Saturday, September 29, 2007

Maoist Mayhem

The audacious attack on a Chhattisgarh security camp by Maoists could presage serious trouble aheadR

anjit Bhushan Delhi

Chhattisgarh’s picturesque Bastar region is in the grip of a civil war. At 2 am on March 15, Maoists attacked the heavily fortified Ram Burgi security camp on the southern tip of the state. They lit up the periphery of the camp with the help of portable generators, lobbed grenades inside and set the entire place ablaze with petrol bombs. They decamped after a three-hour gun battle, leaving 55 security personnel dead and 10 wounded. The attack was well planned and the targets were not just policemen but also members of the Salwa Judum, a government-supported militia of surrendered Maoists.

By all accounts, the roads and highways of Chhattisgarh are controlled by state security forces and the forests are under the de facto control of the Maoists. The topography in the state is ideal for hit-and-run tactics. There is thick forest cover and large parts of state that border Andhra Pradesh and Orissa are so remote that some portions are yet to be mapped by the Survey of India. In the absence of any inter-state police agreement, it is almost impossible to apprehend an ultra if he decides to shift base from one state to another.

The state seeks to enforce its administrative and economic writ, which is opposed violently by the Maoists. The sheer and increasing audacity of the radical leftists presages more serious trouble in the days to come. The state government’s policy of not negotiating with the Maoists is certainly going to take its toll.

The presence of KPS Gill as security advisor to Chhattisgarh may have had a salutary effect on the state for a while, but it now appears that it was temporary. The last major Maoist attack took place in Chhattisgarh in July 2006, when Maoists had massacred 32 Salwa Judum activists. Since then, it was erroneously believed that with the arrival of Gill, the state may finally get an upper hand in this brutal underground war.

Behind the political rhetoric— commonplace in such situations — lurks a very difficult situation. According to civil right activists, who have visited the area several times, there are nearly 46,000 people living in camps strung along the main road, a majority of whom have come in fear of attacks or been forcibly brought in by the Salwa Judum. Some of them are being permanently settled by the road with plans to establish 581 new villages. Needless to say, no basic provisions like employment and access to land have been provided, activists say. The only employment available is of the Salwa Judum kind.

The government has appointed some 3,500 special police officers equipped with .303 rifles, lathis and an assortment of bow and arrows, allegedly to counter Maoism. According to activists, many were enticed by the ‘salary’ of Rs 1,500 a month and a permanent employment in the police force. This policy dangerously pits members of the same community against each other. The Salwa Judum has become vulnerable to attacks by Maoists, as the June 2006 massacre demonstrated amply.

It is not difficult to predict whose side the state is on. The Additional Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh, BKS Ray, told this correspondent recently, "It is the responsibility of the state government to ensure the safety of its citizens." On the charges levelled against Salwa Judum, Ray said that "it is a spontaneous movement of the tribals" and that "anyone who can fight terror is our friend." He also said that killers could not be liberators and that the Maoist ideology itself is under a cloud. Says Ray, "When innocent citizens are slaughtered by Maoists, who will hold them to account?" On balance, however, he agrees that development and security have to go hand in hand. On the subject of camps, the Chhattisgarh official said that they were "temporary."

The reaction of the Congress MLA Mahendra Karma, widely recognised as the patron saint of Salwa Judum, is bland. When asked at a recent press briefing on the role of his militia, Karma said since the Maoists were opposed to modern development, there was a limit to how long the tribals could live in terror. Karma says that the only way the state can develop is to sanitise it of Maoists so that peace is ensured.

Another big issue is the proposed industrialisation and SEZs in the state. The government of Chhattisgarh has signed MOUs with Tata and Essar groups to build steel plants in Bastar and Dantewada and has promised the two companies captive mines. Faced with the prospect of large-scale displacement by the steel plants, the Maoists, under the banner of Sangharsh Samitis, have put up morchas all over the area protesting against the projects and the government’s land acquisition policy.

Added to this is the fact that human development indicators are very low in districts like Dantewada. The overall literacy rate is 30 per cent and there are only 34 primary health centres for 1,220 villages. The majority of the people are engaged in agriculture, supplemented with the sale and collection of non-timber forest produce.

There can be little doubt the Bastar region has been exposed to the most horrific exploitation by its politicians and officials in league with timber contractors. Take the Malik Makbuja scam for example. Influential people would buy cheap land in order to profit from the sale of trees on it. Trees on forest land were fudged as being on private land. In response to a case filed by two NGOs in 1997, the Supreme Court ordered a Lokayukta enquiry.

The Lokayukta reported: "On scrutiny of case records, it is found that the purchasers of land have purchased it for a paltry sum not commensurate with the value of land and trees standing thereon." The committee also came across a number of cases "in which even the full amount agreed upon between the parties was not paid and payment of part amount was deferred on some pretext or the other…"

The findings are quite damning. "These officers (forest and revenue officials responsible for supervising sales) granted permission freely in favour of other influential persons also like Mahendra Karma (then MP), Rajaram Todem (presently deputy leader of the opposition in the state assembly) and other influential merchant families like Suranas, Awasthis, Brij Mohan Gupta and many others who have entered into this trade of purchasing land with standing trees and selling the timber."

A peep into the mindset of people at the helm of things can also be quite revealing. Nandini Sunder of the Delhi School of Economics brings it out well in the July 2006 issue of the Economic and Political Weekly. She quotes the official Bastar website describing gonds as having a "pro-fertility mentality" where "marriages between brothers and sisters are common." The website helpfully educates the viewer about "ghotuls" where prospective couples do "dating and free sex also."

As for another tribe, abhuj marias, "these people are not cleanly in their habits and even when a maria does bathe, he does not wash his solitary garments but leaves it on the bank. When drinking from a stream, they do not take up water in their hands but put their mouth to it like cattle…and live a savage life." As a post-modernist view, the gap between potential and performance is clearly still very large.

Maoist commander, wife arrested in Bankura

Bankura (WB), Sept. 30 (PTI): A Moaist commander suspected to be involved in several murder cases of CPI(M) leaders and police in Bankura district, has been arrested along with his wife.

Bangshi Singha Sardar, squad commander of the Ranibandh committee of the CPI (Maoist), was being treated at a nursing home in the headquarters town after getting hurt in a motorcycle mishap, Superintendent of Police Rajesh Sinha said.

A police team apprehended him and his wife Sumitra Singha Sardar, also an active Maoist who had come to see her ailing husband, from the nursing home Friday, he said.

Bangshi was suspected to be behind the murders of CPI(M) leaders Ramapada Majhi, Raghunath Murmu, Babu Mudi and Officer-in-charge of Barikul police station Prabal Sengupta in different incidents during past three-four years, the SP said.

A diary and some letters were seized from the arrested persons which contained vital leads including a plan to attack a police camp in the district, he said.

Bangshi, who had initially been admitted to a hospital in Sarenga before being shifted to the town nursing home, was now being treated at Bankura Medical College and Hospital under police custody.

Lost in transit

Unless public delivery systems are made more efficient, responsive and accountable, India shining will remain a distant dream for the great mass of the poor in the country

M R Sivaraman Delhi

Over the last 55 years India has spent around Rs 3.5 million crore in implementing its 10 five-year plans and several annual plans. This period also saw an explosive growth in population, dissipating developmental efforts over ever-increasing numbers. Until the end of the 1980s, growth was not even visible amongst the poor, making Rajiv Gandhi lament that not even a quarter of development expenditure reached the people for whom it was intended. No economist dare calculate as to what incremental output this massive outlay should be producing now.

It is only since the 1990s that there has been a notable change in the lifestyles and living standards of people, with a perceptible decline in poverty levels. This is in great measure due to the heroic efforts of our maturing youth and the sudden burst of successful

entrepreneurship, helped by policies that favour competition.

While the percentage of population living below the poverty line has declined, the acuteness of poverty has increased. The unchecked suicides by farmers, the brutal attacks by Naxalites, the increase in the number of pavement shops, and the lack of state control in almost 100 districts of the country either dominated by militant separatist outfits or Naxalites, show that there is something fundamentally lacking in our delivery systems of public goods and the reach of welfare programmes intended for rural India, particularly the poor.

Poverty in India now is more an outcome of the lack of responsiveness, accountability, inefficiency and corruption of the state institutions at the field level, rather than due to lack of resources. This is compounded by ineffectual supervision by senior bureaucrats who are content to issue directions, satisfied with paper figures that are out of sync with reality.

It is not sufficient to say that growth reduces poverty. How does this growth percolate to the poor and in how much time? The current type of economic growth makes a billionaire out of a millionaire within a few days, as he is able to buy up an ailing foreign company with the support of the banks that add to his assets. It takes decades, if at all, for this growth in wealth to percolate to the poor in a district like Kalahandi or Jhabua. They are not even assured of daily bread and shelter. The administration in the country is more concerned with the Ambanis and Mittals getting their clearances in double-quick time but not so much with the fruits of government expenditure getting delivered at the right place, to the right people, at the right time.

Planning Commission statistics show an impressive growth in the number of schools, with a corresponding number of teachers and thousands of kilometres of rural roads built in all these years. Yet, literacy is nowhere near the levels of other south-east Asian countries, even after half a century of planning.

Malnutrition, curable blindness and communicable diseases still haunt rural India. Mass migration of poor tribals during summer from the districts of Jhabua, Banswara and Kalahandi (to cite a few examples) in search of employment — with children tagging along having abandoned schools and old people left behind to fend for themselves — is a heart-rending sight. How many times has the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission or its members visited a village in the remote tribal districts to study at firsthand what their plans for inclusive growth have achieved? They seem more content to discuss the theoretical aspects of inclusive growth rather than waste their time listening to a bhil from Banswara in Rajasthan or a Maria from Dantewada in Chhattisgarh who does not know who will look after her old parents when she migrates to Punjab in search

of labour.

TN Seshan, when he was secretary in the ministry of environment, toured the interior villages of Bastar that were affected by a proposed hydroelectric project on which a large sum of money had already been spent. After patiently listening to the views of the tribals as to how their daily lives would be affected by the project, he refused to grant approval to the project. The dam was never built.

Urban India has also not treated its poor well. Growing numbers of the poor now occupy pedestrian pathways in metropolitan cities, eking out a miserable living. Land is acquired in no time, even with the use of force, for an industry or an SEZ — but not for constructing shops to accommodate the footpath merchants. There is a commission on the informal sector, with an erstwhile economist bureaucrat as its head. After three years of existence, what has it done for these footpath merchants?

What the finance minister fails to report in his action-taken report, which comes along with the budget documents, is physical achievements in terms of benefits delivered and quality of work executed in the field. His report does not throw any light on where the thousands of crores of agricultural credit have been used and, consequently, how much production has actually increased.

How does the budget delivery system in India actually work? The amounts allocated in the central and state budgets first go to the HODs (heads of departments). They, in turn, are dependent on their underlings — including the financial administrators (FAs) and accounts officers (AOs) — who, in the absence of anything else to exercise their authority over, raise every objection in the world before sending the allocated amounts to the states or field officers.

