Saturday, November 24, 2007

Naxals’ double-edged sword: Opium & robbery

Sunday November 25 2007 09:01 IST

Window2India: Sports News

SAMBALPUR: Over the years, cultivation of hemp or ganja or its like in the interior areas never visited by any official has become a major source of money for the Left wing ultras.

The Maoists are repeating the time-tested method already used by their cadre in neighbouring Jharkhand to fund the banned group’s activities.

The police have also linked the illicit trade to the spate of bank robberies. The robberised, they feel, could have a Naxal link with the cash being channelled to them either in the form of protection money or extortion from bigger groups who operate from their ‘liberated zones’. Police personnel, Excise and Revenue officials had to trudge 12 km of inhospitable terrain to Kudanali and a neighbouring village in Naktideul block on Monday last before they could lay their hands on the hemp cultivation spread over 20 acres of land. Police destroyed the hemp valued at Rs 16 cr.

Similar detection in Kandhamal in November last year was claimed to be the biggest haul in the country worth a whopping Rs 116 cr.

And more recently on Thursday, 6,000 hemp plants valued at Rs 2.5 cr were destroyed in the forests of Khajuripada and Sunajhari of Boudh district which of late has become the meeting ground of the Naxals for their onward journey down south for the formation of ‘Red Corridor’.

Maintaining that he has received similar reports of hemp cultivation from farflung areas of Malkangiri district, SP Satish Gajbhaiye said the police would come down heavily on the illicit trade. Even Sambalpur SP Sanjay Kumar had expressed apprehension that money from hemp cultivation is being channelled to the ultras. There has also been a report of the Naxals being involved in bank robbery in Sundargarh.

While involvement of Left wing ultras in such cases in Orissa is yet to be established, going by available data, bank robbery has been reported from Rourkela, Barbil and Baripada which are located close to Maoist-infested areas on Jharkhand border.

Wires used for bombs seized in Patna

24 Nov 2007, 2057 hrs IST,PTI

PATNA: Police on Saturday recovered 600 metres of fuse wire, used for detonating explosive devices, from the Patna Railway station.

Six bundles of fuse wire were found in an unclaimed bag at a platform after the Patna-bound Lokmanya Tilak train reached the station from Mumbai, said the railway police.

The seizure came close on the heels of UP serial blasts and after a huge cache of explosives seized by city police from a Naxalite hideout in Kumarhar locality of the state capital on Thursday night.

2 Naxals held, literatures seized

Saturday November 24 2007 13:54 IST

SAMBALPUR: Police apprehended two Maoists and seized uniforms, leaflets, literatures and cassettes from a camp in Purunapani forest between Jujomura and Dhama here yesterday night.

They have been identified as Ramesh Dehury (21) of Kayakud village under Jujomura police limits and Yogendra Sabar (22) of Bramhapura village under Charmal police limits.

The duo were involved in blasting of a farmhouse in Sitlenpali and torching of a cement laden truck on NH 42.

Three Naxals wounded in firing

25 Nov 2007, 0216 hrs IST,TNN

CHANDRAPUR: At least three Naxalites were seriously injured in an exchange of fire that followed the police attack on a suspected Naxalite camp in the Paletola jungles of Etapalli taluka, Gadchiroli district, early on Saturday, Gadchiroli police have claimed.

The clash broke out when two C-60 teams, acting on a tip-off, police began combing the jungle in search of the Leftist rebels. They had almost zeroed in on the training camp when the sentries guarding the camp opened fire. Large quantities of explosives and Naxal literature were recovered, but the Naxals managed to flee the camp and escape into the forests.

According to Gadchiroli DSP Rajesh Pradhan, the police got a tip-off that Naxalites were holding a special training camp in Paletola jungle. Accordingly, two C-60 teams from Etapalli division were dispatched to locate the camp in the early hours of Saturday. At about 6.45 am, the police teams reached the vicinity of the camp. The sentries spotted the approaching commandos and immediately opened fire. A heavy exchange of fire continued for 15 minutes before the Naxalites, believed to be around 30-35 in number, fled from the spot. As the police searched the campsite, and found fresh bloodstains. The police claimed that at least three Naxals seriously injured in the clash were taken away by their comrades.

"At least three of them have sustained serious injuries in the exchange of fire," said Pradhan. He said the search team recovered two live grenades, two Claymore mines, a land mine, detonator and 350 foot-long wire, five bags and one backpack

Jharkhand to have bike squad to fight Maoist rebels

Posted : Sat, 24 Nov 2007 09:22:03 GMT
Author : IANS

Ranchi, Nov 24 - Jharkhand police have decided to have motorcycle squads equipped with latest weapons to fight Maoist rebels in the state, officials said Saturday.'The cops manning the squad will be given special training to fight the rebels. In hilly areas, Maoists take advantage of jungles while escaping. Bikes will be helpful as it is difficult to chase any one on four wheelers inside jungles,' a police official told IANS.'In jungles, Maoists detonate vehicles by triggering landmine blasts. But it will be difficult to blast bikes,' he said.Each squad will have at least 24 security personnel on 12 bikes.There will be at least two bike squads in each of the Maoist-dominated districts. Latest bikes with maximum horsepower will be purchased and cops selected for the bike squad will be trained to fight Maoists in the jungles.Jharkhand has constituted five special teams to fight the rebels. They include personnel of the Special Task Force (STF), Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) and Grey Hound Force. Despite all these efforts, Maoists have been killing civilians and security personnel in the state regularly.Till now, 645 civilians, 290 security personnel and 144 Maoist rebels have been killed in the last six years. Maoist rebels are active in 18 of the 24 districts of the state.
(c) Indo-Asian News Service

We were in Nandigram, say Maoists

T S Sudhir
Thursday, November 22, 2007 (Hyderabad)
The CPM has been saying it all along that the violence in Nandigram was engineered by Maoists.

Now for the first time, a senior Maoist ideologue has come out in the open and told NDTV that maoists were indeed present inside Nandigram to actively resist the CPI(M) cadre.

The banned Maoists expect the Nandigram episode to have the same impact on the naxal movement in the country, which Naxalbari had in the late sixties.

For the first time, a senior Maoist ideologue has come out in the open and told NDTV that Maoists were indeed present inside Nandigram to actively resist the CPI (M) cadre.

Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao says Nandigram in 2007 will give the Maoist movement the same impetus that Naxalbari did in the late sixties.

Rao, who visited Nandigram in May and then again in June says the support from civil society and intellectuals to the movement, would give the much-needed fillip to the banned organisation.

''The impact it will have is like in the case of Naxalbari. Naxalbari lasted six months, Nandigram lasted 11 months.

''May not be only because of Maoists but because of people's opposition to SEZs and imperialist globalisation, it could sustain. Therefore, it will give strength to the Maoist movement,'' said Varavara Rao, Maoist ideologue.

Rao, says the Maoist cadre is indeed present in Nandigram and that it is helping the villagers resist attempts by the state to take over their land.

''We are there. We are not doing violence. We are only resisting the violence. Violence is by the CPI (M) and their goons,'' said Varavara Rao.

With a recent meeting of top Maoists resolving to militantly oppose Special Economic Zones, Rao says the Maoists would like to replicate the resistance in states like Andhra Pradesh.

He however, concedes that relentless police pressure in the state has pushed the movement on the backfoot.

Friday, November 23, 2007

India's Maoists shift to attacks on police

Article published Nov 22, 2007

November 22, 2007

By Jason Motlagh - NEW DELHI — Faced with setbacks in their former stronghold, India's Maoist insurgents have responded with a new war strategy that favors large-scale attacks on police forces and high-profile-target killings.

The latest in a series of recent strikes came late last month when 19 persons, including the youngest son of former state Chief Minister Babulal Marandi, were gunned down at a village cultural event in eastern Jharkhand state.

At least 30 guerrillas disguised in khaki reserve police uniforms opened fire on a crowd after one of them reportedly announced they were Naxalites intending to kill the official's older son, who survived the attack.

