Friday, March 28, 2008

Maoists loot 1.75 tonnes of explosives from Chhattisgarh mine


Raipur, March 28 (IANS) Scores of heavily armed Maoist guerrillas in Chhattisgarh raided an iron ore mine of the public sector Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and looted 1.75 tonnes of explosives. They also abducted six mine officials but released them later, police said Friday. The Chhattisgarh Police and paramilitary forces launched a major drive early Friday to recover the explosives looted the day before from the Mahamaya mine in Durg district, about 170 km from here.

The explosives are used for blasting surfaces and rocks.

“Dozens of search parties have fanned out in Durg and (southern) Bastar region,” Girdhari Nayak, inspector general in charge of Maoist operations, told IANS.

The Mahamaya mine is used by SAIL to feed its flagship unit - the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) based in Durg district.

Officials at the police headquarters here said the 100 odd rebels looted gelatine that could be used for landmine attacks.

Durg District Superintendent Of Police Dipanshu Kabra said the “explosives were a mix up of ammonium nitrate and sulphur that make together a devastating combination”.

According to Kabra, the police have surrounded a forested stretch in Kanker district bordering Durg district where it is believed the explosives have been kept.

The paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has also joined in the hunt while police has been alerted in five districts of Bastar — Dantewada, Bijapur, Kanker, Narayanpur and Bastar. The fear is that the explosives would be used to target the police.

In February 2006, Maoists killed eight Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) personnel guarding an explosives store of the public sector National Mineral Development Corp (NMDC) in Dantewada district and taken away nearly 20 tonnes of explosives. These are yet to be recovered.

Former Naxal’s noble gesture

Friday March 28 2008 13:15 IST
Rajulapudi Srinivas

RAJAHMUNDRY: Velusuri Srinivas alias Chinna Vijay, commander of the CPI (Maoist) Andhra Orissa Border (AOB) Zonal Committee east division action team, who joined the mainstream yesterday, said he would spend the Rs 1 lakh reward on his head on development of tribal villages.

Speaking to ‘Express’, Vijay, a native of Paderu in Visakhapatnam district, said the Maoist dalams working in agency areas got people’s support. Due to lack of basic amenities and employment in agency areas, more and more tribal youths are joining the extremist movement.

Most of dalam members in AOB Zonal Committee are women. However, recruitment in the Maoist dalams came down in recent months, he said.

‘‘I have no idea about Naxalite ideology. But after joining the Naxal movement, I came to know the sufferings of the tribals due to exploitation. I came out of the movement due to ill-health,’’ he said.

The former Naxal alleged that the political parties, including Communist parties, were not really concerned about the welfare of tribals.

The innocent tribals were being used mere vote banks by the political parties. The people’s representatives were ignoring the welfare of tribals soon after their election, he said.

When asked about the reason for blasting Donkarayi power house, a public utility, the surrendered Naxalite said they did it for supplying electricity to neighbouring States ignoring the needs of tribals in the agency areas of East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts.

OSD (Operations) PHD Ramakrishna said Vijay worked for seven years in the dalam and was involved in nine attacks, including killing of police constables at Malkangiri and landmine blasts at Gudlawada and Donkarayi.

‘‘We recommended a Rs 2 lakh reward for him,’’ he said. ‘‘I am an orphan and I will use the amount to be given for my rehabilitation for the development of tribal villages in Paderu division,’’ Vijay added.

A police official on condition of anonymity said Vijay provided them good information about the Maoist operations in AOB

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Special vigil teams to guard against Maoists

Raipur: Special Security Bureau (SSB) personnel will now guard people in 23 government-run camps in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region from Maoist attacks, officials said on Thursday.

The SSB will take over from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) the job of protecting about 48,000 people living in the camps.

"One battalion of the SSB has already reached Chhattisgarh to replace the CRPF to protect relief camps while more will come soon," an official in the state police headquarters here told IANS.

He said: "The CRPF jawans (troopers) to be relieved from relief camps' security task will be moved to deep interiors in Bastar's 40,000 sq km forested areas where rebels are traditionally strong."

The official said that presently 36,991 people from 201 villages in Dantewada district and 10,949 people from 275 villages in neighbouring Bijapur district are living in relief camps.

The mass exodus of villagers of these two districts began after they launched a civil militia movement, Salwa Judum, in June 2005 to take on the Maoist insurgents.

The banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) carried out several deadly attacks on relief camps in both Dantewada and Bijpaur districts and the government was forced to deploy the CRPF to protect inhabitants.

Source: Indo-Asian News Service

Uproar in Bihar Assembly over killing of CPI(M) leader

Patna (PTI): The Opposition in Bihar on Thursday created an uproar in the state assembly over the killing of a CPI(M) activist in Begusarai district, forcing Speaker Udai Narain Choudhary to adjourn the house once in the first-half.

As the house sat for the day, CPI(M) MLA Ram Dev Verma raised the issue of killing of his party's Begusarai district committee activist Rampukar Mahato allegedly by Maoists in Begusarai last evening and demanded the adjournment notice sent by him be accepted to pave way for a debate on the "spurt in killing of political workers".

Angry MLAs of RJD, Congress and Left parties shouted anti-government slogans and trooped into the well of the house when the speaker asked Verma and others, including RJD chief whip Ramchandra Purve to raise the issue at an appropriate time during zero-hour to allow the question hour to continue.

As the din continued for over 20 minutes and his repeated requests to the Opposition MLAs to return to their seats fell on deaf ears, Choudhary adjourned the house till noon.

When the house re-assembled, Choudhary ruled that the adjournment notice of Verma on the issue stood rejected as it was "not in keeping with rules."

The furious Opposition members again protested.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar then intervened and assured that the state government would make a statement in the house later in the day which pacified the agitated members.

Chinese Ambassador meets Patil

New Delhi, Mar 27 (ANI): The Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yan made a courtesy call to the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil in the North Block here today.

During the meeting, the Chinese Ambassador expressed appreciation for the steps taken by the Government of India to provide protection to the Chinese diplomatic and consular premises and various measures taken by the Government in this context.

The Home Minister assured him of continued co-operation of the Government of India in this regard.

The Chinese Ambassador recalled the Home Ministers visit to China.

Reciprocating the sentiments, the Home Minister said that he would look forward to continued co-operation between the two countries. (ANI)

No bail for ‘social activist’ Somen

PURULIA, March 27: Chief judicial magistrate of Purulia district court, Mr Zahir Ahmed, rejected the bail petitions of Himadri Sen Roy alias Somen, moved by his lawyer, Mr Sagar Mondal last week.

Mr Mondal had pleaded that his client is a social activist. The lawyer repeatedly appealed: “CID is yet to frame any particular case against Somen, even so he is in police remand and jail custody." The CJM promised to look into it and passed an order to send Somen for 12 days of jail custody. He will appear again on Wednesday, 2 April.

Earlier, Somen was arrested on 23 February at Hridaypur station in North 24-Parganas as the state secretary of CPI (Maoist). He was brought from the Dum Dum Central Jail (correctional home) to Purulia amidst tight security on 8 March. He was allegedly involved in the blast of a construction camp for the Central Reserve Police Force at Gurpana in Bandwan of Purulia district on 3 October, 2005.

Mr Mondal said: "Most of the accused persons who reportedly were attached to the blast case, got bail within 27 months, but my client was refused bail." He expressed his displeasure of police activities. However, he said he hoped his client would get bail next week when he will be produced in Purulia court.