In the states, things are even more arduous. Allocations are placed at the disposal of the HODs sometime in May…if things go well, that is. This money now has to go to the divisional level officers and then, on to the implementing officers in the districts. If the expenditure has been approved, they can continue and spend it. Else, they have to go through another protracted process of administrative and financial sanctions. In such cases, by the time the procedures are over, the year is usually coming to a close.

In March there is a mayhem in the offices of the HODs, where all the field officers and grant-in-aid institutions line up for release of funds. Where the funds go, when they are released at the close of the financial year, is usually anybody’s guess. Sometimes, they get spent on the purchase of goods. If the allocation is for roadwork, bitumen is purchased and orders for the supply of metal are placed. Work itself will probably start months later, by which time the metal and the bitumen have deteriorated, or been partly damaged, or even stolen. The result is incomplete roads of poor quality, without side berms.

Irrigation and other construction projects are no exception. Lack of supervision by senior officers — of the quality of the roads, maintenance of buildings and irrigation works — results in the wastage of public expenditure and offers scope for corruption. If the quality of the works is bad, action has to be initiated. The supervisors do not want to do this as they themselves may be partial beneficiaries of any commissions paid by the contractors. So they avoid taking action in cases of poor delivery of benefits.

In the case of an ashram school providing free education for the benefit of the tribals in Kathiwada, a remote forest village in Jhabua district, teachers’ salaries could not be paid for one whole year because the commissioner did not release the grant till this author intervened with the chief secretary. The author also reported to the chief minister on the deficiencies observed in a major project during his walks along the canal banks, as requested of him by the irrigation minister. The result was that he was never asked again to continue the work —even though the minister appeared to be aghast at the deficiencies.

The recent controversies about the Rs 35,000 crore expenditure on irrigation projects not producing desired results — increase in areas under irrigation — is an example of the shoddy delivery and supervisory system in India in every department.

Teachers are appointed to work in remote rural areas with no basic amenities for their stay. Soon, with the help of powerful politicians, they get attached to schools in urban and semi-urban areas. The rural schools’ rolls show a higher number of teachers than those actually available to teach. In Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh, where the population is 83 per cent tribal, about 35 per cent of the population of over a million migrate with their children, starting March, every year. Consequently, the retention rate of children, even in elementary classes, is very low.

The hospitals in Jhabua also show far more doctors on their rolls than are actually available to work. Many are attached to other city hospitals. A private cancer foundation that does yeoman service in this region, has more than once pointed out the growing incidence of certain types of cancer due to lack of hygiene, malnutrition and a host of other preventable causes. The collector laments that he cannot do anything about this as nobody listens to his complaints. The field officers, including the collector, get transferred within a year or at the most, 18 months.

The system of delivery at the field level and supervision of the activities by senior officers have all but failed. No one is held responsible except in some high-profile cases. The author, who had the privilege of working with the prime minister, had brought to his notice the miserable situation in Jhabua, and suggested solutions. But these too have gone unheeded, despite the fact that a former collector of Jhabua sits in the prime minister’s office (PMO). If nothing is done before long, Naxalism will spread to this area.

Suspected naxalite arrested

SEHORE (MP): A suspected naxalite disguised as a Sadhu, along with his girlfriend was arrested from a temple in Nasrullahganj area of this district.

Police recovered a foreign-made revolver, cartridges and naxalite literature from the possession of Jeevrakhanlal Malekar, who was staying at the temple at Mandi village for about six months. He was arrested yesterday on the complaint of beating up another Sadhu.

Jeevrakhanlal, a resident of village Bharda near Dondi in Chhattisgarh, told police that he had distanced himself from other naxalites following differences. His lover hailed from Purvi Tola near Lanji in Balaghat district.

Police is investigating into their links with naxalites though both had been arrested under the Arms Act, Nasrullahganj police station incharge Umesh Tiwari said.

Buddha faces backlash


The secular Muslim community in rural Bengal is the vanguard of the resistance movement against big business industrialisation.And the Left might pay heavily for that

Rajat Roy Delhi

The bitter struggle of the rural people of West Bengal against the CPM-led Left Front government’s move to grab thousands of acres of fertile land for big business has intensified. In this new political twist, the Muslims, especially, are feeling terribly nervous. Many of them are direct victims of ‘industrialisation’ in many parts of the state. That is why, they are now mobilising the community into a quasi-political outfit to take on the Left’s ‘globalisation’ agenda.

Indeed, the danger signals have reached the CPM’s headquarters at Alimuddin Street in Kolkata. And the top-heavy party, despite its hegemonic dominance for three decades, perhaps for the first time, is jittery.

In a dramatic shift, the state government has lowered its pitch on ‘land-grabbing’. Instead, they are floating the politics of consensus. CPM is mobilising friendly Muslim leaders and its leaders are aware that the three-tier panchayat elections are due on May, 2008, and the party might face a tough challenge.

This political paradigm shift was first noticed in Nandigram, a predominantly agricultural area under Contai subdivision of East Midnapur district. A notice for land acquisition of 15,000 acres (for a proposed SEZ) was issued by the Haldia Development Authority. The villagers quickly organised themselves and resisted the administration by creating road-blocks, digging roads, blocking the entry of officials for land-survey, while fighting pitched battles with the police. There have been several violent clashes with the pro-government CPM cadres; for the first time under the CPM regime, their own cadres were forcibly evicted and they had to flee to ‘safe zones’.

The ferocity of the people’s resistance took the state government by surprise. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had to publicly admit that the acquisition notice was a blunder. He tried to assure the people of Nandigram that the government won't go for acquisition of land without local consultation. After the Singur episode, where 1,000 acres of fertile and irrigated farm land was taken without any consensus for setting up a Tata car project, this was a major climb-down for the CPM establishment.

Significantly, though Mamata Banerjee, the main opposition leader, and other political parties, have been protesting vociferously, the leadership of the resistance in Nandigram is in the hands of a relatively unknown individuals and groups. Indeed, the most prominent ‘leader’ of the ‘anti-land-grab’ movement is a low profile and unknown person. His name is Maulana Siddikulla Choudhury. He is the state secretary of Jamaat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, mostly restricted to social activities.

After the Nandigram unrest (which continues), the CPM quickly branded Choudhary as a ‘communal leader’. He retaliated by promptly producing documents and photographs showing how Biman Bose, the heavyweight secretary of the CPM, shared a platform with him several times and participated in the Jamaat’s programmes and meetings.

Now, having tasted success in the first round of battle for Nandigram, Choudhury and his outfit have started mobilising Muslims in other parts of Bengal also. His principle argument in the mass-contact programmes is that the Left-Front government has singled out the Muslims; it is their land which is being usurped for Indian and multinational big business groups. To broaden his support base, he is invoking the Sachar Committee Report, reminding the community that their lot has not improved during the last 30 years of the Left rule in Bengal.

The signals are ominous. While Singur in Hoogly was predominantly a Hindu area, Choudhary didn't have a major role in the resistance movement there. In Nandigram, with a large Muslim population, it was easier to carry the people along. Also, the other projects in the pipeline — the Kulpi port and a new expressway cutting across North and South 24 Parganas — will require land in areas with substantial Muslim population. And predictably, Choudhury’s campaign is creating waves.

His campaign has drawn huge crowds in Haroa, Minakhan, Barasat and other places in North and South 24 Parganas. Emboldened by the people's response, Choudhury has started talking of floating a political party: the Peoples' Democratic Party of India.

After the partition of Bengal, a sizable population of Muslims remained in West Bengal, (25 per cent of the 8.02 crore population, census 2001). The Muslim League didn't have significant influence. For instance, Murshidabad is the highest Muslim populated district in India with 37 lakh Muslims. Muslims here backed the Congress in the earlier elections; later, it shifted towards the Left. All the other districts with a strong Muslim base are critical because they can influence the poll outcome. Over the years, all over the state, their support has been firmly based on secular principles and their vote has largely been divided between the Left and the Congress.

Despite the presence of Muslim League candidates in almost all these areas, the Muslim voters have studiously avoided them. In a rare case, in the 1980's, Deganga in North 24 Parganas went to the League for two consecutive terms; Prof Hasanuzzaman was elected to the assembly. Ironically, later, the constituency reverted to the Forward Bloc, a Left Front partner.

Surely, the victory of the League candidate was more of an aberration than a reflection of the Muslim voting pattern in Bengal. However, the initial signs are worrying for the ruling Left, as some of the school board and students union elections of the local colleges show. In these elections near Contai and Haldia, the Left lost.

Even if Choudhury becomes moderately successful, the CPM will face a backlash in the panchayat elections to be held next year. It might lose a sizable chunk of its Muslim vote bank. There are uncanny reports of the poor sections in rural Bengal going against the CPM in the Lok Sabha elections, even while the pampered rich and the upwardly mobile classes in Kolkata are going gaga over ‘neo-liberal’ Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

This combination can hit the Left really badly. If the Muslim support base turns against the Left, its impact will be felt in Murshidabad, Malda, North Dinajpur, North and South 24 Parganas and partly in East Midnapur, Burdwan and Birbhum districts.

Land Revenue Minister Rezzak Mollah, Speaker of the West Bengal assembly Hasim Abdul Halim, and other leaders have already alerted their party leadership about the churning going on within their community. In a public meeting in Bolpur in Birbhum district, Halim acknowledged that the farmers of Nandigram and Singur have done no wrong by resisting the government. Mollah has been publicly voicing his unhappiness. Pushed by sections within the party and allies, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has declared that his government won’t acquire dwelling houses, madrasas, schools, temples etc, even if they have to split the land to be acquired into two or three big plots. Also, the compensation package will be upgraded and nothing will be done without prior consultations with the opposition and locals.

A shaky CPM has activated its front organisations to reach out to the Muslim community. The Furfura Darbar Sharif of Hoogly, which has a large following among the Bengali-speaking Muslims, has been roped in. For instance, on February 25, a district convention was organised at Chhoto Bamunia, Ashoknagar, in North 24 Parganas, under the aegis of Jamiyate Ulamaye Bangla, a non-political organisation. This outfit works directly under the Furfura Sharif. Rezzak Mollah and Mohammad Sattar, the minister-in-charge of madrasa education, were the ‘eminent’ guests.

Meanwhile, Choudhury has formed a loose alliance with radical Naxalite forces like the Santosh Rana group and others: Jana Unnayan-o-Gano Adhikar Mancha. But Mamata Banerjee has refused to join. Her apprehension is that Choudhury’s organisation can be hijacked by radical Islamic forces. Her critics argue that when she can join hands with hardline Hindutva forces, her ‘high moral ground’ is suspect. However, her apprehensions are not completely baseless. As the movement gathers momentum, the people in the fringes might try to take control. And the ground is ready for that.

