Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Top Maoist leader held in Ranchi

Ranchi: A top Maoist leader carrying a reward of ` five lakh on his head was arrested from an apartment in Ranchi on Wednesday, police said.

"Rajesh alias Uday, who is a top Maoist leader operating in both Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, has been arrested. He carried a reward of ` 5 lakh on his head," a senior police officer said.
A woman and a man who were along with him at the time of his arrest were being interrogated to ascertain whether they also belonged to the CPI (Maoist), he added.

Not a Moment Too Soon on Naxal Plan

Home Minister P. Chidambaram told Parliament today that the government is on the brink on unveiling a new comprehensive action plan designed to combat the increasingly brutal insurgency by Maoist rebels in central India.

In the latest bloody battle, at least 70 police were reported missing Chhattisgarh Wednesday after a major gun battle with 200 Naxalites, as the Maoists also are known, in thick forest and heavy rain.

The government in New Delhi has been dithering over what to do for months amid an apparent split in Congress’s high ranks over how to handle what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself has called the greatest internal security threat facing the country. Mr. Chidambaram told the Rajya Sabha in response to an official question that the Planning Commission will be issuing a final draft of the new “Integrated Action Plan” in the next few days. The plan is expected to focus on development.

That something appears to be about to happen is a start, though no-one should hold their breath that a document emanating from the Planning Commission will sail through the Cabinet and become national policy anytime soon even as the deaths mount up. Today’s incident happened in the same district, Dantewada, where Maoists exacted their greatest death toll of the insurgency to date, killing 76 paramilitary police in April.

Mr. Chidambaram also detailed some other aspects of the insurgency which give a sense of the grip the Naxalites now hold on some areas of the country. He said they appear to be armed with “country pistols,” or home-made handguns, as well as arms from looting an arms cachet in Orissa in the past. Weapons also come across the borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

He added that the Maoists don’t appear to be receiving funding from abroad. But nor does it appear they need it. They raise funds, Mr. Chidambaram said, through extortion, looting bank branches and levies on trucks that pass through their areas.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Maoists start using Nagpur as transit and treatment hub

The orange city of Nagpur appears to be getting tinted red as Maoist elements have begun using it as a potential transit and medical utility hub.

Security agencies were keeping a close watch on this central Indian city in Maharashtra since there were enough indications that Maoists often used it as a transit point to travel to different parts of the country, sources said today.

The orange city's proximity to Naxal hotbeds of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand could be the reason behind the Maoists often using it as transit point.

Senior Maoist leader Azad, who was killed last month, was reportedly picked up from the Nagpur railway station.

Sources also said there was information that many Naxals have visited Nagpur for treatment and security agencies were keeping a tab on the patients taking medical care in the city's hospitals. Nagpur is also home to right wing Hindutva groups as it hosts the headquarters of Sangh founthead RSS.

Sources said security agencies believe that many of the senior Naxal leaders often take shelter in Nagpur and its nearby areas for its proximity to all key Maoists hub and also leaders are always kept away from the difficult areas.

They also said the security agencies were trying to target the top leadership of the Maoists as they feel that it would considerably weaken the whole Naxal movement.

Besides, they said, there has been a vacuum between the top leadership -- most of whom are in the age group of around 60 -- and the cadres, who are mostly in the group of either 20s or 30s. "There are very few between the two age groups," sources said.

The entire politburo of the CPI(Maoists) have not met in the past few years and whenever they have to take a decision, only three to four members sit together and take a call, they said.

There were reports that differences have come up among the cadres as most of the leaders are either from Andhra Pradesh or West Bengal while the bulk of the cadres are tribals, they said.

According to an estimate, about 40,000 sq km area in Naxal-affected states are under the control of Maoists.

Naxal violence has claimed the lives of over 10,000 civilians and security personnel in the last five years.

Out of a total of 10,268 casualties between 2005 and May 2010, 2,372 deaths have been reported in 2009 as against 1,769 in 2008 and 1,737 in 2007.

Besides, Naxals targeted 362 telephone towers, many school buildings, roads, culverts etc. in 2009 alone.

One more arrested in Jnaneswari disaster

The CBI today arrested a suspected member of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee against Police Atrocity (PCPA) for allegedly tampering railway tracks in West Midnapore that led to the May 28 Jnaneswari Express disaster that killed 148 passengers.

“Lakshman Mahato was arrested from Kusumghati village in Jhargram police station for removing the pandrol clips which holds the railway tracks with the sleepers,” Superintendent of Police (Jhargram) Pravin Tripathy told PTI.

He is the 10th person arrested in the case, the police said, adding the pro-Maoist activist was being interrogated.

This is the first arrest made by CBI in Jnaneswari train disaster the investigation of which was handed over to the premier probe agency from the CID.

Mahato, 26, had been absconding since the accident on May 28.