Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ration rage singes Red bastions

11 Oct 2007, 0319 hrs IST,TNN

KOLKATA: After the land rage in Singur and Nandigram, the ration row has put the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government in a spot again. Dearth of supplies in the public distribution system (PDS) outlets has become a rallying point for the Opposition, from the Trinamul Congress to the Maoists.

It has led to cracks in the Red bastion as was evident from the huge crowd Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee drew at Sonamukhi in Bankura on October 4. Significantly, this has become a major issue among villagers after the state’s land acquisition bid giving the Opposition an opportunity to continue working together at the grassroots that has never happened in the state before.

A day after Mamata’s rally at Sonamukhi, a resident of Dihipara village, Abhay Chatterjee, said, “People from Dihipara, Palasdanga and Madanpur went in three buses to attend the rally.” He found it remarkable as the Sonamukhi is a CPM stronghold. The discontent and the Opposition’s coming together is likely to have an impact in the coming elections.

Unnerved by the ration rage spreading in the districts, CPM toughs are striking back making matters worse. “Some criminals carrying guns and led by CPM leaders threatened us to return wheat, rice and kerosene looted from the ration shop. Otherwise they would ransack our houses. The police were with them,” Nabagram Block Congress president Mir Badal Ali said.

Now, the discontent against corrupt ration dealers has provided an opportunity to Opposition parties to make inroads into CPM strongholds. Police had said that Naxalites were behind the burning of four police jeeps in the Nabagram area of Murshidabad earlier this week, though local CPM leaders believe that Congress supporters had done it.

The Burdwan district CPM finds it hard to believe the fact that its leaders were beaten up and the party office was ransacked right in the heart of the district town, which is perhaps the strongest turf of the party in the state.
Birbhum DM Tapan Kumar Som believes that it is the criminals who are behind the looting spree. On Wednesday, he said in most places, the criminals are leading the agitation. Some misguided common people, however, have joined them, he added.

In places where Trinamul has a presence, the involvement of the party in the agitation is evident.

Such incidents were witnessed at Labhpur — where a villager died in police firing — and Ahmedpur areas of Birbhum district. In these places, Opposition parties led deputations to the the block development officers and blocked busy roads for hours.

Naxalites kill three in a week

Anupam Dasgupta
Thursday, October 11, 2007 04:30 IST

In a renewal of targeted killings, Naxalites in Maharashtra have killed three people, including a would-be-policeman, in the past one week.

A source in the state Anti-Naxalite Operations Wing confirmed that all the killings occurred at Gadchiroli, on the Chhattisgarh-Maharashtra border. Security officials believe the sudden surge in violence may be a direct fall-out of the arrests of alleged Naxalites Sridhar Srinivasan and Vernon Gonsalves in Mumbai in August.

“By resorting to planned murders, the Naxalites may be trying to send out a signal to the government that they will not be made powerless by the arrests of their senior ideologues,” said Pankaj Gupta, additional director general of police and state anti-Naxalite operations unit chief.

The Naxalites have also issued a diktat across Gadchiroli, Chandrapur and Gondia, warning villagers against joining the police force. The killings are also significant as the state had initiated some development projects in the violence-affected areas. “The programmes are part of an overall effort to make the government visible in remote parts of the state,” said a state home department official.

Another point worrying security forces is the possible Naxalite alliance with inter-state criminals for mutual benefit like facilitating the flow of raw materials meant for explosives and weapons.

Go to:

Probe into chopper misuse


Ranchi, Oct. 10: The (mis-) use of police modernisation fund for VIP comfort has once again come under the scanner of the accountant general (AG) (audit).

According to sources, the AG has sought documents from the state government as how could it use the chopper, meant for air surveillance and airshifting the injured policemen, could fly the ministers and bureaucrats.

According to sources, the AG was surprised over the fact that the VIP seats were put in place instead of “back-to-back” seats in the chopper purchased to launch the anti-Naxalite operation. Interestingly, sources said the chopper flied for some 33-34 hours within a span of a fortnight only after it landed here on August 30.

For example, it virtually doubled up a taxi to ferry the ministers and bureaucrats on September 12 to Khunti where they had gone to inaugurate it as a new district. It had made around half a dozen sorties. Earlier, the public fund monitor had made strong objections to the purchase of swanky vehicles for the ministers and senior police officers worth Rs 15 crore from the police modernisation fund.

The state government is yet to meet the objections. A civil aviation department official, however, said that a standard procedure regulation has been framed by which no minister could use it. The chief minister could use it because he also happens to be the chief minister.

He also said that the home department is coming out with an advertisement to appoint police pilots very soon. Besides, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) would be providing the ground staff. Home secretary Sudhir Tripathy said that it was correct that the VIP sitting arrangement, instead of troop configuration, is there. “But we will put it to the anti-Naxalite use once we get manpower trained. We are in a process to register it with the directorate general of civil aviation,” he said.

The home secretary also said that the HAL too had used the chopper before handing it over to us. The red and yellow coloured spacious flying machine has the capacity for nine passengers plus the two seats for pilot and co-pilot. The first police chopper manufactured by the HAL is equipped with gadgets and the bullet-proof belly used for the Indian Air Force choppers.

The chief minister’s office (CMO) is flooded with the requests of the ministers to provide the chopper available to them to do, invariably to attend private and political functions. Also, the CMO could not deny them the privilege as it might attract their ire and even put the Madhu Koda government in danger.

Sixteen rebel suspects arrested

Oct. 10: Sixteen suspected Naxalites, including their three sympathisers, were caught at Patamda, Ghurabandha and Rampur village between late last night and today.

Police suspect two men, among the nine arrested at Kuiani village in Patamda were active in Jharkhand and Bengal violence. They are also verifying the identities of some of the arrested rebels for alleged involvement in murder of Jamshedpur MP Sunil Mahto.

“We are interrogating them for involvement in assassination of Sunil Mahto,” said East Singhbhum superintendent of police Navin Kumar Singh. He added that the arrested include Saratji alias Mansaji, Isha alias Jayanti, Binay alias Pradeep alias Rahulji, Bappa Devnath, Bijay alias Nishikant and Sureshji. All are residents of Bengal.

According to Singh, Saratji and Isha were Maoists for seven years, while Binayji was an active member of every Naxalite-sponsored violence in Bengal and Jharkhand.

When asked if Rahulji was the same person whose name had figured in police investigation in Mahto’s murder case, the SP said: “We are verifying the identity.”

The police today picked up five persons suspected to be involved in yesterday’s rebel-sponsored attack at Kashiabera under Ghurabandha police station. A constable was killed on the spot and Shailen Baskey, a leader of anti-rebel Nagarik Suraksha Samity (NSS) was injured.

At Rampur early this morning, four extremists had gone to a stone crusher unit four-and a half kilometres from the Lohardaga district headquarters, to collect levy.

About eight stone crushers are running at Rampur and the extremists earlier, in separate letters, had demanded a levy of Rs 3 lakh each. Four extremists had reached the village in the morning — two were riding a motorcycle — to collect the levy.

No sooner had they reached a unit, workers and villagers surrounded them. While one identified as Sanjay Oraon was stabbed, the other extremist, Sit Oraon, was apprehended. Both were later handed over to the police. Two other extremists, waiting outside, fled.

