Maoist splinters becoming cause for concern for India too

26 02 2009

By Anand Gurung
The breakaway Maoist groups including the latest one led by fiery Maoist leader Matrika Yadav is not only a cause for concern for the ruling Unified CPN (Maoist) party and the country, but increasingly India too which is reeling under its own version of red terror.
Until recently, the Indian media was abuzz with speculation about breakaway Maoist group in Nepal collaborating with Indian Naxalites (Maoists). However, this serious issue concerning India’s internal security has now started to find its way into the floors of the Indian parliament – the Rajya Sabha.
This became clear after a senior Indian minister Wednesday denied rumors about Maoist splinters in Nepal collaborating with Indian Naxalites as baseless, saying that there is no valid evidence to suggest the same.
“There is no firm evidence of any breakaway Maoist group in Nepal collaborating with Naxalites here,” Indian Home Minister P Chidamabram was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India (PTI).
Replying to a query on the issue during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, Chidamabram also denied any Naxalite activities in the Indo-Nepal border. He, however, said the government is vigilant and “would take firm action against Naxals”.
The Minister further said the government would welcome and rehabilitate any Naxalite if he/she wants to return to the mainstream.
Chidamabram also said that the aim of Naxalites “is to overthrow an established government through armed struggle”, and they are not for development. “Naxalites are the worst enemy of development as they are targeting schools, telephone towers and other infrastructure,” he said, adding that they are motivated by “misguided” philosophy.
According to PTI, a BJP lawmaker also wanted to know how the government would fight “Left-wing extremism” when it took support of the Left, drawing protests from the Left parties in the Rajya Sabha.
Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has described the rise of Maoists – also called Indian Naxals – as one of the “gravest threats” to India’s internal security
It is worth mentioning here that India had played a major role in engineering the Delhi agreement back in 2006, bringing the underground CPN (Maoist) closer to the agitating seven political parties in Nepal. The alliance led to the overthrow of former king Gyanendra led royal regime and ultimately culminated in the country becoming a republic with the first elected Maoist government in South Asia at the helms.
Political observers say the Maoist insurgency in India is also shaping up as an issue ahead of the Indian general election due by May. The Maoist rebellion is spreading like wild-fire in India, with reports claiming that 22 of the country’s 29 states are affected by it.
The rebels claim to be fighting for the rights of the farmers and the poor who make up the majority in a country with the world’s second largest population. Thousands of people have been killed since the uprising began in a village called Naxalbari in India’s West Bengal state in the late 1960s .
nepalnews.com Feb 26 09

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86 pc naxal attacks in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa

24 02 2009

Source: PTI

New Delhi : Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa together account for about 86 per cent of incidents of naxal violence and casualties, both civilian and security personnel, in the country.

In the 1,591 incidents in the country in 2008, the number being slightly higher than those in the previous year, 231 security personnel and 490 civilians were killed, Home Ministry sources said.

Chhattisgarh accounted for the highest number of 620 incidents, followed by Jharkhand (484), Bihar (164) and Orissa (103), they said.

In Chhattisgarh, 85 security personnel and 157 civilians lost their lives in naxal violence in 2008, while in Jharkhand the corresponding figures were 38 policemen and 169 civilians.

Bihar accounted for the deaths of 21 security men and 52 civilians and for Orissa the respective figures were 73 security personnel and 28 civilians.

In fact, this year’s figures available till first week of this month show that 53 incidents of naxal violence have already taken place in Chhattisgarh, followed by 48 in Jharkhand, 17 in Bihar and 10 in Orissa. Maharashtra has accounted for 15 incidents, including the most daring one in Gadchiroli early this month in which 15 policemen were killed.

Besides the four worst-affected States, naxal violence has been reported from Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, the sources said.

The total casualties of security forces in 2008 was 231, which was five less than the toll in 2007. Likewise, 490 civilians were killed in naxal attacks in 2008, compared to 460 the previous year.

While 199 naxalites were killed in police operations last year, the figure for 2007 was 141, they said.

Referring to the spurt in naxal violence in Gadchiroli district, a senior official said that the maoists operating in Chhattisgarh were reported to be moving to new areas.

“CPI (Maoists) cadres move from one state to another. Such movement of Maoist cadres usually takes place in the adjoining areas of the states affected by naxal problem,” the official said.