Somen covered his face with a green towel and told media persons the CID brought him to Bandwan to inspect the site. n sns

Probe slams officers, staff for largest Naxal jailbreak

Nitin Mahajan

Posted online: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 08:11:52

Updated: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 08:34:39 Print Email To Editor Post Comments

Raipur, March 26: An administrative inquiry into Chhattisgarh’s Dantewara prison break on December 16, 2007 where 299 prisoners escaped — in one of the biggest ever jailbreaks enacted by suspected Maoists from inside the prison walls — has indicted senior police officials, exposed shocking lapses in prison security and revealed the callous attitude of district administration and local police.

The report adds that inadequate number of prison guards, improper training — guards on duty that day didn’t even know how to fire — non-separation of Naxalite and other inmates and alleged collusion by the jail staff was collectively responsible for one of the biggest prison-breaks in the nation’s history. Over 105 of those who escaped were suspected Maoists.

The report of the inquiry, conducted by Development Commissioner (Bastar) R S Vishwakarma, has been given to Chief Minister Raman Singh, Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam, Chief Secretary Shivraj Singh and Principal Secretary (Home) N K Aswal. Confirming the report’s receipt, Netam told The Indian Express that the government would initiate action against officials indicted. “We have already initiated several steps to tighten security at all prison facilities housing Maoist extremists,” he added.

It’s not going to be easy given the key findings of the report, a copy of which is with The Indian Express:

* The jail’s capacity was 150 prisoners, at the time of the attack there were 377 inmates.

* Naxalites were deliberately not shifted to the Central Prison in Jagdalpur as this would have reduced the inmate count which, in turn, would have cut down prison’s fund allocation for feeding inmates. This indicates a “corruption angle.”

* Of the total sanctioned strength of 22 prison officials — including one assistant jailer, five head guards and 16 guards — only four “unarmed guards” were present on duty during the jailbreak.

* The prison has two roof watchtowers manned by two guards during the night. When the jailbreak happened, no guard was present on these towers. A guard Hiranand Ajgale was on duty behind the prison and he wasn’t there when the alarm was raised.

* The alleged mastermind of the incident, Sujeet Kumar, also known as “Commander” inside the jail, was allowed to move around in the prison freely even outside the main gate and the prison armoury. This has been authenticated by statements of several guards. Sujeet mobilised a mob and over-ran the jail in barely 15 minutes.

He was able to break open the wooden door of the room where several weapons, including one Insas rifle, three muskets, three .303 rifles and 237 rounds of bullets were kept.

These weapons should have been kept in a nearby armoury which had a steel door. “Weapons and ammunition were kept at such a place from where they could have been looted easily. This reinforces the suspicion of involvement of jailer with the fleeing inmates,” the report says.

* The fleeing inmates tied up round-in-charge Sunil Kumar Pujari and head guard Jaiprakash Kannoje. Hearing gunfire, a frightened guard in-charge Shambhuram Sahu hid behind the wall. No one tried to stop the fleeing inmates, there was no provision of a reserve guard.

* Just minutes before the incident, jailer B S Mankar left the premises, accompanied with his wife, without taking any prior permission from his superiors.

* Sahu has deposed that although he headed the guards, he was not handed the charge of the armoury. He claimed he hasn’t even been trained to fire a rifle while adding that rifles at the armoury weren’t even tested after last year’s monsoon season. Security guards on duty that day were not trained to fire weapons.

* Assistant Jailer R R Rai said that when Mankar was on leave he was asked to prepare a list of suspected Naxal inmates so that they could be transferred to the Central jail. However, when Mankar returned from leave, he refused to forward the list.

The report has indicted several top police and administration officers:

* DIG (Prisons ) P D Verma: Did not follow guidelines with regard to transfer of Naxalite prisoners to the high-security Central jails. Besides he failed to act on numerous complaints against jailer B S Mankar. He also didn’t prepare a roster for inspection of state prisons, which included several inspections of Dantewara jail.

* District Collector K R Pisda: Failed to inspect the jail every month as provided under Section 82 of the jail rules. Only one such inspection was carried out by him during the last one and a half years. He did recommend additional security for the jail but failed to ensure that the directive was complied with.

* Superintendent of Police (Dantewara) Rahul Sharma: Failed to make available additional security as asked for by the Collector. Overlooked jail headquarters directive to provide one platoon of armed forces for prison security. Failed to inspect the jail even once.

* Chief Medical Officer who was also Jail Superintendent G S Thakur: Did not inspect the jail, didn’t apprise authorities of complaints against jailer.

* Jailer B S Mankar: Undue patronage to Sujeet; was absent from duty on the day of jail break. Failed to transfer Naxalite inmates to the high security Jagdalpur Central prison.

NSA fears an increase in Pak-sponsored terror

Vishal Thapar / CNN-IBN

Published on Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 08:17, Updated at Thu, Mar 27, 2008 in Nation section

TERRIBLE WARNING: The NSA says India should be alert against terror from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Naxals.

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New Delhi: Expect no respite from Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attacks in India, the National Security Advisor (NSA) M K Narayanan has warned.

"There has been no change in the attitude of the ISI in mentoring outfits like the Lashkar-e-toiba. Terrorist attacks on India from Pakistani soil are likely to continue," he said.

The NSA adds that Pakistan has extended the terror frontier to Bangladesh. In fact, he directly accused Dhaka of allowing the use of its territory for terrorist activity directed against India.

"Bangladesh is already being used as a springboard by radical extremist outfits from Pakistan to launch targeted attacks on India," Narayanan said.

However, there is one big security nightmare India cannot blame anyone else for and that is Left extremism.

Although the NSA dismissed the Red Corridor as a myth, he conceded that Left extremists are growing in influence, and could shortly begin targeting cities.

"The Maoists are now planning to take up much larger and wider social problems that have mass appeal, hoping, thereby, to capture the cities from the countryside," he said.

The security Tsar concluded his distressing statements on an ominous note saying that "India has reasons to worry".

Four Naxals injured in Nagpur police encounter

27 Mar 2008, 2047 hrs IST,PTI

NAGPUR: At least four Naxalites are injured during an encounter with police in Mootnur village near Nagpur, police said on Thursday.

At least four to five Naxals suffered injuries in the encounter this morning, that took place in Mootnur village, 32 kms from Gadchiroli district, and lasted barely for five minutes, police said.

Police have recovered two manually operated rifles (bharmar) and nine pittus (bag of Naxals) from the encounter site.

The Maoist threat: lies, white lies and statistics

By P.V. Ramana

The Indian home ministry never tires of finding newer classifications to present a much diminished perception of the intensity and spread of the Communist Party of India-Maoist, better known as Naxalites. Based on information provided by his officials, Home Minister Shivraj Patil told the Rajya Sabha March 19 that “a mere 14,000 villages out of a total of 650,000 villages are Maoist-affected, which accounts for just two percent of the total number of villages in the country”.

It is intriguing why mention was not made of the number of towns that are Maoist affected, and their percentage. The omission was perhaps made because no violent activities were reported from towns and cities. Nevertheless, it is by now well known that the rebels use towns and cities for rest, recreation and recuperation as well as for logistics support.

It is an altogether different issue that the Maoists have a certain ‘urban presence’, and have devised an action plan to build a strong and vibrant ‘urban movement’. In 2007 alone, three top-ranking leaders of the all-powerful Central Committee and the Central Military Commission (CMC) were caught in towns/cities: Malla Raji Reddy in Kerala, Sridhar Krishnan Srinivasan alias Vishnu in Mumbai and Misir Besra alias Bhaskar alias Sunirmal in Jharkhand.

Barely three weeks ago, the West Bengal State Committee secretary of the rebels, Somen alias Sumanand alias Suman, was arrested in Kolkatta. It is believed that Somen heads the five-member Urban Sub Committee set up by the Central Committee in January 2007 to review the Urban Perspective Plan — which is some kind of blueprint to spearhead the urban movement.