Injured Sanjay has been admitted to Sadar Hospital in Lohardaga. Police said combing operation was on to track down the two missing ultras.

Guard against Naxal violence

The Union Government is taking a close look to ascertain why Naxalites are penetrating the hinterland and making deep inroads in 150 of the 650 districts of India in at least 16 of the 28 states of India, especially in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, including Andhra and even West Bengal.
These states continue to be under attack from Maoists. The Centre is keeping a watch over the Maoists' stance in Nepal where they have left the government and stepped up their guerrilla actions to assess whether there are links between the Indian and Nepalese outfits, especially in the border areas.

Even though the Maoists of Nepal had at one time threatened to link up from Pashupatinath, the famous Shiva temple complex in Kathmandu, to Tirupathi in Andhra, they later denied such intentions, but such denials cannot be taken at their face value.

Intelligence and law and order authorities cannot afford to relax their vigil for eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Thus they are not being sanguine about any actions, including loot, arson and murder, taken by the Naxalites. In the light of this, the Cabinet Secretary, KM Chandrashekhar, visited Jharkhand in late September to make a first-hand assessment of the extent of Naxalites violence.

He met the officials and political leaders of the State to try to devise a foolproof strategy to curb Naxalites activity. Helicopters have flown over Naxalites hideouts and gathered some information. Satellite imagery has provided some valuable inputs on the extent of Naxalites support, their strength in certain areas and their game plan.

The Cabinet Secretary was accompanied by the Special Secretary for Security in the Home Ministry on the Jharkhand visit. This was an extension of the earlier conferences held in Delhi and State capitals so far to deal with Naxalites.

The Naxalites have for long been attacking railway stations and police stations even in Bihar and several other States. They have also been threatening the wealthy in cities and demanding ransom, although not many of these threats have been heard of lately.

What the Government at the Centre is seriously concerned is that the Naxalites now pose a threat to infrastructure. The affected States have been asked to protect power generation and distribution facilities. The Centre has also been sending paramilitary units to assist the States, besides making available elements of the rapid deployment force, a newly created outfit with national and regional security as the focus.

It has been reported that the Naxalites have fanned out to iron ore mines in the eastern region and have threatened private sector operators of some of these mines. The remote hills of Jharkhand are a region rich in minerals, an endless natural wealth of the 86,000 hectares of Saranda Forest.

This sprawling forest is the headquarters of India's Naxalites movement as it is far from easily accessible. Tens of crores of rupees are charged as levy every year from companies and traders who mine and sell iron ore, precious minerals, besides timber, according to police reports.

This forest is the home of cadres, training bases and rebels' operational command, arrested Naxalites have told the police. One of the arrested Naxalites ideologues is a 66-year-old engineer.

He is a member of the Naxalites politburo and is believed to have been associated with Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal, who founded the Naxalites movement in the summer of 1967 in Naxalbari village of West Bengal.

In the bygone years the Maoist Communist Centre and People's War Group operated in different areas. They merged with the main movement three years ago. This was a turning point.

According to Rural Development Ministry the Naxalites are active in 60 districts, but the Home Ministry reports reveal that they have influence in 160 districts of the country.

It is believed that the Naxalites commanders have been collecting Rs. 60 crores from private mines as a levy every year in return for a promise of not harassing them. Keeping in view the deep economic distress in tribal areas where vanavasis have seen forests cut down and lost their ability to live off the land, as they have done for ages, the Naxalites have tried to recruit disaffected and starving youth, trained them in weapons handling and put them in some kind of uniform and promised them a monthly wage of Rs 3,000 per head.

Whether such a wage has been paid at all or discontinued after a time once the youth is trapped is not known. But official agencies are keeping a close watch on these activities. Whether they can dissuade the youth of the area to lay down their arms and bring the tribals back to the mainstream by organizing village defence societies is not yet certain.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly impressed on the Chief Ministers of the States and their law enforcement agencies that police action or Para military forces alone cannot root out Naxalites from the Indian landscape. The real cause of youth being disaffected is economic and it is important to address that problem. The Rozgar Yojana has now been extended and launched all over the country. It promises 100 Mondays of work in a year to totally unemployed and destitute families. Some success of this scheme has been reported. Besides cheap grain supplies and midday meal schemes in schools in areas where the poorest of the poor live have been launched, but there have been reports of diversion of grain worth thousands of crores of rupees from the public distribution system to the market by unscrupulous elements. These law breakers are sought to be booked and punished. Food must reach the needy without being pilfered on the way. The Centre and States are hopefully paying attention to this aspect as part of the overall scheme for the welfare of the languishing aam adami. The ruling United Progressive Alliance led by the Congress realizes that a General Election could be round the corner and it must try to live up to the slogan it raised in the summer of 2004 if it has to be re-elected. It must also be seen to be genuinely living up to its professions.

Lalit Sethi, NPA

Analysis: Maoists plan new strategy

Published: Oct. 10, 2007 at 11:40 AM
UPI Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- India’s Maoists, in a bid to regroup, are moving their fighters from states where they are strong to those in which they have been weakened.

“The Maoist rebels, who have of late suffered large-scale depletion in states like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, have begun bringing in platoons of activists from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh to regroup the organizational structure in the provinces where they have been weakened,” said K. Srinavas Reddy, a Hyderabad-based expert on the Maoist movement in India.

Intelligence and security agencies in states that have launched successful offensives against the rebels say they have information about the new strategy and are keeping a close watch on rebel activities. Security agents are sharing information with interior ministries of states in which there has been an influx of rebel fighters.

“The latest move of the Maoists in Andhra Pradesh would boomerang on the rebels because the presence of outsiders will not go down well with the native tribals and they will stop cooperating with them,” said Jitendra, deputy director general of police of Vishakapatnam district, in Andhra Pradesh, from where security forces successfully chased out rebels.

“The tribals may not be cooperating with the police but now they have also stopped helping the Naxalites as they feel the outsiders will only increase if they receive support,” Jitendra, who goes by only one name, said.

Maoists are known as Naxalites in India, named for the region in West Bengal state where their movement began.

Intelligence agencies recently alerted all 13 rebel-hit states about rebel efforts to regroup in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Bihar. The agencies informed police in less-affected states that the movement of Maoists was noticed on the borders along Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.

Concerted government efforts have resulted in the killing of several top Maoist rebels and the arrest of many more, dealing a blow to the rebel movement that wants to set up a Maoist state across India.

The governments of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh say their strategy of tackling the rebels has yielded results.

“The police are well aware of the Maoist efforts to recruit and regroup,” said D. Tirumala Rao, deputy inspector general of the special intelligence branch. “While we continue with our present strategy due to which many top leaders have surrendered, we are devising new ways to check their fresh efforts.”

Top security, intelligence and police officials say forces say the surrender policy adopted by almost all rebel-hit states is transparent and the government fulfils promises made to surrendering rebels. They say except a few top leaders, almost all the second-rung leadership surrendered in Andhra Pradesh. In Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, the top leadership has either been killed or arrested.

The federal Interior Ministry recently formed a Naxal management division, headed by an additional secretary. The division reviews and monitors action plans drawn up by states to deal with the Naxal problem.

The head of the division has directed all officials under his jurisdiction to frequently visit rebel-hit states and make coordinated efforts to advise and guide state government officials to effectively deal with the issue. States have been asked to formulate action plans and fine-tune them to ensure they are effectively implemented.

