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India mine collapse: Bodies of 13 recovered in Jharkhand

The bodies of 13 people are recovered and scores remain missing after a coal mine collapse in India.

Odisha: Maoists kill one, torch seven vehicles in Koraput

Odisha: Maoists kill one, torch seven vehicles in Koraput

Dec 24, 2016 14:38 IST

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Koraput (Odisha): Maoists murdered the husband of a naib sarpanch in Odisha’s Koraput district and torched at least seven vehicles engaged in road works, police said on Saturday.

A group of Maoists attacked G Appa Rao’s house at Kotubu village, bordering Andhra Pradesh in Pottangi area late on Thursday night and dragged him out charging him to be a police informer.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

They then reached the road construction and set seven vehicles on fire, the police said adding Rao’s body was found on Friday.

Police recovered few Maoist posters of Koraput-Malkangiri-Srikakulam division of CPI (Maoist) in Odia and Telegu from the site.

The Maoists through the posters opposed the construction of a 4.5 km PMGSY road from Upper Goloru to Pedapadu in the area and warned three villagers of dire consequences if they supported the work.

Brushing aside allegations that the killed person was an informer, Koraput SP Charan Singh said probe into the incident is on.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 14:38 IST

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Gadchiroli can be naxalfree in five years if other departments give their 100%: Abhinav Deshmukh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What is your biggest challenge?To win people’s confidence and handle sensitivities of my staff which is not only the largest in the state (5,600) but works in most difficult area. In other districts we deal with other crimes. In Gadchiroli, other crimes are almost nil. Here, apart from fighting with the leftwing extremists, we have to engage with the people in different ways. There is a huge gap between administration and people in this area because of inaccessibility. This vacuum was occupied by the naxals. Now, we have to replace the Naxals and occupy that space with better administration.There are around 12,000 police personnel deployed in the district including C-60, CRPF and SRPF. Still the district is faraway from curbing naxalism. Why?South Gadchiroli is still naxal dominated because of hilly forest terrain. Moreover, we share border with naxal affected districts of Chhattisgarh. While we have been focusing on one district with full force, Chhattisgarh police have to look after six districts with naxal dominance.Don’t we have inter-state collaboration to share the information?We do have joint operations and meetings. But naxals are surviving because of jungle and borders. Over 4,000 sq km of Abujhmarh which is spread between Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh offers safe heaven to naxals.What is the total number of naxals active in this district? What strategies are being adopted to make the district naxal-free?There are 205 active naxals now. While Andhra people hold top posts (in CPI-Maoist), those from Maharashtra are only junior members. Our strategy depends on their tactics. Encounters, arrests, surrenders and confidence building among villagers-all are being used.Is there any effect of demonetisation on Naxalism?Post 8 November, 11 naxals have surrendered in the district. Total surrenders this year has been 44. From making up their mind to sending us feelers and leaving the group and reach to us safely, it usually takes around two months to surrender. We will have to wait for another two-three months to assess the impact of demonetisation on naxals.Tribals often complained of police atrocities. How would you justify that?We have told our people to be extra-sensitive. Some cops do behave irrationally sometimes but such incidents could be very few. Besides, naxal supporters run false propaganda against cops as well.What needs to be done to curb naxalism now?We have controlled naxalims considerably. Its time for other departments to put in their efforts to fill the development backlog. Then only we can curb naxalism.But villagers say there is no government department on ground except police.Other departments suffer with staff shortage. Those who are transferred in this district, don’t join. Hence, government schemes are poorly implemented. Now, we are holding camps to disburse loans, make aadhar cards and caste documents of tribals. People expect us to address every problem. Over 30 villages are unelectrified and some are half electrified.Power outage is very common in rainy season when no body turns up to re-connect. Road connectivity is another major issues. Children seek good eduction. We share all these information with the concerned departments.How many years it would take to curb naxalism from this area?With all government departments coming together to give their best, naxal problem can be wiped out from Gadchiroli district within five years. This is an achievable target.

Battle against left wing extremists in Gadchiroli become intense: One state, 205 Naxals and 12,000 cops

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra’s only naxal infested district, Gadchiroli, now has 205 active naxalites compared to more than 300 who were active a couple of years ago, says the latest statistics of the police. There were 500 Naxal fighters in 2010.Increasing number of surrenders, nearly 104 in two years, is being touted as “major success” by the Gadchiroli police. Prominent rebels surrendered in past two years include Sunil Mattami, member of divisional committee of Dalam (naxal group) and Gopi, commander of a local Dalam, who carried rewards of Rs 16 and 12 lakh on their head respectively.Besides, there were 60 arrests and 16 encounters of naxals in the same period. “There is no recruitment from the district in last four years”, claim cops.The all-out war against guerrilla fighters, lucrative surrender policy and social networking to win confidence of the tribes caught in the crossfire has been working well so far in Gadchiroli which is one of the 35 heavily naxal-affected districts in the country.Also Read: Gadchiroli can be naxalfree in five years if other departments give their 100%: Abhinav Deshmukh At present, nearly 12,000 cops including C-60 unit, Central Reserved Police Force and State Reserve Police Force are guarding the district, round-the-clock with most advanced equipment such as Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL), Multiple Grenade launcher (MGR), Sport Configurable Rifle, Light machine guns, X-95 assault rifle, AK-47 and high tech navigation devices.However, incidents of naxal activities and death of civilians and cops continue to give security forces a tough time. Several naxal-infested villages such as Hikker and Binagonda in the district remain unguarded with no police presence till 17-18 km.Also Read: In Gadchiroli: Tribals at crossfire between cops and NaxalsAs per the statistics of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Maharashtra witnessed 66 incidents in 2016 till November end in which 19 people including cops, their “informers” and civilians have lost life. Although, the same number of civilian and cops deaths occurred a year ago, it seems less compared to 2014 when 28 people were killed.The southern part of the district mainly comprising Sironcha, Aheri, Etapalli and Bhamragad are infested with the activities of naxalites since early eighties. “The naxalites usually operate in the remote and fur flung parts of the district where access is tough due to difficult terrain and dense forest. Besides, these areas share border with the naxal affected districts of Chattisgarh which further helps Naxals”, says Abhinav Deshmukh, superintendent of the police, Gadchiroli.Over 500 civilians have lost life to Naxalism in last 30 years in the state of Maharashtra of which 90% deaths were in the Gadchiroli only. Since 2004, average 10 policemen have also died every year in the district.The district has been home to naxalites of People’s War Group (PWG ) since early eighties. The PWG now operates under the banner of Communist Party of India (Maoist).In February last year, police posts were opened in the villages of Regdi and Kotmi for the first time. Ashok Bhapkar, who supervised the opening of Kotmi police post and now heads the Surrender Cell told DNA, “We patrolled the villages on foot, organised sports tournaments and held meetings to organise women’s groups and participated in local festivals to win people’s confidence.”The Naxal surrender and rehab policy also comes with substantial cash reward (Rs 2-25 lakh depending upon the ranks) and has been propagated across the district as ‘Kaun Banega Lakhpati’ scheme through posters in affected areas.Deshmukh said, “They are also given plot to construct house in specially designated colony-Navsanjeevan. We help them get work and avail benefit of government loans for tribals.”Meanwhile, to counter the efforts of cops, the CPI (Maoist) has given a call for celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Naxalbari armed uprising from 23-29 May 2017, the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution from 7-13 November 2017 and Karl Marx birth bicentenary 5-11 May 2018. This has alerted the cops.

Jharkhand: 106 bombs recovered during anti-Maoist operation

Sun, 11 Dec 2016-09:06pm , Latehar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Altogether 106 bombs, including a pressure cooker bomb were recovered by security personnel during an anti-Maoist operation in Bakhar tola jungle in Barwaiya village under Maneka police station of Latehar district on Sunday, the police said. The security personnel comprising CRPF and District Armed Police were on a routine anti-Maoist operation when they stumbled upon 100 bombs of one kg each hidden in a ditch, Superintendent of Police Anoop Birtheray said.Following the recovery, he said a search operation was launched in the vicinity and a five kg pressure cooker bomb and five bombs of two kgs each were recovered from a nearby ditch. Altogether 106 bombs were recovered during the operation, he said adding the bombs were hidden deliberately to target the security personnel engaged in operations against them. However, the security personnel have foiled their attempt, Birtheray said and added that all explosives were defused by the Bomb Disposal Squad. Around 1,000 bombs were recovered in course of anti-Maoist operations in the district this year, the SP said.

Security forces in Kashmir Valley targeted using Naxal-style IED

New Delhi: For the first time in the decades-old militancy in Kashmir Valley, security forces have been targeted by a Naxal-style IED attack prompting agencies to brace up against the menace that has claimed numerous lives and maimed several troops in Left Wing Extremism hit areas.

Taking the development seriously, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), mainstay for anti-Maoist operations in the country, has rushed a team of its counter-Improvised Explosive Device (IED) experts to train and sensitise its troops, those of the BSF, Jammu and Kashmir Police and others against such blasts trigerred by the notorious ‘command-wire’ technique.

“This is for the first time…There have been IED attacks against security forces and their convoys in the past but using the command-wire technique was unheard and unseen here.

“This technique till now has been used by Naxals to target security forces in the LWE affected areas,” CRPF Director General K Durga Prasad told PTI.

Taking cognisance of the incident, he has asked a team of IED experts, based at the exclusive Institute of IED Management (IIM) in Pune, to rush to the Kashmir Valley and sensitise the troops as to how to be alert against such deadly attacks.

The first of its kind command-wire IED blast was reported about a month back on the night of 4 November when militants targeted a police bullet-proof ‘Rakshak’ jeep under the Dadasara Police Station area in Awantipora of Pulwama district, which led to injuries to three police officials.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The police team was rushing to a nearby spot after some gunshots were heard but as they were targeted by the blast, they had to be evacuated and rushed to a nearby hospital.

The blast was trigerred by joining the wires drawn from the IED and when the jeep, plying on the normal ‘pucca’ road, went over it, the blast severely damaged the entire front and engine portion of the four-wheeler.

“It could have been bad had the blast took place just behind the engine area.This is something new we witnessed. Taking no chances, we have asked all our units in the Kashmir Valley to prepare and plan against command-wire IEDs now,” Prasad said.

The DG said it was part of further investigations to find out how the suspected militants active in Kashmir adopted this much-abused technique of trigerring hidden blasts on security forces and their convoys.

Till now security forces in the valley have been attacked in gunfire ambushes and attacks, grenade lobbing and fidayeen attackers.

A command-wire ID blasts ensure that the electric cable connected to the IED allows the user complete control over the bomb right up until the moment of initiation and Naxals have been found to lay several hundred metres of wire from the main road into the fields to                                                                                                                 trigger it without getting noticed and ensuring fatal casualities on the trapped men, by virtue of accurate timing of its detonation.

The command-wire IED blasts in Naxal violence affected areas has not only claimed lives of hundreds of security forces personnel, largely amongst the CRPF, even as it has severely maimed numerous troops rendering them without limbs.

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 15:56 IST

Maoist sympathiser arrested while illegally exchanging banned notes

Raipur: A Maoist sympathiser, allegedly trying to illegally exchange over Rs one lakh in scrapped Rs 1,000 currency notes for the new ones, was arrested on Thursday from Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.

Maoist rebels undergoing training. AFP

Maoist rebels undergoing training. AFP

Hemla Bheema, 40, was nabbed from Bhansi Police Station area, Dantewada Additional Superintendent of Police (anti-Maoist operations) Gorakhnath Baghel told PTI.

After receiving inputs that a suspect was trying to exchange Rs 1,10,000, in demonetised currency notes of Rs 1,000, in Bhansi area, around 400 km away from Raipur, a police team swung into action and the accused was apprehended with the cash, he said.

As per preliminary information, Bheema, a native of Masapara in Bhansi area, was active as a range committee member of Janatana Sarkar squad of the outlawed CPI(Maoist), the officer said.

During interrogation, the accused revealed that Sanjay Kadti, a senior member of Bhairamgarh Area Committee of Maoists, had given him the cash to get it exchanged with new notes, either through banks or with support of local traders, Baghel said, adding his interrogation is on.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 17:47 IST

