Friday, April 24, 2009

Death before Chhau dance

Purulia, April 24: Dance of death, just before the dancers hit the floor.

Bibhuti Singh Sardar, 38, one of the two CPM leaders killed by suspected Maoists late last night, was about to deliver a Chhau dance performance when he fell to the rebels’ bullets.

The local committee secretary of Darda village was sipping tea at fair in nearby Supurdihi village of Purulia’s Balarampur with party colleague Baikuntha Mahato, 45, hoping to send the crowd into raptures.

Suddenly, around 11, six men emerged from the milling crowd in the dimly lit area. They walked straight to the duo and fired in the air from a pistol to scare away the revellers.

Sensing the two were about to be shot CPM supporter Raj Kishore Mahato almost threw himself in front as a human shield, but in vain.

He was shot in the waist. As he slumped to the ground, Bibhuti and Baikuntha were shot from close range.

Hit in the chest, Bibhuti died on the spot. So did Baikuntha, shot thrice in the abdomen, chest and neck.

As the attackers fled, some of the CPM men at the fair tried to give them a chase but ran into a hail of bullets.

Bhagwan Sahish was hit on the leg, Birbal Singh Sardar on his hand.

Last night’s murders came barely a day after suspected Maoists beat to death an ailing CPM supporter and broke the limbs of seven others in West Midnapore’s Lalgarh, where the rebels are suspected to be guiding a tribal resistance to police. Balarampur is about 80km from Lalgarh.

Dhirendra Mahato, a resident of Supurdihi, said Maoists had threatened to kill Bibhuti unless he quit the CPM. “Like many other leaders, he did not pay heed to the warning,” he said.

A local police officer said Bibhuti and Baikuntha were on a Maoist hit list of 18.

He also claimed that there were at least a dozen other guerrillas in the crowd and they were not just armed with pistols. “The assassins had AK-47 rifles, 9mm pistols and pipe guns. They might have fled to the nearby Ayodhya jungles,” the officer said.

Purulia superintendent of police Rajesh Yadav said the murders at Supurdihi, about 260km from Calcutta, “appeared to be the handiwork of Maoists”.

Jharkhand: Maoists and mercury rule

24 Apr 2009, 0607 hrs IST, TNN

RANCHI: Red terror and soaring mercury kept many voters away from polling booths in Jharkhand. Only 47% turned out to vote in eight constituencies
which went to polls in the second and final phase, keeping three former CMs and a Union minister on tenterhooks. The low turnout in urban areas sparked fears that this would impact the victory margin.

Former Cm Shibu Soren, who is also JMM candidate in Dumka parliamentary and Jamtara assembly seats, held a mahamritunjay jaap at his farmhouse which concluded today in Bokaro. The mantra chanting was reportedly held at the behest of wife Rupi for both his health and win. Soren himself was skeptical. "My political career has been so bumpy that winning or losing elections does not make any difference to me anymore," Soren had said earlier.

The party in fact is in a sorry state this time with fissures surfacing in the UPA alliance as Soren's son Durga fielded himself as the JMM candidate from Godda where a Congress candidate was already contesting as part of the understanding between UPA partners.

Moreover, Soren's absence from Jharkhand due to his poor health has also taken its toll on the prospects of the party, with doubts being expressed about Soren's own position on the two seats. According to reports, Dumka registered a very poor turnout of around 35-40%. "Baba is worried and wants to be left alone," Soren's family told the media.

In Ranchi, Subodh Kant Sahay, who is the Congress candidate, was looking similarly disappointed by the low turnout.

No healthcare, water, they look to Maoists for help

Posted: Apr 25, 2009 at 0333 hrs IST

Lalgarh Sukur Mandi, a resident of Kumarbandh village in Lalgarh, wants tribal villages to be separated from the state. He gets amused when he is told that West Bengal has won the first prize of Rs 1.50 crore for Panchayat Empowerment and Accountability Incentive Scheme given by the Centre.
“I hunt for rats every day and roast them to feed my six-member family. Usually, we do not eat roasted rats. We boil them before eating. But these days we have to trudge for at least 2 miles for a pitcher of water, the only well in a two-mile area,” said Mandi.

He said when the local administration failed to respond despite several submissions about the water problem, he complained to the Maoists in a Lok Adalat held by the outfit two days ago in the village. “Now we expect to get a tube well soon as they have already dug up tube wells in many villages like Pelia, Khasjungle, Kantapahari and Salboni,” said Mandi.

The tribals in Lalgarh and Ramgarh have more reasons to smile as they got a health centre, Janasadharaner Swastha Udyog, in the 15-km stretch between Lalgarh and Ramgarh, set up by the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCRA) a month ago.

“Earlier we had to carry patients to Lalgarh for treatment. In serious cases, we had no other option except leaving the patient to destiny. Despite having a health centre in the gram panchayat office, we cannot avail of it as it never opens,” said Harun Murmu, a resident of Sijua gram panchayat.

“We often see armed men enter the health centre at night. We know they are Maoists and they hold their meetings there. But we never inform this to the police because they will capture the centre and close it,” added Murmu.

Chhatradahar Mahato of PCPA said the committee has set up the centre’s building by raising funds from villagers.

“We arranged for doctors to visit the centre twice a week. At present we have medicines worth Rs 6,000. We have decided not to depend on the administration,” said the tribal leader.

Block Development Officer of Lalgarh Sourav Barik said the state owned the building, which was forcibly opened by the PCPA as a health centre a month ago. “We were constructing the building but the committee took over it. There is no body to stop them,” said Barik.

Mahato has also engaged 100 women at Girulia village in Salboni to construct an embankment for storing water for irrigation work in the area. “We have a similar plan for Lalgarh. We have arranged for everything and work on an embankment for storing water from Kansabati river will begin in a week,” said Mahato. Asked if the PCPA received any help from Maoists over these projects, he said: “We have done everything on our own. But if they want to help us we do not have any problem.”

Shut out by Maoist terror

- Palamau, Latehar, Garhwa hit hard

Ranchi, April 24: Over 35 lakh residents of Palamau, Latehar and Garhwa have been forced to remain indoors, having been cut off from the rest of the state for the last three days after Maoists called an indefinte bandh from April 22.

With virtually no vehicles plying, supply of essentials like milk and LPG have been suspended. The railways are running three morning trains from Daltonganj, but there are no passengers. Even banks have downed shutters.

With the state machinery — Jharkhand is under President’s rule — preoccupied with the elections till yesterday, the police haven’t been able to pay attention to the Maoist-hit districts.

Inspector-general of police Rezi Dungdung, who rushed to Latehar today, however, said the police were trying to ensure life got back to normal as soon as possible.

“I have asked superintendents of police of Latehar, Garhwa and Palamau to ensure movement of vehicles on roads by providing escorts on trucks and buses,” he said.

Governor Syed Sibtey Razi’s adviser T.P. Sinha, who holds charge of the home department, also said efforts were on to restore normalcy in the districts.

The Maoist bandh was to demand compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the next of kin of the five villagers killed in Barhania in Latehar in the aftermath of a Maoist landmine blast that killed two CRPF men.

But today, the Bihar-Jharkhand eastern regional bureau committee of the CPI(Maoist), heightened the prevailing sense of fear and uncertainty by issuing a statement claiming it had not called an indefinite bandh in the first place.

“We called a bandh only on April 22 to seek justice for the five killed by the CRPF,” said Animesh, a spokesman for the outfit. The news release issued by one Abhayji calling for an indefinite bandh, he claimed, was fake and was aimed at creating a rift within Maoist ranks.

But for the people it has been a harrowing week leading up to the elections. Mahendra Prasad Gupta, a Latehar businessman, said the administration had failed them. “The Maoists often created terror, but it is the duty of the administration to counter it and instil confidence among people,” he said.

Shatrughan Ojha, a social activist from Daltongunj, said his son was to appear for an interview for management courses at XISS, Ranchi. “He risked his life to go to Ranchi on a bike. We have virtually been taken hostage,” he lamented.

There were very few passengers on the three morning trains running on the CIC section from Daltonganj.

The night trains — Hatia-Jammu Tawi and Ranchi-Benaras Inter city — have been diverted.

Inspector-general Dungdung also cleared the air about the death of the five villagers in Barhania and ruled out a fake encounter. “They weren’t Naxalites. Nor did they have any rebel links. The extremists forced them to accompany them at 5.30 am to trigger the landmines,” he said, adding that two CRPF constables could not have dared to enter their village and shoot them after the landmine blast.

He said there was no reason to doubt the post-mortem report which claimed that four of the villagers were killed in a landmine blast while one sustained bullet injuries from a distance.

“We will submit a report to the government, which will take a decision on whether to categorise them as Naxalite victims and give their families compensation of Rs 1 lakh,” Dungdung said.

Home secretary J. B. Tubid said the state was looking at it with an open mind. “We can only assure people that we will provide full security to them. We will be holding an inquiry into the Barhania incident,” he told The Telegraph.

Asked if the state intelligence failed to alert the police authorities, the home secretary said he could not share intelligence inputs with the press.

Shoot at site: Cyber terror hits parties

25 Apr 2009, 0521 hrs IST, Indrani Bagchi, TNN

NEW DELHI: In the run-up to polls, it's not just Pakistan-based terrorists and Naxalites who are engaged in target practice in India.
Cyber-terrorists have been equally at work, and far more successfully. Over the past couple of months, Indian government and political parties have been subjected to lots of attacks. The AICC was a target, as was the Bihar chief electoral officer's computers, the Maharashtra chief electoral officer's computers and even L K Advani's website.

No, these are not attacks which stop you from using your computers. The cyber-terrorists' world is more arcane than that — these attacks have been in the form of unintelligible gibberish like Bots, phishing, malware, etc, even viruses and Trojans that commandeer keyboards and webcams. Most of the time, you don't know you have been attacked, or that somebody in a far corner of the world has maliciously taken over your computer and is using it to launch attacks.

Sources said cyber-terrorism had increased exponentially in the past months, with India's NIC among the highest attacked servers. They are vulnerable not because they don't know how to protect themselves, but the speed at which government moves is glacial compared to the cyber-criminal or cyber spy. So, by the time government acquires any new equipment or technology, the other side has moved on, leaving NIC to fight the last battle. As one senior government official said ruefully, "NIC is asked to race with one arm tied behind its back."