The Maoist problem dominated the proceedings of a three-day conference of top police and intelligence officials organized by the Intelligence Bureau.

“Intelligence can be the most useful instrument in containing crime, violence and terrorism,” said Interior Minister Shivraj Patil.

He said the Naxal problem had become more difficult in some states, and a coordinated approach was needed to meet the challenge.

Banks in Ranchi vulnerable to robbery

Posted at Wednesday, 10 October 2007 20:10 IST
Ranchi, Oct 10: You believe it or not, in this 21st century most of the banks in naxal-affected state Jharkhand are running at the mercy of God as security personnel there are armed with bows and arrows.

According to the sources, in Tamar block, around 70 km from Ranchi, banks have equipped security personnel with bows, arrows, sickles and other traditional weapons to resist robbery bid.

At all other banks like the Gramin bank, Bank of India, Union Bank and others, the same security arrangements have been made.

Bank officials point out that repeated requests to their respective head offices to arrange for proper security went unheard.

In Jharkhand, more than 50 bank robberies have taken place in the last three years.

Bank officials have raised the issue several times with police but to no avail, said Umesh Sinha a senior PNB official

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Naxalites strike anew : Geological Survey of India jeep burnt ,

Statesman News Service
KEONJHAR, Oct. 9: After eight months, the naxalites have again struck terror in the district.
This time they burnt down a jeep, a drilling machine and a pressure pump of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) to ashes.

Sources said that some people of Ghutung under the Daitari police station were against the survey work carried out by Geological Survey of India(GSI).
As per as the statement of the solitary GSI guard who was present at the camp on 7 October, some people, who looked like Naxalites came and threatened with dire consequences if the machineries were not removed from the village.

On 8 October around noon time, 15 workers of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) were about to leave the place with all the machineries packed in two jeeps.
Eleven Naxalites, including five women arrived at the spot and took them as hostages.

Later the Naxalites let them go with only one jeep with a warning that they should not dare to come to the village again in the future.
The workers told the police that the Naxalites warned everyone. Their contention was that innocent villagers should not be disturbed.The value of the gutted machineries is estimated to be near about Rs13 lakh.

Naxals shot at NSS leader

Rebels shot at NSS leader

Jamshedpur, Oct. 9: Armed rebels opened fire at Nagarik Suraksha Samiti leader Shailen Baskey and his body guard this morning at Kashiabera, about 75 km from here, under Ghurabandha police station.

Baskey sustained grievous injuries in the attack while his bodyguard, Jogeswar Murmu (28), died on the spot.

Three bullets — one close to the spinal cord, another in the back and a third in the right leg — hit Baskey.

Tata Main Hospital sources said Baskey’s condition is stable now, but it may turn critical after operation.

A police source said the attack occurred at 6am while Baskey was returning from Ghura police picket with his wife Deepali in a motorcycle. The bodyguard was following them in another two-wheeler.

As Baskey was negotiating a bridge on Ghura river, the rebels hiding nearby started showering gunshots.

“The bodyguard of Baskey, a police constable, was ahead of the leader’s bike. As his bike came closer, four rebels shot at him. The bodyguard fell down. Soon after, one of the rebels fired at Baskey and he, too, fell from the bike with his wife,” said a source.

As the injured leader was scurrying for cover, the rebels surrounded him with guns, even as his wife pleaded for his life. Assuming the profusely-bleeding Baskey was dead, the rebels fired a shot in his leg before picking up Murmu’s self-loading rifle from the spot and disappearing into the woods shouting slogans.

Soon after, police and paramilitary personnel reached the spot and rushed Baskey to a health centre at Dumaria, from where he was shifted to Tata Main Hospital.

“I arrived at the spot within five minutes of the attack, and saw the rebels passing through the jungle shouting slogans with guns raised in the air. But I did not do anything as it was dangerous to confront armed rebels,” said Pithu Murmu, a relative of Baskey.

Deputy inspector-general of police (Kolhan) Ram Lakhan Prasad said: “After the shooting, the rebels moved towards Orissa border, just 100 yards from the place of occurrence.”
Superintendent of police, East Singhbhum district, Navin Kumar Singh is camping at Ghurabandha and is supervising the combing operation that began soon after the Naxalites struck the NSS leader.

Riots spread in rural Bengal over missing food in ration shops

Riots spread in rural Bengal over missing food in ration shops, CPM target of anger
Subrata Nagchoudhury

Posted online: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 at 12:00:00
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 at 01:50:40Print Email To Editor

Kolkata, October 09 IN the capital, comrades may be all worked up on George W Bush and the IAEA but here, in their electoral bastion of rural Bengal, they are battling an unprecedented breakdown in what was once considered their formidable organisational structure: the party is directly under attack in a string of “ration riots,” violence over food grain siphoned off the Public Distribution System.
What started six weeks ago as a local law-and-order problem is spreading and has now touched six districts, acquiring political undertones that’s giving sleepless nights to the party and the government. For, it has brought together the Naxalites and the Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, the same two groups that pushed the CPM against the wall in Nandigram.

Today, Utpal Narasundar, the 27-year-old son of a ration dealer hanged himself after his grocery shop and rice godown were looted at a village near Nalhati in Birbhum. Utpal’s is the third suicide in a fortnight of the riots, the other two victims were ration dealers. Two villagers have been killed in police firing so far.

Utpal had taken a loan from a bank to set up his grocery shop and the godown. Villagers angry at not getting ration supplies from the PDS outlet his family owned slapped a fine of Rs 27 lakh on his father Chandra Kishore. He was asked to shell out the money to each cardholder as compensation for the months they did not get their supplies.

Fear has gripped several of the 20,000 ration dealers across the state, many of them having enjoyed the patronage of the ruling CPM for decades.

Of the 8.35 crore ration cardholders in the state, almost 60% are APL (above poverty line). While the government has taken care to ensure that BPL cardholders get their supplies, it’s the APL ones who are angry. Many of them have routinely depended on the open market rather than the PDS shop for supplies but price rise has fuelled the anger: in Birbhum, one of the centres of the violence, for example, APL wheat sells for Rs 6.75 a kg while the open-market rate is Rs 13. Even Food and Civil Supplies Minister Paresh Adhikari has had to admit that there is “large-scale diversion” of grain from APL PDS to the open market. An investigation into the violence shows why the CPM has reason to be worried:

* In Barjora in Bankura, where one of the worst rioting took place, Narayan Dutta, a ration dealer, owns the only two-storied pucca building. He’s a CPM cardholder and his brother is a unit secretary while another brother owns a grocery shop. The party’s district secretary in Bankura, Amiya Patra, openly admits the nexus between the party and PDS dealers: “So far, we have been able to identify as many as seven CPM cardholders who own PDS dealerships.”

* In Sian in Birbhum, a district secretariat member of the CPM was beaten up by an angry mob when he tried to defend a ration dealer.

* In Burdwan again, Pradip Ta, a district secretariat member, was assaulted for trying to come to the aid of a ration dealer accused of siphoning off the grain.

* In Radhamohanpur in Bankura a violent mob ransacked the venue where a CPI(M) party meeting was underway.

