Friday, August 07, 2020

Maoists set mukhiya free, another escapes

TNN | Aug 8, 2020, 04:00 IST

PATNA: Money lender Rajendra Yadav (70) allegedly escaped from the clutches of Maoists while Bhalui panchayat mukhiya Ganesh Rajak (46) was set free by them. The two were kidnapped from village Mananpur Basti under Chanan police station in Lakhisarai district along with one Ravindra Rajak on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday.

Chanan police station SHO Vaibhav Kumar said Ganesh returned home on Thursday night after the Maoists set him free in the Kudra forests. Ganesh’s nephew Ravindra was set free after a few hours of their kidnapping.

“We are yet to record Ganesh’s statement,” the SHO said. He said the family members of Ganesh and Rajendra denied paying any ransom to the Maoists for setting them free. “Police also don’t have any information about any ransom payment,” he said while denying reports of more than Rs20 lakh paid to the Maoists.

“Rajendra was yet to reach home. But we have information that he escaped. Let him return to the village,” the SHO said.

He said the group involved in the kidnapping is led by wanted Maoist commander Arjun Korha.

Lakhisarai Sadar SDPO Ranjan Kumar said four regular and one CoBRA commando team of CRPF, along with four additional Special Task Force (STF) teams of state police were involved in the combing operation in the hilly jungles.

Gun factory busted, three held: A team of Special Task Force (STF) busted a gun factory at Jamalnagar under Salkhua police station in Saharsa district on Friday. STF sources said two regular rifles, three countrymade pistols, 13 live cartridges, one large lathe machine, one grinder machine, mining machine, two drill machines, one SUV, four cellphones and a large number of partially manufactured firearms and other things were recovered from the spot. STF sources said Soman Kumar and Pintu Kumar of Jamalnagar and Nand Kishore Bhagat of Kasimpur Tolwapar under Salkhua police station area were arrested

The return of the Maoists

The Kumuram Bheem Asifabad district police keep ration bags to be distributed among the Kolam tribe people of Pangri habitation in Tiryani mandal.The Kumuram Bheem Asifabad district police keep ration bags to be distributed among the Kolam tribe people of Pangri habitation in Tiryani mandal. | Photo Credit: S. Harpal Singh
S. Harpal Singh08 AUGUST 2020 00:15 IST
UPDATED: 08 AUGUST 2020 01:36 IST

With members of the banned CPI (Maoist) regrouping in parts of Telangana, the State administration faces an old and familiar challenge. S. Harpal Singh reports on the recent skirmishes between Maoists and the police and the efforts of the government to tackle the threat.

On July 14, the sound of gunshots sliced through the calm night of Tokkiguda, a hamlet of just nine huts of the Gond Adivasis. The exchange of fire took place between a small squad of three Maoists and a special party of the Telangana Police who were on their trail. Jumping into the thick vegetation of the adjoining valley, the Maoists managed to escape under the cover of darkness.

It was after a long day of conducting search operations in the hamlets, which fall under the Mangi Gram Panchayat of Tiryani mandal in Kumuram Bheem Asifabad district, that the police had reached Tokkiguda at about 10.30 p.m. They had knocked on the door of the house of the village headman, Kova Ananth Rao, to inform him of their presence.

Also read | Change of guard in CPI (Maoist)

“The police were surprised to see three armed Maoists escaping through the rear exit of the hut into the darkness,” recalled a police officer. “The Maoists fired a couple of shots at the police while fleeing and the police fired back.”

Around 9 a.m. the next day, another exchange of fire took place between armed Maoists and the police in the dense forest of Mallepallithogu in Karkagudem mandal of Bhadradri-Kothagudem district, some 70 km from Bhadrachalam town. About a dozen Maoists again escaped, taking advantage of the torrential downpour that day. However, their lying up position (the spot where they held regular meetings in the forests) was discovered by the police.

“The extremists will take a lot of time to recover from this loss,” said Bhadradri-Kothagudem Superintendent of Police Sunil Dutt on the discovery of the lying up position. “We recovered 10 kit bags and other material from the spot which is close to the border with Sukma in Chhattisgarh.”

Also read | Maoists strike again, torch road roller and bulldozer

Attempts to revitalise the outfit

Both the incidents occurred about five months after the Communist Party of India (Maoist) began fresh attempts to revitalise the organisation in parts of Telangana from where it had retreated over a decade ago. According to senior police officers in the State, the Maoists are determined to prove their relevance in the region. Sources said Maoist leaders operating in the Dandakaranya forests are under tremendous pressure to prove their mettle on their home turf in Telangana where socio-economic and political conditions have changed drastically over the last few years.

It was in 2018 that the CPI (Maoist) replaced Muppala Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathi with Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavaraj as General Secretary of the organisation’s Central Committee. Basavaraj brought in a few organisational and operational changes: he reconstituted the Telangana State Committee and a dozen Area Committees and entrusted them with the task of reconsolidating their position in rural areas.

Also read | The tight and flowing structure of the Maoists

The recast State Committee is headed by Central Committee member Pulluri Prasad Rao. Haribhushan alias Jagan has been nominated as Secretary and spokesperson. The other members are Bandi Prakash alias Prabhat, Bade Chokka Rao alias Damodar, Mylarapu Adellu alias Bhaskar, Sambaiah, and Kankanala Raji Reddy, according to the police.

