Saturday, September 06, 2008

Maoists come out in support of SIMI

5 Sep 2008, 0232 hrs IST, Vishwa Mohan,TNN

NEW DELHI: In what could be the worst fear of security agencies in the country, the Naxalites have, of late, come out in strong support of the banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) — a move which is seen as Maoists’ strategy to make common cause with an outfit which has been involved in a number of recent terror attacks.

The CPM — the biggest and the most potent banned group of Naxalites — has issued a detailed statement, batting for the cause of SIMI while, at the same time, demanding ban on VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, BJP and Hindu Munnani by calling them “Hindu fanatical gangs”.

The statement — which is seen by security agencies as an attempt of Red Ultras to win over the support of Muslims — came in the wake of killing of VHP leader Lakshmananda Saraswati in Kandhamal district in Orissa, owning up the attack on the deceased’s ashram.

CPM spokesperson Azad — who is the third in the hierarchy of the Red Ultras’ central committee — in the statement said: “On the 23rd of August, our People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) had carried out a daring attack on the ashram of the most notorious Hindu fascist leader of Orissa, Lakshmananda Saraswati, who called himself a swami but is actually a satan.”

Though the VHP and others in Orissa termed it a “fake claim” by Naxalites saying it was the handiwork of some local Christian outfits, officials in the home ministry here believed the Naxalites’ claim about the incident.

A senior official said: “Although it is matter of police probe to find out the culprits, the indications from the ground hinted at Maoists’ involvement in the attack as the CPM has, of late, become quite active and vocal in winning over support of different religious groups by directly aligning it with the cause of certain outfits.”

SIMI is one such banned outfit which attracted Maoists’ attention and the statement issued by the latter — a copy of which is with TOI — appears to be an open move to attract the attention of outlawed group’s cadres.

Azad — whose real name is Cherukuri Raja Kumar — in his signed statement while referring to the government’s “war on terror” move said: “We appeal to the people not to get diverted by the vicious calculated propaganda of the ruling classes against Muslim organizations like SIMI while allowing the hooligans of Sangh Parivar to roam freely murdering people belonging to religious minorities”.

He further said: “It is not SIMI that is to be outlawed but these Hindu fanatical gangs like VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, BJP, Hindu Munnani and so on.”

Maoist bid to woo cops

7 Sep 2008, 0250 hrs IST, Abdul Qadir,TNN

GAYA: In what appears to be a part of the Maoist strategy to cause confusion and engineer division within the police rank and file, Naxalites belonging to the CPI (Maoist), have invoked the class rhetoric to woo the constabulary.

The Maoists have pasted posters in several parts of the trouble-prone Dumaria -Imamganj area of the district reminding the constabulary engaged in the anti-Naxal combat of its (constabulary's) common economic and social interests with the proponents of the Naxal ideology.

Such posters have been seen in villages like Magra, Narainpur, Goti Bandh, Kulsauta and Majhaula. Earlier, the Naxalites ambushed a police party comprising nearly half-a-dozen constables of the Special Auxiliary Police created by the state government to give teeth to its anti-Naxal operations.

The ambush took place in a crowded locality at Raniganj village, part of the Imamganj police station area.

The Maoist pamphlets somewhat apologetically reminded the constabulary that killing the constables did not give any pleasure to the Naxalites and such killings were done under compulsion as the constables were not "class enemies" rather they got penalised for being on the side of those who have been exploiting the poor masses.

Moreover, the Maoists are basically interested in the weapons possessed by the police force and most of the casualties take place when the constabulary does not surrender the weapons to them.

The posters also ask the constabulary to indulge in introspection and recognise their (constabulary's) own enlightened interests and stop serving the interests of their class enemies.

Villager role in rebel blast in Ghatshila

Jamshedpur, Sept. 5: Villagers played a vital role in the August 30 landmine blast in Ghatshila that left 11 policemen dead. East Singhbhum superintendent of police Naveen Kumar Singh made the startling revelation here today.

Singh said these people were hand in glove with Naxalites who triggered the blast. Ghatshila police arrested four suspected Naxalites yesterday evening.

“About 25 people were involved in the blast. Of them, 15 were members of the CPI(Maoist)’s Belpahari platoon and the rest were villagers. Those arrested in connection with the blast have revealed the names of the others involved. They have revealed how the villagers helped them. We will issue arrest warrants and book those who aided the Naxalites,” the SP told The Telegraph.

The villagers from Hiraganj, Basodera and Burudih provided the rebels with food, clothes, medicines and even information when the armed squad came to the area for “surveillance” — a Naxalite modus operandi before every attack.

Even while expressing concern over the role of villagers in abetting Naxalism in places such as Ghatshila, the police chief admitted that at times these poor locals are helpless. When armed Maoists barge into their homes and demand food or favours, there is little they can do in protest, he said.

“However, sometimes such claims made by villagers may not be completely true. They may have other interests, such as money, that prompt them to help Naxalites. The recent mine blast at Burudih has revealed that all those who claim helplessness are not that helpless,” Singh said.

Singh said the landmines were planted just a day before they went off. Interrogations have revealed that villagers had provided crowbars for the operation and guarded the area while the Naxalites dug up holes on the road for planting the mines. “The villagers were very well aware that landmines were being planted. They could have informed the police and their identity would have been kept a secret. But they preferred silence and watched people die,” he said.

Meanwhile, a high-level meeting of police officers was held in Ranchi today. It was presided over by director-general of police V.D. Ram. Singh, who attended the four-hour meeting, said issues related to Naxalites were elaborately discussed. It was the first such meeting after Shibu Soren became the chief minister. Insiders said a proposal to bring the rebels to the mainstream was also mooted.

Red fear stalks tusker trail - Officials to abandon watchtowers


Watchtowers set up near Burudih dam in Ghatshila. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur, Sept. 5: Fearing Naxalite attacks, foresters have decided to abandon their watchtowers set up to monitor elephant herds that usually migrate to the jungles of neighbouring Orissa and Bengal during this time of the year.

After the monsoon, herds of wild elephants from the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary move out to the Saranda forests of Jharkhand, Simplipal in Orissa’s Mayurbhanj district and West Midnapore in Bengal.

According to forest department sources, usually two herds of 20 tuskers each move to Bengal. But the route the elephants take from the Dalma hills to Bengal is within the Maoists’ terror zone.

The herds usually pass through Patamda, Kudlum, Beko, Rajabasa, Basodera, Kelajore, Tikri and Burudih — all under the Dhalbhum forest division — before finally entering East Midnapore.

The forest department with the active participation of local villagers had set up as many as 40 watchtowers of saal wood to monitor the migration and ensure that the elephants did not stray into the villages endangering lives or trample standing crops.

Divisional forest officer, Dhalbhum, A.T. Mishra said last year one person was killed by a herd of wild elephants, but the volume of crop loss was heavy.

“The towers are set up keeping in mind the stretches of plantations and the idea is to ward off a herd if it got too close,” said a source. While on watch, foresters keep a ready stock of crackers and torches which they use to scare away the elephants.

But this time, given the escalation in Maoist violence in the area, neither the villagers nor forest officials are keen on using the watchtowers. “Earlier, we would use the watchtowers regularly. But now it has become a matter of great risk,” pointed out Pradhan Hembram, a villager in Burudih.

Mishra said his department had already begun talking to local villagers to counsel them about precautions to take during elephant migration that was about to start.

“But we aren’t sure how effective our talks will be as the situation around the migratory route has changed completely,” he said.

His colleagues, however, admitted privately that no department official would use the watchtowers as it had become too dangerous.

Naxals employing kids as soldiers: HRW

Posted online: Saturday , September 06, 2008 at 01:16:10

New York, September 6: Naxalites in Chhattisgarh are employing children in their military conflict, an international human rights group has pointed out and warned that using kids as soldiers was violation of international laws.
"All parties to the Chhattisgarh conflict have used children in armed operations. The Naxalites, a Maoist armed group, admit that it is their official practice to recruit children above age 16 in their forces, and have used children as young as 12 in armed operations," the Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Friday.

It has also slammed the government sponsored Salwa Judum vigilantes for also using children in their defence against Naxals attack.

The 58-page report, ‘Dangerous Duty: Children and the Chhattisgarh Conflict,’ is based on information gathered from more than 160 interviews with villagers, Salwa Judum camp residents, police, SPOs, and former child Naxalites in Chhattisgarh state, the Human Rights Watch said.

The human rights watch group has also pointed out that children were being recruited as special police officers with the police and used in counter-Naxalite combing operations.

The group carried a clarification by the Chhattisgarh state police that all people below 18-years of age were being removed from the ranks.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Ban on India child fighters urged

Police in Chhattisgarh have in the past admitted recruiting children
Indian forces and Maoist rebels should stop using children in conflict immediately, a human rights group says.