* Riot-affected areas are also those where there’s a significant presence of Maoists and the Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind: Ranibandh, Barjora, Onda and pockets in Burdwan, Birbhum, Nadia and Murshidabad. In Nandigram, these were the same two forces that got together to force the CPM to call off its SEZ plan.

* Police officials say that Naxalite fingerprints are evident in the nature of the violence — torching jeeps, godowns, shops and PDS outlets. And in the method of punishment: imposition of “fines,” considered the hallmark of Maoist groups.

* Shrewdly, the Trinamool and Congress have not rushed in yet leaving the field wide open for Naxalites and the Jamiat.

* Cardholders are increasingly not interested in lifting food grain but, instead, want money as compensation for the months they have not got their supplies. In most places, meetings have been held and huge “fines” imposed on the dealers, many of them forced to give it in writing that they will compensate in cash.

Maoists recruit through internet

10/10/2007 12:27:20 PM

Maoists have begun tapping the internet to spread their message and influence

Maoists have begun tapping the internet to spread their message and influence. But they don't just stop there, they are also using the information superhighway to find new young recruits.

Security agencies have identified 9 blogs frequently visited by youngsters. Several websites and blogs are now under the scanner. Blogs like the Naxal Revolution, Peoples March and Red Diary are being seen as a tool to spread the Maoist web.

Intelligence sources say Maoists are targeting educated young people to set up an intelligence force, in cities in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Maoists keep a watch on visitors to blog sites and send out emails to prospective recruits. The Maoist emails seek educational details and focus on luring software professionals.

Sources in the Home Ministry have told Times Now that the government is aware of the Maoist strategy to use the internet for propaganda. The government says its keeping a watchful eye and is trying to track those funding online channels spreading Maoist propaganda.

Home ministry sources say intelligence is aware of those propagating for Maoists and accepting payments online. Such online behavior is punishable under the NSA.

Maoists trying to recruit youth using the internet
Gyan Varma
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 04:12 IST

NEW DELHI: Contrary to the popular belief that Maoists are more of a rural force fighting in the jungles, security agencies have found out that the guerrillas are recruiting youngsters through the internet. Security agencies have identified nine such blogs frequently visited by youngsters.

“These websites are being used to recruit youngsters by the Naxals for their under-development intelligence wing,” said a senior security official.

Some of the websites and blogs that have come under the scanner are naxal revolution, peoples march, red diary and lal press. “We suspect that it is a well-thought-out plan because they are trying to diversify and want to target bigger cities to increase their area of influence,” said the officer, adding that Maoists would get a workforce in the cities without much effort or training.

“We have inputs suggesting that Maoists are planning to form an intelligence wing of their own with around 2,000 cadres spread across mainly four cities,” said the officer. Security officials also said apart from Delhi, Maoists are targeting cities in Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh to set up this intelligence force.

Sleuths elaborated that the modus operandi of Maoists is very simple. “They first send email messages after identifying prospective recruits asking them how they can help the cause,” said the officer.

“The questionnaire also asks the possible recruits their areas of interest, educational qualifications and how they would be able to help the movement,” the officer added.

“We have been tracking these websites for long and have stumbled upon this information. Maoists are also asking computer professionals to either develop or help them develop more web pages so that people could visit them and know more about the force.”

The officer also emphasised that though it is new that Maoists are using
the internet to their advantage, there is a good strength of overground workers which is not just very well-educated but is also motivated to fight the security forces.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Maoists killed Nagrik Suraksha Samittee member in Jharkhand

Ranchi, Oct 9 : Maoists Tuesday attacked a member of an anti-guerrilla organisation ---Nagrik Suraksha Samittee -- in Jharkhand's Jamshedpur district, leaving him seriously injured and killing his security guard.

According to police, activists of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) Tuesday morning attacked Shailen Baske, member of the Nagrik Suraksha Samittee (NSS), near Kasiabeda village in Jamshedpur district, 170 km from Ranchi.

The attack left the bodyguard, Jogeshwar Murmu, dead while Baske sustained serious injuries. Baske has been admitted to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital in Jamshedpur, where his condition is said to be critical.

The NSS was formed five years ago to fight Maoist rebels.

In March, the rebels killed Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MP Sunil Mahto as he was a supporter of the NSS.

Maoist rebels are active in 16 of the 22 districts in the state. Around 950 people, including 310 security personnel, have been killed in the last six years in Maoist related violence.


Jharkhand politicians on a land grabbing spree!

Ashok K. Jha
09 October 2007, Tuesday

Politicians of every hue and colour in Jharkhand want to have a mansion, complete with sauna and swimming pool. Such politicians would hardly be inspired to think about the pathetic condition of the ordinary people.

RAJESH KHANNA in his heydays enacted the role of a wily politician who was a barber by profession but became an independent MLA and as no party had an absolute majority, he managed to win the Chief Minister’s post. It was pulp fiction and the director tried to expose the rot in our political system a la Bollywood. What was thought of as fiction became reality when Madhu Koda, an independent MLA was able to become the Chief Minister of Jharkhand. The dreams of the people of Jharkhand have been shattered as things are getting better in Bihar, the state it was bifurcated from. People are disillusioned; they feel betrayed and are seething with anger.

The government has no plan, policy, intention, energy, foresight or strategy for the betterment of its people but is rewarding itself without any guilt and compunction. Luxury cars, neon lit bungalows, heavy security paraphernalia are common things. Now they are devising means to allocate themselves approximately hundred acres of prime land on the Ranchi-Jamshedpur highway. The intention is very simple - politicians of every hue and colour want to have a mansion, complete with sauna and swimming pool. These leaders who spend their time in this kind of an environment would hardly be inspired to think about the pathetic condition of ordinary mortals. Would they form a committee to study why the vehicles in the state run at only ten kilometers per hour, why Naxals are collecting more taxes than the state government, why there is no power for days at a stretch in many parts of the state or why the state is going downhill despite being blessed with rich natural resources?

The Indian Army had to shelve its Netarhat Field Firing project because the Chief Minister said it could not provide land to it. Several projects, promoted among others by Naveen Jindal, L N Mittal and Ratan Tata, SAIL etc. have been hanging fire because the Koda government has failed to allocate them the land required. But the Koda Government has acquired prime farm land from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to build bungalows for all the current legislators — 82 MLAs and 20 MPs. What is also shocking is that the sprawling plot has 189 priceless varieties and 30 hybrids of mango , 50 and 40 varieties of litchi and guava respectively. According to the State Land Revenue Minister Dulal Bhuian “Considering the fact that at the Centre it is our coalition (UPA) which is in power and even at the state level it is the same coalition that is in power, we expect that the proposal by the Jharkhand government for the piece of land will be accepted soon.”

Most of the politicians have already amassed unimaginable wealth and their greed simply knows no bounds.

Naxals kill police constable in Jharkhand

9 Oct 2007, 1246 hrs IST,PTI

JAMSHEDPUR: Suspected Maoists on Tuesday killed a police constable and injured an official of an anti-naxal organisation at Kasiabeda, police said.

Police constable Jogeshwar Murmu was killed on the spot in the attack which happened in the small hours in Ghashila subdivision, police said.

Shailen Baske, treasurer of Nagarik Suraksha Samity (NSS), an organisation spearheading anti-Naxalite campaign in Jharkhand, also suffered serious injuries in the attack, police informed. Baske was rushed to Tata Main Hospital.

