Friday, October 19, 2007

Police unprepared for Maoist attack

ROURKELA, Oct. 18: There is always a difference between what the government wants to do and the reality of what appears to have been done. A case in point is the preparedness of the Sundergarh Police and its state of condition to fight the Maoist Communist Centre menace here. Every now and then whenever there is an attack by the ultras the government makes some customary statement like upgrading the police stations, new sophisticated arms for the forces, and proper protection to all the police stations in the MCC infested areas.
But, a recent visit to some of these areas brings to fore the callousness of the government towards tackling the menace.
Bonai, Banki, Lahunipara, K Balang, Gurundia, Koira, Bisra, Hatibari, Biramitrapur, Rajgangpur, Raibaga, Lephripara, Badagaon and Brahmani Taranga are some of the major areas where the MCC is trying or in a position to spread their influence. At any point in time these areas have been affected by MCC activities. And Bisra, Hatibari, Lahunipara and K Balang are amongst the most affected police stations in the district. But, apart from the Bisra PS the condition of others are in bad shape. These PS really miss any visible sign of proper protection. It is the presence of the CRPF camp near the Bisra PS that has provided it some kind of protection.
Modernisation of the PS in these affected areas is like many of those proposed government programmes mired in red-tape. There is no effort to enhance the strength of the staff policing in these areas either by regular forces or by trained Special Forces.
For example, when Mr DS Kutte was the SP of Rourkela District Police, during an interaction with the press here, he had said “the force strength of Rourkela stands at what it was in 1961”. So, imagine the situation in rest of the district. n sns

Four Naxals killed in encounter

Hyderabad (PTI): Four naxalites were killed in an encounter with police in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh today, police said.

The encounter took place on the outskirts of Kotthagudem town when police surrounded a hideout of extremists, they said.

On seeing the police, naxalites opened fire. The police retaliated killing four extremists belonging to Janasakti group of CPI (ML) on the spot.

Some weapons and kit bags were also recovered from the spot, they added.

MUMBAI : Two arrested for alleged naxal links from Govandi

Hindustan Times
Mumbai, October 19, 2007
First Published: 17:26 IST(19/10/2007)
Last Updated: 17:35 IST(19/10/2007)

The Mumbai police arrested two middle-class men from the eastern suburb of Govandi on Sunday afternoon for alleged links with the Naxal movement.

Two firearms, gelatin sticks and detonators were recovered from Vernon Gonsalves and Srinivasan Vishnu, said a spokesman of the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS).

The arrest of the duo brings into focus alleged Naxal sympathies among a few of Mumbai's highly-educated, middle-class. In May, the police had similarily arrested Arun Ferreira, a science graduate of elite south Mumbai college St Xavier's and once a trainee Roman Catholic priest. Ferreira is still in police custody, charged with waging war against the state.
Gonsalves and Vishnu will be produced before the Esplanade Metropolitan Magistrate's Court on Monday afternoon. Sunil Deshmukh, ATS inspector with ATS said, "Vernon was found with firearms and explosives and has been booked under the Arms Act, Explosives Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act."
The ATS has also recovered from Gonsalves' home literature that indicates his links with the Naxal movement in rural Maharashtra, said Deshmukh. A close relative of Vernon, requesting anonymity, told HT that Vernon and his wife Susan Abraham had worked among tribals in Chandrapur area between 1984 and 1994.

But Susan came back to Mumbai in 1994 after she gave birth to a son. Vernon, the relative said, then shifted his base to Nashik and had returned back to Mumbai last year. "Vernon was arrested when he went to buy some medicine from a chemist's shop near his house in Mahakali caves at around 1.30 pm on Sunday," said the relative.

The Gonsalves family, including his wife, was not informed about Vernon's arrest till 12.30 am on Monday. "A column of policemen in three Qualis jeeps came to the house with a handcuffed Vernon. It was only then that we were informed of his arrest," the relative said.

"The cops then went on a rampage searching all possible articles in the house. They finally left with the hard disk of his personal computer. We have been told that he was arrested with firearms. But ATS officials failed to quantify their claims," the relative said.

His wife Susan was not allowed to call a legal representative and her mobile phone was confiscated. "The first call that Susan was allowed to make was at 7 am on Monday morning," added the relative.

In May, the Hindustan Times ran a nine-part nationwide investigation explaining how armed groups were spreading their influence over the lives of 170 million people across the country sprawling triangle of violence
-- from Kashmir to Manipur to Andhra Pradesh. More than Rs 2,700 crores in development funds meant for extremist-affected districts were not spent in the past financial year.

SPOs in Naxalite belts get 300% hike in wages

19 Oct, 2007, 0000 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: With the Salwa Judum experiment going awry and exposing the local civilians employed as special police officers (SPOs) to Naxal backlash, the Centre is attempting damage control by acknowledging their role in counter-extremist operations with a hike in ex-gratia compensation for an SPO to Rs 3 lakh from Rs 1 lakh.