Human Rights Watch says all parties in the central state of Chhattisgarh use children in armed operations.

The rebels admit they recruit children sometimes as young as 12, it says. The government denies recruiting children.

PM Manmohan Singh has described Maoists as the biggest threat to India. About 6,000 people have died in violence linked to the rebels over 20 years.

Maoist fighters are active in east and central India, in almost half of the country's 29 states.

They focus on areas where people are poor but there is great mineral wealth. The rebels say they represent the rights of landless farmhands and tribal communities.


The Human Rights Watch report is entitled "Dangerous Duty: Children and the Chhattisgarh Conflict",.

It says using children under 18 years in armed operations places them at risk of injury and death, and violates international law.

"A particular horror of the Chhattisgarh conflict is that children are participating in the violence," Jo Becker, children's rights advocate for HRW and the study's lead researcher, said in a press release.

"It's shameful that both India's government and the Naxalites [the Maoist rebels] are exploiting children in such a dangerous fashion."

The report says all sides in the conflict use children.

The rebels are accused of recruiting children as young as 12

"The rebels admit it is their official practice to recruit children above age 16 in their forces, and have used children as young as 12 in armed operations," the report says.

"I joined the rebels' military guerrilla squad when I was 13 or 14 years old. I was studying in a government-run residential school in eighth standard when Naxalites came to my hostel," a former member is quoted telling HRW in December last year.

"I didn't want to go. They said I could study until the 10th standard, but I should go with them. We got weapons training, learnt about landmines, and a little karate.

"Finally, I had an opportunity to run away. One year after I ran away, both my younger brothers [aged eight and 12] were killed [by the Naxalites in retaliation]. They beat my mother and broke her arm. They burned our house and took all our things," he said.


The report says that government-backed Salwa Judum vigilantes and the police, too, are guilty of recruiting children.

A teacher in a government school in Bhairamgarh told HRW that about 15 to 20 children - boys and girls - dropped out of high school in 2005 to become special police officers (SPOs).

"I live in Bhairamgarh and many of these children also stay there. Now they are all SPOs. Their entire schooling has been ruined - they can never go back to school because they have discontinued education for over two years," the report quoted him as saying.

HRW says the Chhattisgarh police admit that they had recruited children under 18 as special police officers due to the absence of age documentation, but claim that all children have been removed from the ranks.

"However, our investigators have found that underage SPOs continue to serve with the police and are used in counter-Naxalite combing operations."

In late 2007, the group says that Chhattisgarh police admitted that they had accidentally recruited underage SPOs, but claimed that they had since removed around 150 officers from the ranks, including children.

"While there is no evidence of new SPO recruitment since March 2006, both SPOs and community members confirmed that SPOs under age 18 continue to serve with the police," the report says.

It says many of the underage SPOs boasted in interviews with HRW that they continue to serve at the forefront of dangerous armed operations

In July, the Indian home ministry said the HRW findings were "absolutely false" and that no underage SPOs were recruited by the Chhattisgarh police.

"Instead of vacillating between admissions and denial regarding their use of children, India should act to immediately conduct age verification tests for all SPOs, remove those under age 18, and provide them with education and alternative employment," the report says.

Naxals Must End Use of Children as Fighters

India, Rebels Must End Use of Children as Fighters, Group Says

By James Peng

Sept. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Indian security forces and Maoist rebels in the central state of Chhattisgarh must immediately cease using children as fighters, Human Rights Watch said.

All parties in the Chhattisgarh conflict have deployed children under the age of 18 in combat, a practice that violates international law, the New York-based group said in a statement.

Maoist rebel groups, known as Naxalites, are active in at least 11 of India's 28 states. They have targeted landowners and police for more than three decades in a campaign for jobs and land rights for the poor. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called them the nation's biggest security threat.

``It's shameful that both India's government and the Naxalites are exploiting children in such a dangerous fashion,'' said Jo Becker, children's rights advocate and member of the group's research team. The office of Indian Chief Secretary P. Joy Oomen and Police Chief Vishwa Ranjan didn't immediately return calls from Bloomberg News seeking comment.

The Naxalites say they recruit children above the age of 16 to fight, and have used children as young as 12 in armed operations, according to Human Rights Watch.

Government-backed groups have used children in attacks as part of their anti-Naxalite campaign, the group said. The Chhattisgarh state police force admits it has recruited children under the age of 18 as special police officers due to lack of documentation, it said.

Demobilize, Rehabilitate

Since mid-2005, Chhattisgarh police have recruited an unknown number of children in the more than 3,500-strong force in the state's southern area to assist government troops in operations against Naxalites, the statement said. Human Rights Watch said its information was gathered from more than 160 interviews with villagers, police and former child Naxalites.

The group called on the Indian and Chhattisgarh governments to demobilize and rehabilitate child fighters and police.

Maoists are targeting infrastructure to cripple transport and slow developmental activity in India, the government says. Attacks have taken place in regions that contributed about three-quarters of the country's $775 billion gross domestic product in the financial year ending March 2006, it says.

There were 358 incidents of Maoists violence in the 12 months to March, the Home Ministry said in a report on its Web site. The violence claimed the lives of 45 policemen, 89 civilians and 74 Maoists, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Peng in Hong Kong at;

Last Updated: September 5, 2008 03:20 EDT

Naxalites kill 5 securitymen in Chhattisgarh

Express News ServicePosted online: Friday, September 05, 2008 at 0121 hrs Print Email
Raipur, September 4: Five security personnel, including three CRPF jawans, were killed and five were injured on Thursday in a Naxalite attack in the forests near village Chunchuna Pundagh, close to the inter-state border with Jharkhand, in Sarguja district of North Chhattisgarh.

The incident took place in the afternoon when Inspector General of Police (Sarguja Range) B S Maravi was on his way to a village, where the Maoists had killed a former rebel who had surrendered recently. Initial reports suggest that the Naxals triggered a landmine blast, targeting the senior police officer but it hit his escort vehicle.

However, Director General of Police Vishwaranjan said the rebels ambushed the police and CRPF personnel, who were patrolling the area and started firing indiscriminately at the security personnel.

Police patrol was intensified in the area following information that Naxalites had been moving around in the region. "In fact the security personnel had defused a powerful landmine just before the firing began. The encounter continued for about two and a half hours," said the DGP.

As the incident took place in a remote location where communication facilities were not available and just two kilometers away from Jharkhand border, the police are yet to ascertain the exact number of casualties and the identity of the victims.

Police spokesman Raj Kumar Dewangan said IG B S Maravi and other officials were camping at Samri police station area and a helicopter has been sent to airlift injured security personnel to the district headquarters at Sarguja.

4 policemen killed in naxal attack

Posted at Thursday, 04 September 2008 17:09 IST
Raipur, Sep 4: Three CRPF and a policeman were killed and six injured in a land mine blast today triggered by the Maoists in Balrampur district bordering Jharkhand.

The policemen were killed in the powerful landmine blast in Chunchuna village under Samri police station area, about 550 km from the state capital triggered by Maoists, the police sources said.

The incident occurred when the policemen were travelling in a jeep from Samri to Kusmi, the sources said.

The Maoists had blown up a jeep in an IED explosion killing six CRPF men, including an officer, in hyper sensitive Narayanpur district in south of Chhattisgarh on August 29, the police officials said.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Jharkhand ready for talks with Maoists: Koda

RANCHI, Sept 3: The Jharkhand government is ready for dialogue with Maoists but the initiative for it should be taken by them, chief minister Mr Shibu Soren said here today.
Mr Soren expressed his willingness for talks with the Naxals when media persons asked him whether his government was interested in a dialogue with CPI(Maoist).
Mr Soren is the fifth chief minister who has offered talks with the Maoists. All the former chief ministers ~ Babulal Marandi, Mr Arjun Munda (twice CM) and Mr Madhu Koda had their expressed willingness for talks but the Naxalites did not initiate any move to accept the offer.
To another query as to what steps his government would take to stop illegal mining of mica in Giridih and Kodarma districts, the chief minister said he would send an official team to the areas.
He said the panchayat polls in the state would be held only after Supreme Court's judgement on a bunch of petitions made against certain provisions of the Panchayat Act.
The chief minister said the government has sent flood relief to Bihar. n PTI

Former naxalites ask CM to ensure rehabilitation

Updated: 09-04-2008
HYDERABAD : Former Naxals from Anantapur districts, who had surrendered before police, complained the Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, on Wednesday about negligence of the authorities in implementing rehabilitation packages promised to him during surrender.
About 250 surrendered Naxals and sympathisers met the chief minister at his camp office and submitted a memorandum, urging him to strictly implement a rehabilitation package for them.

The Chief Minister assured them that quick trials would be conducted in cases involving comparatively lighter offences such as blowing up telephone towers, providing shelter and food to the Naxals and sympathising with them. However, the government would deal strictly with serious offences involving the surrendered Naxals, he said.

