World Bank comes to Nepal Maoist guerrilla army’s aid

7 08 2008

Source: Sindh Today

Kathmandu, Aug 5 (IANS) The World Bank has come to the aid of Nepal’s endangered peace process, offering a bounty of Nepali Rs.3.350 billion for the upkeep of the Maoists’ once dreaded guerrilla army as well as the rehabilitation of the thousands of people affected by the 10-year communist uprising.

Nepal’s peace and reconstruction ministry Tuesday said the World Bank aid would be utilised for the nearly 19,000-strong People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the Maoists, who this month threatened to revolt if the government did not immediately release funds for them.

A part of the aid would also be used to pay Rs.100,000 each to the families who lost their kin during the ‘People’s War’ or were maimed or forced to flee their home.

The PLA, whose might helped the Maoists win their war against Nepal’s powerful king, have been in dire straits since the signing of a peace pact two years ago that saw them confined to 28 makeshift cantonments.

‘The PLA is up to its neck in debt,’ Maoist lawmaker and PLA deputy commander Janardan Sharma ‘Prabhakar’ told IANS. ‘For 13 months, the government did not pay them the monthly salary of Rs.3,000 it had promised. Even the daily food allowance of Rs.60 is worthless today, given the mounting price rise.’

Faced with a raging monsoon and absence of safe drinking water, doctors and medicines, the PLA camps have been reporting outbreaks of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases. The camps leak and some are threatened by nearby rain-swollen rivers.

There are new mothers among the combatants and the camp chiefs say they are struggling to get nutrition for the mothers and newborns.

The PLA was promised that it would be merged with the Nepal Army soon after the election and the formation of a new government.

However, while the election was postponed from 2006 to April 2008, there is still no sign of a new government almost four months later.

This month, another Maoist lawmaker and PLA deputy commander, Barsha Man Pun ‘Anant’ raised the plight of the PLA in the caretaker parliament, warning that the government could face a revolt if their woes were not addressed immediately.

There has also been growing bitterness between the Maoists and the army over the stopping of state allowances to the PLA.

The Maoist mouthpiece Janadisha daily Tuesday alleged that the finance ministry stopped funds to the cantonments on the instructions of Nepal Army chief Gen Rookmangud Katuwal.

The general has openly opposed the government pledge to merge the PLA with the state army, saying that the army would induct people only if they met the international yardsticks of physical, mental and psychological fitness.

Left wing Sepearatism, Terrorism : Watch

7 08 2008
Maoists blow up block office in Jharkhand
Press Trust of India, India – 41 minutes ago
Garwah (Jharkhand), Aug 7 (PTI) Maoists blew up the block office building at Dandai in Jharkhand’s Garwah district, police said today.

Maoists kill four in Chhattisgarh, Thailand – 23 hours ago
Raipur, Aug 6 (IANS) Maoist rebels killed four people in two separate attacks in Chhattisgarh, police said Wednesday. Insurgents killed two people in

Nandigram: CPM blames Trinamool-Maoist for fresh trouble
Zee News, India – 12 hours ago
Accusing Trinamool Congress and Maoists of launching attacks against CPI-M leaders at Nandigram where anti-SEZ protesters have locked horns with Left
No need to repay Rs 1.5b loan: Maoists tell farmers
Kantipur Online, Nepal – 5 Aug 2008
Some clients who used to pay interest regularly have also stopped after CPN (Maoist) became the largest party after the Constituent Assembly election.

Bike gang kills CPM leader in Nandigram
Calcutta Telegraph, India – 9 hours ago
The CPM has alleged that Niranjan’s murder was the handiwork of Maoists and the Trinamul Congress. “It is typical of Maoists to target CPM leaders and

How to lose a war against insurgency ?

7 08 2008

Praveen Swami

Source: The Hindu

Orissa faces defeat at the hands of increasingly powerful Maoist groups.

Its leaders don’t seem to care.

Under the benign gaze of a bright silver statue of Bhimrao Ambedkar, improbable numbers of passengers were being packed in a battered jeep for the ride home in forest hamlets. Neither a month of horrific violence nor the annual week-long general strike called by Maoist guerrillas to commemorate the martyrdom of their comrades deterred thousands of Chitrakonda’s Adivasi residents from showing up at the weekly market. Chitrakonda in Orissa seemed strangely cheerful f or a place which, this summer, witnessed some of the most horrific violence ever recorded in India’s Maoist insurgency. Across the road, from the market, the police station didn’t even have a guard.