He said such movements underline the need for joint operations — a suggestion mooted at a recent meeting of Chief Ministers of affected States chaired by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

The naxal Wing in the Home Ministry is monitoring on a regular basis the training being imparted to state police and para-military forces in counter-insurgency and jungle warfare. The Centre has sanctioned 10 Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (CoBRA) as a specialised anti-maoist force.





100-day anti-terror plan gets green signal

24 02 2009

Source: Indian Express , India
Maneesh Chhibber
Posted: Feb 23, 2009 at 0323 hrs IST

New Delhi: A 100-DAY plan to make the country a safer place is ready and sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) say P Chidambaram has already ordered its implementation. The go-ahead was given at a high-level meeting chaired by him on Friday.

The plan was one of the first things that Chidambaram told bureaucrats to work upon after assuming charge as Home Minister of the country, after the Mumbai Terror attacks. His lead probably came from the speech of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a conference of state police chiefs recently, in which he suggested a 100-day plan to develop an integrated mechanism to fight terrorism and Naxalism.

The Indian Express was provided exclusive access to the blueprint of what is the biggest-ever exercise undertaken by the MHA to counter terrorism and give more firepower to the forces and other agencies.

Among other things, the plan aims to secure the country’s porous borders, make the state and central police forces better equipped to counter foreign terrorists and Naxalites, construct more roads along the India-China and India-Pakistan borders, develop more integrated border check-posts and immigration checks posts, fully activate the newly set-up National Investigation Agency by May 31, amend the Official Secrets Act, launch more operations in Naxalite-affected areas, operationalise the four new National Security Guard hubs and provide more personnel and better arms to the CRPF and SSB.

Under the plan, the scheme for flood-lights for 2,840 km of Indo-Bangladesh border would be completed by January 20, 2012. This, the ministry, hopes would help check inflow of illegal Bangladeshis.

The ministry is also seeking the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for constructing 509 border outposts — 383 on the Indo-Bangladesh border and 126 on the Indo-Pakistan border.

To secure the coasts, the MHA plan provides for inducting the first batch of 24 interceptor boats by April. These would include 12 boats each of 12 tonne and five tonne capacity. Sources said the ministry had already started working on updating the standard operating procedure (SOP) for terrorist outrage under its crisis management plan. As part of this revamp, it also intends to upgrade the MHA control room.

To counter Naxalism, the ministry is reviewing its guidelines for incentives for surrender and rehabilitation of Naxalites under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme. It has also decided to include the Khunti and Ramgarh districts of Jharkhand in this scheme. Anti-Naxal operations have already been launched in Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) and Kanker (Chhattisgarh).





3,000 ex-Maoists line up to join Chiranjeevi’s party

22 02 2009

22 Feb 2009, 0840 hrs IST, TNN
Source: Times of India
HYDERABAD: Hundreds of former naxalites, who jettisoned the Maoist movement in the last ten years, will join the Prajarajyam Party on February
24.

According to party sources, around 3,000 former militants of various factions of the CPI (ML) and CPI (Maoist) will join the newly-floated party in Hyderabad in the presence of PRP chief Chiranjeevi and Yuvarajyam president Pavan Kalyan.

This was the culmination of around six months of hardwork to mobilise the former rebels and bring them into PRP. The association of Marxist-Leninist singer Gadar and other pro-naxal intellectuals with the actor are said to have coordinated the move.

First meeting of the former naxalites was organised in Guntur in December last attended by over 800 people. The meeting was addressed by Dr P Mitra, party’s senior leader.

“In fact we wanted to organise a meeting in each district. But, due to logistic reasons and lack of time, a state-level meeting is planned in Hyderabad on February 24,” former People’s War activist I Satyanarayana told STOI.

Satyanarayana, a native of Guntur, was a member of the erstwhile Radical Youth League. He quit the extremist organisation due to personal reasons. “Even though thousands of people left the movement long ago they are not able to lead a peaceful life because of the hostile attitude of the police and lack of support from the government. So, they feel only PRP can restore a sense of security among them,” Satyanarayana said.