The home ministry, it appears, is of the view that as long as statistics present a ‘rosy picture’, it does not really matter if the Maoists run an elaborate logistics network stretching across towns and villages in various states. Thus, one should turn a blind eye to the unearthing of an arms-making-cum-R&D unit of the Maoists in Bhopal Jan 10, 2007.

On Jan 12, 2007, another arms-making unit was busted in Rourkela, Orissa. Raids in Andhra Pradesh in September 2006 led to the unearthing of an elaborate pan-India network — involved in manufacturing empty rocket shells and knocked-down kits of rocket launchers — which originated in the Ambattur industrial estate, a suburb of Chennai.

For long, the home ministry has maintained and disseminated statistics about the number of affected districts. At the time the Congress took power in 2004, the common perception was that 53 districts in nine states were Maoist-affected. The previous government was revealing just the number of highly affected districts. The figure 53 corresponded to this.

Breaking from practice, in early 2005 the government informed parliament that 126 districts in 12 States were Naxalite-affected; of these 76 districts in nine states were said to be “badly (highly) affected”. The 126 districts included “highly affected”, “moderately affected”, “marginally affected” and “targeted districts”. Thus, suddenly, the expanse of the Maoist presence seemed huge. This created a flutter. Ever since, the home ministry has made tireless efforts to retrieve lost ground, to present a diminished view of rebel-presence.

As part of its efforts to address the issue, the home ministry has an initiative known as “Public Perception Management”. Its objective is to create antipathy among the people towards the Maoists by highlighting their misdeeds, mistakes and macabre violence. Instead, this exercise has degenerated into ‘managing the people’s perception’ of the Maoist problem through a clever concealing of facts and playing with numbers.

Thus, in 2006, in the annual report of the home ministry and in the “Status Paper on the Naxal Problem”, the ministry introduced this “new” classification of the number of police stations where Maoists were active. It contended that a mere 509 police stations of the total 8,695 police stations in 12 states had reported Maoist violence. This would account for 5.85 percent of the total.

Two points need to be noted. One, the home ministry statistics relate to the number of police stations from which Maoist violence was reported, not the number in which Maoist presence has been noticed. Two, if one were to consider the 509 stations as a percentage of the total number of police stations in the country — 12,476, then the figure will be different — and lower. In its annual report for 2006-07, the ministry noted: “Of the total 12,476 police stations, Naxal violence has been reported during 2006 from 395 police stations…” This would give the impression that only four percent of the stations are problematic.

Patil also said in his reply on March 19 that 300 police stations in the country were Maoist affected - this comes to 2.14 percent of the stations nationwide.

By merely changing the denominator from total number of police stations in affected states to the total number of police stations across the country, the percentage figure just dips!

As it were, in their latest endeavour to assure us that we are safe and secure, home ministry officials seem to have prompted Patil to say March 19 that “the Naxalite problem is confined to only two percent of the country’s 650,000 villages”. It was added that the number of Naxal violence related incidents at 700 accounts for a mere 1.1 percent of the total extremist-related incidents.

Now, MP under Naxal radar

3/27/2008 9:05:31 AM


Naxalites undergo intensive training sessions in Chhattisgarh
After Chhattisgarh, Andhra and Orissa, TIMES NOW learnt that the red army is now training its guns on Madhya Pradesh. TIMES NOW travelled to Balaghat -- a remote area in Madhya Pradesh -- which witness to the expansion of the red corridor.

There is no doubt that the red corridor is expanding Naxals training in the remote villages of Chhattisgarh. Spreading their tentacles across the state border into the Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh, it looks like a strategy to counter the increased police offensive.

The Director General of Police, Chhattisgarh -- Vishwaranjan said, "The pressure which is mounted by the Chhattisgarh police, Andhra police and Maharashtra police found that state like Orissa reacted very fast. That is why naxals are now moving into the peripheral areas of their influence and forcing people to give them cadre."

The fear of the red army has led to a huge migration from many villages in Balaghat. When Times Now visited the area, deserted villages, vacant courtyards, broken homes, total desolation and no sign of any police in the area was observed.

Evacuation of these villages would mean another 800 square km of forest areas totally free for Naxal activities. This happened for the first time in Madhya Pradesh and also stands as a chilling remainder that this area in now the part of Naxal's red corridor. A migrated tribal said, "We are afraid of Dads (Naxals) there. They used to ask us to join their movement."

Police admitted that it is tough to tackle the Naxals in the mountainous terrain which is full of thick jungles and a place where Naxals easily go into hiding. But unless the police hunts these Naxalites down, these villages too will be part of the red corridor, where only the fear of Naxals holds sway.

CRPF to get its own Greyhounds

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Hyderabad, March 26: The elite anti-extremist force, Greyhounds, will soon find their ‘‘cousins’’ in the para military force — Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

Senior IPS officer and Additional DGP (Greyhounds) Kode Durga Prasad, who was transferred and posted as Additional DGP (Training) yesterday, is looking forward to a Central deputation with the CRPF.

His task in CRPF: To raise about nine battalions on the lines of Greyhounds to arrest the Maoist menace in Naxal-infested States, including Chhattisgarh and Orissa, among others. His appointment as Additional DGP (CRPF) is likely to be issued within a week.

Top sources in the CRPF told Express that the Central Government had selected Durga Prasad for the proposed CRPF battalions on the lines of Greyhounds, which has been effective in curbing the activities of Maoists in Andhra Pradesh.

‘‘He will be based in Hyderabad and will raise nine battalions initially. Once the training of these battalions is through, they will be stationed in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand besides Andhra Pradesh.

Later, more such battalions will be raised,’’ the sources said. The sources further explained that the CRPF personnel would receive the same training as Greyhounds with specific focus on jungle warfare.

‘‘The CRPF personnel, who would be trained to tackle Maoists, will have the same benefits as the Greyhounds personnel,’’ they said.

Though Greyhounds has been imparting training to other units, including the NSG in jungle warfare, for the last few years, this is the first time that an officer of the rank of Additional DGP will be joining the CRPF with the sole objective of raising battalions to fight Maoists. Greyhounds have won accolades for their intense training and strategies.

Durga Prasad had previously served as IGP, Intelligence and as Vizag Police Commissioner.

SBI adopts 13 kids from Naxal-hit families

Wednesday March 26 2008 10:12 IST

WARANGAL: Sixteenyear- old Shanti Jyotsna has all but given up hopes of pursuing further studies. But, help came in the form of an State Bank of India initiative.

This student of Madikonda Government High School in Dharmasagar mandal of Warangal district is taking the SSC exams this year. But, it’s an everyday battle with penury and hunger for her eversince she lost her father Balaraju to a Naxal bullet way back in 1992.

The SBI, which came to know of Jyotsna’s plight, has comeforward to support her education.

The SBI is also helping Jampala Mounika of Komuravelli in Cheryal mandal, who too lost her father to Naxal violence in 1995 and Class VII student of Shivanagar S Maina.

Jyotsna, Maina and Mounika are among the 20 children, who have been adopted by the SBI. While 13 of them belong to families that had lost the bread-winners, the remaining are from extremely poor backgrounds.
The SBI has comeforward to help these children after coming to know of their plight from the police. Today, the bank has formally adopted them in the presence of District Collector B Janardhan Reddy, SP Soumya Mishra and SBI regional manager PCJ Chakradhara Rao.

Speaking on the occasion, Chakradhar Rao said that the bank has so far adopted 92 children in the whole region. He said the bank will not just support their education, but even finance their marriage.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Poll to PR bodies held despite Naxal activities

Wednesday March 26 2008 09:31 IST

BHUBANESWAR: Fifteen persons, including two security personnel, were killed by Left Wing ultras in 52 incidents in 2007.

The Home Department white paper on the law and order situation in 2007 said election to the three-tier panchayati raj institutions was completed in free and fair manner even in Naxal-infested districts despite the violence and call for poll boycott.

