Saturday, November 08, 2008

Maoists attack bridge construction site

Sheohar: Over 100 armed Maoists attacked a bridge construction site in Bihar’s Sheohar district and destroyed machinery worth over Rs. 10 lakh, police said on Friday.
The Maoists on Thursday night blasted a storeroom at Mallipokharbhinda, where the bridge was being constructed over the Bagmati river, and destroyed machinery.

The police did not rule out the possibility of the contractor’s refusal to pay extortion money as the reason behind the attack. — PTI

Four Maoists held

Malkangiri (Orissa) (PTI): Four maoists, hailing from Andhra Pradesh, were arrested and a huge cache of arms and ammunition was seized from them in a forest in Orissa's Malkangiri district, police said on Friday.

The maoists, including three women, were suspected to be involved in the landmine blast in which 17 police personnel were killed and the attack on motor boat in Chitrakonda reservoir in Malkangiri about four months ago, sources said.

The arrest was made during a combing operation by the elite Special Operations Group (SOG) when the ultras were holding a meeting in the forest in Jakalgunda under mv-79 police station area yesterday, Malkangiri Superintendent of Police S K Gajbhiye said.

A huge quantity of arms and ammunition, including landmines and explosives, as well as maoist literature and pamphlets in Telugu, Hindi and Oriya, books, maps, ipods, mobile phones and cash of Rs 10,000 were recovered from their possession, he said.

The four, identified as Kumari (32), Aruna (40), Padma (45) and Krishna (22), are named in around 50 cases registered with different police stations of Andhra Pradesh and ten in state, police said, adding Krishna happened to be the son of Padma, wife of a top ranking maoist.

Meanwhile, normal life was affected in some parts of the district following a bandh called by naxals alleging arbitrary arrest of innocent people by police

First conviction under law to check naxal menace

Raipur (PTI): A Maoist has been sentenced to two-year rigorous imprisonment under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2007 (CGSPSA), making him the first person to be convicted under the law introduced to check Naxal menace in the state.

Raja alias Qamaruddin, arrested in February this year, was sentenced to two years RI by Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Pankaj Jain yesterday.

A resident of Bilaspur, Raja was arrested by the police from Bhatagaon Chowk near here following a tip-off from arrested Naxalites.

The police had recovered a pistol, two live cartridges, two walky-talkie sets, a naxal uniform, naxal literature and two press notes issued in the name of Gudsa Usendi in the handbag recovered from him.

Following his arrest, Raja was booked under the Arms Act. But after investigations indicated that he was a member of a banned Maoist outfit, the police were advised to book him under CGSPSA as well, an Act introduced to curb rising Naxal violence in the state.

Besides, Raja was also sentenced to two years RI under the Arms Act and was slapped a fine of Rs 100.

Woman Naxal commander arrested in Gadchiroli

8 Nov 2008, 1828 hrs IST, PTI

NAGPUR: A woman naxal commander Saroja Akka was arrested in a joint operation by Gadchiroli Police and Special Action Group (SAG), Nagpur in
Gadchiroli on Saturday, police said.

Police had launched a combing operation after the naxal encounter with them on October 26 in which four policemen were killed including a sub-inspector.

On a tip off about movement of a suspected woman in Korepalli area, the police picked her up from Indaram in Aheri Taluka and during interrogation, her identity was established as Saroja Akka.

She is a member of area committee and commander of Jimalgatta dalam of Gadchiroli. She was moving with naxal platoon number seven in the area and was about to sneak into Andhra Pradesh border when police rounded her up.

Her husband Lachanna alias Lanka Papi Reddy is a central committee member and had already surrendered before Andhra Pradesh government in February 2008, police said.

Saroja had joined naxal movement and Madhav Anna's dalam in 1992 and was working in various dalams across Maharashtra, Chattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. She is facing more than 20 cases including those of murder, policemen killings, blasts and arson.

She was produced before a local court which remanded her to police custody for seven days.

Click here to comment on this story.

Four Maoists, including 3 women arrested in Malkangiri district

By Ratnakar Dash
Malkangiri, Nov 7: Four Maoists, three of them women, were arrested by the Special Operation Group of Odisha police in this naxal-infested district on Friday.

The four extremists were arrested during a combing operation in Jakalkunda police station area under MV-79 police station limits.

The Maoists were identified as Kumari, Aruna, Padma, and Krishna, son of Padma, according to the police.

The police were able to arrest the extremists when they were holding a secret meeting inside the forest.

According Superintendent of Police Satish Kumar Gajbhiye, one landmine, explosives, mobile phones, a stabilizer, and books and leaflets in Telugu, Odia and Hindi languages were recovered from the possession of the Maoists.

Besides, an I-pod was also recovered from the extremists. It had a photograph of Gajbhiye.

Gajbhiye said that the four Maoists were involved in a series of cases in Andhra Pradesh and at least 10 cases in Odisha, including the attack on a boat in Chitrakonda reservoir a few months ago.

A number of Greyhound jawans of Andhra Pradesh were killed when the boat capsized in the reservoir following the attack.

Meanwhile, the day-long bandh called by the Maoists in the district affected normal life in interior areas.

The bandh call was given in protest against arrest of innocent tribals in the name of Maoists and to highlight other demands.

Though life was normal in the district headquarter town of Malkangiri , there was no vehicle movement in areas such as Kalimela, Motu, MV-79 and Padia.

CRPF anniv

The Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL, Nov 6: The Central Reserve Police Force, CRPF, is celebrating its 69th anniversary on November 7 with a huge celebration at the Force HQ in New Delhi to be attended by many VVIPs.
The CRPF is the largest para military force in the world with 202 battalions. The 167 Bn is also celebrating the 69th CRPF anniversary and organising sports, cultural program and barakhana.
The CRPF plays a vital role in the internal security of the country. Whether it is terrorism in J&K, insurgency in the north-east, Naxalism in the Naxal affected states, the CRPF is maintaining law and order whenever required by the states, a release said.

CPM calls Mamata an ‘ally of Maoists’...

Font Size -A +A
Express News Service
Posted: Nov 07, 2008 at 0257 hrs IST

Kolkata, November 6 The CPM top brass at Alimuddin Street has drawn up a blueprint to launch a statewide campaign targetting Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee as an “ally of the Maoists”.
After the attack on Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s convoy in Salboni, the party is sure that now it will be easier to label Banerjee a “destructive” force.

“Both Mamata and the Maoists are against the state’s development. It is clear that the Salboni incident was a veiled threat against the mega steel project coming up in that area,” said a senior CPM leader, while emerging from a two-day meeting of the party’s state committee. The meet ended on Thursday.

