51:25 AM]

The believers and practitioners of the Maoist ideology have once again shown their power and capacity to liquidate ‘class enemies’ by assassinating Sunil Mahato of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha on March 4 and 55 security personnel on March 15, 2007 in the Dantewalla district of Chhattisgarh. The Maoists have claimed that ‘Red Corridor’ of ‘liberated zones’ is under their control and their writ runs in the areas of their influence.

The Maoist groups which are leading the ‘violent war of liberation’ do not believe in following democratic forms of struggles for the redress of grievances of the ‘exploited tribals’ or the ‘oppressed peasantry’ because they believe that ‘agrarian oppression’ indulged in by Indian feudal and semi-feudal classes can be fought only through ‘democratic revolution’.

It deserves to be clearly stated that the so-called Naxal movement has experienced many ‘splits’ during the last 40 years on the issue of their characterisation of the Indian State and the practitioners of the politics of bullet have seen many separations because of serious ideological rifts in their movement.

Dipankar Bhattacharya, the general secretary of the CPI(M-L) declared on December 10, 2006 that the party is trying to find ‘a middle ground — from being at odds with the system to one that has now come to terms with parliamentary democracy’.

The late Vinod Mishra, an authentic Naxal leader, left the path of the ‘doctrine of class annihilation’ and established Indian People Front to contest parliamentary elections to achieve the goals of democratic revolution.

But the PWG is practising the politics of ‘liquidation of class enemies’ by launching violent struggles against the functionaries of the central and state governments and also against the oppressive landlord classes.

The central question is, how has the Indian government, central and state, responded to this ideologically committed believers of the politics of gun in the 13 states affected by Naxalite violence?

First, the BJP of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh has practised a flawed ad hoc policy of confronting Naxal violence in their tribal belt. The worst strategy was evolved by Chhattisgarh which in 2005 launched a Salwa Judum (Peace Mission) campaign against Naxals and this strategy of ‘tribals versus tribals’ has brought great reprisals from heavily-armed Naxalites.

Witness the March 15 Naxal attack when 34 out of the 55 security personnel killed belonged to Salwa Judum’s Special Police Officers. It has been repeatedly established that Salwa Judum anti-Naxal tribal forces are a sitting duck before the highly armed Naxal groups.

Union home minister Shivraj Patil admitted on March 15 that the death count in Chhattisgarh on account of Naxal attacks has increased by 57.22% during 2006. What else was the home minister expecting if tribal volunteers of Salwa Judum are pitted against Naxals, who claim to be fighting for the cause of tribal liberation?The Sarpanch, Rani Bodli Pandu Gota, stated after the Naxal attack of March 15 that “when the police recruited our children and set up a police post in our village, we were told that we will be protected against any Naxal attacks. However, they have left us to fend for ourselves.”

The crux of the issue is that the central and state governments have been vacillating and they have tried to follow policies of either ‘placating the Naxals’ or of ‘confronting them’.

Dr Manmohan Singh has described Naxalism the ‘single largest threat to India’s internal security’ but the approaches adopted towards the Naxal problem, as revealed in the annual reports of the ministry of home affairs, have not sent any clear message to the state governments .

Unlike major communist political formations of India, the Maoists completely reject the path of democratic struggles. But have the policy makers realised that the Maoists are practitioners of undemocratic and anti-democratic methods under the garb of a socially progressive ideology?

Has the central government evolved a coordinated approach with the state governments while dealing with the challenge of practitioners of the politics of bullet?

Unfortunately, the challenge posed by the Maoists has not been properly responded to by the Indian state. First of all, only the armed forces of the state should be involved while dealing with the well-armed Naxal groups.

Therefore, the Chhattisgarh government must abandon immediately the idea of creating special police officers of poor and ill-trained tribals. The very idea of creating a Salwa Judum (Peace Mission) of tribals shows that the functionaries of the state have not realised and recognised the fact the Maoists are an undemocratic social group.

Many state governments have shown ‘adhocism’ while dealing with violence indulged in by Naxals. N T Rama Rao, the founder of Telugu Desam Party and a former CM of Andhra, a Naxal-infected state, followed the soft policy of ‘bringing the misguided boys (Naxals) into the mainstream of society.’

Every AP chief minister since then have vacillated between talking to the Maoists and taking them on frontally with the result that the Naxal challenge has not come to an end in that state.

Similarly, the central government has not made up its mind while dealing with Naxals. If the policy makers think that Naxal problem has its roots in the existing unjust social order it is expected that policies for eradicating the social causes which have led to the emergence of Naxal phenomenon would be implemented and the results of this thinking will bear the fruits.

If the Indian state believes that methods adopted by Naxals are obstructing the implementation of democratically-evolved developmental policies, and ‘development with democracy’ cannot take place because of the violence practised by the Naxals, the state should respond by adopting a bullet versus bullet policy.

The ideological cloak worn by the Naxals should not convince the policy makers that they are dealing with the messiahs of the poor and exploited strata of society.

Maoism is a violent anti-democratic force in society and the challenge of such undemocratic violent groups has to be met with the might of the Indian state. The Indian state functionaries have to realise that the democratic structure is under threat by the self-appointed messiahs of the poor. The sooner the better.

(The author is professor emeritus, JNU)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Catch-22 in West Bengal

Kanika Datta / New Delhi March 24, 2007

The policies that kept the Left Front in power for 30 years are proving major obstacles in the state’s bid to industrialise.

In 2005, the West Bengal government started acquiring farmland in Bhangar, 25 km from Kolkata, for a 100 km, four-lane expressway and township to be constructed by Indonesian giant, the Salim group.

Soon after, Trinamool Congress leader and former railway minister Mamata Banerjee lost no time summoning a rally, attended by more than 50,000 people, to protest the appropriation of farmland for industry. Significantly, Abdur Rezzak Mollah, the Left Front’s land reforms minister, raised questions about viable rehabilitation packages for farmers who would lose their land. Subsequently, in state elections in 2006, the Bhangar assembly seat, which had been a CPI (M) stronghold for decades, was narrowly won by a Trinamool Congress candidate.

Though the protests were localised, Bhangar was a clear signal that the ruling four-party Left Front would see turbulent times over land acquisition. Yet, within the year, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee announced plans to acquire larger tracts of farmland as the state’s industrialisation drive went into high gear.

Soon, more vocal protests were heard in Singur, 40 km north of Kolkata, and Nandigram, 150 km south of the city, respectively, locations for the 1,000-acre hub around Tata Motors’s small car project and the 14,000-acre Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for the Salim group.

Last week, when villagers in Nandigram were killed in clashes with the police, West Bengal became a national symbol of the evils of unfettered industrialisation in general and SEZs in particular.

One of the world’s longest-serving Communist governments now suffers the ignominy of being labelled “anti-people”. Indeed, as the CPI (M), the leading constituent of the Left Front, has discovered to its chagrin, its faithful rural support base is proving inconveniently intractable in the state’s bid to stoke industrial investment.

This has put the Left Front government in a bind. With returns from agriculture diminishing, the state urgently needs to industrialise. To bootstrap the process, however, the state needs more than 1,00,000 acres of land. Half of this must come from agricultural land, which covers 68 per cent of the state’s land mass.