Contrary to common perception, Muslims have never voted as a monolithic bloc. This national trend is also visible in Bengal. For the last three decades, large sections of Muslims have backed the Left for its secular, pro-poor agenda. At the same time, they expected to benefit from the developmental process. With the pro-big business process, and in the backdrop of the Sachar Committee Report, the Muslims feel betrayed. They are aware that they have been deprived of economic, social and educational upliftment. And the truth is, the growing numbers in the meetings of Siddikulla Choudhury proves that the community is decisively distancing itself from the Left.

Maoists raise special zone for better coordination

Friday September 28 2007 07:51 IST


JEYPORE: Reports that Maoists have raised a new ‘special zone’ to oversee the activities in bordering Koraput have raised alarm bells.

The ‘special zone’ has been formed by shifting some cadres of Malkangiri district recently. Over 1000 cadres in Koraput region are planned to be inducted into the new zone soon to monitor the activities in new areas.

Earlier the Koraput Maoists were controlled by Orissa and Andhra bordering zone of Malkangiri. Besides, the Maoists are eyeing to create their ‘base’ to coordinate activities from within the State and outside in coming days for managing their ‘red corridor’.

It has come to light that the Naxals are planning to spread their influence to Laxmipur, Damantpur blocks in Koraput, Thumula Rampur block in Kalahandi and Nandahandi and Tentulikhunti blocks in Nabarangpur district.

These pockets are yet to be covered. Maoists have stepped up activities, particularly at entry points, to cover the three districts simultaneously.

According to sources, since quite some time the Maoists and their sympathisers have waged a war against the administration in Narayanpatna, Bandhugam, Nandapur, Potangi blocks of Koraput district.

With active support from outside cadres of AP and Chhattisgarh they had attacked several offices and armoury in Koraput in 2004. The recent blockade of VIsakhapatnam-Raipur NH near Raleguda in Potangi police station area for several hours by armed Naxals followed by a landmine blast have made their intention amply clear.

Police are on high alert in the entire district and strict vigil are on in bordering areas of Potangi, Koraput, Laxmipur, Narayanptana blocks for curbing the sneaking of cadres from across the border.

Naxals kill tribal

Thursday September 27 2007 07:29 IST


VISAKHAPATNAM: Four suspected Maoists murdered a tribal at Bannavaram village in Chintapalli mandal on Tuesday night.

According to the villagers, the quartet wearing masks went to the house of V Krishna Rao around 10 pm and forcibly took him away brandishing knives.

Rao’s body with multiple injuries was found near a school on Wednesday morning. A letter found near the body suggested that it was the handiwork of the CPI (Maoist) Korukonda area committee.

His son-in-law is working as a constable at Annavaram. The Maoists might have murdered Rao suspecting him as an informer, the police said

Good turnout in naxal-hit areas: police

Special Correspondent

13 persons arrested under the Arms Act

Counting to be taken up on Sunday

Bangalore: Director-General and Inspector-General of Police K.R. Srinivasan has said that people have shown a lot of interest in the elections and nearly 65 to 70 per cent polling has been recorded even in the naxal-affected areas of Narasimharaja Pura, Koppa and Chitradurga.

Addressing presspersons, he said that 13 persons, including Congress candidate for the Mysore City Corporation P. Siddaraju, were arrested under the Arms Act. No major election-related incidents have been reported, elsewhere.

In a case of negligence on the part of the official in charge of printing of ballot papers in Bellary Mahanagara Palike, the symbol of Communist Party of India candidate Ismail in eight booths of ward No. 29 was wrongly printed.

In Haveri, the polling to ward No. 19 of the Haveri Town Municipal Council was countermanded owing to the death of Congress candidate Umesh Narayan Rao Amte. He died of heart attack on Thursday. The repoll will be conducted to the ward on October 28 in this ward and fresh notification was also issued.

Miscreants poured water into the ballot box in polling station no.18 of Srinivasapura Town Municipal Council in Kolar District and polling station No. 23 of ward no. 12 of Sindhanoor Town Municipal Council in Bagalkot district. In polling station No. 22 of ward no. 22 of Shahapur Town Municipal Council in Gulbarga district, the ballot box was thrown outside the booth. The ballot papers were strewn all around.

In Gulbarga City Corporation ward No 12 (polling station No. 68), the ballot papers were destroyed due to rains. Similarly, the ballot papers in polling station No. 125 of ward No. 35 of Bidar City Municipal Council were smudged as miscreants poured ink into the box. In Davangere’s ward No. 7 and polling station No. 63, the presiding officer had allowed voters to cast votes, which were already marked in the list of voters.

In polling station No.1, ward No.1 of Teradal Town Municipal Council in Raichur district, some people created confusion on the pretext that there was rigging. The poll in all these polling stations had been cancelled and repoll ordered to be held on Saturday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. The counting will be taken up on September 30 all over the State, including for those stations for which re-poll has been ordered.

Losing the fight against extremism


Saturday, September 29, 2007
Praful Bidwai

Is India losing the fight against extremism, specifically Naxalism, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently described as "the greatest internal security threat"? Despite spending a huge Rs 30,000 million on anti-Naxalite operations, this seems to be the case. Since 2005, more people have been killed in Naxal-related violence than in Kashmir or the northeast.

Naxalism has spread to more than 150 of India's 600 districts. Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have replaced Andhra Pradesh and Bihar as the states most affected by it. Between January 2006 and June 2007, Chhattisgarh recorded 529 deaths in Naxal-related violence. Yet, Chhattisgarh provides terrifying lessons on how Naxalism should not be fought by unleashing repression against unarmed civilians, by instigating bandits to target Naxalites, and by violating the citizen's civil liberties, even while perpetuating gruesome injustices, especially against the disadvantaged Adivasis (tribals) who form a majority of the population of the worst-affected districts.

This conclusion -- drawn by social scientists, jurists and civil liberties activists -- was reinforced during a visit I made to Chhattisgarh last fortnight with Mukul Sharma, director of Amnesty International-India. We went there to express solidarity with Dr Binayak Sen, a noted health activist, and general secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties-Chhattisgarh, detained since May 14 under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2004, and Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 (PSA). We also wanted to investigate whether Sen's work warrants such harsh measures.

Besides capital Raipur, we toured parts of the Dhamtari district, where Sen's organisation, Rupantar, has run a clinic for 10 years. Upon talking to more than 20 people in villages, we failed to find any evidence of Sen's culpability in inciting the public to extremism. Sen has been doing exemplary voluntary work in the Gandhian mould in providing primary and preventive healthcare for people long deprived of access to health facilities. There are no medical personnel in the area, often not even a chemist within a 30-kilometre distance. The public is forced to depend on quacks and corrupt, apathetic, incompetent and usually missing government employees.

Rupantar's clinic in Bagrumnala village offers an extraordinary range of services at nominal cost, including rapid testing for the deadly falciparum strain of the malaria parasite, which has saved scores of lives. The clinic largely depends on "barefoot doctors", who give the public invaluable advice on nutrition and preventive medicine too. The clinic caters to villages in a 40 square kilometres radius. Its work is irreplaceable. Its closure is bound to cause preventable loss of life among some of the poorest tribals of Chhattisgarh.

Everyone we talked to expressed gratitude towards Sen for his role in empowering disadvantaged people and his efforts to make them aware of their rights -- for instance, to water, housing and healthcare. All of them see Sen as noble and selfless. No one spoke of even the remotest sign of his instigating people to extremism. However, it's not an aberration that Sen was detained under the nasty PSA, which criminalises even peaceful activity by declaring it "a danger or menace to public order … and tranquillity", because it might interfere with or "tends to interfere with the maintenance of public order…" and encourages "disobedience to established law and its institutions."

This extremely harsh preventive detention law makes nonsense even of civil disobedience, a cornerstone of India's Freedom Struggle. It should have no place in a democracy. Yet, the state government has filed a 750-page charge-sheet against Sen, liberally including offences like sedition and "waging war against the state". There's a clear purpose behind this monstrosity -- to intimidate all civil rights defenders through a horrible example. This isn't the first time in India that trumped-up charges have been brought against innocents. But it's probably the first occasion when a civil liberties defender has been explicitly targeted, and that too, from a broad-church, inclusive and politically unaffiliated organisation like the PUCL, which has defended people of all persuasions against state excesses.

Sen was victimised precisely because he formed a bridge between the human rights movement and other civil society organisations, and tried to empower disadvantaged people. The state government, whose very existence is premised upon the rapacious exploitation of Adivasis and the staggering natural wealth of Chhattisgarh -- whose primary function is to subserve the 'big business', forest contractors and traders -- cannot tolerate such individuals. If this sounds like an exaggeration, consider this:

* One of India's most creative trade unionists, Shankar Guha Niyogi, who ignited a mass awakening on social, cultural and economic issues in Chhattisgarh, was brutally assassinated at the behest of powerful and politically well-connected industrialists in 1991. Those who planned and financed the murder roam scot-free.

* Chhattisgarh has among India's worst indices of wealth misdistribution and income inequality. Many of its cities, including Raipur, are booming with ostentatious affluence, spanking new hotels and glittering shopping malls.

* At the other extreme are predominantly tribal districts like Dantewada, which are marked by malnutrition, starvation deaths, and severe scarcity of health facilities and of safe drinking water. The tribal literacy rate here is less than one-third the national average -- 30 per cent for men and 13 per cent for women. Of its 1,220 villages, 214 lack a primary school.

* Worse, 1,161 villages have no medical facility. Primary health centres exist in only 34 villages. At the worst is Bijapur, the district's most violent tehsil, where Naxalites gunned down 55 policemen in March.

* The difference in life-expectancy between Kerala and tribal Chhattisgarh is a shocking 18 years. The two regions could well belong to different continents.

* Chhattisgarh is extraordinarily rich in mineral wealth, including iron ore, bauxite, dolomite, quartzite, granite, precious stones, gold and tin ore, besides limestone and coal. Its iron ore is among the best in the world. This wealth has been voraciously extracted. But it has produced no gains for local people. The only railway line in the state's tribal south runs straight to Visakhapatnam and carries ore for export to Japan. Less than one-hundredth of the value of the mineral returns to the state.

Naxalism has thrived in Chhattisgarh as a response, albeit an irrational one, to this system of exploitation, dispossession and outright loot, along with the complete collapse of the state as a provider of public services and a relatively impartial guardian of the law. Yet, to defend the system of exploitation, the state is waging war against its own people through the sponsorship of Salwa Judum (Peace Campaign), a militia trained to kill and incite violence against the Naxals. This is an extraordinarily predatory organisation. Its violence has rendered homeless almost 100,000 people, who now live in appalling conditions in temporary camps. Salwa Judum represents an unholy nexus between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, buttressed by powerful entrenched economic interests. Its atrocities only ensure that the Naxalite problem will never be settled.

Chhattisgarh is getting polarised between "Red" (Naxals) and "Saffron" (BJP). It's also divided between what Niyogi called mankhe gotiyar (the human species) and baghwa gotiyar (the bloodsucking clan), or the forces of human compassion, and the forces of destruction. If the Chhattisgarh government has proved bankrupt in dealing with Naxalism, the centre fares no better. By relying solely on brute force to fight Naxalism, it is inviting disaster.

