Saturday, June 27, 2009

In time of recession, Naxalites go on recruitment spree

manoj chaurasia

PATNA, 27 JUNE: Even as the continuing global economic meltdown has led to curtailment in job opportunities, Maoists in Bihar are making the most of the situation.

Unemployed youths are being lured ~ with a promise of a salary of Rs 2,500 to Ra 3,000 a month ~ to join as cadres. The monthly package as announced by the Communist Party of India-Maoist ~ now declared a terrorist outfit by the Union home ministry ~ is comparable to what is paid to some government employees, such as the nyay mitras (law aides), shiksha mitras and panchayat teachers recently recruited by the Nitish Kumar government.

The matter came to light after local police, during a raid in the Bhim dam area in eastern Bihar’s Munger district stumbled upon some posters advertising for new recruits. According to Intelligence sources more than 500 top Maoists have been arrested or killed during intensive combing operations launched in Bihar and neighbouring Jharkhand, and the present recruitment drive by the Maoists is aimed at strengthening the organisation.

The Maoists have been using the forest corridors that link south Bihar’s Jamui district bordering Jharkhand to Orissa, to train the cadres so that they can match the paramilitary forces during combat. “How is their number swelling if they do not recruit more youths. The pay package announced by them is a good one. We are keeping a close watch on their activities”, the DIG (Munger Range) Mr Amit Kumar told The Statesman.

The Bihar government has recruited nyay mitras (law aides) in gram kutchery (village courts) at a monthly pay of Rs 2,500. Likewise, shiksha mitras and panchayat teachers have been appointed on a contractual basis on a paltry monthly salary ranging from Rs 2,500 to Rs 4,000 ~ less than what is currently paid to Group-D staff in permanent government jobs. The Maoists’ offer, thus, is obviously inviting to many educated employable youths who have failed to find jobs elsewhere, said a police official who requested anonymity

The secret life of foreign secretaries

MJ Akbar

28 Jun 2009, 0024 hrs IST, M J Akbar

Secret extra-terrestrial sources, with reliable knowledge of the future, have revealed the full text of the dialogue between the Indian Foreign
Secretary (IFS) and the Pakistan Foreign Secretary (PFS)
on the sidelines of the next non-aligned summit. We offer this exclusive to our readers:

IFS: Hi! All well, my friend?

PFS: (Shrugs) Is sarcasm your normal opening gambit, or do you reserve it for the Indo-Pak dialogue?

IFS: We don’t do sarcasm in Delhi, not with a monsoon lost in transit.

PFS: You could have fooled me. As for all being well vis-a-vis the Taliban, read the papers. Your chaps getting on well with that little war against the Naxalites?

IFS: Well, at least our intelligence agencies didn’t fund the Naxalites to kill innocents and blow up hotels in Pakistan.

PFS: Actually, we are quite good at that ourselves; don’t need foreign expertise. Frankly, the Taliban were a terrible investment. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you...

IFS: The bite hasn’t got septic, has it?

PFS: Well... shall I be honest?

IFS: That would be such a pleasant change.

PFS: Very droll... You do seem to have acquired a splendid sense of humour since we last met. Very nice. Not in the manual for foreign secretaries, is it?

IFS: Ha ha. I take your point, however. Every country in our heavenly subcontinent is trapped in a desperate civil war — apart maybe from dear little Bhutan. Time for a little cooperation, then?

PFS: Precisely what I was thinking! We always have been the biggest poverty pit in the world — that’s where the Naxalites come from, isn’t it? Now we are also the bloodiest.

IFS: Not to mention the blood of innocents. Your only consistent export to India is terrorists. You ramp up the supply or scale it down depending on your political GDP requirements. You got a bit defensive after Mumbai, but you’ve put them back in business, haven’t you?

PFS: You give us too much credit. These militias have their own agenda. And unless you settle the root cause, Kashmir...

IFS: It seems to have escaped your notice that for the world — including your ally America — that this ‘‘root cause’’ argument has long crossed its sell-by date. You want to get stuck on this, we might as well use the rest of our time discussing which movie you last saw.

PFS: Saw a sexy picture of Angelina Jolie the other day in one of your newspapers! Wow! Our newspapers are so vegetarian compared to yours. It’s those mullahs, I’m afraid. Will neither have fun themselves nor let us have a bit on the side.

IFS: Oh, we’re getting some moral police as well, but our elections sort them out, so that’s a relief. You are good at changing the subject, my friend, but won’t work. Why do you get collective amnesia when it comes to Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Prof Hafeez Mohammad Saeed and his associate Colonel Nazir Ahmed? They were released because you ‘‘forgot’’ to include al-Qaida in your list of terrorist organizations! The lawyer you deputed for Sarbjit Singh ‘‘forgot’’ to appear in court. Forgot! Do lawyers get paid extra for forgetting?

PFS: Ah, the familiar blame game. Why don’t we move on? We are ready for demilitarized zones on both sides of the border — say five miles on either side. That would send such a massive signal of peace, and take your Army off the backs of the Kashmiri people as well. You don’t want me to dwell on that bit, do you, after Shopian? DMZs could enable Kashmiris to share electricity, get on with trade and increase travel on basis of special travel permits.

IFS: All so convenient: our Army moves away so that your surrogate militias and self-styled jihadis can breathe more easily. Simultaneously, you want us to dilute symbols of Indian sovereignty wherever possible. But you will not compromise on your absolutist stand. Why don’t we declare the Line of Control the border and really get on with life? That would close the chapter, and bring peace.

PFS: Peace! What a brilliant thought! But we can’t accept the LoC as the border. It would only mean that for 60 years we have fought for nothing.

IFS: I know it, and you know it, that the LoC is the only answer. The rest is keeping the ball in play to fool the world if not to fool ourselves.

PFS: (Gently) That’s not our decision, is it?

IFS: True.

PFS: (Smiles) Tell me, how long will it take if our political masters really want peace?

IFS: About six minutes.

PFS: And how long if we keep talking the way we did?

IFS: Another 60 years.

PFS: Touche! See you at the next meeting!

Maoists loot SBI branch in Orissa

Bhubaneswar (PTI): Armed Maoists looted about Rs six lakh from a State Bank of India branch in Orissa's Koraput district after assaulting its guard and staff, police said on Saturday.

About a dozen Maoists, armed with sophisticated weapons, struck late last night and overpowered the lone security guard posted at the bank located in Machkund, about 530 km from here, they said.

The naxals also assaulted the guard and staff of the bank.

All the roads leading to the bank had been blocked by the ultras who had felled a large number of trees in a bid to prevent police and security personnel from moving to the spot easily, police said.

Chidambaram's anti-Naxal plan will find solution: Jaiswal

Published: June 27,2009

Chidambaram's anti-Naxal plan will find solution: Jaiswal Ranchi

The anti- Naxal plan being drawn up by the Centre would definitely bring a concrete solution to the Maoist problem in the country, said a union minister today.

" Home Minister P Chidambaram is drawing up a full plan for this and I expect a concrete solution to this problem in future," Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, who was a former MoS for Home Affairs, told a news conference here." Violence cannot bring about any solution. I have repeatedly been saying about shunning the path of violence. Then only a solution can be found,"he said.

Jaiswal met Governor Syed Sibtey Razi and discussed illegal mining, forest and environment clearance to speed up coal production in the Naxal-infested state under President's rule and laying of railway tracks among others. Concerned over repeated shutdowns in Jharkhand, the minister advocated the need of early completion of laying railway tracks near CIL command areas so that public sectors would not have to depend on trucks for coal transportation.

Truckers always choose to stay off roads during shutdowns for fear of attacks, affecting coal transportation." Rail connectivity will help coal transportation in Jharkhand where there are frequent bandhs," Jaiswal said without naming any of the bandh callers. The Maoists recently observed 48-hour bandh in five states, including Jharkhand.

Source: PTI

SER suspends mineral transportation

E xpress News Service First Published : 27 Jun 2009 10:44:07 AM ISTLast Updated :

ROURKELA: The South Eastern Railway (SER) has suspended mineral transportation through the Rourkela-Bimlagarh route since last night following the 48-hour economic blockade call given by the banned CPI (Maoist) outfit.

While mineral carrying road vehicles plied normally in the mineral-rich Bonai sub-division of Sundargarh district till today evening, it is likely that they would go off roads from tomorrow.

The protest effective from today over Lalgarh issue in West Bengal is the third this month and comes close on the heels of the 48-hour Naxal-sponsored shutdown four days ago.

The Rourkela-Bimlagarh single track link, which extends till Kiriburu mines in neighbouring Jharkhand is the lifeline for transportation of iron ore from various mines in Bonai sub-division.

While Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) owns the Kiriburu, Roxy and Barsuan railway sidings, the Renjda, Chandiposh and Bimlagarh sidings cater to the need of private iron and steel industries which means supply of iron ore to SAIL’s Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP), Durgapur Steel Plant and Bokaro Steel Plant, to some extent, besides private industries would remain disrupted.

The SER has reasons to play safe. It is increasingly a hostile affair to shield the track passing through forested and hilly terrains. On February 27 night two SER men were kidnapped and a couple of years ago two locomotives were set on fire at Topadihi to tame the SER.

Earlier, on June 12 night during similar shutdown Maoists blew up tracks near Chandiposh station in which empty good trains escaped the explosion.

Orissa steps up measures to tackle Maoist menace

Vinay Kumar

Nearly half of 30 districts are hit by Maoist activities

Anti-extremist training schools to be set up

Resource centre of the SOG being set up

KORAPUT: Concerned over the increasing activities of Maoist cadres, the Orissa government is gearing up to tackle the menace by clubbing together development programmes with security measures.

Maoist activities have affected nearly half of the 30 districts, of which 10 are facing a serious situation. Though senior police officials say that Maoist cadres are mainly “exported” from Chhattisgarh and the adjoining Andhra Pradesh, they admit that some local recruitment has also started.