The increased death compensation for an SPO — finalised at a meeting of the security-related expenditure (SRE) mechanism headed by special secretary(internal security) M L Kumawat here on Tuesday, will bring him on par with police personnel who also get Rs 3 lakh in the event of death during deployment in a Naxal-infested area.

SPOs are essentially local civilians from Naxal-infested areas who are appointed on a honorarium basis to assist the police in counter-operations by providing ground-level intelligence and guiding the police teams to Naxal hideouts hidden away in deep forests.

The SPOs are provided arms during the day but have to deposit them at night. They have often been targetted by the Naxalites who go after them when they are unarmed and hence unable to defend themselves. This phenomenon has been more pronounced in Chattisgarh, where the Salwa Judum movement, a popular uprising against Naxals, gained momentum even as the forces failed to do enough to insulate the local civilians and SPOs against a Naxal backlash.

In one of the deadliest Naxal attacks this year, CPI(Maoist) cadres had descended on the Rani Bodli camp in Dantewada and killed 55 police personnel in all, of which 39 were SPOs.

SPOs, in the event of death, were until now entitled to a compensation of only Rs 1 lakh while regular security personnel got Rs 3 lakh.

The SRE scheme reimburses expenditure incurred by the states on ammunition, training and upgradation of police posts. At present 76 districts in nine states badly affected by Naxal violence are covered under the scheme.

Out of an annual budget of Rs 50 crore under SRE, Rs.14 crore has already been released till August this year and an equal amount will be released soon for making ex-gratia payments, a senior MHA official said.

The SRE scheme was comprehensively revised in 2005 to enhance the level of utilisation of funds and so far, Rs 175.55 crore has been disbursed to the States under the scheme.

During 2005-06, the total budget outlay of Rs 45 crore was spent as against the average expenditure of Rs 9-10 crore in the previous years.

Naxal hit states have found the scheme very useful in improving ground level police response in dealing with the problem, described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the single biggest threat to internal security.

The scheme has been extended for a further period of five years till 2011. Statistics in the home ministry show that there have been 1509 incidents of Naxal attacks in the country so far this year, 157 police personnel, 521 civilians and 272 Naxalities have been killed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tide turning against Indian Maoists

By Jason Motlagh

HYDERABAD, India - An aggressive push by Indian state security forces over the past two years has blunted the Maoist insurgency in the state of Andhra Pradesh, a long-time guerrilla hotbed, but many have regrouped in remote parts of neighboring states where police remain ill-equipped to combat a surge in violence.

"There is a lull in Andhra Pradesh," said K Srinavas Reddy, a Hyderabad-based expert on the Maoist movement in India. "Police intrusion, the use of informant networks and coordination with locals have weakened the Naxalites here." Maoist insurgents are also known as Naxalites after the West Bengal town of Naxalbari where a communist armed rebellion began 40 years ago.

At the heart of the state's counter-insurgency strategy is increased patrolling in areas the guerillas have typically sought refuge in along the forested northern border with Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. An elite commando unit unique to Andhra Pradesh called the Greyhounds prowls the backcountry, supported by paid informants at the village level whose intelligence has led to the arrest or killing of several leaders.

The latest report by the Asian Center for Human Rights (ACHR), a Delhi-based thinktank that monitors insurgent groups, said that Andhra Pradesh is now far behind the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh in terms of persons killed by Naxalite-related violence. Out of a total of 384 deaths - civilians, security forces, and insurgents - between January and September, Chhattisgarh accounted for 208, or 54%; Andhra Pradesh was a distant second with 59 deaths.

This is a sharp improvement from 2005, when the state witnessed 535 incidents of violence and 208 killings, according to government figures.

A top state intelligence official who requested anonymity touted the success of the Greyhounds in beating the Naxalites at their own game. The force, which numbers around 2,000 in the state, has been operational since 1990 in small bands of 15-25 commandos that are specially trained for deep forest pursuit and combat. Over the past three years, Naxalites ranks have fallen from around 1,000 hardcore members to some 400 today, according to the official.

"We had to update our skills in forest operations," he said, noting that for many years state police were regular victims of insurgent ambushes. "[The Naxalites] have been masters of the jungle, so now we have started to dominate the jungle."

Still, the government is aware that gains made in Andhra Pradesh may have contributed to an influx of guerrilla activity across its borders, particularly in Chhattisgarh. To counter this, intelligence is being shared by state agencies to coordinate tactics, and the Greyhound model is being replicated in other Naxalite-affected states such as Jharkand and Bihar where it will soon come into force.

The government is also banking on disadvantaged tribal communities on which the Naxalites rely for shelter becoming wary of the trouble they bring with them.

In July, Naxalites in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh banned farming to protest against "the exploitation of the state's natural resources by the government". Those who defied the ban were to be given the death sentence and, according to police, at least 11 farmers in one district were killed by insurgents for working in their fields; others had their property burned or looted.