The Maoists have been targeting leaders of NSS, an organisation floated by villagers a few years ago under the tacit support of the district police, for launching an anti-naxalite campaign.

Explosive question

Posted online: Tuesday, October 09, 2007 at 0000 hrs Print EmailShouldn’t the government deny terrorists, Naxalites easy access to bomb-making material?
The connection — between missing munitions and incidents of terror hundreds of kilometres away — is often not realised, and certainly not addressed in any concerted fashion by the government. Indeed it is this unconscionable apathy that provoked the Express to conduct a new investigative series, ‘The ticking bombs’, which reveals that in just two years — 2004-2006 — India lost to incidents of theft some 86,899 detonators and 10,150 kg of slurry explosives apart from other material.

How does this happen? What are the systems in place to prevent such occurrences? Where does the lost material go? Does it ultimately end up in the hands of extremists? These are questions that should evoke an urgent response from the state but, unfortunately, do not. In December 2005, when a ship transporting explosives to Afghanistan for Border Roads Organisation projects in that country, lost a large portion of its cargo of explosives. They were evidently swept overboard. The incident raised alarm bells, led to the setting up of a committee and the emergence of a report. But the recommendations went the way of most recommendations of this kind: into oblivion. Undeniably, minding the munitions store is complex business. How, for instance, can the sale, distribution and deployment of potentially lethal ammonium nitrate — used for purposes ranging from fertilising crops to the manufacture of medicines — be placed on the radar? But a business-as-usual approach cannot be the response to the challenge. If we can expend so much attention, energy and funds on fighting separatist and Naxal groups, we should at least ensure that those waging a war against the Indian state are denied easy access to its stores of explosives.

The problem is not peculiar to India alone, but countries that take their security more seriously have also succeeded in evolving a credible munitions management regime that monitors in a pro-active way the entire cycle: from procurement and storage of munitions and explosives, to their transfer and use. This requires the setting up of systems like categorisation, codification and computerisation. India needs to drastically overhaul current procedures, which border on the primitive, and address a problem that can only be termed a truly explosive one.

Dead naxal walks back to life in AP

9 Oct 2007, 0214 hrs IST,TNN

HYDERABAD/VIJAYAWADA: It appears to be a scene straight out of a Telugu potboiler. In July 2006, police handed over a decomposed body of a naxalite to his parents in the city, claiming that their son was ‘killed’ in Prakasam district. The shocked parents without a murmur performed his last rites.

On Monday, the police brought to the family a person arrested from Jaggaiahpet in Krishna along with an accomplice for establishing their identities. The family’s joy knew no bounds when they saw their son alive. Uday Kumar alias Ramana’s parents, who reside at Yapral, confirmed him as their son and the accomplice as their daughter-in-law Padma. Kumar, who works with the Palavanka dalam, had walked into Jaggaiahpet police station on Saturday to lodge a complaint against a home guard who demanded Rs 4 lakh from him.

The police detained him and on grilling, the naxalite revealed his identity. The police claimed he was one among eight killed in Nallamala forest on July 23, 2006. Maoist state secretary Burra Chinnanna alias Madhav was killed in that encounter. Uday, Rajitha alias Susheela and Vijaya Lakshmi alias Shyamala killed in the encounter hailed from the twin cities.

Surrendered naxalites identified one body as that of Uday. As the body was in a decomposed state, the parents quickly cremated it. A police officer said: "It was a case of mistaken identity. We identify bodies with the help of relatives and surrendered naxalites. In Uday’s case, we got it wrong."

The parents now fear that the police may harm the couple. The Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee has demanded that the Maoist couple be produced in court.

Though the police are likely to announce the couple’s arrest on Tuesday, APCLC state joint secretary D Suresh Kumar, in a release, said the two were taken into custody on Sunday afternoon.

According to sources, Padma was picked up by the special police party from a remote colony in Jaggaiahpet. None of the locals knew about the Maoist couple’s original identities as they had given false names.

Monday, October 08, 2007

An Open Letter to the Andhra Pradesh CM -- Ex-IAS Officer

Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 41

An Open Letter to the Andhra Pradesh CM
by Shree Shankar Sharan

Friday 5 October 2007

Respected Chief Minister,

I am grateful for the appointment you gave me on the 8th of September which, alas, was too late for my flight back to Delhi. Besides, there had been a wanton attempt on the life of Sri Janardan Reddy on the 7th and that, for the time being, left my agenda of talks with you in tatters.

But in the exalted position that you are, there is no room for losing one’s head or reacting vindictively though everything must be done to protect innocent lives and enforce peace and order within the law. I am glad you have still offered talks provided they (the Naxalites) lay down their arms.

Your very willingness to talk, on the condition you have laid down, amounts to admitting that there is something of substance to talk about. It is this something that one needs to focus on. This something could not be trivial as it would not give the Naxals the kind of footage that they enjoy among the poor and the weaker sections in rural areas.

I have a personal experience of their strong rural roots because I and Raiz Ahmad, Director, Gandhi Sangrahalay at Patna, with a Leftist friend used to visit the site of every attack on Naxal- supporting villages in South Bihar by the Ranbir Sena, the private army of landlords in Bihar, and vice versa and have witnessed how convinced and indoctrinated the victim groups were in favour of the Naxalites as their protectors from the atrocities of landlords and an uncaring state. Only the actors then were the CPI-ML (Liberation).

Now Maoist terror reigns after the CPI-ML not openly, but effectively, shed violence and has taken the parliamentary route encouraged by a more sensitive leader, Vinod Mishra, and a few electoral victories in their strongholds. Those who spearhead violence in Bihar are the Maoists who recently launched a jail break. We, the Gandhites, having seen Gandhiism in action once again in the JP movement, also share the credit for the change of the CPI-ML tactics though not their hard- core beliefs or their revolutionary discourse.

Something similar seems possible in AP as well. I have met some of the Naxal sympathisers at Hyderabad and know some of them at Patna and the PUCL Chairman Kannabiran and the Committee of Concerned Citizens Secretary Shankaran and have been briefed how the government with the mediators started talks with the Naxal leaders and how it collapsed.

THERE is no use offering talks on unacceptable terms. Nowhere in the world have arms been laid down by a revolutionary group before reaching an accord, be it in Ireland or Nepal. If we seriously mean to resolve the impasse by talks we have to ease this condition.

Nor do we have the option of not talking and putting them down by force. We cannot hope to succeed where America and Britain have failed, be it in Iraq or Ireland. The Maoists are too widely spread to be easily putdownable. If you succeed in AP, they rise in MP, and if in MP, they rise in Bihar. Their reported arms link with Nepal or the LTTE in Sri Lanka through a wide open border is equally difficult to control.

In all fairness, the Maoists with reference to land for the landless have an agenda which we have failed to meet in the course of democratic governance. We can only take away this plank from them by meeting this problem both on its merit, to alleviate rural poverty and as a way to achieve peace with them.

I suggest that despite the current heat, to hasten peace, the government should try a track-two diplomacy with the Maoists (secret talks) that goes on with the Kashmir insurgents or Pakistan or in the North-East with an agreement to ceasefire after some progress. I suggest using some of the same mediators for the track-two talks. AP’s recent prosperity makes it all the more urgent for peace to hold, lest it loses business confidence and goes the Bihar way. A concerted effort by all the troubled States led by you will ease a national problem.