Of the Left Wing ultras, the CPI (Maoist) is very active in Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Deogarh and Mayurbhanj while the CPML (Janashakti) has its presence in the industrial belt of Keonjhar, Jajpur and Dhenkanal.

Naxal violence in the State is comparatively less than the neighbouring states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. The ultras killed 295 persons including 145 security personnel in Chhattisgarh, 104 including eight security personnel in Jharkhand, 31 including, two security personnel in Andhra Pradesh, and 49 including 19 security personnel in Bihar last year.

The security personnel were, however, successful in arresting 121 Naxalites. Prominent among the arrested are Platoon-22 commander, Jharkhand, Ramchandra Bhagat alias Ganju, Malkangiri divisional committee chief Srinivas alias Nabin, secretary of Sundargarh-Sambalpur-Deogarh zonal comittee Damodar and commander of the same zonal committee James.

The State has adopted a two-pronged strategy to effectively combat the Naxal violence. While security has been upscaled by formation of special intelligence wing, special operation group, special security wing, two India Reserve Battallions and four special security forces, tribal youth in the Naxal-affected areas are being educated not to join the Naxalites.

The Government has taken special measures to restore their land rights and ensured that the poverty alleviation programmes reached the targetted people.

Besides, constant endeavour is made to improve the infrastructure facilities in the tribal areas for better economic growth, the white paper said.

Branded Naxals, city collegians train guns on police department

Posted online: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 01:12:22
Updated: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 01:35:07 Print Email To Editor Post Comments

Pune, March 25 Social activist Baba Adhav is not alone to be branded a Naxalite in the list released by the state police department. Kabir Kala Manch, a city-based cultural organisation which lends its voice to public agitation, too has found itself being called a “Naxal organisation.” Not taking the tag lying down, angry members of the manch have decided to launch an agitation to make the police department understand “the reality” and set the record straight.
What has stunned the Kabir Kala Manch members is the fact that police department has not even asked them a word or made any attempts to meet them before branding their organisation. Neither have the police bothered to check the role of the organisation. “We are merely a cultural organisation. It is shocking that a cultural outfit has been branded a Naxal organisation without even giving a thought,” says Sheetal Sathe, president of the manch.

The police department list, says Sheetal, has declared that the “manch is suspected to be linked with the Naxal movement.” “We have nothing to do with Naxalites or Naxal movement. No case has ever been registered against our organisation.”

Most of the members of the Kabir Kala Manch are collegians, in their early 20s, who don the role of artistes when a crusade is launched. “We are basically collegians. We register our protests through ‘shahiri jalsas.’ It involves singing songs and staging plays which take potshots at official decisions. We register our protests democratically. For this, do we deserve to be branded Naxals?,” asks 22-year-old Sathe who is doing her MA in sociology from Siddhivinayak College in Karvenagar.

The manch came into being in the wake of the Gujarat riots in 2002. And since then has participated and launched a number of agitations. “Whether it is Narmada Bachao Andolan, Khairlanji killings, Maan Bachao Andalon, opposition to SEZ, providing justice for the flood-hit, we have remained in the fore front. Ours has never been a violent protest. We have demonstrated peacefully,” says Sathe. “The loss of innocent lives in Gujarat riots had numbed us. That’s when a few of us came together to raise our voice against injustice and lend our support to the oppressed,” she adds.

Says Sachin Mali, another Manch member, also doing his MA from Fergusson College and author of a book on Shahid Bhagat Singh: “The police department is generating fear. They want to crush democratic voices. The police is defying the constitutional rights of individuals. To express yourself is part of the individual freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of the country.” The Manch, says Mali, will join hands with 37 other organisations that have been branded as Naxal organisations.

“We will fight till we get justice. We will bring all writers, activists and other like-minded people on a common platform to fight such regressive tactics,” he adds.

Some of the other members of the Manch include Ramesh Goichor who is doing his MCom from Wadia College and Sagar Gorkhe, a BA student. “Collegians are coming together for the public cause but the police do not seem to like this,” sums up Sathe.

Maoists blast rly station at Orissa border

Wednesday March 26 2008 10:14 IST

VIZIANAGARAM: Maoists blew up Gumada railway station in Komarada mandal near the Orissa border late tonight in retaliation to the killing of 17 Maoists in Chhattisgarh.

The Gumada railway station is located between Parvatipuram station in Vizianagaram district and Rayagada station in Orissa.

According to the information reaching here, seven Maoists, three of them women, went to the station at around 10.30 tonight, asked the staff to come out and planted explosives in the three-room building. They raised slogans against the encounter and detonated the building, totally damaging it.

Movement of all trains on the route was suspended. Trains moving towards Rayagada were stopped at Vizianagaram and would resume only after the railway and police officials will visit the place.

Maoists blast railway station in Andhra Pradesh

Bhubaneswar, March 26 (IANS) Maoist insurgents have blasted a railway station on the border of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, the police said Wednesday. No casualties have been reported. A group of six to seven leftist guerrillas Tuesday night “came to Gumuda railway station in the district of Vijaynagaram in Andhra Pradesh and triggered the land mine blast at the control panel cabin,” Andhra Pradesh police official Vikram Singh Mann told IANS over phone.

The railway station is about 25 kilometres from Orissa’s Rayagada district.

The Maoists also set ablaze whatever remained after the blast, Mann said.

The communication system was disrupted halting the railway traffic for several hours. However, the system was restored Wednesday morning.

Maoists have declared some places along the Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border “a liberated zone” and have been attacking policemen and landlords.

The attack comes barely a week after Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa decided to form a joint team to tackle the Maoist insurgency.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

India worries over inflow of fake currency

Published: March 25, 2008 at 10:41 AM

NEW DELHI, March 25 (UPI) -- India says the flow of fake Indian currency into the country from neighboring Nepal is a matter of concern.

''We have seized counterfeits of a huge amount during 2007-08 ... it is a matter of concern,'' said Gopal Sharma, director general of the Shastra Seema Bal, a paramilitary force that guards India's borders with Nepal and Bhutan.

He said smugglers were bringing in both crude and highly sophisticated counterfeits into the country.

"Fake currency was seized throughout the year ... the amounts in small numbers had been constantly brought in,'' Sharma said.

He said the Reserve Bank of India, India's central banker, provided the SSB with only a limited amount of fake currency to train its personnel to detect counterfeit currency.

''More fake currency is required to train our men spread across various training establishments in identifying it in actual conditions,'' he said.

India to protect anti-Maoist militia

Published: March 25, 2008 at 10:40 AM

NEW DELHI, March 25 (UPI) -- India will deploy specially trained Sashastra Seema Bal border guards to protect members of the anti-Maoists militia Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh state.

"While one battalion has already gone, the other is undergoing induction and would be sent soon," SSB Director General Gopal Sharma said. SSB said the decision was taken after various intelligence inputs suggesting rebels were planning a strike. Last year Maoist rebels killed 55 people, including members of the Central Reserve Police Force.

Salwa Judum is a government-backed group comprising local villagers that is fighting rebels in the dense forest areas of Chhattisgarh. The movement was criticized in a recent Indian government report that argued Salwa Judum had done little in combating the Maoist rebellion.

India's Maoist rebels are fighting across several states to set up a Maoist-style state.

Rush to set up anti-red units


Jamshedpur, March 24: A section of police engaged in fighting Naxalites is creating anti-rebel groups of villagers in the Chandil-Tamar-Bundu-Arki belt.

The initiative was taken by some police personnel to strengthen their network of informers in the zone.

Sources said the influence of rebels is extremely weak in Chandil. Kundan Pahan, the rebels’ area commander in Gautamdhara, has been asked to strengthen their presence in Chandil. Sources said Pahan would try to establish domination by attacking government installations and increasing extortion.