Suhas Chakma, the director of the ACHR, says that insecurity in the southernmost districts of Chhattisgarh has been compounded by the state's Salwa Judum "peace movement". Established with the intent of uniting villagers against the Naxalites, it has instead stoked violence in the region by arming poorly trained special police officers and giving them a free hand to fight. The tribals, meanwhile, are stuck in the middle.

The Andhra Pradesh intelligence official admitted he was "not in favor" of the program from the start. It should be the domain of seasoned police to bring the fight to the Naxalites, he added, as his state's successful strategy bears out.

Compared to fledgling police in Chhattisgarh, state security forces have learned from institutional experience that dates back to the late 1960s when the rebel movement first took to the Andhra Pradesh forests. There they found fertile ground among a population fed up with the vestiges of a feudal land system.

"We are the longest suffering," the official said. "There is a saying here: The oldest patient is half doctor."

But state-sponsored programs have produced unintended consequences that critics say will gradually feed another groundswell of Naxalite sympathies in Andhra Pradesh.

Greyhound personnel were reportedly behind the August 20 rape of 11 tribal women in the Visakhapatnam district. Victim testimonies gathered by rights groups say that the policemen raided their houses with charges that members of their family had links with Naxalite fighters, moving on to gang rape them. No action has yet been taken by state authorities to identify and prosecute those responsible.

Police are also accused of orchestrating "fake encounters", either killing insurgents on the pretense of defensive action or classifying the deaths of unverified criminals as Naxalites to inflate an impression of success.

A top Naxalite leader, known as Somanna, was reportedly killed in a July gun battle with police in Warangal district. However, Naxalite supporters allege he was arrested and executed in a staged manner the following day. In other affected states, Indian media have documented additional incidents in which security forces killed alleged militants who villagers claim were innocent.

The state government, for its part, rejects such allegations as part of a disinformation effort by the Naxalites to keep government forces out of villages they wish to control. Officials add that a rehabilitation program is always open to insurgents who wish to surrender, and includes a large cash sum, provided they renounce violence.

Revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, an ardent supporter of the Maoist cause, acknowledges that the Naxalite movement in Andhra Pradesh has faced setbacks. But he insists that while fighters may be depleted, grassroots support is "silent yet strong" due to the continued marginalization of tribal and lower-caste people in rural areas.

The Hyderabad native said the Naxalite insurgency has swelled and contracted over the years, likening the movement to a "phoenix bird that when killed, comes to ashes, only to rise again. In time, it will upsurge."

Reddy, the Maoism expert, said that without a development scheme that includes land reforms that favor the tribals, the insurgency will not die away. He cited a September 7 landmine attack by Naxalites on former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Janardhana Reddy and his wife during a village tour as evidence that no amount of heavy-handed action can eliminate the threat. Although the couple survived, three members of their convoy were killed.

"Ultimately, no government can get rid of this movement through force," he said. "Control it, yes, but they'll never get rid of it."

Jason Motlagh is a freelance journalist based in Delhi. This story was reported with a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Ten naxals surrender before police


Explosives recovered in Jharkhand

Chatra (Jharkhand) (PTI): Explosives that include two powerful can-bombs and a cylinder bomb, were recovered from the Naxal-affected Chatra district of Jharkhand on Wednesday.

The explosives, planted in the middle of the road, were recovered by a police patrol between Sikid-Potap Road near Kanhachatti village, about 45 kms from the district headquarters, Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Jha said here.

While the two can-bombs weighed 20 kgs each, the cylinder bomb was of 15 kgs, he said, adding the recovery was made on a tip-off.

Raids were intensified following the recovery.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Trained for a jungle war

Wednesday October 17 2007 10:49 IST

T’PURAM: After 45 days of rigorous training in the hills of Kanker district of Chhattisgarh, they are back in the state with skills to counter all sorts of naxalite or terrorist attacks.
A team of 31 selected police personnel ranking from constables to assistant commandants, drawn from various armed reserve units, had undergone one-and-a-half month training at the College of Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare (CCTJW) in Chhattisgarh to form part of a commando force of the state police.

‘‘We were intensively trained on all aspects of warfare and survival in the jungle, which ranged from firing to catching snakes. Besides physical training, we were also made mentallyprepared for contingencies during the course of training,’’ said Ajith Kumar V.G., a sub-inspector with Special Armed Police who was part of the 31- member team.

Besides Keralites, police personnel from states like Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Orissa are being trained at the institute. The Kerala team was led by Assistant Commandant Ajith Kumar B.

‘‘The most interesting part was overnight stay in tents on the hills. It had helped us have a first-hand experience on the living conditions in the jungle,’’ he recalled.

The batch that left here on August 27 returned on Monday. Another team led by an Assistant SP would also be sent for training soon.

‘‘As of now, major terrorist or naxalite threats do not exist here. However we need to be prepared as there are reports of terrorist activities moving towards the South. As part of this, more police officials of the state are being trained at leading institutions outside the state so that we can have a strong commando team,’’ DGP Raman Srivastava said.

On the lack of facilities in Kerala to polish such skills acquired by trained police personnel, Srivastava said that the necessary facilities would be set up in the state for the purpose.