Traditionally known to enjoy an easy lifestyle with minimum basic needs, people in Orissa have been shaken by the increase in violent activities of the Left wing extremists. The people are not known to be aggressive and fierce fighters. “Even in the Army they take up jobs in signal corps, canteen, but they never opt for infantry,” commented a senior police official.

Four committees active

As many as four committees of Maoists — the Andhra Pradesh-Orissa border special zone committee, the Dandakarniya special zone committee, the Bengal-Jharkhand-Orissa border committee and the Orissa State committee — are said to be active in Orissa but the leadership is being provided by the Andhra Pradesh-Orissa committee.

Realising that it has become a “full-fledged guerrilla warfare,” Orissa has stepped up measures to tackle Left wing extremism. The State is setting up two counter-insurgency, anti-extremist training schools, one in Bhubaneshwar and the other in Koraput, at a total cost of Rs.3 crore.

In addition, a resource centre of the Special Operations Group (SOG) is also being established. The State Police, with a total strength of about 50,000 personnel, is making anti-extremist training compulsory for all new recruits.

The Centre has given Rs.1.5 crore each for the two counter-insurgency schools for basic accommodation and training hall and has also agreed to provide Rs.1.5 crore as salary component every year for the next four years. A retired colonel of the Army and 18 Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) are being entrusted with the rigorous training of police recruits in counter-insurgency tactics. The new facilities would be able to train nearly 1,500 police personnel in a year.

After his two-day visit to Koraput and Kandhamal districts and a review meeting with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Friday that it would take a while before a motivated State police force was able to take on Maoist cadres head on. He said that naxal problem was neglected for the last 10 years and added that it would be a long time before the menace was eradicated.

While ruling out Army action in anti-naxal operations, he said that the State police was competent to handle the situation. The State had asked for seven more battalions (about 7,000 troops) of the Central paramilitary forces to tackle the Maoists. Currently, there are four battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force.

Not well placed

Senior State police officials sought to draw a comparison with Chhattisgarh, where the worst-affected Dantewada district had a presence of 44 companies of the Central forces while Orissa’s worst-hit Malkangiri district had only four companies. Orissa has only 92 policemen per lakh population as against the national average of 142 policemen.

The State police has recruited about 4,000 constables over the past six months and the process of their training has started.

Development could have thwarted Maoists

28 Jun 2009, 0448 hrs IST, TNN

Hargram subdivision (or Jangalmahal) has been in the news ever since the November '08 Maoist attack on the chief minister's convoy. After that, local police foolishly made some indiscriminate arrests (including three schoolchildren and an Adivasi woman), triggering the Lalgarh tribal agitation under the People's Committee against Police Atrocity (PCPA)'s banner.

Maoists entered Lalgarh through PCPA, consolidated their hold and rapidly spread their influence. CPM activists, who were the only obstacle, were forced to quit the party; many were beaten up or killed. The government, having faced a drubbing in the panchayat elections, only watched. The Opposition and some intellectuals made things worse for the government by resisting administrative action. PCPA eve refused to let the Lok Sabha election take place.

Only after the election did the state government seek the Centre's help and a joint action was launched.

The successive governments in Bengal are solely responsible for the Lalgarh mess. As Midnapore SP, I toured the area extensively during 1989-91. After 30 years of Congress rule and 32 years of Left rule, no development has happened.

There are no roads here, save those connecting police stations. Four primary health centres exist, but there are no doctors. People must travel 10 to 15 miles through the forest to reach the subdivision hospital. Government funds were mostly gobbled up by panchayat leaders.

Drinking water, healthcare and fair price of forest products would have done wonders.

But then, even after Amlasole, the government did not rise to the occasion. During my tenure, I pointed out the state of affairs to a CPM leader. His reply was shocking: "Why develop the area when the voters are Jharkhandis?" The area was already boiling against the establishment. To a point, people supported the Jharkhand Party (Naren). But they, too, failed to deliver. The people were eagerly waiting for a platform to vent their ire. Now they had the PCPA. Ironically, the locals have now fallen prey to Maoists and are caught between the insurgents and government forces.

Before the PCPA movement, the Maoists came from Jharkhand, did their action and returned. During the last eight months of the PCPA's movement (when police were completely barred), Maoists established their base involving local youths, who mostly sold forest goods and sal leaves.

Now things have come to such a pass that it won't be easy to combat the uprising.

The Maoists have already found footholds in Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The forces may have set up camps at strategic points, but this won't deter the Maoists.

Like the Grey Hounds of Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal should have raised at least three or four special battalions. If they begin now, another two years will pass before force graduates. This, alongside the much-needed development work, could still help. Better late than never!

Pratibha Nath Saha

(The writer is an IPS officer, who served as Midnapore SP in the early '90s)

Orissa police clears Maoist road-blockades

June 28th, 2009 - 11:43 am

Bhubaneswar, June 28 (IANS) About 125 villages under the Narayan Patna block of Koraput district, which were cut off from the rest of Orissa by Maoist guerrillas, have been made accessible, police said Sunday.
Of the three roads blocked by the rebels June 16, one road was cleared Saturday. The Maoist guerrillas fell more than 30 trees on the roads disconnecting Narayan Patna block from the district headquarters of Koraput.

“One road has been cleared. We hope to clear the other roads in the next few days,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Sanjeeb Panda told IANS.

“A large number of personnel of the Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) began work on the road three days ago and cleared it by Saturday evening,” he said.

The block of villages in Koraput, about 500 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, has a population of over 40,000. Of them, 31,000 are tribals.

The workers were reluctant to clear the tree logs after nine policemen who attempted to clear the roads were killed June 18 by the guerrillas. The policemen were travelling in a jeep near Narayan Patna to clear the roads when the blast occurred. All of them died on the spot.

“Now the region is accessible. Deepak Kumar (district superintendent of police) also visited the site and the block headquarter of Narayan Patna to take stock of the situation after the road was cleared,” Panda said.

The Narayan Patna block of Koraput district is a Maoist stronghold. Hundreds of acres of farm land was forcibly occupied by Maoist supporters from the non-tribals by hoisting red flags.

Hundreds of non-tribals have already left their homes as Maoists unleashed a reign of terror in the area.

Ammo haul from village pond

Raipur, June 27: The Chhattisgarh police recovered about 270 cartridges from a pond in Durg district yesterday evening, about 25km from the state capital. They suspect Maoists dumped the ammunition.

Sources said a villager found an unclaimed gunny bag lying in a pond in Charoda village of Durg district. The villager informed senior Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel, who was in the village on an official visit at that time.

When villagers opened the bag, they were stunned to find cartridges inside. Baghel immediately informed Durg SP Deepanshu Kabra, who rushed with senior police officers to the site. “The cartridges are of 12 and 315 bore rifles, which are largely used by Maoists,” Kabra said.

Baghel has demanded a CBI probe.

Salvo at allies

Calcutta, June 27: The Maoists today slammed the CPM’s allies for failing to pull out of the government in protest against the decision to enforce the central ban on the rebels and the joint Centre-state crackdown in Lalgarh.

In an open letter to parties such as the RSP, CPI and the Forward Bloc, the Maoists’ eastern region spokesperson, Surya, accused them of shedding “crocodile tears” while playing “opportunistic politics” and mouthing “doublespeak” over the ban.

“You raised a hue and cry over Singur and Nandigram but failed to rebel against the fascist politics of the CPM and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government,” Surya wrote.

Reacting to the charges, the CPM allies sounded apologetic. “We still think of the Maoists as friends. Even when Naxalites attacked us in the 1970s, we didn’t ask for a ban. But we are opposed to their wrong politics and appeal to them to come back to the democratic fold,” Bloc veteran Ashok Ghosh said.

Rebels signal tactical retreat


Goaltore, June 27: The Maoists tonight scrambled to save face after the soft surrender of “stronghold” Ramgarh but appeared to be preparing the ground for a “temporary” withdrawal from the entire battle zone.

A rebel leader claimed the retreat from Ramgarh was a “tactical” and “honourable” one and promised a stronger fight in the coming days.

He, however, conceded that the security forces could recapture the whole of Lalgarh, forcing the Maoists “to leave for Jharkhand for the time being”.

Before leaving, the rebels would explain their compulsions to the villagers — whom they had promised to “protect” from police — at secret meetings while pledging to return once the central forces left, he told The Telegraph.

Such a meeting was held tonight at Kantapahari, still under Maoist control, where the rebels met the villagers under the banner of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities. Committee leader Chhatradhar Mahato told families not to leave their village if the forces recaptured it, adding: “Our activities will pick up once the central forces have left.”

The Maoist leader who spoke to this newspaper claimed the government forces would face a tougher fight when they march northwards from Lalgarh town to Ramgarh (today’s advance was westwards from Kadashole). He acknowledged the rebels needed to put up “as stiff a resistance as possible” so the villagers would not feel “let down”.

“We have won their confidence; they have some expectations from us. If we don’t put up any resistance, we shall lose goodwill.” He said that when the police start advancing from Lalgarh, they would be attacked from the deserted mud huts in roadside villages and from trenches dug near ponds. “We shall put up stiff resistance in our strongholds at Barapelia, Dalilpur Chowk and Kantapahari.”

Today’s retreat from Ramgarh was tactical, he claimed, because “we were not equipped to beat back such a massive force carrying sophisticated weaponry”. It was also honourable because “at least we managed to detonate an explosive and engage the police in a firefight”.

He admitted a “tactical mistake”, though. “If we had detonated our IED only after the police had entered deep into the jungle, there would definitely have been casualties. Unfortunately, we detonated it when the police were just entering the jungle.”

A step into forest, shots ring out

- Troops sanitise jungle villages

Kadashole, June 27: Troops on the Maoist trail entered the Kadashole forest today, making their first attempt to engage the rebels in the jungles.

The retaliatory firing was instant.

The jawans immediately hit the ground, fired in the direction of the enemy and launched a mortar.

The scene and the action were repeated several times in the next three hours, for most of which the jawans crawled along the forest floor between thorny bushes.

