Thursday, May 20, 2010

Maoist arms supplier held with 40 kg explosives

Ranchi, May 19 : A person, who supplied arms and explosives to Maoist guerrillas, was Wednesday arrested in Jharkhand's Bokaro district with 40 kg explosives and over Rs. 3 lakh in cash, police said.

Another supplier, from whose house 15 kg explosives were seized, is on the run.

"We arrested Baleshwar Yadav from Armau village of Bokaro. We seized 40 kg ammonium nitrate, 1,040 metres length of wires, 280 detonators, cash of Rs. 3.09 lakh, and other devices used in making landmines," Saket Kumar, Superintendent of Police of Bokaro district, told reporters.

He said on a tip-off by Yadav, the house of Kisko Ghashi, another arms suppliers, was also raided.

Fifteen kg ammonium nitrate, wires, detonators and other things were seized.

Ghashi, however, managed to escape.

The police have launched a search operation with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to trace and nab Ghashi. (IANS)

The Maoist Menace: Time for Serious Action

Ramesh Phadke/IDSA

Home Minister P. Chidambaram, widely seen as competent, knowledgeable and proactive, is reported to have said in a television interview that the government might “revisit’ its anti-Naxal strategy. He said, “I took to the cabinet committee a case for a larger mandate, but I was given a limited mandate.”1 This in plain language means that the Para-Military forces are fighting with one hand tied behind their back or at least with very restrictive rules of engagement.

There have been many reports alleging poor training and leadership and a visible absence of synergy between the central and state governments. At the same time the Home Minister has hinted that the Chief Ministers want air support. It seems that while the insurgency has matured with the insurgents becoming bolder with each success, the state and central governments’ security departments are increasingly frustrated. It was not difficult for the Maoist leadership to find out that some ten-twenty Special Forces personnel would be travelling on a local bus and they promptly used the opportunity with complete disregard for the thirty or more innocent civilians who were also on the ill fated bus. It is not understood why they had to travel in a bus and not in a secure well protected convoy. Is this once again a case of failure to strictly follow the laid down orders? If anything, such incidents have further reinforced the impression that the police forces and their superiors have failed to learn lessons from the recent past.

Given the heavily forested and hilly terrain of the Maoist affected areas, it is well nigh impossible to give total protection to all traffic on the few roads nor is it practical, as Chief Minister Shri Raman Singh has said, to protect some 20,000 villages. With the approach of the monsoon ground conditions will only worsen giving the insurgents a free rein. It is time the central and state governments showed the necessary determination and resolve to save innocent lives. Every one knows that no developmental activity is possible without first securing the area.

There is a wrong impression gaining ground that air support is always offensive and that the air force is the only agency to provide that. The BSF, CRPF and above all State Governments possess some helicopter assets. It is not known if these have been pressed into service at least for humanitarian tasks such as casualty evacuation, logistics, medical support, and communications. It should be possible to reduce the response time in emergency situations to a few tens of minutes when helicopters are stationed at suitable locations.

The Indian experience in Sri Lanka (1987-1990) proved beyond doubt the efficacy of such air operations when damage to our helicopters was minimal even when the opponent was far better equipped and experienced. If and when deployed, army and/or air force support helicopters (with some defensive armament) can rush reinforcements as well as arms and ammunition where needed without really having to open fire. Such support is bound to raise the morale of the dispirited police forces as they would be assured of assistance in an emergency. Air presence is a critical factor in counter insurgency operations as it provides a high level of dominance and control over the situation. Any insurgent would think twice before ambushing police parties or patrols when he knows that additional help is at hand to the police forces and that he might not get away without injury. This will no doubt require the army and/or air force to set up control centres and operations rooms manned with young yet experienced and energetic officers in selected areas/sectors and establish two way communications with the ground force commanders in the field, medical and logistics teams, and helicopter crews. To begin with some 6 to 8 helicopters in strategic locations may be adequate if prompt refuelling and servicing is ensured to generate high sortie rates for regular and frequent air patrols. Once some experience is gained, confidence and trust built, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) disseminated to all concerned, air patrols will help deter wanton and blatant attacks by the insurgents. The situation will, however, require close monitoring on a daily basis to fine tune the operation and review and modify tactics when needed. The government(s) would also be expected to depute responsible, experienced and articulate spokespersons to give details of the operations at regular intervals to allay the fears of common people. Air support would also enable the police/Para-Military forces to increase their presence on the ground.