Demonetization is a body blow, not a death knell for terror funding

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The sudden and surprise currency reforms announced early this month to demonetize high value denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 targeted at the hoarding of black money and eliminate the fake notes in circulation is most likely to have a wide reaching impact on the criminal-terrorism nexus. Demonetization will deal a severe body blow to the bad money generated by the underworld, black marketers, criminals, dealers and terrorists, temporarily. But it is not a permanent death knell for terror groups, intelligence officials and counter-terrorism, experts warn.The top brass of government, from Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar to Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh has been vocal in linking demonetization to hitting the core of financing of terrorism. In his statement to the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said that insurgent groups in North East, Maoists and terror groups in Kashmir have suffered loses of around Rs 800 crore. The money amassed by the armed groups mostly in cash through extortion, taxation and illicit hawala transfers to sustain their operations, logistics and support their manpower, is now as good as scrap paper. While choking the financial artery of terrorists groups will weaken their capability to some extent, this single step of currency reforms will not eradicate terrorism entirely—which emerges in several complex and ambiguous social, ethnic and national interactions, experts on counter-terrorism say.”Demonetization has definitely dealt a blow to terrorist groups as their cash reserves stored in bulk is now redundant,” said Col Vivek Chaddha, author of Lifeblood of Terrorism while adding that one needs to look at the source of funding and not the means. “The move of demonetization will not impact all sources of terror funding. This is not a permanent death blow to terrorism,” he said.India is among the top ten countries—it currently ranks eighth in the 2016 Global Terrorism Index — impacted by terrorism. The report prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace that ranks countries most affected by terrorism in the world also observes that the nature of terrorism in India is different than in countries like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan as the groups have `very local goals’. “ Many of the groups are seeking political recognition, with attacks not aimed at killing people.” The analysis of the terror attacks in India in the report shows no fatalities in 75 per cent of attacks. Terror and insurgent groups are active largely in three theaters of conflict; characterized by Islamist groups in the militancy and the separatist movement in Kashmir, insurgent groups in the northeastern states and Maoist groups. Under section 35 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the government has banned 37 terrorists’ groups including global organizations like Islamic State and al Qaeda.Terror funding sourcesThe local nature of terrorism in India means financing of terrorism is not on exorbitant scale. It is reported that terror groups use 0.05 per cent roughly accounting to Rs 800 crore of the total money in circulation in India for funding activities. Money generated or sourced by terror groups in India emanate through sources like hawala, fake currency notes from Pakistan for the militant groups and separatist movement in Kashmir, extortion in the North East and taxation in the Maoist infested areas. Terrorists groups like the Dawood Ibrahim network, LeT, Hizbul Mujaheedin, Indian Mujaheedin and the IS inspired modules have also used investment in real estate, NGOs as a front and self-funding to sponsor its activities. According to a November 2015 report on terrorist financing to the G20 leaders on actions taken by the Financial Action Task Force—the inter-governmental body for combating money laundering and terrorist financing– India has frozen funds amounting to Rs 2.18 crore of banned terror groups.Despite being a victim of terrorism for decades, India enacted anti-terrorist financing legislations only in 2010 by amending the Prevention of Money Laundering rules. In 2013, Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) was included in the ambit of UAPA making counterfeiting and its circulation a terrorism related offence. This has allowed National Investigation Agency–set up in 2008 in the aftermath of the brazen 26/11 terror attack and siege in Mumbai—which acts as a Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency to investigate offences related to financing of terrorism.Since 2009, NIA has investigated 11 cases related to terror funding. Prominent among them include cases against Babar Khalsa International operatives in Canada transferring funds to their counterparts in Punjab through front organizations for distribution to sleeper cells, jailed terrorists and the families of the terrorists, Assam based Dima Halem Daogah (Jewel) for procurement of arms and ammunition with cash involving Rs 1 crore, Ningthoujam Tomba alias N Rajen Singh, the self-styled Finance Secretary and Commander in chief of Manipur based Kanglei Yaol Kanba Lup (KYKL). “We were able to trace the funding in these cases directly with the leaders and members of the banned terrorist groups. Our investigations led us to evidence in the form of banking transactions, suspicious bank accounts, purchase of property, tax rate sheets for extortion,” an NIA official who worked in the financial intelligence unit said.“Terror groups need ready cash for various back operations and logistics support in their day to day use. Hawala transactions are a favored channel as it is prompt and works on trust quotient within a small network. Large funds are transferred without actual movement of money through codes. Similarly, money collected through taxes and extortion is stored in cash. The demonetization move has now majorly affected this operation,” the officer added.Terror Funding OperationsKashmir: The network for funding of the militancy and separatist movement in Kashmir exists and originates from Pakistan, J&K police officials said. In the initial years of militancy, intelligence officials recalled local population who supported the armed movement against India would help with funding. Separatist groups used militancy to garner further support from local population and used the money coming through hawala to recruit cadres and expand their area of influence throughout the valley. In addition to infiltrating militants carrying cash on them, wire transfers, investment in real estate, use of cross-border trade, FICN and financing through front NGOs are the other popular channels of funding in the nearly three decades of conflict in the valley.Hawala: The hawala network is in place in valley since 1989. It originates from Pakistan via Gulf areas and ends up in Kashmir. Some of the well known cases of hawala transaction include the 1993 case of Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen where over Rs 30 lakhs were allegedly sent to the chief of the armed group, and a seizure of an estimated Rs 40 lakh in 1997. “Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) used their channels through a carpet company in Dubai to send the money,” said a senior J&K police official.A big sum of cash transactions is reserved for the over ground workers—prized assets of both the militant groups and the security agencies– support the militants and help them sustain in the valley. “The OGW’s provide safe havens for the local and Pakistani militants to stay, food, logistics and strategic information vital for infiltration or cross-border travel of the militants and in planning of terror attacks,” said an intelligence official elaborating on the expenses made through hawala.FICN: Officials say in recent years as militancy began to wane down, militants in the Valley don’t have much use for cash. Police officials have recovered small amounts of around Rs 20,000-30,000 from dead or arrested militants. Documents accessed by dna reveal cash in hand recovered from militants killed by security forces since the last three years and FICN confiscated to be of in small sums, well under Rs 10 lakhs (see box). FICN is also pumped in the Indian territory through Nepal and Bengal borders. High quality FICN with close visual replication of the original currency is printed in Pakistan, according to a NIA charge sheet. Annually, an estimated Rs 70 crore of FICN is infiltrated by Pakistan as a strategy of economic warfare against India. NIA officials said roughly one third of the FICN in circulation gets seized; the rest gets absorbed in the official banking channels.According to the annual report of RBI released in August this year, evaluation of currency monitoring indicates that FICN comprises 0.071 per cent of the total currency in circulation: of the total 18 lakh crore currency in circulation, FICN accounts to a mere Rs 400 crore. Demonetization has been successful in winding counterfeiting business of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. However, networks in Pakistan still have the capability of counterfeiting Rs 100 denomination currency. Of the total FICN detected by the banks in 2015-16, 35 per cent was accounted to Rs 100, according to the Ministry of Finance data.Maoists: Left Wing Extremism (LWE) spread across 106 districts in ten states is the most active and lethal insurgency in the internal security. Maoist factions and groups have territorial control in tribal and forest areas called as `liberated zones’. These zones have an illegal system of taxation (see box) imposed on organizations, companies, civil contractors and tribals.Taxation: The illegal taxes collected in cash forms backbone of the funding of Maoist groups, said intelligence officials. “There is a fixed percentage levied on contractors, mine owners, coal mafia, brick kilns annually or project basis by the Maoists. This cut is received in cash and stored in bulk and is used within the LWE affected areas,” said a CRPF senior official posted in Chhattisgarh. Intelligence officials estimate the economy for Maoists activity in Chhattisgarh, the worst affected from LWE violence to be approximately Rs 150-Rs 200 crore. “Maoists are now forcing tribals and big businessmen to get the old high currency notes exchanged and pay the taxes in new Rs 2,000 or Rs 100 notes. There is a flurry of activity to save whatever they can from the old notes,” a CRPF official said. On November 14, BSF seized unaccounted cash over Rs 5 lakhs in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations from a man travelling in a bus in Kanker district of Chhattisgarh. Officials believe this money was being taken to exchange in new notes at the behest of Maoist leaders. “To recover from the blow of demonetization, Maoist groups will put the onus of providing legal currency tender from the tax payers.”North East: Maximum number of armed insurgent groups is active in the north east region fighting against the Indian state for various ethnic-political demands including secession. Extortion and money from real estate is a bulk of primary funding source of these groups. The porous border to Myanmar and Bangladesh has also facilitated organized crimes of drug trafficking and FICN involving insurgent groups.Members of scheduled tribe residing in specified areas are exempted under Section 10(26) of the Income Tax Act, 1995, from declaring their income or revenue earned in the areas. “The insurgent groups are likely to use bank accounts of tribal and proxies for channelizing their bad money,” said a former police officer from Manipur adding that intelligence, police and IT officials need to be vigilant on suspicious transactions. “Demonetization can be an opportunity to keep a close watch on the financial activities of armed groups and clampdown at the right time. This can paralyze them for a long time.”Extortion: Similar to the Maoist groups, insurgent groups in the NE extort a fixed sum from the general public, businessmen, contractors, commercial establishments, shopkeepers and also make kidnappings for ransom. NIA charge sheet on the Assam based Dima Halam Daogah (J) notes that the insurgent group was siphoning through government funds with the help of elected members of council, government officials and contractors to finance their activities. It also found that funds earmarked for the North Cachar Hills Autonomous District Council (NCHAC) were forcefully channeled to fund DHD (J) activities and buying funds, with the later indulging in death threats, intimidation and murder of elected representatives. NIA has also seized documents from terror group KYKL that show tax rates for different organizations confirming extorting in the name of its leader Ninghoujam Tomba.Banking channels and NGOs: Contrary to the perception that terrorist groups only deal in black money, their leaders have misused banking channels to transfer funds in pursuance of criminal offences. Before his arrest in 2010, leader of banned group KYKL, N Tomba used his bank account in ICICI Guwahati branch to receive funds collected through extortion. NIA chargesheet claims that Tomba used funds from his bank account to purchase a house and vehicle, even issuing demand drafts for purchase of land. Kashmir based militant group Hizbul Mujaheedin too has received Rs 80 crore from a front organization, Jammu Kashmir Affectees Relief Trust (JKART) based in Pakistan. The funds were transferred from Pakistan to the HM cadres and families of dead militants in Kashmir, extensively through banking channels.(inputs from Azaan Javaid)Terror funding cases investigated by NIACases: 11Cash seized: Rs 1.13 croreAssets seized: 7.5 acres of land, a flat, vehicle and motor bikeConvicted: 19 accusedCash and FICN recovered from militants in KashmirCash recovered201420152016Indian currencyRs 2,63,180Rs 5,20,260Rs 3,66,000Pakistan currencyRs 10NilRs 4,540Fake Indian currencyRs 2,75,500Rs 1,81,500NilMaoist TaxationGraphics: Can show a map of India with Kashmir, North East and Maoist areas as active conflict zones. The above boxes can be linked with arrows to these zones.

Kakarala Madhavi is CPM secretary for Andhra-Odisha border: Women at forefront of Maoist ops

The AOB (Andhra-Odisha Border) Committee, a crucial military zone of the CPI (Maoist), which remained headless after the bloody encounter killings of its top leaders including Bakuri Venkataramana alias Ganesh on 24 October in Malkangiri, now has a woman as its chief.

Kakarala Madhavi, the new Secretary of the AOB Committee of the armed rebels will now call the shots at what is considered the last post of the Maoists. This post is a prestigious one amongst the group — it was earlier held by Maoist legends like Devanna and Azad.

Kakarala Madhavi, 34, is a native of Rajamahendravaram of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, the same area where popular film star and MP Jayaprada hails from. Madhavi was the choice for commander in view of her experience in the region and also her rapport with the local tribals in the border district of Malkangiri.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Madhavi is the daughter of Kakarala Subba Rao, a veteran character theatre actor and a member of the Virasam (Viplava Rachayitala Sangham or Revolutionary Writers’ Association). There is confusion as to whether she is Padmakka or Radhakka, two daughters of Rao, who had both joined the People’s War Group (PWG) before it became the CPI (Maoist). “My daughters were addicted more to Left philosophy and Communist literature than me,” Subba Rao had said in an interview with a TV channel recently.

A college drop-out, Madhavi had joined the movement 10 years ago under the influence of her father’s active involvement in the Communist movement. In fact, she had also played a role in a drama on Lenin, staged by her father, who was a theatre artiste, writer and also a director. She had worked as a deputy commander, commander and also a member of zone committees, finally making it to the central committee now. She had worked not only in the Nallamala and Dandakaranya forests but also in Telangana, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and also in some front organisations — cultural, farmers and youth wings of the CPI (Maoist).

Madhavi is perhaps the six or seventh woman top leader in the hierarchy as of now. Sources told Firstpost that an emergency meeting of the central committee of the Maoists held in the jungles of Dantewada in Chhattisgarh a few days ago had placed on record the contribution of the 31 slain rebels to Left wing extremism. Of the slain Maoists, 11 were women, including two deputy commanders.

The central committee also appointed another senior Maoist woman field operative Pothula Kalpana, 34, as the person in charge of military operations in the area. The Committee had justified the appointment of young women to key posts by saying that this move was to win the confidence of locals and tribals in the AOB region. The highest body of the CPI (Maoist) had said that internal lapses in guerrilla strategy had cost too many lives in the 24 October encounter. “Treachery, gross negligence and overconfidence” had led to the massacre at Janthi village in AOB, said a document of the central committee.

Women in revolutionary groups

Lack of recruitment of educated activists as well as desertion of the movement by aged sick seniors had forced Maoists to recognise the value addition made by women cadres and elevate them in several key positions. “Maoists took the calculated risk as women cadres were more committed, duty conscious and loyal to party hierarchy than men cadres,” said former DGP of Andhra Pradesh Dinesh Reddy, during whose period the AP police struck terror in the Dandakaranya forests in Telangana.

After a series of police-driven media exposures on the plight of women cadres in Maoist groups in the 1990s, the central committee of the PWG had framed guidelines and mandatory approval by the committee for inducting cadres in armed dalam (group), front organisations, the People’s Guerrilla Land Army (PGLA) and also the special military commissions. At a time there were nearly 175-250 women members in the field and also in front organisations, but the number has now dwindled to less than 100, according to police. “Very few women — except those linked to top guns in Central Committee or those married to dalam commanders or dalam members — are continuing. There are no single women,” said a senior police official.

A major reason for teenage girls to join the dalams was to escape from the traditions of early marriage when they were in school or junior college. “I joined the dalam to escape from family pressure to marry and stop my education. Now everything is lost as I don’t have any studies either,” said 19-year-old girl Renuka, a Maoist rebel who met this writer in the 1990s in Karimnagar, Telangana. Two years later, she surrendered and returned home; went back again and was killed in a shootout.

A college drop-out, Madhavi had joined the movement 10 years ago under the influence of her father’s active involvement in the Communist movement

But things have now changed for women activists who are chosen to head crucial committees including intelligence, suicide strike teams and are also key contributors to policy decisions in dealing with the tribals and landless poor. The central committee had acknowledged the role of women cadres in a document released two years ago on how the Salwa Judum domination in Chhattisgarh was throttled and tribals — Khoyas and Kondadoras — were won back to their side.

Women have been an active part of war machinery of the CPI (Maoist) and its earlier avatar, the PWG. The number of women cadre has been on the rise since the late 1990s. Replying to a question in Parliament on 13 July, 2013, then Minister of State for Home Affairs, RPN Singh had said that 40 percent of Maoist cadre were women.

“I was motivated by the fiery, inspiring songs of a visiting Maoist squad sung in my village,” said V Sujata, a 20-year-old Dalit armed activist in the Sircilla belt of Karimnagar, in 2005. Local police had painted her as a “loose girl” and that jeopardised her family efforts to get her married off. She had taken to Maoism to escape from community penalty to the family.

In 2008, Sujata went back to her village as a deputy commander of a dalam and took revenge on the police and also other villagers who had maligned and harassed her. Her dalam had cut the hands and ears of her detractors. Sujata was however killed in an encounter in 2009 near AOB. “But that explains the real reason why teenagers wants to join the Maoist movement — they want to escape from age-old customs and ridiculous social ostracisation,” said Professor Hargopal, a civil rights activist of Telangana.