Sources said that the Maoists have been barred by the leadership from carrying out violent activities in Telangana lest they attract the attention of the security forces. So far, they have restricted themselves to reviving links with old contacts and recruiting rural youth in areas where they are present, barring Khammam district before it was bifurcated into Bhadradri-Kothagudem and Khammam.

All activities of the underground outfit are concentrated in the forest areas in the eastern side of the State comprising the former undivided districts of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal and Khammam. These areas border the left-wing extremism-affected areas in what is popularly known as Dandakaranya comprising Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district and parts of Chandrapur district, as well as parts of Chhattisgarh.

Also read | Maoists using complex communication system, police tell High Court

The re-organisation efforts have been in the works for a while following the many blows to the outfit over a decade ago. By 2007, following a clampdown on Maoist activity after the re-imposition of a ban on the CPI (Maoist) and other splinter extremist organisations across united Andhra Pradesh, violent activities began to decline in the districts of Adilabad, Karimnagar and Warangal. However, Khammam, with its lush forests and proximity to Chhattisgarh, gave tactical advantage to the Maoists and had become a hotbed of Maoist activity. Out of a total of 41 murders by Maoists recorded between 2007 and 2013, 33 were in Khammam alone. Ten more killings were recorded between 2014 and 2019 besides 24 incidents of exchanges of fire. Adilabad remained largely peaceful during the entire period reporting just one murder (of Athram Ballar Sha, a Gond tribal from Khairguda of Tiryani mandal in the present district of Kumuram Bheem Asifabad, in October 2015).


Among the north Telangana districts, the former undivided district of Adilabad occupied a special status in the history of left-wing extremism in the country. It was in Adilabad that the Maoists, then known as the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War Group, had, for the first time in the history of left-wing extremism, ambushed a police party in the forest of Allampalli in present-day Kadem mandal of Nirmal district in August 1987. Ten policemen, including two Sub-Inspectors, were killed. The extremists also carried out a landmine blast in Singapur in the same mandal in February 1988 killing seven policemen, including one Sub-Inspector. As many as 65 policemen including one Inspector, one jailor, and seven Sub-Inspectors were killed during the extremist movement in undivided Adilabad. The movement too suffered great losses in the district from 1980: 138 leaders and cadres were killed in ‘encounters’, including top Maoists such as Central Committee member Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, who was killed in the Sarkepalli forests of Wankidi mandal in Kumuram Bheem Asifabad district on July 2, 2010; and 381 cadres and commanders surrendered.

Also read | Is Maoist movement losing steam?

But the dense forests in this area offer safety for those on the run. This is perhaps why the Maoists are trying to make it more conducive for their cadres to operate now.

Keeping an eye on the Maoists

It was in February-March 2020 that Maoist dalams or squads are assumed to have crossed over into Telangana through rivers and forests. They came into the districts of Kumuram Bheem Asifabad, Mancherial, Peddapalli, Jayashankar-Bhupalpally, Mahabubabad, Mulugu and Bhadradri-Kothagudem. Sources in the intelligence department said this movement of armed Maoists into Telangana is very large in terms of the area they are mandated by their leadership to “regain” by earning the support of the Adivasis.

On being alerted about the movement of the Maoists, the police launched operations to flush them out of the forests and prevent violence. “We haven’t succeeded so far but we are determined to push the extremists back to where they came from or get them to surrender to the authorities,” a source in the police said.

Special police patrol the forests in Kumuram Bheem Asifabad district.

Special police patrol the forests in Kumuram Bheem Asifabad district. | Photo Credit: S. Harpal Singh

Some retired police officers, veterans from the anti-Naxal campaign before 2007, attributed the difficulty in tracking down the extremists to the lack of knowledge of the terrain among the new officers. They also pointed out that the informer network remains weak. If it is strengthened, that would make a big difference, they said.

After reviewing the situation in the wake of the two incidents of exchange of fire, Director General of Police M. Mahender Reddy said a positive result would be achieved soon. He told the media that as many as 500 policemen, including units from the specialist force to take on the Maoists, the Greyhounds, have been deployed to flush out the five extremists from Tiryani. The ratio of policemen to Maoists is 100:1, he said.

Also read | Maoist plans to enter State will be foiled with steely grit: DGP

In the former district of Adilabad, where there are reports of movements of the extremists, the dalam is led by an experienced leader, 55-year-old Adilabad District Committee Secretary Adellu, who carries a reward of ₹20 lakh on his head. Adellu is from Pochera village in Boath mandal of Adilabad district. He is said to be conversant in local dialects and knows the jungle passages like the back of his hand.

“The dalam had consisted of some 12 armed Maoists when it crossed Pranahita in Kumuram Bheem Asifabad district in March. It is left with just five members now; the others are presumed to have gone back to Chhattisgarh after failing to withstand the heat of our operations,” said Adilabad District Superintendent of Police Vishnu S. Warrier, who also holds the charge of Superintendent of Police of Kumuram Bheem Asifabad and Nirmal districts.