Two Maoists injured in encounter with police

4 Sep 2008, 0353 hrs IST,TNN

SASARAM: Two Moists were injured in an encounter with the police on Kaimur hills at Soli village under Naxal-affected Nauhatta police station of Rohtas district in the wee hours of Wednesday. The police recovered two police-looted rifles, live cartridges and medicine in huge quantity.

A suspected Maoist was also arrested from the spot, according to police sources.

Sources said that following a tip-off that the Maoists were organizing a medical camp in a residential Adivasi high school at Soli on Kaimur hills, a police team led by Rohtas SP Vikas Vaivabh rushed to the spot on Tuesday night.

After seeing the police party coming from the hills, the Maoists, numbering more than 50, started firing which was retaliated by police.

The encounter took place for about one hour.

In the exchange of fire, police fired about 150 rounds. The SP in a press conference at Sasaram on Wednesday morning said two Maoists were injured in the encounter.

He said the Maoists were being seen taken away by their accomplices with bullet injuries.

The arrested Maoist - Mandey Urawn - of nearby Nagatoli village also admitted before the police that his two accomplices were injured.

The police recovered 60 live cartridges, two police rifles, walkie talkies and medicine.

Documents recovered from the spot revealed that the Maoists had organized a four-day medical camp under the banner of Jan Sahayog Health Samiti in different villages of Kaimur hills.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Patil stirs, late as usual


Shivraj Patil
New Delhi, Sept. 2: Shivraj Patil’s trip to Orissa tomorrow will be another of his belated visits to a trouble spot. But unlike most other times, he will be going alone and not trudging behind Sonia Gandhi.

The Union home minister is known to be inclined to despatch his deputy, minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal, to violence-torn areas.

Jaiswal visited Orissa last week and even said the situation was “out of control”. Yet it is well after the riots have spread to several other districts that Patil will arrive tomorrow, a week and a half after the attacks on Christians began.

His previous trip to Kandhamal came last January although communal violence had flared before Christmas.

When police firing killed nine persons in Orissa’s Kalinganagar in January 2006, Patil let nine days pass before he paid a visit, trailing along behind Sonia.

That, however, was not the only time the embattled minister has preferred to remain in the shadow of his party boss.

Whether it was in Mumbai after the July 2006 train blasts, or in Jaipur two days after the May 13 bombings this year, Patil was by the side of the Congress president.

Patil has been accused of letting the situation worsen in Jammu and Kashmir, and of failing to control law and order at a time the country is buffeted by Naxalite attacks, terror and communal clashes.

When the home minister led an 18-member team to Jammu, weeks after the pro-Amarnath agitation had begun, women banged utensils from rooftops and local journalists’ questions bordered on rudeness. Part of the anger was directed at Patil’s delay in showing up.

On February 22 this year, Patil had visited Kashmir after a spell of heavy snowfall — again with Sonia.

In Orissa tomorrow, he will do a “spot assessment in violence-hit areas”. Official figures say 16 persons have been killed; and dozens of churches and prayer halls have been torched by rampaging mobs.

Patil recently received a demonstration of how voters might feel towards a politician they believe has failed them.

Several members of the Dhargar community from Maharashtra’s Latur — from where Patil lost the 2004 polls — had arrived in Delhi but chose not to meet him. “We are ready to meet anyone except Patil. He never helped our cause and we’ll make him lose in Latur again,” said a leader from the community.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Why is Mamata so inflexible towards Tata project?

Bidyut Roy / Subrata NagchoudhuryPosted online: Wednesday, September 03, 2008 at 0920
Kolkata, September 3: : Why is Mamata Banerjee so inflexible in her opposition to the Tata project? If one answer lies in her playing opposition politics, another has to do with the 21 groups which have jumped onto her stage.

Singur Tata

Mamata Banerjee

Called the People’s Secular Democratic Front, this alliance, The Indian Express has found, is a group of parties with little presence in the state, NGOs and Naxalite groups with agendas that couldn’t have been more dissimilar.

This cast of characters seems to have walked out a Left-inspired script: one is into sanitation, one is headed by a graduate of, ironically, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences who was once funded by the Ford Foundation, another works on adult education, one monitors “electoral malpractices.”

These groups brings two strands together: a strong anti-industry line — which Mamata doesn’t — and an ardent anti-CPM stand which plays right into Mamata’s identity. Naxalites and former Naxalites walk in and out of these NGOs both as members and supporters. Some of the “political” groups don’t even have an office, one claims the support of 700 people across the state, another got barely 100 votes in the Hind Motors union elections. These groups joined Mamata in Nandigram and scenting success there — the government abandoned its SEZ plan — they are now emboldened in Singur.

Because they don’t have to face voters, they have taken a hard line. So much so that as there’s talk of “mediation” in the air, they have come out to say they will continue the agitation even if Mamata backs out.

The principal characters:

•Paschim Banga Khet Majur Samity: This NGO held up bus loads of engineers and staff working at the Nano site on August 28 and it was after their threats of intimidation that Tatas decided to stop sending staff to the plant. It’s headed by Anuradha Talwar, 49, a graduate of Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Her husband Swapan Ganguly is secretary of the organisation.

Talwar and Ganguly established an NGO Gana Samhati Kendra in 1984 in Badu, North 24 Parganas. Talwar says that with funding from the Ford Foundation, they ran a project on healthcare and sanitation in villages. In 1987, they established the Khet Majur Samity, a trade union body, which they claim has no political affiliation.

The Samity monitored NREG progress in the state and exposed failures in its implementation. Today, the NGO runs an 11-acre “collective farm” and claims it is funded by collections from locals and donations. Eight acres are used for farming — which Talwar says sustains the residents — and three acres is for homestead. An estimated 115 locals live here, eating out of a mass kitchen that runs throughout the year.

“Industry is more powerful than agriculture,” says Talwar. “So agriculture and industry cannot sustain simultaneously. Industry always destroys agriculture. Industrial pollution will engulf agricultural land. So we are fighting to save agriculture from the Tata Motors plant in Singur.”

Clearly, Mamata has raised no such objections but Talwar is beside her at every public function and openly claims that Mamata asks her for advice on all matters involving the Tata project.

•Gana Mukti Parishad: An NGO headed by Sunanda Sanyal, a former professor who fell out of CPM’s favour, this group has exposed fake electoral lists. Former Secretary of the state Land Reforms Department Debabrata Banerjee is also associated with this NGO. Sanyal found in the Singur campaign a visible forum to take on the CPM and rushed in. During the last elections, he had actively campaigned for having NGOs as observers. Asked about his funding, Sanyal said: “We get donations from friends.”

•National Alliance of Peoples Movement: Medha Patkar’s group has made repeated trips to Singur and Nandigram attacking farmland acquisition for industry. Initially, Patkar had her own programme but during the current phase of the agitation, she now shares the stage with Mamata and works in tandem with Talwar’s NGO. After Narmada, the NAPM has identified imperialism and globalisation as its enemies.

•Samhati Udyog: An alliance of no less than 10 organizations, including the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), NAPM, Khet Mazdoor Samiti, Mazdoor Kranti Parishad, Nari Atyachar Virodhi Manch, Ganapratirodh Mancha and the Bandi Mukti Committee. It was its secretary Samar Das, a former Naxalite, who began the first “survey” in Singur in June 2006 on the status of landlosers. His survey forms the basis of Mamata’s arguments but she fell out with him after the state government called him for direct talks. “Even if Mamata Banerjee opts out of the agitation, we will continue it,” he says. Samhati Udyog was also involved in Nandigram and claims to be working on rights of sharecroppers, minimum wage and distribution of pattas.

When asked about his sources of funding, Das declined to comment.

•Group For Rural Alternative Movement: Barely a year old, its secretary Mintu Dey says that all members are “Naxal-minded persons” from around Jadavpur University. The NGO was formed specifically to organise and support the farmers’ agitation in Singur.”There is no question of a compromise regarding Singur. If Tatas leave, so be it,” said Mintu Dey. Asked about his group’s funding, he said: “We get money from well-wishers and small collections from sympathizers.”

•Jana Sangharsha Samity: Set up during 1975 as part of Jayaprakash Narayan’s Nav Nirman movement, its single-point agenda today: socialism. Secretary Himanshu Mukherjee admits that the group has no “definitive” sphere of work. “We believe in socialism. Tatas should go back. That is the solution to all the problems in Singur,” he said.

•Belur Shramajibi Hospital: Another 25-year-old NGO, it set up a hospital in Belur, Howrah. Secretary A K Saha says the NGO takes care of the “health needs of the farmers of Singur.”

“We collected money from local people and workers of Belur area to build the hospital. We are not bearing any cost of this makeshift stage in Singur. We run the organization with public collectons,” said Saha.