The 200 jawans, mostly from the central forces, carried automatic rifles, rocket launchers and mortars. They entered the forest around 8am, looking to sanitise it while their comrades set out on the road to Ramgarh along the battle zone’s northern axis.

This was not the troops’ first entry into a forest in an area that has many forests. Last week, they had trekked 4km through the Jhitka jungles on their way to Lalgarh from Bhimpur along the southern axis, fearing a Maoist behind every tree. But nothing happened.

The decision to enter the Kadashole forest was finalised at a meeting this morning between the deputy inspector-general (CID operations), S.N. Gupta, and CRPF commandant Pankaj.

“We had to enter the forest after the Maoists fired from there yesterday,” an officer said. “We had to take the offensive, else there would have been fierce resistance from them.”

Satellite pictures forwarded by the military intelligence had shown clusters of people in the Kadashole jungles. The troops believe they were Maoists. “So there was no option other than entering the forest and taking them on,” the officer said.

While the troops were in the forest, a helicopter hovered overhead trying to scan the area for Maoist movement.

The jawans used 51mm mortars to clear the way. “The mortars are powerful,” an officer said. “They have a range of 400-500m. After one of them lands, anyone within 50sqft of it would be dead and those within a 450sqft area would be badly injured.”

An hour and a half into the operation, the troops came across a village deep in the forest. They fired, suspecting that rebels were hiding there, but there was no response.

They surrounded the village and fired in the air a couple of times. The village had been deserted. A single white flag fluttered in a courtyard.

“Maybe it was put up by a frightened villager when he learnt we were advancing,” an officer said.

It seemed the villagers, or the Maoists, had fled only a short while ago. The cattle were still tethered and the chicken scuttled around.

The troops moved forward again, to be greeted by more firing. But the jawans sanitised three more deserted villages: Napitpara, Bandhgara, Bhuinyapur.

After the three-hour operation, the troops emerged from the forest at Tentultala, about 3km from Kadashole, called back after having gone “too far” into the jungles.

Illegal opium trade could be funding Red terror

28 Jun 2009, 0455 hrs IST, Pradeep Thakur, TNN

NEW DELHI: The government seems to be drawing a parallel between rising acreage of illegal opium cultivation and the mounting terror of Red ultras
both now spread across a dozen-odd states. Sporadic reports, coinciding with anti-narcotics operations, suggest that part of the proceeds from the illicit trade goes into funding Maoist insurgency.

Weeks before the Red ultras called for a bandh in five states to protest against the ongoing crackdown by paramilitary forces, the Director General Central Economic Intelligence Bureau had written to all chief secretaries and heads of anti-narcotics agencies and departments concerned urging them to initiate steps to eradicate cultivation of illicit opium that has now spread over 10 states.

The Centre had provided satellite images and shared other inputs pinpointing areas where opium crop was grown on large tracts running into thousands of hectares.

The government had asked the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), under the home ministry, to provide coordinates such states Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and Karnataka. The areas in the first four states where illicit opium cultivation has been reported are wracked by Maoist insurgency. Security agencies don't rule out the fact that Maoists are not only benefiting from the illicit trade but in many parts the crop is being cultivated under their supervision.

The Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN), under the department of revenue in the finance ministry which oversees legitimate cultivation of opium in the country, has been asked to provide coordinates for five hill states of Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal, J&K, Uttarakhand and Manipur.

Last week, the CBN, excise officials and state police were involved in an operation to destroy illicit cultivation of opium poppy on 1,100 hectares in Pulwama district in J&K. Just before the J&K action, officials had destroyed illicit crop on 600 hectares in similar cleanup operations in Himachal Pradesh. Both the J&K and Himachal crops were enough to produce several tonnes of Afghan-variety heroin worth millions of dollars in the European market.

The wide cultivation is believed to have now spread across six districts in the state reflecting badly on the government's anti-narcotics checks. Agencies had earlier carried out operations in West Bengal, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh among other states and destroyed crops over thousands of hectares. In West Bengal's Midnapore and Nadia districts, CBN had destroyed crops over 6,500 hectares in 2007.

Rebels claim ‘tactical’ loss


Goaltore, June 27: A Maoist leader tonight claimed the retreat from Ramgarh was a “tactical” and “honourable” one and threatened a stronger fight in the coming days.

It was tactical because “we knew we were not equipped to beat back such a massive force carrying sophisticated weaponry”, he told The Telegraph.

It was honourable because “at least we managed to detonate an explosive and engage the police in a firefight”.

But the Maoist leader insisted that the state and central forces would face stiff resistance when they marched northwards from Lalgarh town to Ramgarh (today’s advance was westwards from Kadashole).

“We too have firepower,” he said. “We shall put up strong resistance in our strongholds at Barapelia, Dalilpur Chowk and Kantapahari.”

He said the Maoists needed to put up a fight so as not to disappoint the villagers and lose “goodwill”, but accepted they might eventually have to cede the entire Lalgarh zone. “But the central forces will not stay here for ever. When they go, we will return,” he said.

The Maoist leader added that the rebels made a “tactical mistake” today. “If we had detonated our IED (improvised explosive device) after the police had entered deep inside the jungle, there would certainly have been casualties. Unfortunately, we detonated it when the police were just entering the jungle.”

The rebel leader said that when the police march from Lalgarh towards Ramgarh, they would be attacked from the deserted mud huts in the villages along the road, as well as from trenches near ponds.

Those guerrillas who have retreated from the jungles along the Kadashole-Ramgarh stretch will now join their comrades stationed in Barapelia, Dalilpur Chowk and Kantapahari, he said.

The police today did advance a couple of kilometres northwards from Lalgarh but then turned back.

The Maoist leader said that even if the forces eventually recaptured the whole of Lalgarh, forcing the rebels “to leave for Jharkhand for the time being”, even that would be a tactical retreat.

Before leaving, the Maoists would explain their reasons to the villagers at small, secret meetings, and promise that “we would be back to fight for them,” the rebel leader said.

Maoists offer token fight, melt away

28 Jun 2009, 0443 hrs IST, Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay, TNN

RAMGARH: The resistance the forces encountered in the Maoist stronghold of Mohultol was rather tame. A burst of gunfire followed by three IED blasts
was all the rebels had to show. It wasn't enough to deter the forces.

Firing mortars (a CRPF officer said they were merely smoke canisters) in the direction from which the firing had come, the jawans surged ahead. The biggest hurdle that they encountered was the half-hour torrential downpour, around 11.30 am.

At the end of the forest, police found Maoist posters with an 18-point charter of demands in Shirishboni hamlet. These included punishment to those who had carried out atrocities' against villagers after the Salboni mine blast last year and an apology from the then West Midnapore SP. It also demanded Rs 2 lakh fine from CPM leaders.

As the joint forces moved on, two landmines weighing 3 kg each and armed with double detonators were detected and defused. One of them was wrapped in a four-day old newspaper, indicating that it had been planted only recently.

A little later, the force came across posters warning the public not to walk on the road as it had been rigged with mines. However, no mine was detected. "It's all delaying tactics. They don't have the guts to confront us and are pulling off these stunts to delay the inevitable," an officer said.

Next came Tentultala forest, another tricky patch of dense jungle. Even as the jawans ventured in, firing began and a mine was triggered. CRPF resorted to mortar shelling. The Maoists slunk away. The march progressed, only to halt at a culvert where a wire lay across the road. But it turned out to be a false alarm.

After Tentultala, there was hardly any resistance. The next two villages Shiartola and Alamdanga were deserted. Around 1.30 pm, the forces marched into Ramgarh, a town where armed Maoists patrolled the streets in broad daylight just a few hours earlier. The guerrillas had fled after torching a CPI office.

Saturday's operations enabled police to return to Ramgarh after a fortnight's hiatus when they were forced to flee after the phari was set on fire. Though the journey had been without any major hurdles, DIG CID (operations) Siddhinath Gupta, who led the force into Ramgarh, warned that the next phase from Ramgarh to Lalgarh, 18 km away, could be tougher. On the way are several other Maoist strongholds like Barapelia, Chotopelia and Kantapahari.

Guerrilla war brings LMGs to villages

28 Jun 2009, 0434 hrs IST, Nirmalya Banerjee, TNN

KOLKATA: Nagaland has witnessed it in the past, but in West Bengal, it is a new experience: the use of mortars and light machine guns in inhabited
areas. Unlike in Nagaland, however, in Bengal, the reaction of the civil society to such actions by security forces have so far been muted.

Though directed against armed groups, the use of such infantry weapons with a high rate of fire and a lethal killing zone leaves the possibility of civilian casualties, the reason why civil societies have reacted. Though security force officials argued that collateral damage was unavoidable in situations where armed groups were entrenched in civilian areas.

Surprisingly, there have not been many casualties in Lalgarh. According to eyewitnessnes, one reason could be that most of the villagers had fled from the area before police entered. Also, the firings were often made from too long a range. By contrast, seven people were killed in Mokokchong town in Nagaland in December 1994 in gun and mortar fire and eight in Kohima in March 1995.

The newly floated Lalgarh Mancha organized a dharna and a procession in Kolkata on Saturday in protest against operations by security forces in Nagaland. But the protests have been muted in comparison to the aftermath of the police action in Nandigram in March 2007.

Human rights activist Sujato Bhadra drew a distinction between Nandigram and Lalgarh. According to him, the involvement of Maoists in the movement launched by PCPA in Lalgarh could have prompted some civil rights activists to distance themselves from the protests. "After all, Maoists are also killing people and blasting landmines," he pointed out. The fact that an anti-terrorist act was in place could also be a reason why people were careful. But he felt the force used by the government in the Lalgarh operation had been wholly out of proportion in comparison with the firepower of the Maoists.

Writer Mahasweta Devi asserted that members of the civil society would put their acts together on July 4, when a number of organizations would assemble on the Lalgarh issue. She demanded the withdrawal of police and CRPF from Lalgarh. According to her, the Lalgarh movement was basically a resistance movement by common tribal people, spearheaded by PCPA.