“The Maoists are camping in select villages and discussing tribal issues like the Forest Rights Act, the impact of the Supreme Court order scrapping Government Order 3 issued by the undivided Andhra Pradesh government in 2000 making provision for 100% reservations in some categories of government jobs in Scheduled Areas, and the Adivasi-Lambada conflict on the issue of tenability of Scheduled Tribe status of the Lambadas. The discussions are apparently aimed at influencing the minds of young tribals and eventually recruiting some of them,” a source in the intelligence department said.

Also read | Maoist Adellu, his squad were on the move for last four months

The extremists claimed that they are observing a self-imposed restraint on the use of violence. Jagan, their spokesperson, issued a statement that the Maoists were visiting villages to educate the rural poor about the pandemic.

Warrier scoffed at this. “It was the police which used the lockdown period for strengthening ties with the rural folk by supplying them with essentials,” he said. “This is in addition to the coordination we are forging between the villagers and different departments to bring in speedy development.”

The distribution of relief material aimed at improving relations with the people is part of the strategy of the State police to make policing more people-friendly. Also, by visiting villages located inside the forests, the department has kept an eye on the movements of suspected Maoist sympathisers.

A brief history

In 2004, the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh observed an informal ceasefire agreement with the Maoists. However, that got scrapped in 2005 following the killing of MLA Chittem Narsi Reddy and 10 others in erstwhile Mahabubnagar district. According to a senior police officer, the PWG had committed a blunder by agreeing to a ceasefire. The decision haunted the organisation even after Telangana was created, he said. “They had thought that the few months of talks with the government would give them time and space to strengthen the organisation. But it was the other way around. The Maoists got exposed and offered an opportunity to the police to photograph and profile their top leaders and cadres. The authorities were placed at an advantage with regard to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the PWG which, by then, had merged with other groups to become the CPI (Maoist),” the officer said.

The Maoists suffered heavy casualties in the period following the end of the ceasefire and retreated into Dandakaranya in 2008. They had that territory earmarked as an alternate centre in anticipation of facing the heat in Andhra Pradesh that would require them to evacuate the State in a hurry. That’s when they developed a rapport with the Adivasi communities living in the dense forests.

Also read | Top Naxals killed in Andhra Pradesh

“That such a need would arise some day had become clear to the Maoists. They had done some intense research in 2003-2004 which was titled ‘Social Investigation of North Telangana’. They selected undivided Warangal district as their case study. The study revealed that exploitation and oppression of the poor by landlords was no more a phenomenon troubling the rural poor, and that the welfare programmes of the government had percolated into rural areas,” a source in the intelligence wing of the police department said.

“The return of the Congress party to form the government in Andhra Pradesh in 2004 under Rajasekhara Reddy saw more welfare activities taking place. There was increased participation of the rural poor in development activities,” said a top Maoist who had later surrendered. “Roads and mobile communications saw a lot of improvement, and poor people, including women, got representation in administration thanks to implementation of the 50% reservation quota for women in local bodies,” he said.

“Instead of Maoists, caste organisations took the lead in dispute resolution in rural areas, while youngsters studied hoping to get government employment. This had a great impact on the recruitment process of the banned organisation which drew its cadres mostly from villagers who were disgruntled on failing to access government welfare programmes or were discriminated against, and the students,” a source in intelligence department said.

The former extremist said: “The failure to evoke any response in the villages was one of the main reasons for the outfit to withdraw from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The other reason was that the police had acquired the required skills to track us down. That was causing great harm to the movement.”

The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh did not alter the positions taken by the two new governments. The police in both the States believed that those Maoists who had left the place were bound to return.

It was because of this belief that the Greyhounds in both the States entered Chhattisgarh or Gadchiroli in Maharashtra every now and then to cooperate with the police forces in chasing or eliminating Maoists. The Mangi dalam commander Athram Shoban alias Charles was killed in an ‘encounter’ in Gadchiroli in June 2004. He belonged to the Tiryani mandal and was an accused in the murder of Athram Ballar Sha in October the previous year. His death removed a key link between the local poor and the Maoists.

Also read | Shobhan’s death throws up problems stalking Adivasis

Has the scenario changed in Telangana? Are the Adivasis no longer exploited? “The Adivasis continue to be exploited by corrupt elements in the administration,” said an Adivasi headman in Sirikonda mandal of Adilabad district as he dwelt upon the issue of revival of the Maoist organisation.

Athram Bheem Rao, a Kolam tribal headman of Pangri in Tiryani mandal, said: “The Maoists will not find support here as we want peace and development.”

The Adivasis are in the right frame of mind, said Warrier. “We do not want any of them helping the Maoists, even unwillingly, and inviting trouble,” he said.

S. Harpal Singh is a freelance journalist

No chargesheet, 12 labelled ‘urban naxals’ get bail

Srinath Vudali | TNN | Aug 7, 2020, 13:18 IST

HYDERABAD: Though over a dozen academics, student and civil rights activists were allegedly branded as ‘urban naxals’, hauled up in jails and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), most of them are now free as state police failed to file 

charge sheets

 in the stipulated timeframe.

The latest to join the list is Telangana Praja Front (TPF) general secretary M Ramesh who walked out of Khammam jail.

Twelve of them have already come out on bail in the past few months.