A land ceiling Act, which limits the acquisition of agricultural land to 12.5 acre, has meant that most of the acquisition must be done by the state rather than the private sector (the Act has now been referred to a standing committee for possible amendment).

Yet, as Nandigram has shown, the government cannot take the rural support base, which sustained it for for three decades, for granted in this land acquisition drive.

Ironically, the spectacularly successful land reforms that handed land to small farmers and share-croppers (or bargadars) in the seventies (known as Operation Barga) have become a source of weakness. West Bengal’s land reform programme was unique in that, unlike Punjab and Haryana, it created a green revolution based on a small peasant economy. With high-yielding seeds and deep tubewell irrigation provided by the state, Bengal was able to achieve high yields — two or three rice crops a year — with average landholdings as small as 5-7 acres.

Today, West Bengal produces around 8 per cent of India’s cereals and is one of the country’s principal vegetable producers.

The flip side of this unique green revolution was that, as a generation of landholders passed on, multiple inheritors have acquired even smaller plots of land. Today many own just three or four bighas (three bighas = one acre).

Over the decades, growing land fragmentation, declining soil fertility and a falling water table have made farming an unviable business for Bengal’s 1.2 crore farming community. This fact is evident in a paradox highlighted by economist Omkar Goswami. Writing in the Kolkata daily The Telegraph, he pointed out that despite impressive growth in agricultural productivity and farm incomes, rural household consumption in West Bengal was 9.6 per cent below the national average in 2001-02.

“It doesn’t speak well of a state that lays claim to agrarian dynamism [that] its rural households consume only 4.3 per cent more than the average rural family in Bihar,” he writes.

Not surprisingly, the second generation of small-holders has been uninterested in farming, increasingly turning to the cities for jobs. Today, almost half the rural population earns its income outside agriculture.

No one understands these inherent contradictions in West Bengal’s economic future better than Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who took charge in 2001, and a small element within his government.

As state industries minister Nirupam Sen told Business Standard, “The success in agriculture cannot be sustained. We need to take the pressure off agriculture and land is required for industrialisation.”

Yet, industrialisation in West Bengal had always been a controversial issue. Powered by its rural support base in the seventies and eighties, the Left Front government did little to support industry.

In turn, plagued by state-supported union problems and a chronic shortage of infrastructure, industry began retreating in favour of more congenial locations elsewhere in India. Big groups like the Birlas, Hindustan Lever, Britannia, the Thapars and so on sought to locate their new investments in the west and north.

Despite being isolated within his party and the Left Front, Bhattacharjee’s efforts have largely been to try and reverse decades of neglect. But globalisation has changed the nature of the game. Integration and economies of scale require vast tracts of land to be acquired for industrialisation. Indeed, the state has attracted numerous projects that require thousands of acres (see chart), that will displace large numbers of people on fragmented land-holdings. In Nandigram alone, the Salim group’s chemical hub would have displaced more than 40,000 people.

Till the Nandigram crisis, the pro-changers in the government seem to have assumed that the Left’s stranglehold on the countryside precluded the need for sensitive and well-crafted communication and rehabilitation programmes ahead of the land-acquisition drive.

This apart, years of industrial neglect have also meant that, unlike Gujarat and Maharashtra, there is no credible demonstration of the benefits of industrialisation. Outside of Kolkata’s polluted outskirts, there is little to convince the rural populace to substitute the seemingly solid assurance of land ownership for the ephemeral gains of factory jobs.

Certainly, on the outer edges of east Kolkata, where vast tracts of farmland have been given over to mega-housing projects and factories, there appears to have been no virulent protests to land acquisition.

At Singur, some 4,000 farmers representing 300 acres of land have refused to accept compensation. But most other landholders here were absentee farmers with jobs in Kolkata who were willing to sell their plots. Thus, despite sporadic protests here, the Tatas have been able to power ahead with the project, albeit under heavy police protection.

A wall enclosing the land is already up and workers from Shapoorji Pallonji, the Tatas’ major contractor, have started building roads and levelling the land. The first Rs 1 lakh small car is expected to roll off the ramps by 2008.

Nandigram, however, was a potent demonstration of Bengal’s Catch-22 situation. It is an isolated and starkly backward group of 40-odd villages in which the inhabitants own land, but little else. Most villages here have no electricity, few pucca houses, and landholders subsist on three crops of rice and vegetables.

Betel leaves represent the only commercial crops and brick kilns constitute the only industrial activity. Annual incomes vary between Rs 18,000 and Rs 20,000. Literacy rates here are as low as 27 per cent, against the state average of 64 per cent. Many of Nandigram’s younger sons travel up the river to the industrial hub of Metiabruz to work at low-paid jobs.

Certainly, the plan to set up a chemical hub here made both business and economic sense. Nandigram is close to the port of Haldia through which a pipeline would import the raw material. The hub would, as Sen said, “change the economic pattern of Nandigram”.

For the villagers, however, this transformation is far from evident, not least because no one from the party has made a case for it. As they see it, they will lose their land and livelihood. “What will I do with the compensation money?” asked Sudarshan Pain, who farms one acre of land and runs Ma Kali retail outlet selling fertiliser and pesticide.

He and many others, mostly over 30 years, also doubt their employability in the Salim group project. “What jobs can they give us? They will need engineers and computer specialists, we only know how to farm,” said Pain. “Tell them we don’t want any change, we want to live just as we have been doing for years,” an elderly woman added.

Ironically, last week’s tragedy here took place after Bhattacharjee had unequivocally announced that the SEZ would be scrapped following virulent protests in January this year.

But by then poor communication stoked by simmering discontent boiled over into pure political rivalry. With the local administration cut off from the area by road blockades, the local CPI (M) strongmen, fearing a loss of control in other parts of rural Bengal, decided to reassert their power.

The police were ordered in on so-called intelligence that Maoist guerillas were operating in the area. In the ensuing confusion, they fired on villagers including women and children who had been pushed to the front. The death toll is yet to be officially verified. Police sources did not rule out the presence of lumpen elements of the Left who committed atrocities as well.

After a stormy meeting of the Left Front a day later, Bhattacharjee merely reiterated what he’d said in January — that there would be no SEZ in Nandigram. Meanwhile, the area has become a green fortress, subject to brutal political rivalries between the Trinamool Congress and the CPI (M).

In the aftermath of Nandigram, the state government has finally understood that the success of its industrialisation programme depends on winning the battle for the hearts and minds of rural Bengal. As Sen has promised, “The state will go beyond compensating people. They will be rehabilitated.”

Meanwhile, investors, though worried, appear to be backing chief minister Bhattacharjee. No one has pulled out yet, though they admit that Nandigram might set back their plans for a time. The Salim group says it will continue to look at other sites in the state.

Adds Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon, which has heavy commitments in the state, “I believe in Buddhadeb, he is very pragmatic.” B K Birla, who has seen Bengal in its anti-industry days, says, “Nandigram may not happen but industrialisation in West Bengal will continue.”