The writer, a former newspaper editor, is a researcher and peace and human-rights activist based in Delhi Email:

Tappalapur case to be reopened

K. Srinivas Reddy

Naxal leader Tushar Kant Bhattacharya to face trial in ‘historic’ case

The case is about the killing of four persons nearly 31 years ago

Tappalapur raid considered significant in naxalite movement

HYDERABAD: Nearly thirty one years after the killing of four persons in the historic “Tappalapur village raid”, which changed the course of Naxalite movement in the country, a top Maoist leader Tushar Kant Bhattacharya will be facing trial in the case in Adilabad shortly.

Mr. Bhattacharya alias Sri Kant, one of the senior most Maoist leaders in the country, was arrested from a hideout in Dujra locality in Patna recently. Mr. Bhattacharya, who hailed from Kagaznagar of Adilabad, worked along with Kondapalli Seetaramaiah, founder of People’s War Group and Ganapathy, the present secretary of the CPI (Maoist). At the time of arrest, Mr. Bhattacharya was looking after the Maoist movement in Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Uttar Bihar, known as the ‘Triple U’ in Maoist parlance.

Police sources say that Mr. Bhattacharya will now have to face the trial in Tappalapur case and some criminal cases registered against him in Venkatapur police station of Khammam. These cases were treated as Long Pending Cases by the courts and closed.

The Tappalapur raid on November 11, 1976 is extremely significant in naxalite movement since it marked the beginning of a phase of intense violence which forced scores of landlord families in Adilabad and Karimnagar to flee villages. Among the 16 accused persons in the case were Kondapalli Seetaramaiah, Muppala Laxmana Rao, Nalla Adi Reddy and Tushar Kant Bhattacharya.

Despite the severe repression during the Emergency, revolutionary movement was picking up momentum in 1976 under the name of Central Organising Committee (COC) and that was the period when an ideological debate was on over the line to be adopted by revolutionary cadres. While some preferred to follow the pro-Lin Piao line (total focus on annihilation of class enemy), the second trend was on negating the entire tactical line of CPI-ML and participating in parliamentary democracy; and the combining of class enemy annihilation with the mass line.

Naxalite cadres who rallied with Kondapalli Seetaramaih opted for the third line and the ‘Tappalapur attack’ was interpreted as the incident which provided the boost to revolutionary movement. Initially, the naxalite leaders planned to ‘annihilate’ the landlords (Doras). They raided the ‘gadi’ of Rajeshwara Rao in Maddunuru near Jagitial of Karimnagar, but the landlord managed to run away. Following this, the naxal leaders targeted Gone Venkata Pithambar Rao, an MLA during 1957–62 of Tappalapur in the neighbouring Adilabad district.

On September 25, 1976, sixteen naxal leaders armed with axes and knives raided his house, stabbed Vennamaneni Gopala Rao, a clerk working with Pithambar Rao and Dr. Sampath Kumar, G.V. Subhash (both sons of the landlord), Puppala Kondal Rao, police patel and Kammala Ashok, son of the sarpanch. After the Tappalapur raid, the naxal team headed to the nearby Timmapur village where they axed to death Kammela Venkati and raided the house of Mylarapu Shankaraiah where they burnt wads of promissory notes. Later in another village, they attacked Jamboji Narayana holding him responsible for arrest of naxalite Kista Gowd.

The series of violent incidents in Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam and Warangal led to such a scare that landlords fled the villages. Subsequently, after the Emergency was lifted, the naxalite cadres temporarily suspended the armed struggle and concentrated on building up a mass movement by launching ‘back to the villages’ by 1978.

It was this campaign that strengthened the naxalite movement and subsequently in 1980 the ideologues formed the CPI-ML (People’s War) which spread revolutionary activity to almost all over the State before merging with the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) on September 21, 2003 to form the present Communist Party of India (Maoist).

AP lagging behind in police strength: Jana

Friday September 28 2007 08:55 IST

Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: ‘‘We should not think that there is a respite from Naxal menace in the State and we must be alert,’’ said Home Minister K Jana Reddy.

Speaking to reporters here on Thursday, he said that the Government was successful in curbing Naxal menace. The Home Minister said Andhra Pradesh is lagging behind in police strength when compared to neighbouring States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.

As a result of it, the Government decided to increase the police force by additional 37,888 posts in the coming four years. The decision would be put forward before cabinet for it’s approval. The Home Minister said that Rajahmundry, Guntur, Tirupati and Warangal would be upgraded as urban police districts.

Samal report: Referring to former vigilance commissioner Samal’s comments he said that the Government formed a committee to study the issue.

Coming to law and order situation in the district, he said that there was a drop in crime rate in the district. He said number of cases of cheating and women trafficking were noticed in the district and efforts were on to bring down such cases.

Bhu poratam: Commenting on arrests related to bhu poratam, he said the Left party activists encroached nearly 1,800 acres of land in the district and the police removed all the encroachments except on a piece of land on the national highway at Paritala village.

Earlier, the Home Minister inaugurated regional sports competitions in a Navodaya School at Veleru village of Bapulapadu mandal. He also visited Andhra Ratna Bhavan and participated in the death anniversary programme of former Chief Minister Kotla Vijayabhaskara Reddy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Maoists target industry units

Anupam Dasgupta
Thursday, September 27, 2007 11:27 IST

Documents recovered from extremists use encryption techniques and code names for cities to camouflage info

Documents recovered from senior Communist Party of India (Maoist) office bearers Sridhar Srinivasan and Vernon Gonsalves have revealed a deep-seated plan to target industrial facilities in the state.

The Naxalites’ efforts are part of a grand strategy to mobilise a section of the discontented population, especially industry workers. The Maoist top leadership has also decided to re-direct the course of their movement by aiming at heightened ‘mobilisations’ around industrial establishments and simultaneously indulging in disruption strategies.

The documents identify major towns in the state and code-named them by the name of fruits. According to intelligence officials, mango may be associated with Mumbai, while tamarind and date could have been used to pinpoint Nashik and Nagpur. Some other similar metaphors are also used by the Naxalites to address Thane, Pune, Aurangabad and Malegaon.

Sources in the state anti-Naxalite unit told DNA that the documents showed simple encryption techniques used by the ultras to camouflage information.

“Codified messages and encryption are information operations which are part of the bigger clandestine warfare the Naxalites are set to wage at the many urban centres across the country,” said additional director general of police (anti-Naxalite operations) Pankaj Gupta.

It is learnt that the Maoists have also planning to disband the Urban Study Group, which they had set up 4-5 years back to make city forays.

Incidentally, the pen drive obtained from Arun Ferreira — the arrested Bandra-based Naxalite operative — contained information about how the Mumbai dabbawalas operated seamlessly within a systemic framework.

However, the content of the documents assume more significance in the wake of the high-profile visit to Naxalite-violence affected areas — of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand Orissa and Maharashtra — by Cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekhar and ML Kumawat special secretary (internal security) with the Ministry of Home Affairs sometime next month.

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Maoists kitty swells by Rs 40cr each year

Rebels’ kitty swells by Rs 40cr each year

Terrorising for funds
Ranchi, Sept. 25: A section of contractors, transporters and businessmen involved in illegal mining pay over Rs 40cr annually as levy to CPI(Maoist) in the state.

The Maoists have presence in about 18 districts at present and are currently engaged in covert exercises to cement their base in six districts in Santhal Pargana.

Inputs garnered by the state police and intelligence agencies suggest that rebels collect levy mainly from the illegal miners of iron ore and coal.

Even a section of contractors involved in government projects and transporters oblige the extremists by paying hefty amounts at regular intervals. Else, they cannot run their business, intelligence officials said.

A part of the levy, claimed the additional director-general of police (special branch), G.S. Rath, is sent to the central committee and a part to the local committee.

“This illegal money is also used to carry out various training programmes, purchase explosives, arms and ammunition,” said the additional director-general of police (special branch).

A recently prepared seven-page report by the state police headquarters, “Naxalite scenario in Jharkhand state”, reveals that levy collec- tion has become a serious threat for the development of the state.

The report stated that the police were able to recover over Rs 1.75 crore from some of the over 2,500 arrested rebels since the creation of the state.

Besides, 8,500kg of explosives, 2,000 weapons, 45,431 ammunition, 1,033 bombs and landmines were also seized during different combing operations and raids against the rebels.

Police officials confessed that the money seized by the state police is “peanuts” compared to the amount collected by the rebels in the state in a year.

Against this backdrop, director-general of police V.D. Ram has directed the district police chiefs to go all out to arrest and lodge cases against the rebels harassing businessmen and contractors for levy.

Spokesperson of the state police R.K. Mallick said the number of cases lodged against the rebels has increased enormously in the recent past.

“We are working to create a situation where the rebels would not dare to demand levy from any quarters,” Mallick said.

The report also claimed that the Maoists have planned to unleash more planned attacks on police, railways, paramilitary forces to loot weapons and demoralise jawans in Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Bihar in the near future.

4 naxals killed in encounter

Special Correspondent

Two .303 rifles, a DBBL gun and a tapancha recovered

VISAKHAPATNAM: Four naxalites, including three women, were killed in an encounter with a special police party at Amidala village in G. Madugula mandal in the Visakha agency area on Wednesday.

Two .303 rifles, one DBBL gun, one tapancha and five kit bags were recovered from the site of encounter, according to Superintendent of Police Akun Sabharwal.

The exchange of fire took place during the combing operations the police were conducting for the last few days on information that the CPI (Maoist) members were moving in the G. Madugula area, he said.

According to information received here, one of those killed was suspected to be Shakeela, deputy commander of Peda Bayalu local guerrilla squad that was active in this area. Police were trying to identify the other dead.

Maoist stronghold

Amidala is 15 km away from Vakapalli, a Maoist stronghold, where Greyhound policemen allegedly gang-raped 11 women last month triggering an agitation demanding their arrest. An indefinite fast is on for the last five days demanding justice to the women.

Meanwhile, teams consisting of district police and the Central Reserve Police force (CRPF) unearthed three landmines planted by the CPI (Maoist) on the Narsipatnam-Chintapalli road.

Acting on information, the police defused the landmines, each weighing 50 kg and packed in stainless steel vessels.

The landmines were ready to be set off as detonators were also fixed to them.

Dr. Sabharwal said it was an insane act to fix landmines on a busy road on which APSRTC buses plied regularly and the landmines could go off even due to thunder.

Claymore mines

He recalled that seven powerful landmines were unearthed on the National Highway near Tallapalem recently while two landmines, three claymore mines and one pressure mine were detected either in villages or on the roads connecting villages. The landmines would have killed the innocent Girijans, he added.