In the cyber-espionage world, Pakistan is not a big threat. The big daddies of cyber-espionage targeting India are China, Russia and US. According to Symantec's latest report on internet security threat in Asia-Pacific region, China was No.1 in sending out malicious attacks in 2008 — 41% of the total.

Maoists attack poll party, 1 dead

Dumka, April 24: Maoist rebels killed a chowkidar accompanying a polling party at Kathikund in Dumka last evening. Four others, two polling officials, a driver and a constable, were injured.

In another incident, the Naxalites fled away with EVMs from a booth at a middle school at Rajavita in Sundarpahari block.

The first incident occurred when the polling officials were returning after conducting the elections at booth No. 38 at a primary school in Joraam, some 22km from the Kathikund block headquarters and 43km from the Dumka district headquarters. Paramilitary forces recovered the body of Harilal Mirdha, 45, a native of Sharshabad who was posted at Kathikund police station, from the forests last night.

The injured have been identified as Pawan Kesri, an employee of State Bank of India, Dumka, Augustin Hansdak, a schoolteacher of Massaliaya, Satish Rajak, a constable from Koderma armed police force and Nazir Hussain, the driver of the vehicle. Civil surgeon Dumka S.N. Jha said the four were out of danger.

Kesri, who was deputed as the micro-observer at the booth, said the incident took place around 4.45pm. “We were travelling in a dumper and were about 200 yards from the polling station when some men started firing indiscriminately at us,” Kesri said. He had sustained bullet injuries on his hand.

Dumka Superintendent of police Arun Kumar Singh said: “We had set up security camps at 12 Naxalite pockets. But the Maoists took advantage of the topography of the region to strike.” However, Satish alleged that when the Naxalites attacked them, some policemen escaped while the BSF jawans remained mute spectators.

In the other incident, Maoists raided booth No 63 at Rajavita. Although there were no casualties, the rebels managed to loot EVMs. Polling official Debol Ravidas alleged that there not adequate security at the booth.


BONA FIDE - Malvika Singh
Violence is breaking out in the Naxal-dominated belt, and, for the first time, Indians are becoming conscious of the near takeover of vast regions by this advancing army of politically motivated and committed ideologues who believe in wielding the gun to make themselves heard and accepted. Festering discontent and a lack of clean, efficient and inclusive governance over many decades have led to this ‘movement’. Instead of dealing with it in its nascent stage, governments ignored the reality, the media stayed away and the poorest of the poor went along with the growing wave. To combat the Naxals successfully and quell their violence, the adoption of no-holds-barred methods to garner support and attention is going to be extraordinarily tough in today’s world with its sharp economic disparities.

A calming balm is essential for a start. The administration needs to be activated to enter the neglected and poverty-ridden areas where there is no infrastructure to speak of, no innovative industry that can employ the people and market their produce to the larger mandis of India, no administrative commitment to deliver the basics and no desire to rectify a dreadful truth. Without implementing this kind of a healing process to win back the faith of a betrayed people, chaos, militancy and anarchy will invade other territories too. Is there the possibility of a germinating counter political movement, sans militant terror, with the use of satyagraha to change the lives of millions of Indians who have been left out of the many processes of development? If it is presented correctly and planned meticulously, this could be the real challenge for the future and help India extricate itself from the morass it has been compelled to wallow in. A ‘young’, new-generation movement could well restore a sense of dignity by consciously eliminating abject poverty.

The national rural employment guarantee scheme should, for a start, redefine its parameters to include traditional industry practitioners like cobblers, weavers, potters, stone-cutters, brickmakers and so on and offer them access to its benefits, thereby encouraging the development and marketing of the great resource bank of industries of this civilization.

One unexploded landmine defused

25 Apr 2009, 0323 hrs IST, Priti Nath Jha, TNN

MUZAFFARPUR: A bomb disposal squad on Friday defused a landmine in the remote Mohabbatpur village of Muzaffarpur district -- the place where Maoists
had triggered a landmine blast on Thursday evening, killing five persons of a polling party on the spot. It was one of the two landmines placed by the Maoists there which somehow failed to go off.

Earlier, a team of landmine detectors arrived at the place of occurrence from Jharkhand and sanitised the adjoining areas on Friday. Then the unexploded landmine, weighing about 5 kg and kept in a stainless steel utensil, was dug out from a two-foot deep hole from the blast site and defused by the bomb disposal squad specially despatched from Patna. An STF team from Delhi is also expected to reach there soon to probe the blast. Incidentally, this kind of blast is alien to this area, sources said.

It is believed that the landmines were planted well before the polling hours began because as sources said it must have taken at least two hours to place those two landmines, and doing that during daytime was just not possible. The Maoists, sources said, were certainly not locals as local Naxals do not have this kind of expertise.

A shocked DM Vipin Kumar and SP Sudhanshu Kumar were not yet ready to give any details of the follow-up action.

Naxals killed ward member for supporting election

April 24th, 2009 - 8:12 pm ICT by Lambodar Prasad Dash -

Bhubaneswar (Orissa): Naxals took their vengeance. They killed a ward member from naxal affected malkangiri District on april 23rd night at Palkonda Village near Malkangiri. They made allegation against him, that he mobilised the villages to cast vote, even after the threatening of their Organisation.

According to the sources on 23rd night around 9PM some armed naxals taken away forcebly the village head of Pedagam and Word member of Sikhapalli GP, Kasamadhi(70). They Organised a Praja court (peoples court) at Palkonda village, after taking decession there they tied near by tree and beaten to death. The Allegation on kasamadhi was that he campaigned and mobilised the villagers to vote in the first phase election held on 16th april. But the police and his family members denied it. A senior police officer said that was not the simple cause to kill a old man, there will be another cause. slained Kasamadhi’s family members said that he was fallen from a tree and died.

EC had advised candidates to go for terror insurance: NIA

Express News Service
Posted: Apr 25, 2009 at 0307 hrs IST

Pune Even as the first phase of elections was marred by unprecedented Naxal violence and the second phase being only marginally better, it emerges that last month the Election Commission had sent out an advisory to candidates contesting elections from sensitive constituencies asking them to go in for terror insurance.
Though the terror insurance has been there since 9/11, this is the first time that the EC has advised its usage during elections. This is mainly for communally sensitive areas or where the Naxalites operate," said KC Mishra, director National Insurance Academy (NIA) Pune. NIA is an advisor and evaluator of the insurance scheme. They had also conducted the field study for it when it was launched in the country.

According to Mishra the candidates have been advised to take the traditional terror insurance as there is no specific one aimed at elections. “The cover is very nominal at eight paisa per Rs1000 and is for both life and property. Usually the human life valuation is done on the basis of the declaration made by the candidates - it’s a multiple of their worth as declared by during the filing of their nominations. Other than life, poll paraphernalia like jeeps, vans and all election properties can also be insured," said Mishra.

He added that recent terror attacks in the country have made many constituencies vulnerable. “I would think a third-party terror insurance is almost mandatory in today’s times during the elections," he said.

The General Insurance Company manages a pool of fund for terror insurance of Rs 1,200 crore as mandated by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority. Initially only global terror insurance was available, but after 9/11 the pool for India was set up with a sum of Rs 200 crore, providing cover for property loss or damage and business interruption claims arising out of terrorist activities. Incidentally this was the pool that also initially paid up to hotels Taj and Trident after the Mumbai attacks.

A N Valvi, undersecretary and deputy chief electoral officer for Maharashtra said the missive from the EC does not have much relevance in Maharashtra with Gadchiroli being the only sensitive constituency. Neelam Gorhe, spokesperson, Shiv Sena said that it’s probably the security personnel who need the insurance more than the candidates.

“I don’t see too many politicians going for it because for one monetary concerns are not such a big issue for people at that level and secondly going for it may give the public the impression that the politician is scared of attacks and this may not augur well for his or her image," said Gorhe.

Incidentally according to reports the EC was also considering insurance benefit to voters in sensitive booths in 76 districts, located in nine states including Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattishgarh, but the thought did not translate into policy.

According to Mishra the number of candidates who actually take the cover will be known only after the elections as the figures are collated by GIC only after the lag of a month or so. When contacted regional managers of New India Assurance and Oriental Assurance in Mumbai said that though many individuals and industries have gone in for terror insurance they have no way of knowing how many are politicians from the lot.

While the Election Commission office could not confirm when the terror advisory was sent, it said that they have a general cover for election personnel during polls.

HC grants permission to take naxal leader into custody

Express News Service First Published : 25 Apr 2009 02:47:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 25 Apr 2009 08:23:32 AM IST

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has granted permission to the `Q’ Branch of the police in Tirupathur, Vellore district, to take senior naxal leader Vanan alias Tamilvanan alias Raji into police custody. The naxal leader had been absconding for over three decades and was arrested on April 12.

As Tamilvanan, he was wanted in connection with a double murder case that took place in 1978. Since he was absconding, the case was split into two. The trial was conducted in respect of the available accused. However, that resulted in acquittal.

When the `Q’ Branch police arrested Tamilvanan on April 12, they filed a petition before the Judicial Magistrate-II in Tiruipathur for further investigation.

The magistrate, whi le granting permission to hold further probe, rejected the plea for police custody. As a result, the Q branch police presented the original criminal petition.

Justice R Regupathi, who earlier set aside the rejection order after observing that he did not find any substantive reason for refusal of request for police custody, granted permission to the prosecution to take Tamilvanan into custody for three days from April 25.