•Naxalite groups: Four Naxalite groups are part of the 21 of Mamata’s Singur alliance. One of them is the “CPI(ML)-state organising committee,” a breakway group of Kanu Sanyal’s CPI(ML). It comprises just three leaders who were expelled from the CPI(ML) after they joined Mamata’s agitation in December 2006: Pradip Banerjee, Purnendu Bose and Dola Sen. They claim to have 700 “followers” in the state.

Bose became the convenor of Mamata’s People’s Secular Democratic Front. The CPIML (New Democracy)’s Singur unit is headd by Paltu Sen, a trade union leader based in Uttarpara in Hooghly district who got about 100 votes when he contested the Hind Motors trade union elections in 2007. The other party is CPIML (Jana Shakti) led by Alok Mukherjee based in Birbhum. He rarely comes to Kolkata. The party has no office or any public activity but has set up a camp in Singur.

Another organisation is United Students Democratic Front which is a Naxalite faction. Mazdur Kranti Parishad is another Naxalite party with some presence in Hind Motors and some other factories in Belghoria, North 24 Parganas. Among other parties are the Indian Union of Muslim League, Janata Dal United, Samajwadi Party, Samata Dal. These parties have almost no presence in the state but each one has its own score to settle with the CPM. For example, the Samajwadi Party, ridiculed by the CPM for voting with the UPA in the trust vote, has found its platform to get back — in Singur.

Commandos in tow leave MP at unease


MP Suman Mahto with her escorts. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur, Sept. 2: There were more security personnel than common people at the foundation stone laying of four road projects at Azadnagar in Mango today.

Flanked by as many as 31 commandos of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Jamshedpur MP Suman Mahto laid the foundation stone of the project worth Rs 1 crore.

Mahto was recently provided with Z-category security. Whether she is in her office, at home or somewhere else, no one can approach her without being questioned or frisked by the commandos.

But the MP herself is unaware why she has been provided with such heavy security. “I personally am not comfortable with so many security personnels around,” Mahto said.

She was unaware that the government has provided her with such security before she reached her residence last week. “After I came back from New Delhi last week, I found that over 30 commandos were waiting for me at my house. I was astonished to see such security cover for me as I not asked for it in recent past,” Mahto told The Telegraph.

She said a few weeks after Naxalites killed her husband, she approached the East Singhbhum superintendent of police Pankaj Kumar Darad for security cover.

The SP provided her with five armed personnel. This was in addition to two armed guards, which is generally given to every MP.

Jharkhand director-general of police V.D. Ram said: “The government must have perceived some threat to the MP’s life to provide her with such heavy security.”

Suman Mahto was elected as MP with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha ticket in August last year, after five months of her husband Sunil Mahto assassinated in Ghatshila.

But people coming to meet her are having a tough time.

Sheikh Azhar of Azadnagar, Mango, said he visited the MP’s office two days ago but he could not meet her. The security personnel did not allow her to meet Mahto.

“The commandos asked me several questions, I answered them but still they did not allow me to meet her. They said the MP would not meet anyone one,” claimed Azhar.

Sangita Devi of Shastrinagar, Kadma, said she wanted to meet the MP but was asked to leave four times. On her fifth attempt, she finally got the chance to meet her.

“I had problem with my house and wanted to meet her. But the security personnel would not allow me. After repeated attempts I met her some days back,” Sangita said.

Rebels hold hamlet to ransom, seek picket removal


Ranchi, Sept. 2: Residents of Chak, a village under Manatu police station area of Palamau, have earned the wrath of Naxalites after setting up a police picket, to keep the rebels at bay.

Now, the red army wants the picket, established some two months ago, removed from the village.

Residents complain that Naxalites, with the help of its frontal organisation Krantikari Kisan Committee (KKC), have put up posters across the village ordering people to shut their shops till the picket is removed.

A resident, on the condition of anonymity, said the rebels have also warned nearby villages against dealing with Chak residents.

Chak comprises 250 households and is situated near the Chatra border.

With shops closed, life in the village has been adversely affected for the past 15 days with residents struggling to maintain a normal life. Police officers deputed there conceded that treating ailing villagers has been proving increasingly difficult, with medicine supply falling short. For the past 10 days, new supply has not reached the area.

“Schools, banks and establishments in the village are shut. Uncertainty now looms large over the village with residents having no idea of when the Naxalites would lift the blockade,” an officer said.

Sources said police officers tried to convince some shops owners to return to business as usual, but villagers refused, not daring to challenge the Naxalites, who are known for their merciless treatment of police informers and helpers.

Police spokesperson and inspector-general of police (provision) S.N. Pradhan confirmed the siege.

“Businesses in the area have been closed for the past week due to the demand.” He, however, said that movement of vehicles and schools had not been disrupted.

Chak is the same village where Naxalites shot a JAP-1 constable, Ramesh Chhetri (29), while injuring a jamadar, Sunil Chhetri (28), in the morning of August 14, and then went on to attack a police picket in the same day.

The rebels, sources said, have been demanding the removal of the picket alleging that the personnel violate the human rights of the residents.

According to them, the police officers there often threaten the “dignity of women” and terrorise villagers by their presence.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Maoists back J&K azadi

New Delhi, Sept. 1: In a significant move, which could have serious consequences, the dreaded and banned outfit, CPI(Maoists) has decided to join the ongoing violent agitation for “Azad Kashmir.” In a document released by the CPI(Maoist) on Monday, the outfit exhorted its fighters from, People Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) to move towards the valley to join the “movement.” The Maoists feel that with the agitation taking an anti-national stance, the time was ripe for their guerrillas to move in.

The document, in possession of this newspaper, states: “The Central Committee of the CPI(Maoist) calls upon its party members and the PLGA fighters to mobilise in support of the Kashmiri people’s struggle for “azadi (freedom.)” It can be mentioned that the Maoists, virtually controlling the remote areas in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa have been looking for an opportunity to make in roads into the other parts of the country. The Maoists (being called Naxalites) had also moved into Nandigram and extended support to the violent agitation, which was spearheaded by the Trinamul Congress leader, Ms Mamata Banerjee.

The Maoists, who had been extending “support” to all the separatist movements in northeast, tried to sound different in Kashmir. The document released by the Maoists read: “The people of Kashmir should come up with the slogan: “Neither India nor Pakistan, but a sovereign independent Kashmir.” Sources disclosed that the slogan was merely an “ideological stance”, while the main motive was to make inroads into the valley.

Irritant neighbours

Think It Over

Irritant neighbours
By M.S.N. Menon


India is almost continental. It can afford to be a space power, a nuclear power or any power that it wants to be. There is no country in SAARC that can equal India’s potential.

India’s economy is three times the size of the economies of the rest of SAARC put together. And it is growing at the rate of 8-10 per cent per year. It is going to be the third largest economy in the world.

India is the supreme military power in South Asia, and the third largest in the world. No one can overwhelm it militarily. Not even China. True, Pakistan is armed with the atom bomb. And it can cause immense damage to India. But India can wipe out Pakistan from the face of the earth in a nuclear exchange. Pakistan will cease then to exist. So what use is its deterrence? It cannot use it without risking its very existence. (Needless to say the same facts apply to India-China relations.)

And if the Maoists of Nepal think that they can work with Pakistan and China to undo India, they are mistaken. They must know that India has the means to undo them first.

As for Bangladesh, it has taught us many lessons. First of all, not to befriend a people who are like snakes. We all have heard the saying: return good for evil. But here is a country which returns evil for the good you do to it. Search you may in the entire history of manmind for another example, you will not find one!

Today Bangladesh works closely in cooperation with Pakistan’s ISI to absorb the North East of India. The goal is to cut off the North East from India.

If these are the plans that our neighbours are hatching against India, let them think again. They may be mistaken in hoping that the old betrayers of India are still around to help them, that the pseudo-secularists would always be there, that the Congress Party would be there to play its game of “vote bank” politics for ever.

If instead of being inimical, they follow a policy of friendship with India, then sky is the ¬¬¬ limit to what we can achieve together. We have unlimited resources and a population which is remarkable for its skills and intelligence. India is already among the most advanced technological countries. To be precise, one of the first four in the world. And I am convinced that the Hindus will lead the scientific advance of the world in the coming years.

India’s official trade with SAARC countries is no more than 2-3 per cent of the total foreign trade of India. This is of no significance to India. And India is not dependent on any of its neighbours for any strategic materials. The cussedness of Pakistan’s relations with India is such that it gets Indian goods from Singapore and the Gulf by paying 50 per cent more!

Look at the success of South East Asia, Europe and Latin America. Ours is a region which can yield greater benefits from cooperation. Take for example power. Here almost every country can benefit through cooperation. The Indian subcontinent has unlimited hydropower potential. And taming the rivers for hydropower can generate enough irrigation to make India one of the greatest granaries of the world.