The security forces want to get an effective foothold in the area before the rebels can strengthen their presence, leading to the rush to setting up support group of villagers.

Explaining the method the police are using, sources in the intelligence wing said CRPF and police personnel are taking small groups of villagers into confidence and asking them to provide inputs against the rebels. They are taking care to approach villages not influenced by Naxalites.

Intelligence wing officers said the information-gathering mechanism would soon be stronger. “The anti-rebel group would be unarmed. They will be required to pass on information about rebel movement to the police,” said an officer.

As the state government has done a lot of development work in Chandil, Kuchai, Khunti and Arki, residents have developed confidence on the government. This has helped the police garner support from the people. The police would try to bring the villagers closer to the law-enforcement so that Naxalism can be curbed.

Sources in the intelligence department said once the network is in place and functioning seamlessly, the police and paramilitary forces would hold high ground in the fight against Naxalites.

“Their identities would be kept a secret,” said an officer.

The groups are being set up while the police are combing the area for the rifles looted from them earlier.

Sources said tracing the rifles rebels had stolen from the police on March 11 used to be the primary responsibility of the combing operation. But setting up the information network has also got equal importance now.

Two Insas and one self-loading rifle were looted from jawans at Chowka.

Why is India doing China's dirty job?

T V R Shenoy

March 24, 2008
Readers know that I am no fan of the Congress, but let me give credit where credit is due -- New Delhi handled the recent crisis in Myanmar perfectly.
Had the boos and hisses of the 'human rights' lobby carried the day, where would we have been today? The military would still be ruling the roost in Yangon and the monks would still be silenced; the sole difference would be that India would no longer have access to Myanmar's natural resources nor to its aid against secessionists in India's own north-east.

To put it bluntly, a foreign policy run exclusively on 'morality' is a castle made of cards. The sole 'morality' I would recognise is to see how, if at all, it benefits India. So, kudos to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee who held the fort for those few troubled weeks.

Sadly, that same sense of realism is missing today. I refer to the ongoing Tibetan crisis and the enforced exile of Taslima Nasreen [Images], events that are linked at some level. Both enshrine the principle of surrendering without a thought of how it might affect India in the long run.

Jawaharlal Nehru's short-sightedness ensured that Communist China won control of the Tibetan plateau without India making any move to protect its interests. The stupidity of this was recognised even at that early date; Sardar Patel sent a letter warning Nehru that India would pay a price for welcoming a foreign power to its eastern border. (Sadly, the Sardar was already on his deathbed by then; he would pass away within weeks of that missive.)

There is no way at this late date to protect the freedom of Tibet [Images], the great Pandit Nehru certainly ensured that! But does that mean that we have to crush the Tibetans within India to save the Chinese a little embarrassment? Why should Delhi do Beijing's [Images] dirty work?

China is no friend of India's, it never was and never shall be. We may not be enemies today, we are certainly competitors. China is still in illegal occupation of thousands of square miles of Indian territory, including a small slice of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that was negotiated away by Islamabad.

Why then is the Indian foreign-policy establishment so reluctant to confront reality? Why should the authorities in Delhi send its police to batter Tibetans who want to protest outside the Chinese embassy? Why should Delhi be so uneasy when the issue of Taiwan comes up? Is there any reason why we should be so afraid to 'embarrass' China? If so, can anyone think of a single occasion in living memory when China tried to aid India?

The enforced expulsion of Taslima Nasreen is yet another instance of utterly senseless policy making. What was the issue at stake here, that a bunch of hitherto unknown people should dictate to the Indian government? Has anybody thought of the long-term consequences of this stupidity?

There is a long history to both these instances of cravenness; they stem both from the United Progressive Alliance regime's desire to placate the Left and, historically, the legacy of Nehru.

Please remember that Taslima Nasreen was living quietly in Kolkata for about a decade. But a General Election is in the air, the Left Front has been shaken by Nandigram [Images] and Singur, and Muslims make up roughly a quarter of the electorate in West Bengal. So should we really be surprised that some obscure elements raked up the issue of her sanctuary so successfully that ten years of peaceful existence were wiped out in mere days?

Let us also grant that this pandering to Muslim extremism is well in keeping with the Nehruvian tradition. It was after all India's first prime minister who indignantly responded that he was more worried about 'Hindu communalism' when asked to respond to the rising tide of Muslim separatism within ten years of Independence. (How anyone who had lived through Partition could come up with that response is something I still can't comprehend!)

The Communist Party of India-Marxist has also, traditionally, had a hard time in criticising China. Its leaders wriggle miserably when asked outright if they condemn the Chinese invasion of 1962, so let us not be amazed that they can't bring themselves to disown Beijing's brutality in Tibet today.

It is utter bilge to spout away about 'non-interference' in the affairs of neighbouring nations. Didn't the CPI-M actively interfere just last year in Nepal, loudly shouting about 'atrocities' by the Royal Nepal Army, then procuring a place for its Marxist comrades at the Cabinet table in Kathmandu?

Did India benefit from having a bunch of unreformed Maoists in power in Nepal? Didn't it increase the danger of Naxalites finding sanctuary across the border?

All these Himalayan idiocies too find echoes in the Nehru era. Nehru swallowed Chinese claims to Tibet without a murmur. Anyone who actually bothers to study history knows that Chinese sovereignty over Tibet was a fiction.

The conceit of Chinese 'control' over Tibetan affairs dates back to Francis Younghusband's (external link) expedition to Lhasa, one of Lord Curzon's little ideas. When the then Dalai Lama [Images] fled before Younghusband reached the capital, an agreement was reached under the imprimatur of the Chinese envoy in Tibet -- a bit like the British High Commissioner making decisions concerning India in the Indian prime minister's absence.

Angry Tibetans thought so little of the Chinese claims that they tore down the banners announcing the deal from the walls of Lhasa.

Nehru might have claimed that he was bringing a fresh view to Indian foreign policy, in reality he did little more than swallow a few lies concocted by Curzon's men. (Lies so blatant that even the then British government in London [Images] was embarrassed by the whole tawdry affair!)

I have absolutely no problem with India's conducting business with the generals in Myanmar because that is how India's interests were best served. But how does India benefit from cracking Tibetan skulls outside the Chinese embassy, and how does it benefit from pandering to extremists by exiling Taslima Nasreen?

A legacy of Nehruvian folly has combined with the electoral needs of the Left Front to unnerve the UPA regime. When will the bill for these acts of cowardice come due? Or don't the ministers in the Manmohan Singh [Images] government care any longer?

T V R Shenoy

SSB women officers to guard border, men to combat Maoists

New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) India's paramilitary Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), responsible for guarding the borders with Bhutan and Nepal, is raising seven companies of women constabulary to check people crossing the open frontiers.

"We are training seven companies of women officers at the head constable level. They would be not be deployed at the border outposts (BPOs) but would be frisking and checking suspected people crossing the porous India-Nepal border," SSB Director General Gopal Sharma said Monday at the force's annual press conference here.

Sharma said the force was on high alert and coordinating with state police forces and its counterparts in Bhutan and Nepal as both were in the election process.

Elections were held in Bhutan Monday, while Nepal goes to polls next month.

"We would also recruit women officers at senior levels in due course, but at present these seven companies would be led by senior male officers," Sharma added.

The force of 56,000 strong personnel looks after 650 border outposts, of which 364 are along the Nepal border and the rest are along that with Bhutan.

He said the force was also facing new challenges and was joining in counter-insurgency operations in the Maoists-affected state of Chhattisgarh.

"We have already sent one battalion in Chhattisgarh and the other would be joining them soon. We would also be providing protection to the activists of Salwa Judum against Maoists in the state following the recent incidents of violence," he told reporters.