Most accused got bail in multiple cases

Telangana police had launched a crackdown in October 2019 and arrested at least 15 persons accusing them of being ‘urban naxals’ with links to the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Telangana Vidhyarthi Vedika (TVV) members P Naganna, Balaram, Osmania University (OU) professor Kasim, OU assistant professor Jagan, TPF member M Ramesh, Chaitanya Mahila Sangam’s Shilpa, Devendar, Ravi Sharma and his wife Anuradha have secured bail. However, three others — TVV president Bandari Maddileti, TPF vice-president 

N Krishna

, TVV general secretary 

M Sandeep

, facing a 

National Investigation Agency

 (NIA) investigation — are still in judicial custody.

Though these accused were booked under the UAPA apart from other IPC sections, most of them could obtain bail as the investigators failed to file charge sheet during the stipulated 90-day period as prescribed in the Act. Most of them obtained bails in multiple cases, registered by police against them, before they could come out of jail.

TPF’s N Krishna had obtained bail in seven cases, but was arrested by the NIA in the eighth case registered against him. Similarly, Ramesh had obtained bail in four other cases before coming out of Khammam jail on Thursday.

Some accused, requesting anonymity, said Telangana police should file charge sheet without any delay if they have evidence. So far, 99 persons were named accused in different FIRs for allegedly being Maoist sympathisers.

“A charge sheet in a UAPA case has to be filed within 90 days. If police have evidence, as claimed by them after arresting the accused, why are they not filing charge sheets? As a result, the accused are forced to go from one police station to another since the court had granted condition bails. It is a deliberate delaying tactic by police to harass them,’’ a family member of an accused said on condition of anonymity to TOI. But Telangana police officers claim cases were under different stages of investigation and charge sheets would be filed. Even while opposing bail petitions of the accused, the investigators had cited before courts that the “nature of the offence was serious and investigation was still being done”.

The Death Script': A Traumatised – and Traumatising – Account of Naxal Country

As you read Ashutosh Bhardwaj's book, the many threads start to form knots of betrayal and revenge, of injustice and rage – knots that will ensure that the death script will continue to play out.
19 hours ago | Partha P. Chakrabartty

Ashutosh Bhardwaj’s The Death Script: Dreams and Delusions in Naxal Country draws on numerous trips to Bastar over 100 months across the last decade, and on his unfortunate responsibility of recording over 200 deaths during this period. Reading it takes a sledgehammer to our liberal delusions regarding the Indian state, leaving behind a landscape littered with perfidies, betrayals, and the blackened, bloated corpses of innocent people. 

In other hands, the conjuring of corpse after mutilated corpse may have seemed excessive or extractive, but Bhardwaj has earned his stripes as a journalist. Repeatedly, it is the relatives of the dead who beg him to take photographs of their loved one’s naked bodies in the hope that it will lead to some kind of justice. The very first time this request is made of him, he declines: 

Two years later, before an enquiry commission in July 2014, you state the reason for not being able to take the photographs. ‘I was petrified by the sight of a heap of corpses,’ you state under oath, ‘and found it inhuman to store the naked bodies of children’—among the deceased was a twelve-year-old girl—‘in my laptop merely to secure some evidence and make the report appear more authentic.’ 

But this very discretion leads to his report being dismissed by the State. Bhardwaj learns from this, writing, ‘Such doubts did not affect you in the future, and you never flinched before taking photographs of the corpses.’

A book marked by trauma

This particular betrayal sits so heavily with Bhardwaj that he mentions it a second time a few pages later. The repetition feels unintentional—the very words are repeated—but it signals the trauma endured by ‘death reporters’ in this region, the kind of trauma that keeps welling up over and over again. 

The book is marked by this trauma in its very structure, which is deeply fragmented.

The bulk of the book is composed of diary entries written by Bhardwaj, entries that are not organised chronologically, and which are placed under repeating titles that feel interchangeable. No real narrative thread can be found. The fluctuations in form extend to the voice used by the author, which often departs from the third-person voice of a report or the first-person voice of testimony.

It is telling that particularly painful passages, like the one quoted above, seem to cause dissociation, with the author referring to himself as ‘you’. Sometimes, even the voices of the dead are imagined and ventriloquized, leading to this arresting opening passage:

“My Madam. That’s what I called her. I wanted to have a baby with her. I’m a dead man now. Whom will she have a baby with, I don’t know. My name was Korsa Joga. It still is. Your name doesn’t change after you’ve been murdered.”

Also read: Which Are the Wars Worth Fighting? The Case for a Ceasefire in Bastar

Instead, through these fragments shored up against his ruins, Bhardwaj shows us just how much of a chakravyuhthe war in Bastar is, where everyone—and their ghosts—wander about in a daze. Reading the book can conjure the feeling of being lost in these deep forests, without landmarks or signposts. It reminds me of Deviprasad Mishra’s lines:

Dimaag ke jungle

Kucch saaf hue


Dono hatheliyon par

Ghaas ug aayi

(‘The jungles of my mind were cleared somewhat, but look, grass has begun to grow on my palms.’)

After you put the book down, you walk about for days with the feeling of grass on your palms.

No narrative does justice

While this (dis)organisation can be distracting, it feels necessary in the book, because it acts as an antidote to a violence done too often when it comes to this subject: the creation of simplistic narratives. By keeping these incidents in their fragmented form, Bhardwaj is demanding that we give each episode and fact its due. 