The veteran writer, who had worked among the tribals of Midnapore for a long time, felt the real reason for the Lalgarh operation was to take possession of tribal land in the area, to hand it over to an industrial house for the construction of a special economic zone. Common tribals were, therefore, at the receiving end of the police operation, she said.

Locals reveal Maoist terror tales

28 Jun 2009, 0446 hrs IST, Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay, TNN

RAMGARH: Her son and daughter-in-law had fled to Midnapore town on June 15, the day when Maoists torched Ramgarh police station. But septuagenarian
Renu Ray refused to leave her homestead land at Amladanga. Since then, the old woman is living by herself, with hardly anything to eat.

Her eyes glistened with hope as security forces marched past Alamdanga, the village close to Ramgarh. She welcomed the forces, but at the same time, was afraid of the consequences after they withdrew from the area. "I am cut off from my family, and the world outside. My landphone is dead and BSNL employees don't tread to this dreaded place. I am here taking care of the cattle that my son has left behind. The Maoists have been a curse upon us. Grocers won't open the shops lest PCPA men charge them hefty amounts. Some upped the shutters only today, when news spread that the central forces were coming to the area. But that was only for half an hour. They were closed as soon as the Maoists arrived at the market. I walked all the way from home to buy rations and didn't get any," Ray said.

This seems to be the other facet of the Maoist-dominated People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA), that had unleashed a reign of fear in the area to counter police terror. The disgruntled opened up only after the security forces marched into the area.

Another retired government employee, living in the area, grumbled over the extortions going on for all these months. "I am a retired government employee and survive on pension. These men would not spare me even. I had to give Rs 500 every month to these people who came to my house with guns. It's good that the forces have come to our rescue. They will come back again when forces leave the place," the retired employee said.

This was the common refrain among the womenfolk who were left at the mercy of PCPA, while the youths in the families fled from the villages. Jharna Das of Amladanga recounted how PCPA men forced them to join their meetings. "They won't allow us to venture out after sundown. The PCPA took control of the villages in the evening and asked us to join their meetings. They rebuked us if we didn't turn up in the meeting. Such was the rule. Our relatives stopped coming to our place," said Das.

Meet Sukumar Soren of Mohultol. A jawan of the state armed police posted at Barrackpore, Sukumar is now under cover. "I have not disclosed my identity here. What do I do? I have sent my wife and children to Sarenga. I am living here alone to protect my home and cattle. I don't want any confrontation with PCPA," said Soren.

There is no one to care for elderly residents such as Lakshmi Tudu (70) of Shiertola village, left to fate with her ailing husband for the last fortnight. "We are surviving on forest roots and kalmi sag. Buses have stopped plying since a fortnight. I can't take my husband to Goaltore, 10 km from here. Two days ago I pleaded with the local grocers to give me some rice. They refused, out of fear," Lakshmi said.

Sweets & smiles for jawans

28 Jun 2009, 0456 hrs IST, Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay, TNN

RAMGARH: As the security forces approached Ramgarh after fighting off Maoist ambushes, they saw hordes of villagers mostly women gathering at the
outskirts. The jawans tensed for another human shield. When they marched closer, however, they saw smiles on the villagers' faces, and tumblers of water in their hands.

A cheer went up as the forces entered the rain swept lanes of the village. Every policeman was served a glass of water, food and sweets by villagers. And, there was no trace of the PCPA.

It was the huge number of women gathering in the fields that set the forces on the edge as they approached Ramgarh. Resistance with the use of human shields was, after all, too fresh on their minds, having encountered such situations during operations in Kadashole, Amladanga and Shiartola. Not liking the prospect of fighting villagers yet again, they advanced cautiously for the last 1 km, with an obvious show of strength, hoping to scare the mob' into retreating.

Only when they came to within 200 metres did the security forces realize that none in the waiting crowd was armed. Instead of resisting them, the villagers welcomed them with open arms. People lined rooftops, waving and cheering at the forces. The water, food and smiles were a welcome relief for the weary and hungry police and paramilitary personnel.

They were surprised because the people of Ramgarh were initially with the PCPA. Its leaders lured them to their cause with the promise to fight against lack of development. Chhatradhar Mahato and other PCPA leaders rallied the villagers with the call to liberate Ramgarh from government's control'.

"When the PCPA first asked us to fight against economic deprivation, many in Ramgarh voluntarily participated in their movement," said a villager. But the people soon realized that there was no difference between the Maoists and the PCPA. They even accused PCPA of unleashing the Maoists on them.

People are now very angry and disillusioned with PCPA, but none would divulge their names while speaking to TOI, fearing that Maoists would target them. Seventy-year-old Satya Ray, the lone villager who spoke on record, accused Chhatradhar Mahato of amassing money. "He (Mahato) extorted huge sums of money from traders, government officials and even poor villagers and helped Maoists get a foothold in Ramgarh. We have been living in fear for eight months. Many PCPA activists moved around with arms," said Ray.

The people PCPA allegedly targeted for extortion were given handwritten notes Rs 10,000 for government employees and Rs 50,000 for traders. When the owner of a fertilizer shop at Barapelia refused to pay up, he was brought to a meeting at Sarasbedia where he was forced to hand over the money.

Now, villagers have stopped paying money to PCPA voluntarily, though its leaders continue with their extortion activities, Ray added.

What turned the tide against PCPA were the murders of two tribal youths in Kharanutu village in mid-May. The incident created panic across Ramgarh and no one would venture out for over a month. Even schools and markets rarely opened. Ramgarh was completely cut off after Maoists captured the phari on June 15. Teachers of Ramgarh College were threatened not to report to work.

The arrival of the forces has been a huge relief.

Forces Smash Double Ambush

28 Jun 2009, 0458 hrs IST, Arnab Ganguly, TNN

LALGARH: The red earth swirled 20 feet into the air when the bomb disposal squad moving along with forces from Lalgarh police station triggered a
controlled explosion of two IEDs planted in the fields on either side of the road between Amdanga and Pathardaga, two and a half kilometres from Lalgarh. The two IEDs weighed 12 kg together and the splinters were gathered from houses 600 metres away.

Five minutes later, at 12.05 pm on Saturday, security forces came under attack. Locally trained Maoists, taking shelter in some houses in the otherwise deserted Uparpara village in Pathardaga, fired at the forces from behind the bushes. The jawans counter-attacked with a massive volley. The firing from the other end stopped, only to begin a little later, leading to a full-fledged gunbattle.

As paramilitary jawans braved the bullets and raided the deserted houses, they spotted some women standing at a distance. Police suspect they are members of the Maoist woman squad operating in the area for last eight months. The women in front or the Maoist guerrillas behind them had no intention to engage in a battle with the highly skilled security forces. They opened fire only to stall the forces at Pathardaga for about 15 to 20 minutes so that they could retreat into the nearby forests. The women, it seems, formed the last tier of the Maoist strategy the first tier being the trees felled on the road, and the second the IEDs and Claymores planted close to the road.

While raiding Amdanga village on the way from Lalgarh, CRPF jawans came across Manoranjan Mal and his wife Jharna, who were busy thatching their house, unconcerned about the security forces, while their children Purnima and Lakshi played nearby. Mal's unconcern for the trouble all around made the forces suspicious. For, Mal was perhaps the only one who chose to stay with his children when all his neighbours had fled.

The jawans started questioning him and later beat him badly, taking him as a Maoist linkman. "I do not know why the forces picked up my husband and started beating him. We are in no way involved in any suspicious activity. We were busy with our domestic work," said Jharna.

Police are aware that Maoists sneak up on the road after a patrol party has left and plant landmines. Last week, an IED blast on a sanitized road near Pirakata had injured three policemen. On Saturday, the forces did not take any chances. While the assigned units marched towards Pathardaga, where the operation was called off for the day, paramilitary jawans were posted at a distance of 10 feet along the Jhitka forest route that the forces covered some days ago.

The movement from Lalgarh on Saturday was planned to give back-up support to the forces that marched from Goaltore. The plan was to take control of Ramgarh police station, some 18 km from Lalgarh, and crucial for conducting operations in Maoist-dominated villages such as Kantapahari and PCPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato's village Boro Pelia, where police fear a major resistance from the Maoists.

Taking control of Ramgarh police station was not an easy job given the scheme of the Maoists. They had anticipated a pincer move from Goaltore and Lalgarh and had felled trees on both routes to stall the march. The force from the Lalgarh end spotted the first obstacle the two IEDs after marching just 40 minutes. The road opening party, searching the road and fields with mine detectors, saw a wire lying across the road and leading to the fields. This wire connected two explosives a directional IED and a Claymore mine that the bomb disposal squad took care of. It indicated that the Maoists were somewhere close to Lalgarh police station that is now under the forces' control.

Forces reclaim Ramgarh

Ambar Mukherjee First Published : 28 Jun 2009 08:41:20 AM ISTLast Updated : 28 Jun 2009 09:09:11 AM IST

KOLKATA: The tenth day of their multipronged operation to regain control of Maoist-held pockets in and around Lalgarh yielded a breakthrough on Saturday when security forces won back Ramgarh from the insurgents.

The rebel stronghold of Ramgarh had of late been under the grip of terror after the Maoists set fire to the local police outpost.

By Saturday evening, security forces set up their base camp in Ramgarh, 22 km from Lalgarh, from where they said they would now continue the flush-out mission.

Earlier in the day, security personnel started their operation from Kadasol.

As they arrived in Moultola forest area, Maoists suddenly attacked the forces by opening indiscriminate fire at them. The men in uniform retaliated, and the gunbattle lasted for almost an hour.

The Maoists later used landmines to prevent the forces from proceeding towards Ramgarh, 200 km from here. In a bid to spread panic among locals, Maoists set fire to a CPI(M) party office in the locality.

It was around 3 pm when the forces arrived in Ramgarh. Official sources said scores of local people came out of their homes and welcomed the security personnel, even offering them water to drink.

IGP (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said the forces had advanced in a ‘V’ formation — armed police moving in double file on the main road and paramilitary troopers giving them cover by moving through jungles on both sides of the road.