Visual reconnaissance would also help vet/refine intelligence inputs as reports can be verified quickly. Not only would the response time reduce significantly but assured mobility would put new life in the police forces and further improve their determination and resolve. Not many ministers and other political leaders would want to visit these areas but even so the temptation to misuse helicopters must be avoided at all costs. One does not have to be an air power expert to see the urgent need to deploy all available air assets if we are serious about saving innocent lives. And if we need inspiration there is no better example than the recent Pakistan Army and Air Force operations in the troubled frontier regions. Our experience shows that fighting insurgency is invariably a long haul and we must not allow our determination to flag. It seems premature to talk of a ceasefire given that in the past such breaks have been used by the insurgents to strengthen themselves.

‘Assam may become Maoist haven’

Tilak Rai/Indian Express

Shillong:Meghalaya Home Minister H D R Lyngdoh has warned neighbouring Assam that in its eagerness to grab Meghalaya’s land by pushing migrants into the disputed Langpih village area on the Assam-Meghalaya border, it might, unwittingly, provide an ideal ground to the Maoists fleeing the security forces in other states.

The Langpih village issue came to the limelight after the Assam Police firing killed four villagers, belonging to two communities, in Langpih Bazaar.

The killings have led to protests and a backlash in the Jaintia Hills, East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi districts.

After stray incidents of violence were being reported from Shillong and adjoining districts, the Home Minister directed the Deputy Commissioners (DC) of Jaintia Hills, Ri-Bhoi, East and West Khasi Hills districts on Wednesday to convene a meeting of all the Rangbah Shnongs (headmen) to prevent such incidents turning into communal violence.

Lyngdoh informed the media on Wednesday: “The DCs of the four districts have been directed to immediately convene a meeting of the area headmen, including those belonging from minority community. I want to ensure that such incidents do not snowball into communal strife in the state because of the recent killing of four Langpih villagers by the Assam Police.”

Commenting on the reported violence in few local newspapers that a particular community has been driven out and beaten up in some areas in Jaintia Hills on Tuesday, Lyngdoh said he had contacted the Jaintia Hills DC, who had told him that such incidents had not taken place.

He said: “The DC has directed the Khliehriat SDO (Civil) to find out the reporter who had not only written factually incorrect news but was also communally inciting reports.”

Lyngdoh warned newspapers to resist from stoking communal violence by reporting false and communally inflammatory reports when the state government was doing its best to see that the Langpih killings do not flare up into communal violence in Meghalaya.

He said the killing was because of the boundary dispute between Meghalaya and Assam and not due to communal unrest in the area.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pro-Maoist groups under close watch of home ministry


New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) At least 57 civil rights groups, trade unions and student organisations as well as the Hurriyat Conference are under the constant vigil of intelligence agencies for their alleged links with the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist, according to an official document.
A home ministry circular alerts heads of paramilitary forces and police in Maoist-affected states that the CPI-Maoist has 57 “front bodies” of peasants, labourers, women, students, tribals and trade unions who have helped the banned outfit raise the level of its tactical warfare, including winning court battles and getting their arrested leaders released.

The circular, according to sources, was sent out days before the home ministry in a stringent warning to civil society groups said that those who speak in favour of Maoist guerrillas will face legal action and 10 years’ imprisonment under Section 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

The home ministry on April 6 said the government had noticed that some Maoist leaders were directly contacting certain NGOs and intellectuals to propagate their ideology and “persuade them to take steps (and) support the CPI-Maoist ideology”.

The circular from the Intelligence Bureau says that about 30 of these organisations were actively involved in popularising the Maoist ideology also in the states that are not affected by Left-wing extremism, like the national capital region, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Haryana, an official said, requesting not to be named.

Among the groups being watched include People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) that has Justice (retd) Rajinder Sachar as one of its key members. The group was formed in 1976 by Jai Prakash Narain.