TWT Photo Report: Faces of guerrilla soldiers in Chattisgarh

The Maoists are known here as Naxalites after the West Bengal town of Naxalbari, where an armed peasant uprising broke out 40 years ago.

With an estimated 20,000 soldiers in half of the country's 29 states, continued strikes by the group belie India's emergence as a technologically savvy global power that is expected someday to rival China.

Although the insurgents missed their target in the Oct. 28 attack, analysts say it is part of a broader campaign against state authorities, who have tried to stanch their advance.

"As far as [the Naxalites] were concerned, this was a targeted attack against an enemy group convened for mobilization against them," said Ajai Sahni, director of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi. "It's definitely a trend, and the strategy is clearly documented."

The attack was reminiscent of the March killing of Jharkhand parliamentarian Sunil Mahato, who was fatally shot along with three others while watching a soccer match.

In September, former Chief Minister Janardhana Reddy of the southern Andhra Pradesh state and his wife narrowly escaped a massive land-mine blast that killed three escorts in their convoy during a village tour.

Both Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh are hotbeds of Naxalite operations, and the chief ministers were actively involved in state programs to counter the rebels' influence in rural areas.

Although Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the Naxalites pose the biggest internal security threat to the country since independence from British colonial rule in 1947, authorities counter that such attacks are a telltale sign the movement has grown weaker in some areas where it once had traction.

An aggressive counterinsurgency strategy in Andhra Pradesh, a traditional Naxalite stronghold, has killed hundreds of fighters and led to the arrest of top leaders since peace talks collapsed in late 2004.

Leading the effort are the Greyhounds, an elite commando force trained specially for guerrilla warfare.

They conduct search-and-destroy operations in the forest belt at the state's northern border, aided by a network of paid informants and former Naxalites who have switched sides.

A report by the federal Intelligence Bureau found that overall incidences of Naxalite-related violence declined last year by more than 65 percent and killings by 78 percent.

However, rebel attacks have increased in states such as Chhattisgarh, where ill-equipped and undermanned police face an estimated 5,000 armed cadres backed by thousands more militia.

According to the federal Home Ministry, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand accounted for 67 percent of total incidents of Naxalite violence in the country and more than three-fourths of total casualties.

Varavara Rao, a revolutionary poet and former Naxalite representative, says Naxalite forces have withdrawn to the deep jungle to consolidate their strength for bigger attacks that will involve thousands of fighters.

"The mobile war stage is moving forward [in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand]," he said, noting the success of a March 19 pre-dawn raid on the remote Rani Bodli police outpost in Chhattisgarh that left 55 security personnel dead — the worst attack so far.

The operational shift toward larger, less frequent attacks is said to have been approved at the Maoist party's unity conference earlier this year in the jungle border area between Jharkhand and Bihar states. The two major Naxalite factions, the People's War Group and the Maoist Communist Center, merged in September 2004 to form the Communist Party of India-Maoist.

• This article was reported with a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Maoists kill CPM leader in Bengal during bandh

21 Nov 2007, 0200 hrs IST,TNN

PURULIA: Maoists tied a local CPM leader to a tree and shot him dead in Purulia, West Bengal in a violent bandh during which the ultra-Left outfit again blew up track in Bihar on Tuesday disrupting trains.

Sufol Mandal, 40, was killed in a Monday night raid on Ghatberia, which the villagers, said was a revenge attack for turning in their new recruits from the area to the police. The Naxals left behind posters blaming the ruling CPM for atrocities in West Bengal. Mandal was a member of the CPM's local committee.

"I tried to look through the window but they ordered me to shut the window. We only heard sound of gunshots," said Biswanath Mondal, a local villager. Two houses were blown up before the Maoists left the village.

The Maoists had called the two-day bandh in West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand in protest against the Nandigram killings.

The CPM blamed the opposition parties for trying to spread terror in Purulia with the help of Maoists. In Bihar, rail traffic was suspended for several hours after Maoists blew up a portion of the track between Jamui and Bhalui stations in Danapur division early Tuesday.

'City faces threat from Naxalites'

21 Nov 2007, 0301 hrs IST,Soumittra S Bose,TNN

NAGPUR: The chief of anti-terrorist squad K P Raghuvanshi welcoming the concept to launch student based anti-terror campaign said that the city faces threat from Naxals and terrorists.

Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh addressed a large gathering of students from different educational institutions enrolled as members of Mrityunjay Club to assist city police fight terrorism.

"The huge arms seizure and RSS encounter are the two incidents taken place in the city last year show that Nagpur faces dual threat from both Naxals and terrorists," said Raghuvanshi. "In fact, all the crowded locations and market places in every city are under threat. Public in the whole and youth in particular goes a long way assisting in the counter tactics of terrorisms," he added.

Raghuvanshi also opined that large numbers of migrant population and its connectivity with the rest of the country makes Nagpur a vulnerable target in central India. "Terrorism as a concept needs to be combated and extradited," added the senior officer.

"Illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Nepal are potential threats to the country," he said adding that these two countries are being increasingly used by the terrorist outfits to ‘push’ militants to spread violence and mayhem in the country. "Apart from entering the country, militants are also increasingly using the two neighbouring countries to take shelter after an attack," added Raghuvanshi.

Nagpur Naxal victims on hunger strike

22 Nov 2007, 0104 hrs IST,Soumittra S Bose,TNN

NAGPUR: They have witnessed the brutal killing of their dear ones and some have lost their only breadwinner of their family. Around 25 families of Gadchiroli, who have fallen prey to the Naxal menace in the district, are on a hunger strike in the city to highlight their plight during the assembly’s winter session. The agitators are demanding that they be granted special status of ‘Martyr’s kin or families’ that would make them entitled to special quota facilities.

"The Naxal menace has shadowed Gadchiroli and its neighbouring districts for the last 25 years. It’s high time the government frames rehabilitation schemes for victims of the Naxalites," said Madhuri Madavi, municipal councillor from Gadchiroli.

"Government aid to families of victims are inadequate," pointed out Madavi, who is leading the agitation.

"Such families should be also entitled to special quotas or job reservation in government services on the lines of ex-servicemen," she maintained.

"Government should provide facilities of helicopter to ferry injured police or commandoes from the Naxal-dominated districts to Nagpur in lesser time," added Madavi.

"I was four-months pregnant when I lost my husband, who was a C-60 commando. My husband Avinash Randive died in a Naxal encounter," said Alka (28). "Government should treat us at the par with the widow of a soldier who died fighting for his motherland. My husband was not doing anything less. Today I am struggling for livelihood," she said.

Maharu Keshav Satpute (43) recounts how he saw his elder son Sachin’s killing by the Naxals last year at Etapalli. Not just that, his younger son Nitin left the village in fear after the incident. "My younger son has fled the village but is unable to settle in fear of being attacked. All I want is government employment for my younger son and better police protection," said Satpute.

"Naxals kidnapped some of the villagers, including me, on suspicion that we were police informers. They killed my friend Tirupati brutally in front of me," said Shrirang Laxman Kukurkar (60). Kukurkar claimed that the government had allotted him only a 150 square feet plot to erect a house whereas he had to leave around five acres of land behind in Chitalpeth.

"The government rehabilitated me to Ashti after the attack. I am fighting for some agricultural plot for the last 17
years and some financial benefits to construct a bigger house," he said, adding that his graduate daughter should be given government employment.

Madna, the widow of Tirupati has also joined the protest hunger strike. to highlight her plight. Madna has been earning her livelihood as a van majoor since her husband’s death and struggled hard to bring up three children. "At least, provide some employment to my elder son," she added.

Raju Sadmik, younger brother of C-60 commando Bandu Sadmik, also wants a government job outside Gadchiroli. "Naxals have been threatening me as my brother is in the commando squad. I am under threat for the last three years," said Raju.

Three including RJD block chief, village head killed by maoist

Chatra-Jamshedpur (PTI): Three persons - a RJD block president, a village head (Munda) and a chowkidar were killed in two separate incidents by maoists in Jharkhand, police sources said on Friday.