Salwa Judum is a controversial anti-Naxalite (Maoist) civil militia, formed in 2005 by the government and armed by them, to wrest the area controlled by Naxalites.

The SSB last year managed to seize contraband worth Rs.867 million, narcotics worth Rs.110 million and 2.715 kg of explosives in borders areas, while it arrested 166 people for smuggling drugs and carrying explosives and other anti-nationals activities.

The force also seized 211 detonators.

The SSB has demanded that carrying an identity card should be made obligatory for people moving to and from India and Nepal as well as India and Bhutan to check anti-national elements and activities.

"This will help in building a data bank of people crossing the borders. We are also preparing a "border management doctrine" to create secure and friendly borders with both it's neighbours," he said.

The top official said the force was undergoing thorough massive modernisation and all its BPOs would be connected through a satellite in future.

This upgraded state-of-the-art system includes video conferencing, remote sensing surveillance systems, satellite phones and computerization of the posts.

The central paramilitary force, which was set up in 1963 as a Special Service Bureau after the India-China conflict, currently guards a stretch of 1,751 kilometres along the India-Nepal border and 699 kilometres along the India-Bhutan border.


Red district votes in peace


People try to lodge a protest after an EVM developed snag at booth number 31 in Phusro. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Phusro (Bokaro), March 25: The civic body elections here concluded peacefully as 50 per cent polling was registered in the 28 wards.

The polling started slowly in the morning with three electronic voting machines (EVM) developing snag due to faulty handling by officials at booth number 29, 31 and 42. The faulty machines were replaced after two hours.

Seven persons were taken into custody from booth No. 33 and 34 for allegedly trying to disturb the voting process and cast bogus votes. Apart from this, no untoward incident was reported during the polling from the Naxalite dominated Phusro, where 26 booths were declared ultra-sensitive last evening.

Returning officer Bijay Kumar Singh said the counting of the votes would take place on March 27 amid tight security. He also said that no re-polling had been ordered though few complaints of booth grabbing, which were baseless, were lodged.

The returning officer said that peaceful polls were reported from almost all the polling centres and the administration replaced three faulty EVM machines immediately after receiving complaints.

The polling in the morning hours was a bit slow and only 25 per cent polling was reported till 1.30pm but it gained momentum in the late afternoon, he claimed.

All the voters, including women, did cast their votes fearlessly, said Singh. Women showed great enthusiasm for casting their votes as they stood in queue for several hours under the scorching sun, said Singh.

Women outnumbered men in at least 11 booths The Telegraph visited.

Singh also thanked the people of Phusro for their co-operation.

The Performance Question


With parliamentary elections imminent, the central government is likely to accept the major recommendation of the Sixth Pay Commission, which is to provide an average 40 per cent pay hike to its employees with effect from January 1, 2006. While the hike will cost the public exchequer Rs 12,561 crore in 2008-09, the arrears come to Rs 18,060 crore. This looks jarring against government’s reluctance to continue with the subsidies in some essential sectors on the plea that it would have an adverse impact on the economy. No doubt, the employees deserved this hike. But the moot question is: will this have a positive impact on the functioning of the bureaucracy?

The commission has recommended some incentive schemes, but overall a strong linkage of the fat hike to performance and responsiveness of the employees is missing. The central government ought to do it with the implementation of the recommendations. We are in the era of reforms and this must reflect on the attitude and approach of the government employees. Instead of using the pay hike as a political tool to gain votes, the government must ensure that it brings about efficiency and works towards ending red- tapism. It is good that the Commission has recommended chopping of some of the grades, from the existing 35 to 20. It is the red-tapism, the unwillingness to take a decision in the interest of the people, that has been at the root of the popular discontentment against the government and provided ground for birth of protests and even the Naxalite movement.

Even before the government implements the recommendations, murmurings against the hike have started; it is being said that the hike suggested for Secretaries and Cabinet Secretary is not even peanuts compared to what a director in a mid-size private sector firm draws. This may be correct. But one should not forget that the private sector has a strong linkage of high pay package with accountability. These are qualities lacking in the government, which brings us to another irony that soldiers have not got more. While a babu sitting in a cozy office will enjoy a 40 per cent hike, a soldier on his toes 24 hours will not get anything better. Performance and accountability are supreme virtues in the army, not so in the bureaucracy. Punishments are also quicker and more severe in the army than in bureaucracy. Yet, the servings on the platter are the same for both of them.

With a fat hike in salary, efficiency and performance and accountability of the bureaucracy should not be left to the fate. Reforms are intended to make government smaller in size but the importance of its performance and accountability, bigger in proportions. So far, reforms have cut out the number of licences and permits but not improved the functioning of the babudom. Besides, corruption goes unchecked. The presumption behind a good pay hike is that government employees would be less greedy in terms of looking for everybody with some work with the government as their prey. Justice B N Srikrishna has done his job, as far as ending of the long-pending grievance of low pay of government employees is concerned. Now, Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr P Chidambaram have to do their job of using the stick of high pay to discipline the babus.

Summer is conducive to launch joint operations

Tuesday March 25 2008 09:32 IST

KHAMMAM: After notching up one of the major successes in the recent ‘exchange of fire’ with the Maoists, the Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh police have decided to go all out against the Naxalites by renewing offensive attacks in the coming days.

At a meeting chaired by AP Director-General of Police SSP Yadav, which was attended by top police brass of the two neighbouring States last night, the officials attributed the elimination of 17 Maoists in the Pamedu encounter on March 18 to the joint efforts of the two police forces.

They have also decided to exchange information regularly and launch combined operations against Maoists in Dandakaranya forest.

A police official said that the meeting was a launching pad to inflict another big blow on the Maoists. ‘‘Summer is conducive to identify the movements of the Maoists and their camps in the border areas and we have decided to launch joint operations,’’ he told this website's newspaper.

Yadav is understood to have directed the police officials to keep a tab on Naxalite movements to check them in their tracks.

When the officials informed him that they lacked adequate communication facilities in the border areas which helped the Maoists gain strength and keep tabs on the movements of the police, the DGP reportedly assured them that the communication network would be strengthened to avoid recurrence of Maoist attacks.

Yadav also congratulated the police officials who took part in the Pamedu encounter.

The Greyhounds personnel have been combing the border areas. However, the heavy rain for the last three days has hampered their operations to some extent, sources said.

Yadav visited the Girijan battalion at Sathupalli and inaugurated a community hall. The police took all precautions to keep his visit a secret, especially from the media glare.

Special battalion for VIP security

Tuesday March 25 2008 08:22 IST

BHUBANESWAR: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced in the Assembly on Monday that the State Government is contemplating to raise a special battalion for protection of VVIPs, VIPs, persons with high risks, vital institutions and installations taking Naxalite activities into account.

Replying to a question from Tara Prasad Bahinipati (Cong), the Chief Minister said 800 police personnel will be recruited for the special battalion. Assuring the members that the State Government will never ignore VIP security, Naveen said all States more or less are concerned over this.

The Chief Minister, however, said there is no proposal for creation of a special police force exclusively for providing security to the VIPs and VVIPs visiting the State from outside. The question of inclusion of any such force under police modernisation does not therefore arise, he said.

The State Government has formed a security wing in the State Special Branch to deal specifically with security matters including those of VIPs.

Naveen said provision of VIP security within its local jurisdiction forms part of the overall duties of district police and is interlinked with maintenance of law and order.

However, whenever required, additional support is provided to the district police to ensure adequate security, he said.

Kalinga Nagar tribals threaten mass stir

Statesman News Service

JAJPUR, March. 25: Tribals of Kalinga Nagar have threatened mass agitation against the indifferent attitude of the state government towards fulfilling their seven-point charter of demands.