In the meeting, the chief minister blamed Banerjee and her alleged Naxal allies for Tata Motors pulling out of Singur. “We are sure that the Maoists are linked with the Trinamool Congress. It was evident in Nandigram and Singur as well,” Bhattacharjee reportedly told his party colleagues.

State party secretary Biman Bose said the opposition parties are united in their opposition to any development projects, be it the expansion of the national highway or setting up a chemical hub.

“The issues should be dealt with courage. Sometimes our members are confused whether the Opposition is fighting for the cause of the poor farmers or not,” said a source, quoting Bose.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

RSS leader shot dead by suspected Maoists in Kandhamal

Font Size Agencies
Posted: Nov 05, 2008 at 1620 hrs IST
Print Email Feedback Discuss

After a month's lull in Kandhamal, suspected Maoists shot down a local RSS leader sparking fresh tension.

After a month's lull in violence ravaged Kandhamal, suspected Maoists on Wednesday gunned down a local RSS leader sparking fresh tension in the area.
RSS leader Dhanu Pradhan, who was said to be on the Maoists' hitlist, was gunned down by three suspected extremists at Kumarigaon village under Brahmanigaon police station area in Kandhamal at 1:00 PM, sources said.

The Maoists had earlier claimed that they killed VHP leader Swami Laxamananda Saraswati on August 23, which sparked communal violence in the state.

"We have information that a person has shot dead, but we are yet to confirm on the identity of the victim and the killers," DIG, Southern Range, R S Koche said over phone.

Apnaloan.comAds By GoogleSenior officials, including Kandhamal Superintendent of Police Praveen Kumar, along with CRPF personnel, have rushed to the spot.
"We have rushed additional forces, including the CRPF to the village which is nearly 20 km from Brahmanigaon police station," an official at the police station said

Suspected Maoist gunned down one person in Kandhamal

By Anurjay Dhal
Last updated: 11/05/2008 07:28:19

Bhubaneswar ( Orissa) : After a clam for couple of weeks, one 40-year-old RSS worker, Dhanu Pradhan has been gunned down in Kumbharagaon village under Brahmanigaon area of riot hit Kandhamal district.

Pradhan, a small time contractor was in the area to inspect some work of an under construction school while three unidentified suspected Maoists cadres, who were in plain cloth, fired at Pradhan and shot dead.

The suspected rebels reportedly fired 12 round at Pradhan and fled away from the spot.

"In fact, we have sent a police team to the spot to know the details of the incident," Kandhamal Superintendent of Police S Praveen Kumar told over phone.

After the incident, panic has gripped once again in the entire district, where normalcy is coming very first. The incident has given a wake up call for the State police as well as the district administration.

Violence has been continuing in the district since the brutal murder of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and four of his disciples at Jalespata Ashram on August 23.

More than 40 people have been killed so far while the one man Judicial Commission led SC Mohapatra has also started its probe.

The difficult terrains of Kandhamal bordering four Maoists infested districts except Nayagarh have come in handy for the ultras to strengthen their base over the past two years.

Maoist leader shot dead in Gubtur forests


Guntur (AP) (PTI): Maoist leader M Prabhakar alias Venkatesh (40) from this district, who was wanted in more than ten cases of murder and arson, was gunned down by police in the wee hours on wednesday.

Venkatesh, who was wanted in more than 10 cases of murder and arson, was also involved in the attack on the Chilakaluripet police station in which eight persons including a Police Inspector was killed, police said. The Maoist was gunned down in the early hours today in the Bollapalli forest in Guntur distrct, police said and added they seized a gun and a kit bag from him.

Prabhakar the most wanted man carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head.

Kundapur: ANF Intensifies Patrolling After Naxals Threaten Forester

Daijiworld Media Network - Kundapur (SP)

Kundapur, Nov 6: Reportedly, a gang of eight naxals approached forester Narayan Naik, a resident of Hamza in Madamakki village in Someshwar Sancturary, at around 10 pm on Monday November 3. They were unhappy about Naik, who was efficient in discharging his duties and stopped the tribals from collecting forest produce illegally from the government forests. It is said that the gang threatened Naik with dire consequences if he continues to create hurdles for the tribals and hit him with the barrel of their gun. Following this, the policemen of the Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) approached the family and interrogated its members and intensified its combing operations in the forests surrounding the village.

The family of Naik is shell-shocked and is not willing to speak to the media. The family seems to have been caught between the Naxal threat and the ANF. The ANF has since undertaken the cordening and searching of several forests in the area. Additional forces have been deployed into the forest for the purpose.

In the meanwhile, policemen belonging to Shankarnarayana police station visited Naik's family and obtained details. However, Naik is said to be hesitant to file an official complaint because of the threat given to him by the naxals.

Anti-Naxal force seeks air-power

New Delhi (PTI): The much awaited anti-Naxal force, COBRA, has sought air-power to help it tackle the left-wing extremism which is spreading its wings across a number of states, especially in those areas where land movement is limited.

Sources said the CRPF, under whose command and control, the new 10,000-personnel strong force would function, has already moved a proposal to the Union Home Ministry for sanction of helicopters for the Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA).

"We have approached the Home Ministry to get sanction for procurement of helicopters. We want at least one helicopter in each state where the new force would be stationed," a top CRPF official said.

He said the helicopters would be primarily be used for movement of forces from one area to another or for reconnaissance missions.

"Many of the Naxal-infested areas have dense forests. At times, many of these areas do not even have proper roads and hence land movement of forces becomes difficult. With the use of helicopters, these bottlenecks can be taken care of," the official said.

Sources in the Home Ministry said the proposal mooted by the CRPF is in the last stage and a final decision would be taken soon.

The CRPF will deploy the new force in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the 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.

Meanwhile, the Centre has already decided to create a separate intelligence wing in each of the 10 battalions of the COBRA.

Each battalion (approximately 1,000 personnel) of the new force will have at least three platoons, totalling to nearly 30 personnel, for the specific task of gathering intelligence on the Naxals, their movement and operations.

The intelligence unit of each battalion would be headed by an Assistant Commandant.

As per the deployment plan, two battalions of the force would be raised this financial year, culled from CRPF and would be posted in Chhattisgarh.

"In the next fiscal, four more battalions would be raised followed by another four. In three years, we would raise 10 battalions," CRPF sources said.

According to CRPF officials, the formation of the anti-Naxal force will be delayed by four months due to the forthcoming Assembly polls in several States and it is expected to be operational only by April.