Nanda Kishore Singh, the RJD's Chatra block president, was abducted and killed on Thursday night by the activists of the Sastra People's Morcha, a breakaway group of the CPI (Maoist) at Mokama village in Chatra district, Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Jha told newsmen at Chatra.

Suspected maoists kidnapped the village head and chowkidar of Titlighat in naxal stronghold Saranda forest in West Singhbhum district on Thursday night and killed them, police sources said.

Confirming the incident, Additional Superintendent of Police Pankaj Kamboj said the details were being awaited as the incident had taken place on the Jharkhand-Orissa border under Gua police station of the district.

A massive combing operation have been launched following the incident, he said adding that the bodies have been recovered.

Maoist violence rises in 2 Indian states

Published: Nov. 23, 2007 at 9:52 AM

Print story Email to a friend Font size:NEW DELHI, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- India says Maoist activities in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have risen by 40 to 50 percent.

"I do not wish to take any political mileage but this is a fact that Naxal activities in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have gone up by 40 and 50 per cent respectively," Indian Interior Minister Shivraj Patil told Parliament Thursday.

Naxal is the term used in India to refer to Maoists.

The minister said federal government is fully committed to combat the rebels.

He said the federal government had helped in setting up a unified command in various states, but the onus to deploy forces was on states.

Patil said he has asked a number of state governments to fill up more than 10,000 vacancies in police forces as soon as possible.

Responding to a query, Patil said there were ideological and fraternal links between the Maoists of Nepal and Naxalite groups in India, "but there is no specific evidence available of an operational or material relationship between them including training."

Top Naxal commander held in Patna

Patna, Nov 23: A top Naxalite commander, along with an associate, who were reportedly planning to strike somewhere in north Bihar, was arrested last evening.

A huge cache of explosives was seized, police said.

Bhaskar Ji, a high-level commander of CPI(Maoist), stated to be heading the armed squad of the underground outfit in north Bihar, and an associate Tirthankar were arrested from a rented house in Nayatola locality of the town following a tip-off, IG (Operations) S K Bharadwaj said.

Over 50 claymore mines, many more hand grenades, detonators, wire and other explosive materials were seized from the hideout.

Bharadwaj said several police uniforms and Naxalite literature were also recovered from the place where search operation was still on.

"Preliminary inquiry suggests that Naxalites were planning a massive operation in north Bihar. Where and when this operation was to take place will be known after thorough interrogation," he said. "Those arrested are being interrogated and we will be able to tell you more about the seizure and the plans of the Naxalites later," he said. (Agencies)

Published: Friday, November 23, 2007

Large Cache of Explosives Seized in Patna
Patna: Nov. 22, 2007

A police Special Task Force (STF) in Patna on Thursday claimed to have foiled an attempt to blow up jails in Patna and some areas of North Bihar following the arrests of two prominent Maoist leaders and the seize of a huge cache of explosives including bomb-making paraphernalia and landmines from a rented house in Kumhrar's Naya Tola area.

The breakthrough came after the STF, that was staking out in the area for nearly two days, arrested notorious Maoist extremist Lalbabu Sahni and Dhananjay on Thursday. The two led the police to a rented flat in a house owned by late Ganesh Prasad Yadav.

Inside the flat, the police discovered two rooms full of powerful explosives, bomb-making devices, hand grenades, landmines, Naxal literature, police uniforms, pictures, CDs, and several documents indicating the ultras were planning a major showdown in the state by launching Jehanabad-like assaults on various prisons.

The large quantity of explosives took even the senior police officials by surprise.

"It appears these explosives were being accumulated over a long period of time to cause great damage to the state including government buildings like jails and railway stations," said IG (Operations) S. K. Bhardwaj.

Based on the information provided by the two arrested men, raids are being coordinated in other parts of the state, Director General of Police (DGP) Ashish Ranjan Sinha said.

The Naxal Girdilock

Naxalites catch the people's attention now and then, during their forays into towns and villages, shooting down a prominent figure, raiding police stations or issuing dire threats. They storm in and out of headlines much like their violent operations. The Naxal movement is slowly gaining in strength and has now spread to 160 districts in the country. So much so that the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, has publicly declared that "the problem is the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country."
It is the tribal areas that is the main battleground of these leftwing extremists. According to one report Naxalites control over 19 per cent of India's best forests. In many of the forest areas no government functionary has dared enter for fear of being killed or taken prisoner by the Naxalites. The result is that there is no forest supervision in such areas giving rise to exploitation by the timber mafia and poachers who pay 'protection money' to the Naxalites for carrying on their nefarious activities. According to Richard Mohapatra, whose 'Unquiet Forest' is revealing, Naxalite Violence affects close to 300 million people in India across 7,000 villages.

The VIP-Maoist has been spreading a ring of death at the rate of two districts each week and have grown from 55 districts in nine States in November 2003 to 155 districts in 15 States by February 2005. Ministry of Environment and Forests data shows that one million acres of forest land are under their encroachment. The Ministry has informed the Planning Commission that "an estimated Rs. 50,000 crores has been stolen from India's poorly protected forest areas. The real fear is not from the Naxals, who have agreed to conservation but from the smugglers and poachers, who enter these forests." While the Naxal problem is faced by several States like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh it is Chhattisgarh which is now the centre of Naxal attention. Encounters with the police or security personnel have become almost daily occurrences.

Though the movement originated as an ideological one it has turned into something monstrous now, according to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minster, Raman Singh. "Had Mao or Charu Mazumdar been alive today, they too would have been stunned by the changing nature of the Naxal movement, which is now confined to extortion and unleashing atrocities on the poor tribals for whom the rebels claimed to be waging a war against the Government," he says.

The Chief Minister claims that the poor in the interior areas are deprived of the benefits of the public distribution system, basic health and other facilities which has propelled them to revolt against the rebels and launch a 'peaceful movement' that has become popular as Salwa Judum. But may critics tend to disagree on the creation of the Judum. When the first batch of Naxalites came to Bastar, the hotbed of the movement now, the only visible face of the State was the atrocious police and forest guards.

Health and educational standards were low. The Naxalities got popular support by their small acts, like beating up the guards or ensuring better wages for forest produce. After gaining the support of the Adivasis, they started enforcing the basic principles of their ideology. There inclused, along other things, a redistribution of ideas phase (which meant forcibly redistributing land to change the federal character that existed even among the Adivasis), says Anoop Saha who has done a detailed study of the problem. He says that it is this very class of Adivasis who lost their land and power because of Naxal presence, who now form the backbone of Salwa Judum, who angily protest against the Naxal's forcible redistribution of land. The founder of the Salwa Judum, himself a tribal, Mahendra Karma, insists that his is a people's movement.

He himself is under constant threat, after losing two of his brothers to Naxal violence. He says Naxalism is political terrorism of an international nature. What the Naxalites want is secessionism, not democracy. Karma says that the 'people's movement' (Judum) has resulted in making a big dent in the Naxal movement in the State. "If we can wipe out Naxalism from Dantewada (the centre of Naxal activity in Chhattisgarh) we will have wiped it out from the rest of the country", and there is only one thing that can defeat Naxalism-it is called Salwa Judum".

He dismissed Fact finding committee reports of Judum activities on other tribals as "some wrongs, but exceptions should not be presented as the rule. State Government data shows that as a result of Naxal activities 644 villages in Dantewada district are deserted. Because of recurrent Naxal menace, the villages are supposed to have been 'liberated' by Salwa Judum and the villagers settled in 20 relief camps. But newspaper and television reports tell a different story.

They reveal that people still live in these villages, where all houses have been burnt by Salwa Judum invading armies. The villagers hide in to nearby jungles most of the day and come back now and then. Tribals pooh-pooh government claims about rehabilitation camps providing relief to 50,000 people. If the entire population of 1,354 villages in the district is seven lakhs, how can 644 villages have only 50,000 residents, they ask. Hinanshu Kumar, activist of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, says that the tribal belt is divided into three parts.