The narrative of the Indian State, of a war against a form of anti-national terrorism, is constantly dismantled by the numbers of innocent people shot and retroactively designated ‘Naxals’, a procedure so common as to be banal.

The hidden hand of Indian corporations is also repeatedly shown: Bhardwaj marks the coincidence of the unspeakable atrocities of the Salwa Judum being launched a day after a new Tata Steel plant is announced, and also notes Essar’s payment of protection money to the Naxals. The BJP, too, for all its talk of ‘urban Naxals’, does not hesitate to ally with the Maoists to win local elections, though this particular marriage of ideological enemies dissolves murderously soon after. 

The first Salwa Judum rally in Konta, Chhattisgarh. Photo: Special arrangement

But other narratives, too, are challenged. Alpa Shah’s Nightmarch pointed out the gaps between Adivasis and the Maoist cadres, with many Maoist efforts seeming like ‘civilising’ efforts that forcibly intrude upon Adivasi lives. Bhardwaj, too, points out the irony of cadres from Andhra Pradesh embroiling Adivasis in a revolutionary war in Bastar. Then there are the mentions of mob justice imposed by Maoists, where villagers are forced to stone a youth to death because he is suspected of being a police informer.

The reality of Adivasis being crushed in this conflict is shown through the treatment of dead bodies: the State has an established procedure where dead soldiers are returned to their families; an organisation led by relatives of Maoists killed in police encounters makes strenuous efforts to restore the bodies of slain cadres to their families in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. But the Adivasi dead in Bastar are not accorded the same dignity: they ‘remain unidentified and are summarily cremated by the police.’ 

Also read: Salwa Judum 2.0? What a Disaster That Will Be

While the book as a whole is damning to the police, Bhardwaj is careful to note that many a station officer deliberately backs reporters, providing them with the internet connections and facilities they need to file reports damning the police themselves. Occasionally, a judicial commission is able to provide a pale imitation of justice on the basis of such reports, long after the fact.

Similarly complicated are narratives about controversial figures like Mahendra Karma. The Salwa Judum leader’s brutality is well-known, but Bhardwaj makes it impossible to paint him as a simple villain; instead, we hear undeniable details, like the murder of over ninety-five members of the Karma family in the war. Bhardwaj writes, 

“Karma wanted to free Dantewada from the Maoists, but he also hobnobbed with mining companies and crushed a large number of his adivasi brethren during the Judum. Yet, when one looks at the memory stones of the Karma family … it appears almost like the battle of a chieftain with outsiders over control of the jungle…After all, who would stake his life, and the lives of his entire family, on this? Not a businessman or a politician. A man with commercial or political ambitions cannot possibly lead a life that entails the possibility of witnessing his entire clan meeting a gory death, one by one.”

Of course, Karma would go on to be brutally murdered by the Maoists in revenge for the rapes, tortures, and summary killings of Maoists and Adivasis in the Judum. The number of wounds on Karma’s body, received both before and after death, remains the highest number Bhardwaj has seen on a post-mortem report.

A war without end

The conflict has now entered its sixth decade. How is there no exhaustion with all this death? One set of details shows how the Maoists desensitise themselves to their violence: by filming and then watching, over and over again, ‘ambush videos’ of battles with the police. ‘Their eyes gleam with an animal thrill as they watch their comrades humbling the corpses of policemen onscreen.’

But the conflict is also intensified by police brutality and the negligence of the state. After all, many of the stories of how recruits came to join the Naxals begins with one or the other instance of such assaults on the innocent. 

File photo of voters in Bastar. Photo: PTI

Meanwhile, even the most basic measures of outreach have not been made by the State. It took the Maoists to start publishing textbooks in Gondi instead of the Hindi textbooks doled out by the state that make no sense to Adivasi children. The region is so shorn of development that Bhardwaj recounts conversations where Bastar’s Maoist cadres have never known electricity or telephones. They can’t believe people in cities use gas for cooking, or ask about fans: ‘I have heard there is something in the cities for summer. How does it work?’ 

Also read: Chhattisgarh: How Bastar Became ‘BJP Mukt’

Work is meagre, with many relying on MGNREGA or working as daily wage labourers. Healthcare is even harder to find. When Bhardwaj asks one of the men what they do if someone needs urgent medical attention, the person replies: ‘Usually, we accept that their time is up and let the person die here. But sometimes, if we feel that it is important to save them, we arrange for a cot and a healthy goat…We lay the patient down on the cot and tug the goat along. We reach Bhopalpatnam after walking for a day. A healthy goat fetches around 5,000 rupees. It pays for the treatment.’

Many don’t survive the journey to healthcare. 

All this begins from widespread political failure, where even a month-long wage agitation by Adivasi cooks for the government’s midday meal scheme is ignored by both politicians and the press. Bhardwaj claims that even more than the lack of development, it is this political vacuum that allows for the flourishing of Naxalism. Noting Naxal failures in north-west Jharkhand, Bhardwaj writes, ‘…remote areas had no electricity, but politicians were aplenty. People had an easy window for grievance redressal—a politician next door…When social angst finds a vent in the political space and politicians tour their constituencies to secure voters, space for revolution fades away.’

