Saturday, May 01, 2021

Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case | NIA disputes U.S. firm’s report

A view of National Investigation Agency (NIA), in New Delhi. FileA view of National Investigation Agency (NIA), in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma
PTIMUMBAI 01 MAY 2021 17:30 IST
UPDATED: 01 MAY 2021 17:34 IST

It says the U.S. firm had no business giving such an opinion without the permission of the court at a time when the trial was pending and the issue was sub-juice.

The National Investigation Agency has disputed a forensic report by a U.S. firm which suggested that electronic evidence was planted on the computer device belonging to activist Rona Wilson, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case.

In an affidavit filed before the Bombay High Court on Friday, the NIA said it "stoutly" denied the contents of the U.S. firm's report, adding that Mr. Wilson's allegations of fabrication of evidence and planting of electronic evidence could not be accepted.

The central agency said Mr. Wilson's plea based on the U.S. firm's report was not maintainable, and urged the High Court to dismiss it as well as impose cost on the activist for filing such a plea.


In an affidavit filed through its officer Vikram Jhakate, the NIA said, "I stoutly deny the report. I say since the contention made in the petition regarding the aforesaid facts are not admitted by me, they are disputed questions of fact and hence cannot be entertained in the present writ petition," the affidavit reads.

The NIA further said the firm's report and a news story carried in a magazine were not part of the chargesheet, and Mr. Wilson could not rely on them to seek quashing of charges.


It further said that since the U.S. firm's report itself claimed it was difficult to identify the person who allegedly planted such evidence, it was on Mr. Wilson to prove allegations of fabrication of evidence at the time of trial.

The NIA said the onus of explaining and identifying when and how evidence was planted was on Mr. Wilson himself since the alleged planting of electronic evidence took place before the FIR in the case was registered.

"As far as the contention of the petitioner that there is fabrication of documents, planting of false evidence and scant regards to procedure established by law is concerned, the same is uncalled for at this stage," the affidavit stated.

It said Mr. Wilson's plea was vague and based on "ifs and buts" and he himself was not sure of the person who allegedly planted the document.

The NIA said Mr. Wilson had an alternate remedy of filing an application for discharge under Section 227 or 239 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

It also said the U.S. firm had no business giving such an opinion without the permission of the court at a time when the trial was pending and the issue was sub-juice.

The central agency also said the purpose of Mr. Wilson's plea was to delay the trial.

Mr. Wilson approached High Court earlier this year seeking quashing of charges as well as directions to appoint a Special Investigation Team, headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge and consisting of digital forensic analysis experts, to probe the planting of documents on his computer by using malware

Maoists blow up portion of Howrah-Mumbai rail track in Jharkhand

About a meter of the railway track on the Howrah-Mumbai main line was blown away in Jharkhand early on Monday by suspected Maoists, who gave a call for Bharat Bandh on April 26 in support of farmers protests against the three Central farm laws
UPDATED ON APR 26, 2021 01:06 PM IST

Jharkhand: Several mail,express and passenger trains were held up after the blast was detected.

About a meter of the railway track on the Howrah-Mumbai main line was blown away in Jharkhand early on Monday by suspected Maoists, who gave a call for Bharat Bandh on April 26 in support of farmers protests against the three Central farm laws. The traffic on the section under Chakradharpur division of South Eastern Railway (SER) in West Singhbhum district was suspended for hours following the blast, said railway officials.

A senior railway official indicated that a goods train passing through the damaged section between Lotapahar and Sonua stations alerted the authorities and reported a “heavy jerk”, which led to at least 8 mail/express/passenger trains being stopped at different stations to prevent any untoward incident.

“On receiving information, all movement in the Rourkela-Chakradharpur section was immediately stopped and 8 mail express/passengers trains and several goods trains were controlled at different stations as security measures,” Manish Kumar Pathak, senior divisional commercial manager (Sr DCM), Chakradharpur division of SER, said Monday morning.

He said patrolling teams accompanied by security personnel were sent to the blast site first and it started investigating the ‘heavy jerk’ reported by the goods train loco driver after arriving at the site

How to end Maoist violence

Maoists would like the state to respond from a security rather than developmental perspective, as they know that only in poverty can they sustain a captive support base.