Maoist victory

Post CommentLarger | SmallerThe Indian Express
Posted: Friday , Apr 24, 2009 at 2327 hrs IST

The West Bengal government’s decision to relocate 40 polling booths near Lalgarh in West Midnapore district — as per the demands of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities, supposedly backed by the Maoists — has the obvious advantages of allowing elections to be held in the troubled area as well as keeping the tribals happy by precluding police presence near their homes. But the compromise worked out by the state government, the Election Commission and the People’s Committee is also the official acknowledgement of the extent of administrative failure. For sure, the Lalgarh tribal leadership has shut the police out since late last year, when agitations began following police raids and arrests days

after an improvised explosive device narrowly missed Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan at Salboni on November 2. The tribal leadership under Chhatradhar Mahato, after its April 18 meeting, agreed to allow Central — but not state — police personnel to enter the area and man all 44 booths for 12 hours on the polling day, but only if the government accepted their

Astrology Magazine Astrology Vastu Courses / Forecast www.jyotishmanthan.c
India Manufacturers Source Products on Top B2B Site
Jobs in Bhubaneshwar 1000s of Jobs in Bhubaneshwar

Ads by Google

23-point demand. Forty of those booths will now be housed in five schools and voters ferried on buses because the administration cannot officially run its writ in a region where the Maoists are said to have entrenched themselves in the

absence of the police.

Lalgarh tribals, like most neglected communities in a cadre-ruled state, may have elemental socio-economic grievances. But behind them evidently stand armed Maoists. The elections in the area may be a one-day affair but the state government has to find the means of returning the rule of law to the area, without resorting to the tactics it employed, devastatingly, in Nandigram. The shifting of the booths is already a victory of sorts for the Maoists

Maoists blow up tracks in Palamau

Medininagar (Jharkhand), Apr 23 (PTI) Naxalites blew up a railway station building and tracks near Medininagar in Palamau district, disrupting train services, police said today.
The ultras blew up the Chianki station building, about ten km from Medininagar, and exploded bombs on the tracks in the area last night, Deputy Commissioner Amitabh Kaushal said here today.

Polling for the Palamau Lok Sabha constituency has already taken place on April 16.

The railway teams from Barwadih and Dhanbad were on their way to the spot, about 150 km from the state capital Ranchi, to repair the tracks. PTI

Maoists rule India's 'Red Corridor'

By Sudha Ramachandran

Asia Times Online

BANGALORE - Indian Maoists hijacked a train with 800 passengers in the eastern state of Jharkhand on Wednesday morning. Although the crisis was defused within five hours, when the Maoists released the train and its passengers, the incident has sparked grave concern throughout the security establishment.
The ease with which the Maoists were able to stage an operation of this magnitude - and at a time when security has been tightened for general elections - has laid bare yet again that it is the Maoists' writ, not that of the government that runs through this part of the country.

The train was on its way from Barkakana in Jharkhand to Mugalsarai in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh when it was

hijacked near Hehegarha railway station in Latehar district. Around 200 Maoists are said to have carried out the operation. A railway station in Palamu was bombed as well.

In March 2006, a train was hijacked in the same district. Passengers were set free after 12 hours. The Indian Railways have been targeted repeatedly by the Maoists. Besides holding-up trains, they have blasted railway tracks, burned railway stations, looted weapons from railway police and abducted personnel.

No passengers were hurt in Wednesday's hijacking and hostage drama. The operation, which took place on the eve of the second part of India's month-long five-phase general election, was aimed at scaring voters into staying away from polling booths.

Maoists have called for a boycott of the polls in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. In a bid to disrupt polling during the first phase of voting last week, they detonated landmines, raided polling booths and torched electronic voting machines. Around 20 people were killed and scores injured on polling day alone.

Analysts have sought to downplay the impact of the Maoist's poll violence. Bibhu Prasad Routray, research fellow at the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management has written that "Maoist violence on April 16 affected a meager 0.09% (71) of the 76,000 polling stations that were identified as vulnerable in the first phase." He argues that Maoists suffered damage in the violence they sought to inflict on the security forces in the run-up to voting.

While the Maoists have carried out spectacular attacks and did disrupt polls to some extent, they were not fully successful in effecting a boycott. Voter turnout in the constituencies worst hit by Maoist violence was a respectable 50%.

Maoist influence runs through a stretch of territory referred to as the "Red Corridor". This extends from the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh through Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand up to Bihar. Areas in western Orissa and eastern Uttar Pradesh are also under Maoist influence. And they have some presence in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka as well.

The area where the Maoists operate has grown dramatically in recent years. In the early 1990s the number of districts affected by varying degrees of Maoist violence stood at just 15 in four states. This rose to 55 districts in nine states by the end of 2003 and to 156 districts in 13 states in 2004. Maoists are believed to be operating now in around 200 districts (of a total of 602 districts in the country) in 17 states.

Government officials point out that these statistics and the name Red Corridor have conjured up images of Maoists being in control of a large swathe of land and posing a threat to the Indian state. An official in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region told Asia Times Online that while the Maoists do control "some area" in Dantewada district and are able to carry out big attacks in several states, in most areas of the Red Corridor they operate as a hit-and-run force.

"They do not threaten the government, either at the state or the federal level and they are nowhere near sparking off a general uprising," he said, drawing attention to the diminishing public support for the Maoists and increasing resistance to their diktats.

Human-rights activists argue that while the Maoist threat might "not have Delhi on its knees, it is a fact that the problem has laid bare India's failure to deliver good governance, to respond to the plight of the poorest and most marginalized sections of its population".

Unlike jihadi violence that comes from across the border in Pakistan, Maoist violence has its roots firmly in India. Indeed, the Maoist problem has left India red-faced.

Districts that fall in the Red Corridor are rich in minerals like iron ore and bauxite. But the people living there, who are largely Adivasi or tribal are desperately poor. Exploited by forest officials, contractors, mining companies and middlemen and neglected by the state, villagers in the Red Corridor are among the worst off in the country.

And it is to liberate them from their oppressors and the Indian state that the Maoists claim to be waging their armed struggle.

It is true the Maoists have improved life for the Adivasis by forcing local officials to dig wells or pay better wages to the villagers. But over time, the liberators have turned oppressors themselves. Villagers who don't obey the Maoists have been killed and Maoist violence stands in the way of development projects.

The scale of Maoist operations has grown dramatically over the years. In November 2005, more than 1,000 Maoists stormed a jail in Jehanabad in Bihar and freed about 350 of their jailed comrades. Armories and camps of the police and paramilitary forces have been raided. A week ago, they signaled capacity to stand and fight the security forces. Around 200 Maoists stormed a state-owned bauxite mining company in the eastern state of Orissa, taking around 100 employees hostage. They battled for more than nine hours with members of India's Special Operations Group and its Central Industrial Security Force before they finally retreated.

Analysts have drawn attention to increasing Maoist attacks on infrastructure. P Ramana, research fellow at the Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, has pointed out that 62 telecommunication towers were damaged by the Maoists in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Orissa in from 2005 to 2008, with 43 of these occurring in 2008. These attacks are aimed at disrupting "communication amongst the security forces, as well as between 'police informants' - who have been provided cellular telephones - and the security forces, in order that operations against the rebels get impaired," he writes.

The Maoists have also been blowing up power lines and service towers. In May 2007, they blew up three 132 KVA high-tension towers in the Bastar region, plunging six districts into darkness for a week and disrupting normal power distribution for a fortnight. "Functioning of hospitals, communication systems and rail traffic, besides iron ore mines was badly affected," Ramana points out. In June of last year, two 220 KVA towers were blasted depriving 15,000 villages of electricity.

Maoists have displayed their military capability through their high-profile attacks on railways and other infrastructure. They have been able to inflict losses running into millions of dollars on the state they are seeking to overthrow.

But simultaneously they are inflicting heavy losses on the people they claim they are going to liberate. They have worsened the daily lives of some of India's most exploited people.

Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.

(Copyright 2009 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Poll vehicles set on fire

- Maoists attack CRPF camp, drive away voters

An IAF chopper on air vigil in Jhati Jharna, Ghatshila. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Chaibasa, April 23: Naxalites burnt four vehicles carrying polling personnel and EVMs to a booth at Jompoi in Sonua block under the Manoharpur assembly segment in the wee hours today.

The rebels also attacked a CRPF camp at Kiriburu last night while scaring away voters at Manoharpur this morning. However, there were no casualties in any of the incidents. All the three places fall under the Singhbhum Lok Sabha constituency that recorded a polling percentage of 58.

Chaibasa superintendent of police Sudhir Kumar Jha said the polling officials were on their way to a booth at Jompoi around 3am when the Maoists intercepted them. “After asking the officials to alight from the four vehicles, the rebels torched them, including two dumpers, together with the EVMs,” Jha added. He, however, claimed that no Naxalite-related incidents took place at Manoharpur and Kiriburu.

But sources said the rebels ransacked booth numbers 190, 191, 192, 194, 195 and 196 in Manoharpur around 12.30pm. They asked the voters to leave the booths and drove away the polling personnel, who took shelter at Manoharpur railway station and Nandpur cluster. Polling could not take place in these booths even though the police pursued the voters to come back.

At Kiriburu, about 100 km from Chaibasa and under the Jagannathpur assembly segment, the Maoists exchanged fire with a CRPF party around 1.30am last night. As a result, several voters stayed away from the booths this morning fearing fresh attacks.

The turnout was impressive in the rural pockets of the constituency though. Voters came in droves to exercise their franchise at Gitilipi, Boljori, Patahatu, Nimdih and several other places.

“The polling percentage was good in the rural areas. Forty-six per cent voters cast their votes in Beljori booth,” said Sudhir Kumar, the sector magistrate II.

Polling at the lone booth in former chief minister and independent candidate Madhu Koda’s village Patahatu was over by 12.30pm.

However, residents boycotted polling in booth numbers 7 and 17 at Chaibasa Sadar in protest against non-construction of a culvert. “We have been demanding the culvert for several years, but the authorities have turned a deaf ear to our pleas. We are fed up with the false promises of the local MP,” said Vinay Mahto, a resident

Maoists blow up station

- Railway tracks damaged, train services disrupted

The Chiyanki railway station after Wednesday’s blast. Picture by Saikat Chatterjee
Ranchi, April 23: Mounting pressure on the administration, Maoist rebels blew up the Chiyanki railway station, 10km from Medininagar in Palamau district and 150km from Ranchi, and two railway tracks late last night. The station office and tracks were damaged in the blast.

The CPI(Maoist) carried out the blasts to teach the railway authorities a lesson for plying trains even though an indefinite statewide bandh sponsored by the outfit was on.

Sources said that around 150 rebels stormed the station around 10pm and used three can bombs to carry out the blasts. The rebels also shattered the window glasses of the station’s east cabin and damaged the signal system.