Changing roles of women in Maoism

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Unlike Sujata, there were many others like Anupuram Anasuya, wife of Anupuram Komarayya, of the North Telangana Special Zone Committee (NTSZC) who went to jungles out of commitment, leaving her infant behind, and who died in a later encounter defending her husband and the movement. Similarly, Polam Bharathi, wife of Polam Sudharshan Reddy, joined the dalam, but quit after her husband was killed in an encounter. Many others like Nelakonda Rajitha alias Padmakka, an undergraduate, had married Sande Rajamouli (a Politburo member and chief of Central Military Commission) and was killed in an encounter in 2002. “Women joined the rebel fold and even went underground, living in exile, to escape from the exploitation of powerful people in the village,” says popular civil rights activist Kancha Ilaiah.

Most women activists like Nirmala (wife of Chandra Pulla Reddy) and Anuradha Ghandy (wife of Kobad Ghandy) were highly educated, urban ideologues and leaders. For instance, Anuradha Ghandy, a Sociology lecturer, had led the all-India women’s movement but died of cerebral malaria in the Dandakaranya jungles.

Police said girl cadets who wanted to become like Madhya Pradesh’s notorious ‘Bandit Queen’ Phoolan Devi, were used as decoys during raids and ambushes. They were also used as errand girls to collect funds, medicines, food from villages and also as personal couriers of the top leaders. While most men cadre ran away fearing the heavy firepower of security forces, women cadres remained on ground and returned fire and often helped the top cadres to escape even at the cost of their own lives. “In order to give women cadres a safe and secure career, the CC had always encouraged them to get married to the men of their choice in the armed units,” says another document of the CPI (Maoist).

The committee also invited women cadets with a minimum 3 years experience to visit Abuj Marh in Chhattisgarh once in two years to undergo special indoctrination and military training to prepare them for higher responsibilities, as many male cadres were deserting the movement due to sickness or family issues. “But the disturbances since the Green Hunt operation had put this exercise on hold,” said another police official.

Women activists have thus become the vanguard of the Maoist operations during the toughest situations. Nirmala Chatterjee, a leader of the Maoist Communist Centre and widow of Sagar Chatterjee, had led the Maoist attack on Chandrapura Railway Police station in West Bengal in 2005. In a recent document, Ganapathi alias Muppala Lakshman Rao, numero uno of the CPI (Maoist) had written — “Women activists, particularly from Dalit and tribal backgrounds, have been a main source of strength for the Maoist movement, and only the functional and organisational deficits of the movement had shortened their utility,” the document quotes.

First Published On : Nov 20, 2016 14:36 IST

Five Naxals killed in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Five naxals were gunned down by security forces in the jungles of Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district in Maoist hotbed Bastar, police said on Saturday. “The skirmish took place last night between a joint team of District Reserve Group (DRG) and ultras in the jungles of Tuspal and Becha Kilam villages under Chhotedongar police station limits,” Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range), S R P Kalluri said. This is the second biggest encounter in Bastar this month after bodies of six naxals, including three women, were recovered post a gun battle in Dantewada on November 16. “At least half a dozen cadres of Military Company VI of Maoists were killed in the gun battle at Narayanpur,” Kalluri said tagging the operation as “surgical strike”. DRG teams from Kondagaon and Narayanpur districts had jointly launched the operation into the core areas of Abhujmad – considered as Maoist den, based on specific inputs, the IG said.When they reached the jungles of Tuspal and Becha Kilam, the gun battle broke out between both the sides, he said. Five bodies and as many weapons have been recovered from the spot, he said, adding that no harm was reported to security forces and more details were awaited. With this, so far as 15 Maoists have been killed in separate encounters in Bastar division this month, the IG added.

‘Vicious FIR proves Chattisgarh is a police state’: Twitter outrages over murder chages against academic Nandini Sundar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A Delhi University professor and a JNU professor have been booked along with Maoists and others on charges of murder of a tribal villager in insurgency-hit Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. “An FIR was lodged against DU Professor Nandini Sundar, Archana Prasad (JNU Professor), Vineet Tiwari (from Delhi’s Joshi Adhikar Sansthan), Sanjay Parate (Chhattisgarh CPI (Marxist) State Secretary) and others along with Maoists for the murder of Shamnath Baghel based on the complaint of his wife on Saturday,” Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) S R P Kalluri told PTI last night. They were booked under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 147 (rioting), 148 and 149 of IPC at Tongpal Police Station, the IG said adding, “strongest possible action will be taken against those guilty after the investigation”. Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar strongly rubbished allegations of Chhattisgarh Police linking her to the murder of a tribal villager in Maoist-hit Bastar while a number of civil rights bodies called the charges a tactic of “revenge and harassment”. Reacting strongly, she said it was a clear case of being “framed” and that police have been forcing some people in Bastar to name her and others in someway. Meanwhile, others on Twitter outraged against the charges: Though the case was registered on Saturday, the matter came to light last night. Armed Naxals had allegedly killed Baghel with sharp weapons on Friday night at his residence in Nama village under Kumakoleng gram panchayat in Tongpal area, around 450 kms away from here. Baghel and some of his associates were spearheading the protest against Naxal activities in their village since April this year.”As per the complaint lodged by the victim’s wife, her husband had been getting threats from Maoists since he and other villagers had complained against Sundar in May this year. Even armed ultras were referring to that complaint and anti-Maoist demonstrations while attacking Baghel on Friday,” the IG said.The complaint also mentioned that during the attack on him, Maoists kept telling Baghel that he was being punished because he did not listen to Sundar and others, and continued opposing them. Baghel’s wife has sought action against Sundar and others accusing them of murdering her husband, Kalluri said.Baghel and other villagers of the region had earlier given a complaint to Tongpal police in May this year against Sundar, Prasad, Tiwari, Parate and an unidentified woman activist from Sukma for allegedly inciting innocent tribals against the government and seeking their support for Maoists. Villagers of Nama and the neighbouring Kumakoleng village (both under Kumakoleng village panchayat) had started a self-motivated protest against Maoist activities in their villages after forming its own security group named “Tangiya (axe) group” in April this year. “Following the development, according to villagers, Sundar and others went in the village to allegedly threaten them not to oppose the Maoists,” the IG said. Sundar had gone to the village with the alias Richa Keshav, he said. A letter was then written to the Vice Chancellors of both DU and JNU informing that Bastar police was conducting an inquiry against both the professors following complaint received against them, he added. With inputs from agencies

Malkangiri encounter: Ill-fated peace talks in 2004 with Andhra govt reason behind recent bloodbath

The process of eliminating the agrarian uprising led by Left wing extremists in rural Andhra Pradesh that began in October 2004 has almost concluded 22 years later — on 24 October, 2016. The cold blooded encounter at Janti village of Malkangiri district of Odisha on the upper part of the Balimela reservoir had taken a toll of 30 armed Maoists, almost wiping out the rebels’ leadership in the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) region, termed as the last post of the CPI (Maoists). The location was just 30 kilometre north west of the region where Maoists had, eight years ago, blasted a boatload of Greyhound commandos on a combing operation with a rocket, killing 36 of them.

The revenge attack by anti-Naxal elite commandos in the last week of October in AOB, was more gruesome and cold blooded than the Maoist attack. The ultras were chased for over 12 hours in daylight and gunned down. Four fleeing Maoists, who were elderly and injured, were hacked mercilessly. ‘Show no mercy’ was the clear order of the Greyhound commander to his men before they began the raid in the wee hours of 24 October, catching most of them in their bed or while attending nature’s call in fields with their weapons an arm’s length away.

The Left wing extremists who began an agrarian revolution six decades ago, have lost over 4,000 cadre and the battle between them and the security forces has taken 9,000 civilian lives so far. The seeds for October’s bloodbath were sown on October 20, 2004, the day the ultras had come out of their hide-outs in forests to conduct ill-fated peace talks, an olive branch offered by the YS Rajasekhar Reddy-led Congress government in united Andhra Pradesh.

The interlocutors between the government and the People’s War Group of CPI (ML) were a band of human rights activists and journalists, who had no experience of dealing with such negotiations. A tragedy of errors unfolded. “It is a loss of a golden opportunity to bring peace in rural India,” popular civil rights activist and mathematics lecturer at Warangal, the late Dr K Balagopal had said at the time. Balagopal had kept himself aloof and watched the developments with a mixture of mistrust and hope.

The Congress government led by YS Rajasekhar Reddy had announced peace talks with Maoists as one of the poll promises in the election manifesto when it romped home to power in 2004 ending the decade-long Telugu Desam Party (TDP) hegemony in the state. YSR, as he was popularly known, had after a marathon padayatra of over 2,000 kms in 2003 had a whiff of ground realities of rural AP, the campaign of the armed rebels and also received support of some of these groups. He was also influenced by a report compiled by a CCC (Committee Of Concerned Citizens) led by respected retired IAS officer SR Sankaran, who, after touring Telangana districts and studying the status of farmers and rural development, had laid threadbare the need for peace in the Telangana districts. “We presented a copy of the report to Rajasekhar Reddy. The CCC report spoke volumes for ground realities and drove both sides to come to the negotiating table, even if it meant disagreement on many issues,” said Sankaran to this reporter in 2004.

After the electoral victory YSR invited the ultras of PWG – the People’s War Group – the biggest Maoist group in AP, for talks within months of taking charge. He set the ball rolling by declaring a ceasefire for three months against the rebels and directed state police forces to not harm them when they came face to face four times in the jungles of Nallamala, Visakhapatnam and AOB. “At least five top guns including Amar, Riyaaz, Sudhakar could not have made it to Hyderabad for talks if we had had our way in the combing operations,” said former DGP MV Bhaskar Rao.

Clumsy And confused beginnings

Neither the PWG leadership nor the Congress party was prepared for the “historic talks”. It took a lot of backroom manipulations by mediators and police officials that made the talks happen and also fail. Police officials wanted to use the situation for gaining reliable data on the Maoists, their hide-outs and also their strengths. The ageing extremist leadership was already losing ground wherever development and welfare activities in rural areas were on an upswing. The attempts of the ultras to stop connectivity – mobile towers, roads, bridges, schools and hostel buildings – was disliked and also protested by the rural populace.

Maoists rally at Uppal Ground in Hyderabad before the peace talks. Image sourced by GS Radhakrishna

Maoists rally at Uppal Ground in Hyderabad before the peace talks. Image sourced by GS Radhakrishna

The Maoists had, overtly or covertly, supported YSR over Chandrababu Naidu in the 2004 elections out of spite against the TDP supremo who had let loose a reign of terror in the jungles of Telangana and AP. Naidu had, in October 2003, survived an assassination attempt by the Maoists – a land mine blast near Tirupati and narrowly escaped.

Maoists had lost three Central Committee members Nalla Adi Reddy ‘Shyam’, Erram Reddy, Santosh Reddy ‘Mahesh’ and Seelam Naresh ‘Murali’ in 1999. A few Special Zonal Committee/State-level leaders such as Anupuram Komaraiah and some district-level leaders such as Polam Sudarshan Reddy, of Warangal and Nelakonda Rajitha of Karimnagar too had been killed during the TDP regime. The PWG had been wiped out from what they term is their flagship guerrilla zone – North Telangana Special Zone (NTSZ).

Then Congress Home Minister K Jana Reddy had told the state Assembly that he would never shake hands with extremists and that he had given freedom to state police to track and eliminate the “PWG menace”. But within two months, he signed an ordinance declaring ceasefire and also stood at the venue of the peace talks meeting to receive top PWG and Janashakti leaders with flower bouquets and garlands. Congress leaders, particularly Telangana leaders who had borne the brunt of extremist attacks, were wary of the YSR experiment. But the CM had convinced them that it would be a jackpot if the government pulled it through and resolve all land issues.

For the Congress party in Telangana, talks with Maoists was a good alternative as party cadres had turned extremist sympathisers in the battle against TDP. “We need to resolve issues with the extremists to bring peace in rural Telangana,” said Sridhar Babu of Warangal, a former minister and son of former Speaker Sripad Rao, who was killed by the PWG. The PWG had hoisted red flags in lands – private, forest and that belonging to the government Endowments Department – signalling that they stood occupied for redistribution among the landless.

However, the team of mediators led by SR Sankaran, KG Kannabiran, Gadar, G Kalyan Rao, and editor P Venkateswar Rao had tried to convince both sides that the peace talks would be in everyone’s best interests. A month ahead of the talks the mediators trekked to Nallamala forests and met Ramakrishna aka RK, secretary of the Maoists’ AP State Committee. “Maoists had a long list of complaints and were firm on keeping arms and countering state terror,” reminisced Pothuri Venkateswar Rao, senior editor who was part of the team of interlocutors.

Maoists come out of forests

Eleven Maoists who walked out of the Nallamala forest on 11 October were given a heroes’ welcome. Clad in camouflage fatigues, with rifles slung over their shoulders, they came out two hours behind schedule at 11.30 pm. Ramakrishna alias Akkiraju Hargopal had an AK47 hanging from his shoulder. A large contingent of police and plainclothesmen and electronic media besides some mediators had received them on the edge of the forest. In a ceremonial guard of honour presented by the Maoist cadre, the leaders returned their weapons to them and waited until the cadres disappeared into thick forests, as this reporter witnessed the proceedings.

With two police jeeps escorting them, the Maoist leaders travelled from Chinna Arutla in the Nallamala forests to Guttikonda near Guntur where they addressed a public meeting in the dead of night in the presence of local MLAs and police. Ramakrishna, who had been a legend for Telangana youth, had come out of the forests after 15 years. He was welcomed by villagers who raised slogans of ‘Lal Salam’ for him. RK spoke about jungle life, his commitment for land reforms and that power came only through the barrel of a gun. Later they were whisked away to Manjira guest house in Hyderabad which became their safe haven for the next four to five days. An entire floor was allocated to the Maoist leaders and mediators too stayed there. Later we were told that some of the 11-member team were actually the personal guards of Ramakrishna.

How the peace talks nosedived

Even before the talks began PWG leaders almost punctured the scope of talks. They released a press statement about the merger of the PWG with another group – MCC – now the CPI (Maoists) had become the largest armed rebel group in India with a presence in 14 states. The new outfit had set its goal to form a ‘Red Corridor from AP to Nepal’. Addressing the media, Ramakrishna also made the stand of the ultras clear — that they would not give up arms and also that they prioritised land reforms over everything. “The CPI (Maoists) would continue the protracted people’s war and the peace talks process would help in taking the movement forward,” he had said, making it clear that war against government was still the philosophy of the ultras.