Maoists, Naxalism
A national policy to end Naxalist violence has to emanate out of economic, developmental and internal security considerations. (Representational Photo/PTI)

When former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in 2010 flagged Naxalism as the important internal security challenge, the insurgency was at its peak. In line with that assessment, the government of India reinforced security and development assistance to state governments faced with this problem. This combined effort is yielding positive results. The number of civilians and security forces killed has come down. So is the number of severely affected districts, which are no more than 30. What is catastrophic though is the sporadic high fatalities suffered by security forces in the well-planned offensive ambushes laid by Naxalites. Is this an insurmountable challenge? Analysing this menace from ideological, strategical and tactical frameworks is likely to throw some convincing answers.

According to Maoist ideology, economically oppressed peasants/working class will triumph over the oppressive capitalist bourgeois class to establish a classless society. For them, the only strategy to establish a classless society is through armed revolution. The operational tactics to give shape to that strategy is protracted guerrilla warfare.


The ideological fountain of Maoism, class struggle, that erupted as a small armed rebellion between the landless peasants and the landed aristocracy in Naxalbari village in West Bengal in 1967, could not sustain. Rapid economic growth, aspirational youth and opportunities created by communication and mobility act as a strong counter for economic class-based division.

The strategy of organising the oppressed class into a people’s army and a bottom-up approach of encircling the urban areas from the hinterland periphery to overthrow the ruling elite, remained a pipe-dream. If anything, armed class struggle which appeared to be taking roots in north Telangana, Srikakulam of Andhra Pradesh and south Vidarbha in the1980s, instead of expanding from villages to urban centres has retreated further into the core forested area.


With their ideology and strategy not getting much traction, the Maoists are seemingly succeeding in their tactics. It is showing in the support and sustenance Maoists receive from the local population and their ability to mobilise their village defence forces and armed dhalams into a kind of mobile army for a virulent attack. This is the nature of mobile guerrilla warfare. Fortunately for the security forces, the so-called liberated zone is confined to about 50,000 sqkm of forested area of Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur and Sukma districts of Chhattisgarh, with little spillover into adjoining Maharashtra and Odissa.

Strategic victory over them calls for clarity on the role and responsibility of the central and state and governments; honest assessment of capabilities, operational philosophy, mindset, willingness, compulsions and resolve of security forces involved in anti-Naxalite operations; and a realistic timeframe to root out this menace.


This warfare at the tactical level can be successfully fought by an equally agile, stealthy, enduring and disciplined commando force of the state police, recruited trained and raised primarily out of the local youth. The most acclaimed of such a commando force is the Greyhounds of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh police. This is a success story to build on.

Achieving strategic victory is no guarantee for lasting peace. Maoism is a social, economic and developmental issue manifesting as a violent internal security problem. Even the Maoists would like the state to respond from security rather than developmental perspective, as they know that only in relative poverty and severe infrastructure deficit, they have their captive support base of the population.

It is not merely for tactical reasons the Maoist influence thrives in contiguous forested areas spread over Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. There is a deep-rooted financial interest. This region is richly endowed with minerals of bauxite, iron ore, limestone, marble, dolomite, coal and copper and of pristine forests rich in timber and Minor Forest Produce (MFP). The MFP, which includes bamboo and tendu leaf (for rolling beedi), contrary to the nomenclature is a huge source of revenue estimated at over Rs 20,000 crore a year. The value chain in these natural resources leaves a huge profit margin for the extractive industry/contractors and scope for extortion/protection money to the Maoists. The unit of auction for extraction of MFP is a block of forest area. Quantity extracted out of a block is left to the ability of the contractor, thus leaving huge profit. The Maoists pose as Robin Hoods by seemingly negotiating a better wage for the labour or price for the produce.

With many state governments notifying the Panchayat (Extension of Scheduled Areas) Act 1996, the gram panchayats now auction the MFP, including bamboo and tendu leaves. Thus, substantial revenue goes to the village panchayats for development works. In theory, it is the most decentralised and financially empowered local self-government model. With little institutional support, it needs an independent study on the ability of the tribal village panchayats in managing these entrenched bunch of contractors, threats posed by Naxalites and possibilities it leaves for extortion. It is not for nothing that the panchayat elections are keenly contested in the Naxal-affected districts and the Naxalites, who are otherwise against electoral democracy, generally do not disturb these elections.

A national policy to end Naxalist violence has to emanate out of economic, developmental and internal security considerations. There has to be a judicious and environmentally sustainable extraction of natural resources, leaving no scope for value capture by unscrupulous elements. An integrated approach spearheaded by counter-offensive operations led by well trained, disciplined, agile and stealthy commando force of state police; expansion of road networks from the periphery to core of liberated zone constructed under security cover of central forces or even constructed by the specially raised engineering units of central forces; quick expansion of mobile communication and commercialisation of economic activities are slow but sure and irrevocable process to success.