Jharkhand CM announces Z Plus security for Dhoni

Madan Kumar, Hindustan Times
Email Author
Ranchi, September 27, 2007
First Published: 02:39 IST(27/9/2007)
Last Updated: 02:43 IST(27/9/2007)

Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda on Wednesday said that Team India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be provided Z-Plus category security cover by the state police in the wake of the massive response the Indian team has received following its victory over Pakistan in the T20 World Cup.

"Police officials have been strictly told that no lapse on the part of Dhoni’s security would be tolerated by the state government,” Koda told HT this evening.

He said, the Home Department had also been directed to ensure foolproof security to Dhoni’s parents presently living in Shyamaly Colony of Mecon Ltd here.

The State’s Home Secretary Sudhir Tripathi, however, said that his department usually didn’t announce security related matters to public.

“But security of important persons are reviewed time to time in the wake of impending threat perception to particular individual,” he said when asked whether Dhoni would be placed in the Z-Plus category.

After reported naxal threats, the Koda Government had earlier in the year enhanced security to Dhoni.

Koda also reiterated that a surprise gift would be given to Dhoni when he returns to the state capital. “I have promised a surprise gift for Dhoni and it is proper that I should reveal it before him only. If I reveal now, the surprise element will be lost,” he said.

8 districts selected for 'strong' anti-Naxal action

27 Sep 2007, 0056 hrs IST,TNN

The Centre has selected eight districts — two each in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa — for launching a "strong anti-Naxalite action"in a holistic manner.

The selection of districts was made on the basis of violence levels and other considerations like contiguity, geographical location and topographical condition, sources said.

The decision was taken in the wake of a National Security Council meeting last month to review the Naxalite situation and a follow-up meet under the NSA.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dhoni's security to be reviewed soon

Posted online: 2007-09-26 16:33:14.619585+05:30

Ranchi, September 26:- The Jharkhand government could soon review the security of Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the wake of the massive response the Indian team has received following its victory over Pakistan in the T20 World Cup, official sources said.
"We don't announce security related matters. But security is reviewed time to time," Jharkhand Home Secretary Sudhir Tripathy said when asked whether Dhoni would be placed in the 'Z' category.

After reported Naxal threats, the state government had earlier in the year enhanced security to Dhoni, the new 'Mr Cool' of Indian cricket.

Chief Minister Madhu Koda has announced a surprise gift for Dhoni before the World Cup.

"I have promised a surprise gift for Dhoni and it is proper that I should reveal it before him only. If I reveal now, the surprise element will be lost," Koda said.

Dhoni's father, Paan Singh, had visited a temple, 55 km from the state capital, and prayed for India's success in the forthcoming India-Australia ODI series starting from September 29.

Yeh khusi ki baat hai, aur hum puja karne ke liye aaien hein (It's a matter of happiness and we came to offer our prayers), Paan Singh told the media near the Deori temple on Tuesday.

Even before donning the national colours, Dhoni used to visit Deori temple situated on the Ranchi-Tata road whenever he went to Jamshedpur for a cricket match, recalled temple priest Jitendra Panda.

Now, Maoists take new roadmap

Wednesday September 26 2007 13:27 IST

BERHAMPUR: Maoists, with their long cherished plan to set up a ‘red corridor,’ have taken a new roadmap. The red patch joining Andhra and Chhattisgarh will pass through several newly ‘taken over’ areas of south-western Orissa.

Armed Naxals have been sighted these days along Ganjam-Kandhamal border. Their movements were also reported from remote areas of Bhanjanagar, Bargarh, Sorada, Mujagarh, Baibili and Tarsing in Ganjam district close to Kandhamal border. The dense jungles and hilly terrains of this region are conducive for safe movement of ultras.

If their plan to establish the ‘red corridor’ along Ganjam- Kandhamal-Boudh-undivided Sambalpur border succeeds, it will give them the much-needed passage between their bastions in Andhra and Chhattisgarh.

The Maoists have already established bases in Gajapati and Rayagada districts. They have now started their campaign with wall posters with a warning note for the sympathisers of local landlords, police and government in the inaccessible border areas of Ganjam-Kandhamal districts.

Police from both the districts have started joint combing operations along with the anti-Naxal squad. According to sources, the Naxals have slipped in to South Orissa after mounting pressures in the aftermath of an unsuccessful bid on the life of former AP chief minister N Janardhan Reddy.

All police stations in Ganjam district in this region have been put on high alert. Ganjam SP R K Sharma said extra patrolling and public relation drive in remote tribal pockets of the area have been taken up to keep tribals away from Maoist propaganda.

Man makes 'Naxal' threat to in-laws

26 Sep 2007, 0113 hrs IST,TNN

BANGALORE: A man from Hyderabad has allegedly threatened to blow up his father-in-law's house in Bangalore with the help of ‘Naxalites'.

The accused is Ravinder of Nallakunta in Hyderabad. He threatened to kill his father-in-law, N R Narasimha, and his family if they did not withdraw the dowry harassment complaint lodged against him by his wife Lakshmi and her family members.

Posing as a post-graduate, Ravinder married Narasimha's daughter on February 21, 2007. Lakshmi was harassed and she also learned that her husband was just a graduate. Unable to bear the harassment, she lodged a complaint. Later, Ravinder and his parents were arrested.

Later, she returned to Bangalore to live with her parents. Narasimha said Ravinder and his family members started making threat calls and demanded that the complaint be withdrawn. They also wanted Lakshmi to return to Hyderabad.

In a complaint to the Subramanyanagar police, Narasimha said: "On September 16, Ravinder and his brother-in-law, Cherepalli Yadgiri, came to our house to take Lakshmi back to Hyderabad. They abused us and Ravinder said he had worked for a radical group (students' wing of Naxalites) as a student. He said he had connections with Naxalites and they could destroy my house at any moment.''

Narasimha has also named Ravinder's parents, Venkateshwaralu and Kalavathi, sister Lalitha and Yadgiri as accused.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Naxalites are free to surrender, says Bidari


S.O. News service, Monday, September 24, 2007:

Mangalore: People who had joined the naxalites, willingly or otherwise, and wished to return to the mainstream of society, are free to surrender before any court, Shankar M. Bidari, Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order), has said. Some of them have expressed their desire to lay down arms through intermediaries and return to society, he added.

Addressing presspersons here on Sunday, Mr. Bidari said the department had received some feelers from naxalites.Without disclosing further details, Mr. Bidari said: “If they wish so, they can surrender before any court and join the main stream of society”.

Reiterating that it was not necessary for them to surrender only before the police, Mr. Bidari said the department would, however, welcome them. “We will investigate cases against those who surrender and free those not found guilty.

Let them not fear of persecution or victimisation from the police,” he said Referring to an attack on Dalit colony in Chikka Ankanahalli in Srirangapatna taluk of Mandya district on Friday night allegedly by caste Hindus, Mr. Bidari said the department had taken a strong note of the incident.

Such attacks would not be tolerated, he said and added that the concerned police authorities had been asked to take stringent action against the guilty.

Assuring the linguistic minorities in general and Tamil speaking people in the State in particular of safety, Mr. Bidari said there was no reason for anyone to fear. “We have requested the people to prevent recurrence of incidents such as burning of buses that took place in Bangalore recently,” he said. Lauding the Dakshina Kannada district police for arresting the accused in Chemmanur Jewellery dacoity case and recovering the stolen items, Mr. Bidari announced a reward of Rs. 10,000 to the team involved in this effort.

On the threat calls received by businessmen and the wealthy in the State in general and the coastal districts in particular, Mr. Bidari said that such victims should lodge complaints at respective police stations without any fear. Such threats would be firmly dealt with, he added.

Boudh new meeting point for Naxalites

Tuesday September 25 2007 13:38 IST
Express News Service

SAMBALPUR: Even as the fortification and cleansing operations are being undertaken in strategic locations in Bargarh and Deogarh districts on a war-footing, the Naxals have other plans.

According to latest reports, Naxals have trained their eyes on Boudh district to take ahead their plans of the proposed ‘Red Corridor’.

With Boudh district connected to Naxal-infested Rairakhol subdivision in the North and Angul on the East, they have targeted to make Boudh district their meeting point. Confirmed sources said the inability of the Naxals to expand their base beyond Sambalpur due to urban settlement has forced them to reorganise their strategy.

As per the new strategy, they have started making inroads to Mayurbhanj district before regrouping at Boudh and moving ahead with their plans of the proposed ‘Red Corridor’.

The strategic location of the district will help them travel down to Kandhamal district and from there to the Maoistprone Rayagada and Gajapati districts besides trying their luck in Kalahandi and Balangir districts which have been out of their reach till now.

With the Maoist having their presence in Belgarh, Kotgarh, Srirampur and Brahmanigaon areas in the South of Kandhamal district, the dense forest in the districts of Boudh and Kandhamal will help them move freely.

And with Kandhamal sharing its border with Kalahandi and Balangir district on the West, it will help the Naxals spread their tentacles in these districts which are reeling under deprivation, poverty, starvation and more importantly lack of visible development.

Once the Naxals succeed in reaching Kandhamal, it will pave way to the Naxal-infested pockets of South Orissa thus helping them to realise their dream of a ‘Red Corridor’.

Rehabilitation package for former naxal

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Kurnool, September 25: Superintendent of Police B. Malla Reddy presented Rs. 20,000 to Gali Dastagiri alias Sekhar, a former member of Mahanandi dalam of CPI (Maoist) here on Sunday. The amount was given as part of the rehabilitation package for surrendered extremists.

The SP said the Police Department would take all steps for the surrendered extremists to lead a normal life. Officer on Special Duty Rajasekhar Babu was present.


Cabinet secretary reviews strategy on Maoists


25 September 2007

NEW DELHI — Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar, who undertook a two-day review of the government's counter-Maoist strategy in Jharkhand last week, is expected to give a comprehensive report after visiting two other badly affected states, Chhattisgarh and Orissa shortly.

"He (Chandrashekhar) was given a thorough briefing of the problems faced and the approach that needed to be in place for combining improved policing with socio-economic measures to defuse grievances that fuel the Maoist cause," said senior home ministry sources.

This is the first time that the senior most bureaucrat has stepped out to interact with state authorities on the effectiveness of the existing strategy and the possible changes that can produce better results on security and development fronts.

Accompanied by senior officials of the ministry of home affairs, including special secretary (internal security) M.L. Kumawat and additional secretary (Naxal division) Vinay Kumar, Chandrashekhar was briefed on the shortage of young officers in affected districts and why benchmarks for police modernisation and expansion was not being met.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Four Maoists associates arrested

Search for More News
Theni (TN) Sept 24: Four associates of Tamil Nadu based Maoist leader Sundaramurty were arrested from different places by state 'Q' branch police since last night, police said today.

Police said Manmadha Raja, leader of Uzhavar Viduthalai Munnai (Tillers' Freedom Front) and Tirupathi were arrested from Usilampetti and Mettupatti respectively last last night.

Rathinavelu (Bodinayakanur) and Perumal (Madurai) were arrested early this morning, police said.

Police said 11 extremists have been arrested so far from different parts of the state.