Red storm risingRed storm rising

9 02 2009

Presley Thomas,
Source: Hindustan Times

Gadchiroli, February 07, 2009

IST(8/2/2009) At the ramshackle teashop in Gadchiroli, where locals gather for their morning tea and the town’s favourite snack, poha, local banter is run-of-the-mill. Most of it is centred round Bollywood’s latest action adventure, Chandni Chowk to China and with the cinema house as a backdrop just behind the teashop, villagers dissect Akshay Kumar’s antics in the movie. “How about a ticket for the afternoon show? I want to see the movie again,” says a young man. The film may have been declared a flop but it sure is a hit in this outpost, even if Gadchiroli has seen enough adventure and violence around it in the last few days.

Gadchiroli town, a three-hour drive from Nagpur, is the headquarters of a district spread across 15,000 sq km, where left-wing extremists have been waging an ‘armed struggle’ for close to 30 violent, bloody years now. Last Sunday’s massacre of 15 policemen was just the latest in a disturbing list of incidents that have all but wiped out the rule of law in this desperately poor, exploited part of India. The local populace has long learnt to balance those on either side of the law. When we ask taxi driver Pavan if he will take us into the hinterland, he looks at us warily, weighing the profits and dangers of the trip. “What time will you return?” he asks. And doesn’t wait for an answer as he declares, “Nobody travels on those roads after 6 pm. We’ll have to come back before that. Only then will I take you.” Before we can indicate our assent (we have no ch

Growing influence 1980 :
Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, legendary Naxalite leader, sets up the Peoples’ War Group of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). It infiltrates Gadchiroli after a police crackdown on Naxalites in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and makes news in September when activist Peddy Shankar is killed in a police encounter near Sironcha, near the AP border.

1990 :Ten years after the Naxalites’ entry, the movement has taken hold and 113 incidents of violence and 16 deaths are reported.

1991:The number of violent incidents drops to 96, but deaths shoot up to 30. Naxalites kidnap Dharmarao Baba Atram, former Maharashtra minister, who was compelled to resign for poaching chinkaras near Etapalli. He is later let off in exchange for the release of their leader, Shivanna. In November, 10 SRPF jawans are killed and 13 policemen injured in a landmine blast triggered by Naxalites near Etapalli.

2003: A landmine blast kills five policemen near Hemalkasa in Gadchiroli district.

2005 :Seven police personnel killed and six injured on February 22, when a landmine is triggered near Bhamragarh, bordering Chhattisgarh.

2006 : Seven police personnel killed in a landmine blast in April at Bewartola village in Gondia district, adjacent to Gadchiroli.

2007: Naxalite leader Shivanna, now secretary of Gadchiroli division, killed in a police encounter. Murali alias Satya Reddy, divisional secretary of North-Gadchiroli, arrested along with Mumbai professor Arun Ferreira. Two more leaders, Vernon Gonsalves and Sridhar Srinivasan, are arrested in Mumbai.

2008 : Four policemen killed on October 26 in an ambush near Korepalli village in the Aheri tehsil.

2009: Fifteen policemen killed in an ambush on February 1. oice anyway) he adds, “And I will charge you extra because I’m risking my life to take you into Naxalite territory.” THE

INVISIBLE PRESENCE To begin with, the tarmac laid out across the countryside is a joy to ride on. Then, we notice that the forest has become denser. And when we spot a milestone that tells us we’re 70 km away from Gadchiroli town, we realise we have not seen a single human being for the last few kilometres. In fact, we’ve barely seen any signs of habitation.

The turning point, literally speaking, comes at Gyarapatti, where we take the diversion into red territory. “Here, it is the Naxalites who call the shots,” Pavan tells us, and then goes silent as he keeps a sharp eye on either side of the road. Any new person or vehicle entering this region is monitored. And we have to be prepared to step out of the car for an interrogation at any point. Fear hangs heavy in the air here and villagers have been forced to choose between the law and the outlaws. They most often tilt towards the Naxalites.

At Bhurgi village, some 150 km from Gadchiroli, for instance, a tribal youth was hacked to death before a numbed village audience. Those who witnessed the incident are reluctant to speak about it, much less identify themselves. “I just know that there was a fight between two parties, and in the morning I saw the boy murdered,” says one woman. Probe further and she replies, “I will have to bear the consequences if I open my mouth. ‘They will be at my doorstep in 10 minutes.”

At Tumbargunda village, five kilometres away from Bhurgi, the panchayat office was blown up. With it perished all the villagers’ precious documents. “They want to keep a gap between the locals and the political set-up,” explains a police officer. Tumbargunda is just 10 km away from a police station. But villagers sneer, “The police do not dare enter this area.” Even vehicles rarely pass through the 200-km long Ettapalli-Pendri-Michgaon-Lekha-Dhanora stretch in which the village sits.