State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said no security personnel was injured in the gunbattle.

“They faced massive resistance, but reported no casualty.” The pro-Maoist activists, meanwhile, condemned the “police atrocities”. The rebelsbacked tribal body PCAPA held a meeting at Kantapahari area in the night, expressing solidarity with the “common people and their plight”. PCAPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato said their stir against the security forces would continue.

Maoists mock and melt

Fall of Ramgarh without a whimper

Residents of Ramgarh offer water to security forces. Those welcoming the forces were mostly non-tribals, reflecting the divide with the tribals whom the Maoists have been trying to mobilise. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Ramgarh, June 27: A fresh bootmark on the black door someone tried to kick open. They were here.

When 7 Delta, the Central Reserve Police Force section that reached Ramgarh first, approached him, a trembling schoolteacher told the troopers that they — meaning the Maoists — tried to smash his door minutes ago. And they shouted: “We are not the police, we are your protectors.”

A little further on, there is a charred mud house with a tin roof that was the office of the CPI. It is still smouldering. They were here too. Not more than half-an-hour back, says the shopkeeper and CPI worker.

“They fired in the air and burnt our office. We were watching television to follow the news about what was going to happen to us when they attacked. We fled. They smashed the television and set the office on fire,” the party worker in Ramgarh said. His party shared the office with the Ramgarh Loading and Unloading Workers’ Union.

On the road to Ramgarh from Kadashole, the village that the security forces took yesterday, a freshly painted poster in Bengali is pressed back with four stones on the black asphalt. It is written by a fluent hand: “The people are urged not to use this path, it is laid with mines. Signed, the Communist Party of India (Maoist).”

This is just after the first forest as the security forces resumed their march today and entered Ramgarh in Bengal’s offensive against rebels in Lalgarh. Ramgarh is to the north of Lalgarh.

Today’s march took the state forces to Ramgarh for the first time in seven months. A police camp in Ramgarh was burnt by the rebels.

The “fall of Ramgarh” on the 10th day of the operation is seen by the state forces as a strategic gain. Bengal police’s Siddhi Nath Gupta said the forces would set up camp in the town and the next operations would be from here.

A few hundred people lined the main road of Ramgarh leading to its bazaar that the forces took. Some offered the forces drinking water. Most were silent. After about an hour, they were more welcoming.

The tribal hamlets of Ramgarh were emptied. There is a clear tribal-non-tribal divide in the town. The people on the streets welcoming the forces were mostly non-tribals.

From Ramgarh, it is about 14km to Lalgarh, whose police station was reached by the forces last weekend.

It took the forces a little more than eight hours to travel the distance from Kadashole to Ramgarh, a town of about 1,200 houses. On the way back from Ramgarh by car, the distance was covered in less than 10 minutes.

Using ruse and retreat with pitiful firepower as tactics, all that the Maoist rebels have succeeded in doing is slowing down the state’s offensive. The security forces have discovered many of their land mines and improvised explosive devices. There have been so many duds that it has got wearisome.

Red and black wires apparently connecting explosives to detonators have been found. They were scarcely concealed even from the unskilled eye. This morning, a bomb disposal squad found another length of wire.

They decided to track it to its point of origin. After going some half a kilometre, they found no detonator. The wires were nailed to the ground. Dead end.

The Maoist rebels have also reduced the operation into a catch-me-if-you-can. Since yesterday, they have left no doubt about their presence. They have also left little doubt that they are always a little ahead — or just in time — for the retreat.

Defiance from the Maoists is limited to firing beyond range. On the right flank of the road that leads to Ramgarh today, about 10 rebels fired and fled. A CRPF section leader laughed it off. “Itna door se yeh .202 or .303 se kya hoga? (what can these small-calibre guns do from so far?)”

But every time the security forces were entering wooded areas, the CRPF was firing off its newly acquired high explosive (HE), the 51mm mortars.

“I think the HE has done the job,” said the deputy inspector-general (range), B.R. Kamath. “They did not expect this.”

Tomorrow, the security forces are likely to resume their march and this time head south in the direction of Lalgarh. Their first objective would be Kantapahari, a known base of the Maoists.

It is probably time to ponder that the offensive in Lalgarh is in its 10th day today. The 1971 war that won independence for Bangladesh lasted 13 days.

Maoists continue violence at Ramgarh

28 Jun 2009, 0257 hrs IST, PTI

RAMGARH/WB: Maoists torched a party office of the AITUC shortly before the security forces entered Ramgarh village, one of the largest strongholds of the ultra left wing extremists in West Midnapore district.

They set the office ablaze when people refused to give them sanctuary as the security forces advanced on the village, residents said.

Shortly after the security forces arrived in the village, DIG CID (Special Operations Group) Siddhinath Gupta said, "We have secured Ramgarh. We will establish a police phari (outpost) and a camp. The police will restore normalcy, The operations will continue." The security forces marched out from Kadasole at 8:00 am and encountered some resistance at Mohultola and Saluka where the Maoists opened fire and detonated landmines, he said. District Superintendent of Police, Manoj Verma said "We hope the people will help us. The operations will continue till normalcy is restored everywhere."

People came out in droves to greet security forces as they arrived. Locals stood with pails of drinking water and glasses, which they offered to the Central forces, the police and journalists accompanying them and said that they knew of the difficulty authorities must have faced in reaching the village.

"We are smiling after many months. We were waiting for the security forces to arrive. They must have faced great difficulty in reaching our village," villagers said. A woman resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity said that at around noon a group of 25 to 30 armed Maoists knocked on her door seeking shelter.

Maoists loot bank in Koraput district of Odisha

Kalinga Times Correspondent
Malkangiri/Bhubaneswar, June 27: Few hours after Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram left Odisha after reviewing the naxal situation, the Maoists struck in Koraput district and looted the Machchkund Branch of State Bank of India around midnight on Friday.

According to reports, the extremists beat up the bank staff and looted over six lakh rupees. They blocked the roads leading to Machchkund town and before looting the bank.

This was the second Maoist attack in Machchkund town in less than a month. The extremists had blown up the Machchkund police station on the night of June 7.

In another incident, the Maoists also made an attempt to damage the office of Essar company at Chitrakonda town in Malkangiri district.

The attempt, however, was foiled by the Central Reserve Police Force men who were on duty at the spot.

There was exchange of fire between the policemen and Maoists, but there was no casualty, police said.

The extremists had recently burnt down five vehicles of the company.

Maoist leader Suvendu Mallick held

E xpress News Service First Published : 27 Jun 2009 11:01:01 AM ISTLast Updated :

PARADIP: A Maoist leader Suvendu Mallick alias Suresh was arrested by police from Ambadarda village under Jagatsinghpur police limits yesterday. Suresh was involved in attacking police in Badarama in Sambalpur district in October 2005, killing four policemen.

To avoid the combing operations by the police in Koraput, Sambalpur, Malkangiri and other areas some Naxal leaders shifted their base to the seaside villages of Kendrapara and Jagatasinghpur districts in the recent past. Suresh too had taken shelter in his native village Ambadada after police started combing operation in Sambalpur to arrest Maoists and fell into the police trap.

District SP S. Devdatta Singh said Suresh confessed about his link to the Badarama incident and was produced in court today. The SP informed newsmen today that Sambalpur police have been informed about the arrest and a team would be reaching here soon to interrogate Suresh.

Police had collected vital about Maoist activists in the district after the surrender of a hardcore Maoist, Prasanta Parida from Erasama last year.

Sometime later, Raghunathpur police arrested seven Maoists including Jagu, Pabitra alias Prasanna Pal of Panchupalli village under Erasama police limits and Rajan Rout of Kusupur village under Balikuda police limits. Police had foiled their network in Jagatsinghpur district and got vital clues from these Maoists regarding other cadres of the district.

Suresh had been staying in different areas of the district by changing his names to hide from police and operating Maoists activities in the district.

Suresh was also involved in Sarvodaya Sanghathan and had undertaken training on Gadhian principles and ideology in Burdha of Gujarat state.

Later, he joined Naxals as an instructor and trained number of youths in different parts of the state.

oists flee as security forces capture Ramgarh

Posted: Saturday , Jun 27, 2009 at 1745 hrs IST
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Ramgarh (WB):

Security forces captured key Maoist stronghold of Ramgarh as they launched a two-pronged attack to reclaim areas in West Midnapore district under control of Left-wing ultras who offered stiff resistance by detonating landmines and opening gunfire.

Maoists also torched an office of the Leftist trade union AITUC when they were refused sanctuary in the building shortly before the security forces entered Ramgarh.

Security forces headed from Lalgarh in the south and Kadasole, which was secured yesterday, in the north towards Ramgarh this morning, a senior CRPF officer said.

"We have secured Ramgarh. We will establish a police outpost and a camp. The police will restore normalcy. The operations will continue," IG CID (Special Operations Group) Siddhinath Gupta said.

Three landmines exploded as 10 companies comprising 1000 men of the CRPF, the India Reserve Battalion and Rapid Action force set out from Kadasole, braving heavy rains and reached Mohultol, with the Maoists also firing at them.

Naxals cleared from Ramgarh in West Bengal

2009-06-27 20:31:00

Security forces on Saturday captured Ramgarh, an area under Maoists in a two-sided attack to reclaim areas in West Midnapore district.

"We have secured Ramgarh. We will establish a police outpost and a camp. The police will restore normalcy. The operations will continue," said Inspector General CID (special operations group) Siddhinath Gupta.

Security forces had to face stiff resistance as Maoists had detonated landmines and opened gunfire.

Security forces headed from Lalgarh in the south and Kadasole in north on Friday, towards Ramgarh on Saturday morning, a senior CRPF officer said.

Ten companies consisting of 1000 men of the CRPF, the India Reserve Battalion and Rapid Action Force set out from Kadasole. They had to counter firing and three landmine explosions Maoists. n response to the Maoist attacks, the security forces struck back with AK-47s, mortars and rocket propelled grenade launchers, the officer said.