Sundaramurthy was involved in several murder cases and he was arrested few months back, police said. (Agencies)

Maoist rebels blow up railroad tracks and burn vehicles in eastern India, killing 2

The Associated PressPublished: September 23, 2007

PATNA, India: Maoist rebels blew up railroad tracks and burned more than a dozen buses and trucks in two eastern Indian states as a 24-hour strike turned violent Sunday, police said.

Two people — the driver of a torched bus and a police officer — died in the violence in the Gaya district of Bihar state, local police chief Amit Jain told The Associated Press.

The police officer was killed when a group of rebels of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) attacked a police patrol, Jain said.

In neighboring Jharkhand state, rebels blew up sections of railroad road tracks and damaged a station in Palamu district, state police chief V.D. Ram said.

Train services in some parts of eastern India have been suspended as a precaution, the officials said.

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The rebels called for a 24-hour strike on Saturday evening to protest the arrest of two top leaders in Patna, the capital of Bihar.

The rebels, also known as Naxalites because of the Naxalbari region where the movement was born, are mainly active in six of India's 28 states — Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Karnataka, Orissa and Chattisgarh — where widespread poverty has fueled a lengthy insurgency by militants demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.

The movement claims inspiration from Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong.

India's recent economic boom has created immense wealth, but the prosperity has not reached most of its 1.1 billion people, two-thirds of whom are farmers. Many peasants have joined the insurgents in the demand for land and jobs.

India's Concerns: Mr. Prime Minister, please answer!

Does secularism imply supporting the naxalites, terrorists and criminals and associating with them during elections?
Religion, Caste, Community, Class
India's Concern Mr. Prime Minister, please answer!
By Padma Bhargav
Monday, September 24, 2007
Sare Jahan se Accha, Hindustan hamara....
Mazhab nahin sikhata apas mein baire rakhna
Hindi hain hum, hindi hain hum, hindustan hamara...!!

Gujarat, India These and the following lines from our national song written by poet Muhammad Iqbal arouse patriotic feelings in every citizen of the country, whatever religion he or she might be following. Unfortunately, the recent actions of the government have proved otherwise. Today, religion, caste, community, class are supreme in India and the national song has been buried under caste-based politics.

As India tries to emerge as one of the powerful democracies; 130 crore citizen's of the nation seek the following replies from the honorable Prime Minister of India.

What is the need for special minorities rights and reservation in government jobs? Why is the government always trying to lure the minorities when they also feel that they are Indians and oppose discrimination of any kind?

What measures has the government taken to protect the rights of the so-called majority class in the six decades of Indian independence? Are there any plans to create a National Majorities Commission because as per the national minorities commission website, the growth rate of Hindus has declined between 1961-71 and 1991-2001 along with its proportion when compared to minorities?

As per Prime Minister's 15-point programme for welfare of minorities, provisions are being made for modernization of Madarsas and greater resources for teaching Urdu, besides equitable share in economic activities and employment has also been framed. Does this mean that only minorities require welfare, while 26.10 per cent Indians are still living below the poverty line?

As per the same programme, it has been mentioned that severe action should be taken against those who incite communal tension under prevention and control of communal riots. What about those thousands of lives lost in the terrorist attacks over the past decades? Is the government planning to make any programme for prevention and control of terrorist attacks and take strict measures against the terrorists?

What was the reason for abandoning POTA? Why hasn't the parliament attack accused Mohammed Afzal been hanged so far even after being convicted and given a life sentence by the Apex court?

What are the committments with respect to basic issues of unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and housing? As per the website of the Ministry of Labour and Employment the unemployment rate has increased from 7.32 to 8.3 per cent. According to the government of india website, 35 per cent of the population is still illiterate.

The suicide of farmers in Andhra Pradesh was a major election issue in the previous general elections. According to the media reports more than 2000 farmers have comitted suicide in the past five years in Maharashtra alone. What is the reaction of the government?

Why is the central government taking the side of a party, which is supposedly having close relations with China (as per media reports), a non-friendly country?

Why are religious issues raised before the elections only? Why are the religious sentiments of a particular religion always targetted, whether through Babri Mazjid or Ram setu? Does the God's identity need to be proved scientifically? Whether Ram setu is a historical bridge or not is a different question, but how can the centre say, to quote "Valmiki Ramayana and Ramacharitmanas, admittedly form an important part of ancient Indian literature, but these cannot be said to be historical records to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters and occurences of events depicted therein." Are lord Rama, Sita and Hanuman characters of a play? Why this discrimination?

Is the government trying to divert the attention of people from its performance? Will the largest democracy of the world fight elections on the basis of religious, caste, class and regional issues?

When will the government show the maturity to address the basic requirements of the people and stop dividing them for the sake of votes, power and greed?

Does secularism imply supporting the naxalites, terrorists and criminals and associating with them during elections?

Government's actions clearly depict the casual and botherless attitude towards people's concerns. It is not serious and sincere in its efforts. There is a strong and immediate need to introspect on these and related issues, which could help us in finding out the right direction. It is really sad to note that a wonderful country with a rich culture, heritage and diversity is being divided and divided further to fulfill selfish political interests.

Padma Bhargav is a freelance journalist and can be reached at e-mail:

Red rage & rain relief

- Coal firms, people bear bandh brunt

Railway staff repair the tracks between Dhanbad and Giridih that the Maoists blew up. (PTI)
Sept. 23: The red hand choked coal transit, disrupted rail and road traffic in three states and killed three in Bihar following the bandh today.

Maoists had called the bandh in Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand after the recent arrests of some senior activists in Bihar and Jharkhand.

The three people rebels gunned down in Bihar include a jawan of the Special Auxiliary Police — specially created to combat Naxalism — and two others. Naxalites also struck at two places under the Amas and Barachatti police station areas and torched six vehicles, including trucks and a bus. No casualties were reported as the passengers were asked to disembark before the vehicles were set on fire. These incidents occurred near Amas on the Grand Trunk Road and Barachatti.

In Jharkhand’s rebel stronghold of East Singhbhum, the police are thanking the day’s incessant rain.

The downpour kept the rebels confined to their dens, said superintendent of police Navin Kumar Singh. “As expected, the Naxalites did not venture out of their den. Police and para-military forces carried out long-range patrols deep into the forests in Ghatshila and other parts, considered to be rebel strongholds,” he added.

But the Maoists stopped rail and road traffic in Jharkhand, too, and blew up tracks.

Commandant of the Railway Protection Force Santosh Kumar Dubey sources said about 50 armed rebels destroyed the tracks near Chengro halt, about 100km from Dhanbad, late last night. He also confirmed that the Maoists had taken the gate man as hostage until the operation was complete.

The gateman was reportedly asked to contact the railway control room in Dhanbad, but when he said he was unable to do that, the Maoists took him to an adjoining cabin and asked the cabin man to stop train movements.

Superintendent of GRP in Dhanbad Shashinath Jha said: “The Maoists blew up 1.5m of tracks at Chengro halt, between Prasnath and Choudhry stations, between 12.15 and 12.30am. They also exploded a bomb in the station building at Kajrap in Daltongunj-Sonenagar section.”

The damaged tracks were repaired after 10.30am and goods trains started plying, said a railway official.

Senior PRO of Dhanbad railway division Amarendra Das said: “In the Dhanbad division, all passenger trains plying through the Coal India Chord section have been diverted as a precautionary measure.”

In Palamau district, the rebels damaged a railway cabin in Kajrat Nawadih station and manhandled the staff for attending duty despite the bandh, said DIG (Palamau) Nanu Prasad.

The bandh did not result in any violence in Hazaribagh, said superintendent of police P.K. Singh, as eight companies of CRPF, STF and JAP were pressed into service. But transportation of coal was hit and mining companies have suffered losses in crores

Naxals planned to loot armouries?

Monday September 24 2007 07:14 IST
Ratan K Pani

SAMBALPUR: Interrogation of top Maoiost leaders nabbed recently in Bihar and Jharkhand has revealed that there was a possible Naxal plan to loot the armouries of Bargarh and Deogarh. Security has been strengthened at both the places.

Last Thursday, Bihar police arrested Tusharkanta Bhattacharya. He is the zonal commander of the International South Asian Federation and Uttaranchal, Uttarakhand and Uttar Bihar, (UUU in Naxal parlance) and was wanted in several States since long. Police also nabbed two more Naxal leaders Bhaskar alias Sunil and Narendra Tiwari, deputy commander of local regular guerrilla squad in Jharkhand.

Interrogations of these Maoists revealed that there was a plan to attack the armouries of Bargarh and Deogarh besides blowing up of the CRPF camp at Jaraikela located along Jharkhand-Orissa border in Sundargarh district.

Sources said a special Intelligence wing from Bhubaneswar has left for Bihar and Jharkhand to gather more information. There is also a move to scale down the armoury. In Bargarh, one unit of Special Operation Group and one platoon of Orissa State Armed Police have been kept ready.

Similar security arrangements have also been made in Deogarh district.

Resolution on Terrorism at BJP' National Executive Meet

Thanks to the 'soft' approach of the UPA Government, India has emerged the terror capital of the world in the last three years. Since the year 2004, India has suffered 3674 deaths in terror related incidents, a number surpassed only by civil war torn Iraq. During the last 10 years, 53000 innocent Indians have fallen victim to terrorism. In contrast, all the wars, India has been engaged in since independence (including Kargil), has cost the country 8023 lives. Terrorism is seriously affecting 156 districts across 13 states.

Hydra-headed Monster

Terror in India is a hydra-headed monster. The different states in north-east are in grip of violence in varying degrees on account of the activities of several groups working for their respective agendas. ULFA works in close co-operation with ISI inspired elements and is active in Assam, the largest state in the north-east. Congress had sought and obtained help from this terrorist organization just before the last assembly elections. Close to 1400 innocents have fallen victim to terrorist's bullets in North-east during 2005 and 2006. Since January this year, the state has witnessed close to 50 explosions most of them at crowded places, mainly targeting the Hindi speaking migrant workers. Through this target specific violence, the terrorist are aiming to change the demographic profile of the state. While the infiltration from Bangladesh continues unabated, attempts are being made to drive out the Hindi speaking Indians. The state Government has done nothing tangible to offer security and succour to the affected people. Instead there are serious allegation of mix-up between the ULFA and the politicians in power in the state. The BJP condemns the fact that the state Government is soft towards the anti-nationals with a view to consolidate its vote bank.

Jammu & Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir, has earned the dubious distinction of accounting for the maximum number of casualties in terror related violence in the country. The terrorist activities in the state, which are a part of the proxy war launched by Pakistan against India, account for over 40 per cent of the 4000 odd terror related casualties recorded in the country, since January 2004. In order to appease their vote bank, the so called `secular' parties have been seeking reduction in the strength of the army in the state and its withdrawal from many crucial areas. In the name of violations of human rights, false allegations are frequently made against the security forces with a view to demoralize them.