With kindest regards, I remain truly your and AP’s well-wisher,

Shree Shankar Sharan, IAS Retd.
(Convener, Lok Paksh)
AN Road,
Patna 800003
(Ph. 09934269118)

Naxals burn cellphone tower

Hazaribagh, Oct. 7: Maoists today burnt the tower of Airtel, a private telecom company, in Dhotawa area of Katkamsandi at 6am.

A hit squad led by Naxalite area commander Krishna Yadav reportedly visited the spot and damaged the tower, said sources. Owing to this, mobile phone connectivity was severely affected this morning.

Superintendent of police Praveen Kumar Singh confirmed the fire and said that a team of police and STF jawans has been sent to inspect losses in Dhotawa, a stronghold of Maoists. The village is situated about 50km from the district headquarters.

According to sources, the tower was burnt completely resulting in major losses to the company.

Deputy superintendent of police Naushad Alam said Maoists had targeted this telecom company as the management had refused to pay them a levy of Rs 1 lakh over the last two years.

No trace of tonnes of stolen explosives

Monday October 8 2007 02:01 IST

NAGPUR/NEW DELHI: Every time there is a terrorist or a Naxalite attack anywhere in the country, alarm bells ring in the fifth floor office of the Chief Controller of Explosives in Nagpur’s lush Seminary Hill neighbourhood.

For long, these bells have gone largely unheard but so loud is their ringing now that the entire security establishment is beginning to wake up: the colossal theft and diversion of explosives from the over 21000 licensed explosive manufacturers across the country.

Official records accessed by this website's newspaper show that in just two years, 2004-2006, for which data collection is complete, the scale of theft is staggering: 86,899 detonators, 20,150 kg of slurry explosives, 52,740 metres of detonating fuse and 419 kg of gelatin sticks. Not just this, huge quantities of explosive cartridges and boosters have been stolen from magazines (stores for explosives) and explosive vans.

Theft on such a scale, officials say, is an ominous foreshadow of what could lie ahead: for, not only is there no record of what has landed in whose hands, once a terror attack or a Naxalite strike takes place, even the trail of such material is virtually impossible to track. Add to this the rising concern over ammonium nitrate, a chemical freely sold in the country but mixed with fuel oil and sulphur used for lethal strikes with devastating effect.

Ammonium nitrate was mixed with RDX and used in the Varanasi blasts in March 2006 that killed over 20 people; it was also used in the Mumbai rush-hour train blasts last year; in Malegaon, too, ammonium nitrate was used in a cocktail of RDX and fuel oil. In the twin blasts in Hyderabad on August 25 this year, Neogel 90, an ammonium nitrate-based explosive, was mixed with steel pellets.

It was as early as April 13 that an alert sent by Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta had, in fact, acknowledged the problem. “Some of the issues that concern us fall in the areas of manufacture, supply, transport and storage of explosives in the Naxalite-affected areas,” the order said. “Serious concern has also been voiced about the free diversion of substances like potassium chlorate and ammonium nitrate, which used in conjunction with sulphur and fuel oil acquire explosive proportions.”

“When RDX was used, it was easier to decode the fingerprints on the attack,” says a senior intelligence official who is investigating the Hyderabad attack, “but when explosives like these, the ones commonly available and stolen, are used, our job gets incredibly difficult.”

These explosive heists have been reported by Deputy Chief Controllers located in Kolkata, Rourkela, Vadodara, Bhopal and Vellore. What is more shocking is the fact that all these offices have sent in identical comments that add up to nothing: “No reply received from police authorities regarding retrieval."

Only in one case in the last two years, after 51,000 m of detonating fuse were stolen from an explosive manufacturer in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu, were the police able to recover 14,250 m, barely a third of the loot.

“This is the major impediment we face,” Chief Controller of Explosives M Anbuthan told Express. “Even after major thefts from licensed magazines, some located in terrorist and Naxalite-affected belts, we never hear from the state police. The result of the investigation must be shared with the licensing authority but we have been left completely in the dark.”

Anbuthan, who heads the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation, says the other problem is shortage of staff, the reason why just about a fourth of the manufacturing units could be inspected last year.

So serious is the issue now that a series of high-level meetings have been held in New Delhi attended by the top brass of the internal security and intelligence establishment. First on the agenda: control and regulation of ammonium nitrate.

Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta confirmed to Express that a committee headed by Intelligence Bureau official D.P. Sinha is looking into setting up of a mechanism to regulate the sale and storage of explosives, especially ammonium nitrate. Even amendments in the 1983 Explosives Act are on the anvil related to keeping digital records and mandating inspections. It’s not going to be easy.

“Given the diversity of usage of ammonium nitrate from the fertilizer, quarrying and coal sector, it is impossible to ban its sale. The challenge is to stop leakage and step up enforcement keeping in mind the limitation to the extent of regulation and monitoring you can have. As far as pilferage and theft is concerned, state police agencies have to be sensitised on the issue and the Chief Controller’s office given better manpower and infrastructure.”

Bandh fails to affect normal life in Jharkhand

6 Oct 2007, 2224 hrs IST,PTI

JAMSHEDPUR: Normal life across the state remained unaffected by the Jharkhand bandh called by the CPI (Maoists) to protest the alleged anti-people policies of the state government, even though vehicles remained off the road and shopkeepers downed shutters in the Naxalite strongholds.

Several passenger trains passing through Maoist pockets in Barakakhana-Garwah Road under Dhanbad division of East Central railway were either cancelled or diverted, railway sources said.

Vehicular movement was disrupted as transporters kept their commercial vehicles and long-distance buses off the road anticipating violence in the Maoist strongholds, reports said.

However, other than these strongholds in Palamu, Chatra, Latehar, Garwah, East and West Singhbhum districts, where shops also downed their shutters, normal life in other areas of the state remained largely unaffected.

Meanwhile, a report from Gumla said three members of Jharkhand Liberation Tigers, a breakaway group of Maoists, were arrested from near Basia college in the district today.

The arrests were made when the activists - identified as Ramkrishna Chik, Sudhir Ram and Arvind Ram - came to the spot to extort Rs 50,000 from a villager, police said.

Three mobile sets and a motorcycle were seized by the police.

The Maoists have given the bandh call to protest against the alleged discrepancies in implementation of the centrally-funded National Rural Em ployment Guarantee Act, pollution in rural areas due to big projects and other issues.

“Understanding terrorism is the first step towards combating it”

“The primary issue of concern in today’s world is to answer the most pertinent questions on terrorism. Who is a terrorist? What is a terrorist act?” Finding answers to these questions is the first step in step in solving International Terrorism, remarked Nitin Desai, former Under-Secretary General for Economic & Social Affairs in the United Nations. Mr. Desai was participating in the panel discussion on International Terrorism as a part of DAIMUN 2007, a simulated Model United Nations (MUN) organised by the students of Dhirubhai Ambani International School.

The students were found today in a particularly energized mood for the primary reason that four great dignitaries had graced the event which has been awarded the status of being the only official THIMUN (The Hague International Model United Nations) affiliated MUN in south-east Asia. The four day DAIMUN 2007, the fourth annual conference involving over 350 students from 40 schools started on Friday with student delegates representing 126 countries in various committees like the Security Council, Economic and Social council, Human Rights Council, and the General Assembly debating over topical issues of global significance and passing resolutions to deal with them.