A mine detection unit and a team from the District Intelligence Bureau preceded the security forces, which also comprised jungle warfare experts of the CRPF.

Maoists also burnt down an office of the All India Trade Union Congress, when they were not allowed to take refuge in the building shortly before the security forces entered Ramgarh. (ANI)


Contractors abducted by Maoists managed to escape in Orissa

Saturday, June 27, 2009 Email StoryFeedbackPrint Story
Report by Orissadiary correspondent; Phulbani : In a sensational incident, four petty contractors abducted by Maoists on June 21 June night managed to escape and return to Daringbadi .Though no formal police complaint has been lodged in this connection, Daringbadi police officers confirmed the incident.

They also confided that the contractors were too scared to lodge a complaint.

According to a belated report, four contractors were at a meeting near Sonepur on June 21 when armed Maoists kidnapped them at gun point.

They were blind folded and taken to the forests near Dahakia.

The Maoists charged the four of exploiting villagers and not paying daily wages to the labours engaged at various construction sites.

The radicals threatened the four Madan Pradhan, Tirsing Pradhan, Suresh Pradhan and Agadhu Pradhan with dire consequences if they continued to exploit the poor.

However, nobody is uttering a word on how the four had managed to escape. Speculations are that the Maoists had released them after issuing a stern warning.

The Daringbadi police conducted an inquiry but when its officers went to the concerned villages, locals refused to speak to them.

Family members of those who had been released did not cooperate with the police and maintained that it was a personal matter and had been settled.

Govt to resolutely combat Maoists

;Statesman News Service
BHUBANESWAR, 26 JUNE: Asserting that the government will resolutely combat the Maoists and ensure an end to all violent activities, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said it is a “long battle ahead and it will take time” as “we have neglected it over the last 10 years.”
Briefly interacting with the media after visiting Koraput and Kandhamal districts , Mr Chidambaram sought to end the persistent demand by states for more central para military forces to tackle the menace by stating: ‘ in West Bengal I laid down a rule telling the state that they should deploy the state police force and for each such company of state police I will provide one company of para military force’
This rule applies to all states, he added in an apparent reference to the Orissa government’s repeated plea for additional central forces.
Fighting naxals is primarily the duty of the state police. The state should deploy more forces to combat the naxals , the centre can only lend support, he said. The Home Minister, however, went on to say that the center will extend all possible support to naxal affected states.
He also referred to the submission made by the state government that it had recruited 4000 policemen and they were being trained. As and when these human resources are deployed to take on the naxals, the centre will provide forces, he said.
The CPI –Maoists have always been and is now an official terrorist organisation. We cannot let the Maoists yield ground and we will overcome the menace, he said. Replying to a question on whether the army was required to battle the Maoists, Mr Chidambaram was emphatic in stating that police was competent enough to do the job.
He said the Orissa government had drawn up a plan of action and strategy which will be examined and incorporated . “The plans are underway and whatever assistance is required will be given but one must bear in mind that many states are affected and the centre has to send forces to these states. So, the states must improve its forces and deploy more police to fight the Maoists,” he said. Answering a question on the land mine explosions taking a heavy toll on policemen and para military personnels, Mr Chidambaram said sadly precious lives were lost and that is why one should ensure that the standard operating procedure is not violated while moving in naxal infested areas.
Asked about the state governmnet’s demand for a helicopter , the Home Minister said it will be provided when required.
As against the clear stand or rule on providing para military forces to states, chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik however stood firm in demanding at least seven more battalion of central forces and a dedicated helicopter. He drew comparisons between the number of central forces deployed in neighbouring naxal affected states like Chhatisgarh to justify his demand. Mr Patnaik also sought more funds, at least Rs 40 crore under the Security Related Expenditure scheme, a one time Rs 10 crore assistance for anti naxal training and Rs 20 crore for constable training.

Maoists loot about Rs. six lakh in Orissa

Bhubaneswar (PTI): Armed Maoists looted about Rs six lakh from a State Bank of India (SBI) branch in Orissa's Koraput district after assaulting its guard and staff, police said on Saturday.

About a dozen Maoists, armed with sophisticated weapons, struck late last night and overpowered the lone security guard posted at the bank located in Machkund, about 530 km from here, they said.

All the roads leading to the bank had been blocked by the ultras who had felled a large number of trees in a bid to prevent police and security personnel from moving to the spot easily, police said.

Maoists torch AITUC office in Ramgarh

PTISaturday, June 27, 2009 17:49 IST Email

Ramgarh (WB): Maoists torched a party office of the AITUC shortly before the security forces entered Ramgarh village, one of the largest strongholds of the ultra left wing extremists in West Midnapore district. They set the office ablaze when people refused to give them sanctuary as the security forces advanced on the village, residents said.

Shortly after the security forces arrived in the village, DIG CID (Special Operations Group) Siddhinath Gupta said, "We have secured Ramgarh. We will establish a police phari (outpost) and a camp. The police will restore normalcy, the operations will continue."

The security forces marched out from Kadasole at 8:00 am and encountered some resistance at Mohultola and Saluka where the Maoists opened fire and detonated landmines, he said. District superintendent of police, Manoj Verma said "We hope the people will help us. The operations will continue till normalcy is restored everywhere."

Maoists thrash female teacher


DARCHULA, June 27: Deepak Raj Joshi, a Maoist cadre, severely beat up Radha Devi Bhatta, a teacher at Bhawani Primary School in Pipalchauri VDC in Darchula, on Saturday.

According to Radha Devi´s husband Haridatta Bhatta, a group of Maoists including Joshi beat her up and threw her into a river while she was returning home from school. The 31-year-old has been taken to Haldwani in India after she could not be treated at Darchula District Hospital. Doctors said her treatment would cost Rs 300,000. She has sustained injuries in her face and chest and is in a critical condition, her husband who has returned to gather the amount said.

“She has been kept in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and has yet to regain consciousness,” Haridatta said. He said that Joshi, who called himself a YCL (Young Communist League) cadre, had repeatedly threatened Radha in the past.

Teachers throughout the district have started a movement against the thrashing and demanded action against the guilty. The teachers, who are collecting funds in the district headquarters Khalanga for Radha´s treatment, have warned to indefinite schools shutdown all over the district if the guilty were not punished.

Security forces reclaim West Bengal's Ramgarh from Maoists

2009-06-27 18:30:00

Bengal), June 27 (IANS) The security forces Saturday reclaimed the Maoist stronghold of Ramgarh near here, with the rebels torching an office of the communist Party of India (CPI) before fleeing.

Marching through dense forests, defusing landmines, firing mortars and engaging in gunbattles with the Maoists, the joint force of the state police and paramilitary troopers reached West Midnapore district's Ramgarh police outpost, 22 km from here, in a two-day surge from the Goaltore police station on the border of West Midanpore and Bankura districts.

'The forces have reached (Ramgarh). The Maoists have fled the area. None of them are there now,' Inspector General of Police (Law and order) Raj Kanojia told IANS.

He said the security forces did not suffer any losses during the nine-km trek from Goaltore.

The Maoists, who had torched the outpost and driven out the civil administration earlier this month from Ramgarh, set afire the CPI office before retreating five kilometres to another of their dens, Kantapahari village.

'Around 70 of us were watching television. The Maoists asked us to come out and then set the office on fire,' a CPI leader told the visiting media.

He alleged that the people are forced to go without food and water over the last few days. 'Most of us work as labourers. But there is no work now.'

The security forces marched into the Ramgarh outpost, under Lalgarh police station, and set up a base camp there on the 10th day of the massive security operation launched by the West Bengal government to flush out Maoists from areas in and around Lalgarh, 200 km from state capital Kolkata.

'We have reached Ramgarh. We will set up a camp and restore normalcy. The operations will be on. We hope the public will help us,' said Deputy Inspector General (Operations) of Criminal Investigations Department S.N. Gupta, who led the forces.

However, district superintendent of police Manoj Verma declined to spell out whether the forces have suffered any losses. 'We will not give any such details. The operations will go on till the situation becomes completely normal'.

Lalgarh is the headquarters of Binpur-1 block in Jhargram sub-division. Ramgarh is a village under the same block.

Lalgarh has been on the boil since November when a landmine exploded on the route of the convoy of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and then central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada.

Complaining of police atrocities after the blast, angry tribals backed by Maoists launched an agitation, virtually cutting off the area from the rest of West Midnapore district.

Maoists are active in areas under 21 police stations in the state's three western districts - West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.


Maoists loot bank at gun point in Koraput District

By our Correspondent
Last updated: 06/27/2009 19:45:18

Koraput( Orissa) : More than 15 armed militants of the outlawed CPI (Maoists) have looted a sum of Rs 6 lakhs from the Machakunda Branch of State Bank of India in troubled KBK districts of Koraput, police said on Saturday.

The rebels forcibly entered into the Bank looted the amount at gun point and fled from the spot late night on Friday, sources said adding that they leftwing ultras also assaulted employees and guards, who were on duty.

Sources said before targeting the Bank, the rebels had blocked all connecting roads to prevent the entry of security forces.

“The rebels have looted the amount at gun point but Bank officials did not lodged any FIR in this regard till now” DIG, South-Western police range, Sanjib Panda said.

Interestingly, the loot came a few hours after Union Home Minister P Chidambaram visited the district to review the law and order situation.

The DIG further added that security forces as well as the ODRAF teams clearing roads from Narayanpatana to Laxmipur, which has been blocked by the leftwing rebels.

The rebels on Friday damaged three mobile communication towers at Kakiriguma in the district.

According to senior police officials posted in Koraput and Malkangiri districts, the rebels have passed orders in remote areas asking villagers to stop use of mobile phones or face dire consequences.