The Maoists’ press conference took the spirit out of the peace talks and even mediators were speechless. They had hoped to bargain with government and somehow seal a peace treaty.

YSR too was peeved at the directions of Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to not sign any agreement with PWG leaders without approval from the Centre. “The PWG is not just a regional group now. After merger with MCC, they are a pan-Indian group,” Patil told YSR on phone and also sent a team of three Home Ministry officials, including a joint director of the Intelligence Bureau to “assist” the state government in negotiations.

YSR was further informed that the demands list of the Maoists had to be vetted at the Centre and not state level. The state home minister was told constantly to consult the emissaries from the Union Home Ministry. But Jana Reddy was shocked when he learnt that the central agencies had better information about happenings in the convention hall of the Manjira Guest House than his own officials.

This reporter, who interacted with mediators and also senior police officials, found that the outcome of the peace talks was already known to most participants including the negotiators and officials. A face-saving resolution was passed and both parties inked their consent to meet within three months and continue the effort to end violence in rural AP.

maoist-leader-meet-GSRADHAKRISHNAN

Ramakrishna aka RK, secretary of the Maoists’ AP State Committee, meeting with other PWG leaders. Image sourced by GS Radhakrishna

The agreement was violated within two months. “It is against our principle to give up arms,” said Maoist spokesperson Azad. “The Maoist condition that they carry arms but will not use it against police or innocents is hilarious and absurd,” retorted YSR.

Aftermath of peace talks 

The aftermath of peace talks has been cruel to Maoists and to this day they rue having come for negotiations. They curse the mediators, who suffered later and became victims of state terror. “We were riding a tiger, either way, with govt or the Maoists. We tried sincerely in the interests of the rural peace and landless poor who were sandwiched between both,” said Pothuri Venkateswar Rao. Though Venkateswar Rao was spared, others like P Vara Vara Rao and G Kalyan Rao were arrested later and let off after months at Chanchalguda jail over false cases.

Human rights activist and a former secretary of AP Civil Liberties Committee Dr K Balagopal squarely blamed Chief Minister YSR for the failure of peace talks between the government and Maoists. “Dr Reddy always strived to scuttle the process. It is meaningless to tell Maoists that talks are being held to work out modalities for their disarming,” he said.

YSR is said to have washed his hands of the issue after the Centre stepped in and party president Sonia Gandhi urged him to lie low. His loss was that he lost a golden opportunity to consolidate the gains of his welfare measures and gains from the Padayatra.

On 20 October, 2004, when Naxal leaders went back to the forests, they were shown the path into Nallamala forests from Chinna Arutla from the same place where they had come out. Though the talks failed, it was a windfall for police intelligence agencies. “We gathered a lot of information on them individually,” an official told this reporter.

Four months later, on 3 February, 2005, Greyhounds commandos surrounded top Maoist leaders like Ramakrishna in their hideout in the Nallamala forests. As commandos awaited shoot orders from then DGP Swaranjit Singh, the Maoists roped in negotiators and got the government to call off the ambush and allow the Maoists to escape. Escape they did to Chhattisgarh. But the commandos smashed all the dens, arms dumps and informer systems in AP.

The intelligence gathered by the AP police was of great help to the UPA in the campaign against ultras in the north, particularly Chhattisgarh, Jharkand, Bihar and West Bengal. “Since the CPI (Maoists) is dominated by the Telugu speaking cadre, the info provided by AP police was of great help to keep tabs on the ultras in not only Chhattisgarh but also in West Bengal and Jharkhand,” said SRC Kalluri, DG of Bastar.

The Green Hunt campaign in Chhattisgarh brought windfall gains to the state BJP government and also to the UPA. And now, with the Janti village encounter in AOB, the Maoists have been hit hard. “We have lost our AOB leadership and connections with the tribal leaders. But the movement is not dead as the battle for land and livelihood of tribals and Dalits still rages on in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and also Jharkhand, besides AP and Telangana in a big way,” said CPI (Maoists) spokesperson Shyam.

Ex-SPO of Salwa Judum movement shot dead by Maoists in Bastar

Raipur: A villager, who had served as Special Police Officer (SPO) during the Salwa Judum movement in Bastar, has been killed allegedly by Maoists in the insurgency-hit Sukma district on Thursday.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

The body of Podiyam Dula, in his 40s, was found in a forest area this morning between Murliguda and Banda villages, Sukma Superintendent of Police Indira Kalyan Elesela said.

“As per preliminary information, a group of rebels picked the victim from his village Banda last night. He was later shot dead,” he said, adding soon after being informed, security forces rushed to the spot and the body was brought to Konta for post-mortem.

Dula had worked as the SPO from 2006 to 2007. According to his brother, Dula was mentally unstable for the past several months, Elesela said.

The Naxals have reportedly left a note at the spot in which they claimed that the victim was helping police. However, the SP refuted the charge.

Salwa Judum, an anti-Maoist civil militia, was disarmed and disbanded in 2011 in the state following a Supreme Court order declaring as illegal and unconstitutional the deployment of tribal youths as Special Police Officers in the fight against Maoist insurgency.

Jharkhand: Maoist leader surrenders, to receive Rs 5 lakh as per surrender policy

Wed, 26 Oct 2016-01:05pm , Ranchi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maoist leader Baleswar Oraon, who was carrying Rs five lakh reward on his head, has surrendered before the Jharkhand Director General of Police DK Pandey. Oraon surrendered yesterday and was given a cheque of Rs five lakh. The rebel would also get other benefits under the surrender policy, police spokesman MS Bhatia said. Oraon was a sub-zonal commander of the outfit and member of its Bihar-Jharkhand Special Area Committee. He had decided to surrender on July 14 this year, he said.

Maoists lose three-decade-old ‘safe haven’ in Odisha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the killing of at least 24 Maoists, including seven of their top leaders, dealt a major psychological blow to the outlawed CPI(Maoist) in Odisha, it has boosted the morale of the security personnel as the Maoists have lost their “safe home” in Malkangiri district.The killings took place during a joint operation by Odisha and Andhra Pradesh police at Bejingi in the Panasput gram panchayat area under Chitrakonda police station in Malkangiri district, surrounded by hills and forests on three sides and Balimela reservoir on one.The ultras used to take shelter there after committing violence in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, said Nihar Nayak, a researcher of the Maoist movement in Odisha, adding that they used to take advantage of the geographical location of the area since they started operating from these parts in the 1980s.When the Maoists had started using the place as a “safe haven” in the 80s, the then Odisha government had taken little action because the ultras refrained from creating any disturbance in the state. Their activities were mostly confined to Andhra Pradesh, said a senior police officer.The Bejingi area, where today’s operation took place, had hosted a meeting of top Maoist trainers last night. The rebels did not think that the security personnel would launch an assault in the deep forests surrounded by hills and flanked by a reservoir, the officer said. The Maoists had eliminated at least 38 security personnel, including 35 members of Greyhound, Andhra Pradesh’s elite anti-Naxal force, while they were crossing the Balimela reservoir in a mechanised boat in 2008.At least 24 Maoists, including seven of their top leaders, were today gunned down in a fierce gun-battle with the security forces in Odisha’s Malkangiri district on the border with Andhra Pradesh.While using the place as a “safe haven”, the Maoists also used the carrot-and-stick policy for the locals. The villagers who opposed them were eliminated after being branded as “police informers” and those who supported them got praise from the rebels, said a panchayat level politician from Chitrokonda area.In their bid to keep the “cut-off area” safe and out of reach for the security personnel, the Maoists in the past had destroyed equipment used in road construction, mobile phone towers and government buildings. Now that the Odisha government has been constructing a major bridge (918-mtr) at Gurupriya to connect 151 villages in the “cut-off area”, the Maoists would further lose their “safe shelter”, said a local engineer, adding that the construction of the bridge was likely to be completed by the end of 2018.Meanwhile, the Maoists’ stronghold of Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks in Koraput district are now “within the reach” of the administration after a series of police operations.”After today’s operation, the Maoists have suffered a major setback in the entire south Odisha, particularly in Koraput and Malkangiri districts,” a top police officer involved in anti-Maoist operations said.Earlier, the Maoist movement had suffered a setback when Sabyasachi Panda quit the CPI(Maoist) and formed his own group, ‘Odisha Maobadi Party’. Panda is in jail, leading to a decline in Maoist activities in Gajapati, Rayagada and Ganjam districts. However, the Maoists have re-grouped in Kalahandi, Boudh and Kandhamal. Naxal cadres, mostly from Chhattisgarh, operate in the western region of the state, while the guerrillas from Andhra Pradesh operate in south Odisha, the officer said.Today’s successful operation took place when the Maoists were threatening the people to boycott the three-tier panchayat polls slated for February next. Maoist leader Ramakrishna had reportedly addressed a meeting in the Jantri area in the “cut-off zone” earlier this month and asked the tribals to boycott the polls.

Police attacked Maoist meeting near Andhra-Odisha border, killing over 20: Varavara Rao

Police attacked Maoist meeting near Andhra-Odisha border, killing over 20: Varavara Rao

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Hyderabad: Revolutionary poet Varavara Rao on Monday alleged that police killed Maoists after attacking one of their meetings near the Andhra-Odisha border.

Disputing police claim that Maoists were killed in an exchange of fire, he said it was deliberate attack on a Maoist meeting.

Representational image. CNN News 18Representational image. CNN News 18

Representational image. CNN News 18

Over 20 Maoists were killed in the alleged gunbattle in Malkangiri district of Odisha on Monday. The incident occurred during a joint search operation by police forces of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

Some top Maoist leaders are suspected to be among those killed. Most of the slain Maoist cadre hailed from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Varavara Rao demanded that a murder case be booked against the policemen involved in the attack.

“Did Maoists carry out any attack after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh? Then where was the need for this fake encounter?” asked Rao, a leader of Veerasam, a body of revolutionary writers.

Rao also demanded an inquiry into the incident by a sitting judge of the high court. He said the bodies of Maoists should be brought to Visakhapatnam.

India police kill ’18 Maoist rebels’

Police in India say they have killed at least 18 Maoist rebels in the eastern state of Orissa.

‘Anti-India’ speech: Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy acquitted by court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A court on Tuesday acquitted Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy of all charges in a six-year-old case accusing him of delivering two “anti-national” speeches at Punjabi University in Patiala. Additional Sessions and District Judge Mohammad Gulzar passed the order after the case was heard on a day-to-day basis, starting September 27.Ghandy (66) told reporters after the acquittal that he had disassociated himself from the banned outfit of CPI(Maoist). The prosecution had a list of 13 witnesses, out of which one could not be produced and was shown as untraceable.Ghandy was booked in January 2010 by Patiala Sadar police under sections 10, 13, 18 and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and sections 419 and 120-B of the IPC for holding meetings on the premises of Punjabi University in April and May 2009, in an alleged bid to promote Maoist ideology. He was brought here from Cherlapally Central Jail, Telangana, where he was lodged on September 27. The case was concluded in 20 days as the hearing was held on a day-to-day basis.Earlier in May, one of Ghandy’s associates, Bacha Yadav who was also facing charges under UAPA was discharged by the same court for want of prosecution sanction, which was to come from the Union government. Yadav was released from the Central Jail, Patiala, in June.Ghandy had pleaded that he was booked for delivering the lecture in Aoril and May 2009 and at that time, CPI (Maoist) was not banned. The organisation was banned in June 22, 2009, he had argued.

Naxal arrested from weekly market in Chhattisgarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Naxal was arrested from a weekly market in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Kondagaon district on Sunday, police said. The cadre, identified as Ghasiya Ram (26), was apprehended under Dhanora police station limits yesterday, Kondagaon Superintendent of Police Santosh Singh said. Weekly markets put up in interior parts of Bastar region serve as a good source for rebels to procure items of daily use. In view of it, the Kondgaon police has been carrying out a special drive to check the movement of ultras in these markets for past few days, he said. On Saturday, the police personnel spotted a suspect at Dhanora who was buying commodities while trying to cover himself. Soon, a team of District Reserve Group (DRG) and local police encircled the place and caught him, the SP said.During interrogation, Ghasiya, a native of Chikpal in Mardapal area, confessed to have come to the market to procure items for Kiskodo area committee members of Maoists and keep an eye on the activities of security personnel, he said.A knife, two Naxal banners, anti-greenhunt operation posters, medicines and other Maoist literature were recovered from his possession. His further interrogation may facilitate arrest of more local cadres involved in supplying general items to Maoists groups from markets in Dhanora region, Singh added.

Manipur: Life crippled in Imphal as rebels observe Black Day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Life in Manipur capital Imphal came to a partial halt as CorCom – the conglomerate of various rebel groups, observed a National Black Day with an 18-hour-long general strike that began at midnight on October 15.The Maoist Communist Party Manipur also observed a Black Day, boycotting all celebrations or events related to the merger of Manipur with the Indian Union.Inter-district passenger bus services and passenger-driven vehicles stayed off the roads, but diesel autos, Tata Magic and other private vehicles plied on different routes.Almost all business establishments remained closed. Except for few vendors, almost all major shops, private banks, offices and nationalist banks did not operate.In a press statement CorCom media coordinator Ksh Yoiheiba had stated that Manipur was forcibly merged into the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, and this was an incident that remains unforgettable to all people of Manipur. “Since the alleged forced merger, Manipuri people have been living a wretched life under an alleged colonial yoke. October 15 is one day on which all the people need to stand united against Indian rule,” he said in his statement.Yoiheiba further stated that the Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 was fully drafted by July 26, 1947 ahead of the departure of British colonial rulers from Manipur.After the first democratic election was held in June 1948, a Council of Ministers was sworn in on October 18, 1948 at the Darbar Hall of Kangla. These events marked the establishment of a democratic Government in Manipur.However, the Government of India kept the king of Manipur under house arrest at Shillong and forced him to sign the Manipur Merger Agreement on September 21, 1949. Manipur was annexed into the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, Ksh Yoiheiba of CorCom alleged.

In a new book, The Burning Forest, Nandini Sundar looks at the Maoist conflict in Bastar

In her meticulously researched book, The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar, Nandini Sundar writes about the Maoist conflict in Bastar. Here she talks to Firstpost about the academia’s role (or lack thereof) in studying the Maoist conflict, the politics of co-option by the state in the region, the maligned adivasisthe future and what it may bring to the region.