“They carried out the explosions one after the other. While leaving, they raised slogans against police,” a local resident said.

The incident paralysed train services at the station, disrupting movements of about 12 trains. Superintendent of police of Palamau Ravikant Dhan said that the railway tracks were repaired today after which train services resumed.

The Naxalites have called the bandh in demand for compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the five villagers allegedly killed by paramilitary forces at Barhania village in Latehar on April 15.

Meanwhile, the Lohardaga police arrested a PLFI member, Sanjay Oraon, today. A regular 9mm pistol and six rounds of cartridges were found on him.

District police superintendent Subodh Prasad said Oraon was earlier forwarded to jail in connection with a murder case.

Giridih attacks

Maoists today carried out three blasts in Giridih. The first blast took place near Jalebia More on Giridih-Dumri road while the second one occurred at Khetadabar.

Three members of a patrolling team — magistrate Rajindra Singh, constable Surendra Singh and driver Reyaz Ahmad — were injured in a landmine blast at Gadisrirampur in Muffassil.

Police recovered a 20-kg can bomb from a bridge side in Pirtand.

Combing operation launched after landmine blast in Bihar

Patna, Fri, 24 Apr 2009 NI Wire

The Bihar Police and paramilitary forces have launched a massive combing operation after five policemen were killed in a landmine explosion triggered by Naxalites in Muzaffarpur district on Thursday night.

The security personnel deployed in the district for the election purpose were returning from their duty when the blast occurred near Mohammadpur village under Deoria police station.

All five died on the spot including a sub inspector, a district armed police (DAP) constable and two home guards.

“When the security personnel were returning from duty an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast took place near a bridge. The blast killed everybody except the driver who got seriously injured,” said Sudhanshu Kumar, Superintendent of Police, Muzaffarpur.

Combing operation is underway by the state police along with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Muzaffarpur to nab Maoists involved in the incident, said Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Neelmani.

Barring the incident, polling in Bihar in the second phase was conducted peacefully on Thursday though the overall vote turnout was recorded a moderate 44 percent in 13 of the state's 40 Lok Sabha constituencies.

In the past few weeks, Maoists have attacked many places and security personnel across four states (Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa), termed as the ‘Red Belt’ due to the presence of ultra Maoist-Leninists.


Naxalites had hijacked same train 2 yrs ago

23 Apr 2009, 0513 hrs IST, Jaideep Deogharia, TNN

HEHEGARHA/PATNA: The passenger train with 1,000 passengers, travelling between Gomoh in Jharkhand to Mughalsarai in UP, was hijacked at Hehegarha in
Jharkhand's Latehar district, a Naxal stronghold.

The passengers were held hostage for four hours. Latehar was hit by Maoists on the first day of the polls when the red rebels ambushed a BSF convoy in Latehar, killing seven jawans and two civilians. Two years ago, the red brigade had hijacked the same train (BDM 627) in the same area.

Passengers cowered in train coaches, baking under a sweltering 42-degree heat, as Maoists armed with AK-47s patrolled outside. The operation began at 7.29am and

Village head killed by Naxalites in Malkangiri of Orissa

Friday, April 24, 2009 Email

Report by Orissadiary correspondent; Malkangiri . Naxalite on Thursday night killed a village head of Palkhonda village of Skikhpali Panchayat under Malkangiri Police station limit. The name of the victim is Kasa Madhi and he was 50 years old .
Naxalite went to his home on Thursday night and shot him , police said. Naxalite accused him of being informer of police .

Naxal Attack In Bihar 4 Policmen Killed

Posted by Ash gee on Friday, April 24, 2009, 12:01
This news item was posted in Latest News About India News category and has 0 Comments so far.

New Delhi: Suspected Maoist rebels killed five people, including four policemen, returning from election duty in Bihar, police said on Friday.

The policemen and one election official had been guarding polling stations in the state when a landmine ripped through their jeep late Thursday night near the town of Muzaffarpur, 70km (43 miles) from Patna.

Bihar, a hotbed of Maoist activity, was one of several places where voting for the second phase took place on Thursday.

“Police have launched a combing operation in the area against the Maoists,” said additional director general of police Neelmani.

Maoist attacks on polling stations during the first phase of voting last week claimed at least 19 lives, including 10 paramilitary troopers and five election workers.

Polling in Bihar, which sends 40 members to the Parliament, has been staggered over four phases to ensure adequate deployment of security personnel.

Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of neglected tribal people and landless farmers

'CRPF jawans killed my husband suspecting him as Naxal'

Express News Service

First Published : 24 Apr 2009 02:48:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 24 Apr 2009 02:46:29 PM ISTKORAPUT: Singari Huika, wife of Katru Huika of Talamiting village under Kakriguma police limits, has alleged that the CRPF jawans killed her husband suspecting him to be a Naxal. She has also submitted a memorandum to the District Collector demanding probe into the incident.

She said on April 13 last, when the CRPF jawans were combing the area near the village, her husband and another villager Kanduru Miniaka were returning to the village. Seeing the CRPF personnel, her husband started running to the village whereas Kandru stood there out of fear. CRPF jawans opened fire killing him on the spot. She alleged that after taking her husband’s body for postmortem, a group of CRPF jawans entered the village and ransacked some houses including hers.

Guerrillas for guerrillas

. Bakshi
April 22, 2009
First Published: 22:16 IST(22/4/2009)
Last Updated: 22:24 IST(22/4/2009)

The 2008 Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir were peaceful and witnessed a record voter turnout. In contrast, the first day of the Lok Sabha polls on April 16, 2009, saw an upsurge of Naxal violence; 14 attacks claimed 16 lives. On Wednesday, ahead of the second phase of polls, Maoists seized a train with nearly 700 passengers in Jharkhand’s Latehar district and triggered blasts in the state and Bihar. The bulk of these attacks have been in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. However, what is a cause for concern is the scale of these coordinated assaults across the Red Corridor, which also includes Bihar, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. This insurgency has overtaken both J&K and the Northeast in terms of the threat it poses to the internal security of India.

Demography is often overlooked in our security analysis. Sixty-two per cent of India’s population is in the working- age group and the bulk of them resides in villages. This rural-urban divide fuels Left-wing extremism. Naxalism started as an agrarian rebellion by the Santhals of Naxalbari in West Bengal in 1967. But thanks to the lack of political will to undertake reforms in the agrarian sector, all attempts by the State have failed to curb this insurgency.

The Naxal insurgency resurfaced in the 1980s with the rise of the Peoples’ War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC). In 2004, the two merged to form the CPI (Maoists). Thereafter, the spatial growth of Left-wing extremism has been dramatic. Large-scale displacement of tribals by hydro-electric projects and extensive mining in jungle areas have led to the third phase of Left-wing extremism. From just nine states and 53 districts in 2001, Naxalism today affects some 203 to 252 districts in 18 states.

The core of the insurgency is Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand with significant activity levels in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh (AP), Maharashtra and Orissa. What is becoming a cause for alarm is the adverse casualty ratio between the Police/Central Police Organisations and the Naxals. Between 1999 and 2006, the ratio was 1:1.4 to 1:2. But in 2007-08, this ratio has tilted in favour of the insurgents.

Tribals make natural guerrillas. Only 12 per cent of India’s tribal population lives in the Northeast. They revolted in 1956 and tied down two to six divisions of the Indian Army and three times that number of police and paramilitary forces. Eighty-five per cent of the Indian tribal population lives in central and peninsular India. It is this section that is now in varying stages of rebellion.

Unlike the earlier insurgencies in the Northeast and the terrorist movements in Punjab and J&K, this is not a rim-land insurgency but a heartland rebellion. The Army obviously is not keen to intervene because it will draw its men far away from the borders. The key issue is: can we (or should we) militarise our police forces to quell this insurgency? The world over, armies are employed to tackle insurgencies. Militarising the police forces would take eight to ten years with the existing training infrastructure. Would it be cost-effective or possible to raise tactical skills of state police forces to even a basic military level?

The AP’s Greyhound model — an elite, specialised police force — is the solution. Can the AP model be replicated in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand? The outlook is pessimistic as the state of road infrastructure in these two states is not as good as in AP. The better road communication network in AP enabled the police to gain the upper hand. Unfortunately, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have been focusing more on raising the general level of training of the entire police force rather than creating an elite force.

In these states, counter-insurgency training and operations are treated as punishment postings and the morale of the policemen is poor.

If this fight deteriorates further, the government will have to consider a genuine para-militarisation of the conflict, i.e. intervention by the Rashtriya Rifles or the Assam Rifles. Or, we might consider a repeat of Operation Steeple Chase (Army assistance provided to anti-Naxal operations in Bengal in 1971) and the focus should Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

G.D. Bakshi is a retired Major General of the Indian Army.

5 cops killed by Naxals, over 55 per cent turnout in Phase 2

New Delhi, Apr 23 (PTI) Five policemen were killed in in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district as sporadic violence by Maoists in the state and Jharkhand marred the second phase of Lok Sabha elections, which drew over 55 percent of the nearly 200 million voters today across 12 states and union territories.
The Maoists, who have called for a boycott of the elections, detonated a landmine at a culvert near Karpoori Chowk at Mohabbatpur village this evening, about 60 km from here, killing five policemen including a sub-inspector, IGP (Tirhut zone) R S Bhatti said, adding the attack took place when the policemen were escorting a vehicle carrying EVMs.

Two poll officials and a magistrate had a narrow escape when Maoists carried out blasts in Bihar and Jharkhand where security forces repulsed a Naxalite bid to disrupt the second phase of elections after a fierce hour-long gunbattle.

An executive magistrate Rajendra Prasad and a constable were wounded when Maoists lobbed a bomb at their vehicle near Dadi-Srirampur village in Giridh district in Jharkhand. They were going to a polling station in the district, about 200km from Ranchi.

In a separate incident, security forces foiled the Maoists' attempt to disrupt polling in Bansdera in East Singhbhum, 165 km from the Jharkhand capital, after a fierce hour-long gunbattle with the ultras.