The panel discussion marked the beginning of the conference moderated by the Managing Director of NDTV, Barkha Dutt. Other subject experts who interacted lively with the enthusiastic students were N.K Singh, the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of Govt. of Bihar and former member of UN Global Commission on International Migration and Savitri Kunadi, former Ambassador and member of the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. A perspicacious and illuminating discourse on various aspects related to international terrorism and the means to combat it ensued. Chairperson of the school, Mrs. Nita Ambani, inaugurated the conference by the lighting of diya.

The panel discussion was followed by an open question and answer session between the students and the panelists moderated by Burkha Dutt. Students raised questions related to human rights abuse, killing of the innocent, civil rights, social inequality, naxalite movement, religious intolerance, role of the media, stereotyping, state terrorism and the fight against terrorism. Burkha Dutt said that it was the most informed audience body that she had ever come across. She added that she had hope in India’s youth looking at the level of information and opinion on important subject matters they had.

Naxal menace: 550 cr plan for development

Monday October 8 2007 11:54 IST
Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Worried over spurt in Naxalite activities in the State, the State Government has submitted a proposal of Rs 550 crore to the Centre for overall development of districts affected by it.

Official sources said a detailed report on the ways to handle the Naxalite problem by undertaking developmental activities was submitted by Principal Secretary in the Home Secretary T K Mishra in New Delhi on Saturday, where he attended a meeting on Naxalite activities.

The State Government has taken suggestions from all the collectors and police superintendents of Naxalite-dominated districts before preparing the strategy to tackle the Maoists. According to a report prepared by the Centre, there has been a rise in Naxalite activities in the State.

Though Orissa police claim to have upgraded its skills in tackling Naxalite problem, a report released by the Naxal Management Division (NMD) pointed out that there had been nearly 15 per cent rise in Naxalite activities in Orissa.

“There has been rise in Naxalite activities by 25 per cent in Malkangiri district of Orissa,” the report said adding that ratio of the increase in neighbouring Jharkhand is 24 per cent.

The report published by NMD also suggested that only efficient police officers be posted in Naxalite-infested districts and they should not be transferred before a stipulated period.

It, however, maintained that there is no meaning in initiating talks with any Maoist group unless they lay down arms immediately. Official sources indicated that Orissa will prefer to maintain its old strategy of giving priority to developmental activities than suppress Naxalite movements by force.

“We plan to ensure rural connectivity, health facilities and employment in tribal-dominated districts where Maoists lure people to their groups,” sources said, adding that the State Government had been doing its best to tackle the problem

Maoist couple held

Monday October 8 2007 11:52 IST
Express News Service

ROURKELA: In a major catch, Sundargarh police nabbed a hardcore CPI (Maoist) operative along with his wife from Sarlanga jungle under K Balang police limits of Bonai sub-division.

The arrest was formalised after a team of Jharkhand police on Sunday verified their identities. The nabbed ultra Bharat Mundari (35) turned out to be the commander of Platoon-22 active at Saranda forest region. His wife Premlata Mundari is also an active Maoist operative.

Sundargarh SP S Pravin Kumar confirmed the arrest and said the couple carrying a three-month-old baby was traced by a police team between 5.30 pm to 6 pm on Saturday in the Sarlanga jungle.

They were detained for questioning and help of Jharkhand police was sought to verify their identities, he said. Police sources said Bharat was wanted in several major Naxal violence including the Baliba massacre where scores of Jharkhand policemen were mowed down.

His name also figured prominently in the burning of two locomotives at Topadihi in Bonai sub-division of Sundargarh.

Explosive theft: Everyone admits problem, no work on solution

the ticking BOMBS: Part 2

Posted online: Monday, October 08, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST

If the scale of theft and diversion of explosives across the country is staggering, as reported by The Sunday Express today, what is equally startling is the mountain of correspondence between different government agencies on the subject and yet the lack of any significant action.
Official records obtained by The Indian Express show that advisory after advisory was issued by the Chief Controller of Explosives underlining how high the stakes were, many of these were even echoed at the highest level at the Centre.
In fact, North Block was aware of how serious the situation is as early as July 2006 with the then Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi writing a confidential letter to the Union Home Secretary, informing him about intelligence inputs received from the Ministry of Defence. In it, instructions were issued to set up a high-level committee on diversion of licensed explosives that would even monitor manufacturing to prevent “misuse.”
The Cabinet Secretary’s note mentioned two alarming instances of explosive diversion: an Indian vessel apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy was laden with 61,000 detonators that had markings of a Gulf oil company but had originated from an explosive manufacturer in Hyderabad. The second instance involved theft of a huge quantity of commercial explosives off the Mumbai coast while being transported for a Border Roads Organization (BRO) project in Afghanistan.
Following these inputs, a committee headed by Home Ministry’s Additional Secretary R S Sirohi was set up — arguably the first official admission of widespread diversion of licensed explosives.
The warning couldn’t have been more clear: “There has been a recurrence of incidents in which explosives are getting diverted from the manufacturing factories for unauthorised usage within India and getting lost en route, indicating that there is a review of the entire procedure of issue of licenses and also monitoring of firms dealing with explosives.”
Minutes of the ensuing meetings reveal that the Home Ministry first asked the MoD’s Ordnance Factory Board to provide the Chief Controller of Explosives with a flow-chart of methods of safety/transportation/inspection of explosive stores. However, once this was received, the Government rejected this as too cumbersome. It also asked the Intelligence Bureau to provide a blueprint for security mechanisms for checking antecedents of explosive manufacturers, transporters and end-users who were often blasters in mines and quarries.
Inundated by all this correspondence in Nagpur, Chief Controller of Explosives M Anbunathan sent a 14-point list of suggestions on augmenting systems and again outlined the absence of any response from state police and district authorities following pilferage or theft of explosives.
The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation — the umbrella organisation which the Chief Controller heads — in a report to the Centre admitted that “instances have come to notice when commercial explosives were clandestinely diverted to separatist groups in some places... the leakage of explosives may take place with the connivance of licensed magazine (explosive stores) owners or during transportation apparently for monetary gains.”
Once North Block raised an alarm about diversion of ammonium nitrate along with pilfered commercial explosives to subversive groups, PESO was further galvanised into action.
In April, around the same time Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta wrote his advisory on “free diversion” of explosives and ammonium nitrate, Anbunathan sent a note to all explosive manufacturers informing them that the chemical constituted approximately 70% of all slurry and emulsion explosives and that “given the background of misuse of the ammonium nitrate by terrorists/anti-social elements, it has become imperative to monitor its manufacture, movement and use.”
So the Chief Controller asked for daily computerised records of purchase and use of ammonium nitrate and said that a high-powered team (read Intelligence Bureau) would visit manufacturing units for inspection.
Another letter was written by the Chief Controller to all state Chief Secretaries in July 2006 in which Anbunathan admitted, “pilferage of explosives from licensed magazines has been causing great concern especially in the wake of reports that these pilfered explosives sometimes land in the hands of anti-national and terrorist elements as well as Naxalites.”
He also informed the Chief Secretaries that in several cases, mines and quarries do not hold licenses in their names but entrusted the quarrying/mining activity to blasting contractors. “Thus the quarry owner is nowhere responsible and accountable for transaction of explosives... the present scenario of the country in the wake of bomb blasts and Naxal activity warrants close monitoring of movements and use of explosives,” he warned.
On the ground, PESO’s inspection reports revealed other disturbing trends. Some inspections showed (for instance, in Asansol and East Jharia) an easy swap of licensed magazines was being done from one manufacturer to another, resulting in several licenses being cancelled.
In one case in Chandigarh, two senior officials in the office of the Deputy Chief Controller were trapped while accepting a bribe from a manufacturer. In all, the PESO cancelled as many as 829 licences last year (2005-2006)though not all for security-related reasons.
The PESO informed the Government that “due to limited manpower” it was not possible to check monthly returns of the approximately 22,000 explosive manufacturers, but that they were proposing to commence an online check of all intra-state and inter-state transportation of explosives for which a pilot project was already operational in Mumbai.
However, this proposal didn’t find favour in New Delhi. Home Secretary Gupta cautioned that a nationwide online audit did not seem feasible at this stage. “We have to step up enforcement to control diversion of explosives which has become a very serious concern,” he asserted. “And we have to ensure that all cases of explosive theft and pilferage end up in prosecution.”
Ammonium Nitrate: Terror’s choice
• March 7, 2006: Around 20 people were killed in blasts in Varanasi. Mixture of RDX and ammonium nitrate was packed in pressure cookers and used as bombs
• July 11, 2006: 186 killed in rush-hour serial blasts in Mumbai local trains. Mixture of RDX and ammonium nitrate was used
• September 8, 2006: 28 people were killed in blasts near a mosque in Malegaon, Maharashtra. Cocktail of RDX, ammonium nitrate and fuel oil used
• May 18, 2007: At least 13 people were killed in blasts at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. Mixture of RDX and TNT was used, cell phone was trigger
• August 25, 2007: Over 40 killed in twin blasts in Hyderabad. Neogel 90, an ammonium nitrate-based explosive, was mixed with steel pellets
(Tomorrow: Changing the law to tackle the mess)