Nandini Sundar's new book 'The Burning Forest' looks at 'India's war in Bastar'Nandini Sundar's new book 'The Burning Forest' looks at 'India's war in Bastar'

Nandini Sundar’s new book ‘The Burning Forest’ looks at ‘India’s war in Bastar’

Maoists are regularly a source of inquiry, and keen interest for the academia in India. Why do you think that is? Is it down to ideology, which would be in contrast with the much larger corporate structures now operating in the country, feeding pockets here and there, something that the academia finds itself opposing on a regular basis?

In fact, there is very little academic work on the current phase of the Maoist movement. In the earlier phase of the 1970s, we had some excellent scholarly work like Sumanta Banerjee’s In the Wake of Naxalbari or Manoranjan Mohanty’s Revolutionary Violence, but that tended to focus on ideological and political developments. While there are good films and novels on the period, academic research has not kept pace. We are only now beginning to see some scholarly work based on oral histories, for instance interviewing former women guerillas.

As for the current movement, which is in many ways very different from the earlier phase which was more urban and middle class, it was only in 2009-10 that people began to do PhDs or other research on this subject. Most of the books that have come out on the Maoists in the last few years have been journalistic accounts — Gautam Navlakha’s Days and Nights in the Heartland of Rebellion, Shubhranshu Chaudhury’s Let’s call him Vasu, Rahul Pandita’s Hello Bastar, and Arundhati Roy’s Walking with the Comrades. There is some work generated by security think tanks, but that’s from a statist perspective, and focused on how to get rid of the Naxalites.  This is not to say that there is no social science work at all — Bela Bhatia and George Kunnath have done some good work on Bihar Naxalism. But really there is very, very little.

I don’t think the issue is the ideological leanings of academics at all. The academics who study movements and political organisations — whether the Maoists or the RSS — need not belong to that persuasion. I myself have done research on the RSS adivasi front, the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, in 2001. One problem is that academics often take up issues for study only after they become newsworthy, rather than tracking long term processes in society. When it comes to organisations like the Maoists which are banned, it becomes very hard to do research — both because it is dangerous for the Maoists to trust researchers and because the state suspects you if you work on such issues. The biggest problem is that the state does not make the distinction between legitimate research and political activity, and does not appreciate the value of social science research.

Extending the previous question a little further, does it also reflect the country’s near-sighted approach when it feels that the adivasi requires “saving” from himself and his prehistoric lifestyle (as you also quote a minister saying so during the Congress’ tenure at the centre)? How, where do we draw the line when we talk about bringing India into the modern world then?

The country has always used adivasi labour — whether to cut timber, collect forest produce, work on tea gardens, brick kilns, urban construction sites, or in the army — in these roles, they appear to need no ‘saving’. It’s only when they live on their own land in relative autonomy that they are seen as needing to be saved. Adivasis have always been modern. It’s the upper-caste upper-class India which looks down on them while exploiting their labour and resources, which is trapped in a feudal mindset. Even in terms of their culture which is relatively more egalitarian, they are more in keeping with the modern values of the constitution than some of the ‘civilised’ parts of the country who practice honour killings or lynch people for eating meat.

Have we, the academia included, completely understood the Maoist? You say in the book that the adivasi is the unfortunate victim of war he hasn’t even waged. How do we then evaluate the Maoist’s position in this discourse (of which, perhaps the constitution is the most important document to refer to), and consequently the state’s?  Surely, it isn’t as simple as calling the two enemies as many would have us believe?

No one can ‘completely understand’ the Maoists, including the Maoists themselves. There are different types of Maoists — women, men, middle class Maoists who sacrificed their lives for an ideology, peasants who joined for dignity, adivasis who were driven into the movement due to severe exploitation. The movement is different in different states, and the experience of each of these categories of members is different. As I said, our research does not even begin to scratch the surface of the issues involved. People’s beliefs about themselves or a Maoist version of the Maoist movement, while important as a source, does not exhaust what can be said.

Also, I haven’t said that the adivasis are victims of a war they have not waged — I say there is a complicated relationship and overlap between Maoists and adivasis but they are not synonymous.

In Salwa Judum, the state opted for a tertiary arm (before Operation Greenhunt as you mention in the book). In that way, the treatment of the conflict in Bastar as compared to say that in Manipur or Kashmir has been different. Will the path to resolution be different as well? How do you see it? And is that down to the object of contention here — the ‘resources’? How has your interaction with the organisation been?

On the contrary, [I would say] the treatment of the conflict in Bastar has been very similar to that in Manipur or Kashmir — as I say in the book, the technology of counterinsurgency is remarkably similar across the world, even when the issues are different. In Kashmir, the state has used surrendered militants (Ikhwanis) in much the same way as surrendered Naxalites are being used in Bastar — as undisciplined storm troopers.

The path to resolution in all these cases is also similar — through political dialogue. The issues over which dialogue needs to take place are, of course, different — resources in central India, autonomy/freedom in Kashmir and so on. Another common feature or ‘confidence building measure’ that will help greatly in reducing conflict is for the state to enforce the rule of law, minimise human rights violations, acknowledge its mistakes, provide compensation and prosecute those guilty of excesses.

 While the conflict in Bastar still finds space, though scant, in print and online media, why do you think TV journalism has stayed away from the conflict? Is that indicative of how media has functions today?

TV journalism hasn’t exactly stayed away — it’s just that it has mostly adopted a statist perspective on the conflict. As I say in the book, TV’s focus on breaking news and visual effects also denies this story the kind of complex exploration it deserves.

Is the politics of co-option, which both national parties can be accused for, for the situation in Bastar, the most dangerous form of statecraft when it comes to handling your own citizenry — turning adivasi on adivasi ? What does the adivasi resort to then? Does it turn into a simple case of kill, or be killed?

You are right, this is the most dangerous form of statecraft. This is exactly what Justice Reddy and Nijjar warned against in their 2011 Supreme Court judgment banning state support for vigilante groups: “society is not a forest where one could combat an accidental forest fire by starting a counter forest fire that is allegedly controlled. …. Armed, the very same groups can turn, and often have turned, against other citizens, and the State itself”. We see this in Pakistan where state sponsored groups have engaged in terror against the Pakistani people themselves and also in the case of India’s gaurakshaks.

For ordinary people caught up in a conflict in which their own people are armed against them, the best that they can hope for is that they somehow survive this nightmare. But it’s hard when corruption and suspicion seeps down into society and even into families.

How has your interaction with other journalists and reporters who have reported from the conflict zone been like? What do you usually discuss? Malini Subramaniam, recently for example, was forced to leave the region. Is security a problem, especially for those who report regularly on the issues?

We usually discuss how many citizens have been killed and raped recently. We share notes on how we have been attacked by the police and their goons. We talk of forbidden texts like the Constitution. Sometimes, when we are in the mood for leisure, we talk about all the films we can’t see, all the things we can’t eat, and all the people we can’t love, because our patriots have forbidden us. We have secret crushes on Fawad Khan but we make do with Ajay Devgn instead, because he is shudh desi.

Finally, there is a narrative underlined here by another stroke of ‘liberalisation’ (the lessons we perhaps never learn?) — as you mention that of the mining policy in 2003. Where is the middle ground in all of this, and is Bastar the worst example of jostling for this middle ground that we city-dwellers give up the ghost on asking about? Are there any practical solutions that you can think of, particularly in regards to Bastar?

As I say in the book, especially in the epilogue, the only practical solution is peace talks. Civil society must put pressure on political parties and governments to live up to the principles of the Constitution and bring about peace with justice.

The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar by Nandini Sundar is available in bookstores and on the Juggernaut app

Maoist guerillas torch train carrying coal in Jharkhand

Maoist guerillas torch train carrying coal in Jharkhand

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Ranchi: Six Maoist guerrillas torched a railway engine in Jharkhand’s Bokaro district early Thursday, the state police said.

According to the police, the guerrillas boarded the engine of the goods train carrying coal at Dumri Bihar railway station of Bokaro district, which is around 130 km from Ranchi.

After few kilometres the Maoists thrashed the driver and his assistant and asked them to get down from the engine. They then poured kerosene and torched the engine.

Maoist guerrillas are active in 18 of the 24 districts of the state.

Chhattisgarh: 57 Naxals, 297 supporters surrender before police

Raipur: As many as 57 Naxals and 297 sympathisers surrendered before police in the insurgency-hit Sukma district in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, police said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Altogether 57 Maoist cadres and 297 sympathisers turned themselves in before the government, police and CRPF officials at Sukma district headquarters. Seventeen of these 57 Maoists were carrying a cash reward on their heads,” Sukma Superintendent of Police Indira Kalyan Elesela told PTI.

Seventeen Naxals surrendered along with firearms, he said.

“Cadres are getting increasingly fed up with violent Maoist activities and want to see development in their area,” the SP said.

He described the move as a good indicator in the conflict-ridden Bastar region.

Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) SRP Kalluri, Sukma Collector Neeraj Bansod and other police and CRPF officials were present on the occasion.

The Maoist supporters belong to Kerlapal, Majhipara, Patelpara, Potampara, Borguda, Gondpalli Mosalpara, Jeerampal, Badesatti, Pandupara and other villages of the region, the SP said.

According to the official, the cadres in their statements said that they decided to move away from the Maoists as they were frustrated with continuous exploitation, atrocities and violence by them.

An encouragement amount of Rs 10,000 was given to each of the 57 Maoists, he said, adding that they would be provided assistance as per the rehabilitation policy of the government.

According to the figures provided by the police, with this development, about 1,400 Naxals and their supporters have surrendered before police in separate districts of Bastar division so far this year.

Raipur: Naxal gunned down in face-off with security forces

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Naxal was gunned down in an exchange of fire with security forces in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Kondagaon district, police said on Monday.The face-off between rebels and a joint team of security forces took place near the jungles of Chheri village last evening, Kondagaon Superintendent of Police Santosh Singh said.A small party of forces comprising Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) and local police was undertaking a search operation in the interiors of Bayanar, located around 300 kms away from here, yesterday.While they were advancing into jungles of Chheri, security forces came under heavy fire from a group of Maoists to which they retaliated in self-defence, he said.However, the ultras soon escaped from the place.During search, the body of a Maoist clad in uniform , a pistol with loaded magazine and many other items were recovered from the spot, the SP said.”The area could not be searched properly due to darkness, and prima facie it appears that more ultras were either injured or killed in the gunfight, he said.The patrol parties have safely reached back to camps, he said adding that identity of the killed Naxal was being ascertained.

Chhattisgarh: Naxal gunned down in face-off with security forces in Kondagaon

Chhattisgarh: Naxal gunned down in face-off with security forces in Kondagaon

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Raipur: A Naxal was gunned down in an exchange of fire with security forces in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Kondagaon district, police said on Monday.

The face-off between rebels and a joint team of security forces took place near the jungles of Chheri village last evening, Kondagaon Superintendent of Police Santosh Singh said.

A small party of forces comprising Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) and local police was undertaking a search operation in the interiors of Bayanar, located around 300 kms away from Raipur, on Sunday.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

While they were advancing into jungles of Chheri, security forces came under heavy fire from a group of Maoists to which they retaliated in self-defence, he said.

However, the ultras soon escaped from the place.

During search, the body of a Maoist clad in ‘uniform’, a pistol with loaded magazine and many other items were recovered from the spot, the SP said.

“The area could not be searched properly due to darkness, and prima facie it appears that more ultras were either injured or killed in the gunfight,” he said.

The patrol parties have safely reached back to camps, he said adding that identity of the killed Naxal was being ascertained.

Chhattisgarh: Naxal killed in fire exchange with security forces

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A lower rung Naxal was, on Thursday, killed in an exchange of fire with security forces in a dense forest of Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, police said.The skirmish took place in the morning when a joint team of security forces was out on a search operation in Konta police station area, Sukma SP Indira Kalyan Elesela told PTI.Acting on specific input about the presence of armed Maoists in the forests near Neelamadgu and Velpochha villages, a composite team of personnel, comprising District Reserve Group (DRG), Special Task Force (STF) and local police, launched a combing operation in the region, located around 500 km from Raipur, he said.The security personnel were advancing into Neelamadgu village, when they came under heavy fire from a squad of the Maoists. The police retaliated, killing a Maoist while the others fled using forest as cover following an hour-long gun battle, he added.During search, the body of a Maoist, a muzzle loading gun and several other items were recovered from the spot, Elsela said.”The killed Maoist has been identified as Madkam Hunga, a member of Konta LOS (local organisation squad),” he said.

Maoist attack feared, security heightened for CRPF camp in Jharkhand

Jamshedpur: Security have been beefed up in a CRPF camp and some police stations of Maoist-hit Ghatsila sub-division in East Singhbhum district following information provided by a youth who managed to escape after being abducted by the rebels.

Maoist rebels undergoing training. AFPMaoist rebels undergoing training. AFP

Maoist rebels undergoing training. AFP

“We have made tight security arrangements around Musaboni CRPF camp and some police stations of the sub-division based on the inputs provided by the youth,” Superintendent of Police (Rural), Md Arshi, said.

The youth told his interrogators that at least 50 Naxals including women with sophisticated firearms assembled in the jungle to attack the CRPF camp and some police stations, he said.

Some of the Naxals seemed to have come from outside Jharkhand as they were speaking in Bengali and Odiya, the youth told police.

Arshi said, “We have been receiving such threats from the Maoists but it was authenticated following the disclosure by the youth.”

The 23-year-old youth, whose identity was withheld, was abducted by the Maoists from Musaboni Police Station area on Saturday but he managed to escape, he told a press conference.

Arshi said the youth, a resident of the copper township in Musaboni, was allegedly abducted by motorcycle-borne Naxals who had taken him to a jungle under Gorabandha Police Station area.

The rebels, suspected to be members of Maoists leader Kanu Munda’s squad, have tried to lure the youth, who was in search for a job, with money to join them, the SP said.

He managed to escape on the pretext of responding to the nature’s call, Arshi said, adding he somehow managed to reach Musaboni and sought help of a police patrolling van passing through the area.

The SP said a massive long-term anti-naxal operation would be launched in the sub-division from Sunday and assured that the youth would be given security and trained to get employment.