The special unit will focus on "effectiveness and operational success" and they would be imparted exclusive training on the terrain and topography of the area of operation.

COBRA is being raised at a cost of Rs 1,389.47 crore out of which Rs 898.12 crore will be spent on land and infrastructure while an expenditure of Rs 491.35 crore will be made on manpower training over a period of three years.

K Durga Prasad, a 1981 batch IPS officer from Andhra Pradesh and an expert in handling the anti-Naxal operations, is expected to take charge of the COBRA.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Seven Salboni blast accused, three in their teens, will be in police custody

Font Size Express News Service
Posted: Nov 05, 2008 at 0619 hrs IST

Kolkata, November 04 : The seven accused, who were allegedly involved in the Salboni blast were produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), West Midnapore on Tuesday. The CJM, Narendranath Das Gupta, remanded them in police custody for 10 days.

After the explosion, the Salboni police had raided the local hideouts and arrested six persons on Sunday night. Another arrest was made on Monday.

Gopal Karamnga (45), Dipak Pratihar(37), Gautam Patra, Buddhadeb Patra and Eban Murumu were arrested from different villages of Lalgarh in West Midnapore, a stronghold of the Maoists, nearly 35 km from Salboni.

Among the five, three are school students. Another two — Lakhiram Murmu and Sahadeb Mahato — were arrested from a nearby village of Birbhanpur.

Learn English for Free
Online English lessons for Free
www.Livemocha.comMy Nokia is Your Nokia
Register and get free tips, tricks Time Online Job
Earn Upto Rs. 40,000/- A Month.
www.NetJobsInIndia.comAds By GoogleGautam, Buddhadeb and Eban — all aged between 16 to 17 years — are students in Lalgarh. While Buddhadeb is a student of Class VIII, Gautam is a student of Class IX and Eban of Class VII.
Charges of undertaking anti-national activities, possessing illegal explosives and hatching a conspiracy to organise an attack on the convoy of the chief minister have been brought against the seven accused.

Public Prosecutor Ardhendu Saha said all the accused were involved with the CPI-Maoist group and carrying on their activities for a long time. “Except the students, the four others had visited the base of the Maoist camp at Jharkhand,” he added.

Lakhiram and Sahadeb were arrested in 2006 for their involvement in a blast allegedly masterminded by the Maoists.

A chargesheet was filed against Lakhiram and Sahadeb, but were released on bail, said the public prosecutor. Dipak Pratihar was also arrested in April by the Lalgarh police but was later released on bail.

3 schoolkids arrested for blast

5 Nov 2008, 0431 hrs IST, TNN

SALBONI/KOLKATA: After suspending three lower-level personnel, the state is unlikely to take any action against the seniors for the security breach
that led to the Maoist ambush on the chief minister's convoy on Sunday. But three schoolkids have been arrested for the attack and charged with sedition (a non-bailable offence), conspiracy and use of explosives.

Two of them are Class IX students of Katapahari High School and the third is a Class VII student of a Lalgarh school. They were returning from a Baul performance on Monday morning when police picked them up and lined them up with the four other 'suspects' arrested in the case.

The police's alacrity to pick up suspects from among the villagers was missing when the Maoists sneaked through the 'high security area' and planted the explosive. DG A B Vohra on Monday admitted that there were two constables standing very close to the spot where the IED was kept on Ranigunj Road to target the convoy of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and two Union ministers, but did not spot it in the bushes. No checks were carried out on the stretch of the road between Kalaichandi Khal and Midnapore town, either. Worse still, the constables were not there when the blast happened.

"The constables were almost standing on the explosive," Vohra said. "Indeed, there were lapses." The DGP admitted that the state had the technical know-how to detect such explosives but they were not used in that particular stretch.

But despite the DGP's promised to haul up senior officers if found guilty of lapses, no action has been taken so far. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee refused to comment when asked whether senior IPS officers would be punished for the goof-up.

Sources said the government may restrict its action to junior officers and is unlikely to take a tough stand on those heading the security arrangements. A senior home department official at Writers' Buildings said that the chief minister feels that it is no use punishing individuals for what happened on Sunday and that the government is more interested in taking a lesson from this and revamping the security system.

The DGP met with home secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti, ADG (CID) Bhupinder Singh, IG (law & order) Raj Kanojia and special additional CP Rajeev Kumar to overhaul security measures , including upgrading the chief minister's security.

A central intelligence team arrived at Salboni on Tuesday and met the 11 villagers through whose paddy fields Maoists had trailed the wire that triggered the explosion.

The sleuths wanted to know whether the villagers had deliberately not harvested the paddy to give cover to the Maoists. The central team is puzzled how the Maoists managed to plant the device without being seen by anyone. The use of ammonium nitrate has been confirmed.

Meanwhile, seven of those arrested by the West Midnapore police were produced in court and remanded in police custody till November 14. Two of them - Gopal Karanda and Dipak Pratihar - are from Lalgarh's Katapahari and Sahadeb Mahato and Lakshmiratan Murmu are from Salboni's Birdhanpur. They - including the school students - have been charged with sedition, conspiracy, illegal assembly, use of explosives and attack on ministers.

Maoists fire shots at Chhattisgarh BJP MP’s chopper

November 4th, 2008 - 11:58 pm ICT by IANS -

Raipur, Nov 4 (IANS) Suspected Maoist guerrillas fired three shots Tuesday apparently targeting a chopper in which a parliamentarian of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was travelling for an election campaign, the Chhattisgarh police said.However, the guerrillas missed the intended target, the police said. The incident took place in Kanker district’s thick forested interiors, Koilibera in Antagarh assembly constituency, some 250 km south of the capital Raipur.

“Maoists fired three shots when the chopper took off from a stadium at Kolibera. The chopper was carrying three persons - all BJP leaders, including party MP Sohan Potai,” sources at police headquarters told IANS.

The BJP leaders were in the area to address a public meeting in favour of a party candidate, Vikram Usendi, contesting from Antagarh segment that goes to polls Nov 14 along with other 39 seats of the state.

Maoists order private owners not to rent out vehicles to forces

Express News Service
Posted: Nov 05, 2008 at 0625 hrs IST

Kolkata, November 04 Maoists have instructed private vehicle owners not to rent out their cars to security forces or the police.
A spokesperson of the CPI (Maoist), Surya, had issued the statement on October 25.

The direction came shortly after the Maoist cadres informed their top party leaders that instead of using government vehicles, security forces are using a large number of private vehicles to carry out sudden raids in villages known to be strongholds of the CPI (Maoist).