While military adventurism will increase and the might of the Indian state may well result in a final conflagration, continuing injustices suggest revolutionary sentiments will persist. In a moving section, Bhardwaj recounts this realisation of relentlessness through the anguish of a surrendered senior Maoist, Sukhdev, who does not hesitate to speak of his doubts over his surrender even in the presence of his police minders:

“A person like me … I was extremely happy in the forest. If I say that I’m happy now, I’d be betraying myself … I now have a shelter, three meals a day, but it’s only for me. When I look at my surroundings, it [poverty and inequality] disturbs me. My worldly happiness troubles me…’ His voice faltered, his eyes gleamed behind his spectacles. ‘I have lost my identity as an individual. It won’t be a smooth life for me in the city’.” 

Even the Maoists who are continuing the fight know that they will not see the ‘red flag on the Red Fort’ in their lifetimes. But, in the face of ongoing exploitation, they see no alternative to the struggle. 

As you read on, the many threads in the book start to form knots of betrayal and revenge, of injustice and rage, knots that will ensure that the death script will continue to play out. By the end of the book, you realise the knots have found a home in your throat. No amount of swallowing can undo them.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Visakha Rural cops claim Naxalites' involvement in ganja cultivation

G Sambasiva Rao | TNN | Aug 6, 2020, 22:04 IST
Image used for representational purpose only


Visakha Rural Cops

 claimed that for the first time they have cracked the nexus between Naxalites and ganja traders with proofs.

During an interrogation of a ganja trader, rural cops came to know about the alleged cultivation of ganja by the Naxalites.

According to anti-Naxalite operations OSD Satish Kumar, they arrested a 36-year-old person Kolakani Kamesh of Maddigaruvu area in G Madugula, a stronghold of CPI Maoists.

"We know that Maoists collect levy from the ganja traders. But it is shocking news for us as they are now cultivating ganja and trading by joining hands with the ganja traders," he said.

Cops of G Madugula police station arrested Kamesh on Wednesday and seized two steel carriages, 10 detonators, nuts and bolts. They also seized 24kg ganja and Rs 1.76 lakh in cash. The accused Kamesh accepted that he had been working for the Maoist Ashok and his wife Lakshmi.

Kamesh was contacted by Maoist Prabhakar alias Ashok of Kondrum village four years ago. Ashok and his wife Lakshmi would give ganja stock and Kamesh would sell it to other big traders such as Krishna of Odisha, Depak Ramakrishna, Anil Sheik and Gautam Sanurao of Maharashtra.

Narsipatnam OSD, Satish Kumar said that Kamesh would sell the ganja and supply the necessary material, including food and other material to the Maoists squads. Kamesh brought rice, medicines, milk powders, tea packets and even the required material for explosives secretly several times.

The material seized from Kamesh by the cops would be used in explosives.

"Naxalites might be in a plan to eliminate the combing security forces. They planted a landmine at Kondrum where two innocent tribals were killed a couple of days ago. They are converting the tribal youth as ganja smugglers and arrested persons are now in prisons," Satish Kumar added

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Woman naxal killed in encounter in Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh

UPDATED: 05 AUGUST 2020 15:45 IST

Police suspect at least three cadres were injured in the incident.

A woman naxal was killed on Wednesday in an encounter with security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, police said.

Police suspect at least three cadres were injured in the incident. The skirmish took place around 9:30 a.m. in the forest of Isulnaar village, about 450 kms away from Raipur, when a joint team of security forces was conducting an anti-naxal operation, Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P said.

The team came under fire from naxals in the forest, he said. After firing stopped, security personnel found the body of a woman cadre and a 12 bore gun from the spot, the IGP said

Blood stains at the spot indicated that three-four naxals were injured, he said. The deceased ultra seems to be a member of PLGA (Peoples’ Liberation Guerrilla Army) platoon no.11 of Maoists, he said

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Hany Babu’s custody extended by NIA court

Professor Hany Babu (centre) being produced before the special NIA court in Mumbai. FileProfessor Hany Babu (centre) being produced before the special NIA court in Mumbai. File | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
Sonam SaigalMUMBAI 04 AUGUST 2020 19:40 IST
UPDATED: 04 AUGUST 2020 19:40 IST

Accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, Prof. Babu is to be detained till August 7

A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Tuesday extended the NIA custody for Professor Hany Babu till August 7 as an accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence.

Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Prakash Shetty representing the NIA said, “During the investigation of the case, it is revealed that Mr. Babu has links with the banned outfit Communist Party of India (Maoist). He was the associate of arrested accused persons in the case and was a supporter of Naxal activities and Naxalite movements.”

Mr. Babu was arrested on July 28 and a search was conducted at his residence in Uttar Pradesh. Various electronics articles and incriminating documents were seized, and for the analysis of those articles, the NIA sought Mr. Babu’s custody for another seven days.

According to the agency: “Mr. Babu was using various social media accounts for communication with other co-accused persons, suspects as well as other members/sympathisers of CPI (Maoist). Disclosure and data extraction of the said social media accounts are pending and the presence of the accused is required for confrontation of said documents.”

The agency states, “Nearly 1.26 lakh emails were recovered from his email account and the said emails are under the process of scrutiny. Mr. Babu was in contact with one Paikhomba Meitei, Secretary Information and Publicity, Military Affairs, KCP (MC), an organisation banned under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act who shared an interview of Ganapathy, General Secretary of CPI (Maoist) with Mr. Babu.”