However, the violence in the second and the largest phase covering 140 seats was much less compared to the first one a week ago when 18 people were killed by Naxals in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur cast his vote at a polling station in Gauhati Lok Sabha segment in Assam amid high security. PTI

Coffee, naxals dominant issues in Udupi-Chickamaglur

Udupi (PTI): Coffee, naxals and a disputed shrine are the dominant issues in the newly-carved LS constituency Udupi-Chickamaglur, the largest in Karnataka.

The constituency is hit by naxal menace, affected by woes of plantation growers and toddy tappers and torn apart by controversy over centuries old Hindu-Muslim shrine Bababudangiri/Datta Peetha.

Ruling BJP's State unit president,D.V. Sadananda Gowda, is taking on Jayaprakash Hegde of the Congress among others.

Mr. Gowda, who won the Lok Sabha seat from Mangalore in the last elections, has shifted to Udupi-Chikamagalur, considered safe for the BJP which had garnered 46.89 per cent of the total votes in the 2008 Assembly elections in the segments falling under the new constituency.

Besides, three Assembly segments from Kodagu district which formed part of Mangalore seat and held by BJP have now come under this constituency.

The Naxal menace continues to raise its ugly head in the constituency despite government's two-pronged strategy of hunting down Naxals and announcing a developmental package to the people in a bid to address the root cause that breeds extremism.

Coffee growers in Chikmagalur, considered the land of Indian coffee, are in doldrums due to drought, heavy rains and steep fall in prices with diseases affecting the plants, causing a drop in production.

The coffee industry, which provides employment to lakhs of labourers and yields revenue of Rs 2,000 crore, is in deep trouble, according to Karnataka Growers Federation President N.K. Pradeep, who has written letters to all candidates highlighting this.

Similar is the case of arecanut growers who are demanding higher support price for their produce.

The Bababudanagiri-Datta Peetha has often come to the centre stage in Chikamagalur district as an emotive issue as the Sangh Parivar outfits have organised various programmes during the annual pilgrimage to protest alleged "Islamisation" of the shrine, visited by both Hindus and Muslims.

Parts of the constituency are hit by the Naxal menace, an issue which has affected the local people. Naxals have also distributed pamphlets asking the people to boycott the polls.

Mr. Gowda has promised voters that he would address the issues of coffee growers and others.

Claiming that the current trends were favourable to the BJP, he said his party had decided to field him as he felt he can represent the constituency effectively considering various problems and aspects in the region.

In the 2008 Assembly polls, the BJP romped home in seven out of the eight Assembly segments.

The newly created Parliamentary seat is a mix of erstwhile Udupi and Chikmagalur constituencies. After delimitation the Udupi-Chikamagalur constituency comprises four Assembly segments of Udupi District — Kundapur, Udupi, Kaup, Karkala — and Sringeri, Mudigere (SC), Chikamagalur and Tarikere segments in Chikmagalur District.

Mr. Hegde, a former minister was elected to the Assembly from Brahmavar constituency thrice. He contested twice on a JD(S) ticket and once as an independent.

The son of a former district judge, Mr. Hegde, has been active in trade unions and been the employees union leader during his short tenure in Vijaya Bank.

Mr. Hegde, whose name was announced despite some differences in the party said, "I will strive to overrun the BJP's poll propaganda. I am confident of defeating Gowda."

The third front has fielded CPI candidate in the constituency hoping to bank on the significant number of plantation labourers.

The constituency has 12,03,786 voters comprising 5,84,894 men and 6,18,892 women.

Home Ministry in touch with naxal-affected States

Aarti Dhar

Helicopters to be given for carrying out surveillance

— Photo: PTI

The Utari Road railway station building in Palamau district of Jharkhand that was blown up by the Maoists on Wednesday.

NEW DELHI: The Home Ministry on Wednesday reviewed the security arrangements in the wake of the naxalite violence in Bihar and Jharkhand on the eve of the second phase of Lok Sabha elections.

The Centre was in touch with the naxal-affected States and geared to meet any situation, Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta told reporters. All arrangements had been made to provide logistical support to the security forces, including helicopters if required.

Mr. Gupta chaired a meeting to discuss the Maoist violence in the two States.

Instructions have been issued to paramilitary forces and State governments to step up vigil and ensure that people voted without fear, ignoring the poll boycott call given by naxalites.

The paramilitary forces have been asked to conduct combing operations in vulnerable areas and also strictly adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to minimise casualties.

Mr. Gupta said people had defied the boycott call in the first phase and the turnout was good.

Left-wing violence was feared in Jharkhand, Bihar, parts of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra on Thursday. The government was aware of this and steps were taken to prevent attacks.

On the call to boycott polls in Lalgarh, West Bengal, Mr. Gupta said it was for the State government and the Election Commission to assess the situation. Paramilitary forces had been provided to the State and whatever was required by way of deployment and force requirements would be done. Additional forces were sent to Salboni in West Bengal after a series of landmine blasts that followed the killing of three activists of a political party

Two dozen Naxals arrested in Chattisgarh

Press Trust Of India / Raipur April 23, 2009, 17:55 IST

As many as two dozen Naxals have been arrested in two separate operations in Bastar division in Chhattisgarh, police said today.

Acting on a tip-off, police today picked up a total of 15 Naxalites from the Begalpur forest area in Dantewada district, Superintendent of Police Rahul Sharma said, adding that they were being interrogated.

On receiving an information about Naxal activity near Parakorma village in Bijapur district, a police unit yesterday cornered Naxalities in a forest near the village and held nine of them including three women, Bijapur Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg said.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Centre keeps choppers ready to counter naxal violence

New Delhi (PTI): Alarmed at the sudden spurt in Naxal attacks during the Lok Sabha elections, the Centre has kept helicopters ready for States hit by violence to meet any eventuality while promising better logistical support to security forces.

Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta chaired a high-level meeting on Wednesday to discuss the situation after a spate of naxal attacks in Bihar and Jharkhand, including hijacking of a passenger train which was eventually released, ahead of the second phase of elections on Thursday.

"Appropriate security arrangements have been made and the priority is to ensure that the polls are held smoothly and efforts to disrupt the democratic process do not succeed," Mr. Gupta told PTI after the review meeting.

To give better logistical support to the security forces, helicopters have been provided to the Naxal-hit states for carrying out aerial surveillance and launching measures to counter the Maoists promptly, the Home Secretary said.

Instructions were issued to paramilitary forces and state government to step up vigil and ensure that people exercise their franchise fearlessly ignoring the poll boycott call given by the Naxals.

Mr. Gupta pointed out that Naxals had tried to derail the first phase of the polling by unleashing violence but people came out in large number and cast their vote.

250 Maoists hijack train in eastern India

By Amy Kazmin in New Delhi

Published: April 22 2009 06:47 | Last updated: April 22 2009 08:51

Maoist rebels in India’s restive state of Jharkhand hijacked a train with hundreds of passengers on board and held it hostage on Wednesday, just a day before the state’s voters were due to participate in the second phase of India’s Parliamentary elections.

However, the radical leftist rebels freed the train – and all the passengers on board – around four hours after the 7.30am hijacking.

The rebels – known in India as Naxalites – have called for an election boycott, and analysts said the temporary capture of the train was intended to generate fear among the electorate and discourage participation in tomorrow’s voting in state.

In addition to hijacking the train, leftist rebels attacked several oil tankers and trucks, killing at least one driver; blew up an empty school building, and burned down a small railway station and a small government office. The attacks occurred both in Jharkhand and the neighbouring state of Bihar.

Authorities say around 250 suspected Maoists were involved in the capture of the train, which was held in the remote Hehegara station in a Naxalite stronghold.

The hijacking of the passenger train is the latest in a string of audacious attacks by the leftist rebels – known in India as Naxalites – and reflects their growing tactical capacity across an ever-growing swathe of Indian territory.

Last week, around 200 Naxal rebels stormed Asia’s largest bauxite mine in the eastern state of Orissa, taking around 100 employees of the state-owned mine. The leftist guerrillas battled for more than nine hours with members of India’s Special Operations Group and its Central Industrial Security Force before they finally retreated.

Workers at the mine, run by NALCO, have since refused to return to work.

Naxalite rebels have hijacked a number of trains in the past, but usually free the passengers unharmed.

In the parliamentary election campaign, India’s two largest political parties, the incumbent Congress and its rival Bharatiya Janata Party have accused each other of being “soft on terrorism” believed to be emanating from neighbouring Pakistan. The BJP has also sought to capitalise on lingering public anger

Yet the attacks by the Maoist guerrillas on trains and government buildings highlights the serious security threat India face from its own disgruntled citizens in the remote rural areas that have yet to benefit from the growing prosperity in other parts of India.

Around 18 people were killed in Naxal violence in the first phase of India’s election last week. India’s five-phase election, which involves some 714m voters, began last week and will conclude on May 13, with results to be announced on May 16.

Woman held for suspected Maoist links

22 Apr 2009, 0344 hrs IST, TNN

YAMUNANAGAR: The Yamunanagar police have arrested a woman for suspected Maoist links. “Poonam, a resident of Panipat, has been arrested for
launching a provocative and anti-election campaign,”
SP Vikas Arora said on Monday.

The cops were alerted after anti-election graffiti had appeared at various places in Yamunanagar some days ago. Suspecting Poonam of writing the warnings for poll boycott on the instructions of Maoist rebels, they have registered a case and slapped her with sedition charges.

The accused, 27, was arrested from Bilaspur town of the district and later sent to police remand.
Though the officials refused to divulge details, they said the accused had told them that she had joined tuition classes in Bilaspur after completing her graduation. Police have now set up four teams and hope to make more arrests in
the caSE

BJP’s ‘campaign weapon’ in red zones

- Armed with licensed rifle, ex-MLA canvasses for Arjun Munda

Menka Sardar at the DC’s office in Jamshedpur. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur, April 21: With a rifle slung over her shoulders, she tours the red dens. But she is no gallant police officer out to take on Naxalites on their own turf. She is the BJP’s campaign “weapon”.

This election season, when many candidates and poll officials are giving Naxalite-hit areas a skip for fear of the unknown, Menka Sardar (40) is boldly venturing out to the red bastions within Jamshedpur Lok Sabha constituency to woo voters towards her party.