On the whole, most investors take the view that such problems are inevitable and, as with all such issues in India, will eventually sort themselves out. Backed by a state economy that is growing at 7 per cent, a relatively literate workforce and a growing market, Bhattacharjee has the strong backing of one set of stakeholders for his reform programme. His challenge is to extend this mandate to the other major stakeholders to achieve the inclusive growth to which he aspires.

With reports from Ishita Ayan Dutt and Tamajit Pain

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The untold story

Thursday, March 22, 2007 22:20 IST

Prakash Karat

The events in Nandigram have been the subject of a heated controversy. A feature of this political tussle has been the concerted attempt to attack the CPI(M) on the grounds that it is taking an anti-peasant stance in favour of big companies. It is accused of using the police for this purpose.

The March 14 incident, when the police entered Nandigram and firing took place, have led to protests in West Bengal and in other parts of the country. At the national level, the BJP and its allies have focussed on this incident. Parliament was disrupted for five successive days.

The BJP and the Trinamul Congress (TMC) have demanded the imposition of Article 356 in West Bengal.

It is essential to understand what happened in Nandigram and the issues involved. First of all, it must be clear that the police action in Nandigram was not for any land acquisition.

It is true that the West Bengal government had considered certain areas within Nandigram for the proposed chemical hub to be set-up as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

However, there was no notification for land acquisition by the authorities at any stage. There was a notice by the Haldia Development Authority for public information regarding the likely location of the project. It is this notice which set off protests by people in the Nandigram Block I.

From January 3rd to March 14th, what happened within Nandigram Block I should be properly understood. From the time a gram panchayat office was attacked and the police party called in was also attacked by an armed mob, a chain of events took place which culminated in the police entry into the area two-and-a-half months later.

All bridges linking the roads to the area were destroyed. CPI(M) offices and the houses of party workers were burnt down or looted.

Most of the media and the political opponents of the CPI(M) have remained conspicuously silent about the operation to cleanse Nandigram of the CPI(M). It is shocking that intellectuals who claim to be on the Left have not condemned these cleansing operations which led to the brutal murder of Sankar Samanta, a CPI(M) panchayat member and Sunita Mondal, a school student.

The TMC-Jamiat-Naxalite combination which spearheaded the Bhumi Rakha Committee was able to keep the people mobilised with a fear that their land would be taken away, even though the Chief Minister had categorically stated that no land would be taken from Nandigram if the people do not want it.

Certain NGOs with international links and the anti-Communist media have lent full support to this enterprise.

It is these same elements who refused to attend all-party meetings called by the district administration.

One such meeting held on March 10 decided that the administration should move to restore normalcy in the area. It is in this connection that the police entered the area on March 14.

In the ensuing confrontation, 14 people died. The police were met with protests not only by the local people but from elements armed with bombs and pipe guns.

The deaths of ordinary people in police firing is deeply regrettable. But to link the police action to a drive to take over land from the peasants is a deliberate attempt to malign the CPI (M).

The issue of land acquisition and industrialisation in West Bengal is being viewed by interested quarters according to their own political and ideological predilections.

While some of the neo-liberal supporters of the SEZs are worried that the Nandigram incidents will lead to a setback for the setting up of SEZs in the country, naxalites of various hues and persons like Medha Patkar are hoping that industrialisation in West Bengal can be halted after the violence in Nandigram.

Both are on the wrong track. Bengal will not adopt the type of SEZs being set-up in Maharashtra, Haryana and other states where huge tracts of land are being given to corporates, with ample scope for real estate speculation. The Left parties have already spelt out the changes required.

The CPI(M) will not be daunted by the gang-up extending from the BJP to the Maoists. The CPI(M) has emerged as the leading contingent of the Left in West Bengal by steadfastly fighting back the attempts by the ruling classes to isolate the Party. But they have failed in the past and will fail again now.

Excerpted from an article originally published in People’s Democracy. The writer is General Secretary, CPI (M).

New Zeal: Modern Maoists on the March

Maoism is growing in India, Nepal and the Philippines. There are also strong movements in Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and several other Asian, African and European countries plus nearly all of the Americas.
New Zeal: Modern Maoists on the March

ANALYSIS-India faces uphill battle against Maoist threat

By Alistair Scrutton

RAIPUR, India, March 22 (Reuters) - India faces an uphill struggle to eliminate a growing Maoist insurgency due to inept police, well-trained rebels and villagers who are wary of authorities after years of land seizures and government neglect.

The rebels' massacre of 55 police and tribal militia last week, one of the deadliest in decades, underscored the strength of rebels that the government had for years dismissed as a bunch of ragtag radicals confined to remote forests.

"The insurgency has reached a critical point," said Ram Vichar Netam, home minister of the central state of Chhattisgarh where up to 4,000 rebels, armed with grenade launchers, landmines and automatic weapons, operate in one of their strongholds.

"They have a lot of power and resources and are directly challenging the government and targeting forces regularly," Netam added.

Police say up to 20,000 armed Maoist rebels operate in about half of India's 29 states after four decades of campaigns, forming a "red corridor" from southern India to Nepal's border.

It was in the southern forests of Chhattisgarh that Maoists, known as Naxalites, attacked the police base.

The attack showed how well-trained rebels can wreak havoc, and the slaughter came despite authorities giving anti-insurgency training over the last year to hundreds of police.

Around 20 to 25 Maoist squads, totalling some 500 rebels, gathered from neighbouring states for the attack with a level of coordination that even impressed some police.

The rebels staked out the outpost for days, gathering intelligence and ensuring villagers said nothing, police said.

Police were caught by surprise. Many of the tribal militia only had 80-year-old rifles.


"This is one of the gravest issues that India faces," said Ajai Sahni of the Institute for Conflict Management, a New Delhi think-tank.

Sahni said Maoists were now involved in mainstream political struggles, like the opposition by thousands of farmers in many states to land acquisition for low-tax industrial zones.

"People who say they are restricted to remote forests fail to understand their long-term strategy. They are consolidating their territories to capitalise on national issues like land seizures and caste conflict," said Sahni.

Maoists are unpopular among many villagers for killing civilians, especially community leaders. Some 50,000 tribal people have fled to refugee camps in Chhattisgarh.

Some of them have formed an anti-Maoist movement, the Salwa Judum, with the help of the Chhattisgarh government.

But rebels have benefited from the lack of coordination between different state governments, and are able to evade pursuit by melting away across state borders, as in March's attack.

The central government has refused to use the one national tool at its disposal -- the military.

"The states say the problem crosses 15 states so the national government should be involved. The national government says it is a state problem," said Brigadier B.K. Ponwar, a counter-intelligence officer.

Facing unpopularity from villagers, Maoist leaders agreed this year to stop targetting civilians and focus instead on killing politicians and police, intelligence officials said. Suspected rebels shot dead a lawmaker in March in what may be a sign of such a change in tactics.

Many attacks could be stopped if villagers who oppose the Maoists were willing to act as informers for the police. But mistrust reigns after years of government land grabs and neglect in some of India's poorest rural regions.

Ponwar recounted how a colleague visited a village near a rebel region. An elderly villager said he was the first official to visit since a British officer came -- meaning before India's independence in 1947.