This instruction has put the police in trouble because the security forces use several private vehicles to conduct raids in the Maoist-infested blocks in Midnapore West, Bankura and Purulia.

Earlier, cadres belonging to the Peoples’ Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA), military wing of the CPI (Maoist), had blown up a Tata Sumo in Belpahari killing three health department staff, including a doctor.

Seeking an apology for the killings, the Maoist group claimed that its cadres had blown up the vehicle as they had information that policemen were travelling in the car.

“The medical staff boarded the Tata Sumo with dark glasses, making themselves vulnerable. The blast unexpectedly killed them instead of the CRPF or police forces,” said the statement issued by Surya.

It added: “The green Tata Sumo with a dark glass and no red-cross symbol affixed bore a striking similarity with the vehicle regularly used by the armed forces.”

Refusing to give much importance to the statement, senior state police officers said that Maoists are trying to create panic among the villagers in order to create pressure on the state government to stop a counter-insurgency operations.

Jailed Jharkhand Maoist’s demand puts officials in a spot

Ranchi, Nov 5 (IANS) The demand of a jailed Maoist leader to celebrate the Russian revolution has put the jail administration in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district in a spot, an official said Wednesday.

Pramod Mishra, a politburo member of Communist Party of India-Maoist, has demanded that he should be allowed to celebrate the Russian revolution Friday. He has also demanded that all arrested Maoist rebels should be allowed to participate in the celebration.

‘It is difficult for us to reject or accept his demand. If we reject the demand, then Mishra will start an agitation inside the jail. But we cannot accept his demand,’ an official of the Dhanbad jail administration told IANS.

Mishra was arrested in May this year and kept in central jail of Hazaribagh district.

He was shifted to Dhanbad jail to be produced in cases lodged against him.

When Mishra was in Hazaribagh jail, he demanded facilities to prisoners according to the jail manual. His demand was supported by other prisoners.

The jail officials said Mishra organised the prisoners and provoked them against the jail administration by raising various issues.

Officials suspect that Mishra’s latest demand is intended to start an agitation.

He has, however, been kept in a separate cell. Mishra loudly sings revolutionary songs to attract the attention of jail inmates. His songs are provocative and instigate the other jail inmates against the government and the jail administration, an official said.

According to the official, the Dhanbad jail administration has informed senior officials in Ranchi about the demand.

The October revolution in Russia began with an armed insurrection in Petrograd Oct 25, 1917 in Julian calendar, which is Nov 7, 1917 in Gregorian calendar. It was the second phase of the overall Russian Revolution of 1917, after the February Revolution the same year. The revolution overthrew the Russian Provisional Government and gave the power to the Soviets dominated by Bolsheviks. It was followed by the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922.

Maoist menace on the rise

Rajib Chatterjee
KOLKATA, Nov. 4: Inspite of the massive crackdown on Maoist terror modules in three districts of West Bengal, launched a few years back, Left wing extremism has been successful in spreading its tentacles to several other places in the state.
Reports available with the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) revealed that Maoists have spread their terror network in large number of villages in Burdwan, Birbhum, Nadia and Murshidabad.
“Stray Maoist activities were reported from some places in Birbhum, Murshidabad and Nadia recently. Some incidents which took place in three South Bengal districts indicate that Maoists are trying to expand their bases,” said Mr Raj Kanojia, IG (Law and Order).
Another officer belonging to CID's Special Crime Unit (SCU), said: “Even reports of fire arms of policemen being snatched by cadres belonging to People Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) ~ the military wing of the CPI (Maoist) ~ came in from two places in Burdwan and Murshidabad recently. These places are Memari in Burdwan and Kandi in Murshidabad. The incidents has left the district police worried.”
Reports available with the CID states that Maoist cadres, led by one Rabi alias Indra have managed to set up their base in some places at Kandi sub-division in Murshidabad. Followers of a top Maoist leader Manabesh ~ who was arrested from Orissa's Mayurbhanj district following a gun battle between PLGA cadres and police a few months ago ~ are trying to establish a squad in Memari and Bainchi in Burdwan.
A senior SCU officer said: “A crackdown was launched in Nadia in 2005 after reports of youths joining Maoist group came in. During the operation senior CPI (Maoist) leaders including Chandi Bhattacharjee and Rakesh were arrested. Bhattacharjee ~ who is currently in jail ~ had been entrusted with the task to expand their organisation in rural part of Nadia. Now there are reports that Maoists are trying to regroup themselves. “Reports of Maoist activities have started pouring in from Badkulla, Shantipur, Kotowali and some other places in the rural part of Nadia," the officer added. The officer further said that Rajnagar and Nalhati in Birbhum are two newly Maoist infested areas where some CPI-M leaders were killed by Maoist activists.

Intelligence fails, CRPF suffers

5 Nov, 2008, 0529 hrs IST, ET Bureau

It may have 14,000 personnel deployed in Chhattisgarh for anti-Naxal operations, but the CRPF still feels helpless when it comes to busting Naxal hid
eouts, thanks to the poor intelligence inputs from the state police.
And the refusal of the Union home ministry to heed its long-standing demand for a dedicated CRPF intelligence wing has not helped the matters either.

“There is little intelligence gathering by the state police on the movements and hideouts of Naxalite elements... as a result, we either have to do routine duties like road opening, providing escort or patrolling or go in for random operations,” CRPF director general V K Joshi told newsperons here on Tuesday ahead of the force’s 69th Raising Day.

The random operations, he said, often result in heavy casualties for the CRPF. “Naxals definitely are spreading wings. In Chhattisgarh , over 35 CRPF personnel were killed this year, which comprises the bulk of our casualties across the country. We don’t have any intelligence backup from the state police and that makes our personnel sitting ducks,” Mr Joshi pointed out.

Though Mr Joshi did not elaborate on the possible reasons behind the poor flow of intelligence from the state police, senior officials here sought to blame to manpower crunch and lack of motivation levels in the state special branch for the same.

Interestingly , while Chhattisgarh has seen reverses for the CRPF, its track record is far better when it comes to neighbouring Jharkhand, where 43 Naxalites have been killed till August this year as compared to nine in the corresponding part of 2007.

According to a senior CRPF official, the intelligence set up of the Jharkhand police is better and its recent success in tracking the Naxalite network have brought about one information breakthrough after the other, giving the forces a clear edge.

The Chhattisgarh police, however, denies that its poor intelligence gathering is to blame for CRPF’s lack of operational successes in the state. According to a senior official , intelligence collection was bound to be better in Jharkhand as it was more densely populated, facilitating human inputs.