She has a few partymen for company and a licensed rifle loosely strapped across her shoulders.

“I am not afraid of the Maoists because I have not done any harm to them,” she told The Telegraph over phone from Dersa village.

Menka has already canvassed for the party candidate from Jamshedpur, Arjun Munda, in Udal, Dhegam, Harina, Banakata, Kope, Radur, Ramgarh, Narda, Fhuljhari, Katashila, Buruhatu and Sarse — all Naxalite strongholds — in the past one week.

“I move around with my rifle while campaigning as I don’t have bodyguards. I have a licensed firearm, which can come in handy during emergency situations,” she added.

Menka makes it a point to mention that the state had not provided her security cover even though she was from Potka, a rebel stronghold.

On Monday, Menka joined Munda for campaigning in Dersa, Butgora, Saharjhuri and Dumaria. Asked whether she was still armed in the presence of a considerable number of supporters, she replied in the negative, saying there was no need for it.

“I carry a rifle only when I am alone or there are a few supporters with me. Though the rifle was with me today also, I did not carry it,” she said.

“This is election season and I have to roam around in villages, garnering support for our candidates. My itinerary also includes visits to Maoist-affected villages. I know it’s a risky job, but I just cannot sit back at home,” the braveheart said.

“I am committed to the cause of my party. I have something to give back to the party that has always stood by me,” she added.

Naxalites' menace continues, burn 9 trucks in Jharkhand

Published by: Diksha Gupta
Published: Wed, 22 Apr 2009 at 09:58 IST

Ranchi: Armed Naxalites set afire as many as 9 trucks, in yet another major attack on in the state ahead of second phase of LS polls.

Naxalites gunned down a driver (identity not ascertained), after burning about nine trucks near police station in Barachatti area.

Maoist rebels are targeting the government machinery ahead in an attempt to disrupt second phase of LS polls.

Maoist rebels, who claim to fight for peasants and landless labourers, have stepped up attacks in recent days opposing general elections in the area.

They launched several attacks in different areas on April 16 disrupting first phase of LS polls.

The rebels, with strong links to Maoist guerrillas just to the north in Nepal, are becoming increasingly active and some analysts say they pose a bigger problem for the central government in Delhi than the separatist rebellion in Kashmir.

The government estimates there are about 9,300 Maoist rebels operating in the country in what is known as the ‘Red Corridor', stretching from the Nepal border in the north through several states to south India.

Choppers for vigil in naxalite-hit areas

Sujay Mehdudia

RANCHI: Even as campaigning for the second phase of polling to eight Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand came to a close on Tuesday, the administration has decided to use choppers for vigil in naxalite-affected areas and to deploy additional security personnel for election duty on April 23.

Caught on the wrong foot in the first phase that saw large-scale violence and casualties, the security agencies are not taking any chances. The State government will get four choppers from the Indian Air Force and one from the Border Security Force for surveillance. Focus is on Giridih and Singhbhum parliamentary constituencies and partly on areas falling under Dhanbad and Jamshedpur constituencies which are considered naxalite strongholds. The police will use choppers for airlifting troops as well as poll officials.

Sixty companies of paramilitary forces are being deployed in addition to 27,000 police personnel, home guards and NCC personnel.

All the paramilitary forces and poll staff have been asked to avoid travel by heavy vehicles, including buses, as they are vulnerable to landmine blasts. Anti-landmine vehicles are also being pressed into service to counter the threat of poll boycott and violence by the Communist Party of India (Maoists). The CPI (Maoists) has warned that they would take on the paramilitary forces manning polling booths and centres in various parts of the State.

Chenchus set to vote, but woes remain

K. Venkateswarlu

Andhra Pradesh tribals live in pathetic conditions, with little or no access to health care

Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

Chenchus set to vote.

For decades, democracy remained a distant dream for the aboriginal Chenchu tribes in the Nallamala hill ranges of Andhra Pradesh. They hardly had a chance to vote freely, caught in the crossfire between the Maoists and the police.

Every time an election was round the corner, it sent a shiver down the spine of these backward tribals who still eke out a livelihood picking gum, honey, berries and roots from the forests.

They dreaded elections because the Greyhounds, the special anti-naxalite force of the Andhra Pradesh police, would start hounding the Chenchus out of their conical bamboo huts deep inside the forests.

Often, they would be dumped on the plains miles away and left to fend for themselves.

The police had looked upon the Chenchus with suspicion, because of the belief that the Maoists relied on them for food and shelter.

First time

But now, for the first time in several elections, they look forward to voting on April 23, without fear of the police — and the naxalites.

Relentless police operations over the last three years have forced the Maoists to shift their base from the Nallamala hill ranges to forests in Chattisgarh and Orissa.

And, unlike in the past when they had to trek long distances to vote, polling booths have been set up close to their pentas (clusters of habitations).

“Yes I feel happy about voting in the booth near my home. I need not walk down to Chintala 12 km away as was the case earlier,” said Gangaiah of Chinna Arutla, a habitation just off the hilltop shrine of Srisailam, from where the Maoists emerged from their 20-year-old underground struggle to participate in talks with the government in October 2004.

Voting rights

Chenchu voting rights might have been restored, but that does not mean an end to their problems. Trekking through their habitations from Srisailam to Rollapenta one can see the poverty, squalor and pathetic living conditions. They trek 20 km to 40 km to collect forest produce and sell them, often only to be cheated by middlemen. A separate Integrated Tribal Development Agency for this Primitive Tribal Group has helped, but not to a great extent.

An annual budget of Rs. 15 crore, though modest for a Chenchu population of about 40,000, should have made a perceptible change in their living standards. But it has not; with no monitoring worth the name, there is a lot of corruption and leakages in the schemes.

The result is a mere five per cent literacy, despite having schools and buildings; malnutrition, infant mortality, scabies, gastroenteritis and malaria and now HIV afflict them, adding to the concern about their already dwindling numbers.

Maoists call 24-hr bandh


Jamshedpur, April 21: The state police has geared up to ensure that tomorrow’s Jharkhand-Bihar 24-hour bandh call by the CPI (Maoist) has no impact on the poll preparations in the remaining eight of the 14 Lok Sabha seats.

The rebels have called a bandh to protest against the Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF). They had killed five villagers at Badhnia village in Latehar district during the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls on April 16. The five villagers who died, including two teenage boys, who were suspected to be rebels.

The bandh call comes a day before the second phase of polling. The constituencies, which would go on polls, include Ranchi, Singhbhum, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Giridih, Godda, Rajmahal and Dumka.

Except for the last three, all the constituencies are known for Maoist activities.

Considering the Naxalite-sponsored violence witnessed in the first phase of polling on April 16, it is anticipated that rebels would strike again.

Intelligence department sources maintain that Maoists rebels would work hard to ensure a 24-hour bandh on Wednesday, as its success will have a bearing on the polling.

Director general of police Vishnu Dayal Ram said the bandh call will have no impact on the polling process, as adequate deployment of forces have been made across the Lok Sabha constituencies where polling is scheduled to be held in the second phase.

Talking to The Telegraph, the DGP said that adequate para-military forces have been deputed in Naxalite-dominated districts. He claimed the Naxalites would not dare to come out of their hideouts as the long range patrolling is in place.

“We are confident that the bandh call will have no impact on the polls. We have a large number of para-military forces at our disposal, including the Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to tackle them,” said Ram.

Vigil on foot in red dens

Dhanbad, April 21: The central paramilitary forces on election duty would have to walk several kilometres in rebel stronghold areas on Thursday to avoid being soft targets of Maoist landmines.

Less than a week ago, at least nine BSF jawans were killed during the first phase of the Lok Sabha poll in Latehar on April 16.

Deputy commissioner-cum-returning officer of Dhanbad Ajay Kumar Singh said besides regular forces, an adequate number of central paramilitary forces would be pressed into service at Naxalite zones. “The security personnel have been instructed to avoid travelling in vehicles in Maoist-hit areas. Instead, they have been asked to walk to avert landmines,” said Singh.

He added that there was a contingency plan to carry out aerial surveillance in Naxalite hotbeds if the need arose.

With just two days to go for the second and last phase of elections in the state, the district administration is gearing up to conduct peaceful polls in Dhanbad Lok Sabha constituency.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made in the district that has 2,009 polling booths spread across six Assembly constituencies — Sindri, Nirsa, Dhanbad, Jharia, Tundi and Baghmara.

Security has also been stepped up at Naxalite-affected Tundi and Topchanchi areas, where the central parliamentary forces would be deputed. Singh said that 108 polling booths had been identified as highly sensitive, while 101 were sensitive. Ninety-one booths have been declared as critical.

Singh said a total of 229 micro-observers and 247 sectoral officers would be deployed across the district.

Naxals are “misguided youth” -- SONIA GANDHI

Sonia extends olive branch to Maoists

Sujay Mehdudia

Ranchi: With Jharkhand facing threat from Maoists of violence and poll boycott, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday extended an olive branch to the “misguided youth” involved in naxalite activities, urging them to join the national mainstream.

Addressing an election meeting in support of Union Minister for Food Processing Subodh Kant Sahay here, Ms. Gandhi said some people had adopted the wrong path of violence. They should give up such a movement and come back into the mainstream. “Violence is no solution to any problem and it only leads to loss of lives and displacement of the common man.”

The appeal by Ms. Gandhi comes as the State prepares for the second round of polling on April 23. The first round witnessed massive violence.

Stating that India was faced with aggression from external forces, the Congress president said the threat was more serious from the internal forces that were out to destroy the unity and integrity of the nation.

Communal forces

“The communal forces are bent upon dividing people on the lines of caste and religion and this is a threat that only a strong party like the Congress can face,” she remarked.

Ms. Gandhi said that when she came here four years ago, she had promised that the public sector unit Heavy Engineering Corporation would not be sold. Now it had turned around and would get the status of a mini-ratna undertaking.

Later, Ms. Gandhi left for Samastipur in Bihar to address a public meeting

Top Maoist commander Udaya nabbed

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 22 Apr 2009 02:27:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 22 Apr 2009 01:26:20 PM ISTRAYAGADA/BHUBANESWAR:

In a prize catch, the Special Operation Group (SOG) on Tuesday nabbed Udaya, commander of the Banshadhara Dalam of CPI(Maoist), from a hideout under Gudari police limits. He is believed to have pulled the trigger on Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati last year in Kandhamal.