"Information at the grassroots level is not arriving at the government," said Netam. (Additional reporting by Sujeet Kumar)

Reuters AlertNet - INDIAN MAOISTS

Gandhians vs Naxalites -- Kuldip Nayar

Kuldip Nayar | Thursday, March 22, 2007 12:4:37 IST

Each one of them has participated in one Satyagraha or another. Yet none has been included in the All India committee that the Congress has constituted for celebrations

They were there, 100 of them, aged and weathered, followers of Mahatma Gandhi, fasting for 24 hours, opposite the Raj Ghat where he was cremated. They were hailing the centenary of Satyagraha, a non violent struggle against oppression. Each one of them has participated in one Satyagraha or another. Yet none has been included in the All India committee that the Congress has constituted for celebrations.
"We met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh soon after he was sworn in to offer him our unconditional help to fight for basic priorities," says Bhai Amarnath, chairman of Sar Seva Sangh which strings together thousands of Gandhians across the country. "We have not heard from him since. We sense that our government and the people sitting in the place of power are completely cut off from the pain and problems of the common man."
The Gandhians tried to meet the Prime Minister this week as well. They faxed their request for an appointment because they wanted to give him the feedback of feelings at the grass roots where they work. Their experience was that "the soul of democracy in the country was dead." They did not get any appointment with the Prime Minister but they sent a letter to him and all the members of parliament — 800 odd — to urge them "to fight against all the forces sustaining the current eco socio and political system."

Gandhians ignored

Nobody met them from even the Congress Party, not even a small functionary. They wrote a letter to party President Sonia Gandhi who, they complained, never gave them an opportunity to meet her. Yet they have appealed to her: "It is up to you and your government to decide on what kind of relation you want to have with us."
In contrast is the politics of brimstone and gunfire of the Naxalites, also called the Maoist, the Communist Party of India (Leninist-Marxist). They hog the headlines because the media hardly bothers about the Gandhians. The Union Home Ministry has a special section to follow the Naxalite activities because they "control" 125 districts in 10 states, trying to prove that power comes from the barrel of a gun. Unlike the Gandhians' passive resistance, the Naxalites advocate that "India's liberation would be achieved by the people's war creating small bases of armed struggle all over the country by waging guerilla warfare."
In the corridor from Hyderabad to Kathmandu, which they have carved, they extort money, levy taxes and even administer a rough and ready justice. They do not like the bourgeois parliamentary system and feel sorry for Nepal's Maoists, once their colleagues, who have forsaken arms for the ballot box.
The Naxalites movement did not begin at Wardha, the Gandhian centre of inspiration. They started their agitation from Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal, in 1967. Local peasantry took over the land belonging to the zamindars in the wake of bloodshed; China then under Mao Tse Tung lauded the clash and considered it a step towards creating a "liberated" base for backing armed revolution in India. Subsequently, the movement went through many ups and downs. It got a new lease of life with the formation of the Peoples' War Group (PWG) in Andhra Pradesh in 1981.
A few days ago when the Naxalites killed a Lok Sabha member, they said they were retaliating for the force used by the police that killed 12 of their colleagues. How different they are from the Gandhians. Why should revenge be visited on an innocent person? Murder is murder, whatever the rationalisation. No amount of hatred the Naxalites arouse in the name of class war justifies the killing. Whether it is for forcible occupation of land belonging to the Kulaks, or for preparing the ground for revolution, violence eliminates something basic.
What the Naxalites do not realize is that man is not an economic but a moral being moved
by ideals and aspirations. True, the system which is taking over the world dehumanises man by reducing him to a mere potential source of profit.
But an eye for an eye, or a tooth for tooth is a medieval way of revenge. We have reached a stage in the affairs of human beings where violence will lead to annihilation and ultimately oust whatever is good in the world in the shape of music, art or literature.
The society we aim for at cannot be brought about by any kind of violence, big or small. It produces an atmosphere of conflict and disruption. It is absurd to imagine that out of the conflict the socially progressive forces are bound to win. In Germany both the Communist Party and the Social Democrats were swept away by Hitler. In India any appeal to violence is particularly dangerous because of its inherent disruptive character. We have too many fissiparous tendencies for us to take risks. Even otherwise India has put its faith in the ballot box. There is no place for violence in a democratic parliamentary system. Other Communist parties in the country have adopted the ballot box to come to power or to oust the rulers. And they have done quite well within the system. The backwardness of area and people is the breeding ground for the Naxalites. No doubt the mere threat of gun makes people fall in line. Yet the ideology that gives free land to the landless and a better life to the poor brings around many. The government is beginning to think in terms of welfare. But bureaucrats, the middle men and the greedy
in the police are appropriating most funds which should be reaching the targeted population. Still some dent is being made in the Naxalites'following.

Spirit dips

The documents which the authorities have seized recently show that the revolutionary spirit of the 80s has "dipped" considerably. The Naxalites' own analysis is that they should recruit more sections of society that are "discontent." Their new recruits are the Dalits, the lowest caste, their activity in Maharashtra shows.

I do not know why the best of movements go off the track and forfeit peoples' confidence. The stir for autonomy in Punjab ended up in terrorism, losing popular support. Similarly, the movement for autonomy in Kashmir acquired a communal edge, alienating Jammu, Ladakh and the rest of India. Both the state and the militants lost their way and adopted the path which was far from conciliation. The same is more or less true of the Naxalites. They once represented the poor and the landless. Today the struggle is degenerating into even more senseless killings.

The Naxalites should learn from the experience. The Soviet Union, which once preached violent methods, has collapsed beyond redemption. The Chinese have stopped helping the non conformist forces in the world. And the terrorism of Al Qa'eda and the Taliban has made many people question their type of violence. The basic thing is that wrong means will not lead to right results. This is all that the Gandhians preach.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A deeply disturbing quartet

Four deeply depressing, indeed disgraceful, events in recent days have cruelly underscored how swift - and seemingly irreversible - is the degeneration of both governance and public life in this country. The relentless attack on Parliament's dignity and authority reached the lowest of the low depths when Bengali and Tamil chauvinisms clashed over the location of the Indian Maritime University. It is difficult to find words strong enough to condemn the Nandigram massacre at the hands of the CPI (M)-led Left Front government in West Bengal. No less heart-rending was the slaughter of 55 policemen by Naxalites in Chattisgarh, in circumstances that bespeak of Naxalite belligerency being matched by official incompetence. And what can one say about the crowd of cricket fans that burnt down, with apparent impunity, Mohinder Singh Dhoni's house in Ranchi because the "boys in the blue" had suffered a humiliating defeat in the far-away Caribbean? Usually a scorer Dhoni was this time out for a duck.

It does say something for the prevailing political culture that Nandigram, for all its egregiousness, has provided the BJP-led National Democratic Allowance a licence to disrupt Parliament day after day, though all too often has the NDA stoutly resisted a parliamentary discussion on similar outrages in states ruled by it, on the ground that law and order is a state subject. Must the Marxists - universally condemned, including by their own coalition partners in Kolkata and allies in Delhi, totally isolated and burdened with shame - take shelter behind the same tattered excuse? West Bengal Congress leader and Union parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi has joined the clamour for the imposition of President's rule in West Bengal - a demand even more untenable than the Congress party's foolish attempt recently for a Central take-over in Uttar Pradesh.