The central agency added: “He was in contact with arrested accused and they were involved in raising funds to help Maoists released from the prison. He was involved in highlighting the issue of arrest and conviction of G.N. Saibaba, sentenced for life imprisonment for links with CPI (Maoist).”

Advocate Susan Abraham appearing for Mr. Babu said he has cooperated duly not only during the last remand but also when the NIA officers had questioned him for five days.

Judge R.R. Bhosale extended NIA custody for three days and said, “The progress of investigation reveals various developments in to the entire course of investigation. Hence further investigation as per the SPP is required considering the scope and magnitude of the case.”

On January 24, 2020, the NIA re-registered a case relating to 11 arrested accused persons for inciting people and giving provocative presentation and speeches on December 31, 2017 during the Elgar Parishad organised by the activists of the Kabir Kala Manch at Shanivarwada, Pune, which promoted enmity between the caste groups and led to violence resulting in loss of life and state wide agitation, according to the agency.

Initially, the Vishram Baug Police Station registered a case and arrested Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferreira, Varavara Rao, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Mahesh Raut, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Surendra Gadling. They have been booked for terrorist activities.

Maoist caught in Telangana's Bhupalpally

TNN | Aug 4, 2020, 14:24 IST
Representative image

HYDERABAD: A Chhattisgarh-based 


 was caught distributing pamphlets, asking people to celebrate martyr’s week, at Kothapalli X Roads in Jayashankar-Bhupalpally district on Monday.

At 4pm, while Venkatapuram police along with CRPF personnel were conducting vehicle check at Kothapalli X Roads, they identified a person trying to run away on seeing the cops. Police intercepted the suspect and identified him as Sodi Oora, 30, from Chinna Utlapally village in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh.

Oora told police that he joined Maoist party militia group in 2012 as a member. Initially, he used to collect groceries and vegetables for the party and inform Maoists about the movement of police.

In 2016, Oora was appointed as member of Pujarikanker Revolutionary Peoples’ Committee (RPC)

Exchange of fire between Naxals, police forces in Dantewada, 2 jawans suffered minor injuries

Exchange of fire between Naxals, police forces in Dantewada, 2 jawans suffered minor injuries

Dantewada (Chhattisgarh) [India], Aug 4 (ANI): An exchange of fire took place between Naxals and police forces in Dantewada on Tuesday, police said.
Two Special Task Force (STF) jawans sustained minor bruise injuries in the exchange of fire which took place for about 20 minutes.
"Today morning received an input about 15 to 20 Naxals taking a meeting in Mirchipara, 3 kilometres from Potali camp, Aranpur police station, Dantewada. DRG/STF teams from Potali and Aranpur tactfully reached the meeting spot and were trying to cordon the area. As police forces were trying to cordon the meeting site, Naxals started indiscriminate firing," police said.
"The militia cadres also activated two pipe bombs planted along the road side. The exchange of fire took place for about 20 minutes. Naxals fled taking cover of civilians and forests. Troops safely returned back to the camp. Two STF jawans sustained minor bruise injuries during the action," police added.
After the exchange of fire, the area was searched and camping material of Naxals, pithoos, umbrellas and items of daily use recovered from the spot. (ANI)

Naxalite attack in West Bengal, BSF jawan dies in Saharanpur district

Bhatnagar said that after his duty on Monday night, when Anuj Saini was returning for rest of the night, the ambushed Naxalites attacked his team from behind, killing Anuj and one of his senior officers. Also Read – Ayodhya, 5 temples of West Bengal will be brought to Ayodhya for Ram temple bhoomipujan, to be used during rituals

According to Bhatnagar, the BSF informed the family about the death of Anuj by phone. Anuj is survived by his father, wife and two daughters. One daughter is three years old while the other is only 11 months old. Also Read – Situation worrisome in West Bengal! Governor meets Amit Shah

Adilabad SP appeals public to not support Maoists

Superintendent sought support from the public to policemen who were striving hard for wiping out the Maoists, braving odds such as heavy downpours

By Author  |  Published: 3rd Aug 2020  7:27 pm
Adilabad SP appeals public to not support Maoists

Adilabad: Superintendent of Police Vishnu S Warrier urged the public not to extend support to banned Maoists. He warned that stringent action would be taken against those who show sympathy and help the ultras.

In a press statement, issued on Monday, Warrier requested the public not to extend cooperation to the extremists by trusting their words. He stated that the prohibited Maoists were trying to prove their existence in the district which was once their stronghold. He pleaded with them civilians to oppose the attempts of the red brigade.

The IPS officer further said that the Maoists were still propagating outdated ideologies, while the entire world was embracing digital life. He alleged that they were extracting huge sums from contractors and were relying on gullible tribals for food and shelter. He suggested them join the mainstream and to avail rehabilitation packages.

The Superintendent sought support from the public to policemen who were striving hard for wiping out the Maoists, braving odds such as heavy downpours.  He wanted them to share information of movement of the extremists and cash rewards would be given to informants. He assured their identity would not be disclosed

At least 70 Maoists have surrendered under Lon Varratu campaign in Dantewada till now


The human rights activists claimed that an innocent tribal is being trapped between Chhattisgarh Police and other paramilitary security forces and the Maoists.