Udaya alias Rama Rao was arrested with three of his associates. Police seized a .9mm pistol, rifle and 25 rounds of bullets looted from Nayagarh last year.

The three accomplices have been identified as Somnath Dandasena alias Jadu, Surendra Dalai and Pradyumna Birdalai. They were held from Turukurugudu village under Gudari police limits of Rayagada when a joint team of SOG and CRPF led by Rayagada SP Ashish Singh raided the place after specific intelligence inputs about Udaya’s presence.

After the arrest of Ashutosh in Sundargarh and the killing of Rita Pal in Kandhamal, Udaya’s arrest has come as a big catch for the police. In fact, Ashutosh had divulged details of Udaya’s role in the Swami’s killing.

‘While Sabyasachi Panda alias Sunil had planned the operation and Azad gave it command, it was Udaya who carried it out along with Rita, who happened to be the Ghumsar divisional committee member of CPI(Maoist),’ reliable sources said. He was also previously commander of Srikakulam committee and had taken the charge of Banshadhara Dalam after Sabyasachi took over the reins of Orissa State organisational committee.

Udaya was wanted in more than 30 cases both in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh during 14 years of his involvement in the Naxalite movement. He was behind the murder BJD leader Jajati Sahu in 2002 and Paraguda Daku Majhi, an Independent candidate from Gunupur, in April 2004.

On April 11, three Naxalites were nabbed from Chandrapur forests during a combing operation. Udaya had managed to escape. ‘Police had been keeping a close watch on him for the last five to six months, we could nail him along with others,’ Ashish Singh said.

A kit bag has also been seized from him and it is believed to be containing vital information which police did not disclose. Jadu and Surendra were hardcore Naxal members while Pradyumna had recently joined the outlawed outfit, police said.

Maoists blow up railway station, school in Jharkhand

Indo-Asian News Service
Ranchi, April 22, 2009
First Published: 09:54 IST(22/4/2009)
Last Updated: 09:54 IST(22/4/2009)

Maoist guerrillas blew up a railway station and a school in two separate incidents in Jharkhand, police said Wednesday.

Over 50 rebels of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) bombed Utari Road railway station and also destroyed a nearby track in Palamau district, about 190 km from here, late Tuesday.

Police said the militants had planned to target the New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express, which was to pass through the station 30 minutes after the blast.

The route of the train was diverted after the incident. Railway services were disrupted on the Dehri Onson and Barkakana route.

Maoist rebels also blew up a school and health centre in Narayanpur village in Chatra district Tuesday night. Eighteen government buildings, including nine schools, have been bombed in the last two weeks in the state.

Maoist rebels are active in 18 of the 24 districts of the state. Nearly 1,500 people have been killed in the last eight years in Maoist related violence in the state.

Integrated action plan needed to curb Naxalites: Raman Singh

Statesman News Service
BHUBANESWAR, April 21: The menace of Left wing extremism can be countered an integrated action plan amongst all affected states, stern measures and proper monitoring of inter-state borders, observed Chhatisgarh chief minister, Mr Raman Singh while adding that his government had successfully empowered the tribals who are now standing up to the Naxals.
"We have set up separate, special development authorities in the worst affected districts like Bastar and I personally monitor developmental activity in the region. As a result today, the Left wing extremists have been pushed out of areas like Sarbaja while they are still there in Bastar area," he said.
Addressing a Press conference, he listed out the achievements of his government ~ subsidized rice, salt, free power, pump sets, 100 per cent procurement of paddy etc. "All these have made Left wing extremists redundant in the state," he said.
"But when he put pressure and take them on, they cross over to bordering states like Orissa," he added.
Undermining the talk that his Orissa counter part was the number one CM in the country, Chhatisgarh CM Mr Singh wondered how one could be adjudged as such given the status of drinking water, health care, social security etc in Orissa.
Mr Singh claimed that the BJP will emerge as the single largest party at the national level and even in Orissa it will perform reasonably well.

Backed by Pak’s ISI, Maoists ready to strike

Ajit Kumar - April 22, 2009
MOTIHARI / SHEOHAR — Through different hand-written pamphlets, which were found strewn around in Pakridayal, Patahi, Madhuban, Tetariya and Chiraiya blocks in East Champaran and under Dumri Katsari and Purnahiya blocks in Sheohar, the naxals have given a call for boycotting of election.

Dubbing the elections a “fake exercise”, the pamphlets have urged the people to stay away from the polling process or face the music.

Sources reveal that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) may also use the Maoists to create unrest during the Lok Sabha polls in the two districts. The ISI, which is reportedly supplying arms and ammunitions to this banned outfit, is attempting to destabilise the law and order situation, obstruct the poll process and harm the Indian economy by befriending the extremists.

While the UPA government last December said it did not have inputs to suggest the Naxals links with ISI, it is well known fact that Naxals in North Bihar are involved in fake currency business to generate income for their operations. Intelligence Bureau and investigating agencies have established that fake currency funds terror in India and is being sponsored by ISI. IB officials say there is a whopping Rs 17,000 crore worth of fake currency in circulation in India. While it funds terror organisations, it also helps intensify economic terrorism in the country.

It is also feared that the Tirhut Western Zonal committee of CPI(Maoist) would target candidates for want of ransom. About a year ago, members of the banned outfit held several round of meetings to plan abduction of some politicians and corrupt government officials for ransom.

However, the plan could not materialise as the police had thwarted the outfit’s attempt by arresting several top Maoist leaders. Irked by the police action, three influential Rajputs in Sheohar district, who were reportedly police informers, were recently lynched by the Naxals.

Sheohar SP MA Siddiqui, however, sought to allay fears and said, ”We are constantly monitoring the activities of the Maoists and fully prepared to thwart any attempt to create unrest during the poll process.”

Umesh Kumar, SP of East Champaran, also assured that all precautionary measures have been taken to avoid Naxal attacks during the second phase of polls in the State.

In West Champaran, an IAF helicopter carrying security personnel will be ready to strike at Maoist-infested areas during the polls.

“Armed with sophisticated arms and modern communication tools, these jawans will operate 15 to 20 feet above the ground level, “ District Election officer Dilip Kumar said.

A high alert has also been sounded in Valmikinagar, Bagaha and Ramnagar, Kumar added.

In Muzaffarpur district, select super-cops of CPMF, who received anti-Naxal training in Andhra Pradesh, will be pressed into service during second phase of polls to counter the Naxals’ poll boycott call in Minapur, Shivaipatti, Baroraj, Sahebganj, Paroo Jaitpur, Deoriya and Hathori police station areas.

“So far 19 companies of CPMF have reached the constituencies of Muzaffarpur and Vaishali,” SP Sudhanshu Kumar said.

Small contingents of CPMF have already reached the areas where the Maoists pasted boycott posters.

Naxals take passengers train hostage in Jharkhand

Ranchi: Ahead of phase II of general elections on Thursday, Naxals reportedly took hostage a passenger train going from Barkana to Mugalsarai in Jharkhand.

According to early TV reports, the train which has up to 800 passengers on board, was take over by 7am.

The naxals had earlier called for boycott of the on going elections in Bihar and Jharkhand states.
On April 16, during the Phase I of Lok Sabha election the naxal rebels had killed at least 19 people in Chhattisgarh.

An agency report also claimed that Maoists blew up railway station, school in Jharkhand.

At least 50 rebels of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) bombed Utari Road railway station and also destroyed a nearby track in Palamau district, about 190 km from here, late Tuesday.

Police said the militants had planned to target the New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express, which was to pass through the station 30 minutes after the blast.

The route of the train was diverted after the incident. Railway services were disrupted on the Dehri Onson and Barkakana route.

Maoist rebels also blew up a school and health centre in Narayanpur village in Chatra district Tuesday night. Eighteen government buildings, including nine schools, have been bombed in the last two weeks in the state.

Maoist rebels are active in 18 of the 24 districts of the state. Nearly 1,500 people have been killed in the last eight years in Maoist related violence in the state.

Source: IS, IANS

Four naxal attacks in Bihar, Jharkhand ahead of polling

NDTV Correspondent
Wednesday, April 22, 2009, (Patna)
A day before the country goes to poll in the second phase, four naxal attacks took place in Bihar and Jharkhand late on Tuesday night.
Three of the attacks were in Bihar, Gaya, Aurangabad and Motihari. Naxals set on fire three oil tankers and five trucks on main GT road in Gaya district in Bihar. One truck driver was shot at who is critical and hospitalised.
Police are raiding several places in Gaya. The attack took place at around 2 o'clock on Tuesday morning. Polling however, took place in Gaya on April 16.
Meanwhile, naxals have taken over a polling station in the Aadapur block of Motihari district. They wired it with two bombs. Police are yet to reach at the spot.
In Jharkhand, Maoists blew up Utari railway station in Palamu district minutes before Ranchi-New Delhi Rajdhani Express was to scheduled to pass. Naxals have called for Bihar-Jharkhand bandh on Wednesday.
Naxals blow up community centre in Deo block of Aurangabad district. No causalities have been reported.
Earlier, a day before the first phase of polling, nearly 100 Naxals had attacked the BSF camp in Sasaram district of Bihar.
The company was posted in Dhansa forest area for first phase of polling in the area. Sasaram falls in the Naxal dominated area of Bihar.
Naxals are said to have attacked the BSF company of about 100 jawans with rocket launchers and other ammunition.
In another Naxal attack on the same day, in the neighbouring state of Jharkhand, Maoists blew up a bus carrying CRPF personnel at Latehar.
At least five Naxalites and two CRPF personnel were killed in the attack.
On April 12 night, the Maoists attacked Asia's largest bauxite mine in Orissa's Koraput district. At least 11 CISF jawans and 4 Maoists were killed in the encounter between the two sides. The attackers had escaped with a huge amount of explosives that were kept in the armoury there.
On the day of first phase of Lok Sabha polls, several polling booths in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh were attacked by the Naxalites.
According to reports, 17 people were killed in the Naxal attacks. The Naxals attacked at 12 locations in Dantewada, Latehar, Malkangiri and Rohtas districts.