However, the pertinent point is that if the Congress, the core of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, feels so strongly about Nandigram why doesn't it agree with the Opposition to have a debate on the painful issue in both Houses of Parliament? In any case, such a debate is imperative if there is ever to be a consensus on the policy on Special Economic Zones (SEZs). A way out of the present impasse has to be found. Without industrialization, there will not be enough jobs for the burgeoning population of the youth. For this purpose, especially for rural industrialization, agricultural land has to be transferred to industry. But must state governments become land-grabbing agents of the fat cats and land mafia? Or should they put in place an agreed policy that is fair to the farmers as well as industrialists?

As for the decimation of the Chattisgarh policemen by Naxalites, the problem has obviously become alarming beyond measure. Ever since he became Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has been emphasizing that the Naxalite challenge is the "gravest" internal security threat facing the country during the 60 years of independence. He is entirely right. But, pray what has the UPA government done during the last three years, except for holding meetings at New Delhi's Vigyan Bhavan that have almost always turned into talking shops. No fewer than 150 worthies assemble at these gatherings, usually held at the level of state chief secretaries and directors-general of police. After the Prime Minister and the Union home minister have delivered their speeches, the senior officials present put forth a set of proposals and everyone adjourns for lunch.

The suggestions for action are duly tabulated in course of time and are sent to state chief ministers for acceptance and implementation. Their invariable response is to reject them summarily on the ground that they "encroach on states' rights". In any case, what else can you expect from those who have curtly refused to carry out even the Supreme Court's unexceptionable directive on police reforms, based on the findings of competent Police Commissions whose reports, submitted over the years, had been gathering dust in some bureaucratic pigeonhole or the other?

Under the circumstances, shouldn't the Union government think of forming a committee of chief ministers, placing at its disposal the services of the best experts, serving or retired, and requesting it to devise appropriate methods to confront and defeat the Naxalite menace that now sweeps nearly a fourth of the country's districts? Come to think of it, India is the only major country wracked by terrorism of several varieties that does not have a federal agency to deal with it. If the chief ministers still don't want it, let them at least suggest a suitable and viable alternative. Some of them also need to explain why they entered into ill-conceived and ill-timed cease-fire agreements with Naxalites that gave the insurgents valuable time to regroup and rearm themselves.

The latest but by no means the last incident in Chattisgarh has raised extremely agonizing questions that are crying out for answers. Four hundred Naxalites came and surrounded the heavily fortified post of the state police. Evidently, there was neither any advance intelligence warning nor adequate awareness of the threat even after it had materialized. There can be no other explanation for the fact that only six Naxalites were killed while every single of the guardians of the law was eliminated. No one has yet explained why no reinforcements were sent to the besieged men. Even more shockingly, no one made any use of the army's UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that were available, along with much other sophisticated equipment. An indication of the astoundingly casual approach of the authorities is the revelation that one luckless officer has been made in charge of two posts - at a distance of 531 kms from each other!

With all due respects to all concerned, let me also suggest the government and its propaganda machine should cease their tall and hollow claims after every major Naxalite outrage, such as "a massive manhunt is on to catch the culprits and punish them". This only erodes the government's credibility.

Cricket is doubtless the craze not only in this country but also all across the Indian subcontinent. Unfortunately, the round-the-clock TV channels have made it their business to accentuate the cricket hysteria, build up the Indian team as "invincible" and its individual members as "heroes" and arouse extravagant expectations. When, after all this hype, the team collapsed ignominiously in its very first encounter and that, too, at the hands of Bangladesh (let it be admitted that we tend to underestimate our neighbours in almost all spheres, not just cricket), disappointment and anger were to be expected. But it is beyond comprehension why and how these sentiments were allowed to morph into abuse, violence and reprehensible burning down of Dhoni's house, under construction on land awarded to him for his admirable performance in previous international matches. Strangely, the critics are now demanding that the land allotted to the cricketer should be "withdrawn forthwith".

The chief minister of Jharkhand did deplore the Ranchi crowd's unacceptable behaviour but surprisingly no one has yet been arrested, leave alone punished. However, why blame and arraign ordinary citizens when the leaders of the nation routinely give a nasty display of their irresponsibility and indiscipline, whether on the floor of Parliament or on the street while leading a "satyagraha"? Yatha raja, thatha praja is an old Indian saying. Roughly translated, it means that the subjects would behave as the ruler does.

Inder Malhotra, Manuj Features

Central Chronicle--Column

Naxalites give new dimension to land issue

First published in 2004/10/18

Naxalites give new dimension to land issue

By Our Special Correspondent


HYDERABAD, OCT. 17. Naxalites created a flutter in political circles today when they released a list of 43 individuals who had allegedly encroached upon prime land in and around the twin cities.

The list reads like a who's who of persons in the fields of real estate, film industry and information technology.

The naxalites caught the Government off-guard with their demand to re-take these lands. The official side had expected Maoist and Janashakti leaders to highlight injustices in distribution of Government land under various categories and had even come prepared with its responses.

Sources said the `wish list' was meant to be a symbolic attack against what they describe as `neo-landed gentry' which was dictating terms to the Government with its political clout. The naxalites reportedly told the Government delegation, led by the Home Minister, K. Jana Reddy, that the starting point of implementing land reforms was to distribute lands under possession of these influential persons to the landless.

By setting right past injustices of the past, the Government would not only send out a strong signal about its intentions but also prove its sincerity and commitment to the cause of land reforms.

YSR's caution

Meanwhile, during his daily review of the peace process, the Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara

Reddy, advised the Home Minister not to allow differences to derail the talks. Both sides must spell out their respective frameworks on each issue and then make a sincere attempt to find a meeting point.

The DGP, S.R. Sukumara, raised many an eyebrow with his statement in Nalgonda that the naxalites had no right to comment on the pay structure in the police force. Congress leaders felt that the top police officer had rubbed the naxalites on the wrong side by ignoring their plea that police officers should not issue statements that might affect the peace process.

The `comprehensive list'

According to the naxalites, the following are the major occupiers of prime land in the twin cities:

1. Ramoji Film City (2,000 acres). 2. Sanghinagar (1,500 acres). 3. Satyam Computers, Byrraju Foundation and other groups (2,000 acres). 4. Dr. Reddy's Labs (1,000 acres.) 5. Jana Harsha (2,000 acres). 6. Narne Estates (2,000 acres) 7. GPR Estates (1,000 acres). 8. Sri Mithra Real Estates (1,000 acres). 9. Devender Goud family (1,500 acres). 10. Sreenidhi Real Estates (1,000 acres). 11. Jayabheri Estates (Muralimohan and Chandrababu Naidu benami) (2,000 acres). 12. Raheja Estates (1,000 acres). 13. L &T (Chandrababu Naidu benami) (1,000 acres). 14. Jana Chaitanya Real Estates. 15. Sai Chaitanya Real Estates. 16. Venkata Chaitanya Real Estates. 17. Ramanaidu Studios. 18. Annapurna Studios. 19. Padmalaya Studios. 20. Ramakrishna Studios. 21. CC Studios. 22. Green City Township. 23. Engineers Syndicate. 24. Mayuri Real Estates. 25. Amaravathi Real Estates. 26. Suryavamshi Real Estates. 27. Maxima Real Estates. 28.21st Century Builders. 29. Shilpa Real Estates. 30. Lahari Estates. 31. Ajay Chaitanya Real Estates. 32. IIIT. 33. IMG Bharata Academy (800 acres). 34. Indian School of Business (250 acres). 35. AWARE (500 acres). 36. Sylvan University (200 acres). 37. Genome Valley (ICICI Knowledge Park, Shapurjee, Pallomjee Biotech Park (3000 acres). 38. IMAX. 39. Snow World. 40. Ilabs. 41. Wipro, Infosys, Microsoft, Oracle and other IT companies (1,000 acres). 42. Farmhouses, resorts, guesthouses, clubs and other luxury houses. 43. Lands alienated to commercial and trade organisations.
The Hindu : Andhra Pradesh News : Naxalites give new dimension to land issue