Though the initial plan was to get the team trained by the Greyhound, antiextremist commando team of Andhra Pradesh, the state police had to drop it owing to the exorbitant fee - Rs 30,000 per person and 10,000 rounds of ammunition (each costing Rs 20) for each person. Whereas, CCTJW is charging only Rs 5,000 person.

The warfare institute, which is situated about 140 kilometres from Raipur, was started in 2005 with the aim of providing intensive training to security personnel in the state. The institute later started offering training to police personnel from other states

CMP to set right history

Ranchi, Oct. 16: If the Madhu Koda government has its way, over 3,000 acres, which the British had confiscated during colonial rule, would be restored to Tana Bhagats!

Besides, the state would set up fast-track courts to restore lands to tribals and dispose of rebel-related cases.

These plans have found a place in the much-awaited common minimum programme (CMP) of the UPA government, which is ready with chief minister Madhu Koda.

A committee, headed by deputy chief minister Stephen Marandi, drafted the guiding principles to the running of the government comprising at least five political parties and six Independents.

The allies have been invariably browbeating Koda for not adopting the CMP for the last one year.

The Tana Bhagats had lost their land after they had participated in Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement.

The followers of the Tana Bhagat movement, which became a religious rally of sorts, have been demanding back their land since Independence. The tribals have also been fighting for the land, which the non-tribals had got transferred illegally.

In Ranchi alone, 1,200 such cases are pending in the special area regulation (SAR) court.

Meanwhile, the CMP was silent on adopting “zero tolerance” policy to deal with the scourge of extremism. Rather, it considers it as a socio-economic problem and plans to create awareness among those who have deviated to retrieve them to the mainstream of society, besides stressing development of affected areas.

Also, the withdrawal of extremist-related petty cases might help to curb the menace, it says. It wants to compensate people in common, who were victim to Naxalite violence.

Among the other plans, the CMP will give preference to local youths in Grade IV jobs in the government and public sectors. It wants to set up a university — both central and technical — in every division, and AIIMS, IIMs and IIT with central aid. Under the CMP, 10 per cent of the dwelling units under Indira Awas Yojana will be reserved for members of minority communities living below poverty line. At the same time, it has said the state will frame schemes for progress of the poor among upper castes and review MoUs to remove obstacles to them through a single window system.

Stephen Marandi, refusing to divulge the details, said the CMP has been submitted to the chief minister, “who has to make it public now”.

Naxals kill fellow youth

17 Oct 2007, 0400 hrs IST,TNN

GADCHIROLI: Naxals allegedly killed a fellow youth for planning to surrender before the police on Monday.

Sources said Kailas alias Raju Visu Mohan (23), who was working with Surjagad dalam, had gone to his home in Rengawahi village of Aheri tehsil in Gadchiroli district to surrender before the police and marry his lover, who was also a Naxal.

About 15-20 Naxals belonging to Surjagad and Manku dalams came to the village and took the couple to a nearby farm and fired at Kailas killing him on the spot, sources said. Later the Naxals took the girl with them. A case has been lodged in this regard.

A case in this regard has been lodged at Etapalli police station.

Recently, Naxals belonging to the Gatta dalam killed two youngsters — Ranjit Baju Hodi (18) and Santosh Navadesh Navadi (19) — in Etapalli district of Gadchiroli on Sunday.

About 60-70 Naxals came to the Jangiya village near the Gatta Jambia police help centre and killed both of them by slitting their throats with sharp weapons.

Meanwhile, the deputy superintendent of police Santosh Pradhan said that the killing might have been an attempt to avert the leaking of information regarding the mine blasts a few days ago in the same area.

Strengthen Intelligence: Countering Naxal menace

There are apprehensions of Naxalites being active in Harda and Betul regions. Naxal activities have come to the fore in Balaghat, Mandla and Dindori regions. Some time back, with the arrest of a number of Naxalites in the State capital, Bhopal, the Red Corridor spread from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh also had in its influence Umaria, Shahdol and border districts of Maharashtra. In this situation, the Intelligence wing is observing the activities of the Adivasi organisations as the Naxals could approach them to meet their ends. It may be pointed out that the State Intelligence has been a failure in outsmarting the activities of terrorist and ultra elements. Whenever a state tightens its grip over such anti-national elements, the miscreants enter the other state. Some times, due to laxity shown by the law and order agencies, such elements get success in meeting their nefarious designs. In a recently held high-level meeting in the national capital, discussions were held to frame a joint strategy to meet Naxal challenge. However, due to lack of coordination among the Naxal-affected states not much progress could be made. Exchange of information is a different matter. It is weakness of the Intelligence wing that they are not being able to gather necessary information from the public. They have not succeeded in making their way among the people. The information network too is not functioning in an effective way. Hence the need is to develop a joint strategy among the Naxal-affected states.