The others being closely watched are the Krantikari Lok Adhikar Aangathan of Uttarakhand, the Revolutionary People’s Front of Kerala, the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, a political party that has fielded candidates for the Madhya Pradesh elections, the Disha Sanskritik Manch of Haryana and the Bandi Mukti Committee of West Bengal.

The official said that these organisations, according to the IB circular, were “working for the cause of the Maoists”.

“It is after these front bodies have done the groundwork that the armed activity (of the CPI-Maoist) would start. These organisations supplement the war effort of the party,” the circular claims, apprehending that the guerrillas may launch more “well-planned and focussed” attacks outside their strongholds in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal and other affected states.

The Leftist guerrillas, according to the IB, are also planning to reach out to other terrorist and separatist groups in the country including the United Liberation Front of Asom and the Hurriyat Conference in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Though the intelligence inputs don’t suggest any strategic alliance but Maoists have started corresponding with them,” said the official.

20-tonne Maoist-bound ammunition consignment seized in UP town

Aditya Kaul/DNA

New Delhi: A massive 20-tonne consignment of ammunition from the US, which appears to have a strong terror imprint, has been seized in Loni, Uttar Pradesh, by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).

The consignment seized at Inland Container Depot had seven more containers carrying lead, an important raw material used to manufacture ammunition. Import of lead is prohibited in India.

The containers are believed to have been sourced from US war surpluses. They have been moved to a secluded place in Loni as there is fear that they might contain live grenades and other explosives.

It’s not just the size of the consignment that has alarmed security agencies. There is strong suspicion that the delivery had a terror address. Security agencies claimed there was credible intelligence linking the cache to Maoists.

“We cannot share much at the moment. The matter is under investigation. Several security agencies, including the Uttar Pradesh [UP] Police special task force [STP], DRI, Central Reserve Police Force and the Intelligence Bureau, are on the job,” a senior officer involved in the probe told DNA.

“The consignment has not been fully explored yet. At first, we had found used cartridges, but as we started digging deeper we found a large quantity of live cartridges. That is when we stopped. The bomb disposal squad and other security agencies have been apprised of the situation and they are carrying out an assessment,” said an officer involved in the probe.

According to investigation details accessed by DNA, the consignment had been wrongly declared copper scrap and was bound for Punjab-based businessman KL Chawla. Apparently, the exporter from the US is Chawla’s son-in-law Vicky Chawla.
DRI or other security agencies have not been able to speak to Chawla Senior yet. He is reported to have got admitted to the intensive care unit of a private hospital in Delhi.

On April 30, the UP STF had arrested some CRPF and state police personnel supplying arms and ammunition to Maoists. Investigation into the scandal revealed the personnel were claiming replenishment from the government by showing used cartridges and ammunition.

Areas in eastern UP, Bundelkhand could turn Naxal hotbeds: Maya

Indian Express, Lucknow

Accusing the Centre of extending no assistance to the state for fighting the Naxal menace, Chief Minister Mayawati on Tuesday warned that the situation could flare up in the backward regions of Bundelkhand and eastern UP if immediate corrective measures were not taken.

“The Centre has so far ignored the repeated requests made by the UP government for financial assistance for providing basic amenities in the backward regions of the state,” said Mayawati.

According to her, till date no major incident had occurred in UP as the state government had addressed the problems and development needs of the people in Naxal-affected districts.

The CM said Sonbhadra, Mirzapur and a few other districts faced the Naxal problem due to their proximity to the other Naxal-affected states. The state government had implemented development programmes in these areas from its own resources, and the role of the Centre was disappointing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Army commanders to discuss Naxal problem next week


NEW DELHI: The five-day Army commanders' conference next week will discuss the Naxalism problem, even though the 1.13-million strong force remains strongly opposed to being dragged into countering this internal security threat as well.

The Lucknow-based Central Command will make a presentation on "The Naxal situation: likely developments and resources required'' during the meeting of the Army top brass. "It's a security challenge and we have to discuss it. This does not mean we are directly joining the battle against the Naxals,'' said a senior officer.

The Army is already providing training and advise to the central paramilitary as well as state police forces. It has, for instance, already trained almost 200 companies of state police forces and 25 paramilitary battalions.