Radha D'Souza: Profile of a Indian Maoist in NewZealand

My 13th Socialist Academic Profile looks at Waikato University law lecturer, Radha D'Souza.

Before coming to New Zealand in 1996, D'Souza practiced as counsel in the High Court of Bombay (Mumbai), India, for 18 years representing NGO's, "community, environment and labour groups" in class action litigation.

Her legal specialization includes "constitutional law, administrative law, labour law, UN law and international organizations and human rights and development".

D'Souza has also taught papers in sociology (colonization and contemporary Asia) and geography (economic geography and resource management) at the University of Auckland.

In India, D'Souza was active in "campaigns for rights of workers in the unorganised sector, democratic rights and civil liberties, fact-finding missions on human rights violations, people's tribunals and alternative justice". She helped found the leftist Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, Bombay and CLKU, a union for unorganised sector workers.

D'Souza seems to have come to NZ at least partly through her work in Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Links, a network of Maoist controlled trade unions.

APWSL's main NZ contacts were Robert Reid, formerly International Secretary of the Workers Communist League and former student Maoist, turned unionist, Luke Coxon.

In NZ D'Souza worked for the Auckland People's Centre as an advocate for beneficiary groups. The centre was of course, controlled by Sue Bradford and other former members of the Workers Communist League.

D'Souza is a prominent activist NZ's Maoist influenced, anti free trade movement.

In July 96 D'Souza spoke at the "Trading With our Lives" anti APEC forum in Christchurch. The same month she helped organise the NZ tour of Mexican anti free trade activist, Dr A V Calderon.

In September 1999, as a committee member of the APEC Monitoring Group, D'Souza spoke at the "Alternatives to APEC Conference" in Auckland.

In March 2000, D'Souza placed an ad in Daphna Whitmore's Maoist journal "The Spark", inviting readers to join her in a "progressive reading circle".

From 2001 to the present, D'Souza served on the advisory board of ARENA, a Christchurch based anti free trade/globalisation organisation.

Other advisory board members included Aziz Choudry, former student Maoist and Radical Society member Luke Coxon, People's Network member and Sue Bradford associate Tim Howard, Radical Society associate Cybele Locke, Bill Rosenberg (son of Wolfgang Rosenberg), David Small and former Radical Society member Desigin Thulkanham.

In 2003, D'Souza was Hamilton contact for the NZ tour of Emilia Dapulang, vice chair of the Communist Party of the Philippine's trade union front, the Kilusang Mayo Uno.

In January 2004, D'Souza attended the World Social Forum in Mumbai. She writes here...

The WSF in Mumbai was a marriage between the ideological capabilities of large NGOs and the organisational capabilities of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

In June 2004 D'Souza spoke on the WSF at the Anti-Capitalist Alliance's (fore-runner of the Workers Party) "Peoples Resistance" conference in Auckland.

Compiled by New Zeal
New Zeal: S.A.P. 13 Radha D'Souza

India's Maoists take their war to a new level

Source: Asia Times

By Sudha Ramachandran

India's Maoist rebels, known as Naxalites, have scored a series of successes in recent weeks in their insurgency, underscoring their growing ambitions and changing strategy, and stoking fears of attacks on high-profile and urban targets in coming months.

Last Thursday, they attacked a police post in the central state of Chhattisgarh, killing 55 people. A fortnight earlier they assassinated member of Parliament (MP) Sunil Mahato in neighboring Jharkhand state.

Last week's attack, described as among the deadliest in decades of Maoist insurgency, was carried out by some 350 heavily armed Maoists. It took place in Rani Bodli police outpost, in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada region, some 525 kilometers from the state capital, Raipur. The rebels surrounded the police post and lobbed grenades and gasoline bombs before setting the camp ablaze.

They blocked roads to the village by felling trees to prevent police reinforcements from reaching the heavily outnumbered police at Rani Bodli. Of the 55 killed in the attack, 16 were members of the Chhattisgarh Armed Police. The rest were Special Police officers - tribals who were part of the government-sponsored civil militia, the Salwa Judum.

The assassination of Mahato and the attack on the Rani Bodli police outpost signal a sharp escalation in the Maoist insurgency. In the past, high-ranking victims of the Maoists included legislators and ministers, but these were at the local and state levels. Mahato was the first sitting federal MP to fall victim to the Maoists.

Again, while police outposts have been routinely targeted by the Maoists, the attack at the outpost at Rani Bodli was noteworthy for the number of victims it claimed. The death toll at Rani Bodli is by far the largest among recent Maoist attacks.

The frequency of such spectacular attacks has grown over the past two years. In November 2005, more than 1,000 Maoists participated in an attack on Jehanabad jail in Bihar and freed about 350 of their jailed comrades. Last March, they hijacked a train in Jharkhand that was carrying some 300 passengers. In June, at least 400 Maoists participated in an attack on a camp of the Central Reserve Police Force in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand.

The scale and frequency of attacks are one concern. Another is the vast area across which Maoists wield influence. In the early 1990s, the number of districts affected by varying degrees of Maoist violence stood at just 15 in four states. This figure rose to 55 districts in nine states by the end of 2003 and shot up to 156 districts in 13 states in 2004. Today, at least 170 of a total of 602 districts in the country are said to be under Maoist influence.

The Maoists have been able to strike with considerable energy because of the unification of the two main groups. The Maoist Communist Center and the People's War Group merged in September 2004 to form the Communist Party of India (Maoists). From operating as scattered localized cells, they have been able to operate as a stronger and unified force along a vast swath of territory often described as the "red corridor" running from Nepal down to Andhra Pradesh state.

Experts warn that the recent attacks signal a widening and intensification in Maoist violence in the country. According to Bibhu Prasad Routray, research fellow at the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi, "Mahato's killing could just be the starting point for the escalation of the Maoist 'people's war' throughout the country."

Maoist documents and statements provide pointers to their growing ambitions and changing strategy. In 2004, Maoists, who had hitherto focused their operations in rural India, spoke of a new strategy to target urban centers. Their Urban Perspective Document lay down guidelines for working in towns and cities and for mobilizing support among students and urban unemployed. They identified two belts as targets for urban mobilization: Bhilai-Ranchi-Dhanbad-Kolkata and Mumbai-Pune-Surat-Ahmedabad.