Maoists target leaders

Statesman News Service
KEONJHAR, Oct. 16: The Maoists have come down heavily on local leaders for harassing poor people for the first time. Anandapur police, today, got hold of some printed materials which are said to have been distributed by Maoists in Khaliamenta area, 7 km from Anandapur.
The posters threaten to punish those who have confiscated lands from the poor and are exploiting the poor in different ways.They have warned ex-MLA, Ramchandrapur, Mr Badri Narayan Patra, Mr Panchanan Rout who runs an NGO, Mr Sanjay Jena, a local sarpanch and Mr Babu Jena through these posters.

According to Mr Patra he has never harassed anybody and is not afraid of the Maoists eventhough his name has been mentioned in the posters. He added that he is not taking any security measures provided by the government.

Keonjhar SP Mr Y Koyel said that only one or two posters were seen pasted on the walls in Khaliamenta haat.

The contents were printed except for the word Maoists which was handwritten. “I do not think any group is involved in sticking such posters as the previous cases indicate the Maoists tend to distribute too many posters in its operational area. It may be the handiwork of some local youths who are attempting to streamline the local governance” he adds.
Mr Koyel is perhaps denying the involvement of the Naxals perhaps because last year too many poster were stuck in Harichandanpur area just after the Naxal attack on a railway camp of Jayabharat Construction at Sagadapata village. The doctors who avoided treating the poor were targeted in those posters. But later it turned out to be a hoax. On 8 October, however, a Maoist group of eleven members swooped down on GSI camp.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Maoist action team member held

Tuesday October 16 2007 14:12 IST

GUNTUR, Oct 15: Maoist action team member Zahir (33) was arrested by police at Janapadu in Piduguralla mandal today.

It is learnt that the Zahir was arrested when he visited his brother-in-law’s house in the early horus and seized a weapon from him.

Zahir, a native of Anantavarapapdu village in Vatticherukuru mandal, embraced Naxalism a decade ago. He is the prime accused in the killing of Bollapalli MPP Ramireddy and Karampudi ZPTC member Venna Bhaskara Reddy. Six months ago, the police mistakenly thought that Zahir was killed in an encounter. Zahir was carrying a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head.

Bangalore: Woman Raped while in Police Custody

Tuesday, October 16, 2007 9:34:20 AM (IST)

Bangalore Oct 16: Cases of detention have, on many occasions, tarnished the image of City police. But this time, the police are on the dock not just for detaining a couple without proper records, but also raping the woman inside the police station.

The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Friday October 12 wrote a letter to the City police commissioner based on a statement given by an undertrial prisoner that she was sexually assaulted by a police constable while in judicial custody.

The Commission has recorded the statement of Asha and her husband Niteesh (names changed) at the Central prison at Parapanna Agrahara that she was raped by constable C C Basavaraj of Koramangala police station while in custody.

"We had earlier visited the police station where they were lodged and found that there were no records of their arrest or detention. This is the third such instance of illegal detention in police stations," said Justice S R Nayak, chairperson, SHRC.

According to rules, an accused cannot be detained for more than 24 hours in police custody. He has to be produced before a judicial magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.

Addressing media persons in Bangalore on Monday, Justice Nayak said the couple told them that they were "illegally" kept at the Koramangala police station for almost a week. "They also alleged torture by the cops.

Basavaraj tried to befriend and help them and even offered them good food at the police station. After that he separated the husband and wife and allegedly raped Asha in the police station. We recorded the statement of the couple and Dr Shashikala, medical officer, Central prison, Parappana Agrahara and we have sent it along with a letter recommending a criminal complaint against Basavaraj and a probe into the case," added Justice Nayak.

"We had also sent two complaints of illegal detention of people in Nandini Layout and Halasur police stations, but the police bosses are sitting on them. Illegal detention is Constitutional blasphemy. Such officers should not be allowed to hold office," he added.

The SHRC has received 240 complaints so far, since its inception. Along with Commission members, Justice Nayak will leave for Chikmagalur on Tuesday to investigate into the recent police ‘encounter’ in which some Dalits, alleged to be Naxalites, were killed.

Political blame game begins as terror grips nation

New Delhi: Mumbai, Delhi, Samjhuata Express, Malegoan, Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad twin blasts, Ajmer, Ludhiana — the list goes on.

With terror here to stay, one would have thought the reactions would be less cynical. However, this is what one gets to hear:

Says Minister of State, Home, Sriprakash Jaiswal, "The Home Ministry has been warning the states time and again that they need to step up their intelligence network.''

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister, Prakash Singh Badal, who was blamed by the Centre for a security lapse has denied any such thing saying that the SP and the DM arrived on the scene of the blast in just 10 minutes.

As politicians bicker and the blame game begins, North Block is faced with a bigger headache. With Kashmir slipping from their grip, jihadi groups are expanding their terror base across the country and security officials don't know where the next bomb will go off.

In other words, terror is here to stay and the frequency of attacks is just expected to go up, and what's worse, the jihadi hand is becoming clear whether it's in supplying arms to the ULFA, or training the Naxals or targetting migrants, the Babbar Khalsa style.

Says Security Analyst, Ajai Sahani, "Kashmir is an unattainable goal and jihadis know it and now they are expanding base."