There are 644 villages which have been 'evacuated' by the Judam, while the remaining 600-odd villages are being targeted by the Judam for evacuation. This is the enemy zone as far as they are concerned. Their goal is to capture these and burn the house. The third zone is the Naxal-dominated areas where no one dare enter. So, in all the three areas, health, education and employment is non-existent. What is worse, people cannot move in and out for fear of being killed. The State Home Minister, Ram vichar Netam clarifies: "The representatives of the Government cannot go to the villages following Naxal threats. The rebels have destroyed the schools, government buildings and are terrorizing the teachers and doctors. How can the Government provide relief when Naxal are not allowing us to enter?" Obviously, the Naxal issue cannot be treated merely as a law and order problem.

Exploitation, artificially depressed wages, iniquitous socio-political circumstances, inadequate employment opportunities, lack of access to resources under-developed agriculture, geographical isolation and lack of land reforms have all contributed to the growth of the Naxal movement particularly in the forest areas. Thus a holistic approach is the crying need.

S Venkatesh, NPA

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Politicians failing Indian state

Defence Watch
Politicians failing Indian state

By Bharat Verma

We should be ashamed that in a secular country of ours, a segment of population has been chased out of their homes for the fault of belonging to a particular religious community. The inhabitants of cold climate region, they have been compelled to stay as refugees in hot climate in their own country and the politicians shy away from visiting them for political reasons.

We are constantly led to believe that since elections are held regularly, India is therefore one of the most successful democracies in the world. The truth unfortunately is different. The number of phases in which election is held in a particular area or a state, and the quantum of security personnel deployed for the purpose, is a barometer of peace and stability.

Over the years, both, the phases and the force levels, are increasing at an alarming rate. Democracy is not an end in itself. The ultimate objective of any political system is preservation of the state in just peaceful and stable form, and more importantly it must contribute to the growth of unity and nationhood. Democracy in India however is floundering on all these accounts; as a result the country suffers from lack of political direction and crisis in governance.

It is not the constitution or the people, but the political leaders who are failing Indian democracy. A large number of them have been trying to hijack the system. The very election process that is bandied as a measure of success of our democracy, has sought to be subverted by them through mob culture, money and muscle power. Booth capturing and ‘scientific rigging’ of elections had acquired alarming proportions, before the Election Commission began to assert itself because of sheer courage and character of few Election Commissioners. Nevertheless, it was strongly resented by many political leaders and parties. But for these Election Commissioners, Indian democracy may have gone the Pakistan way.

The stability of the country is predicated on political direction and stability. Insecure and unstable governments are hamstrung in taking cogent decisions with regard to internal and external security. The rise of smaller regional parties is the biggest obstacle to the security and growth of the nation. These smaller parties devoid of any pan-Indian outlook hold the national parties to hostage. They have little stake in defence, security and foreign policy of the country. Since their considerations are narrow, and since they view all issues through the regional prism, they are vulnerable to manipulation by inimical powers. The leaders of these parties thrive on the very divisions in the society and the country that militate against the unity and cohesiveness of the people.

Pride in one’s ethnicity or region can be very positive if the regional leaders work within an overall national perspective. Unfortunately that has not been the case. Instead, they are the biggest obstacles to consensus building, and contribute to indecision – a characteristic that bedevils governance in the country. This phenomenon impacts most when quick and sound decision making is crying imperative on matters relating to security and foreign policy. Therefore, we have piquant situation like the state and national government having diametrically opposite stance with regard to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. The state government failed to realise, leave alone educating its people, that the unity of Sri Lanka was in geopolitical terms absolutely essential for integrity and security of India. The chasm between the national government and state government was so ugly that the IPKF soldiers were not given a modicum of the honour due to them, when they returned to the Indian shores. An ex-Prime Minister had to lose his life to drive home the point that how vicious was the threat that the LTTE posed to India.

Once, essentially a regional leader, a permanent feature of cabinet in national governments of all hues, happened to be in the same place where a police officer of the UT cadre was being dined out. The minister enquired where was the officer proceeding on transfer. When told that he was leaving for northeast, the minister said that if he had his way, he would gift entire northeast to Burma (Myanmar). Is there any wonder that solution to insurgency in the northeast is elusive, and that Nagaland and Manipur have ceased to function under the constitutional diktat of India. Some years ago, a West Bengal minister when confronted with the question of illegal migration from Bangladesh, replied that his party did not distinguish between the proletariat of India and Bangladesh.

The entire world is seized of Islamic terrorism. Islamic terrorists attacked our Parliament, and in Bihar elections some political leaders were campaigning with look-alikes of Osama bin Laden. In many countries they would have been put behind bars for the transgression. The nation sadly did not take the message seriously. In a way it exploded many myths about the skewed secular polity, where vote bank politics counts more than the nation.

Another leader, who was never inclined to severe his regional moorings, and became Prime Minister by accident did not know that the Chief of RAW reported directly to him. On the very first occasion, when the Chief went to brief him, the Prime Minister said that why brief him and not the Foreign Minister. Will Afzal Guru be hanged? Ever since this issue has come up, a debate has been raised about the desirability of capital punishment. Such questions are debated very little when rapists and murders are judicially put to death. Afzal Guru tried to destroy the greatest symbol of our democracy i.e. the Parliament and tried to rape the nation as such—and India debates. The tenor of this debate would have been different, had some politician fallen prey to the terrorists; instead of lowly paid, least respected and least admired security personnel.

In a democratic country, there is no problem with ideologies and isms. But we must realise that invariably in India these have extremist offshoots like the ULFA (offshoot of AJP) and naxalite (offshoot of communism). The ideologies and isms fail to correctly define a problem. A time arrives when the same ideological and revolutionary parties clamour for decisive action against their own extremist offshoots. They are dead against initiating measures in the infancy stages of the problem, when it can be most easily quashed. When the problem assumes pernicious dimensions, they demand for deployment of security personnel—‘the canon fodders’.

In a country, which boasts about being the most successful democracy, as a reciprocal gesture, a head of state of another country is not allowed to address the Parliament just because a party having some political influence in two extremities of India, and critical to the survival of the government, does not approve of it. Imagine there are differing opinions in the country about: China being aggressor in 1962 and in illegal possession of our territory, illegal migration from Bangladesh, Islamic terrorism in India and the level of instability caused by the pan-Indian Maoist insurgency in the heartland of the country. China in its bid to strategically circumscribe India contributed to Pakistan’s missile and nuclear weapon programme, nevertheless, there are politicians who speak about India’s strategic encirclement of China in concert with other powers. Yet these politicians are indulged and pampered with, and toasted by the government, and an upright moral and nationalistic ex RAW officer is hounded. We should be ashamed that in a secular country of ours, a segment of population has been chased out of their homes for the fault of belonging to a particular religious community. The inhabitants of cold climate region, they have been compelled to stay as refugees in hot climate in their own country and the politicians shy away from visiting them for political reasons. Displaced population after Partition was given a much better deal in India.

It is the hypocrisy, feudal and callous attitude of the politicians that has inhibited the growth of India. While in the garb of democracy, they make set of policies for common man; they have another set of policies for themselves. In many states, as vote bank expedient the teaching of English in primacy schools was done away with. The politicians however sent their children to English medium schools. The states that persisted with the bilingual approach to education surged ahead in employment and economic terms. Ultimately, the most ‘non-English education’ states reversed their policy, but by then a generation had suffered. It is the same case with economic policies. Who is going to pay for suffered generation? It is the same generation of the country, which is restive and has lost faith in the contemporary face of Indian democracy. Its manifestations are lawlessness, mob culture and insurgencies.