We have made serious mistakes in our policies. Take for instance, India’s policy towards Sri Lanka. After opposing India’s partition, we supported the partition of Sri Lanka! After living with Muslims for eight hundred years, we did not know how to deal with them. And when partition became inevitable, we did not know how to deal with it and how to bring about a lasting solution to the Hindu-Muslim problem. And after abolishing all Hindu monarchies in India, we wanted to preserve the Hindu monarchy in Nepal!

J.N.Dixit, former Foreign Secretary, lists five blunders in our foreign policy in his book India’s Foreign Policy and Its Neighbours: 1) in taking the Kashmir issue to the UN; 2) in not reacting firmly when Pakistan signed a security agreement with the USA in 1954; 3) in not being alert to the Sino-Pak nexus; 4) in letting China take over Tibet without securing a quid pro quo and 5) in not going ahead with the nuclear programme after China exploded its nuclear bomb in 1964. To these may be added a number of other failures. But mention must be made of our failure to reverse the military coup in Bangladesh (it must have been a day’s work) and not having a foreign policy with clear goals and military strategies to back it. It was the countervailing force of the Soviet Union which sustained the non-aligned movement. But the nonaligned had no commitment to sustain that countervailing force.

Dear readers, its is time to recognise our mistakes. We have to re-build South Asia. But this time to make it a success.

Saranda plans blast-proof tourist halts soon

- Foresters want concrete makeover plan for guesthouses at Gua, Manoharpur to encourage visitors

A damaged guesthouse in the Saranda forest . File pictures
Jamshedpur, Sept. 1: At a time when Naxalite activities are forcing tourists out of the state, the Saranda forest division has hit upon a plan to woo them back.

It has sent a proposal to the state government for reviving guesthouses at Gua and Manoharpur which were among the many that had been blown up by Naxalites in 2001, bringing tourism to a standstill.

However, the only difference this time is that destroying the new guesthouses would be difficult as the old wooden logs would be replaced by concrete.

The ones that the foresters are eyeing for revival are Kumdi guesthouse, 17km from Gua, and Manoharpur guesthouse.

Both are within the Saranda forest area in West Singhbhum district, about 100km from here.

S.R. Natesha, the divisional forest officer of Saranda, said he had sent a proposal to the secretary of department of forests, requesting the revival of the two guesthouses.

“We have been getting numerous queries about lodging facilities in Saranda from tourists, especially eco-tourists from neighbouring states like Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. Moreover, the atmosphere of Saranda, which had become infamous due to rebel activities, had to be changed positively,” he added.

The divisional forest officer said he was hopeful of the proposal getting necessary clearance as it was crucial to restore the lost glory of Saranda, known for its sal cover.

The Kumdi guesthouse was surrounded by hills on three sides with the Karo river flowing on one side.

Established in 1935, the two-roomed guesthouse was made entirely of wood, except for the walls.

In 2001, rebels set it on fire, razing it partially.

Natesha told The Telegraph that the new guesthouse would be of the same design, but would be an all-concrete structure.

“I have designed the guesthouse in such a way that it cannot be blown up easily. Even the cot will be made of concrete,” he said.

These Saranda guesthouses, some of which were 100 years old, were used by the police and security forces during anti-insurgency operations in the forests.

No wonder they became Naxalite targets — most of these were either partially damaged or blown up by rebels in 2001.

Centre rushes in more troops to Orissa

2 Sep, 2008, 0248 hrs IST, ET Bureau

As communal violence triggered by the killing of VHP leader and anti-conversion activist Laxmanananda Saraswati spreads to more districts in Orissa, the Centre has stationed nearly 5,500 central para-military personnel in the state to aid the police in restoring law and order.

Ever since violence broke out in Kandhamal following the murder of Swami Saraswati and four others, the Union home ministry has been releasing central forces to the state in a phased manner.

While seven companies stationed in Orissa as reserve were sent to Kandhamal on the very first day, 10 companies of the CRPF were pulled out from Jharkhand and Bihar shortly after to help the Orissa police deal with anti-social elements venting their ire on Christians and institutions run by the community.

Another six companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) stationed in Hyderabad and Jamshedpur were subsequently diverted to Orissa for deployment in Kandhamal and other affected districts. The central paramilitary presence in Orissa to tackle the ongoing communal violence is possibly unprecedented. The numbers deployed so far — 33 companies or five-and-a-half battalions — is almost half of the numbers deployed in Chhattisgarh till recently to fight the Left-wing extremists. The state worst hit by Naxalite violence was fighting with the help of these 13 central para-military battalions till recently.

Maoists impose economic blockade in Jharkhand village

September 1st, 2008 - 7:50 pm ICT by ANI -

Chak Village (Jharkhand), Sep 1 (ANI): Maoists have imposed an economic blockade in Chak village of Palamau District of Jharkhand as an act of opposition to the setting up of a police picket in the hamlet. Villagers, however, have welcomed the setting up of the police picket, and believe that it has been effective in curbing the activities of the rebels.

According to some villagers, the Maoists had put up posters across the village, ordering the people to shut their shops till the time the police picket is not removed from the village.

The village, with a population of around 8,000, is experiencing major hardships for the past 15 days.

They (Maoists) had put up a poster saying the shops will remain closed till the police picket is removed from the village. We are facing a lot of problems because of that, said Ramesh Sah, a resident.

Maoists have reportedly also warned nearby villages against having any dealing with the people of Chak village.

With shops closed for so many days, life in the village has been adversely affected with locals finding it hard to even meet their essential requirements.

It is becoming difficult for medical authorities also to treat ailing villagers as there is a shortage of medicines.

R.K. Ranjan, a doctor, claimed that the supply of basic commodities has been badly hit.

The police is quite determined to maintain the picket in Chak village.

We had urged the villagers earlier also to open their shops and continue their business as usual but under the threat they themselves are facing losses. The rebels should also understand the problems of the locals, said Nandu Prasad, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Palamau.

All the schools, banks, and other establishments in the village have been shut over the past 15 days and an uncertainty looms large over the village, with people having no idea of when the Maoists would lift the blockade.

Maoist rebels operate across a large swathe of India stretching from the east to some southern states, mostly in the countryside, and attack government officials and property.

They say they are fighting for the rights of millions of poor peasants and landless labourers. Thousands of people have been killed in the insurgency that began in the late 1960s. (ANI)

West Bengal: Communists paying for their bad Karma

M R Venkatesh

September 01, 2008

"To the man thinking about the objects arises attachment, from attachment arises longing; and from longing arises anger. From anger comes delusion; and from delusion loss of memory; from loss of memory, the ruin of discrimination; and on the ruin of discrimination, he perishes" - Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita

Karma theory has been the traditional Indian way of rationalising the irrational, explaining the inexplicable. Simply put, it is the nature's way of effectuating a global restitution system. It correlates all our actions to its final consequences. Sometimes, this manifests after several generations, sometimes the very next day.

Further, it seeks to explain the continuous link life has with this world prior to our birth and after we cease to exist. It forces one to be considerate in their actions lest their deeds do not recoil on them or on their future generations. In this connection Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English defines it as the "sum of person's actions in one of his successive states of existence, viewed as deciding his fate for the next."

All these can simply be explained as an extension the Newtonian laws of physics and his explanation of cause and effect on physical action into life. In effect, it concludes that by all our action we create a cause, which in time will bear its corresponding effects.

One may be equally familiar with the modern chaos theory too � that which seeks to explain how a butterfly flapping its wings in Peru could cause devastating typhoons across Pacific Ocean in distant Japan [Images]. Or how the July 2005 nuclear agreement between India and US by a series of interconnected events led to the installation of Sibu Soren as chief minister of Jharkhand last week. Chaos theory and Karma theory are of the same genre.

Interestingly, what is true for individuals seems to be applicable to political parties now. The recent happenings at West Bengal only seem to fortify the view that our Communists are reaping what they had sown over the past three decades there. Karma theory in full work against the Communists!

Politics of Bandhs and its consequences

To understand what has been stated it is pertinent to delve into the history of the Communist movement in West Bengal during the past three decades since they came to power in the mid-seventies in order to understand their Karma.

Readers may recall that in even in the pre-independence era, Kolkata - then Calcutta - was a pride of India and the engine of our independence movement. It is often remarked that whatever Bengal thought or did, the rest of India followed. And post independence too, Bengal continued to dominate our collective thinking in politics as much as in economics.

It was natural given the levels of intellectualism that prevailed then and coupled with the industrial climate, many business houses from distant Marwar [Images] in Rajasthan and even a few MNCs had their head offices in Kolkata.

But by the late seventies things changed dramatically after the advent of the Communists at the helm of affairs of the state. By a series of anti-industry policy, intimidation, pro labour approach, bandhs (general strikes) and gheraos (encircling a superior), West Bengal was crippled within a few years. The Frankenstein monster was well and truly unleashed.