In mid-July, a 100-kg landmine ripped through a specially designed mine-proof truck, killing 17 policemen near Motu, on the southern fringes of the violence-scarred district of Malkangiri. Earlier, 38 Andhra Pradesh police personnel died when a boat ferrying them across the Balimela Dam’s reservoir, just a few minutes drive from Chitrakonda, was ambushed. The panicked personnel ran to one side of the boat to escape, causing it to tip over, and all those on board were drowned. .

India’s National Informatics Centre, with a virtual grasp of reality, counts Motu and Balimela — where the ravaged hull of the sunken boat has now been salvaged and dragged ashore — as tourism draws. Not surprisingly, though, visitors aren’t queuing up to sample the region’s delights.

“Kandahar,” policemen call the forests around a bombed-out culvert on the road to village MV79 — home to Hindu refugees from East Pakistan, who were rehabilitated in this place without a name. On their way back from an operation near MV49, where they hoped to gather evidence linking a local politician to the CPI-Maoist, the tired police personnel — some of whom had served in the violence-scarred region for over two years on end — failed to execute a mine search before crossing the bridge. Now, besieged police personnel at Motu village, at the end of the road that runs south through the district to the confluence of the Sileru and Sabari rivers, have renamed the landmarks: “Peshawar,” “Khyber Pass,” “Kabul.”

Just why have things come to this? Put simply, the Orissa police are outmanned and outgunned. In addition to a strength of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of military-trained supporters active in villages, the CPI-Maoist is believed to have at least two companies of forces active in the area. Six months ago, the CPI-Maoist harvested over 1,100 rifles and machine guns in a raid on police stations and armouries in and around the town of Nayagarh. Ill-armed and poorly trained police guards did not even bother to put up a fight.

In what the former Punjab Director-General of Police K.P.S. Gill calls a “war of small commanders,” ground-level leadership is key. But while the Malkangiri police ought to have 49 sub-inspectors to command their constables, just 17 are in place. Where they should have three Deputy Superintendents, they have just one. Superintendent of Police Satish Gajabhiye is also the sole officer of his rank in place — a stark contrast with Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab which have waged successful counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaigns.

On ground, the Malkangiri police’s offensive counter-insurgency capabilities are pathetic. They have five SOG sections, each with 20 personnel, backed by six companies of ill-trained local police — a total of 700 men to operate in 5,791 square km of some of the most dense, mountainous tropical forests in India. Backing them are four companies of the Central Reserve Police Force — well under 500 men. Dantewada, across the border in Chhattisgarh, is twice as large as Malkangiri but has eight times as many CRPF personnel.

Back in 2001, well before the CPI-Maoist established itself in Orissa, the State sanctioned plans to create three new police stations in Malkangiri. But just one of them has become functional, that too on an ad hoc basis, without a proper building or housing for its staff. At least two police stations, Paparmetla and Jodambo, are unconnected by road, and have no reliable means of communication — not even electricity. In addition, the district’s criminal justice system has collapsed. Inadequate investigation and the complete absence of modern forensic resources, combined with the fact that judges and prosecutors are afraid of reprisals, have made securing convictions of CPI-Maoist leaders next to impossible.

Early this year, a Malkangiri court released Salven Mukta, a Chhattisgarh resident thought to be responsible for at least 49 killings in the course of the CPI-Maoist’s brutal war with Salwa Judum vigilantes. His rapid acquittal startled observers, who note that his trial in Chhattisgarh is still under way. Last year, the police in Malkangiri arrested Andhra-Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee member Srinivas Sriramaloo, along with a senior commander from Chhattisgarh, Madvi Sukal. Sriramaloo is now in a Medak jail — but Sukal, who was fortunate enough to face trial in Malkangiri, was released. He has, the police in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa say, gone on to lead several attacks against the informers the CPI-Maoists believe were responsible for the arrests.

Cases like these are depressingly common. Sariam Dora, code-named Santosh, was released from prison in July 2007, and is now a member of the CPI-Maoist’s Malkangiri district leadership. Katam Mala, acquitted in 2008, and Sapan Bala, released a year earlier, are already back on the district police’s wanted list.

All of this is symptomatic of a wider malaise. Last year, official data obtained by The Hindu shows, Orissa had just 10,839 armed police personnel instead of the 14,891 who should have been in place. It had 252 officers ranking from Deputy Superintendent to Senior Superintendent instead of the 304 needed, and only 4,542 inspectors instead of the 5,933 sanctioned. In 2005, the State was 12,000 personnel short of the sanctioned strength — a sanctioned strength based, it bears mention, on the three decades-old population data and no suggestion that an insurgency was brewing.

Last year, Orissa hired 6,000 cadets to fill the gap. It turned out, though, that its police training centre could process just 300 students at a time. Training was slashed from 12 months to six months— at which rate it would have taken a decade to complete the process — and meanwhile, untrained personnel were assigned to police stations. Earlier this year, the recruitments themselves were quashed, after credible allegations of corruption surfaced.