The biggest problem in the way of the evolution of Indian democracy is that simple distinctions between – right and wrong, permissible and impermissible, moral and immoral, national and anti-national, and legal and illegal, has been victim of our political culture. The quantum of punishment is inversely proportional to the number of people involved in a transgression or crime. It has its genesis in the mob culture, whose progenitor are the politicians. Mob culture degenerates into mob violence, and finally into insurgency and anarchy. The politicians insult the very people they claim to represent, by giving money and other inducements to them for attending their rallies. This is the travesty of the contemporary democracy in India.

(The writer is editor, Indian Defence Review.)

Commentary: Pain, protest and the Naxalite label

MAJUWARA, India, Nov. 20

Column: Incredible India
Majuwara village, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is known for its forest-dwelling community, the Vanvasi. It is also infamous as a base for Naxalite insurgent activities within Uttar Pradesh and the neighboring state of Bihar.

The Naxalites, broadly, are the Indian version of Maoist rebels. If by chance anyone from Majuwara is questioned by law enforcement agencies anywhere in the state or in neighboring states, and if the person divulges that he is from Majuwara, he is immediately arrested and detained. It doesn't matter whether the person has committed a crime or not.

The villagers in Majuwara do not appear to be Naxalites. If one takes time to talk to them, they do not sound like insurgents either. If one asks about their concerns in life, they will say they would like to escape their tainted image and stop being branded as criminals. If one persists and manages to establish rapport with these villagers, they will slowly divulge their side of the story, which explains why the entire village has been branded as Naxalite and anti-state.

In Majuwara the government is represented by the local forest office and the police. Most of the villagers come from the low Vanvasi caste, which literally translated means "forest dweller." The members of this community once depended upon the pristine forest that existed in the region.

There are huge buildings in Naugarh town, close to Majuwara, where the state government once planned such institutions as a forest research institute, a cattle research station and even a seed farm. These buildings were never occupied, however, since by the time the buildings were constructed, the forest had disappeared.

The State Forest Department, charged with administering the forest, has "protected" and "preserved" the forest to such an extent that there is hardly any forest left in the region. Once the forest was gone, the fertile land opened up new opportunities for the once nomadic tribe to settle down and cultivate the cleared land. Poverty, malnourishment and deaths from starvation among the Vanvasi community came down considerably.

But the one and only landlord in the village was opposed to this. If the Vanvasis were allowed to have their own cultivable land, the landlord would lose the free labor which he and his forefathers had long enjoyed at the expense of the Vanvasis.

The landlord, who had contacts within the Forest Department, sought assistance from the department to evict the "illegal occupants." Department officials readily agreed and came down with full force upon the Vanvasis and their families. Huts were destroyed and the occupants chased away. The patches of land cultivated by the Vanvasis were eventually handed over to the landlord, not officially but by illegal means.

Left with no forest, land or homes, the Vanvasis were pressed to accept forced labor on the landlord's farms. Poverty, malnourishment and deaths from starvation returned in full force.

All of this happened some three decades ago. Since then two generations of Vanvasis have lived and died in Majuwara.

In the meantime, a human rights group known as Gramya intervened in the village and started organizing the villagers to protest against the unfair practices forced upon them. The villagers managed to reclaim small patches of land to cultivate. The son of the earlier landlord, like his father, was furious and again sought assistance from the Forest Department, which was readily provided.

Once again, homes were destroyed and people were thrown off the land. However, this time there was resistance. The human rights group, mustering support from similar groups in the state, organized a protest march, which later led to the Forest Department returning some land to the Vanvasis. Still, many of them lost their property and livelihoods.

During the span of these years, the Naxalite movement began spreading in the region. This had nothing to do with the Vanvasis in Majuwara. It had much to do with the lack of government attention to the region. For example, although concrete buildings were constructed for a public health center, the center is not functional as there is no staff. Virtually no government services are provided in Majuwara.

The spillover of Maoists from neighboring Nepal, whenever there was trouble in that country, resulted in a number of Maoist cadres settling in and around Chandauli district near Majuwara. The remote area was an ideal location for the rebels due to its proximity to the completely lawless state of Bihar and the poor quality of local policing.

Meanwhile governments changed, and local issues started getting attention beyond the borders of Majuwara village. Many more human rights groups joined the struggle. Some participated only on paper; some made money by selling projects that were supposed to benefit the people. Some joined hands with Gramya to fight for the rights of the Vanvasi. The government also came under pressure and implemented the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 in the district.

The implementation of the rural employment act has not been much of a success, however. The third generation of the landlord's family still commands considerable authority in Majuwara. The act in theory is supposed to ensure a minimum of 100 days of work per year to unskilled adults in the rural community. With this intention, job cards are issued to those who qualify.

However, the cards are not handed over to the applicants, the Vanvasis. Instead the landlord, who now also happens to be the village head, collects the cards from the government, keeps them in his custody and also collects the minimum wage that is due to the laborers. The minimum wage in Uttar Pradesh now is 100 rupees (US$2.50) per day. The landlord however only pays 50 rupees for the men and 35 for the women.

Gramya came to know about this and asked the villagers to ask the landlord for their cards and demand proper payment. The landlord obviously refused.

This time too, learning from his ancestors, the landlord sought help from the Forest Department and also the local police. The landlord and government officers warned the Vanvasis that if they protested against the practices of the landlord they would be branded as Naxalites and arrested.

The result is that anyone challenging the established feudal practices in the village is by default branded a Naxalite. Gramya has taken up this issue and is attempting to pursue it further with local authorities.

Branding a person a Naxalite and detaining him makes things easier for the administration in Majuwara. No one dares to challenge the authorities about the detention since the moment one expresses concern, that person too could be branded a Naxalite and taken into custody. This is in fact what the landlord has done.

Additionally, the landlord and his private mafia make use of the Naxalite image of the village to engage in illegal activities like the smuggling of whatever timber is left in the region. The Naxalite tag attached to the village has served the landlord's interests very well, and also those of other criminals in the locality.

The losers in this game are the Vanvasis in Majuwara. They are pressed into bonded labor by a powerful landlord, backed up by the Forest Department and the local police. Yet for the malnourished Vanvasi men, women and children, even if they cry aloud when they are assaulted by the landlord or his men, it is enough to send them to jail.

Crying aloud is not a crime in India. But as a form of expressing pain and protest, it is good enough reason to be sent to jail in Majuwara. Those who protest are Naxalites, and Naxalites go to jail.


(Bijo Francis is a human rights lawyer currently working with the Asian Legal Resource Center in Hong Kong. He is responsible for the South Asia desk at the center. Mr. Francis has practiced law for more than a decade and holds an advanced master's degree in human rights law.)

CPI(M) local committee member killed during Maoist bandh

Press Trust Of India
Purulia, November 20, 2007
First Published: 09:46 IST(20/11/2007)
Last Updated: 09:52 IST(20/11/2007)

A CPI(M) local committee member was killed by suspected Maoists and half-a-dozen landmines recovered in this district as the 48-hour Maoist bandh against Nandigram violence in the three states of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand entered the second day on Tuesday.

Superintendent of Police Ashok Kumar Prasad said the body of CPI(M) activist, Sufal Mandi, was recovered from Ghatbera village early this morning.

Mandi was called out of his house last night by the assailants and killed.

Police reinforcements were sent to the village and recovered nearly six landmines from the area, the SP said.

Police also seized a couple of rifles from some of the houses and recovered Naxalite leaflets near the village.

The attack on the CPI (M) member comes 18 days after the killing of another party local committee member Bhagirath Karmakar in Chleiama village in the district on November one in a similar manner.

Meanwhile, the bandh continued to paralyse normal life in Purulia with private buses off the roads and most shops closed.

Khammam tribals worried over Chhattisgarh conflict spill-over

Tuesday November 20 2007 11:38 IST
B Satyanarayana Reddy

KHAMMAM: With the Maoist-Salwa Judum conflict spilling over to Khammam district, the tribal-dominated Bhadrachalam region has turned into a war zone. The tribals, caught in the crosshairs, are falling victims to the continuing conflicts. The Maoists have so far killed over 600 tribals in Chattisgarh since 2005 for their association with the police and the Salwa Judum, the anti-Naxal vigilante tribal force, being spearheaded by Congress MLA Mahendra Karma and backed by the BJP Government.