The situation in the valley continues to be disturbed. It is really sad that it has not been possible to create conditions conducive for the return of the Kashmiri Pandits back to their homes. The fact that Pandits have been forced to remain as refugees in their own country for so long, is a clear indication that the valley continues to be dominated by extremists and Pakistan inspired terrorists.

Left Extremism

Starting from across the border; Nepal, the Maoists (Naxalite) threat to the Indian state and civil society looms large over 137 districts spread in about a dozen states. The UPA Government's attitude towards the naxalite menace is not guided by national interest but by political expediency. After coming to power at the centre, the UPA Government promptly dismantled the centralized co-ordination net-work put in place by the NDA Government to deal with the naxalite challenge.

In Andhra Pradesh, Congress entered into an underhand deal prior to elections. After assuming office, the Congress Government paid back the debt by declaring a ceasefire. All police operations were put on hold, giving enough time to the naxalites to regroup and increase their capacity to hit at the Indian state and the civil society. The BJP ruled state; Chhattisgarh has been a special target of the naxal violence. The state Government and the people of the state through the `Salwa Judam' movement have put up heroic fight to combat the naxalite onslaught. The national executive puts on record its deep sense of appreciation for this bold initiative on the part of the state Government and the common people of Chattisgarh. The centre, however, has been lax in extending the necessary help to Chhattisgarh government because of narrow political considerations. The latest tactic adopted by the naxal outfits is to engage in simultaneous multiple attacks in large number, particularly against police forces and police establishments.

Islamic Terrorism

India, along with rest of the world is a victim of pan Islamic terrorism. There has been a spate of violent incidents spread across the country. The blast at Hyderabad on August 25 last had left 42 dead and 54 injured. In fact this was second major incident in Hyderabad in less than 100 days. On May 18, last the blast at Mecca Masjid had cost the city 14 innocent lives. Besides over 100 were injured. The explosion in Samjuhauta Express, Panipat on February 19 this year had resulted in 68 deaths and injuries to 125 others. On July 11, 2006, the serial train blasts in Mumbai took a toll of 187 lives. Another over 700 suffered multiple injuries. New Delhi witnessed the death of 61 of citizens on October 29, 2005. Over 90 were injured. In the blast in the Shramjeevi Express, Varanasi on July 29, 2005 while 12 persons lost their lives, 52 their limbs. Besides there have been attacks on the ageless cultural symbols by India such as Sonkat Mochan temple in Varanasi, Ramlala temple in Ayodhya, IISE Bangalore and several such other places.

The tragedy is that the government refuses to recognize the role of the terror. It dismisses this enveloping threat to our polity, to our democracy and to genuine secularism, as no more than the silly behaviour of some misdirected boys or at worst prompted, planned and financed by Pakistani intelligence. The signs of this tragedy are everywhere. On September 11, the United States throughout that country observed the anniversary of the death of over 3,000 people in the jehadi destruction of the World Trade Centre. In India the Government did not even have a word on the anniversary of the jehadi killing of 187 people in the train blasts in Mumbai.

Laws Against Terror

Every country, under the threat of these jihadis, has enacted tough laws to nip terrorism at the bud stage itself, giving no quarter to those who not only perpetrate terror but also those who propagate the jehadi extremist mentality. In liberal democracies in the West, even promoting the extremist cult has been made punishable; with some of them extending the punishment to a 30-year imprisonment as most European countries have no capital punishment. Following the tough provisions of the `Patriot Act' in the United States several other democracies from Australia to Canada have similar deterrent legislations.

In India alone the Government refuses to have any such law with the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil turning down in Parliament the demand for such law, as it is "draconian". That the jehadis are turning against Muslims themselves seems to have lost on our Government despite a succession of blasts at Malegaon and Hyderabad on Muslim congregations and then again in Hyderabad last month at a leisure spot. Neither in these or any other recent terrorist incidents has the real perpetrators been picked up. In fact in the first attack in Hyderabad, those who were picked up were released after a Muslim political party termed these arrests as harassment of the community. There was no follow up after six persons belonging to one community two of whom were Pakistanis were picked up in Mandari port of Gujarat. They confessed to sending Rs.24 lakhs to Hyderabad. The second blast in that city occurred soon after. In Parliament the BJP raised the issue of three suspects in the Mecca Masjid blast having been arrested and then let off under political pressure; the Government chose not to reply to this charge.

Not a single Terror Incident traced

That so far in the last three years of the UPA rule not a single terror incident was traced to its roots is another telling expose of the state of affairs under this government. The people has not been told what happened to the trail of the Bangalore incident that led police to Nalgonda district of Andhra Pradesh. The perpetrators of the serial trail blasts are reported to have fled the country. The Malegaon and Hyderabad blasts are attributed to the jehadi organization HUJI operating from Bangladesh. The trail of the perpetrators of these events has gone cold. The UPA Government has instructed the police to be sensitive about the trail if it touches an area dominated by the minority community. That has effectively killed all police initiative to track down terror planners. The release of suspects held in the first incident in Hyderabad and subsequent handing over of the investigation to the CBI has silenced the local anti-terrorist forces.

When the political parties like the Congress and the Left compete for public demonstration of loyalty to an extremist leader like Mahdani of Kerala whom the earlier governments and courts considered too hot to be left off even on bail. He was the main accused in the Coimbatore serial blasts of 1999 (he was let off by the courts only because of lack of evidence but most of his co-accused got various prison terms). The entire administrative apparatus was silent at the public call to exterminate a Danish citizen by a Minister in the UP Government. The Union Home Ministry is sitting on the execution of the court ordered death sentence on the Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru. What is the police to make of the situation? Can we blame the security forces alone for repeated terrorist attacks when they get specific instructions from the government not to follow up investigations if they touch particular community members? Can we ask the police to follow up on any suspicion when even the Prime Minister of the country spends sleepless nights just because one Indian has been suspected of involvement in terrorist attack in the UK and is detained in Australia but does not shed any tears for hundreds who die in terror incidents in our own country?

The Bharatiya Janata Party believes that it is the UPA Government's policy of treating the roots of terror with velvet gloves and covering up for these terror merchants with some myths that are responsible for the nation being disabled from making the right choice. Thereby we condemn ourselves to be at the mercy of the terror merchants and all those who have sympathy for the aims of these jihads even if they are ambivalent on the methods.

Withdrawal of POTA

The UPA sent the signal that it would be a soft state soon after it took power and annulled POTA. That this is linked to its attempt to gain votes of Muslim minorities is obvious. From deferring a decision on the hanging of the Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru to raking up the Sri Krishna Commission Report on Mumbai riots of 1993 as a counterweight to the law taking its own course on the perpetrators of Mumbai's serial blasts, and by turning a Nelson's eye on the glorification of terrorists and extremists by various parties who are part of the UPA and the Left that keeps the government in power, the goal has been to gloss over the reality of jihadi cloud over the world and the country.

Role of Pseudo Secular Elements

Unfortunately this Government derives strength also from the psuedo secular elements and the Left fellow travelers in academia to obfuscate the horrifying face of reality behind the bomb blasts and other swings of terror. These political, academic and journalists are trying all the time not only to soft pedal the terror threat but also to ignore the link between these terror merchants, the jihadi mindset and the breeding ground that promotes and supports what the mindset is taught to consider as divine command.

It is not a set of mislead boys who are in this deadly business. Jehadi terror is a global phenomenon and almost every country, including many Muslim countries like Indonesia, Malaysia. Egypt, Jordan have taken strong steps against this spreading virus. The latest two tapes around the September 11 WTC destruction anniversary have called for "caravan of martyrs to fulfill their promises to God" and most important Osama has called on Americans to convert to Islam or face extinction. It would be comforting for us to believe that this call is ignored by the bulk of the Muslim community.

While India must fight back jehadi terror unitedly and seek to change the mindset that prepares an under current of sympathy for its objectives even though sometimes opposing its methods, the constant propaganda of the secularists and the support the mindset receives from certain political parties including the Congress and the Left, only generates a contrary result. The UPA Government calls on the world to join its campaign against terrorism but one of its own Ministers carried a look like Osama bin Laden in the Bihar elections for gaining support of "minorities" for his party. None in the Government pulled him up for this public denouncement of the Government's international stand against terror. Many political parties joined in to ask for commuting death sentence on the main accused in the attack on Parliament. No official literature on terror has ever spoken about the high priest of terror, Osama bin Laden.

The Role of Left Parties

The Left that keeps the Government in power wants Indian foreign policy be supportive of and catalysed by Islamic extremism whether in Iran or in Palestine. In its campaign to persuade the UPA Government to shun Israel, the Left plays out to be more Islamic than the Palestianian authority itself where the Muslim President and Israel PM are trying to revive the peace process that was wrecked by extremists like Hamas.

The obvious contradiction between the Government claim to international community that it fights terrorism and its support to people and mindsets that promote Jihadi religious extremism, confuses the administration that should implement any anti-terror policy. The soft state syndrome that baulks at tough measures to locate and destroy terror cells and isolate its sympathizers, ensures that more and more terror events would be perpetrated on a wide swath of the country in future, also as has been happening so far.

The security forces, particular the police, is the main instrument available to the civil society to effectively combat the highly motivated, expertly trained, and adequately funded zealots. In this desperate situation, the police is unequal to the task. The report of the Task Force on Internal Security, says, "the studies carried out by the Bureau Of Police Research and Development in regard to the living and working conditions of State police forces reveal, an alarming picture. The report says "Twenty-five per cent of the police stations and 50 per cent of the police outposts do not have regular buildings. Over 37 per cent police districts work from makeshift police lines. Over 70 per cent police districts do not have a proper control room. Superintendents of police in 34 per cent police districts do not have official accommodation. Seventy per cent of the constabulary is without residential accommodation. Mobility deficiency of the Indian police is approximately 43 per cent". The report records, "In many cases there is only a bicycle".

The report further says, "The weaponry available with the police forces is outdated and inadequate". As regards their training, the report adds, "Only one per cent of the Police Budget goes for training, for keeping up with the new crimes and new tactics deployed by the terrorists". About the communication system, the report says, "the less said, the better".

So we are in a difficult situation. The monster of terrorism – in various avtars Naxals, ULFA or Jehadi – has waged a war against India. They work separately and also in tandem with each other. The dispensation at the centre and most of the states have ostrich like attitude. For short term political gains, they have no compunction to compromise national security. The security forces – the main instrument to combat terrorism – suffer from many handicaps, including political interference in favour of terrorists. The BJP demands of the Central Government to take immediate steps to adequately equip the security forces in light of the observations made by the Task Force on internal security.

BJP is convinced that by its very nature, the current dispensation at the centre has no political will to meet the massive challenge. The UPA's Government record on the issue of dealing with mounting terrorism has been dismal so far. The opportunistic alliance forged on a negative plank of keeping the BJP out of power and depending on the left for its survival can not appreciate the threat posed to the Indian state by foreign trained and highly motivated and resourceful terror groups which have enough local support. A policy of zero tolerance to terror is a pre-condition to win the war. The UPA just cannot do it. It's time that the UPA Government and its remote, the left, are thrown out of power.