(The writer is additional DGP (Planning & Coordination), Maharashtra State Police)

The Maoist challengeSS

The battle has an ideological dimension, but there is no need to overstate it or counter it with right-wing political groups.

The government must keep penetrating deeper into Dandakaranya, which arguably is the last bastion of Maoists. (Photo: Reuters)

The recent setback to anti-Naxal operations (ANO) in Chhattisgarh, where 22 personnel of Central para-military forces (CPMFs) were killed in an encounter with Maoists in the Dandakaranya forest of Bastar region, is undoubtedly a grim reminder of our security forces’ repeated failure to measure up to the challenges posed by the guerrillas. It must force the ANO strategists, particularly in Chhattisgarh, to rethink their approach to the battle.

As rightly said by senior RSS leader Ram Madhav (‘Meet the doctrinal challenge’, IE, April 13), the battle doesn’t have only a military solution but a counter-ideological one. There is no denying that the Maoists indoctrinate their captive audience, mostly poor and illiterate tribals who have remained on the fringes of socio-economic changes and are hardly able to make informed choices about their worldview. Madhav, however, doesn’t stop at this claim and suggests that the government should involve civil society, that is Gandhians and the RSS, to free the Maoist supporters from the clutches of their ideological masters. Involving civil society is a good idea but to suggest in the same breath involvement of two diametrically opposite ideologies to woo the people in Maoist influence areas not only defies logic but is also deeply problematic.


Let’s first get our basic ideas clear. The Maoist insurgency is more of a law and order problem than an ideological one. It is always so in areas in the throes of insurgency of any kind. We shouldn’t overstate the tribal support for Maoists being ideological rather than being a largely forced one or one that has to do with their daily struggles of life during which the state hardly plays an assuaging role. On the contrary, the state inflicts or tends to inflict what many non-Maoist and even anti-Maoist activists call state violence. The tribals still feel unsafe when the police enter their villages during ANOs. Clearly, support for the Maoists, forced or voluntary, is a product of state’s failure to reach out to them rather than being one born out of some commitment to the Maoist ideology. Interviews by journalists, including this writer, with several former high-ranking Maoist cadres have underscored their naive understanding about the basic tenets of Communist or Maoist thought. It always comes across as some kind of rote learning that struggles to respond to posers they were never exposed to.

Once varied choices of world views are made available to them, the so-called Maoist indoctrination will start wearing thin. That their perceived commitment to Maoists is more existential than ideological has been proven time and again with tribal youths queueing up by hundreds during police recruitment drives in Naxal-affected districts.


Thus, although the ideological factor does play a role in swelling the Maoist ranks, there is no need to overstate it and no urgency for a counter-ideological blitz, least of it from the religious right. Actually, involving organisations like the RSS will only complicate matters. Reasons are not far to seek. The RSS is focused on religious revivalism. It insists that tribals are Hindus. Concerns of people in the so-called Red Corridor have, however, have nothing to do with religion. We don’t have anything to offer to them in terms of religion as they do have their pristine religious practices that have more to do with tribal culture than with mainstream Hindu culture.

The real concerns of the captive populations under Maoist control are of bread and butter on one hand and the existential crisis engendered by being torn between Maoists and civic and police administration on the other. Caught between the proverbial devil-and-deep-sea, they are nobody’s people.


So, let’s be clear that if we must put an end to the violent Maoist movement, we must go by the time-tested “clear and hold” strategy.

The government must keep penetrating deeper into Dandakaranya, which arguably is the last bastion of Maoists. There is no reason to believe that the Maoists power hasn’t depleted and they are still a force to reckon with. It is a well documented fact that they have been marginalised in various states, thanks to intensive ANOs carried out by a determined and competent police force like the greyhounds in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. Dandakaranya is their last bastion but there, too, the security forces have made deep inroads. Of course that has come at a huge cost with thousands of common men, security personnel and political leaders being killed. But for that, repeated mistakes and errors of judgement by strategists and security forces are responsible. These failures, too, have often been well-documented to merit any repetition here. It’s just that it will take a bit longer to defeat the Maoists in their stronghold in a war that’s so heavily asymmetrical.