PTI

Nepal says relations with India back on track

In an apparent effort to revive sagging Indo-Nepal relations, Nepal on Friday asserted that its relationship with India is “incomparable” and will not be hampered in anyway because of growing ties with China.On a three-day visit to India, Nepalese deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa stressed the bilateral relations between the two countries are back on track as 13 bilateral meetings are scheduled to take place in June and July alone.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thapa who met external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj said his government was committed to resolve the contentious Madhesi issue and a high-level panel has been set up to evolve a consensus and suggest ways to resolve their demands within three months.”They have not responded to our requests to come to the table and discuss so far. But I am still hopeful. We don’t want minorities to remain dissatisfied in our country,” said Thapa.Brushing off reports that Oli accused India of destabilising his government as “misrepresentation of comments” Thapa said Ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay was recalled as government found somebody more suitable who can further strengthen ties between the two neighbours.”We just gave him a one line message to come back but so much was read into that. Why?” Thapa asked.Thapa cited Nepal’s transition to democracy, the Maoist struggle, last year’s devastating earthquake and blockade of supplies from India due to Madhesi agitation as major crisis facing the country during the last two decades and said it wants now to embark on a path of economic growth and development.He indicated that China is equally crucial for Nepal’s progress like India and the growing relations with China cannot and should not be read wrongly.”Nepal’s relations with India are incomparable. If we try to expand our relations with China, that should not be seen at the cost of India. Fifty years back the Himalaya was seen as a barrier, now it is no more a barrier. Railway is coming next to Nepal’s border, highways are coming around Tibet. Do not you think it will be wise for Nepal to take advantage of that situation? It is very simple. We want development,” said Thapa.Delivering a talk on “Current developments in Nepal and the India-Nepal relations” at Observer Research Foundation, Thapa said, “A hut can’t remain a hut in between two skyscrapers… Nepal should try to make maximum benefit of the two large global economies around it – that of China and India.”

Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy acquitted of terror charge, convicted for cheating, forgery

A Delhi court here today acquitted 68-year-old Kobad Ghandy under the stricter charges of section 20 and 38 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act that dealt with membership of a banned terror organisation. Ghandy and his associate Rajinder Kumar, however, were convicted of cheating, forgery, impersonation and conspiracy under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).Kumar was convicted under section 468 and 420 read with 120-B, section 474 and 419 of the IPC, while Ghandy was convicted of the same along with an additional charge of 471. The court also imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 for each charge.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Left-wing activist Ghandy, a politburo member of the now banned terror organisation Communist Party of India (Maoist), was arrested by the Delhi’s Special Cell unit on September 20, 2009 from the capital where he was undergoing treatment for cancer.”The more serious an offence, the stricter the degree of proof required since a higher assurance is required to convict the accused,” additional sessions judge (ASJ) Reetesh Singh stated to justify Ghandy’s acquittal on the UAPA charges. The court observed that none of the evidence relied upon in court have been found “admissible.” Even the prosecution’s witness testimonies suffered from “infirmities.”The court observed that all the materials and literature recovered from Ghandy’s Molar band residence in Southeast Delhi’s Badarpur area was of a period prior to the date when the CPI (Maoist) was declared a terrorist organisation.At the time of arrest, Ghandy was using an electoral photo identity card (EPIC) or more popularly known as a the voter ID card and a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card in the name of Dalip Patel. The court found sufficient evidence that in order to enable the activist to remain underground in Delhi, Kumar conspired with Ghandy and carried out forgery based on which the fake EPIC and PAN cards were issued. The identity cards were issued based on fake addresses and names.Taking into consideration Ghandy’s advanced age and the fact that he has been in custody since his arrest in 2009, the court did not impose sentences on them beyond the period they have already undergone. Kumar was meted out with the same punishment.A Mumbaikar, Ghandy had a “privileged childhood” and came from a well-to-do Parsi family. A “Doon School boy” Ghandy studied chartered accountancy in London, United Kingdom, in the early 70s before he returned to India consumed with the revolutionary literature.

Delhi court clears Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy of terror charges

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Friday acquitted Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy of terror charges, but convicted him of cheating and forgery, and sentenced him to jail for the period which he has already spent in prison, from September 2009.

However, Ghandy will remain in jail as 14 other cases are pending against him in various courts of the country.

Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh acquitted Ghandy, 68, of charges under Section 20 and 38 (member of banned outfit and furthering its activities) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), but convicted him of cheating, forgery and impersonation under provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

According to the police, Ghandy was involved in setting up a new network of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) in Delhi. He was arrested on 20 September, 2009, while undergoing treatment for cancer.

Ghandy was living in Delhi to propagate the activities of the CPI-Maoist and he was helped by co-accused Rajinder Kumar, police said.

It also alleged that Ghandy and Kumar carried out forgery on the basis of which fake voter ID card was issued to Ghandy.

File photo of Kobad Ghandy. Image courtesy: CNN-IBN screengrabFile photo of Kobad Ghandy. Image courtesy: CNN-IBN screengrab

File photo of Kobad Ghandy. Image courtesy: CNN-IBN screengrab

The court observed that the prosecution had relied on the recoveries made from the house where Ghandy and Rajinder Kumar were living, printouts of emails accessed at his instance, information and articles about him downloaded from the internet, newspaper reports as well as contents of the First Information Reports to prove that he was associated with the banned terror outfit.

But the court did not find the material reliable to prosecute Ghandy, and said: “None of the evidences relied upon by the prosecution has been found to be admissible in evidence by the court. The testimonies of the prosecution witnesses suffer from infirmities.”

“In the facts and circumstances of this case, there are reasonable doubts on the version of the prosecution on charges under Section 20 and 38 of the UAPA,” the court said.

“It is true that prosecution has been able to prove that Kobad Ghandy was residing in Delhi in an assumed name and that he had in his possession forged documents.”

Observing that these circumstances do give rise to grave suspicions that Ghandy wanted to avoid himself from being discovered, the court said that “suspicion, however grave it might be, cannot be equated with proof of the said fact”.

“The material relied upon by the prosecution to prove the membership and association of Kobad Ghandy with the said banned organisations is not reliable and admissible in evidence,” the court said.

It said the “gap between using fake identities and membership of the said banned organisations cannot be filled on the basis of suspicion”.

Ghandy’s defence counsel Bhavook Chauhan told court that his client has faced trial in this case for almost seven years and sought leniency.

The court observed that Ghandy has remained in jail for almost six years and six months and imposed on him a term of imprisonment already undergone by him and fine of Rs 10,000.

The court also convicted his associate, co-accused Rajinder Kumar, of charges dealing with cheating but acquitted him of possessing forged document.

Kumar, arrested on 19 March, 2010, was also sentenced with the jail term already undergone by him and fine of Rs 10,000.

Kumar will also remain in jail as he is facing trial in a separate case in a Kanpur court.

Ghandy and Kumar are convicted under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating) as well as for cheating. Ghandy was convicted under sections for possessing forged document.

The court found that Kumar had forged the signature of one Raman Sharma on electricity bills which were used for inclusion of the fake names of Dilip Patel and Sameer Atmaj Joshi in the electoral roll and issuance of Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) cards in the name of Patel and Joshi with the photographs of Ghandy and Kumar respectively. The association of Ghandy and Kumar was also proved by eye-witnesses, the court said.

Ghandy was also proved to be residing in Delhi and receiving treatment under the assumed name of Dilip Patel.

Why journalists are leaving India’s Chhattisgarh

Raksha Kumar explains why journalists are feeling threatened in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.

DU college asks professor GN Saibaba not to visit campus citing law and order problems

DU professor G N Saibaba, who is out on bail in a case of alleged Maoist links, has been asked by Ram Lal Anand College to not enter college without prior permission as it creates “law and order” problems.In a letter sent to Saibaba, college principal Vijay Sharma has termed his recent visits to college “unauthorised and unwarranted conduct” and has warned him of action.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It has come to our knowledge that you have entered the classrooms of the college and held interactive session with the students. The Governing Body (GB) has taken serious note of your unauthorised conduct of entering the classes during suspension without any written permission,” the letter said.”Your entry inside the class is unwarranted as during suspension you are not required to teach the students. You are directed not to enter the college without permission as it creates law and order problems. Violation of this will be treated as misconduct and interference in activities of the college and you shall be liable for further action for the same,” it added.An English professor at Ram Lal Anand College, Saibaba was suspended from DU following his arrest by Maharashtra Police in 2014 for alleged Maoist links. He was lodged in Nagpur Central Jail for 14 months and granted bail in July 2015 after the court noticed his deteriorating health condition.However, the bail was cancelled and he was re-arrested in December last. The Supreme Court had earlier this month granted him bail saying Maharashtra government has been “extremely unfair” to him. He had written to college requesting for reinstatement of his services following which the GB has constituted a one-member committee to look into the issue.While the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) is supporting the 90 per cent disabled professor on the issue of reinstatement, a group of students led by members of ABVP is opposing it claiming the move will have a “bad influence” on students.Saibaba, had visited the college thrice last week, once to submit his letter and twice to attend a two-day college event. His visits were met with protests from members of ABVP who allegedly tried to attack him.

Challenging India’s sovereignty won’t be tolerated: Rajnath Singh

Asserting that India has been consistently trying to improve its ties with Pakistan, Home Minister Rajanth Singh on Saturday said if anyone raises questions over India’s sovereignty and self-respect, it will not be tolerated. “We don’t want to raise questions over sovereignty and self-respect of any country in the world. But if anyone raises questions over the sovereignty and self-respect of India, then it will not be tolerated at all,” Singh told reporters. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The minister was replying to a question pertaining to a video, in which people in large numbers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) are seen protesting against the Pakistani establishment and demanding freedom. “I have also seen (that video). As far as India is concerned, it is a sovereign country and so is Pakistan. We are continuously trying to ensure better relations between both the two countries. For this (reported protests in PoK) Pakistan has to take an initiative,” he said. He was speaking on the sidelines of the convocation ceremony of Kushabhau Thakre Patrakarita and Avam Jansanchar Vishwavidyalaya in Raipur, where he was present as the chief guest. Prior to the programme, he chaired a meeting of senior police and paramilitary officials at the new circuit house here. Chief Minister Raman Singh was also present at the meeting in which counter-insurgency operations and development works in the Naxal-affected areas were discussed. “Some districts of Chhattisgarh are Maoist-affected and I have already appealed to those who are involved in Maoist activities that they should quit the path of violence,” the Union Minister said. “If they (Naxals) leave the violence then talks can be held with them. There is no place for violence in the democracy. I have already said that they should quit violence,” he added. During the meeting, he reviewed the growth of Maoist- affected region and found it “satisfactory”. “I am satisfied with the pace of development under Raman Singh-led government in the Naxal-hit areas of the state. In the coming years, more development will be witnessed in such underdeveloped areas,” he said.

Rajnath Singh to Naxals: Shun violence, we can have talks

Calling upon people involved in Naxal activities to give up violence, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said if they are ready to give up violence, talks can take place with them, adding that violence has no place in a democracy.”There is no doubt that Chhattisgarh and some other states, not all states but some of the districts, are affected by Maoists. Earlier too, I had appealed to the people involved in Maoist activities to leave the path of violence. If they are ready to give up violence, there can be talks with them, as violence has no place in democracy,” said Singh, who was on a visit to the state.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He, however warned, “I have also said they should give up violence or they will have to give it up.”Patting Chief Minister Raman Singh’s back for carrying out developmental works in the state, the Home Minister said, “I am satisfied with the pace of development taking place in the Naxal-affected areas under Chief Minister Singh, and I understand that in coming years all underdeveloped areas will be developed.”When asked whether the government was planning air operations in Naxal-hit areas as there has been training and preparations for air operations, Singh said there is nothing like that and added that he did not have more to say on this.When told about a video released in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, where people were demanding freedom from Pakistan, Singh said, “I too have seen it, but as far as India is concerned, our effort is to improve the relationship between the two countries. Now, Pakistan needs to take the initiative, because we are making regular effort.””We don’t want to raise any question on sovereignty and self-respect of any country, but if some country tries to raise a question on India’s sovereignty and dignity, we will never tolerate it,” he added.

Concerns mount for security forces after Maoists acquire advanced tech to trigger off IEDs

New Delhi: The Maoists have acquired a new level of advanced technology to set off Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which has left the security forces operating in the left-wing extremist areas worried. An alert sent by the Operations Directorate of the Border Security Force says that the Maoists have now got the know-how of using remote or combination of switches in IEDs that enables them to target security forces with utmost precision.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The BSF was alarmed by first such incident in January this year when an IED blast led to the death of its two personnel in Odisha’s Dandabari village, close to Chhattisgarh. About 20 BSF troops were returning on 10 motorcycles on the night of 7 January after tracking a group of Maoists when an IED set by Maoists blew up the first motorcycle carrying deputy commandant Sunil Behera and constable Sibasis Panda. After a thorough search of the site, the BSF troops found no wire on the either side of the road that is usually used by the Maoists to trigger off the IED from a safe distance.

After ten days, an operations party of the BSF conducted further searches in the area and recovered a black antenna unit normally used in two-wheeler’s anti-theft alarm system. The unit manufactured by a Coimbatore-based company, Roots Auto, was connected with two 6 volts battery on one side and with the IED on the other side. The recovery, says the alert, confirmed the use of remote along with combination of switches. The two switches are for “arming” and “firing”. In this case, the condition of the motorcycle suggested that the IED blasted when the motorcycle was exactly on top of the IED. The Maoists had switched the IED on by “arming” it with a remote just before the motorcycle arrived and the subsequent pressure led to the activation of “firing” switch, leading to the blast.

In another recovery, the BSF recovered a similar unit with number “128” on it, suggesting that many such switches had been assembled. The BSF alert has recommended that a special drive be conducted to train security forces about the new technology. It also says that while searching for IEDs, the troops should look out for antennas, especially those used in automobiles, toys and home appliances.

The achievement of new sophistication in IEDs acquires more significance in the wake of recent intelligence inputs that the Maoists have decided to target security forces through such blasts rather than using its cadre for guerrilla warfare. In the last three months in Bastar alone, the Maoists have carried out around three-dozen IED blasts. This change in the Maoist strategy has been attributed to increased security operations in left-wing extremist areas, leading to a significant reduction in the striking capability of the Maoists.