But the silver lining is, despite the bickering, there has been some success. Sources have told CNN-IBN that at least 14 major terror attempts have been foiled this year alone.

But the Government knows that in this game of terror, it's the security agencies that have to score the winning goal.

(With inputs from Jyoti Kamal in Punjab and Brijesh Pandey in New Delhi)

Centre losing fight on terror

By Sunita Vakil

The Union Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patil, while addressing a conference of directors-general and inspectors of police warned about sleeper cells of terror outfits present in big cities, which could be brought into action mode at a moment’s notice. He also expressed the apprehension that they are most likely to strike at places where people tend to gather in large numbers besides police establishments. “Religious places can be attacked and the police can too become their targets. Politicians and other important persons may also be targeted”, the Minister said.

Commenting on the woeful inadequacy of the intelligence agencies of states to combat terrorism, the Home Minister stressed on developing and strengthening of intelligence set-up to meet the challenges of modern-day terror strikes, in which the terrorists use modern technology and sophisticated weapons.

Claiming that infiltration across the border has not yet abated since the terror incidents are still taking place, Mr. Patil underlined the need to shed complacency urging the security agencies to be constantly on their toes. Listing Assam and Manipur as other areas of concern in the Northeast, the Minister underscored the need for better synchronisation among the forces operating in these states. He also articulated the view that pro-active strategy and concerted action are necessary to stop extortions in the region.

It needs no reiteration that things are really serious not just all along the border but throughout the length and breadth of the country. That things are getting out of hand has been borne out by various governmental statistics. Some of these point out the fact that more than 30 per cent of India is reeling under dastardly attacks from jehadis, Naxals, Maoists and other freewheeling and dealing killers. The Indian state is visibly adrift rudderless in the choppy waters. Nothing highlights this more vividly than the happenings in states like Assam, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh on the other hand, illegal immigration of Bangladeshis is being encouraged by the ruling class in a bid to build up vote banks.

For Mr. Patil to have stated publicly that our security apparatus is unfit to fight terror does not help India feel inclined enough to grapple with the deadly menace of terrorism. Instead of sitting up and taking notice, the UPA leadership along with their drumbeaters are busy settling scores with their allies in their game of one upmanship. Notwithstanding the wave of violence that is threatening to snare the entire nation, they tend to remain recklessly nonchalant about national security.

Indeed, the policies followed by the UPA government reflect its casual attitude toward fighting terrorism to its logical end. Repealing of POTA and dithering over Parliament attack convict Mohammed Afzal’s death sentence have only added to the internal security haze of the Congress-led UPA government. Such flawed policies have come in handy for the fast and furious spread of terror across the country.

Asserting that their approach to dealing with terrorism is correct, the ruling party resorts to underplaying the security concerns besides couching their incompetence by complimenting people for maintaining social harmony and suffering the losses bravely. While there can be no denying the fact that there is nothing wrong in placating the victims, such response is no alternative to address the core issues.

Rather than perceiving terrorism as a common enemy, political parties are using it as a cat’s paw to augment their electoral fortunes. That’s why the government does not demonstrate a firm will to put down terrorism once for all. This also explains its hesitation to take stringent measures for fear of angering the hard-line constituency that could jeopardise the party’s hopes of winning their support. Given this the government feels no compunction in sacrificing the interests of security for vote bank politics. This was also clear from the Home Minister’s address who, during his deliberations emphasised the need for “understanding and sympathy” while dealing with terror threats.

The Congress is yet to undertake a serious introspection of the terror situation. It surely cannot afford to sit back and take a casual approach. Its laxity in cracking down on terrorism will make the matters worse in coming days. It makes little sense to cry hoarse that all is well and no laws need to be changed in the face of serious terror threats faced by the nation.

It is time to shed complacency in the furtherance of the national interest. Having said that, there has to be a serious disconnect between the vote bank politics and national concerns.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Che's Indian cadres

14 Oct 2007, 0035 hrs IST,Priyanko Sarkar,TNN

Forty years ago, Bolivian soldiers, acting on CIA orders, killed and mutilated Ernesto 'Che' Guevara de la Serna in a schoolhouse in Bolivia.

"But did you know he was betrayed by a woman named Tanya. She left behind important documents disclosing his hiding place in a car," says Chandrashekhar, one of the five IITians who founded a political party, Lok Paritran, three years ago. Ironically, in one of his books, Che opened with how betrayal hurts more than death. "But how many people know this?" demands Chandrasekhar, 26, who was so inspired that he stole this book on Che's views on socialism, guerrilla warfare and politics from his IIT Kanpur library. The book was El socialismo y el hombre en Cuba (Man and Socialism in Cuba) and advocated the need to shape a "new man" in conjunction with a socialist state.

The rock star of revolution has of course been claimed and embalmed by market forces. His face has launched a thousand products but hasn't sunk too many despotic governments. Chandrashekhar, like many other true followers, hates what pop culture has done to him. But there are a few who have managed to look beyond his rockstar image. Twenty-three-old Abhijit Alka Anil, a social work student says that on graduation day, a girl saw his Che T-shirt and asked if he was in some band. "For most of the young, Che is just like a crush," he says.