That surely put Kolkatha on the international map, but as a poor city and one that was renowned world over for its penury. And this brought aid to the city, not investments. Readers may note that international aid and foreign investments are alternatives � one cannot have the luxury of both.

Given this scenario, leave alone FDI, even domestic investments was hard to come by. Worse still, the state witnessed a flight of capital for the past several decades. After all, people invest while there is prosperity, not where there is self-proclaimed poverty, state sponsored industrial unrest and of course a hostile government.

Similarly "City of Joy" too by its very portrayal of the city did not bring joy to this city, though it brought it international acclaim. It is indeed surprising the people of Bengal � one of the most intelligent in the entire country � did not foresee the economic consequences of all these negative representation.

The net effect was that by early eighties, the only international organisation operating from Kolkatha by then was the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa. Others, for obvious economic, political and strategic reasons, had fled.

Nevertheless, all this went very well with the Communists, the specialists in poverty economics.

In the process a new culture had come to play in Bengal � a culture of lawlessness, indiscipline and of course disruptive behaviour. Naturally, this had a tremendous negative impact on investment climate of the state. Where else in the world do you find the government abdicating its constitutional responsibility through a bandh and resume its responsibility the next day as if nothing had happened in the interregnum?

And this happens in West Bengal virtually every other day. And if the Communists backed by the government do not call for a bandh the opposition would do. It would seem that the state and its people are perennially on dissent � sometimes with a cause, sometimes without but never without a pause.

The extent of the damage caused to the collective psyche of the state can be gauged by the fact that on the entry of some IT industries, members of the political parties, unused as they were to deal only with white collar employees, began to debate as to how to effectuate strikes in such business places!

The leopards' spots are infectious

Naturally, over a period of time the state became a laggard in every field, especially in the socio-economic areas when compared to the rest of the country. No wonder, Jyoti Basu, the former chief minister of West Bengal is often compared to Lord Shiva [Images] - the destroyer of investment, capital and the Bourgeois.

By the early part of this decade, the Communists too had realised the futility and folly of their approach. Surely their economic policies needed a revisit. And that was left to the eternal credit of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the incumbent chief minister of Bengal to effectuate the Left's turn "U" turn. In turn, the chief minister began to play Brahma � the creator of investment, capital and Bourgeois in Bengal all over once again � exemplified by the invitation to the Tata group to set up their Nano plant in Singur.

Given their track record, it is indeed difficult to fathom that a leopard can even change its spots. No wonder despite the repeated assurances of the chief minister -- no less -- the Communist Party seems to be in its perpetual state of war with the government, little realising that it is actually in power in the state.

What else would explain the reported comment of the chief minister as opposing such disruptive practices as bandhs inviting a sharp rebuke from the party instantly and censuring him publicly last week? Surely the leopard cannot change its spots.

But this leopard's spots seem to be infectious. Strangely opposition seems to have come to have realised that the only way of toppling the Communist government in West Bengal is to adopt their own wretched practices of bandhs, disruptions and lawlessness.

Naturally, as Mamata Banerjee is paying in their own coin in Singur to the Communists, it is a pity that the people of state are the losers. When Karma theory is at work, like all other laws of nature, it carries no sympathy. Neither does it discriminate amongst its victims.

One may also recall that the Leftists have often encouraged, albeit tacitly, illegal migration from across the border from Bangladesh in order to bolster their vote bank. Now press reports as well as some of my friends from the state suggest that the Nandigram [Images] movement is in fact shepherded by such illegal migrants.

What else would explain the simultaneous flare-up in Kolkata on Taslima Nasreen [Images], the Bangladeshi author, now in exile in India and the operation in Nandigram by the state's police in November 2007? Surely, the links are too obvious to be missed.

Obviously, the Leftists are caught in a bind. If they use force against these protestors they would be doomed in the next elections. If they don't, surely Tata may exit Singur and relocate their Nano plant elsewhere, which means economic doom for the state.

Either way, it is not a happy situation for the Communists. After-all the farmers (who by the land reforms carried on by the Communists) and the illegal migrants from Bangladesh (for the reasons stated above) are perhaps some of the very few beneficiaries of the three decades long Communist rule in West Bengal.

Strangely, it is this vote bank of the Communists that is endangered by the successive events in Singur and Nandigram. The opposition realises that it can go for the jugular. Surely, they would intensify their protests hoping to fish successfully in troubled waters. A state used to such mass indiscipline is perhaps damned in the medium-term.

And this where the quote of Lord Krishna made at the outset becomes relevant. The Communists, by their antagonistic approach always run a risk of being overwhelmed by a downward spiral. The Leftists can be bettered by ultras, ultras by Naxalites [Images], Naxals by Maoists, Maoists by extremists and extremists by terrorists. And that is what is happening in West Bengal � the Karma of Communists is catching with them.

The author is a Chennai based Chartered Accountant. He can be contacted at

Guest Columns

Orissa police must pull up their socks: Patil

Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, September 01, 2008
First Published: 00:29 IST(1/9/2008)
Last Updated: 00:32 IST(1/9/2008)


The Orissa government must improve its police force to deal with communal and Naxalite violence, the Centre said on Sunday.

“We have provided the Orissa government with more than adequate paramilitary forces and helicopters to deal with the situation, but the state needs to improve its policing,” Home Minister Shivraj Patil told Hindustan Times.

Patil said state governments need to realise that: “Better economic development would only be possible in an ambience of good security. States need to increase their spending on police modernisation and sophisticated equipments to deal with challenges of communalism and naxal violence.”

A senior Home Ministry official said: “The state needs to modernise and expand its police force.”

Nearly one thousand Central Reserve Police Force personnel have been stationed in Orissa since more than a year, and after fresh communal violence in Kandhamal and Koraput districts, the number of central paramilitary forces deployed in the state is more than 5,000, the official said.

“The tendency of the states to depend on the Centre for rushing paramilitary forces frequently in case of unrest has led to the neglect of police forces in terms of priority planning. When the spending on developmental projects is going up, why should the police be ignored ?” the official remarked.

The Orissa government said it needed more paramilitary forces to deal with the situation in communal riots-hit Kandhamal and other areas.

“I spoke to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and sought ten more companies of forces. They should be
arriving by Monday,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told reporters in Bhubaneswar.

Patnaik said the people in relief camps in Kandhamal were being provided with essential commodities, and the situation in Koraput was “under control.”

The communal riots in Orissa following the murder of senior VHP leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati on August 22 sparked the riots that have killed 14 people in Orissa.

Andhra Greyhounds to train Cobra squads

01 September, 2008 04:04:51

New Delhi

Sept. 1: The newly-formed Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (Cobra) is being trained at the Greyhounds Academy in Andhra Pradesh.

Following the Greyhounds success against the Maoists in Andhra Pradesh, two battalions of the Special Armed Force, which is under the command of the CRPF, have been sent to the academy for training in guerrilla warfare.

The Greyhounds Academy imparts training to special commandos for undertaking anti-extremist operations.

Incidentally, the Cobra is being headed by Dr K. Durga Prasad, former ADG, Greyhounds, in Andhra Pradesh, who is an expert in handling anti-Naxal operations.

Home ministry officials said that the Cobra personnel would be imparted special training in terrain and topography of their area of operation.

The force, which will consist of 10 battalions, has begun the process of training two battalions (almost 2,000 personnel) who have been selected on a voluntary basis from within the CRPF.

"Those CRPF personnel who had experience in anti-Naxal operations and have volunteered to join the Cobra have been sent to the Greyhounds Academy for training," a home ministry official said. The process of recruitment and training of the remaining eight battalions, however, can start only once the force gets its headquarters.

The home ministry currently remains unclear on the location of the Cobra headquarters in the capital.

"It is decided that the Cobra will be headquartered in the National Capital Region but no decision has yet been taken," said an official.

In the meantime, the CRPF has informed the ministry of its plan to deploy the specially trained personnel in six states, mostly in the worst-affected areas.

A large chunk of the Cobra battalions will be stationed in Chhattisgarh, worst hit by Maoist violence.

Two battalions of the force will be stationed in Jagdalpur, regional headquarters of Bastar, and one in Raigarh, which is used for transit by Left-wing extremists.

In Jharkhand, Cobra battalions will be stationed in Khunti (Ranchi) and Hazaribagh, Koratpur in Orissa, Bhandara in Maharashtra, Gaya in Bihar and Bareilly and Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh.

"The Naxals have managed to set up base in UP also. Hence, we have decided to station two battalions in the sensitive state," an official said.

The new force is being set up at a cost of Rs 1,389.47 crores, out of which Rs 898.12 crores will be spent on land and infrastructure while Rs 491.35 crores will be used for manpower training over a period of three years.