More pointers to their growing ambitions were provided in statements issued at their "Unity Congress" this year. "The Unity Congress ... resolved to advance the people's war throughout the country, further strengthen the people's army, deepen the mass base of the party, and wage a broad-based militant mass movement against the neo-liberal policies of globalization, liberalization [and] privatization pursued by the reactionary ruling classes under the dictates of imperialism," said a statement issued at the meeting last month.

"No more hit and run," Muppala Lakshman Rao (also known as Ganapathi), who was re-elected general secretary of the organization, is reported to have said at the meeting. "Now the time has come to spread in the towns and identify specific targets, hit them precisely and with impunity."

Attacks in urban centers and on high-profile targets can be expected in the coming months.

An important trigger and target of Maoist attacks over the past year has been civilians who are part of the Salwa Judum - the Chhattisgarh government's initiative to arm villagers to fight Maoists on behalf of the state. Salwa Judum was initially thought to be a voluntary initiative of villagers in Maoist areas, who were fed up with the Maoist violence and wanted to fight the rebels themselves. It was touted by the government as a peace movement.

However, soon it became apparent that while some people in these villages might indeed be weary of violence, Salwa Judum was in fact government-sponsored and a civil militia, and tribals were being forced to join it. While a part of Salwa Judum's work involved political work, ie, propaganda against the Maoists, it also had an armed wing, which was seen as the tribal face of the police fighting the Maoists.

Soon, Maoists started targeting members of the Salwa Judum. Camps in which Salwa Judum members lived or buses in which they traveled were targeted by the Maoists. Hundreds of Salwa Judum members have been killed in the 18 months since it was formed.

The counterinsurgency strategy of the Chhattisgarh government, with Salwa Judum at its core, has unleashed civil strife in the state. Tribals have gotten caught in the crossfire between Maoists and the state. In the past, the Maoists targeted forest officials and police. Now it is tribals seen to be members of Salwa Judum who have become targets of Maoist ire. The 39 Special Police officers who were killed in last week's attack on the Rani Bodli police outpost were part of the Salwa Judum.

Entire villages have been emptied as tribal communities flee from the burnings, lootings and killings. The civil war in Chhattisgarh has driven more than 50,000 people out of their homes and into camps. Government authorities claim that the tribals are seeking refuge in the camps; tribals tell a different story. They maintain that they are forced into the camps.

The land on which the tribals live is rich in minerals and other resources. Human-rights activists say companies backed by the government that are keen to extract the area's mineral wealth want the tribals to leave the land. Salwa Judum has become a convenient way to drive the tribals out of their land and into camps.

Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.

Rani Bodli Naxal Attack : Cops 'Too drunk to fight'

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 12:22:59 pm

TIMES NOW has access to an internal report prepared by a high-powered panel that draws startling conclusions regarding the daring Naxal attack on a police camp in Chhattisgarh. The attack shocked the nation as the Naxals killed 55 policemen.

The report makes clear that the policemen at the Rani Bodli camp were too drunk to fight back. More than that, the report says that no one at the camp undertook night patrols and that a majority of the guards were sleeping when the lethal attack took place. They were so unprepared for the Naxal attack, that a majority of them were not even properly armed.

As if the devastating Naxal attack that killed 55 men of the Chhattisgarh Armed Police earlier this month wasn't enough, investigations into the attack on Rani Bodli camp have revealed that almost the entire force in the camp was drunk. Also, most of the policemen were not on duty, while those on duty were not even properly armed.

The Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh had left 55 policemen dead
According to an internal report prepared by paramilitary officials on the conduct of the policemen deployed at the Rani Bodli camp at Bijapur District of Chhattisgarh, there were serious lapses in their conduct that helped the Naxals overrun the camp.

The report says that intelligence inputs about an impending attack were completely ignored and that there was no night patrolling in and around the camp. The report further said that the guards manning the Light Machine Guns had very little or almost no ammunition on them. It also said that the guards on duty were not alert and they noticed the Naxals only after they opened firing.

In the attack that took place on the morning of March 15, Naxals also took away more than 37 weapons. According to the report which is to be submitted to the Union Home Ministry, almost all the guards of the camp were sleeping at the time of the attack.

Cops shortage in Jeypore , Naxal area

JEYPORE: Even as Jeypore, the commercial capital of KBK, is under constant Naxal threat for the past two years, nothing has been done about the dearth of staff in the police administration.

According to reports, at least six sub-inspectors and eight assistant sub-inspectors are required for effective policing in the town area, which has a population of over two lakh.

However, only three sub-inspectors, three ASIs and about 10 constables have been posted in the police station. And the situation turns worse whenever any official takes leave.

At times, only two SIs and one ASI are available to control the entire town. There have been days when only one ASI is found running the entire show.

Although there has been a demand to increase the staff strength of Jeypore town police station to reduce the burden on the existing staff since long, the Government is yet to consider it.

The staff strength was last reviewed 30 years back when the population of Jeypore town area was just about 30,000. And, over the last few years, Naxal and inter-State criminal activities have increased manifold.

The police administration had raised the traffic police number from four to eight a year back considering the growing traffic menace but no step has been taken to increase the number of police officials in the town.

However, local police officials said there was no major problem arising out of staff shortage and the available staff were doing their best to maintain law and order with cooperation of locals.

Sunabeda DIG S.K. Nath said the district police administration had employed officers as per norms but if any enhancement is required, the State Government has to consider it.

At times, only two SIs and one ASI are available to control the entire town

Two Maoists/Naxals killed in Orissa

MALKANGIRI: Two Maoists were reportedly killed in an hour-long encounter with forces of the Special Operation Group olice and in Jakelkundi forest area under Kalimela police limits on Monday evening.

“Of the two killed, the body of a woman Maoist has been traced out. She has been identified as Irma, belonging to Kalimela Dalam of CPI (Maoist). About 500 rounds were fired from both sides during the encounter,” SP Himanshu Lal said.

Police recovered a pistol, a claymore mine, a landmine, wires, Maoist literature and a large number of detonators from the encounter site. Many of the Maoists wounded in the encounter managed to flee under the cover of darkness.

On a tip-off from neighbouring state over influx of armed militants from Chattisgarh area, the Special Operation Group (SOG) had launched a massive manhunt in Jakelkundi forest.

Combing operation has been further stepped up in the area. It was third such big encounter in Malkangiri district in the past a couple of weeks.

In another incident, a joint police team of Orissa and Chhattisgarh nabbed a Maoist cadre Laxman from Orkelguda under Malkangiri police limits on Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Home Minister Statement on Nandigram incident

Incidents on 14.03.2007 in the Nandigram police station area in West Bengal

THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS (SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL): I rise to inform the House about the unfortunate and tragic incidents that took place on 14.3.2007 in the Nandigram Police station area in West Bengal.