The official also clarified that the lack of proper access roads and communication facilities in Naxal-infested Bastar often rendered the intelligence dated, and it did not help that the CRPF commandants often insisted on knowing the source of any information before embarking on operations and cross-checking facts.

Though the CRPF DG said a strengthened intelligence set-up in Chhattisgarh police would end the force’s woes and equip it better to undertake surgical strikes, he also insisted upon the sanctioning of a separate intelligence wing within the CRPF saying that it would serve as a major force multiplier. “But the Centre possibly has its own financial compulsions ,” he said when asked why the CRPF intelligence wing still remains a dream.

Even though the special anti-Naxal force, Cobra, has a sanctioned component for intelligence gathering in each battalion, the training of personnel picked for first two battalions the force may take another 3-4 months.

And with the coming months crowded with state elections and next general election, it is no guarantee that the two Cobra battalions will be ready for induction by March or April 2009. “In any case, a handful of our intelligence officers in Cobra cannot be a replacement for a well-oiled intelligence set up of the state police,” he said.

CRPF DG sees grenade, mine attacks in J&K , Chhattisgarh

5 Nov, 2008, 0536 hrs IST, ET Bureau

The coming round of state polls may see more grenade attacks on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir as well as targeting of polling parties in the N
axal-infested districts of Chhattisgarh , according to CRPF director general V K Joshi.

“A boycott call has been given by the separatists like Hurriyat. As the polls come near, there would be a certain amount of violence we apprehend that the militants may throw grenades at security forces on election duty,” Mr Joshi told a press conference here.

According to him, grenades were a favourite mode of attack as they were both economical as well as easy to use and also ensured maximum casualties.

When asked if the recent Amarnath land controversy would generate poll violence, the CRPF chief was dismissive, saying that the shrine issue was not really a point of contention of debate anymore, at least at the ground level.

“There is usually some violence ahead of every assembly poll in J&K this year will be no different ,” he said. The CRPF will be deploying 388 companies in all for the J&K elections.

Mr Joshi, however, was more concerned about the security of Chhattisgarh polls, due on November 14 and 20. “The polling parties have a fixed route to reach the polling stations in the Naxalite-infested interiors they also have to come back through the same route with the ballot boxes.

The Maoists will be aware of both the route as well as timing of the movement of polling parties, and may try to lay landmines along the approach path,” he noted.

The CRPF, which already has 14 battalions deployed in Chhattisgarh, will be pitching in with an additional 88 companies to stand guard over the state polls.

Given the security concerns regarding the transportation of polling parties and ballot boxes, both the CRPF personnel as well as the state police will be doing road opening duties on the approach roads and escorting the polling personnel on their way to the polling stations and back.

In the most vulnerable polling booths though, the EC may engage helicopters to airlift the polling personnel and ballot boxes.

COBRA force formation to be delayed due to polls

New Delhi, Nov 4 The formation of the anti-Naxal COBRA force will be delayed by four months due to the forthcoming assembly polls in several states and it is expected to be operational only by April, a top CRPF official said.

CRPF Director General V K Joshi said the impending elections had diverted the attention on tying the loose ends of the 10,000-strong Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA).

The formation of the force, which will be under CRPF's command and control, was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 27.

"The formation of COBRA has been delayed a little bit but we hope that the two battalion would be set up by March and April," Joshi told reporters.

Stressing on the need for intelligence for operational effectiveness, he said, "If you do anything by routine, you are bound to get noticed by Naxals. Intelligence inputs play a vital role." The 10,000-odd men in the COBRA unit will focus on "effectiveness and operational success" and they would be imparted exclusive training on the terrain and topography of the area of operation.

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

K Durga Prasad, a 1981 batch IPS officer from Andhra Pradesh and with experience in handling anti-Left wing operations in his parent cadre, is likely to take charge of the force.(Agencies)

Nov 04, 2008

Udupi: Naxals abduct BJP leader and villagers

By Team Mangalorean

Udupi November 4, 2008: A group of naxalites abducted a BJP leader and 12 villagers of Hole Mavinakadu in Chikmagalur District and later released them safely after giving "pep talk." According to the official sources a group of naxals including few women barged into the house of Ranganath, President of Sringeri Taluk BJP, in the wee hours and threatened him at gunpoint to come to a meeting they had organised in deep jungles.
Later, a dozen villagers went along with the BJP leader into the jungles on the border of Chikmagalur, Shimoga and Udupi districts.

Naxal Leader B J Krishna Murthy told Ranganath the BJP should change its attitude towards naxals and warned if they were troubled in any way, there would be violent retaliation. The villagers identified naxal women members as Latha and Prabha in the group.

IGP (Western Range) A M Prasad said that Anti Naxal Force had intensified combing operations in the area and said none of those taken to the forests were harmed before being released.

Karnataka to send report

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa today ordered the police to prepare a report on the Naxal activities in the forests of Udupi, Chikmagalur and Shimoga districts to appraise the Centre in the wake of abduction and release of a BJP leader today.

Speaking to newspersons on the sidelines of a function here, he said he would immediately convene a meeting with the Deputy Commissioners of the affected districts to discuss the matter.

"We will send this report to the Centre to draw its attention. I held discussions with Karnataka Home Minister V S Acharya and DGP Sri Kumar in the wake of the incident," he said.

Our forces have intensified combing operations in the area, he added. Mr Yeddyurappa said people in the affected areas should not be afraid of the outlaws. Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) (Intelligence) Jyotiprakash Mirji has been asked to visit the area, he added.

CRPF for separate intelligence wing for anti-Naxal operations

New Delhi (PTI): With the CRPF playing an increasing role in anti-Naxal operations, the para-military force is awaiting Centre's nod to set up a separate intelligence wing for the purpose even as it blamed the Chhattisgarh Police for having no intelligence gathering mechanism to combat the menace.

"We have submitted a proposal to the Centre and we are awaiting its response," CRPF Director General V K Joshi said here.

The proposal is pending with the Ministry and a serious thought is being given to allow the CRPF to set up its own intelligence wing, sources said.

The proposal, earlier turned down by Union Finance Ministry for want of funds, was again mooted after the CRPF decided to set up anti-naxal force -- COBRA.

With the violence trend showing that naxalites will be stepping up their activities across the eastern corridor especially Chattisgarh, some worries were there with the state preparing for assembly elections.