Maoist rebels hijack train with 700 passengers


New terrorist attack in Jharkhand State on the eve of elections. Police rescue passengers. On the same day other rebel groups hijack and burn nine trucks in Gaya district (Bihar).

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A group of 200 Maoist guerrillas attacked and hijacked a passenger train carrying 700 people in Latehar, Jharkhand State.

The train was going from Barkakana in Jharkhand to Mugalsarai in Uttar Pradesh when it was attacked by the naxal rebels between 7 and 7.30am near Hehegarha railway station in Jharkhand's Latehar district. The Railway Protection Force and 4 army helicopters immediately intervened and succeeded in freeing the hostages who were packed into the train’s 9 carriages.

Also today a group of Maoist rebels hijacked and burned nine trucks in Barachatti, Gaya district in Bihar state, killing one of the drivers who attempted to flee with his load.

Both episodes are attributed to Maoist rebels who are operative in the so-called “red corridor” that crosses Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states. The guerrillas want a boycott of the elections and these attacks come on the eve of the second round of voting in a 5 ballot election to renew the lower house of the Indian national parliament, the Lok Sabha.

Already on April 15th, the day before the beginning of the elections, Maoist rebels killed 18 people, police and electoral officials, in a series of attacks spread throughout localities where elections were due to be held.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Four Maoists held in Orissa

Rayagada (Orissa) (PTI): Four Maoists allegedly involved in the recent attack on Nalco mines were on Tuesday taken into custody at Burukhudu village in Rayagada district.

The four were held in a joint operation by Orissa police and CRPF.

They were allegedly involved in a number of major cases including the recent attack on Nalco mines at Damanjodi and Nayagarh looting incident, Rayagada Superintendent of Police Ashish Kumar Singh said.

The four, including one Uday of Andhra Pradesh belong to Vansadhara zonal commitee of the outlawed CPI(Maoist), he said adding, police seized a pistol, a revolver and some explosives from them.

Spy in sky to aid India’s terror war

M R Venkatesh and Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times

Sriharikota/New Delhi, April 21, 2009
First Published: 01:10 IST(21/4/2009)
Last Updated: 01:13 IST(21/4/2009)

Security forces can now look to the heavens for help in the war against terror.

India on Monday acquired Cold War-style sneak-peek capabilities with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launching a spy satellite from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The all-weather, 24-hour Israeli surveillance satellite will help security agencies monitor the country’s international borders and give early warning about any kind of troop build-up, infiltration attempts and even ballistic missile attacks.

Shortly after the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) put the spy satellite in space, ISRO chief G. Madhavan Nair said snooping on the enemy “was not on the agenda”. That came as no surprise as spying from space has always been kept secret.

A defence ministry official, who did not want to be named, said, “It is one of the most advanced spy satellites that India has ever put into orbit. It will give an edge to the security forces engaged in a hide-and-seek game with terror groups in J&K and Naxalites.”

Dubbed ‘RISAT-2,’ the satellite is capable of seeing through clouds and carrying out day-and-night, all-weather imaging.

Weighing 300 kg, the spy satellite has been developed by the Israeli Aerospace Industries. India had to turn to Israel as ISRO’s spy satellite programme had been delayed.

But some experts raised doubts about its military application. Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd), director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, said, “It is not a satellite in the military class, though it does give some incremental capabilities that will have dual use.”

Nair said it would augment ISRO’s capability for mapping the earth, particularly during floods, cyclones and landslides.

The PSLV-C12 that lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, 90 km north of Chennai, on Monday also carried a 40-kg experimental communication micro-satellite ‘ANUSAT’ built by the Chennai-based Anna University.

Sringeri: Handbills from Nexalites ask people not to vote

SRINGERI, April 21, 2009: This temple town woke up on Tuesday with handbills all over the place, sending shivers in the people. The handbills warned them in stern tone not to vote. The handbills were written by Communist Party of India (Maoists).

One of the copies picked up by the people in town today stated that "Hindus were trying to take over the Hindustan and we should not vote them, Hinduism was destroying culture and were torturing Muslims and Christians, they should not be allowed to come to power" it said.

It warned the people against voting and called on them to help the Maoists come to power in India. The handbills were signed by one Bhaskar who identifies himself as a leader of the CPI(Maoists) of a place called Drakpatha, Nobody has heard or seen such a place, People in Sringeri were afraid to talk to the media persons and said Naxalites carry guns and anytime they can attack them. They were also afraid to tell the police.

On enquiry the media persons have found out that it is not just Sringeri but also other places along the Western Ghats in villages and towns these handbills have been distributed by Naxalites. The towns include Shankaranarayana Belthangady, Agumbe, Mudigere, Kottigehar, Sita Nadi and Venoor.

Our Correspondent

Maoists virtually rule the roost in Jharkhand areas

Sujay Mehdudia

Red Brigade calls for State-wide bandh and poll boycott


Security forces are being deployed intensively

Poll panel have deployed micro-observers


DHANBAD: The fear of violence looms over the second-phase polls in Jharkhand on April 23. The Communist Party of India (Maoists) has now given a call for a Jharkhand Bandh on April 22 to protest the alleged killing of civilians by the Central Reserve Police Force on April 15 in Latehar district.

In an early warning sign to voters and the security forces, Maoists blew up a school building on Monday. At Khukhra village under Pirtand police station in Giridih district, they left notes asking the people to boycott the polls.

The Red Brigade is asserting itself in the Santhal-Pargana tribal belt and parts of Chotta Nagpur by calling for a boycott of voting in eight Lok Sabha constituencies. Maoist graffiti is found at major points in villages. Posters ask the people not to vote and warn of consequences for those who defy the diktat.

The security forces are on tenterhooks following the bandh-boycott call. The forces are being deployed intensively but the numbers involved have not been disclosed.

The Election Commission is understood to have deployed micro-observers and asked for an enhanced security presence in the troubled areas. The forces have been told not to move in heavy vehicles, and to walk to polling stations from their camps for fear of landmines on roads.

In the Giridih constituency, security officials are alarmed by the proliferation of posters and graffiti, and distribution of leaflets, by the Maoists in nearly 17 panchayat areas of Pirtand block. One of the wall writings in a government middle school on Dimri-Giridih roads asks villagers to boycott polls. In Madhuban town even temples sport posters and banners. The Maoists have told candidates not to campaign. Although village residents acknowledge the Maoist threat, they are reluctant to discuss it.

The situation is similar in parts of the Dumka, Dhanbad and Singhbhum Lok Sabha constituencies: the Red Brigade virtually rules the roost here. Armed Maoists unleashed violence in Jharkhand on April 15, the day before the first phase of parliamentary elections. They attacked camps of the BSF and ambushed a bus, killing seven people.

Maoists blow up school

Pirtand (Giridih), April 20: Maoists blew up a school at Pirtand, about 34km from the district headquarters, late yesterday night, but spared a part of the building so that classes were not disrupted.

With the second phase of polls only 72 hours away, Maoists are making themselves heard, and this time in their hotbed — Khukhra village under Pirtand police station.

The Maoists, about 40-50 in number, had visited the Khukhra Middle School (established 1906) on Saturday night, warning villagers of blowing it up. They had put up posters criticising the police of camping in an educational institution before the polls. The school will be housing two booths — 301 and 302 — for the second phase of polling. The police have been camping on the premises for some time.

After blowing up a major part of the school in two blasts, the Maoists stayed there for a few hours and wrote slogans on the walls — Police aati hai aur school mein dera dalti hai, waah re waah (The police have taken over schools now); Kisi bhi vidyalaya mein police dera dalegi hum use udaa denge (Schools where the police start camping will be blown up).

The villagers are naturally disturbed over the incident. “Now, no one would come here to study, even my patience has failed. I have seen these incident five times,” said president of the Gram Shiksha Samiti, Bindeshwary Pandey.

Khukhra Middle School is important in the region as former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had addressed its students in 1981.

Two years ago, the school had got a new building. In 2006, the building was blown up by Maoists, after the police made it a regular picket. “It is happening because of the police. For the past few years there was no trouble and the school was also functioning smoothly,” the 89-year-old president said.

The new school had nine classrooms and a community centre. About 457 children from eight villages study here.

Forget naxalites, here’s a real jumbo problem

Sujay Mehdudia

The Maoists may have hogged the headlines in these elections, but in the forests of Jharkhand bordering West Bengal and Orissa, it’s the elephants that are a bigger problem.

Ever since Jharkhand became an independent State in 2000, rampaging elephant herds in the forest areas have claimed nearly 800 lives. They are a source of concern to the authorities conducting the polls in tribal areas.
In fact, even the city of Jamshedpur has not been left untouched; all along the Dumka, Sahibgang, Jamshedpur-Dumka and Chaibasa belt and in the Shikaripada and Jamtara areas, the jumbo problem is a serious one, and the villagers are demanding protection from the animals.

The herds march through the jungle areas unhindered and destroy standing crops, houses and claim human lives on their way. People in these areas live in fear, and despite efforts by the administration to deal with the situation, nothing has changed for them. “The State has a forest cover of around 32 per cent and this enviable situation has become a curse for the villagers living in the forest tracts along the borders of West Bengal and Orissa,” according to Raj Singh Munda of Singhbhum.

People say that given a choice between the Maoists and elephants, they would prefer to kill the latter first. Although the price rise, law and order, development, power, roads and water are major issues, the most important issue here is the elephant menace. Forest officials said that people were being supplied kerosene oil to burn when the elephants approach their villages, but that this does not always work.

A proposal for getting Kumki elephants from Orissa to train the rampaging elephants has been hanging fire for years. People often spend the nights on trees out of fear; there are cases where women have delivered babies on makeshift tree houses.

Of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in the State, the elephant menace is a major issue in at least five: Ranchi, Khunti, Hazaribagh, Chaibasa (Singhbhum) and Dumka. Of the total 24 districts of the State, at least 13 districts are affected. In many areas the villagers have put up posters demanding action from political parties and the administration for their tusker-related problems. Although political parties have in the past promised action, nothing has changed. The villagers are no longer ready to believe in promises. What they want is action.

Printer friendly page