Hundreds of tribals who gathered at Ambagadia, the cremation ground where 14 of the firing deceased were mass cremated to decide their future course of action, charged the Jajpur district administration and the Naveen Patnaik government of being puppets at the hands of multinationals and working against the interests of tribals.
“The police and the district administration has assured us of the arrest of the accused involved in firing at one of our activist Jogendra Jamuda on 13 March. But not a single person has been booked so far" said Mr Rabindra Jarika, general secretary of Visthapan Virodhi Jana Manch (VVJM) while noting that such inaction by the police was encouraging hired goons to destablise the movement led by the VVJM.
The VVJM, a tribal outfit has been formed since 2 January 2006 when 14 tribals protesting against displacement were gunned down by the police.

The Janamanch leaders reiterated their demands i.e. Rs 20 lakh and 10 lakh for the kin of each firing victims and injured respectively, treatment cost for the injured in the police firing, amendment to the land acquisition Act 1894 and scraping of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the state.

Instead of protecting us and booking culprits, the administration is accusing us of being involved with Naxals said the VVJM leaders while asserting that they are fighting for the tribal cause, land rights and livelihood.Ten platoons of police force and one platoon special protection group were deployed in the area for todays meeting.

Distirct Collector Mr Dhiren Das said, “police have conducted the poly graphic test on some of the suspects. The matter is being investigated and the accused would be apprehended soon.”

Join hands, go after Naxals: Centre to states

25 Mar, 2008, 0502 hrs IST,Bharti Jain, TNN

NEW DELHI: Buoyed by the recent success of joint operations against Naxalite hideouts in Bastar by Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra police — the twin strikes by Andhra-Chhattisgarh and Chhattisgarh-Maharashtra helped bust at least four major extremist camps and ‘neutralised’ 17 Maoists — the Centre is now pushing the states to intensify inter-state crackdownns.

At the meeting of the special taskforce on Left-wing extremism held in Lucknow on March 18, the Centre praised efforts of states such as Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand to jointly take on the Naxalites with intelligence-based precision strikes. A five-day joint area domination operation by Andhra Pradesh’s Greyhounds and Chhattisgarh police on the Bijapur-Khammam border last week successfully ‘neutralised’ 17 Maoists, including dalam leaders, even as a simultaneous joint strike by Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra police in western Bastar destroyed extremist camps and led to the arrests of four trainee Maoists.

A word of appreciation also went out for Orissa, which until now was slow on joint operations but recently successfully deployed its special operations group (SOG) to nab the extremists behind the Nayagarh attack. The SOG, along with Andhra Pradesh’s Greyhounds, chased the attackers and recovered over four days almost 70% of the 1,013 weapons looted by the Maoists from the Nayagarh district armoury.

According to a senior MHA official, the Centre, at the special taskforce meeting in Lucknow, told the Orissa police that its SOG had shown its potential in the Nayagarh operation and a follow up was now needed by entrusting the anti-Naxal strike force with more special operations, preferably jointly with the police personnel of neighbouring states.

Special strikes against Naxalites’ hideouts in Orissa, the special taskforce headed by special secretary (internal security) M L Kumawat and comprising senior police officials of affected states felt, have now become crucial to the success of joint operations by neighbouring states.

Meeting Naxal menace: Spl training to MP cops

The state government has chalked out a plan to provide special training to jawans of police to deal with the Naxalite menace in Mandla, Balaghat, Seoni, Chhindwara. The police personnel would visit Guwahati and receive training from experts who deal with separatist organisations like United Liberation Front of Assam and Bodo. As Naxalism has created problems for several states of the country, so also ULFA and BODO are a menace in Assam. It is for the first time that such an initiative has been taken in the State for providing special training to the police personnel. At present some 350 police personnel of 35th Batallion are being sent to Assam. During the one and a half month training, these cops would receive training to deal with emergency situations as also with terrorism and Naxalism. Later, these personnel would be posted in those areas of the MP which are worst hit by Naxalism. In turn they would provide training to the police personnel of their areas. The State government would then send the second batch of police personnel for training to Assam. A number of states including Andhra Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Maharashtra, Orissa are facing the scourge of terrorism. Meanwhile, the move of the Central government to allocate Rs 500 crore for development of infrastructure in naxal-hit areas is timely. The new scheme aims at providing critical mobility to the police by upgrading existing roads and tracks in inaccessible areas and securing camping grounds and helipads at strategic locations in remote and interior areas. Through the plan, to be implemented by concerned state governments, the Centre intends to upgrade and strengthen approach roads to police stations and outposts where there is risk of attack by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and landmines.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

‘Maoists’ fire at villagers, boy in hospital


Behrampore, March 23: A group of four identified themselves as Maoists, asked villagers on night patrol not to bother them and opened fire from revolvers when challenged.

Three residents of Tehatta village in Murshidabad, including a Class III boy who had stepped out of home with his father to see what the commotion was all about, were injured.

Undeterred by the firing, villagers chased the quartet and nabbed team leader Swapan Sutradhar, 34, a “known Maoist” wanted by police in connection with at least five criminal cases, including murder.

A police team rescued Swapan after an hour’s thrashing by villagers armed with sticks and rods.

Murshidabad superintendent of police Basab Dasgupta said: “Swapan, a resident of Birbhum’s Mayureswar, is a known Maoist.”

He was grilled at Behrampore New General Hospital and two of his alleged associates were picked up from Naoda, 20km away, hours later.

“Yasin Sheikh and Jalamin Sheikh are between 28 and 30,” Dasgupta said.

Yasin and Jalamin, however, were not part of the quartet chased at Hariharpara, about 350km from Calcutta.

Apparently small farmers, they were picked up from their homes around 3am and charged with waging war against the state.

Around 11.30 last night, a group of 15, on vigil to prevent thefts, spotted the four “strangers” at Tehatta.

“When the villagers asked them who they were, they said they were Maoists and better be left alone. It appears they were coming from the Birbhum side and were on their way to Naoda,” said an officer of the local Hariharpara police station.

“When we asked them to surrender, the Maoists whipped out revolvers and started firing at us. Hearing our shouts, many villagers rushed out of their houses,” said one of the injured villagers, Deedar Sheikh.

Nine-year-old Jabarul Sheikh, who was standing in front of his house, was hit in the leg.

Doctors at the local Amtala rural hospital took out a bullet lodged in his right leg and said he was safe.

Deedar said: “A bullet grazed my left leg and I fell.”

Abdul Halim, 32, also received a grazing injury in his leg.

“When the child was hit, we became distracted and the Maoists started fleeing,” said Jabarul’s father Mohsin, a farmer.

The villagers, however, recovered from the initial shock in a couple of minutes and started their chase.

“We suspect many Maoists are hiding in the Naoda area,” Basak said.

Naoda, in Murshidabad, borders Nadia.

Swapan will be interrogated again when his condition improves, he added.

Maoists, villagers clash in Murshidabad, three arrested

Express news service
Posted online: Monday , March 24, 2008 at 01:16:14

Updated: Monday , March 24, 2008 at 01:38:48 Print Email To Editor Post Comments

Kolkata, March 23 Three persons, including a four-year-old child, were injured in a Maoist gunfire at Tehatta in Murshidabad late Saturday night.

Angry villagers gave the Maoists a chase and caught a member who was handed over to the police. Later, two more Maoists were arrested. The chain of incidents, which began last night, continued till early Sunday morning.

According to the police, night guards appointed by villagers first spotted a group of suspected Maoists loitering in the area around midnight. When they approached the group, the latter opened fired at them. Meanwhile, villagers gathered at the spot. In the ensuing fight, three villagers — Dedar Sheikh, Abdul Azim and Zahirul Sheikh (4) — were injured. They were rushed to Amtolla Hospital where they are stated to be out of danger.