Having said that any attempt to introduce forces like the RSS into the Maoist hinterland to counter insurgents is fraught with dangers of only invigorating the trouble. Maoists are ideologically opposed to even Gandhian philosophy and their hatred for the RSS-BJP is well known. The Gandhian ideology at least believes in non-violence and can potentially be an antidote to Maoist violence. But the RSS believes in reactionary violence that is now threatening to blow up into full-scale proactive violence against all its adversaries. This proactive violence has already acquired forms of vigilantism as witnessed in several cases of anti-minority violence in the country during the past seven years. Clearly, putting one vigilante force against the other is never likely to succeed as has been proved by the infamous Salva Judum movement in Chhattisgarh, which had resulted in a terrible fratricide among tribals. It’s too well-known a fact that Salva Judum only strengthened the Maoist hands with hundreds of its victims joining the Naxal ranks. It is also pertinent to note that Salva Judum was actively sponsored by a BJP government in Chhattisgarh.

Forget defeating the Maoists in a field war in Dandkaranya, right-wing vigilantism will also hugely strengthen their urban bases. Right-wing violence invariably alienates affected sections of the society, who need some refuge somewhere for their defence. The Maoists offer it like no one else in the present circumstances when the mainstream political opposition has failed to provide them any security against the vigilante groups supported by the powers that be. So, far from introducing the RSS as a counter to the Maoists, we need to rein in the right-wing zealots first if we are serious about neutralising Maoism

Two Maoists killed in encounter with Gadchiroli Police

The deceases Maoists were identified as Vinay Narote (31) and Vivek Narote (age not stated). They had rewards of Rs 2 lakh and Rs 6 lakh respectively against their capture and they were involved in several offences including murders, attack on police station and encounters.

The press note stated that more Maoist cadres may have been injured in the encounter.

Two Maoists were killed in an encounter with Gadchiroli Police in the Gatta-Jambia forest in Etapalli tahsil on Wednesday morning.

According to a press note issued by Gadchiroli Police, a congregation of Maoists was reported to have been noticed in the forest. “Upon receiving the information, C60 commandos were pressed into operation. Around 7.30 am, an encounter ensued between police and Maoists after the latter started firing at the police party. The exchange of fire went on for about 30 minutes, after which the Maoists decamped. A search of the spot revealed that two of their cadres had died. Apart from their bodies, a pistol, a country-made rifle, a few explosives and a lot of daily use material was recovered from the spot,” read the press note.


The deceases Maoists were identified as Vinay Narote (31) and Vivek Narote (age not stated). They had rewards of Rs 2 lakh and Rs 6 lakh respectively against their capture and they were involved in several offences including murders, attack on police station and encounters.

The press note stated that more Maoist cadres may have been injured in the encounter.

With this, the number of Maoists killed in police encounters this year so far has gone up to seven. On March 30, five Maoists had been killed in an operation in Abujmad

Jalandhar Reddy ditched us by surrendering, say Maoists

Rajulapudi SrinivasVIJAYAWADA 28 APRIL 2021 23:54 IST
UPDATED: 28 APRIL 2021 23:54 IST

‘It is not correct to say that the movement has weakened’

The Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOB SZC) of the banned CPI (Maoist) has condemned the statements made by surrendered Moaist Muttannagari Jalandhar Reddy that the movement had weakened.

Jalandhar Reddy, who joined in the erstwhile People’s War Group (PWG) in 2000, surrendered before Director General of Police (DGP) D. Gautam Sawang at the A.P. Police Headquarters, at Mangalagiri in Guntur district, on April 20.



Jalandhar Reddy, who was wanted in many cases including the Balimela attack, kidnap of former Malkangiri Collector Vineel Krishna and attack on many police stations, claimed that many changes had come in Maoist party which made him disillusioned with the ideology.

“I had served the party in various capacities in united Andhra Pradesh and in Malkangiri-Koraput-Visakha Border (MKVB) and in AOB SZC. I had observed many changes in the past few years and disagreed with my leaders in the party on various issues. So, I decided to shun violence and join the mainstream,” Jalandhar Reddy had said.

“Due to some reasons, I could not render justice. There were no fresh recruitment in the Maoist party, and the banned outfit is facing struggle,” the surrendered Maoist had said.

‘False statements’

In a letter released by AOB SZC official spokesperson Ganesh, while condemning the comments of Jalandhar Reddy, alleged that the latter had deceived ditched the Maoists.

“Jalandhar Reddy had lost his commitment to the movement. He surrendered before police to protect himself. He had made false statements on the Maoists before the media and the police,” Ganesh alleged. “It is not correct to say that the movement has weakened. We are still fighting against the anti-people’s policies of the State and Central governments with the support of the people. We will teach him a lesson,” he added