As a result, over 50,000 tribals have crossed over from Chattisgarh to Khammam, Warangal and Karimnagar districts. An equal number of tribals have abandoned their homes and hearths to hide in the deep forests of Chattisgarh. They could also move to Khammam region in the coming days.

The Maoists, who operate along the border and change their hideouts frequently, are enjoying a tactical advantage over the badly-outnumbered and under-equipped Chattisgarh police. They had attacked even the police outposts with impunity and inflicted heavy casualties.

What is worrying the AP police is the Maoist plan to expand activities on this side of the Andhra-Chattisgarh border. The local tribals too are afraid that both the Maoists and the Salwa Judum could fight turf wars on this side of the border and this could adversely affect the local population.

The recent incident in which three tribals were killed by the Maoists on the suspicion of the former being police penny-droppers has only served to heighten the fears.

All the killed tribals had migrated from Chattisgarh. The local tribals feel that this could be just a beginning and more such reprisals could follow in the coming days.

Terror insurance pool triples to Rs 600 cr

20 Nov, 2007, 0353 hrs IST, TNN

PUNE: The terrorism insurance pool, begun by the finance ministry, has tripled in size from Rs 200 crore in 2002 —when it was set up — to Rs 600 crore now, as companies in the Naxal-affected areas are increasingly seeking terrorism insurance cover.

Temples and the railways are others, who along with industry, are now seeking such an insurance cover. “The ministry of finance had set up the pool after the 9/11 terror strikes in the US. Companies in Naxal-affected areas such as the border states or north-eastern states have started insuring themselves,” said National Insurance Academy (NIA) director KC Mishra, on the sidelines of the inauguration of a seminar on cyber forensics.

Speaking at the seminar, Gokul Narayan, senior faculty member, Asian School of Cyber Laws said India has witnessed cyber crimes like fake profiles and credit card frauds.

“We are yet to experience the big cyber crimes,” said Mr Narayan. However, he emphasised that it was as easy to prevent cyber crimes as it was easy to commit them. Hiding the three-digit number at the back of the credit card and not giving it to an unknown person, are some of the basic precautions that one needs to take, he added.

Eyes wide shut

November 19, 2007
First Published: 23:15 IST(19/11/2007)
Last Updated: 23:57 IST(19/11/2007)

Out of sight, out of mind is the phrase that comes to most of us whenever confronted by any news pertaining to Naxal activity. If such an attitude is shared by the State, then there is a serious problem. On Sunday, one of our reporters described what it was like to venture into such an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ area. What he narrated was an eyewitness account of large swathes of terrain in Chhattisgarh, where State authorities have been missing for decades on end.

In this vacuum exists a parallel State run by Maoists, whose relationship with democratic India remains, at best, tenuous and, at worst, violently antagonistic. While urban India still lives in the belief that the ‘barbarians’ are far away from its gates, there are signs that the ‘us’ and ‘them’ divide is shrinking substantially. If letting the fact that one in six Indians live under the shadow of insurgency is something that the State is willing to overlook, it does so at its own peril.

The chicken-and-egg cycle of apathy and inability to fight a force with an extremist ideology has already started to show dangerous cracks in the State’s ability to keep the country ‘unified’. Part of the problem is that in areas controlled by Naxals — whether in Chhattisgarh, Bihar or Andhra Pradesh — the Government of India has been only a rumour for years. The State’s dereliction of duty has provided an opportunity for Maoists to be recognised as ‘the State’ for many Indians, whether they care for the Naxal ideology or not.

And to think that these citizens whom the State forgot are simply living in fear of the Naxals is to live in at least partial denial.

At the other end of the spectrum lies a different kind of apathy. With the lack of any intelligence mechanism and weapons worth their name, security personnel only present themselves as lame gestures scurrying about for the sake of scurrying about. Add to such injury the insult of about Rs 2,700 crore in development funds earmarked for extremist-affected districts not being spent in the last financial year, and we have a bomb that is allowed to tick.

And in case we think that not looking in the direction of areas where Naxals are freely operating will make them not exist, Maoists ‘liaising’ with mainstream parties for short-term political gains as is being reported in the East Midnapore area of West Bengal brings the menace actually closer to us than we prefer to acknowledge. It’s high time that the government both at the Centre and in the states takes a long, proactive look at the Naxal problem rather than simply shutting its eyes again and again.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sharp differences in Parliament over discussion on Nandigram

New Delhi, Nov 19 (PTI) The Nandigram issue has become the latest bone of contention in Parliament, with rival sides having sharp differences over the text of the discussion.

While both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha rocked on the issue today, there is no immediate end in sight for smooth transaction of business in the brief session. The political developments in Karnataka are expected to be raised tomorrow.

The stage was set for confrontation today when the BJP gave notice for an adjournment motion on the Nandigram issue in the Lok Sabha, whose wording made the Left see red.

Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of the Opposition L K Advani have been asked by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to work out a draft of the discussion that is acceptable to all parties.

The draft proposed by the government does not name Nandigram but seeks a discussion on the 'extremist violence in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal', sources said.

The adjournment motion was not accepted by the Speaker as the issue pertains to the state government and not the Centre.

The BJP-led NDA today, however, remained firm on its demand for a "Nandigram-specific" discussion in Parliament, rejecting CPI(M)'s suggestion that the issue should be part of a wider debate on Special Economic Zone or Maoist violence.

The main Opposition party made it clear that it will not allow the Parliament to function unless Nandigram violence was taken up for discussion and rejected Government's contention that it was a law and order issue, which is a state subject. PTI

Maoists blow up rail track in West Bengal

From our ANI Correspondent

Kolkata, Nov 19: A rail track in Sainthia-Andal section of Eastern Railways near Suri in West Bengal was blown up by Maoists on Monday, the first day of the two-day long shutdown by the banned group in states of Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand against the recent violent takeover of Nandigram by CPI (M) cadres.

According to railway sources, the three metres of the railway track between Panchsura and Bhimgarh in Birbhum District was found to have been blown up by the railway staff when they went to the spot for routine inspection before the first train of the day began plying.

The repairing work is underway and train movement on the route were suspended.

All police stations across Bihar were put on maximum alert. Security has been beefed up at all sensitive areas, including railway stations and bus depots in view of the shutdown

Zonal Inspectors General of Police, Deputy Inspectors General of Police and Superintendents of Police were asked to maintain extra vigil on the activities of the Maoists.

The raids were conducted by the Special Auxiliary Police and Central Para Military Force in the Maoists dominated areas.

Additional forces were deployed to avoid any kind of untoward incident.

In West Bengal, Maoist-affected Purulia, Midnapore and Bankura districts were brought under a security net.

In Jharkhand, tight security arrangements were made at all sensitive areas to check any violent incidents.

Instructions were issued to all top police officials to take preventive measures during the shutdown.


Kundapur: Naxalites Continue Activities despite Police Operations

from Vinay Pais
for Daijiworld Media Network – Kundapur (SM)

Kundapur, Nov 19: The Naxalites who had escaped eight months ago have raised their heads, but this time near the deep forest area of Korthugundi of Charana Bail Amavasebail gram panchayat jurisdiction.

On March 23, this year, a Naxalite girl from Hammige village of Gadag district was arrested in the bus stand of Jaddinagudde of Amavasebail by the ANF. Since then the Naxalite activities in the region had suffered a set back.

But it is now being brought to light that Ammigundi pare with thick forest coverage, is an ideal place for their activities. So far this secluded region has been impregnable to police who used to visit the place every now and then.

Some twenty five families of Bovi community live in this region of reserve forest between Kolluru and Someshwar. Though there is no motorable road the place is the link to Shimoga district. A few bunts are also living in this remote area.

The region lacks basic infrastructures like electricity, roads, transportation, schools and other things. The tribals who have been living here for their lands, are now scared of police action against the Naxalites in Korthugundi camp where some hand-written banners, pamphlets in Telugu were found after the recent encounter.