PF to deploy specially trained force for combating naxals

New Delhi, Sep 1 (PTI) With the government's go-ahead for raising an anti-naxal force, the CRPF is formulating a plan to deploy the specially trained personnel in six states, mostly in the worst-affected areas.
The CRPF will deploy 10,000-strong Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA) in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, official sources said.

While the worst-hit Chhattisgarh will get three battalions (nearly 3,000 personnel), Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh will get two each and Orissa, Maharashtra and Bihar will get one battalion each.

"The naxals have started setting spreading in UP also. That's why we have decided to station two battalions in the sensitive state," the official said.

In Chhattisgarh, two battalions of the force will be stationed in Jagdalpur, regional headquarter of Bastar and one in Raigarh, which is used for transit by Left-wing extremists.

In Jharkhand, the force will be stationed at Khunti and Hazaribagh while in Orissa, Maharashtra and Bihar, the force will be based at Koratpur, Bhandara and Gaya respectively.

Asked why the force would not be stationed in Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, the official said, "In Maharashtra, the force would be located in Bhandara which is on the border with Madhya Pradesh and hence it will function in both states. In Andhra Pradesh, Greyhounds are already there to tackle the menace." PTI

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Revolutionary Patriarchs

Sarbani Bandyopadhyay 01 September, 2008 09:09:00

The relationship between feminism and the left movements in India has long been a contested one. Marxists accuse feminists of trying to subvert the politics of class, while feminists criticise Marxists for underplaying gender discrimination. But is ‘class’ itself an adequate tool of analysis? Is an understanding of class that is divorced from extra-class factors such as caste and gender really capable of handling the complexity of today’s reality? Such a question may be described as too broad, but it is of particular interest with regards to the Naxalite movement in India. Let us take a deeper look at this matter in the context of rural Bihar.
An emancipatory politics cannot liberate unless it confronts the patriarchy within
For many, the mention of rural Bihar conjures up visions of inequality, lawlessness and mindless violence. But there is a definite method to the madness. The violence that wracks this part of the country has its basis in the existing order, which is increasingly being challenged by the labouring poor under the leadership of the Naxalites. Upheavals among the underclass are not new here, and they have often failed in their campaigns. As far back as in the 1930s, the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS)-led movement failed to address the grievances of the truly oppressed sections of Bihari society, largely because it did not take into account the caste system that structured agrarian relations. The BPKS was dominated by traditional landholding upper castes, which did not move to organise landless labourers and sharecroppers, who were mostly Dalits and Adivasis. It also failed to take into account issues of gender discrimination, particularly the sexual abuse of lower-caste women by the dominant-caste landholders.
Reports show that even during the 1990s, control over land was vested in only 10 percent of the population in rural Bihar, and that most of this group was upper caste. The underclasses were forced to work as sharecroppers or daily-wage labourers under oppressive economic and social conditions. It is not surprising, therefore, that it was the Dalit, Adivasi and low-caste sections – and women among them – who came to form the Naxalite backbone. The issues they raised included the underclass’s right to own land, to minimum wages, to a life of dignity and, specifically for women, to an end to sexual abuse perpetrated by the dominant-caste landholders. In certain pockets of rural Bihar, such as the Bhojpur, Jehanabad, Gaya and Patna districts, the Naxalite-led movements have indeed achieved a fair degree of success in terms of economic and political rights, including the right to a life of dignity. But how emancipatory are these politics?

Gender compromises
The Naxalites use violent means in order to end what they term the ‘violence of the status quo’. So threatening is this challenge that it has invited violent and organised reprisals almost unprecedented in India’s history. Unlike earlier movements, the Naxalites have not relegated caste to a secondary level, and they have also to some extent addressed the question of sexual abuse of women labourers. But while its members have demanded that stipulated minimum wages be paid, they have not highlighted equal wages for women and men. They are fighting for land-ownership rights for the labouring castes, but entitlements in the names of women are not on the agenda.
During the 1970s, women were in the forefront of the land-acquisition movement being waged by Party Unity, at the time one of the main Naxalite groups in Bihar, against the head priest or mahant of the Bodh Gaya temple, one of the biggest landowners in the area. Subsequently, however, the women’s demand that these lands be registered in their own names aroused the indignation of the male Party Unity cadres. The line of argument followed the familiar logic that, since it was men who were the ‘real’ tillers, they should own the land. When the women subsequently refused to be involved until this demand was met, the party leadership compromised by registering in the name of women 10 percent of the 1100 acres of land that had been won.
Such tokenism on the part of male Naxalite leaders does not fit with their analysis of gender inequality being rooted in the economic structure of society. Although it has not been stated explicitly by the Naxalites, they appear to have recognised that the withdrawal of women from the production process is legitimised by the institution of caste, which prescribes that because women embody the honour and prestige of the family and community, they should be closely monitored, kept behind the purdah, and must not work outside the home. According to this approach, the lower castes also occupy lower positions because their women are ‘visible’, as they work outside the home. By extension, a woman who transgresses the patriarchal norms is not considered worthy of respect, and thus can be used and abused in various ways.
Understandably, the Naxalites have focused on this aspect of gender oppression. But can revolutionary politics stop here? The sexual abuse of women has significant bearing on caste honour and prestige. Naxalite politics seem to have accepted this understanding, and acknowledged that any economic reductionism of this phenomenon is more likely to dilute than enhance an understanding of the contradictions. However, Naxalism neither questions the patriarchal ideology of feminine modesty, nor that of seeing women as embodiments of community honour. The Naxalites have clearly been looking at the sexual abuse of women in terms of feminine modesty and community honour, rather than in terms of violation of women’s rights. The radical Naxalite demand of a labouring woman’s right to a life of dignity gets blunted due to patriarchal assumptions built into it. By incorporating patriarchal ideology into their understandings and theories, the Naxalites have given a new lease of life to patriarchy.
The Naxalites have steadfastly refused to acknowledge the possibility of the existence of patriarchal ideology and practices within their own assorted movements. This externalisation has inevitably weakened the overall fight against patriarchy: only sexual abuse of labouring women by the dominant classes can be legitimately challenged. This means that the domestic sphere, as well as that of the Party, is not seen as a legitimate arena of struggle against patriarchy. Documents produced by Naxalite groups, even those of their women’s wings, clearly state the primacy of class over gender, that only a classless society can decisively solve the ‘woman question’. Any politics that questions this suggestion is seen as a conspiracy to subvert a progressive, class-based politics. The only special problem confronting labouring women is seen as sexual humiliation from upper-caste landholders. Some Naxalites are even against the setting-up of a separate women’s wing, the argument being that such a policy would create division in the ranks of the movement.

‘Bad’ women
How do Naxalites conceptualise the issue of feminine modesty and honour? Feminine modesty in India has been viewed in terms of Brahminical patriarchy, and the Naxalites seem to have accepted this framework as legitimate. In one incident during the 1980s, reported on by journalist Manimala, an activist with the Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti (MKSS, the Party Unity mass front) from Aurangabad, Bihar, was killed in a police encounter, and the organisation declared him a martyr. His widow, also a party worker, was subsequently revered as the widow of a martyr. Meanwhile, she developed a relationship with another party worker, and the two decided to get married. Thereafter, the Aurangabad villagers complained about the situation to the MKSS leadership, which formed a council to decide on the case. The woman was denied permission to remarry, and the man was expelled from the organisation for harbouring ‘immoral’ thoughts.
The situation did not end there. The woman refused to accept the verdict, and instead resigned from the MKSS. Deeming this action an insult to the memory of the martyr, the organisation expelled both the man and the woman, and, to add insult to injury, ordered them to leave the village. Initially, the villagers’ complaint had been that allowing the widow to remarry would ‘pollute’ the village, and affect its reputation. In turn, the Naxalites had justified their decision with the logic that the organisation needed to be at one with the masses. That it was a patriarchal decision forced on the two comrades did not seem to matter much.
It must be noted that the incident described above was not out of the ordinary. There have been incidents of direct sexual violence perpetrated on women by the Naxalites themselves. Manimala also refers to an MKSS action in June 1988 against a Yadav criminal gang. The MKSS kidnapped the new bride of a Yadav man (possibly with links to the gang) and attempted to sexually abuse her. This was seen as the easiest way of taking revenge on the entire gang. The young woman was saved when neighbours intervened. Five days later, the Yadav gang tried to retaliate in a similar fashion. This time, it was the wife of an MKSS activist who was saved, again by the villagers.
This incident was condemned by Tilak Das Gupta, a Naxalite leader interviewed by this writer. ‘G M’, a Party Unity activist who did not want to be named, wondered about the political efficacy of such actions, and termed it as a deviation from the ‘real’ struggle. ‘C R D’, an MCC leader, said that he “did not see any difference between what dominant-caste landholders do to labouring women and what the Naxalites did in this case”, the patriarchal mode of action evidently did not bother him. The issues raised by this incident are political ones, because they question the revolutionary agenda and the transformative capacity of the Naxalite movements. Here, the party has become the new patriarch – one that controls its members, their desires, their bodies and sexuality, and punishes deviance accordingly.
How do male comrades, reared in a male-dominated society, view women’s participation in the Naxalite movement? A female Naxalite activist’s answer: “As a group that must necessarily be led by men.” Among the leadership, there is hardly any female presence. Meanwhile, although exact figures or even estimates are hard to come by, it is evident that the presence of women at the grassroots has been overwhelming since the late 1960s. The absence of women leaders is justified by the suggestion that women eventually become mothers, and in the course of things take up responsibilities in the domestic sphere. Even otherwise, there is a patriarchal allocation of roles: the task of nursing an injured comrade, for instance, and providing emotional support, falls solely on women cadres.
Yet police records prove and testimonies of the women themselves consistently claim that, without them, the Naxalite movement would have faced a significantly more difficult task. From the snatching of weapons, giving shelter to revolutionaries, acting as couriers, to spying and dying for the ‘revolution’, women engaged (and engage) in some of the most dangerous tasks. While the male Naxalite leaders agree, they simultaneously persist in the argument that women should ultimately take up the traditional feminine roles of household work and motherhood, so as to prepare the next generation of fighters. Indeed, there exists strong pressure on women cadres to bear children.