Dreaded cadre Maoist was arrested by Jagatsinghpur police of Orissa

Saturday, June 27, 2008

Report by Amarnath Parida;
Jagatsinghpur: One dreaded cadre Maoist who had been operating Maoists network since 2005 in Jagatsinghpur district was arrested by Raghunathpur police at Ambadarda village, 5 km from here on Thursday.
Sources said that dreaded Maoist Suvendu Mallick alias Suresh has been wanted by Raghunathpur police since 2008 in criminal activities and also wanted Jamankira police of Sambalpur district since 2005 for attacking police in Badarama and snatching arms. This Badarama’s Naxal incidence occurred on 27th Occotober’05 in which four to five police personnel were killed by Maoist attack.
After a hardcore Maoist, Prasanta Parida, from Erasama surrendered last year, the police had collected vital information about Maoist activists in the district. Later, another seven Maoists were arrested by Raghunathpur police in which police had charge sheeted against 18 hard core cadre Maoists in Jagatsinghpur district. Accused cadre Maoist Suresh had been operating Maoists activities and convinced other people to involve in Maoists activities in this district within 2005-08 so police had registered a case under section 121A for waging war against India.
Suresh had been involved in Sarvodya Sanghtan and was under taken training on Gadhian principles and ideology in Burdha of Gujrat state. Later, he joined in Maoists activities where he was instructor for giving training to Maoists in different parts of the state. He has been involved on Maoist activities in Sambalpur district
Earlier other seven cadre Maoists including Jagu , Pabitra alias Prasnna Pal of Panchupalli village under Erasama police station and Rajan Rout of Kusupur village under Balikuda police station were arrested by Raghunathpur police recently .Police had foiled their network in this district and got vital clue from these Maoists regarding other Maoists of this district. Suresh had been staying in different areas of this district by changing his name to rescue from police but police had been kept strict vigil on his movement. Meanwhile, police has arrested and forwarded him to the court.
District superintendent of police Mr S.Devdatta Singh has expressed that accused Suresh has confessed about his linkage in Badarama incidence of Sambalpur district. Meanwhile, SP has developed contact with Sambalpur police to interrogate with Suresh in which a team of police officials are coming from Sambalpur to take him reminder for interrogation. Mr Singh has also informed that police has got vital clue and other important information about Maoists net work. - He added.

Act tough, help will follow: Chidambaram

E xpress News Service First Published : 27 Jun 2009 11:28:10 AM ISTLast Updated : 27 Jun 2009 11:29:38 AM IST

BHUBANESWAR: Winding up his two-day visit to the Naxal-infested Koraput, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday left it to the State to take on the menace. All help will be provided, was his response to the State Government’s plea for adequate forces. He also found years of neglect in the area has aggravated the problem.

The State Government will have to increase the strength of the forces fighting the Naxalites and commit more personnel for the cause, he said at a media conference after a meeting with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. On Thursday, he reviewed the State’s preparedness in Koraput. To the charge of the State Government that the Centre’s response has been inadequate, Chidambaram assured of full support.

Even in West Bengal where the Left Front Government is fighting to evict Naxalites from Lalgarh, the Centre has made it clear that for every unit of security force committed by State, Centre will provide one unit. This rule applies to all states, he said.

Chidambaram asserted that the Centre and the State Government will not yield any ground to the Maoists. “We will resolutely oppose them and ensure that all violent activities come to an end.” There are many affected states and the Centre will have to send forces to all of them, he said.

Asked whether Narayanpatna has become out of bounds for the security forces, Chidambaram said the State Police are on the move. The forces will reach the town tonight or tomorrow morning, he said. Chidambaram maintained that violation of standard operating procedures led to incidents like Koraput in which nine police personnel were killed in a landmine blast.

Two politicians held for links with Jharkhand Badshah

E xpress News Service First Published : 27 Jun 2009 10:40:56 AM ISTLast Updated : 27 Jun 2009 11:53:56 AM IST
ROURKELA: Rourkela police arrested two local politicians of Birmitrapur Assembly segment in Sundargarh district for their alleged link with inter-state extortion gang Jharkhand Badshah (JB).

A special police team nabbed Kuanrmunda block vice-chairman Shyam Sundar Sahu and his aide Madhusudan Das, husband of Majhapada sarpanch, in a mid-night swoop on Tuesday while Biswajit Bhagat, a member of Dalki gram panchayat, managed to flee.

The arrest came after three suspected JB members terrorised proprietor of BMP Construction B Murthy Pillai near Beldihi on Tuesday evening.

For the past couple of months Pillai was receiving extortion calls to dole out Rs 20 lakh which was later revised to Rs 10 lakh.

A case was registered with Brahmani Tarang police. The arrest of Sahu, a protégé of Birmitrapur Independent MLA George Tirkey, has triggered tension and George has termed the arrest a case of political vendetta.

Newly-appointed Rourkela SP Diptesh Patnaik said there is no iota of doubt about their link with JB adding police have adequate evidences against them. A fortnight ago three JB members, including local area head Lalan Khan, were held and a huge cache of arms and ammunition was seized.

The JB, believed to be headed by some Jharkhand-based disgruntled Naxalites, began to spread its tentacles in the district after killing young businessman Mohan Jaiswal at Raiboga on June 23. It targeted crusher and brick-kiln unit owners, contractors and other businessmen of Birmitrapur and Rajgangpur before extending its influence to mineral-rich Bonai sub-division of Rourkela Police District

Forces face some resistance in Maoist-held areas

Kadasole, WB (PTI): Launching a two-pronged offensive deep into Maoist-held areas, security forces on moved from Kadasole in the north and from Lalgarh in the south where naxalites detonated three landmines and engaged in a firefight with troops.

Besides detonating the landmines, the Maoists fired at the security forces as the offensive resumed this morning with a march from Kadasole, secured on Friday, to Mohultol a forested area, a senior CRPF officer told a PTI correspondent accompanying the forces.

The 1,000-strong security forces comprising the CRPF, India Reserve battalion and the Rapid Action Force retaliated with mortars, LMGs and AK-47s overcoming the Maoists at Mohultol, the officer said.

Simultaneously from Lalgarh in the south, which was taken over by the security forces from Maoists on June 20 after an eight-month siege, around 1,100 security forces marched towards Ramgarh and advanced to Amdanga, the officer said.

There was no resistance from the Lalgarh end of operations, he said.

The security forces, which also comprised jungle warfare experts of the CRPF, were preceded by a mine detection unit and a team from the District Intelligence Bureau.

The forces advancing from the forested flanks of the roads were accompanied by anti-landmine vehicles and bulldozers to clear the road.

DIG CID (Special Operations Group), S.N. Gupta said the operations have entered a critical phase with resistance anticipated from Maoists and tribals under the People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA).

A senior officer of the State Armed Police, Murlidharan said the forces, during their advance through villages were meeting the people, listening to their grievances and assuring them security from the Maoists.

Maoists set ablaze bus in Bihar

Muzaffarpur, June 27: Armed squad of proscribed CPI (Maoist) on Saturday set ablaze a bus near Ramnagar village in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district during a bandh called by the outfit at Tirhut in protest against its worker's murder.

Inspector General of Police (Operation) S K Bhardwaj told agency in Patna that the Naxalites asked the passengers to alight the bus and set it on fire at Ramnagar village bordering East Champaran district. No one was injured.

The timely intervention of the locals who doused the fire saved the bus from complete damage, Bhadrdwaj said adding that all police stations in Tirhut division had been put on maximum alert following the bandh call given by the Maoists.

He said that an operation had been launched to nab the ultras.

The Naxalites had called a bandh in Tirhut division to protest the murder of their activist Jagdish Mahto, whose body was recovered by police from the banks of a river near Piprakothi in East Champaran district a week ago.

Bureau Report

Maoist stronghold in Ramgarh breached

2009-06-27 20:30:00

The key Maoist stronghold of Ramgarh was breached by security forces on Saturday through a two-pronged attack in West Bengal's West Midnapore district.

Braving landmines and incessant gunfire, the security forces appeared to have the Maoists on the run, but not before the rebels torched an AITUC office.

Security forces entered Ramgarh from Lalgarh in the south and Kadasole in the north.

A senior Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officer confirmed that Ramgarh had been secured, but added that operations against the rebels would continue.

Earlier in the day, the Naxalites detonated three landmines and were engaged in a vigorous firefight with security forces in the Mohultol Forests.

The 1000-strong Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)- Rapid Action Force retaliated with mortars, LMGs and AK-47s overcoming some of the rebels.

Security forces claimed to have gained control of Lalgarh in the south, and said that 1100 security personnel were heading towards Ramgarh and Amdanga.

A mine detection unit and a team from the District Intelligence Bureau preceded the security forces, which also comprised jungle warfare experts of the CRPF. nti-landmine vehicles and bulldozers to clear the road accompanied the forces advancing from the forested flanks of the roads.

DIG CID (Special Operations Group), S N Gupta said the operations have entered a critical phase with resistance anticipated from Maoists and tribals under the People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA).

Troops are meeting the people, listening to their grievances and assuring them of security from the Maoists.

West Midnapore District has been in the grip of Naxal blockade for over eight months. On Friday and Saturday, the Maoists were made to quit Kadasole for Mohultol village. (ANI)

Naxalites keep Buddha on toes

Rajat Roy / Kolkata June 25, 2009, 0:59 IST

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, seems to have his hands full of the Naxalite issue. His government is conducting a joint operation with the central force against the Maoists in Lalgarh, and the western part of south Bengal. To compound his problem, today Sriprakash Jaisawal, union minister of state, Coal, Statistics & Programme Implementation, divulged that prior consent of the chief minister was taken by the centre before announcing the ban on the Maoists.

After holding a meeting with the chief minister, the union minister told reporters that “the Centre banned the Naxalites after getting a recommendation from the state government.” He further clarified that “without the state state’s recommendation, the Centre does not ban an extremist organization.”

This information, however routine it may sound, does not go well with the CPI(M) party bosses, especially the party general secretary Prakash Karat and state party secretary Biman Bose. Both are of the view that the ban won’t yield the desired result. Last week Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee met both the Prime Minister and the union home minister and discussed with them the Maoists problem. After that he told his party and media that the Centre was mulling with the idea of banning the Naxalites. Immediately, Karat went on record saying that it won’t serve any meaningful purpose.