As the villagers gave the group a chase, they caught Babon Sutradhar, a Maoist, and beat him up. Sutradhar was later handed over to the police. There were about six Maoists in the group, including a woman, said the police. A pistol and seven rounds of ammunition have been recovered from Sutradhar, who sustained head and facial injuries. He was rushed to the Behrampur New General Hospital.

After interrogating Sutradhar, police arrested Zalim Sheikh and Yasin Sheikh of Nowda in Murshidabad, his accomplices.

“Babon Sutradhar (34) is a resident of Birbhum. We suspect that he is a member of the Maoists action squad. The villagers caught him and later handed him over to us. He fired three rounds and injured some of the villagers. After interrogation, we were able to arrest two more persons,” said Basab Dasgupta, police superintendent of Murshidabad.

Maoists, villagers clash in Murshidabad, three arrested

Express news service
Posted online: Monday , March 24, 2008 at 01:16:14

Updated: Monday , March 24, 2008 at 01:38:48 Print Email To Editor Post Comments

Kolkata, March 23 Three persons, including a four-year-old child, were injured in a Maoist gunfire at Tehatta in Murshidabad late Saturday night.

Angry villagers gave the Maoists a chase and caught a member who was handed over to the police. Later, two more Maoists were arrested. The chain of incidents, which began last night, continued till early Sunday morning.

According to the police, night guards appointed by villagers first spotted a group of suspected Maoists loitering in the area around midnight. When they approached the group, the latter opened fired at them. Meanwhile, villagers gathered at the spot. In the ensuing fight, three villagers — Dedar Sheikh, Abdul Azim and Zahirul Sheikh (4) — were injured. They were rushed to Amtolla Hospital where they are stated to be out of danger.

As the villagers gave the group a chase, they caught Babon Sutradhar, a Maoist, and beat him up. Sutradhar was later handed over to the police. There were about six Maoists in the group, including a woman, said the police. A pistol and seven rounds of ammunition have been recovered from Sutradhar, who sustained head and facial injuries. He was rushed to the Behrampur New General Hospital.

After interrogating Sutradhar, police arrested Zalim Sheikh and Yasin Sheikh of Nowda in Murshidabad, his accomplices.

“Babon Sutradhar (34) is a resident of Birbhum. We suspect that he is a member of the Maoists action squad. The villagers caught him and later handed him over to us. He fired three rounds and injured some of the villagers. After interrogation, we were able to arrest two more persons,” said Basab Dasgupta, police superintendent of Murshidabad.

3 Maoists held in Murshidabad

24 Mar 2008, 0512 hrs IST,TNN

BEHRAMPORE: The alert villagers of Tehatta in Murshidabad braved bullets to nab a suspected Maoist early on Sunday. While their statement led to the arrest of two others from Nawda police station area later in the day. Three villagers were injured in the firing.

According to sources, the gram rakshi bahini of Tehatta noticed five people loitering suspiciously in the village around 1 am on Sunday. When the villagers challenged the group and asked them to identify themselves, they refused. This led to an altercation.

Murshidabad SP Basab Dasgupta said: "The men then opened fire at the rakshi bahini members. But instead of running for their lives, the guards alerted other villagers. Soon, the villagers assembled and chased the five-member gang. While four managed to flee, the villagers caught one."

Three villagers - Debar Sheikh, Abdul Alim Sheikh and Jabbarul Sheikh - were injured in the firing. They were admitted to Amtala Hospital.

"The man who was caught by the villagers was identified as Baban Sutradhar," the SP said. "They beat up Sutradhar and found a gun on him," he added. Police also recovered seven bullets from him.

Police sources said Sutradhar had been arrested four times in the past for suspected Maoist links. He was admitted to Behrampore New General Hospital with serious injuries.

During interrogation, Sutradhar spilled the beans on his comrades. "On the basis of his statement, we arrested Yasin Sheikh and Jalamin Sheikh. Raids are on in several villages on the basis of the information they gave us," the SP added.

Killing Maoists is no solution, says ex-minister

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy

New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) Killing Maoist guerrillas will not help end their insurgency unless the benefits of economic development reach the poorest of the poor, says former Madhya Pradesh home minister Mahendra Boddh. Boddh, who witnessed the slow but steady growth of the Maoists in what today is Chhattisgarh, is very clear how the guerrillas need to be tackled.

“Killing of Naxalites (Maoists) is not the solution to the problem. Such an attitude would only worsen the situation. The solution does not emanate from the barrel of the gun,” Boddh told IANS in an interview.

“Massive development and job opportunities offer a lasting solution to the problem arising out Naxalism (Maoism) not only in Chhattisgarh but across the country. Naxalism is more a social than law and order problem,” added Boddh, currently a member of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.

A long time minister in Madhya Pradesh, Congress leader Boddh was home minister in the state under chief minister Digvijay Singh. The Congress lost the 2003 elections in the state.

Boddh is aware that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared in December 2007 that all efforts needed to be made to crush Maoists, who are known as Naxalites on account of the West Bengal village where their insurgency erupted four decades ago: Naxalbari.

“Let’s give them jobs, and ensure that the benefits of development percolate to the people on the margins. We tried our best, and there is a need to intensify efforts in that direction. If we do not give them employment, they would fall in the trap of our enemies,” Boddh added.

He explained how the Congress tackled the Maoists when the Congress ruled Madhya Pradesh, which until 2000 was India’s biggest state in land area.

“Our government took a serious note of the problem. Development measures were initiated, with a specific focus on the present-day Chhattisgarh area with a huge tribal population,” he said. “It is the educated and literate tribes youth who are spearheading Naxalism.”

According to official figures, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand accounted for 68.16 percent of violent incidents involving Maoists and 76.42 percent of casualties till November 2007.

Over 50 percent of all civilians killed in Maoist violence countrywide were from Chhattisgarh, which was part of Madhya Pradesh until 2000.

“As Madhya Pradesh home minister, I initiated talks with the Naxalites. They were young, educated tribals. It used to be a shocking encounter, given the fact that we educated them, but could not get jobs.

“Today the Naxalites possess sophisticated weapons. They manage to break jails. They have funds to carry out nefarious activities. We must have answer to these serious questions too,” he said.

The central government has set up a panel of ministers under the chairmanship of Home Minister Shivraj Patil to monitor the Maoist situation and evolve strategies to tackle the problem.

The chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra and West Bengal - states worst hit by Maoist activity - are special invitees to the panel.

“It was due to our commitment to bring the tribals into the country’s mainstream that Chhattisgarh was created.

“More aggressive efforts are required to bring the tribals into the socio-political and economic mainstream. Let us ensure the funds meant for tribal development are effectively utilised. This is not happening,” Boddh said.

(Rajeev Ranjan Roy can be contacted at Rajeev.r@ians)

Centre allocates Rs 500 crore for naxal-hit areas in 11th Plan

23 Mar, 2008, 1001 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: Concerned over growing Left wing extremism in various states, the Centre has decided to allocate Rs 500 crore during the 11th Plan for development of infrastructure in naxal-hit areas.

The new scheme aims at providing critical mobility to the police by upgrading existing roads and tracks in inaccessible areas and securing camping grounds and helipads at strategic locations in remote and interior areas, Home Ministry sources said.

Helicopters have been provided to affected states for rushing central para-military forces and evacuating injured people and security personnel, but in the absence of helipads state governments are unable to make right use of the machines.

The scheme, which is fully funded by the Centre, also seeks to provide security to police stations and outposts by strengthening those at risk of attack due to their dilapidated condition, the sources said.

There have been several incidents of naxals storming police stations in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa in which personnel have been attacked and arms looted.

Through the plan, to be implemented by concerned state governments, the Centre intends to upgrade and strengthen approach roads to police stations and outposts where there is risk of attack by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and landmines.