Updated: Aug 04, 2020 15:16 IST

By Ritesh Mishra, Hindustan Times Raipur

Under the programme the activists alleged the police are forcing innocent tribals to turn themselves in
Under the programme, the activists alleged, the police are forcing innocent tribals to turn themselves in. (HT file photo)

At least 70 purported outlawed Communist Party of India (CPI)-Maoist rebels have laid down their arms and surrendered under the ongoing Lon Varratu campaign in the past two months in around 50 villages of the Left-wing Extremism (LWE)-hit Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh.

The human rights activists claimed that an innocent tribal is being trapped between Chhattisgarh Police and other paramilitary security forces and the Maoists.

Under the programme, the activists alleged, the police are forcing innocent tribals to turn themselves in.

Lon Varratu in the tribal Gond dialect means homecoming.

The police have earmarked about 50 hypersensitive Maoist-dominated villages, where pamphlets have been put up with an appeal for villagers to surrender.

Police said of the 70 surrendered Maoist rebels, 15 had a reward between Rs one and eight lakh on their heads.

On Sunday, Malla, who had an Rs 8-lakh reward on his head and was a military platoon deputy commander, surrendered on his own due to growing pressure from his sisters before the Raksha Bandhan that was celebrated the following day, police said.

Police and the state administration believe that Maoists might come around and shun violence if community awareness and pressure could be mounted.

“The narrative and the landscape have reversed. Earlier, during monsoon, the Maoists would go on a hiring spree, but now it’s the high season for surrender,” said Abhishek Pallava, superintendent of police (SP), Dantewada.

The SP said the Maoists’ anonymous cover has been blown off because of the campaign.

The Lon Varratu campaign has led to transparency. There are no complaints of fake arrests and encounters. The drive targets top rung to grassroots Maoist rebels, who are being given an opportunity to join the social mainstream,” Pallava added.

Police claimed that the success of the programme could be gauged from the fact that not even a single poster put up in remote Naxal sensitive villages has been torn.

Soni Sori, a tribal leader, questioned the campaign and claimed that an unsuspecting tribal is caught between the Maoist rebels and the police.

“Who has given the rights to the police to declare a person a Maoist? Tribal farmers have been declared Maoists under this draconian campaign,” alleged Sori.

The poor tribals have nowhere to go, as the police are pressuring them to surrender and the Maoists are torturing them for co-operating with the police, she alleged.

‘Surrender is the key, but it shouldn’t be imposed upon innocent tribal farmers,” she added.

Pallava refuted Sori’s allegations.

“Tribals are getting an opportunity for the first time to join the social mainstream. We hope they will use this option and surrender in the coming days, as Maoists cadres in respective villages have been reduced to a minority,” he said.

The SP said any tribal villager, who might feel that his name has been erroneously included as a Maoist rebel, has the right to seek redressal.

He reached out to the activists to “share feedback about the campaign and ways to improve it”.

The Dantewada district administration is also providing livelihood opportunities to the surrendered Maoists under the campaign.

“The district administration is providing them with agricultural equipment such as tractor, construction activities, and also work in veterinary and allied departments. Many of these tribals, who have surrendered, are encouraging others to join the social mainstream. The state government’s poverty alleviation scheme for Dantewada will be extended to all the surrendered beneficiaries,” said Deepak Soni, district collector, Dantewada.

Maoist landmine kills two tribals in forest area of Visakhapatnam

Police said there was specific information that the landmine was planted by the Maoists targeting the security forces combing in the area for the last few days

Updated: Aug 03, 2020 23:08 IST

By Srinivasa Rao Apparasu| Edited by Sabir Hussain, Hindustan Times Hyderabad

The two tribal youth had gone into the forest in search of some cattle which were missing from the herd after grazing
The two tribal youth had gone into the forest in search of some cattle which were missing from the herd after grazing. (Representative Photo/Getty Images)

Two Adivasis were killed after they stepped on a landmine allegedly planted by outlawed Maoists in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam district on Monday afternoon, police said.

The incident took place in the forests of Kondru tribal hamlet under Injari gram panchayat limits of Pedabayalu block at around 4 pm. The deceased were identified as Mondipalli Ajay Kumar and Mondipalli Mohan Rao of Jamiguda tribal hamlet of Chintalaveedi gram panchayat.

According to the police, the two tribal youth had gone into the forest in search of some cattle which were missing from the herd after grazing. “They accidentally stepped on a mine planted under the soil on the thoroughfare. It exploded, killing both of them on the spot,” Pedyabayalu sub-inspector of police Raja Rao said.

He said there was specific information that the landmine was planted by the Maoists targeting the security forces combing in the area for the last few days. “We came to know that the Maoists had planted landmines in the Kondru forest area and our forces have been avoiding the route in the last two days,” the SI said.

The two tribal youth, who were unaware of the landmines, ventured into the forest in search of cattle. “We suspect it to be a pressure mine, rather than remote-controlled sensor mine, as the Maoists use the latter only on seeing the combing police forces,” Raja Rao said.

The bodies were still lying in the village, as the police did not go there because of Maoist threat. “The village is located deep in the interior and inaccessible by road. We shall shift the bodies to the hospital for post-mortem on Tuesday,” the SI said