"Naxals definitely are spreading wings. In Chattisgarh, 37 CRPF jawans were killed this year. We don't have any intelligence backup from the Chattisgarh Police and that makes our personnel a sitting ducks," Joshi said, while emphasising that the force personnel were performing their duties in aid of the civil administration.

The anti-Naxal operations have to be intelligence oriented but state Police have no proper intelligence about Maoist activities, including their movement, he charged.

When pointed out that this was the CRPF's response even last year, he promptly replied: "I don't think anything has changed since last one year."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Jharkhand Maoists ask truckers to stop bauxite loading

November 2nd, 2008 - 7:46 pm ICT by IANS -

Ranchi, Nov 2 (IANS) A Maoist group has asked truck owners not to load and ferry bauxite from the Lohardagga district of Jharkhand, police sources said Sunday.”Any trucker found ferrying bauxite will be punished,” said a police official quoting the poster issued as a diktat by Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC).
The poster asks truck owners to stop loading bauxite from Pakhar hills of Lohardagga district, around 90 km from here. The aluminium ore is loaded and taken to nearby railway station from where bauxite is dispatched to different places.

Reacting on the poster, a senior police official said: “The poster does not mention the reason. It seems that Maoist rebels are not getting levy from bauxite mining areas. We will provide full security to trucks and there will be no impact of posters on truck movement in the area.”

He said similar threats have been issued by Maoist rebels in the past.

TPC is a breakaway group of Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and is operating in over four to five districts of the state.

Maoist rebels are active in 18 of the 24 districts of the state

Jharkhand CM runs into fresh controversy

New Delhi, PTI:

Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren has run into a fresh controversy with one of his prominent detractors alleging that he has links with the supremo of an outlawed extremist outfit in the state.

Former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi is demanding a CBI inquiry into the matter in the wake of reports of one hardcore member of the Jharkhand Liberation Tigers (JLT) that Soren is in touch with the head of JLT.

Lorence Mundari alias Carlos after being caught by the police has claimed before the media that the Chief Minister and Dinesh Gope, supremo of his outfit, were in regular contact. JLT is splinter group of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) in the state.

The Chief Minister's office, however, dismissed the allegations. Soren's press advisor Shafique Ansari said, it's an attempt to denigrate the image of Guruji, the name by which Chief Minister is popularly known.

The issue has, however, come in handy for the detractors of the Chief Minister, including Marandi who is MP from Koderma, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Marandi told PTI that he will write to the Prime Minister and Home Minister seeking a CBI probe into the serious matter.

"There are several instances when extremists after being caught by the police have revealed their connections with various political leaders in the State but nothing has been done," Marandi, who is also heading the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (P), said.

Controversies are not new to Soren who was accused in the JMM MPs bribery case and had also suffered imprisonment for some time in the Shashinath Jha murder case. He was, however, later acquitted by a higher court.

Marandi has been insisting that the Congress-led coalition at the Centre should not take the matter lightly as the issue is far more serious this time as the Chief Minister of the State has been charged with having connection with an extremist outfit.

Marandi, who has been the target of Maoists for spearheading a movement against them in his home district of Giridih, said Naxalism is the biggest threat to the internal security of the country.

Mineral-rich Jharkhand has witnessed naxalite violence with the ultras spreading their net far and wide in the State having sizeable population of tribals.

Marandi's charge is that Chief Minister comes out with "contradictory statements" about naxalites. "On the one hand Soren claims there is no extremism in the state while on other he says extremists are his brothers. What does it indicate," Marandi wondered.

He claimed that such statements by the Chief Minister was spreading a sense of insecurity among people of the state.

A BJP MLA Ragubar Das has demanded resignation of the Chief Minister and wants a narco analysis test be done of the extremist who has levelled the charge against Soren.

ATTACK ON PASWAN & BUDDHA: Security misses 1200m trigger wire

- Hindsight wisdom points to lax patrol

Calcutta, Nov. 2: Security sources said today’s blast by suspected Maoists in West Midnapore reflected lax security and patrolling in the area before a VIP visit.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) said no sniffer dogs were used in the security operation before the visit by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Union steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan and other VIPs to flag off JSW Bengal Steel. Nor was any bomb detection expert engaged.

Some other lapses cited by the security agencies were:

No senior officer was appointed to oversee night patrol

Police did not check ditches or fields on the route

IB did not build a source network involving villagers.

An officer of the rank of deputy superintendent or higher should have been tasked to check if policemen on night patrol were sleeping in their cars, a West Midnapore police officer said.

“The Special Security Force (SSF) was asked to keep round-the-clock vigil on the stretch of road leading to the plant. But there was no senior officer of DSP rank or above to oversee the night patrol,” the officer said.

Policemen on NH-60 after the blast. Picture by Swarup Mondal
Bomb disposal experts in the CID said the explosive device was probably planted last night. “The Naxalites used a 1,200m wire to detonate it. They planted the explosive and laid the wire neatly over a paddy field. It is clear they needed considerable time for the job, which raises questions about the night vigil,” another officer said.

The police checked the roads but not the ditches or paddy fields on the NH-60 route. A CID officer said: “The blast spot is 25km from the plant site. We checked the area close to the venue, but the areas on either side of the road near Midnapore town weren’t scanned well.”

The SSF, which looks after VIP security, took charge of affairs four days ago but failed to detect the device.

The blast also showed up the failure of the IB, which was supposed to build a source network by involving villagers. But officers hardly visited the villages, it was found.

The explosion occurred around 2.15pm near Midnapore town, barely 15 minutes after Bhattacharjee’s convoy crossed the spot. It went off near the lead pilot car of Paswan’s convoy, injuring six guards.

The IB sources said the chief minister’s convoy was the target. “As the explosive was detonated from 1,200m away, the attackers may have failed to identify the right convoy,” a source said.

The VIP visit to Salboni was announced over a month ago, protesting which the CPI (Maoists) called a strike 10 days back in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia. Surya, the spokesperson for the outfit’s eastern regional bureau, issued a statement calling for armed resistance against the plant. “We treated the message like the others. We should have given it more importance,” an IB officer said.

Big Picture Approach to India

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

3 November 2008 Print E-mail
The US government’s National Counterterrorism Center said in April this year that more than one thousand people died in India because of terrorist attacks in 2007. India - according to the report - was ranked fourth behind only Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Numbers of fatalities due to terrorist related violence in India varies.