It is for sure that Naxalites have specific mission and they have been able to meet their goals secretly despite heavy police security and regular combing operations. Though there are have not been many violent activities in the recent past, it is quite sure that unless some stern and immediate steps are taken, there are every chances of Naxalites movement gaining momentum in this secluded area. The administration should immediately think of providing these few families with basic amenities including education. Only this can prevent the intervention of Naxalites in the life of these innocent and economically poor families.

Explosives find blast red plans

- Twin raids strike gold on bandh eve

Explosives recovered in Hazaribagh. Telegraph picture

Ranchi/Hazaribagh, Nov. 18: In two separate incidents, police seized explosives from Naxalites today, on the eve of the 48-hour bandh called by Maoists in Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

West Singhbhum police made the seizure at the Saranda forests while the second cache of explosives was found by Hazaribagh police.

Security forces on patrol this afternoon stumbled upon a group of rebels at Hindburu area inside Saranda forests. Though the rebels escaped, the police seized explosives, firearms and Naxalite literature from the spot.

“Two powerful cane bombs, two rifles and a large quantity of cartridges were recovered,” said a senior police official, adding that the rebels could have crossed to Orissa.

Meanwhile, a police team led by Hazaribagh superintendent of police Praveen Kumar Singh today raided about six villages in Keredari block, believed to be a rebel stronghold, and found explosives in a bunker.

Singh said rebels planned to target at least 20 bridges in Chatra and Hazaribagh by making cane bombs from the explosives.

The explosives comprise 100kg power gel and 100kg nitric acid besides wires and detonators in huge quantities. Singh confirmed that the power gel was brought from Indian Explosives Limited at Gomia, Bokaro. Plans were afoot to unleash a reign of terror in these two districts during the bandh, he said.

However, he said, necessary arrangements have been made to ensure proper security in Hazaribagh. About 200 jawans of the district police as well as CRPF and STF have been pressed into service. “We were getting information related to movement of Maoists and will check their activities,” he added.

State police spokesperson R.K. Mallick said adequate police deployment would be made in vulnerable areas and the district police chiefs have been alerted.

The stir is expected to affect rail and road transport in the state. Though Ranchi division has not cancelled or diverted any passenger trains, sources in the Dhanbad division said some passenger trains that pass through vulnerable zones would either be cancelled or diverted after they receive instructions from the East Central Railway headquarters.


- Disenchantment with the status quo in Bengal is out in the open
Ashis Chakrabarti

I was a young student in Calcutta at the height of the Naxalite movement. When I became a reporter, Indira Gandhi had already declared her Emergency. Fortunately, those were the final months of a national misfortune. For me, there were two telling images from the intellectuals’ mahamichhil last week, which dramatically captured the contrasts between then and now. One was the poster that had Narendra Modi’s face super-imposed on that of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The other was the banner that said, “Tomar naam amar naam Nandigram Nandigram”, with its echoes of the leftist slogan on Vietnam in the Seventies. If the first showed the anger against the chief minister of the Left Front government, the other reflected a dilemma, especially for the Naxalites of those years.

The once-radical Left felt betrayed by the fact that a “leftist” party and its government had perpetrated the violence at Nandigram. Many of them had been victims of the terror let loose on campuses, in neighbourhoods and elsewhere in Bengal, by the stormtroopers of the Chhatra Parishad, the Youth Congress and of course, the police in the Seventies. And, they knew that many who had masterminded and even taken part in those atrocities are leaders of the Congress and the Trinamul Congress today.

For the former Naxalites who joined the rally, Bhattacharjee has killed the idea of the Left by running after big money and emphasizing production and not distribution. Nandigram was the last straw for those who had been appalled that the police under a leftist government shot farmers in order to pave the way for a Tata factory.

But Bengal’s memory of Naxalite violence and the consequent economic collapse in the Seventies is still fresh. Almost all Naxalite groups that had taken part in the violence in those days have subsequently realized that their adventurism did not serve the cause of any revolution, leftist or otherwise, but made Bengal a byword for violence and despair.

The interesting thing about these ex-Naxalites joining the rally in such large numbers is that it was they who now joined Aparna Sen and Sankha Ghosh and not vice versa. The College Square, where the intellectuals’ rally began, was once the showpiece of their liberation movement. It was the battleground where the walls of the buildings around would proclaim “China’s chairman [to be] Our chairman” and where a great revolutionary offensive would be launched in order to “behead” the bust of Vidyasagar.

Their successors are still out there, killing policemen and innocent people in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and in their very own Andhra Pradesh. If the presence of the former Naxalites at the rally was a fact, its real import was that they now walked Calcutta’s streets, silently, against the politics of violence. A long walk indeed away from the elimination of the class enemy.

Bengalis, not a martial race by any standard, have always had a romantic view of violence. The Naxalism of the Seventies continued, in a sense, the tradition that produced terrorist violence against the British and the romantic call for “blood” by Subhas Chandra Bose. This preference for violence is one of the reasons why Mahatma Gandhi has not been idolized by Bengalis the way he has been hailed in many other states in India. Even poets, musicians and writers who endorsed political violence in their work found a ready response in Bengal. In Ghare Baire, Rabindranath Tagore asked Bengalis to give up violence, but the idea was not popular.

The rally would suggest that the relevance of Tagore’s message is becoming clear only now. In the Seventies, the alternative to the Left was ultra-Left. We all know what the consequence was. Even the former Naxalites would have to be extraordinarily gullible to nurture any such illusion. Today, the alternative seems to be a greater consolidation of the apolitical protests. The rally and the public campaign in the Rizawnur Rahman case bear this out. But, if politics has failed us, there is no solution in sight, except a vague idea of returning power to the people. But the realization that the politics of the status quo is not acceptable any more seems to be striking root in a state that has been used to giving politics and politicians a dangerously exaggerated importance.

This disenchantment with the status quo underscores the rejection of the politics of violence, be it by the CPI(M), the Congress types, including Mamata Banerjee, or by the Naxalites of yesteryear or the Maoists of today. What the Marxists did at Nandigram is now seen to be the ultimate in violence because the ruling party and the government were partners in the crime. When Sankha Ghosh and Aparna Sen refused to join the rally if Mamata Banerjee planned to take part in it, they sent out this very message in no uncertain terms. Violence, they meant, was as unacceptable from the CPI(M) as from the Trinamul or any other political group.

It would be absurd to suggest that the rally marked the beginning of the end of politics as we know it in Bengal now or that an alternative was at hand. It would be naïve to expect the CPI(M) or its opponents to change their methods dramatically overnight. But they cannot afford to ignore the writing on the wall. For Bhattacharjee, the ultimate irony is that he won the partisan battle at Nandigram with force, but had his victory rejected by not only the villagers of Nandigram but also the people of Bengal. Even the supporters of his party would privately admit that the dubious success would cost them much more politically than the failures of the past eleven months.

But then, anger at the CPI(M) and its betrayal is one thing. Building up a credible alternative that will have answers to the problems of governance and of Bengal’s economic revival, is a very different matter. The Naxalites or their many avatars in the radical Left have been Bengal’s worst problems and cannot therefore offer any solutions. The attempt to form the alternative to the CPI(M) can best be sought along apolitical lines. The political parties would be there, of course, but the agenda for them needs to be increasingly set by the apolitical conscience and action of the people. It looks like a tall order in a state — and a country — where politics has long become the last resort for people who are far worse than scoundrels.

That, at least, was the new will of the people of Bengal that the rally — and the candlelight campaigns for Rizwanur Rahman before it — expressed and celebrated.

I had confirmation of this mood and the message as I was walking back to work from the rally. Returning from it, a former Naxalite activist, who retired from his college lecturer’s job last year, struck up a conversation. He was hopeful that the rally had inspired a different kind of fight against the CPI(M). “But the only way for the fight is through the ballot, not with bullets,” he said, almost to himself.