THE SPILLOVER EFFECT The guerilla zone or ‘liberated zone’ is one that the Naxalites have carved out systematically since

1980. It was easy for them: Gadchiroli district is sandwiched between the Naxalite-dominated areas of Rajanandgaon, Kanker, Dantewada and Bijapur in Chattisgarh; and Karimnagar and Khammam in Andhra Pradesh. The Intelligence Bureau estimates that about 500 full-time CPI (Maoist) cadres are active in Gadchiroli district and have a base of nearly 4,000 to 5,000 local supporters. The Naxalites have divided Gadchiroli district into three operational divisions:

South Gadchiroli, North Gadchiroli and North Gadchiroli/Gondia. The divisions have under their command more than 20 guerilla squads and platoons. Though they earlier operated in ‘dalams’ of 15 to 20 cadres, they’ve switched to a military-style hierarchy now, of local guerilla squads, platoons, battalions and divisions. And there is hardly any police presence to deter their operations.
One senior police official who has spent almost his entire tenure in the Naxalite belt admits that the problem could have been contained much earlier. “When the Naxalites entered Maharashtra from Andhra Pradesh (see ‘Growing Influence’), our government chose to see it a just a ‘spillover’. And we are paying the price now.” Governmental apathy continues. And the Centre seems to have its head buried in the sand even now — the turbulence in the underdeveloped tribal pockets of eastern Maharashtra is conspicuously absent in the Ministry of Home Affairs’s Annual Report (2007-2008).

And the state government has yet to respond satisfactorily with enough development plans for the region. It has taken some measures, though. Pankaj Gupta, chief, anti-Naxalite operations, states that a cash reward of Rs 3 lakh has been announced for villages that follow the Gaon Bandhi scheme in which villagers opt not to provide any support to Naxalites. “When the programme started only a few villages came forward,” admits Gupta. But now, he says, “More than 500 villages in Gadchiroli district have done so.” Gupta also claims that the government’s surrender policy done well. “About 145 Naxalite cadres, including a divisional committee member, have surrendered.

They have been rehabilitated and given police protection,” he says. And Rajesh Pradhan, superintendent of police of Gadchiroli district, claims, “We have managed to restrict the Naxalites to the fringes of Chattisgarh and the Andhra Pradesh border. He adds, “Strategies are being revisited and revised, to counter the leftists’ plans.” How successful those plans will be is a matter that, unfortunately, the police alone do not decide.





internal terror

4 02 2009

Source: DNA INDIA
For some time now, attacks by Maoist groups have been limited to parts of Central India — Maharashtra, where Naxalites are known to operate has been quiet. This changed on Sunday and in a most brutal manner when a large group of well armed Naxalites stormed a village and massacred a posse of 15 policemen who had come to the village.

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Eyewitness accounts of the incident are chilling — the Naxalites fired indiscriminately on the policemen and killed them; the bodies found were mutiliated with their eyes pierced and hand or legs chopped off. Some reports have claimed that women Maoists led the group.
Chief minister Ashok Chavan has bravely claimed that the state will retaliate and that the army need not be called to manage the situation, but his words mean little if his police department finds itself without the weapons or strategy to fight back. Experts have talked about a ‘Red Corridor’ extending from Andhra Pradesh to Uttar Pradesh.
While Naxalite groups in different states may not always coordinate with each other, there is no denying that large swathes of the hinterland are out of the state’s control. Clearly this is an untenable situation in need of quick resolution.
The Salwa Judum, or so-called self-protection groups promoted by the Chattisgarh government have proved to be unpopular and ineffective and state police units have found themselves out of their depth in understanding, much less handling Maoism. A proposal to have a special task force has been a non-starter.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s description of Naxalism as a “virus” is apt and this virus is spreading rapidly.TheIndian state has become preoccupied with externally-sponsored terrorism but internal terrorism is no less a scourge.
There are socio-economic reasons why Naxalites thrive; they are seen as helping tribal and disadvantaged groups in rural areaswhere the state’s delivery systems have failed. There are political issues too, because Maoists propogate an ultra-left ideology. All these should be incorporated in any strategy to deal with them. Not much thinking seems to have gone into this.
But it is also a major security issue and even here, worryingly, the states have failed as many such spectacular attacks in recent years show. Maharashtra and the Centre must see this incident as a major wake up call and refurbish their tactics in tackling Naxalism before more such attacks occur.