South Asia Terrorism Portal - headed by veteran terrorism combatant KPS Gill - lists out fatalities in 2007, in excess of 2500 while the government own latest status paper - released in September puts the number of civilian deaths at 1215. The varying figures however, have a common strand - acceptance that there are a large number of terrorist-related deaths in India due to Naxalite violence and separatist agitations in the country’s northeastern region. This makes it clear that Islamic terrorism - or Jihadi terrorism - is not the only scourge effecting India.

Terrorism has become an integral part of national consciousness over the past two decades beginning with the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi. The ensuing terrorist violence in Punjab brought terrorism closer to the middle class psyche as it was no longer affecting just “them” but could also strike “us”. Terrorism abated in Punjab by early 1990s and there was a break in this consciousness because violence was at that time restricted to Kashmir, the northeast and a few remote pockets in central India. Incidents like Mumbai blasts in 1993 were treated as aberrations - and not considered part of a nationwide phenomenon.

The moment, terrorism acquired a core position in the India’s national consciousness thereafter it was natural that it would sooner or later also become part of popular culture. As a result mainstream filmmakers began coming out with films centred on the theme of terrorism.

Gulzar’s ‘Maachis’ probing militancy in Punjab coupled with Main Ratnam’s ‘Roja’ were harbingers of this genre. Dil Se, Sarfarosh, Mission Kashmir, Khakhee among others in the past decade or more was big budget - often multi-starer - films replete with elements of commercial cinema.

The recent ‘A Wednesday’ was however, different - it had only ‘two and half’ sub-top grade stars and made on an extremely low budget. The film directed by a debutant qualified for today’s label of “arthouse cinema” also because it had no songs and thereby opened itself for closer scrutiny of its political content.

Almost all films of this genre have had clearly identifiable terrorists. If in some case there links with Pakistan or ISI was clearly spelt out, in other cases the Jehadi intent of the marauders was not hidden from viewers. The villains were identified though the identity of some characters was disguised to create cinematic suspense. ‘A Wednesday’ was different because the visible villain turns out to be a representative of society out to cleanse it, albeit dramatically with use of violence. The film spontaneously creates a “wow” feeling mainly because of its novelty and initially many would tend to agree with Naseeruddin Shah that he plays a character who is the nameless face of terrorism and has no religion - Hindu or a Muslim.

Furthermore, by letting him go, the State represented by Anupam Kher’s character is forced to condone Shah’s form of intervention. Therein lies the problem with not just the film but with the popular understanding of the middle class regarding what constitutes terrorism in India.

All terrorists identified are those who were involved in acts attributed to ‘Jehadi Terrorism’ - suggesting that there is no other form of terrorism in India that can incense the common man character of Shah.

India faces equally serious terrorism in the form of Naxalite violence and from separatists in northeast but all anger is directed only in one direction and not against the problem per se. It is evident that dominant urban middle-class consciousness considers terrorism as a real problem only if the attackers and victims live in their milieu. Maoists do not live in big cities and either blow up trains in godforsaken districts or attack hamlets deep in the forests. Similarly, the northeast has always been the other “unknown India”. Islamic terrorism is the only form of terrorism according to this sentiment while the others are inevitable social conflicts.

By singling out terrorism motivated by the desire for religious retribution, popular culture is playing out the script written by opinion makers. In the process not only is India ending up with a myopic view of the problem and extent of terrorism but the schism between the two biggest religious communities of India is being further widened. Moreover, recent revelations of Malegaon blast show that this script too was flawed - that Hindu militants too have been involved with urban terrorism.

In any case, being a Muslim in India after the emergence of the Ayodhya agitation in the late 1980s has not been easy. Since then, secular elements within the community had to contend with both Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists. By giving terrorism an Islamic label, religious identity hangs like the Damocles’ Sword over the head of every Muslim. Popular culture in the past has had a non-conformist tradition. Filmmakers have a tradition of scripting stories that made the establishment squirm. In contemporary India, when terrorism is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges, creative artists need to look beyond clich├ęs, as India needs a break from stereotypes.

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay is a commentator based in India. He can be reached at

Print E-mail

Prasad alleges 'casual approach' by Bengal police on security

New Delhi (PTI): Union Minister Jitin Prasada on Monday accused the West Bengal police of adopting a "casual approach" in providing security to central ministers, a day after a landmine blasted a convoy in the state's West Midnapore district where he and his senior ministerial colleague Ram Vilas Paswan had a narrow escape.

Prasada, Minister of State for Steel, in a letter to Home Minister Shivraj Patil, requested him to take up the matter with the state government.

The area is a naxalite-affected area and security agencies of the state, which were supposed to be responsible for the security, "did not do their job properly", Prasada's office said in a statement.

The blast was detonated by a wire which was about 1.2 km long. "This shows the casual approach of the state police when it comes to security of Union Ministers", it charged.

Paswan and Prasada had a close shave on Sunday when a landmine blasted their security vehicle in Baroa in West Midnapore district shortly after West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee passed through the area of attack that left six policemen injured.

Both the Union Ministers were returning after laying the foundation stone of the Sajjan Jindal-promoted JSW group's mega steel plant at Salboni in West Bengal.

The statement said a section of the media wrongly reported that the Chief Minister's convoy was hit by the blast.

In fact, Bhattacharya had already left in a different convoy but the state police and the state public relations machinery were wrongfully projecting it as an attack on the Chief Minister, it said.

Red aid to villagers worries cops

Dumka, Nov. 2: The district administration was taken aback by the assault of five district mining personnel in the hands of villagers opposing private power plants.

But it is yet to make a strategy to counter the raising Naxalite interference in the anti-power project movements.

The villagers had reportedly assaulted the five district mining employees, who went to survey the progress of work at Pokharia, on October 31.

The villagers garlanded the mining personnel with shoes and sandals and took out a procession. The faces of the employees were painted black. Before the protesters set victims free, they made the mining staff lick soil.

The superintendent of police of Dumka, Arun Kumar Singh, said: “None of the victims have registered a complaint with us. Not only that, they refused to comment before reporters and even they did not inform the officer concerned in the department here. They rather preferred to keep mum on this issue.”

Lapses on part of West Bengal police for naxal attack on VIPs

New Delhi (PTI): Basic security drill was not ensured by West Bengal police ahead of the visit of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan to Maoist-infested Midnapore district on Sunday when the Left-wing extremists triggered a landmine explosion.

Sources in Union Home Ministry said the police had not carried the basic road opening exercise, a mandatory security drill, ahead of the VIP arrival to or departure from a foundation-laying ceremony of a steel project in West Midnapore district.

The remote-controlled mine was exploded by the Maoists at Salboni shortly after Bhattacharjee had passed through that area and Paswan was approaching the point in Jhargram district, adjacent to naxal-infested Midnapore district.