I returned home that evening with two simple messages from the rally. One, Bengal at last perhaps wants an alternative to the CPI(M). Two, the search for it cannot end in a return to the Seventies.

Congress leader, son killed by Maoists in Chhattisgarh

19 Nov 2007, 2007 hrs IST,PTI

RAIPUR: A prominent Congress leader, who had led a campaign against Naxals, and his son were on Monday killed after being chased in a by about 500 Maoists in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, police said.

Budhram Rana was chased in the paddy field and shot dead and his son was axed and then shot at and killed by about 500 Maoists at Musalur village, about 525 km from the state capital, Bijapur police sources told reporters.

The Naxalites raided the 400-populated Musalur village surrounding it to attack a contractor who was carrying out road and bridge construction work close to that village, police said.

At that time, Rana and his son reached the village from Bijapur town to check harvesting work on their paddy field and faced the Naxalites, they said.

Seeing the Naxalites, both started running in different directions but the Naxalites first caught the son and axed him and then shot him dead before chasing the senior Rana and gunning him down in the paddy field, police said.

Rana was in the hit list of rebels for leading the anti-Naxal campaign in hyper Naxal-infested Bijapur district in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, police said.

Rana, Bijapur district Congress leader, was the vice chairman of Bijapur block

Naxal watch in Bangalore colleges

Bhargavi Kerur
Monday, November 19, 2007 03:00 IST

Sleuths visited famous St Josephs College to probe activities of a group

BANGALORE: After being a suspected breeding ground for terrorists, the tech city is in news again for being a hotbed of naxal sympathisers.

The Bangalore police have begun searching college campuses to track supporters of naxalites in the student community.

The state intelligence officials visited the famous St Josephs College and spent hours probing into activities of a group that recently gathered at the campus. The group, Karnataka Communal Harmony Group, which consists of intellectuals and activists, is suspected to be a sympathiser of naxalites in Karnataka, said an official on condition of anonymity.

The group came into existence three years ago when a suspected naxalite was killed in an encounter in rural south Karnataka. However, additional director of police (law & order) Shankar Bidari said that the probe revealed nothing. “Compared to other states, the influence in Karnataka is very less,” he said.

But intelligence officials state otherwise. Though it is touted that the influence is limited to only four out of 28 districts in the state, they have established a stronghold in rural parts and are gradually planning to expand into the cities.

According to police, the naxalites have visited Nandagudi, where farmers are protesting against a proposed special economic zone.

“Protests and poverty are the tools used by the naxalites to spread their area of activity. Their target is to obtain support from villagers migrating to the city and the student community who can be easily lured into their ideology,” an official said.
The previous coalition government of Karnataka had proposed talks with the naxalites to lay down weapons. However, the proposal did not come through.

Maoists clash with CRPF in Nandigram, no casualty

18 Nov 2007, 2303 hrs IST,PTI

JAMSHEDPUR: An encounter was reported between a joint CRPF-police team and Maoists in naxal-stronghold Saranda forest of Jharkhand on Sunday on the eve of a 48-hour bandh called by the Maoists from Monday to protest against the Nandigram killing in West Bengal.

The encounter took place in course of a combing operation in Saranda forest, West Singhbhum police superintendent, Sudhir Kumar Jha said.

A long-range patrolling team, comprising district police and CRPF personnel, retaliated when the Maoists started firing at them on seeing them approaching Hinburu where they were positioned, Jha said.

The ultras made a hasty retreat in view of the mounting pressure from the forces, Jha said.

Two rifles, live cartridges and two can-bombs were recovered following the encounter, which lasted for over half an hour, he added. He said that no one from the police camp was harmed in the encounter.

Meanwhile, security arrangement in east and west Singhbhum districts have been beefed up in view of the bandh.

Sub-divisional police officer of extremist-hit Ghatsi, a sub-division (East Singhbhum), Anand Joseph Tigga said adequate security arrangement have been made in view of the bandh called by the Maoists.

Centre for tight, upgraded security cover to Raman

Raipur (PTI): After figuring on the top of the Maoist's hit list, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has been advised by the Central Government to go for a security cover of central forces, officials said on Sunday.

"After the intelligence and other reports talked about the Chief Minister being on the top of the hit list of the Maoists, the Centre evaluated the security threat of Singh and asked him to go for a security cover of central forces," sources close to the Chief Minister told PTI here.

The Centre was so serious about the matter that the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil also spoke to the Chief Minister on the matter, the sources said.

The Chief Minister is currently having a Z-Plus security and the Centre wanted that to be further tightened and upgraded but the state government has not yet taken any decision whether to take the cover of central forces for the CM's security or not, they said.

After the arrest of a top naxalite leader from Bihar and seizure of some documents of the Maoists from other places, the matter came to fore, the sources said, adding that the rebels are angry with the Chief Minister for actively supporting the anti-naxal campaign Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh.

For the first time in the history of naxal movement, such a resistance is being faced by the Maoists in the name of Salwa Judum, the naxal commander and documents said and blamed Singh and the Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh Assembly and senior Congress man Mahendra Karma for the spread of anti-naxal campaign in the state, the sources said.

Talking to PTI, the Chief Minister admitted having talked to the Union Home Minister, but tried to downplay that.

"I have been asked to go by the security advise and take extra precaution," Singh, said without elaborating on much of his talk with the Union Home Minister.

However, sources said the Chief Minister had been advised by the Centre to go for a security cover of central forces considering the threat on his life.

"Why are you thinking state police is not capable enough to provide security to its Chief Minister," Director General of Police Vishwaranjan said when contacted.

Every intelligence input is also taken seriously and the state police has been providing security to the Chief Minister round the clock, the DGP said.

"The Chief Minister is already under Z-Plus security and that cover has further been tightened keeping the inputs in mind," State Principal Secretary Home S V Prabhat said.

The Chief Minister's security arrangements were not discussed in the media "but all possible steps have been taken in that direction," Prabhat said

BENGAL: NANDIGRAM ATTACK : The Fuzzy Arc Of Subversion


The MHA points to the presence of Maoists, but also takes to task Bengal's policing efforts

Saikat Datta

Last fortnight, National Security Advisor (NSA) M.K. Narayanan revealed that Maoists could be behind the latest troubles in Nandigram, especially the violence "in one area". The disclosure came after receiving inputs from the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) that some Maoist elements from Purulia, a neighbouring district, had moved into Nandigram to exploit the unrest in the area. Apparently, they were also training activists of the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), a local organisation supported among others by the Trinamool Congress.
According to senior MHA officials, three reasons point towards the possible involvement of Maoists.

The MHA is upset with West Bengal for not filling in the 12,000 police posts lying vacant for long.

The landmines and IEDs used required a certain expertise, usually associated with the Maoists. The digging of trenches to ensure the CPI(M) cadre could not move in, is a classic tactic used by the Maoists in Chhattisgarh and other Naxal-affected areas. Finally, the ability

of the local protesters to sustain their agitation for close to 11 months is another indication the Maoists were either training them or even providing some leadership to the movement. In fact, MHA officials discussed the Maoist link threadbare before taking a call on sending a CRPF batallion to Nandigram.
The MHA is also upset with the Bengal government for not taking adequate measures to contain the situation. The ministry has repeatedly pointed out to the state government that it needs to fill in the nearly 12,000 police posts lying vacant for years. Upset with the efforts in this regard, the MHA had even threatened to take back 50 per cent of the funds alloted to the state government for police modernisation. Incidentally, West Bengal has the highest number of police posts lying vacant among the Naxal-affected states, say MHA sources.

The NSA had described the situation in Nandigram as "far too sensitive". However, West Bengal home secretary P.R. Roy says that there were no confirmed reports of Maoists being spotted by the state’s security apparatus. MHA sources told Outlook there was initial reluctance to send a CRPF battalion into Nandigram because the inputs from the state government were thin. "The troops have no local intelligence, they would be on unfamiliar terrain and the situation was politically complex. All this had to be factored in before the CRPF could be sent in," said an MHA official.