In India, his legacy is somewhat ambiguous—there are shared ideologies but also serious conflicts. The Preamble to the Constitution has Che's ideology emblazoned on it—'Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic'. Che fought against imperialism and so did India's freedom fighters. He was a socialist as was Jawharlal Nehru who steered India in its formative years. Che was assassinated and so was Gandhi—but herein lies the schism, for while one man picked up the gun, the other hated it. Today, if there is any one group in the country that really lives his ideals—and we're not talking about the chattering classes of Kerala and West Bengal—it's the Naxals. The enemies of the state.

More than fifty years ago, a young Ernesto Guevara—a doctor from a well-to-do family—rode through Latin America on a motorcycle. What he saw, the suffering visited upon the people of Latin America by America's big dream of a free-market economy, drove him to revolution. There is no shortage of motorcycles or well-to-do doctors in India but it takes more than diesel to start a fire. The causes are many: ethnic cleansing in Gujarat, the ecological refugees of the Sunderbans, the victims of Bhopal, the peasants of Narmada, Singur, Nandigram and Vidarbha. What do youngsters choose to fight against? Reservations. Sociologist Nandini Sardesai who taught for many years at St Xavier's College says, "Today's student generation is just not interested in anything. They are not ideological and do not subscribe to any idea."

In the 1970s, when the Naxalite movement was at its peak and the idea of revolution had stirred campuses across the country, Che's bandana was a red rag. Jawaharlal Nehru University, which has had a long standing affair with Leftism, exploded with great zeal in the seventies when the cult of Che was spreading all over the world. He was looked up in the same league with Karl Marx and Mao Zedong. "The real Marxists took inspiration from Che and even non-leftists were inspired by him back then," recalls a former student of the university.

Cinema too was in thrall. Govind Nihalani made Aghaat in which Om Puri is a trade union leader. Govind remembers how popular Che was during the late 70s and early 80s. "And if there is a poster of him in my movie it is because the character subscribes to the kind of revolution Che was known for," he says. And Sudhir Mishra who was a young man in that decade, crystallised the struggle and the disillusionment into his Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. A large photograph of Che looks down from a wall in his Bandra flat. "Che's life is like a poem," says the film-maker. "In the 80s, he represented sexual freedom with his romantic image, undiluted passion and the idea that you could change the world.

Now, of course, he has been turned into a joke. It's an aesthetically vulgar idea putting him on a T-shirt just because nobody owns him." Che Kurien, a journalist in Mumbai, is one of the few in India who bears his name. "My grandfather's close friend was the head honcho of Pfizer during the British Raj. During the day, he worked as a capitalist but at night he would kneel in front of a red-and-black poster of Che Guevara. That influenced my father into naming me after him," he says. Through his growing years, Che Kurien rarely found himself among those who appreciated his namesake.

Worse, his name was often mispronounced and came out sounding like 'chee'. To be shot by soldiers is one thing, to have your name murdered by telephone operators and credit calls salesman another.

The revolutionary is dead but his name lives on—grotesquely.

Maharastra : 'State vulnerable to terror attacks'

14 Oct 2007, 0322 hrs IST,TNN

NAGPUR: The state would always remain vulnerable as Mumbai, the financial capital of the country, is the main target of terrorists, said Maharashtra police chief P S Pasricha.

According to Pasricha, who was in the city to receive President Pratibha Patil at the Dr Ambedkar international airport, anti-national forces, including Naxals, are increasingly targeting communal harmony to flare up violence across the country.

Apart from strengthening intelligence wings, Pasricha said that ‘community policing with media support’ would be one of the best strategies to fight terrorism.

The state police chief informed that around 56,000 vacancies in the department would be filled up in the next five years. According to Pasricha, around 11,000 personnel have already been trained at police academy in Nashik while another 11,000 are on the threshold of beginning their training at the academy.

After introducing cyber cell and economic offences wing in state crime investigation department and deputing officers, Pasricha informed more plans are on the anvil to strengthen the state intelligence department in near future. The DGP also indicated that state intelligence department would have 50 per cent of its manpower strength directly recruited in the next couple of years.

The newly recruited manpower would be later specially trained with skills on the lines of high-profile intelligence gathering networks and department in the country. Posts of assistant intelligence officer (AIO) and senior intelligence officer (SIO) would be recruited.

“We are already negotiating the rules and corresponding with the Maharashtra Public Service Commission to conduct the recruitment tests as per the rules,” said Pasricha. “We would also have officers from Intelligence branches as trainers and a committed department to search and create network to gather intelligence,” added the DGP. “The set-up will be ready within two years,” he said.

DGP Pasricha, who welcomed city police’s initiative to launch anti-terror ‘Mission Mrityunjay’ campaign, informed that similar efforts have been undertaken in different regions, like Mumbai and Nashik, across the state.