Intimate enemy
One of the four pillars of oppression identified in Chinese society by Mao Tse-tung was the patriarchal authority of the husband. But revolutionary males in India, as elsewhere, are not ready to give up the privileges that come with authority. Besides being good wives and mothers, women are expected to build an environment in which the men can work for the revolution unhindered – in the process, appropriating women’s labour. “Naxalite men are unable to give an equal measure of respect to their fellow women compatriots,” says Krishna Bandyopadhyay, a Naxalite.
Evidently, fighting against the state and ‘class enemies’ is easier than questioning the foundations on which the revolution stands, for both men and women. It was easy to prioritise the prevention of sexual abuse of labouring women; much more difficult is questioning the patriarchy present within the Naxalite organisation, as well as the patriarchal grooming of the Naxalites themselves, including of the women comrades. After all, doing so would inevitably lead Naxalite men to give up many of their privileges. But even the women would be faced with the uneasy task of questioning the ideology and practices of men who are very close to them: fathers, brothers, husbands, sons, comrades and leaders.
In these ways, feminism comes to be seen as an enemy not only because it gives primacy to gender, but also because it enters the most intimate domains. It brings into focus the politics of personal life, and how power operates in the ‘non-political’, private arena. Ironically, Naxalite women also seem to have internalised patriarchal hegemony within the movement, and appear to have some hostility towards the raising of gender (read: feminist) issues. Those women revolutionaries who challenge the patriarchy currently prevalent in the movement are very often labelled as deviants – as immoral, ‘loose’ women. Liberation politics cannot be deemed truly liberatory until it frees itself from patriarchal ideology. It must break the dichotomy between the private and the public spheres, challenge the ideology that sees women as embodiments of community honour, and debunk the ideology of motherhood and the gendered division of labour.

Jharkhand police launches massive hunt operation to nab extremists

Jamshedpur, Sun, 31 Aug 2008 ANI

Jamshedpur, Aug 31 (ANI): A massive combing operation has been launched in Jharkhand to nab extremists who killed at least 12 security personnel including Sub-Inspector of police in a land mine blast near Jamshedpur on Saturday.

The Inspector General of police S.N. Pradhan said that one Naxalite has been nabbed under Nimdih police station area in Saraikela District after three hour long encounter.

According to police sources, the security forces were returning to Ghatshila police station after a long range patrolling when the Maoists exploded landmine near Burudih dam.The explosion was so powerful that the vehicle carrying the security personnel and police officer was completely destroyed killing all the persons including driver. (ANI)

Soren invites Maoists for truce talks

1 Sep 2008, 0543 hrs IST, Sanjay Ojha,TNN

RANCHI: Jharkhand Chief minister Shibu Soren on Sunday gave an open invitation to the Maoists for talks to put and end to the bloodbath.

The invitation was extended by the CM while talking to newsmen at the Jharkhand Armed Police ground here after paying homage to 11 policemen killed in a landmine blast triggered by Maoists near Burudih dam at Ghatshila in East Singhbhum district on Saturday.

"I want an end to the bloodbath and the government is ready for talks. If the Maoists have any grievance against the system they should come forward for talks. The government will talk with them even if they want to come via any agency of their choice,"
he said.

. We will have no objection even going via media to ensure peace in the state."
He also announced all possible help to the family members of the policemen killed in the attack. The government has provision for family members of policemen killed in Naxal attack and kin of all the deceased will get the benefits.

Meanwhile, a massive cross border combing operation has been launched by the Jharkhand and West Bengal police. A police team from Jharkhand is being led by East Singhbhum SP Naveen Kumar Singh.

"We are getting all cooperation from the West Bengal police in the combing operation and expect that the Maoists will not escape," said a police officer.
Jharkhand police spokesperson IG SN Pradhan said police have achieved success in the combing operation and one of the Maoists has been nabbed under Nimdih police station area in Saraikela-Kharsawan district after almost two hour long encounter. The extremist, identified as Karan Singh Sardar, was arrested from a place near Chaliama picket.
During the encounter, about 900 to 1,000 ammunition were fired from both sides and the Maoists were forced to retreat. "Combing operations are on and we expect some more success in the days to come," said Pradhan.

Naxals, NGOs now lead Mamata agitation: ‘She won’t act without our OK’

Subrata Nagchoudhury
Posted online: Monday , September 01, 2008 at 02:08:22

Kolkata, August 31 The familiar political faces were missing when a group of protestors intercepted three busloads of engineers and staff of the Tata Motors plant near Gate No. 5 in Singur last Thursday evening. Told to stop attending duties at the plant — the “appeal” by the protestors sounded more like a threat — the staff stopped coming to the plant from the very next morning after the authorities, noting their predicament, decided to halt work.
It now transpires that the protestors belonged to the West Bengal Khet Mazdoor Sangathan, an NGO which claims to be working for the rights of farmers and workers. The NGO has been part of Mamata Banerjee’s umbrella organisation for the indefinite blockade of the Tata Motors plant in Singur. Swapan Ganguly, one of the NGO members, has a Naxalite background.

With as many as 21 organisations and political outfits under one umbrella for the Singur agitation, there is growing suspicion that Banerjee’s agitation is being hijacked by many of these outfits. A front that was launched as a political coalition by Banerjee to fight the CPM now appears more and more influenced and guided by a strange chemistry of NGOs and politics.

When the Khet Mazdoor Sangathan blocked the staff bus, Banerjee said: “Stopping engineers of the Tata plant is not part of our programme.” But this also sent a clear signal that she was not fully in control of the agitation — more a prisoner in the hands of some of these outfits.

There are other pointers to this. On August 20, responding to the Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s call for a meeting to sort out differences, Banerjee sent a two-member delegation to the Writers’ Buildings. While one of them was Parth Chatterjee, the Trinamool Congress leader, the other was Purnendu Bose who belongs to CPI (ML), State Organizing Committee — a breakaway Naxalite faction.

Bose told The Indian Express that Banerjee consults them “every evening” on every matter. “She will not act without taking us into confidence. We have been able to impress upon Mamata Banerjee the need for such a mass movement against capitalism. She will never act without our consent,” he said.

Bose’s colleague Dola Sen also belongs to Banerjee’s core team. Sen has almost become a Banerjee shadow — right from the days of the TMC chief’s 26-day hunger strike at Esplanade over Nandigram-Singur. Sen too belongs to a Naxalite faction.

And among those who went to meet Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi this afternoon in response to his appeal for a solution to the Singur tangle were Naxalites like Pradip Banerjee — he represents a breakaway faction of the CPI(ML) Kanu Sanyal group and is now a convenor of the Singur agitation. More such organisations with Naxalite background are said to be in the fold of the 21-party conglomerate, comprising political outfits and NGOs.

Many leaders of Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress have receded into the background and the NGO-Naxal outfits have gained in prominence. TMC leaders are critical in private but dare not speak in public.

And as far as the Tata threat to pull out of West Bengal is concerned, almost all of these outfits couldn’t care less. Somen Mitra, who broke away from the Congress recently to form Progressive Indira Congress and joined Banerjee’s front, said: “Bengal has survived all these years without Tata. It hardly matters if they are in or out.”

Despite the Governor’s appeal — “If Kargil can be solved, if Amarnath could be solved, why not Singur?” he told Banerjee’s delegation — Banerjee remained adamant, turning down the offer for talks saying that will happen only if the government agrees in principle to return 400 acres of Singur land.