West Bengal Elections 2016: Why Phase 1 is important for Mamata Banerjee

If Milton’s ‘morning shows the day’ holds true in a political battlefield, the first phase of West Bengal elections can give an interesting insight into how the elections are likely to pan out.In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission has decided to hold the elections in seven phases keeping in mind the law and order situation in the state. In fact, the first phase will be actually held in two phases— 18 constituencies on April 4 and 31 constituencies on April 11.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first phase is being held in an area predominantly known as Jangalmahal where the state government claims of having done massive developmental work in the past. The TMC, as evident in the 2014 general elections, has developed significant political clout in the area, but this remains an old political powerhouse of CPI(M). Congress too has pockets of dominance in the area, though it continues to be a minor player. The main matter of contention is whether the combined force of the Left and Congress will be able to offset TMC’s increased presence. This is also a predominantly tribal belt. What happened beforeIn 2011, out of these 18 seats, TMC won eight seats while Congress won two. Eight others were won by the Left Front. The point to be noted is that Congress was in alliance with TMC at the time. So effectively the alliance took 10 out of the 18 seats.Pressing issuesJangalmahal is part of the red corridor where the dreaded Naxals used to hold considerable clout. After Operation Lalgarh, which began in 2009, and the death of Maoist leader Kishanji in 2011, the situation in Jangalmahal has settled down considerably. The government has also run a massive outreach programme to reach out to people with schemes like rice at Re 1/kg, development of roads and setting up educational institutions. Didi has repeatedly said ‘Jangalmahal hasche’ to indicate that the region is now much better off than before.With developmental projects underway, in some areas there have been some grievances of land being taken for government work. Some of the TMC MLAs have also not struck a chord with the electorate. Mamata Banerjee, in the run-up to the polls, has travelled extensively throughout the area and campaigned hard. She is well aware that these seats may be key in the final analysis. The TMC is in general projected to sweep the southern part of Bengal and the Left-Congress alliance has the upper hand in North Bengal.Jangalmahal may become the turf for a keenly contested fight and the role of the Election Commission will also be key in ensuring that free and fair elections take place. All set for the battle to start now!

West Bengal: Kolkata Police’s STF arrest two top Maoist leaders

Acting on a tip off, the Special Task Force of Kolkata Police arrested two top Maoist leaders, Vikas and Tara, from Brigade Parade grounds within Maidan Police Station limits on Saturday.”Based on reliable source information, STF arrested Vikas, who is the leader of the state committee of the Maoists. He is also the secretary of the state military commission. Vikas was accused of many incidents at Sildar, Sankrail, Lalgarh, which resulted in death of many. Besides Vikas, we have also arrested his wife Tara. She was also an integral part of the organisation,” said Vishal Garg, Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police (STF) while addressing media persons at Kolkata Police Headquarters in Lalbazar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He added,”We have seized 7.62 mm pistol, two magazines, nine rounds live ammunition, Maoist literature and letters written in Adivasi language.”After their arrest, the STF raided a hideout that they used to visit frequently and seized several arms and ammunition. “From their hideout, we have seized one AK-47, 120 live ammunition and Maoist literature,” Garg said.The two have been charged under sections of criminal conspiracy, sedition and the Arms Act.

CRPF attacked in Dantewada: Policy paralysis continues to hamper anti-Naxal operations

The latest Maoist attack at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh on 30 March, that killed seven CRPF personnel and left many more injured in a fatal landmine blast, has again exposed our helplessness in tackling the Naxal menace.

How many more innocent people and security personnel need to die for the government to put an end to the red terror?

At the beginning of this decade, in 2010, the nation witnessed India’s worst-ever Maoist attack in Dantewada in which 76 CRPF personnel were killed.

The then Home Minister, P Chidambaram, offered his resignation over the massacre, saying that, “I accept full responsibility for what happened in Dantewada”. However, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rejected Chidambaram’s resignation.

Despite several large-scale massacres of security forces and civilians, and the government recognising the severity of the menace, nothing much has changed over the years.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The reasons vary from incident to incident — sometimes due to a failure to respond to an intelligence tip-off, or security forces not following SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), a sudden ambush, or a lack of coordination between the Central Para Military Forces (CPMFs) and state police force and many more.

Where does the problem lie?

According to counter-insurgency experts dealing with Left Wing Extremism (LWE), the problem in curbing Naxalism lies in the nature of security forces deployed in Red Corridor, combat strategy, lack of coordination in sharing of intelligence inputs between the Centre and the state, and finally — most importantly — the lack of a national policy.

Policy front

Former Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, had called Maoists as ‘brothers and sisters’, while during Sushil Kumar Shinde’s tenure there was a lack of clarity on government’s policy front.

Eventually, it was P Chidambaram, who used the three words – “clear, hold and develop” — to prepare his strategy to counter Naxalism in the country.

He meant – to clear the area under Maoist influence, strengthen the hold of administration there and then start development.

Naxal-menaceNaxal-menace

In 2013, after 42 persons were killed, including top Chhattisgarh Congress leaders, jawans, cops and villagers in a Maoist attack at Darbha Ghati in Bastar, former PM Manmohan Singh had called for a two-pronged strategy to deal with LWE – to strengthen counter-terrorism efforts and address development issues simultaneously.

He had termed Naxalism as “the greatest internal security threat to our country.”

According to CPMF sources, it was during Chidambaram’s tenure as Home Minister that a large-scale deployment of security forces took place in Maoist zones, which continued for some time but later no scheme or action plan was formulated.

“Some Congress leaders even persuaded party president Sonia Gandhi that if strong action against Maoists continued, it would adversely affect the Congress vote bank in Naxal-affected areas,” a senior CPMF official said on conditions of anonymity.

No comprehensive national policy on Naxalism

“A national policy on Maoists is a must because every government has its own style of functioning for dealing with the issue. Our reluctance to act sternly on LWE is evident from the fact that there’s no national policy to deal with the Naxal menace,” said Prakash Singh, former director general, Border Security Force, and ex-member National Security Advisory Board.

“Everything is wrong in tackling the menace. From policy formulation to its implementation, nothing is right,” Singh said.

According to government sources, a policy draft was prepared to deal with the menace, but is yet to get moulded into a national policy.

“The present government is serious on this issue and several measures have been adopted. The government has a zero-tolerance policy against terrorism and the Home Minister has instructed all the Maoist-hit states to have no compromise in combating the menace,” the source said.

The absence of a comprehensive national policy in several cases has also led to a lack of coordination between the Centre and the state governments or between two state governments, when it comes to sharing and using of intelligence inputs.

In fact, the Maoists are always found to be a step ahead and they keep security forces on tenterhooks through their effective intelligence network.

“Nothing is clear on the strategy front. There are differences in perception between the Centre and the Naxal-hit states. Another big problem is that every state has its own agenda or priorities. Local police is the best, both for combating and gathering intelligence, but the state government needs to ensure its standard,” added Singh, who’s an expert on LWE.

Combat strategy: An upper hand to Maoists

Why does the State continue to remain helpless in front of some thousand-odd rebels? What goes wrong every time, allowing the Maoists to wipe out so many young lives?

“For the last few years, the Maoists have heavily concentrated on using landmines, which is the easiest and the safest mode for them. Earlier, it was ambush. Now by using IEDs, they trigger blasts and explosives are easily available to them, as they procure it from mining areas,” said Anil Kamboj, a counter-terrorism analyst.

“Landmines have a greater impact. In ambush tactics, the Maoist cadre also suffered loss of lives. So, now they heavily depend on landmine blasts, followed by random firing on security forces. Moreover, Maoists are well-versed with the terrain in comparison to the security forces and this gives them an upper hand. Security forces are constantly under the watch of the Maoists and every movement of theirs is being monitored,” Kamboj said.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) comprises a major portion of the central forces deployed in Maoist zones. However, the experts believe that CRPF still has to gain expertise in operating in the jungle terrain to counter Maoists.

“No doubt the CRPF is good on urban terrain, but when it comes to jungle warfare, they are yet to gain that expertise. On the other hand, Maoists are well-versed with their terrain. Greyhounds have been found to be more effective,” added Kamboj, a former senior fellow, Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA).

The Andhra Model

The Andhra model of dealing with Maoists, that comprises a comprehensive response model –political, development and security, has received appreciation, especially for its elite anti-Naxal force, the Greyhounds.

“The Greyhounds has been found to be the most effective in neutralising the Maoists. It involves years of painstakingly building-up the fighting capabilities of the state police, their training, logistics, intelligence and leadership,” said PV Ramana, a research fellow at IDSA.

“The political will and commitment of the state to curb the menace made Andhra model a success. It can serve as a relevant reference point for other affected states to craft their response in combating Maoist insurgency,” Ramana said.

Experts believe that there is a strong need to reconsider the deployment of forces in the Naxalite affected areas in order to restore the edge over the Maoists, who are well versed with the conditions prevalent in the terrain.

“The security forces, as of now, are hampered by weak leadership, inadequate training and lack of knowledge of the difficult terrain where Maoists operate. The leadership issue needs to be addressed,” added Maj Gen Dhruv C Katoch, former director, Centre for Land Warfare and Studies.

“Officers up to the rank of IG must lead by example and stay in deployment areas in the jungles with their troops,” Katoch said.

Chhattisgarh: Naxal ‘commander’ with hefty reward gunned down

A 30-year-old naxal ‘commander’, carrying Rs one-lakh reward on his head, was shot dead in a police encounter in insurgency-hit Kondagaon district on Friday. The deceased, identified as Sudhram, a native of Sahpadarpara in Kudur, was a Jan Militia commander, police said.The skirmish took place early on Friday morning between a team of district force and rebels in the dense forests of Kudur-Rakasmeta villages under Mardapal police station limits, Kondagaon Superintendent of Police, JS Watti, told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per the operational plan, a police team set off from Mardapal, located around 350 kms away from here, last night towards interior forests where movement of rebels was reported.While the party was returning during the wee hours, a group of Maoists fired upon them in jungles between Kudur and Rakasmeta, prompting security forces to retaliate, he said. On finding security personnel zeroing in on them, ultras fled from the spot. Later, during searching, body of a rebel clad in ‘uniform’ was recovered from there, he said.A muzzle loading gun, a tiffin bomb, wires and Maoist related materials were also were seized from the spot. According to police, Sudhram was a dreaded member of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) in the region, the SP said, adding that he was wanted in as many as 30 cases in the district.

Naxals kill 10 villagers in Chhattisgarh for being informers: Cops

Raipur: Maoists have killed at least ten villagers in the Abhujmad area of Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Narayanpur district after suspecting them to be informers in the last few days, police said on Tuesday.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“The incidents took place at various villages located inside the core area of Abhujmad under Narayanpur and Orchha police station limits during the past week,” a senior police officer told PTI.

So far police had received specific information about the killing of ten villagers by the ultras, he said, adding that security forces had been rushed to these villages. The forces have been directed to be extra cautious while moving into the forests so as not to fall into any trap, he said.

“We have reports of the four murders in past two-three days in remote pockets of Abhujmad,” Narayanpur Superintendent of Police Abhishek Meena told PTI.

There were similar reports from elsewhere too and police teams had been sent to verify them, he said.

According to police sources, some senior Maoist leaders recently met in Abhujmad after the ultras suffered major
setbacks in encounters with police in the region.

“These killings are the outcome of the frustration of their senior leaders with the increasing pressure of security forces in their so-called liberated zone,” the SP said.

On February 27, a local man named Sukhram Poyam was shot dead by rebels at Kundla village under Kurusnar police station limits, who suspected him to be a police informer.

PTI

8 Maoists killed in gunbattle on Telangana-Chhattisgarh border; weapons recovered

At least eight Maoists were killed in a gunbattle with police near the border of Telangana’s Khammam district and neighbouring Chhattisgarh state in the early hours on Tuesday, police said.The exchange of fire took place between a team of Greyhounds — Telangana’s anti-Naxal force — and the rebels in a forest area bordering Chhattisgarh, a senior Intelligence official from Telangana Police told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Telangana Maoist party Secretary Hari Bhushan and Divisional Commander Lachhanna were also neutralised in the encounter. An AK 47, two SLR and three 303 rifles were recovered from Putapadu near Cherla, reported ANI.Bodies have been recovered and the identification process is on, he said.Eight weapons have been recovered from the site, he said.Combing operation is on in the forest area, he added.

Indian tribal rights activist attacked

India tribal rights activist Soni Sori is attacked by unknown assailants in the central state of Chhattisgarh.

Subramanian Swamy calls on Nepal PM KP Oli; discusses ways to normalise Indo-Nepal ties

On the eve of Nepal Prime Minister K P Oli’s maiden India visit, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Thursday called on him and other leaders to find ways to bring back normalcy in bilateral ties after the turbulence caused by Nepal’s new Constitution.Swamy, who flew to Kathmandu in the morning, called on Oli as well as Maoist supremo Prachanda. “It was an informal visit aimed to see whether Indo-Nepal relations can be brought back to more rationality because the blockade (by Madhesis) has been lifted,” Swamy said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Swamy, who enjoys close relations with Nepalese leaders, said he made some suggestions to the Nepalese leaders to bring back normalcy in Indo-Nepal ties. Oli is embarking on a six- day visit to India from tomorrow.During the talks, the Indian leader stressed on the need to address the concerns of the Madhesis, mostly of Indian origin, who have been opposing Nepal’s new Constitution as they felt that the provisions of the new charter would marginalise them.Oli had earlier said that he would not travel to India unless the Madhesis lifted the “illegal and inhumane” blockade. Earlier this month, the Madhesis announced withdrawal of their protests including the border blockade. They had launched an agitation protesting against the new Constitution promulgated on September 20 last year, saying it failed to address their concerns over representation and homeland.Swamy said he impressed upon the Nepali leaders that they should keep in check “anti-Hindu forces” in the country. He also said Nepal should “not to look for other allies”, an apparent reference to China.Earlier some reports had said that Oli could visit China before India due to hiccups in India-Nepal ties over the Madhesi issue. Amid strain in Indo-Nepal ties, China was seen by analysts as getting closer to Nepal especially by providing essential goods to the land-locked nation. Oli has said that he will visit China within a month after his India trip as part of his government’s policy to enhance cooperation with immediate neighbours.