Apart from terrorism, state police chief also claimed that police has turned on the heat on the banned Maoist movement in the state.

Please let us study, kids tell Naxals

Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, October 14
Rallies and demonstrations are nothing new in this crucial Hindi heartland, which witnessed a series of agitations from the JP movement in the 1970s to reservation issue in the recent past, the echoes of which were felt in national politics too.

But it was a different rally by school students of Aurangabad. Pen, it is said, is mightier than sword and the schoolchildren there have proved that in letter and spirit.

The students in Aurangabad took everyone by surprise when they took out a rally on Saturday against the growing Naxalite menace in the district.

Aurangabad is among the 23 districts affected by Naxalite problem in the state, which the Nitish government is finding hard to cope with.

The students, ranging from class II to class VII, perhaps know nothing about the Naxalite movement, except that their schools in Aurangabad district have been closed for some time now because of the frequent demands for money by ultras.

Officials in the districts, who despite concerted efforts in the past could not yet wipe out the Naxalites, admit that the Naxals even damage the schools if their demand for money was not met.

In the rally, with banners and posters, students sought to send a strong message to the Naxals who often justify their struggle in the name of social transformation. “Do not snatch away our school life and let us study”, was the loud and clear message from the rally.

After hitting the streets in protest, the students said their protests would continue till schools were allowed to function peacefully.

The Nitish government, which for long has been trying to involve the people in its bid to isolate the Naxals from society, welcomed this spontaneous move by the students.

An enthused Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi told the media here that these children have shown that they would not like to suffer due to terrorism any more.

Cop killed, another hurt in blast

13 Oct 2007, 0231 hrs IST,TNN

GADCHIROLI: Two Naxal attacks rocked Gadchiroli district early on Friday. While a police constable was killed and a driver of a team of C60 commandos (anti-Naxal squad) injured in a landmine blast, in the second incident, there was an exchange of fire between the police and Maoists.

According to police sources, the anti-Naxal squad was on its regular patrol and combing operation in Etapalli on Chodasa Road around 9.10 am, when constable Tejraj Kumre and driver Raghunath Daro noticed that a stretch of the road seemed divided. While they were inspecting the road, the Naxals triggered a landmine blast. Kumre died on the spot and Daro was grievously wounded. Sources said Daro was rushed to Nagpur and admitted to a private hospital while Kumre’s body was brought to the Gadchiroli police headquarters.

About half-an-hour later, an exchange of fire was reported between the Naxals and police in Kurkheda tehsil. The anti-Naxal squad was on its routine combing operation on Kotgul Gyarapatti road near Bandu village when around 15 Naxals started firing at the police party. The police returned the fire and the encounter lasted for about 20 minutes, police sources said. The Naxals then escaped into the nearby forest. The police seized a cache of arms, including a rifle, two hand grenades, a gun, detonators, wire and some kits known as ‘pittu’ in which the Naxals keep some essentials.

When contacted, district superintendent of police Santosh Pradhan termed the incidents as unfortunate and said the police have intensified combing operation in the area.

Maoists M'Nagar district secretary surrendered

Updated: 10-12-2007

HYDERABAD :The CPI (Maoist) received yet another setback when its Mahabubnagar district committee secretary (DCS) Ramakanth alias Gunduru Srinu surrendered before Superintendent of Police Charu Sinha and Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Rajesh Kumar here on Friday.

The naxalite, an accused in the brutal gunning down of Congress MLA from Makhtal C. Narsi Reddy about two years ago, was involved in as many as 75 crimes, including eight murders.

Ramakanth, who used to be armed with AK- 47 rifle, which symbolised his importance in the CPI (Maoist) hierarchy, carried a reward of Rs. 5 lakh on his head. His wife, Rajitha, who was a commander of Telkapally dalam in the district, had recently surrendered to the police.

Explaining the reasons for his surrender, Ramakanth, who was produced before media persons, said ill-health and other problems forced him to come out of the jungle.

The Maoist leader justified the elimination of Narsi Reddy, but expressed regret for killing 10 others in the ghastly attack. The party too expressed its concern at a review meeting held after the killings.

The Maoist leader said that the party was going through a “weak” phase and not receiving the support it expected from the villagers as the police or the Government was solving their problems. He said there was no new recruitment in the party for quite some time now.

Hailing from Ajilapoor village of Veldanda mandal, Ramakanth studied up to Intermediate before joining the People’s War in 1995. He was arrested once but jumped bail in 1998 and went underground.

After serving the party in various positions as Dalam member of Kalwakurthy, deputy commander of upper plateau, commander of Nallamala dalam and platoon commander, he was appointed as DCS this year.

Ms. Charu Sinha said that she would make all efforts for his rehabilitation and appealed to other underground cadre Shyam, Uma, Shoba, Vikram and Anjaneylu to come out and join the mainstream.

The SP commended the police team led by OSD Rajesh Kumar, Kishan, Majid, Ravinder, Balchauhan and Murali Krishna for their efforts in getting Ramakanth to surrender.