IAF, in turn, has currently deployed four Mi-17 helicopters for reconnaissance, logistical and casualty evacuation duties in the anti-Naxal operations, apart from occasionally providing AN-32 transport aircraft.

Defence minister A K Antony has, time and again, also made it clear that there is no scope of `directly' employing the armed forces in the ongoing battle against the Maoists. Home minister P Chidamabarm, too, has ruled out the deployment of Army and IAF in the anti-Naxal operations

Toll in the Maoist attack could be pretty heavy: MHA

New Delhi, May 17 (PTI) The Home Ministry today said the toll in the Maoists attack on a bus in Chhattisgarh could be "pretty heavy" as the vehicle had the capacity to carry 65 to 70 passengers, who were both policemen and civilians.

"We have very sketchy details about the incident. We know that a bus has been blasted and the casualty can be pretty heavy," Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Home Ministry Utthan Kumar Bansal said.

Asked whether most of the passengers in the bus were civilians, he said "I would guess so".

Bansal said the capacity of such a bus is normally 65 to 70 passengers but he has no information about the exact number of casualties as of now.

"I don't have information about the injured," he said.

'Dantewada ambush was military-style attack'

Aditya Kaul & Gyan Varma / DNA

New Delhi: A scrutiny of events and circumstances leading to the Dantewada massacre has stunned security agencies.

Officials privy to the investigations told DNA about the “military-style” preparations and execution of the attack by Maoists.

Bits and pieces gathered by investigators also revealed that the Chhattisgarh Police had warned senior CRPF officials about Maoist re-grouping, and a possible attack, six days prior to the massacre in Dantewada that left 76 CRPF personnel dead.

A post-massacre scrutiny of the site revealed that Maoists had planned to inflict maximum casualty on security forces. The ultras had placed their men in a formation that looked like ‘C’ around the place of occurrence of the massacre.

“The formation was lie a trap which was made unassailable by the sheer strength of their numbers,” a senior official connected to the probe said.

That Maoists adopted military tactics is also evident from the ambushes they had placed at the upper and lower ends of the road generally taken by the CRPF men, thereby plugging all escape and entry routes. Maoists then took positions on hillocks, becoming strategically stronger.

Investigators discovered glaring discrepancies in the way CRPF men conducted their mission. Security experts observed that the 82-strong CRPF team that went inside the dense jungle made the fatal error of taking the same track while returning to their base camp.

“It was on their return to the camp that the Maoists struck knowing well that the security personnel would be exhausted and sitting ducks,” another officer said.

The CRPF camp was just a few kilometers away from Chintalnar, where the incident happened. “Maoists were aware that reinforcements could come from the camp and they were ready to handle any eventuality. They blew up an armoured vehicle that came from the CRPF camp side thinking it would be full of CRPF personnel,” he said.

Investigators also found that the police station, where the men were stationed, was in a dilapidated condition as it had come under Maoist attack three years ago. The CRPF, which was given the charge to reopen the police station two years ago. They were posted there to provide security cover.

Dantewada officers face action

Deccan Chronicle

New Delhi, May 16: The Union home ministry is all set to take action against top officials of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) involved in the anti-naxal operations in Dantewada in which 76 personnel were killed by the left-wing ultras on April 6, this year.

The Union home minister, Mr P Chidambaram, who faced severe criticism over the incident and offered to resign, and visited the CRPF headquarters on April 12 and has sought a written reply of his specific queries from the top brass .

The visit came almost a fortnight after the retired IPS officer, Mr E.N. Rammohan, submitted the probe report into the deadly naxal attack at Dantewada.

The minister has sought to know how the top officials were monitoring the movements of the personnel of the 62 battalion which were ambushed by the naxals in Chintalnar in Dantewada, sources said. The top brass has to reply by Monday.

Mr Chidambaram categorically asked the details about the visits of the concerned IG or the DIG to the spot before authorising the operation.

The minister has also asked the officials to come up with the written record of the operational plan. Sources said that the minister intends to know whether or not the Dantewada operation was meticulously planned on paper.

Also, the officials have been asked to furnish the details of the infrastructure provided to the forces deployed there and whether they were satisfied with them.

Sources said that the answers to these questions were aimed at fixing responsibility and if the shortcomings were detected, action may be taken against those responsible.