While state Home Secretary A M Chakraborty said it was not a timer but a remote controlled device used to trigger the blast, Union Home Ministry officials were surprised that the West Bengal Police had not sent a Road opening Party (RoP) ahead of the VIP visit.

The pilot car of Paswan was caught in the mine explosion which was followed by the fall of a high-voltage electricity wire that led to injuries to six policemen.

State Police Chief A B Vohra himself is conducting an inquiry and fix responsibilities in case of lapses.

Udupi: Increased Naxal Presence Worries ANF

Monday, November 03, 2008 4:11:32 PM

Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi (SP)

Udupi, Nov 3: It appears that the naxal gangs are not at all bothered by the combing operations being conducted by the teams of the Anti-Naxal Force in various villages and forests in the naxal-infested regions of the district located at the foot of the Western Ghats.

It is reported that four naxals visited Tombattu, a village located in Amasebail gram panchayat, on the evening of Saturday November 1. They roamed around the village, spoke to villagers and went into the Bhagemane forest.

Earlier, a team of 17 naxals had celebrated Diwali in Balmane village within Amasebail gram panchayat by feasting on delicacies prepared by locals. It is suspected that the gang members belonged to the break-away naxal faction led by Vikram Gowda.

Some Maoist handbills were found strewn all over the road between Hebri and Someshwar on Sunday November 2. Although it appears to be the handiwork of naxals to show that they are active, there is a possibility that those who came in their possession sometime back might have scattered them on the road now. The handbills now recovered bear the May 23, 2008 date.

Indian minister survives Maoist attack

W DELHI, India (CNN) -- A federal minister escaped a landmine explosion set off by suspected Maoist rebels in West Bengal state in eastern India, police said Monday.

The explosion Sunday in the Midnapore district destroyed one vehicle that was part of Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan's convoy, police said.

The minister was not hurt but the explosion wounded six police officers, said police superintendent Rajesh Kumar Singh.

Authorities arrested six suspected rebels in connection with the attack.

The rebels, known as the Naxalites, have been battling the government in several states in an insurgency that has resulted in thousands of casualties since the late 1960s. They claim to be fighting for the poor and the dispossessed.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the rebels India's biggest security threat.

Last year, more than 800 people were killed in Naxal-related violence across the country, according to local media reports

Chhattisgarh: Cutting down evil with evil

Tens of thousands were relocated to Salwa Judum camps during this campaign. There were also reports of various atrocities on the part of Salwa Judum members against those who refused to take part in the campaign or attempted to leave the camps..

THE ASSEMBLY election in Chhattisgarh is fast approaching. On November 14 itself, there will be election for 39 seats. The election for the remaining 51 seats will take place on November 20. Though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in power now, with Dr Raman Singh as the chief minister; an anti-incumbency wind against the ruling BJP is blowing here. There is even dissidence brewing in the party, which would certainly help the Congress and other opposition parties like Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Gondwana Party (GP), Rastravadi Congress Party (RCP) take the opportunity in the coming election.

Out of the total 90 seats in the state, the BJP has already announced its first list of 78 candidates on October 21, depriving 18 sitting legislators of party tickets, which included a minister and five parliamentary secretaries. All the 18 ticket losers have already expressed dissatisfaction over such a harsh decision by the party. Eight of them, along with hundreds of their supporters, even gathered at the party’s state unit headquarters in Raipur and tried to ransack the office. But the protesters had to flee away after Chhattisgarh police intervened.

There are a number of burning issues that have been cramping Chhattisgarh’s development since its days of formation in November, 2000. Amid the issues like Maoists scare, misuse of resources, unemployment, etc, which may block the smooth way to victory for the ruling BJP, the Salwa Judum issue is noteworthy. It is possible that the ruling BJP will receive a jolt in the 2008 assembly election for the introduction of Salwa Judum, a state sponsored counterinsurgency campaign against the Naxals, started in Bijapur and Dantewada districts in 2005. Though it was primarily meant to be a state-supported vigilante group, aimed at eliminating Naxalite movement in the strife-torn areas of Bijapur and Dantewada districts, it gave birth of a number of controversies later.

The issue was brought to the notice of the Supreme Court of India when several independent human rights organisations (Human Rights Watch) and government agencies (National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, National Commission for Women) reported extensive human rights violations like arson, rape and killings of innocent tribals in the name of curbing the Naxalite movement.

As there was active support of the state government behind this anti-Naxalite campaign, the Salwa Judum members, who were armed with lethal weapons, conducted violent raids on hundreds of tribal villages. The Salwa Judum activists suspected their tribal brothers as pro-Naxalite, tortured and even forcibly recruited civilians in their armed struggle. Tens of thousands of people were relocated to government-run Salwa Judum camps during this operation. There were also reports of inhuman torture, rape and murder on part of the Salwa Judum members against those who refused to take part in Salwa Judum campaign or attempted to leave the camps.

On Friday, September 19, 2008, the Supreme Court asked the Chhattisgarh government to implement the recommendations of the NHRC, which went into the activities of the Salwa Judum group. The bench, comprising Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and JM Panchal heard a petition filed by Nandini Sundar, Ramachandra Guha and EAS Sarma, who challenged the establishment of the Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh. The petitioners alleged that there were numerous instances of indiscriminate killings and atrocities on tribals in the guise of countering Maoist activities.

The Bench finally expressed to KK Venugopal, the senior counsel appearing for Chhattisgarh, that the commission executed ’a meticulous work’. The Chief Justice expressed his deep grief over this issue. The Chief Justice observed: “When somebody (Salwa Judum) is given arms, he claims to be a pseudo police. Once he is given arms, he will commit an offence though he has no right to do any such act.

more >> Some remedial measures have been suggested in the report and the state may consider implementing them. Whatever is urgently required to be done, do it.” The Bench also asked the Registry to supply copies of the NHRC report to the parties and asked them to file their response by October 23.

Venugopal assured the court that the government would implement the recommendations “which are of immediate concern”. The Chhattisgarh government, in defence of Salwa Judum, said, “It is not state-sponsored, but a people’s initiative to combat the menace of Naxalites. The state is committed to resolving the problem of Naxalism, and any peaceful movement which resists violent methods definitely gets support of states.”

Was Salwa Judum effective in its operation? If so, then to what extent? If the campaign has been effective, then why did 55 police personnel die at the hands of more than 300 heavily armed rebels in Rani Bodli police outpost, 525 kms from Raipur on March 2007?