JNU, DU students in touch with Kashmiri extremists, says senior Maharashtra police officer

In the midst of the raging JNU row, a senior police officer from Maharashtra on Tuesday claimed that the probe conducted so far into arrested DU professor G N Saibaba’s alleged Maoist links, has found that both DU and JNU have a large number of Left-wing radical students, who are in touch with Kashmiri extremists groups.Ravindra Kadam, Inspector General of Anti-Naxalite Operations, Nagpur range, said this while talking to a Marathi news channel in Gadchiroli on Tuesday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Based on the investigation we have carried out so far in connection with Saibaba’s Maoist links, we have come to know that both, Delhi University (DU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), have large number of students, who have been influenced by radical Left wing ideology, who talk about revolution through violence,” Kadam said.”We have so far found that those who help in anti-national activities or those who talk about dividing the country, especially some active members of Kashmiri extremist groups, have been in touch with these students from both the universities,” he added.The senior officer further claimed that Saibaba used to guide the members of students’ unions in DU and JNU, who are aligned with Maoist ideologies.”One such activist Hem Mishra, whom Saibaba had tutored, had tried to carry his coded messages saved in microchips to Gadchiroli, where he was caught…Mishra was a past JNU student and he used to work as radical/revolutionary cultural friends in the university (as a cover for his naxal related activities), where he had met Saibaba. Saibaba had created a number of such radical students. One of them was Rituparna Goswami from Guwahati in Assam. He has completed PhD from JNU and is currently active in underground Maoist activities with a new name ‘Navin’. He is called as a ‘professional revolutionary’. He works as a coordinator between the urban organisations and the underground naxal network,” Kadam further claimed.”He is very close to Maoist leader Ganapathy,” Kadam said.

Mobile towers in Maoist hotbeds to give sleepless nights to Ultras

The already fledgling Maoist movement is up for a tough time ahead with union home ministry and department of telecom (DoT) managing to set up 1,356 of the 2199 mobile towers sanctioned in key Maoist affected districts of ten states.Though the plan to construct mobile towers was sanctioned way back in 2011, it failed to take off because of several glitches encountered by the DoT that finally roped in BSNL to build the towers because of cost overruns in 2013.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the project could finally be launched in earnest in August 2014 after the union cabinet headed by PM Narendra Modi gave its approval to Rs3568 crore proposal. The cabinet gave DoT one year to compete the project.While the rest of the towers will be installed by March end this year, the union home ministry has sanctioned 175 additional towers to make mobile penetration denser in the Maoist hit areas in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.In the first phase, towers have been installed in 35 worst Naxal-hit districts and majority of them, about 700, are in Jharkhand.The idea behind construction of mobile towers was to give better communication facility not only for the para-military personnel deployed in jungles who remain cut off from their families but also to the tribal living in remote inaccessible areas.Besides, the security establishment also thinks that it would help weed out Maoists by ensuring eavesdropping.As the Maoists had blown up over 200 mobile towers claiming that police were being tipped off about their movements and locations by informers through mobile phones, all the new towers are being installed either inside police stations or camps of paramilitary forces.The mobile towers are powered with solar energy due to frequent interruption of electricity. In some areas there is power connection.The funds for the project are being provided from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), a corpus created by the government through raising the Universal Access Levy (UAL).The purpose of levying the tax is to provide telecom services in rural and remote areas as these areas generate lower revenue due to lower population density, low income and lack of commercial activity.

Bihar university proctor arrested for ‘Maoist links’ in Bhagalpur

Patna: A proctor of a Bihar university was arrested on Sunday for alleged links with Maoists and two suspected guerrillas apprehended from the varsity hostel in Bhagalpur, police said.

Professor Vilakhjhan Ravidas, proctor of Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur university in Bhagalpur, however denied any links with Maoists.

Bihar police. Representational image. PTIBihar police. Representational image. PTI

Bihar police. Representational image. PTI

Police said he was arrested on information provided by suspected Maoist Ghanshayam alias Ghoghan Da. A pistol, mobile phone and Maoist literature were allegedly seized from Ghanshayam who gave information about the proctor during his two-hour questioning.

Police then raided several places and arrested Ravidas.

“We arrested Ravidas from his private residence for links with Maoists and for providing patronage to them,” Bhagalpur Superintendent of Police Vivek Kumar said.

Two suspected Maoists arrested from the varsity’s welfare hostel, of which Ravidas is incharge, were Kapildeo Mandal and Arjun Paswan, police said.

IANS

Locally-raised force to counter naxal attacks in Chhattisgarh has added muscle to operations

Raipur: Well conversant with the inhospitable terrain and dense forests of Bastar, the District Reserve Group (DRG), a locally raised force vested with the task to tackle Maoists has added muscle to the counter insurgency operations in south Chhattisgarh in past one year.

Dubbed as “son of soil” because its personnel are recruited from among local youth and surrendered Naxals in Bastar division, the DRG earned accolades recently for its well executed strikes in the Maoists’ self-proclaimed liberated zones like Abhujmad and south Sukma.

“DRG’s boys have done an exceptional job in past one year and added a new dimension to anti-Naxal operations in Bastar,” Inspector General of Police, Bastar Range, SRP Kalluri said. “They are emotionally attached to the region as they belong to this place. They are familiar with the culture, ethos and language of people. Having a bond with the tribals, they are better mentally-conditioned to handle them. They are fighting Maoists efficiently because of their inherent motivation for doing so,” Kalluri said.

As per the statistics, the DRG carried out 644 anti-Naxal operations in 2015, both individually and in coordination with other state forces and paramilitaries, during which they gunned down 46 ultras. This year so far, 25 Maoists have been killed in 144 operations carried out by DRG alone as well as jointly with other forces without any casualty to the security forces.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The DRG was raised over different periods of time in seven districts of Bastar spread in an area of around 40,000 sq kms, to fight the menace of Left Wing Extremism ongoing from over past three decades. It was first set up in Kanker (north Bastar) and Narayanpur (comprising Abhujmad) districts in 2008 and after a gap of five years, the force was raised in Bijapur and Bastar districts in 2013.

Subsequently, it was expanded in Sukma and Kondagaon districts in 2014, while in Dantewada, the force was raised last year. The DRG has a strength close to 1,700, including officers. The maximum 482 personnel of DRG are deployed in the worst insurgency-hit Sukma followed by its neighbouring district and equally dreaded Bijapur -312, as per official figures.

“DRG men have several distinct features than other forces engaged in Batsar. Surviving on what’s available in the harsh terrain, they remain on the job all the time. They relentlessly track the guerrilla with the help of their own intelligence channel and plan operations,” Kalluri said.

Many of the recruits in DRG are surrendered Naxals and having served with the outlawed CPI (Maiost), they are aware of the movement of the ultras in forests, their schedule, habits and the operational pattern. Lower rung cadres of the Maoists like sangham, dalam, militia and chetna natya mandli members are also known to them, making it easy for the DRG to track their activities and strategies, the IG said.

Moreover, having a rough idea about the shelters of rebels in the forests in different seasons, probable locations of their transit camps, sources of Maoist’s logistical support in different villages and good tuning with local people also help DRG’s men to plan their operations, he said.

The force has been given advanced field crafts and tactics training at Army camps of other states while some of the units have learnt basics of jungle warfare at Greyhounds (Andhra Pradesh) camp.

On DRG’s operational strategy, Kalluri said, “They fight with guerrilla like a guerrilla.” “DRG’s good local information network helps them to launch operation based on specific inputs. They prefer to penetrate into forests in small numbers as ‘small action teams’ to maintain secrecy and element of surprise,” he said.

“Small composition of forces also reduces the chances of casualties as everybody remains alert anticipating possible attacks,” the IG said. Sometimes, it becomes impossible for villagers to identify the DRG as they belong to local area and clad in civil uniforms make them indistinguishable from the local armed Naxals, he said. “They have gained a fearsome reputation among Naxals in the past year.

The motto of DRG is to reclaim their lost land and set it free from violence,” the police officer added.

PTI

Police encounters in Chhattisgarh leave two Naxals dead, one injured

Raipur: Two Naxals, including a hardcore Jan Militia commander who was carrying a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head, were on Thursday gunned down and another injured in two separate gun-battles in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bastar division.

A 22-year-old cadre Kunjam Linga, who was active as Jan Miltia Commander under Jagargunda Area Committee of Maoist was killed in a skirmish with a joint team of security forces in the restive forests of Chintagufa police station area in Sukma district, Sukma Additional Superintendent of Police Santosh Singh told PTI.

Acting on an intelligence input about the presence of a group of 8-10 ultras in Tekalpara area of Chintagufa, a composite team of 206th battalion of CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), CRPF’s 150 battalion, District Reserve Group (DRG) and district force had launched a combing exercise in the region, he said.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Sensing the presence of security forces near Tekalpara, a group of armed Naxals opened indiscriminate firing on the forces triggering a gun-battle between both the sides.

On finding Naxals escaping from a spot taking the cover of thick trees along a nullah, another team of police, positioned on the other side of rivulet launched retaliatory action on them, the ASP said.

However, the Naxals managed to flee taking the advantage of dense jungle, he added.

During the search, body of a rebel besides one muzzle loading gun was recovered from the spot, the officer said.

Later, an injured Naxal Sodhi Mang – a Jan Militia member was spotted hiding behind a rock and was arrested, he said.

Police noted that the arrested Jan Miltia Commander Kunjam Linga was a prominent cadre of the region who was carrying a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head.

According to the officer, he was allegedly involved in several deadly Naxal incidents including Kasalpada ambush in Chintagufa (2014) in which 14 security force personnel were killed and as many others injured.

He was also allegedly involved in the attack on Special Task Force (STF) party last year in Pidmel (Sukma) in which seven personnel were martyred
and 10 others injured.

In another incident, a Naxal was killed in an exchange of fire between a team of District Reserve Group (DRG) and ultras in Bastar district.

The skirmish took place in the forested hill of Korli under Mardum police station limits this morning, Inspector General of Police, Bastar Range SRP Kalluri told PTI.

While a team of DRG led by Sub Inspector PK Shukla was carrying out a search operation in the interiors of Mardum, located around 400 kms away from the state capital Raipur, an encounter broke out with Naxals in the hills of Korli, he said.

After a brief exchange of fire, Naxals fled to the dense forests, he added.

Later the body of a Maoist and one muzzle loading gun rifle were recovered from the spot, the official said.

A total of 26 ultras have so far been killed in separate gun-battles in the Bastar region this year, the IG said.

PTI

Seven dead, six injured in Maoist land-mine blast in Jharkhand

At least seven policemen were killed and six others were injured in a Maoist land-mine blast in Chattarpur area of Palamu in Jharkhand.”Seven policemen were killed and six others were injured in a Maoist laid land-mine blast at police vehicle in Palamu, Jharkhand. Search operations are underway,” Jharkhand Director General of Police D.K. Pandey told ANI.According to reports, a mini-bus carrying 12 police personnel was attacked by a Maoist in Palamu yesterday night.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The attack comes after a relatively quiet 2015, when for the first time since 2011, there hadn’t been a single Naxalite attack on police stations in Jharkhand.

4 policemen dead, 6 injured in land-mine blast in Jharkhand’s Naxal-hit area

According to various media reports, four policemen were killed and six injured in a Maoist land-mine blast in Chattarpur area of Palamu in Jharkhand. According to ANI, there were 12 policemen in the convoy when the landmine exploded, DGP DK Pandey said. As per reports, a mini-bus carrying 12 police personnel was attacked by a Maoist-triggered land mine blast. Earlier, deputy Superintendent of Police Prabhat Ranjan told ANI that the police party was attacked, but he was yet to confirm the number of causalities. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The attack comes after a relatively quiet 2015, when for the first time since 2011, there hadn’t been a single Naxalite attack on police stations in Jharkhand . A police booklet also claimed that the Maoists were unable to hold a ‘people’s court’ in any part of the state. The Left-wing extremists had attacked six times on police stations/outposts/pickets in 2011, eight times in 2012, five times in 2013 and four times in 2014. But 2015 had been free of such incidents, the booklet informed.It also added that the Maoists failed to hold even a single ‘Jan Adalat’ (people’s court) in 2014 and 2015 as compared to 31 in 2011, 20 in 2012 and 10 in 2013. Jharkhand — with 20 Left-wing Extremism-affected districts — witnessed a total of 186 Naxal-related incidents in 2015 as against 504 in 2011, 404 in 2012, 349 in 2013 and 231 in 2014, a statement said. In 2015, till November, there were 45 encounters as against 59 in 2014, 68 in 2013, 51 in 2012 and 63 in 2011, added the booklet. Altogether, there were 186 Naxal-related incidents this year, again a sharp decline when compared with the 231 incidents and 59 encounters in 2014, it said. There were a total of 349 incidents in 2013, 404 in 2012 and 504 in 2011, the booklet detailed.With inputs from agencies.

Court denies nod to Telangana Police for taking Kobad Ghandy to state

In its application, Telangana Police told the court that by a notification of November 27 last year, the Lieutenant Governor of NCT of Delhi had revoked its order of June 23, 2010 regarding detention of Ghandy at the Tihar Jail here. A Delhi court has dismissed a plea by Telangana Police seeking its nod to take Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy, facing trial here for allegedly trying to set up a base for the banned CPI (Maoist), to produce him before courts in that state in some other cases.Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh said the request of Telangana Police cannot be allowed at this stage, after the prosecutor argued that the trial against him in the case here was at its fag end and his presence was required here. “In view of the submissions made by the additional public prosecutor for the state, the prayer made in this application cannot be granted at this stage,” the court said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In its application, Telangana Police told the court that by a notification of November 27 last year, the Lieutenant Governor of NCT of Delhi had revoked its order of June 23, 2010 regarding detention of Ghandy at the Tihar Jail here. The police said Ghandy was required to be produced before courts in Mahabubnagar district of Telangana in connection with the cases pending there. 65-year-old Ghandy is facing trial here in the case for alleged offences punishable under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and various provisions of the IPC. The court had earlier framed charges against co-accused Rajender Kumar under various sections of the IPC in the case. Ghandy, an alumnus of the prestigious Doon School and St Xavier’s College Mumbai, is facing prosecution in around 20 criminal and terror cases in different parts of the country. According to the police, he was said to be part of the top leadership of erstwhile CPI-ML (People’s War Group) since 1981. He allegedly continued as a Central Committee member in CPI (Maoist) after the merger with People’s War Group and was elected to the Maoist Politburo in 2007. Ghandy was arrested by Special Cell of Delhi Police for allegedly trying to set up a base for CPI (Maoist) in Delhi.

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