Dantewada: Naxalism and Salwa Judum
Anoop Saha
24 September 2007, Monday
Views: 44 Comments: 0

A very prominent civil war is going on in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh in the name of Naxalism and Salwa Judum. All of us have a right to know who the real beneficiaries are in this civil war.

AFTER HIS DETAILED seven-part interview with Daily Chhattisgarh, I was glad to see Chhattisgarh DGP, Vishwaranjan’s article that appeared in this newspaper on September 15. I am highly impressed by his deep knowledge of naxalism, police and the history of this country in general as is evident from that interview. Although I don’t agree with him on most of the points of the article “ardh satya, tadarth chintan and rumaniyat se pare naxalwaad ka satya”, it is rare in this country that one sees a top ranking government official responding to public questions and criticisms. I have heard from a lot of people that Vishwaranjan is one of the most brilliant police officers in the country and the fact that the DGP took time to present his views publicly, proves that assertion once again. A person is judged by not what he/she believes in, but how he/she reacts to the people with opposing views.

I have pointed out that I don’t agree with him. Let me specify why and how. Firstly, I am surprised to see Vishwaranjan say that, “ordinary Indians are used to static thinking and can be easily misled.” I am responding as a very ordinary Indian citizen. The entire Chhattisgarh police’s salary, as well as the money for campaigns like Salwa Judum, comes from the taxes paid by this ‘ordinary Indian citizen.’ Hence to term them as static and non-serious is not only an affront to democracy; it is actually questioning one’s own infallibility. As an ordinary Indian, I would not mind my taxes to fund any genuine anti-insurgent operations, I would encourage higher salaries and better facilities for the police who are working for my safety, and would be glad if more money is pumped into improving infrastructure, health and education of all Indians, especially in naxal affected areas. But this is not what I see from the ground. What I do mind, is if my money is being used to fund arson, rapes and murders of innocent villagers in the name of Salwa Judum.

There has been several serious allegations against this movement, which I found convincing enough to distress me a lot. If even one per cent of those are true, then my culpability in the crime increases if I don’t speak up against the wrongs. Forget about Salwa Judum for a moment, there are rape allegations against one of the top district police officers of Chhattisgarh, and I as an ordinary citizen, haven’t seen any action taken against that particular “alleged rapist police officer”. Assuming that most of the policemen/women in Chhattisgarh are honest, upright and hardworking, what can be more demoralizing for them that such serious charges not being acted upon against one of their senior officers? How can morale be kept up in any department if an “alleged rapist” is promoted and preserved?

I have also seen the video of Chhattisgarh police hitting old men and women using their shoes in Ambikapur a couple of months back. Being a student of psychology, I know about the famous Milgram’s obedience experiment conducted during 1961-1964. The results of the experiment was that “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work becomes patently clear and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.” In other words, given an explicit order from an authority, normal people will rather follow the order, than ponder about the moral and legal obligations of it. That explains much of the behaviour of the police in Ambikapur. Most of the times whenever such injustice happens, it happens because “orders came from the top”. So, if people at the top are not being acted against, then nothing can be more damaging in sinking the morale of an ordinary policeman/woman. This disgruntlement can then be used by forces like naxalites to further their agenda. Like NGOs, the police become equally vulnerable to infiltration by the naxalites. How equipped is our police in handling such scenarios?

It is also puzzling to see Vishwaranjan define strategic hamletting as segregating the part of the population that supports the army, and use them to enclose the rebels from all four sides to cut their supply lines. He is wrong!!! Being an ordinary citizen, who unlike his claim, does not look for easy ways out, and who is also not scared of technical terms, let me clarify the true meaning of this term. Internationally, strategic hamlets as a military strategy have only one meaning, as defined and implemented by British military strategist RKG Thompson in Malaya.

In the years during 1948 to 1960, he "took villages and fortified them, and then controlled the flow of rice and food and ammunition and so on and so forth". Since then this tactic has been used across the world, most notably by the United States during the Vietnam War. Initially, like in Malaya, the villages were fortified with barbed wire fences erected around them and heavy security was deployed around these fortified villages. When this was not found to be working because of the sheer volume of the villages, the people were forcefully shifted to many designated camps in Vietnam-Cambodia border. The basic aim of strategic hamletting was/is "isolating the rural population from the (Viet Cong) communist guerrillas". These camps were notorious for keeping their inmates in forced detention inside and that was the reason the whole program failed miserably and the eventual defeat of the United States in that war.

How different is Salwa Judum? Why is it that all public amenities on the other side of the Indravati river have been suspended since the start of Salwa Judum? I have seen sworn affidavits from the people living there. Why is it that the people living in villages are not allowed to come to the haats? Why do they need to go to as far as Narayanpur to get a packet of salt? I am not sure if somewhere in some police or home ministry office, someone actually sat down and said, "Aha!! Look, this thing called Strategic Hamlets is a nice little thing that the Americans had tried in Vietnam against the communist guerrillas. Let’s do the same thing here in Dantewada." Such a meeting might not have ever happened. What I do know is that there is a remarkable similarity between the acts and execution of Salwa Judum with what we read/hear about Strategic Hamlet programme. People are forced to shift into designated camps. The camps are fortified. Those who don’t come to camps are attacked. The people who choose to live in villages have their houses burnt down, their crops destroyed, hitting them economically. All connections between those living in the villages and the outer world are systematically broken down. All allegations are summarily dismissed as naxal propaganda. (For more details please read JFK’s biography ’To Move a Nation: The Politics of Foreign Policy in the Administration of John F. Kennedy’ by Kennedy’s pointsman in Vietnam and one time advocate of strategic hamlet programme Roger Hilsman. The pentagon papers describe what went wrong in Vietnam in detail. Also see "The Vietnamese ’Strategic Hamlets’: A preliminary report" by Donnell and Gerald and ’The Journal of Strategic Studies 1947-1972’ by Sylvia Potter).

The DGP also points out that there is little similarity between Darfur crisis and Salwa Judum. David Loyn of BBC, who visited both Dantewada and Darfur was the first person to point out the similarities between the two. It might be too simplistic to claim that Darfur crisis is nothing but sectoral violence between two ethnic groups of Arab and Black Muslims, as does the Sudanese government. I am sad to see our DGP’s summary dismissal of this most reprehensible genocide in Darfur. Like Dantewada, the roots of the problem lie in the years of neglect that the Darfur province faced in the hands of Sudanese government.

Darfur had a massive famine in 1983-84 killing thousands of people, and that laid the seeds of rebellion (Bastar also had a famine in 1966-67 during which popular Raja Pravir Chandra Bhanj Deo was killed in a police firing). Water, a precious resource in Sahara lies at the root of the conflict. After two rebel groups started an armed uprising in 2003, the Janjaweed, that is a ragtag bunch of private goons with sophisticated arms, attacked the entire population. Janjaweed would burn the entire villages. They would rape the women, and kill at random. The rebels of Darfur also suppressed the people, but their atrocities appear tame when compared to that done by Janjaweed. Janjaweed would, after burning the villages and looting them, take possession of the limited number of water points. On Monday, September 17, UN Secretary General said, "This region’s future also depends on supplies of water." The kind of stories that came from Darfur are not very dissimilar to what the people of Dantewada are saying in sworn affidavits. Why did the Darfur crisis aggravate so much that around 200,000 people were killed and 2.5 million people are living in refugee camps of Chad. Of course, the scale of casualties in Dantewada in last two and a half years is nowhere close to what has happened in Darfur. But the politics and philosophy behind the crisis is the same.

The philosophy is that of "arming local resistance groups". In May 2005, the top Janjaweed leader, Musa Hilal, admitted that his militia was funded and supported by the Sudanese national government. He said that in many regions, it was the government that backed and directed the militia activities. This has been proven as fact in numerous international fact finding missions. It is this philosophy of forming, arming and supporting private armies to do the state’s bidding, which sets the parallels between Salwa Judum and the events across the globe.

Another place where such things were successfully tried is in Peru, in the 90s, where its ex-president, Alberto Fujimori armed private gangs to suppress a maoist kind of uprising in that country. Last month, Fujimori was proclaimed a human rights offender in his country, and is now an absconder from Peru.

Why would the state ever arm and support private militia? Are the police not smart, capable and equipped enough to fight insurgency? In almost all cases, these untrained and unaccountable private militias are recruited to do the dirty job. The jobs that the state armed forces cannot do because of international obligations and the limits imposed by the constitution of India. Who are these private armies accountable to?

Let me remind the DGP that such tactics, although might seem to give results in short term, they have always had disastrous consequences in the end. The private militia always had proven to be a larger headache than the original rebellion. Like, in Sierra Leone, the private militia turned into a private army doing the bidding for diamond giant De Beers. They solved by force the conflicts that the international diamond company had with the local population.

What is the future of Salwa Judum? What will the SPO (Special Police Officers) do after, let’s suppose, the naxalites are driven out of Bastar. Will they be regularised into the police force? Or will they end up doing the bidding for Tata and Essar, two organisations that have already become notorious in Bastar for cheating the public.

Six years ago, George W Bush asked the world to choose between liberty, freedom and democracy on one side and mass murder, slaughter of innocents and terrorism on the other. But using his excuse of protecting liberty, promoting freedom and preserving democracy, Mr. Bush soon turned his attention towards the oil-rich Iraq even before the attack on Al-Qaeda could reach a logical conclusion. Some American companies considered close to the republicans, like Halliburton (the oil company), Blackwater (the private security group), DynCorp and CACI, to name a few, benefited immensely from this war. But Al Qaeda has gotten stronger, America is more hated now, and more than one million Iraqis lost their lives in the ensuing years.

However genuine might be his intentions, we don’t want to be led down that path ever again. Vishwaranjan asked us to take our pick between ‘constitution and democracy’ vs ‘people who want to destroy it using violence’.

A very prominent civil war is going on in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh in the name of Naxalism and Salwa Judum. All of us have a right to know who the real beneficiaries are in this civil war. The stories of Essar and Tata steel plants, Essar funds for Salwa Judum camps, their mining leases, the MoUs being kept under wraps, the forced, undemocratic and unconstitutional acquisition of land for these plants, the arrests, the murders, the rapes, and the brazenness of the whole affair might give us some clues.

Being an unabashed constitutionalist and democrat myself like our DGP, I wish Chhattisgarh police all the success in their war against the naxalites. I would also offer all my technical expertise, and share my knowledge in computers, in helping the police in their fight. But, just like you cannot have sex to preserve virginity, you cannot destroy or mess with the constitution to preserve it. If there are serious questions regarding police’s conduct, it is the moral responsibility of the DGP to own them, and to find out ways to correct the institutional maladies. I know that if there is anyone who is courageous enough to admit mistakes and punish the wrongdoers, it is the current DGP of Chhattisgarh, Vishwaranjan. Doing so will be the biggest morale booster for Chhattisgarh police.