A report received in the Ministry of Home Affairs from the West Bengal Government on 14th March, 2007 evening in this matter is as follows:-

"A proposal for setting up a mega-chemical hub and a multi-product Special Economic Zone (SEZ) over about 10, 000 acres of land in Nandigram Police Station of Purba Medinipur District was under consideration of the State Government. Though no final decision has yet been taken about the exact location of the projects, on December 28, 2006 an informal notice for public information regarding likely location of this project was circulated by the Haldia Development Authority to all Blocks and Gram Panchayat offices of the area. This notice was by way of information only. No specific location of the projects had yet been decided by the State Government. Once this notice reached various Block offices, there was massive resentment among those people who feared that their lands would be acquired. A number of political organizations and parties formed a Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee. On January 03, 2007, an unruly mob of about 3,000 people attacked a police party under the charge of Officer-in Charge, Nandigram Police Station and set fire to a police jeep. In another incident on the same day, another police jeep was set on fire at Garchakraberia Bazar. Twenty-three police personnel also received injuries in these clashes. Three cases were registered in Nandigram Police Station over these incidents.

I was told by the hon. Chief Minister that he has told his officers that the acquisition proceedings will not be continued without developing a kind of an agreement between the farmers and the Government.

These incidents were followed by several meetings between the Administration and the Opposition parties in which it was clarified by the district administration that no notification for acquisition of land had yet been finalized. In spite of that, local feelings ran very high and a bandh was declared in Nandigram Police Station area on January 04, 2007. Following this, peace meetings were held in several places of Nandigram Police Station on January 06, 2007, but even after the meetings, the situation turned violent. In the night of January 06/07, 2007, there was a major clash between two groups one owing allegiance to the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee and the other owing allegiance to the ruling Left Front. In this clash, four people who were residents of various villages of Nandigram Police Station, were killed and two separate cases were started over this incident. This was followed by ransacking of CPI (M) Party offices at several places and incidents of violence and arson at the residence of several local leaders of CPI (M). The agitators also damaged many bridges and culverts and dug up several roads as a result of which, the movement of vehic1es became impossible after 7 January, 2007.

There, a series of peace meetings convened by the District Magistrate, Purba Medinipur over this issue starting from January 08, 2007 in which it was unanimously decided that all parties will take necessary steps to restore peace in the locality and police camps would be set up at the disturbed places. Despite these resolutions, however, it was not possible to repair the damaged roads, culverts and bridges and it was also not possible to deploy the State Police within the affected parts of the Nandigram Police Station. Despite several measures initiated by the District administration to restore peace, execution of all Governments projects and schemes came to a standstill since no Government officer was allowed to enter the affected area. Gradually, a number of people, owing allegiance to CPI (M) had to move their places of normal residence in Nandigram Police Station and take shelter in several temporary camps at Khejuri. Tension between the two rival groups kept on mounting. There were several incidents of violence between February 3 and February 6, 2007 in which fire was exchanged or bombs exploded between the rival groups. On February 7, 2007 a Sub-Inspector of Police Shri Sadhu Chatterji had gone to investigate a report received about destruction of road communication. He was waylaid by an unruly mob and killed. His dead body was recovered only on February 10, 2007. Over this incident also, a case was started but all these cases could not be investigated properly because the police was not able to enter the affected areas.

On February 11, 2007, the Chief Minister, in a public meeting at a place close to the affected area, made an open commitment that no land for setting up the chemical hub and SEZ would be acquired at Nandigram if the people of Nandigram were against such acquisition.

However, sporadic incidents of violence involving displaced people in the camps at Khejuri and the people at Bhangaberia and Sonachura areas of Nandigram Police Station continued. It was resolved in one of the peace meetings that both parties would maintain peace during the Madhyamik Pariksha (Class-X) which was going on. The Madhyamik Pariksha was over on March 5, 2007. The District Magistrate, Purba Medinipur again convened an all-party peace meeting. In this meeting, he proposed that peace should be restored, police should enter the affected areas of Nandigram Police Station, damaged bridges and roads should be repaired and normalcy restored to the entire affected areas. However, the representatives of the Trinamool Congress and some other Parties did not attend this meeting.

It was decided that this lawless situation in Nandigram and its surroundings should not be allowed to continue, and the damaged roads, bridges and culverts should be repaired without any further delay, and police should take up the investigation of the cases of the murder. Thereafter, police force was mobilized and it was decided that the force should enter Nandigram through three separate routes under the leadership of senior officers. The police force was asked to exercise utmost restraint. They were further directed to use loud hailers to explain the purpose of the movement of the police party to the people of that locality which is to establish peace and to restore normalcy. Ultimately the police movement started about at 10.00 a.m. on March 14, 2007. While one of the police parties could move into Nandigram without resistance, two other police parties were confronted by large gatherings of hostile people. When the police asked them to disperse, they paid no heed and resorted to heavy brick-batting causing injury to some policemen. To disperse the mob, police lobbed tear gas shells. The mob then became more agitated and started hurling bombs followed by opening of fire. A few policemen sustained splinter injuries. To control the situation, police initially fired rubber bullets, but this again yielded no results. Ultimately, the police had to open fire in self-defence causing dispersal of the mob. This incident took place near Bhangaberia bridge. Another police party also met with violent resistance at Adhikaripara where heavy brick-batting, bomb throwing took place. As a result, some police were injured. In both the incidents, 12 policemen including Additional S.P. Tamluk and Assistant S.P. (Probationer) received splinter injuries and injuries due to brick batting. Serious and extensive injuries could be avoided as all the policemen were in protective gear. However, a number of people were injured in the police firing and it is believed that some of the agitators were also injured by the bombs that were being hurled. Till 8.00 p.m. on March 14, 2007, according to the report received at the State headquarters, 14 people died including some critica11y injured people who succumbed to the injuries. In addition, there were 63 injured people of whom 29 were shifted to Tamluk District Hospital for treatment. Five people were released after treatment of minor injuries and the rest were still at Nandigram Rural Hospital to receive treatment or awaiting transfer to Tamluk Sub-Divisional Hospital. This is in addition to the 12 policemen injured in the incident who received medical attention separately.

Following the above incidents, there was no further organized resistance to the movement of the police party who were now able to move to Sonachura and establish a temporary camp there. Police was also able to search a few other neighboring villages. In course of the police search, 18 illegal fire-arms were recovered which had probably been used against the police party.

There is high tension prevailing in the area but the situation is currently under control. This is a report received not today and this report has been received yesterday. Police camps have been set up in the disturbed area. Senior police officers are also camping and making efforts to restore peace.

Now this is as per the information given by the State Government, and nothing is added to it.

As per further report received from the State Government, on 15.3.2007 some miscreants ransacked CPI-M party office. They also attempted to set fire to the CPM office. However, no extensive damage has been reported due to the intervention of Police which fired tear gas shells to disperse the mob. It has also been reported that 14 persons have been arrested from the affected area. While the death toll remains at 14, 67 persons have been injured including 40 policemen. The overall situation was reported to be under control.

The Central Government is in constant touch with the State Government. They have been asked to provide all necessary relief and help. The State Government has also been asked to take all possible preventive steps to ensure that the situation is defused. The Central Government has promised that the situation should be defused and for defusing the situation, all help would be given to them.

We feel sorry for the lives lost and the people injured, and we feel that appropriate steps will be taken to defuse the situation. Instead of sitting in judgment, we should take steps to see that the situation is defused and controlled.

Parliament of India