Chhattisgarh continues to be epicentre of Naxalite conflict

Narendra Ch
06 October 2007, Saturday

A latest report released by ACHR (Asian Centre for Human Rights) documents the human rights violations committed by both security forces and naxalites in the country.

CHHATTISGARH CONTINUES to be the epicentre of the Naxalite conflict as a direct consequence of the counter-insurgency Salwa Judum campaign, according to an estimate of the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR). At least 384 persons have been killed in the Naxalite conflict in the country during January to September 2007. These include 129 civilians, 162 security force personnel and 93 alleged Naxalites.

The highest number of killings have been reported from Chhattisgarh (208) which constitutes 54 per cent of the total killings, followed by Andhra Pradesh (59), Jharkhand (44) and Bihar (28). According to the report, the Naxals are increasingly getting more lethal. It is not only the powerful landmine blast targeting former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Janardhan Reddy on 7 September 2007 but the killing of 24 security personnel including 16 Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF) personnel on 10 July 2007 in the forests of Elampatti-Regadgatta in Dantewada district and again the killing of 15 security personnel near Taadmetla under Dornapal police station of Chhattisgarh on 29 August 2007 bear testimony to the increasing lethal power of the Naxals.

Human Rights violations by security forces

The ACHR has alleged that there have been credible reports of serious human rights violations by the security forces while combating the Naxalites. Though security forces identify all those killed by them as “Naxalites”, there have been allegations of fake encounter killings.

ACHR director Suhas Chukma alleged that incidents such as the alleged rape of 11 tribal women by the Andhra Pradesh Police at Vakapalli village under Nurmati panchayat in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh on 20 August 2007 and unwillingness of the State authorities to provide justice provide fodder to the Naxals.

On 1 July 2007, a Maoist top leader Chettiraja Papaiah alias Somanna, secretariat member of the North Telangana Special Zonal Committee (NTSZC) was killed in an alleged encounter with the police in Medaram forest area in Tadvai Mandal of Warangal district. The police claimed to have recovered one AK- 47 rifle, a carbine, a pistol and four kitbags from the encounter site. However, in a statement released to the media on 2 July 2007, the Maoists alleged that police arrested Somanna on 30 June 2007 and killed him in a fake encounter on the next day.On 10 July 2007, five alleged Maoists identified as member of Karnataka State Committee of the CPI-Maoist, Gowtham (35), Paramesh (30), Subramanya (25), Rame Gowda (50) and Gowda’s wife Kaveri (40) were killed in an alleged encounter with the combined team of the State police and the anti-Naxalite force near Menasinahadya village under Narasimharajapura police station in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka.

The villagers of Menasinahadya however claimed that those killed in the alleged encounter were innocent people and did not allow the police to take away the bodies for post mortem.On 16 July 2007, representatives of various political parties and civil society groups such as Congress, Communist Party of India, the Dalit Sangarsh Samiti, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, All India Trade Union Congress and Indian National Trade Union Congress demanded a judicial probe into the encounter stating that it was fake.

On 7 August 2007, a Maoist identified as Talari Krishna alias Pochaiah was killed in an alleged encounter with the Grey Hounds in Nallamala forests in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. Kurnool District Collector M. Dana Kishore has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the death of Talari Krishna. The Revenue Divisional Officer at Nandyal will inquire into the death.On 26 September 2007, four alleged Maoists, including three women were killed by the police in an alleged encounter at Amidala village in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. The police have claimed to have recovered two 303 rifles, one DBBL gun, and five kit bags from the encounter site.

The deceased have been identified as Swetha of Maddigaruvu, Chanti Babu of Tulam village and Vijaya of Deddilawaka village in East Godavari and Mandapa Nagaratnam alias Shakeela. But the villagers of Amidala have alleged that the encounter was “fake”. According to the villagers, six Naxalites came to the village in the morning of 26 September 2007 and a police party surrounded them. While Swetha was killed in the firing, two Naxalites managed to escape and other three Naxalites surrendered to the police when the police assured them that they would not be harmed. But the police personnel allegedly tied their hands and took them to the nearby forests and killed them in a fake encounter.

Naxals violating humanitarian laws

The ACHR report says the Naxalites were also responsible for gross violations of international humanitarian laws including torture and mutilation, hostage taking and killings after trials in Kangaroo courts, the Jan Adalats. Alleged police informers and political party activists were the primary targets. At least eight persons were killed after trial in so-called Jan Adalats from July to September 2007.

The Naxalites killed at least 109 persons including 60 civilians and 49 security personnel during July – September 2007. The Maoists targeted civilians who were not their supporters. Often, they identified the victims as “police informers

In July 2007, the Naxalites banned farming in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh “to protest against the exploitation of the state’s natural resources by the Government”. Whoever defied the ban was given the death sentence. According to the police, at least 11 tribal farmers have been killed by the Naxalites for working in their fields in July 2007 in Bijapur police district alone.

On the night of 8 July 2007, Naxalites killed two farmers identified as Kalmu Dulla, 50, and Marwi Mura, 40, for working in their fields at Chintagufa village in Bijapur police district of Chhattisgarh. The deceased were abducted, beaten up and then hacked to death. Their bodies were recovered on 9 July 2007.