Friday, November 27, 2009

Maoists annually extort Rs 2,000 crore in India: Chhattisgarh DGP

IANS 28 November 2009, 10:55am IST

RAIPUR: Maoists annually extort up to Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20,000 million) across India, mostly targeting iron and coal mining companies, infrastructure project contractors and 'tendu patta' businessmen, says Chhattisgarh Director General of Police (DGP) Vishwa Ranjan.

"The per year extortion earnings of Maoists is up to Rs 2,000 crore, with Jharkhand being the top contributor," Ranjan, a former additional director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), told IANS in an interview.

"This is a 'guesstimate' based on cash books and other vital papers recovered by police from Maoists in recent months."

Ranjan said a major chunk of the extortion money comes from iron ore and coal businessmen, contractors of roads and other infrastructure projects who have business activities in areas infested by Maoist rebels and tendu patta businessmen.

Tendu patta is the leaf used for making 'bidis' or leaf-rolled cigarettes, a business worth millions in Chhattisgarh's restive Bastar region.

"Around 20 percent of the amount extorted is siphoned off by grassroots Maoist cadres who pass on the remaining 80 percent to the top leadership of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)," claimed Ranjan, who has been police chief of Chhattisgarh since July 2007.

"The CPI-Maoist uses the extortion amount for smuggling ammunition even from some foreign countries, party meetings, boosting urban network and to care for a vast publication section, including a set of experts who manage the Maoist website, plus funding its legal cell that takes care of court cases against thousands of jailed Maoists across the country."

Ranjan also denied reports that the security forces would carry out aerial attacks on Maoist bases in the state.

"The forces would not make aerial attacks in Chhattisgarh as Maoist areas are so thickly forested that you can't spot the ground from the air," he said.

"There will be no aerial pounding on Maoist bases in Bastar, choppers will be used mainly for evacuation and taking out injured cops to hospital from the battle zone," the officer said.

Bastar, a mineral-rich region spread over 40,000 sq km, has been dogged by extreme poverty for years, contributing to a growth in Maoist activity. A string of attacks have been carried out by Maoists at police bases in recent years

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