However, the Centre went ahead with the ban and the chief minister of West Bengal was too eager to impose it in the state. In the last 24 hours the state police have arrested at least three Maoists and are on the look out for more.

The Centre is also extending support to the state by sending in additional central force to Lalgarh. Today some more companies of central force have arrived at the state and they have been deployed in Lalgarh, Goaltor, and adjacent areas to reinforce the joint force already stationed there. The chief secretary Ashokmohan Chakrabarty made a visit to Lalgarh today to make an assessment of the situation and to oversee the arrangements done in various relief centers there.

But, the chief minister’s acquiescence to the Center’s move is viewed by his party’s leadership as that of playing into the hands of the UPA government. The party insiders explain that at present the party is under fierce attacks by the opposition TMC and the Maoists in the state. The CPI(M) leaders, including Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, feel that the Naxalites are being actively encouraged by the TMC leaders to resort to violence to destabilize the state government. Since the TMC is a partner in the present UPA government, it would be politically advantageous for the Left, if the Centre was shown to be acting unilaterally in banning the Maoists. But the fact that the chief minister has given prior consent or recommended to the union home ministry for the ban of the Naxalites, has taken away that advantage.

This is likely to be raised and discussed in the state secretariat meeting of the CPI(M) on Friday, where the chief minister might be in for some criticism. Meanwhile, an aggrieved Mamata Banerjee, the union minister of Railways and the leader of the opposition party TMC, has stated that she would definitely take up the issue of Center’s decision to take part in the joint operation in Lalgarh with Pranab Mukherjee tonight.

Her contention is that the state government is using the bogey of Maoists to repress the people’s genuine grievances. According to Mamata, the present violence and lawlessness are all fall out of the Left politics in the state. Here, she claims, the CPI(M) is now fighting against its own dissidents and putting the label of Naxalites on the dissidents to cover it up.

Two hardcore naxalites arrested; explosives seized

Bokaro(Jharkhand), June 26: Two hardcore Maoists, considered a "prize catch, were today arrested and the police seized a large quantity of explosives from them in a forest of Bokaro district.

A total of 200 kg explosives and 98 pieces of detonators were seized from them, Superintendent of Police L P Singh told newsmen here.

The Maoists were identified as Sanjay Sao and Ganesh Sao. They were to supply the consignment to their Zonal Commander Naveen Manjhi, Singh added.

Following a tip-off, a police contingent went to the forest under Lalpania police station, about 190 km from Ranchi, and surrounded a naxal hideout from where the duo was nabbed, he said.

The two are "prize catch" and very important for the police, Singh said, apparently referring to the twin naxal strike that killed 11 policemen in the district earlier this month.

Bureau Report

Million Mutinies Within

To Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Manipur and Nagaland, we can now add Lalgarh


NOW THAT the central government’s security forces have entered Lalgarh, we can safely assume that we have one more long-term insurgency on our hands. To the series of Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh, we can now add Lalgarh. Nowhere has a military solution to an insurgency worked and there is no reason why it will now. It was once believed that the Naxalite movement had been crushed and defeated by sheer repression, and just when the powers that be thought it was over, it has appeared with ever greater force.

If past experience is any guide, the attempts to physically eliminate the Maoists will produce more and more Maoists by the day. The ruling CPI(M) in West Bengal should know this better, for it was precisely the indiscriminate state violence that goes with generalised repression which made the defiant youth of yesteryears turn towards the party.

Manoj’s story is a classic example. In another time, it could have been the story of the rise of the CPI(M) itself. This young, 25-year-old Maoist leader of Lalgarh told the Times of India recently about how, during rains, villagers are forced to drag themselves and their cattle through the muck. He spoke of the non-availability of clean drinking water, which forces people to drink “filthy, yellow water”. He spoke of the absence of electricity and of jobs. “We got tired of being treated like rodents,” he says. And so, in 2002, the villagers got together and demanded development. This infuriated the local CPI(M) bosses. The police and Marxists, he says, slapped false cases on them, accusing them of working for the People’s War Group (PWG). “They branded us Maoists. So we began to think we might as well join the Maoists.”

Manoj’s was a family of Congress supporters who shifted loyalty to the Trinamool Congress when the TMC was formed in 1998. Once branded ‘Maoist’ and thrown into jail, there was no way left for him but to become a Maoist. It was in jail that he met a Maoist leader and converted to Maoism.

This is a classic story of a failed democratic process and police repression pushing people towards Maoist politics.

As a matter of fact, Chhatradhar Mahato, a key leader of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA) himself used to be a TMC supporter till about a year ago. Today, he is branded as a Maoist and the PCPA, a Maoist front. This is a story that suits both the ruling CPI(M) and the complexity- shunning mainstream media.

Current media discussions miss out a crucial fact. The PCPA was formed in November 2008 after the police let loose violent reprisals for the bomb blast in Salboni when Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was on his way from a public meeting to inaugurate a steel plant. The police went berserk and arrested seven people, including three schoolgoing teenagers on ‘suspicion’ of having engineered the blast. For many, fed on stories dished out by the mainstream electronic media, the Lalgarh story begins here. But for the people of Lalgarh, this was the last straw. The tribal people of this area, long subject to neglect, destitution, exploitation by forest contractors and police harassment, rose up in a revolt that recalled the Santhal hools of the 19th century, digging up roads and ensuring that they became inaccessible to the police and the CPI(M).

Over three decades, the CPI(M) has set up a machinery of totalitarian power with no avenue of redress
All this was not Maoist activity, and the fact is that in Lalgarh, till some time ago, it was difficult to tell who is a Maoist. You could be a Congress or TMC supporter and still be with the PCPA – the ostensible ‘Maoist front’. Incidentally, this was what sent sections of the electronic media into a spin as they reported in horror that ‘the Congress and TMC had been playing with fire and had been supporting the PCPA’. Once the PCPA was painted as a Maoist front, every other fact could then be presented in that light.

However, contrary to media representations, Lalgarh was not a Maoist fortress. In fact, it was a place where a new kind of democratic politics was being put into practice. Maoists were certainly present, but they were constrained to go along with the mood inside Lalgarh. Lalgarh ‘Maoists’ were recent converts who had turned towards the CPI(Maoist) for ‘protection’ from the state-turned-predator. Their objectives were not quite those of the Maoist organisation. They were in no mood to form roving guerilla squads. Even senior Maoist leaders of the area like Koteswara Rao (alias Kishanji) only spoke about the non-implementation of central government schemes by the state government.

FOR OVER six months, the PCPA, with popular participation, built reservoirs, dug tanks and tube-wells, revived irrigation canals and built roads in different villages of the area. The Kolkata-based Lalgarh Sanhati Mancha collected money and helped set up a health centre in Katapahari. A committee with five men and five women would take decisions on a daily basis. Compare this with any other place where Maoists are active and the difference is immediately apparent. The Maoists, known for their impatience towards any open public activity and their allergy to any kind of developmental work, had to actually put up with all this.

The tribals of Lalgarh experienced the last six months as months of freedom from police harassment, of new developmental activity, as months of new hope. That is why, when the security forces were advancing, they were resisted not by armed Maoists with their landmines and AK-47s but by ordinary tribals with their conventional bows and arrows forming a ‘human shield’. And it was an entirely peaceful resistance by all accounts.

With the security forces marching in, all this will very soon be in the past. There will be just two forces – armed Maoist gangs and the armed state forces. Maoists themselves had wanted this all along. This is, after all, their preferred mode – the Andhra or Chhattisgarh model. For it is only then that their extortion economy and the cult of the gun can flourish. All possibilities of peaceful democratic politics and all developmental activities will be made impossible. The brief spring of popular democracy will fade from memory.

It is necessary then to put what happened in Lalgarh in perspective. Mass anger against the CPI(M) had burst forth earlier in Khejuri where there were no Maoists in the picture. Khejuri, which preceded Lalgarh by a few days, had been the CPI(M) bastion from where the operation to ‘liberate’ Nandigram had been launched by Lakshman Seth and his brownshirts.

If the past is any guide, attempts to physically eliminate the Maoists will only produce more Maoists
There had been outbreaks of violence in Khejuri earlier in May as well. Once the election results were out, with Lakshman Seth and the CPI(M) defeated, mass anger accumulating over years burst forth. Then came Lalgarh, and the anger also spilled over to neighbouring Bankura. And lest we be carried away by fairy tales spun by sections of the electronic media and the CPI(M) propaganda machinery, we also need to remember that mass anger, directed specifically against the CPI(M), had also burst forth earlier in October 2007 in a number of districts — Bankura, Birbhum, Murshidabad and Burdwan — centred on the widespread corruption and nonavailability of food in ration shops. Then too, the riots had assumed exactly the same form.

The reason is simple. Over three decades, the CPI(M) has set up a machinery of virtually totalitarian power where there is simply no avenue of redress. The police, the administration, the panchayat representatives and above all of them, the ubiquitous party – these together constitute today one of the most frightful instruments of control. In addition, in West and East Midnapore in particular, it is well known that CPI(M) cadres have stockpiled arms in every nook and cranny of these areas. These are seen as a threat, as people fear that these will be used to browbeat them into submission once again. Today the CPI(M) is only reaping what it has sown. It has spawned a political culture of violence which is now spinning out of its control.

As mass anger against the CPI(M) burst forth, the Maoists saw their opportunity and came out in true form. Theirs is a politics that thrives on secrecy and violence and abhors any kind of public, mass activity. The answer to the CPI(M)’s politics of violence and desire for totalitarian control cannot be Maoist politics, which is itself a cult of violence. However, as Mahasweta Devi said on reaching Lalgarh, close on the heels of the security forces, what places like Lalgarh need most of all today are the provision of basic necessities like drinking water, irrigation facilties, schools and solar electricity.

But that is not enough. Lalgarh is also about the failure of the democratic promise. Any solution therefore must be based on energising democratic processes and politics so that armed struggle does not appear as an attractive option to frustrated and marginalised people of the area.


From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 26, Dated July 04, 2009

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