Tempt Maoists if you can’t beat them

4 02 2009

Source: INDIA TODAY
If you can’t beat them, join them. Or better still, make them join you!
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram perhaps wants the Jharkhand government to try exactly this by formulating an attractive surrender policy for the Maoists, one which can make the rebels join the mainstream.
So far, almost 100 Naxalites have surrendered in Jharkhand during different regimes. But, in the absence of their proper rehabilitation, the remaining Maoists rebels have shunned the state’s offer.
Chidambaram, who was in Jharkhand recently to review the state’s preparedness against the Naxalites, has suggested Jharkhand to work out its own surrender policy, “as only a state can evolve specific policy keeping in mind its specific geographical and social landscape”.
Obviously, the argument in favour of states preparing their own policies was that a national policy on surrender cannot carry the weight and complication of the extremist problem having local overtones. Chidambaram, however, clarified that the Centre may provide financial assistance to the states.
This was Chidambaram’s first visit to Jharkhand since he became the home minister late last year.

Jharkhand’s history of Naxal violence Click here

In terms of strategic realism, the Centre seems convinced that now was the right time to introduce a surrender policy because unlike 2007-08 when the country witnessed and withstood a sharp rise in extremist activities, the security forces have gained an upper hand in 2008.
“With their back to the wall, the Naxalites may now see some reasons to accept the surrender policy,” said a senior Jharkhand IPS officer.
No wonder Jharkhand officials are busy giving final touches to the draft of a new surrender policy, which they believe would motivate the Maoists rebels to abhor violence and return to the mainstream.
The Jharkhand police headquarters is believed to have supported continuance of hard anti-Naxalite operations to go along with the surrender policy because such policies work only when police are in a position of strength and the Naxalites are on the run.
There are, however, just too many questions over the efficacy of a surrender policy because the “bait” of a fixed monthly salary is unlikely to lure the rebels just because the Naxalites earn crores in the form of “levy”.
According to sources, the new surrender policy draft has borrowed heavily from a similar draft prepared in 2006 but could not be implemented because of serious difference of opinions within the then cabinet under Arjun Munda government.
The policy had then promised extremists cash compensation, reward, land, employment, free housing, healthcare and education, life insurance, monthly stipend, vocational training, fast-track courts, provision to condone sentences, reimbursement for firearms, a mechanism to settle land disputes and financial inducements to villages and NGOs motivating surrender.
Incidentally, the proposed policy has been left hanging by previous governments for quite some time now. The successive governments led by Arjun Munda, Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren have been dilly-dallying the finalisation.
Beyond surrender policy, Chidambaram was informed that as many as 145 police stations in Jharkhand were located in areas heavily infested by the Maoist rebels. The home minister also issued instructions to set up police stations in 25 blocks of Jharkhand, which do not have any.
The minister’s visit to Jharkhand also assumed special significance since this was one state where Chidambaram’s idea of inter-state join operation against Naxalites has failed to fructify because of a neighbour’s reluctance.
In fact, Chidambaram admitted that the hot-pursuit and barrier-free crackdown on Maoists was being carried out by the police forces of various states except West Bengal, which has not allowed the Jharkhand police to enter its territory. In fact, Jharkhand has lodged a formal complaint with Chidambaram on this issue.
“We told the Union home minister that West Bengal’s reluctance to be part of any joint operation against the ultras has turned out to be a stumbling block in the fight against Naxalism,” said a Jharkhand IPS officer.
The minister has promised to work it out with West Bengal, adding that Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar were already carrying out joint operations.
Earlier on January 7, when Chidambaram had a meeting with chief ministers of all the Maoist-hit states, a consensus was reached on conducting joint operations against the Maoists rebels.
The minister’s maiden visit, however, failed to lift the veil over the fate of Jharkhand’s suspended assembly, as he said it was for the political parties in the state to decide in which direction they wanted to go.
President’s rule was clamped in Jharkhand on January 19 after the UPA alliance partners failed to reach a consensus over Shibu Soren’s successor, as the JMM chief had to resign from the chief minister’s chair following his defeat at the January 8 Tamar bypoll.