Bibhu Prasad Routray, a leading expert on Orissa’s Maoist insurgency, notes that while the State needs around 1,000 police stations, it has just 482. Most of these have neither proper infrastructure nor manpower. Even armed police contingents, which ought to constitute the cutting edge of the Orissa police’s counter-insurgency operations, are grossly underequipped. “For example,” Mr. Routray wrote earlier this year, “the 4th Battalion of the Orissa Armed Police located at Rourkela, close to the Orissa-Jharkhand border, stationed on a 143-acre plot of land, does not even have a boundary wall. The suggestion to erect a wall to protect the facility was made way back in November 2006. The battalion authorities are still awaiting approval of the Police Headquarters, after four subsequent reminders.”

Crack counter-insurgency force

Orissa is now focussing its energies on creating a crack counter-insurgency force, the Special Operations Group, modelled on Andhra Pradesh’s successful anti-naxalite police, the Greyhounds. It is unclear, though, whether what some critics call the ‘Rambo Model of Police Reform’ will work.

In Andhra Pradesh, the Greyhounds successes came in the context of thoroughgoing institutional reform of the police. Police stations were fortified to protect them from attack; incentives were introduced for the police to serve in troubled areas; and a massive programme of grass roots hiring was initiated. Critically, police intelligence was upgraded. Today’s Andhra Pradesh’s Special Intelligence Bureau has more direct-recruit Indian Police Service officers of the rank of SP than the Operations Directorate of the Intelligence Bureau, which handles all nationwide counter-terrorism intelligence. CPI-Maoist leaders have publicly acknowledged that the SIB’s intelligence capabilities were central to breaking the back of its campaign in Andhra Pradesh.

Just across the border in Chhattisgarh, there is evidence of how dangerous seeking shortcuts — instead of implementing proper police reforms — can be. Faced with a situation similar to that in Malkangiri, the State threw its weight behind the Salwa Judum militia. Not surprisingly, better-off Adivasi groups of Chhattisgarh dominated the vigilante organisation. Salwa Judum used to settle vendettas and feuds with the poorest tribes like the Koyas, who today make up the backbone of the CPI-Maoist in Malkangiri.

It will take more than policing, of course, to address the Maoist insurgency. As long as Malkangiri Adivasis continue to be excluded from economic development and are subjected to social discrimination, the conditions for violent protests will continue to exist.

Malkangiri, as the work of the eminent historian Biswamoy Pati teaches us, has a long history of rebellion. Back in 1879, the Koya rebels led by Tomma Dora rose in revolt against the authorities to protest slave labour and forcible extraction of supplies for the government. The rebels captured the Motu police station, and even annihilated a military detachment sent from Hyderabad to put down the uprising. In 1920-24, Adivasi unrest lent momentum to an uprising led by Alluri Sitarama Raju. And in 1942, Laxman Naiko led a massive movement for justice that is still in popular memory.

Orissa needs to provide justice if the Maoists in Malkangiri are to be defeated. But the fact is that Orissa has been evicted from Malkangiri, leaving the State government with no instrument with which it might deliver development and progress. Orissa’s political leadership seems to have neither the will nor the vision to win this war.

Terrorism single biggest threat to S. Asia: Manmohan

3 08 2008

Terrorism single biggest threat to S. Asia: Manmohan Muralidhar Reddy and Sandeep Dikshit
Source : The hindu

‘Cannot afford to lose battle against the ideologies of hatred’

Stress on rapid integration along the lines of the ASEAN, says Prime Minister

Terrorism getting “institutionalised nurturing and support” in Pakistan: Hamid Karzai

COLOMBO: Terrorism was the dominant theme of speeches by the SAARC heads of state on the opening day of the summit here on Saturday. All the eight leaders were of the view that unless terrorism was defeated in all its forms and manifestations peace, progress and development of the region would be affected.

Regretting that South Asia had not moved as fast as one would have wished, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh identified terrorism as the “single biggest threat” to stability and progress. “We cannot afford to lose the battle against the ideologies of hatred, fanaticism and against all those who seek to destroy our social fabric,” said Dr. Singh, while pointing out that “we have only to see the rapid integration within Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its emergence as an important bloc in Asia to understand the opportunities that beckon.”

“Terrorists and extremists know no borders. The recent attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul and the serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad are gruesome reminders of the barbarity that still finds a place here in South Asia. We must act jointly and with determination to fight this scourge. We must defend the values of pluralism, peaceful coexistence and the rule of law,” he said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who opened his address with an apology to India for the attack on its Indian embassy in Kabul, charged that terrorism was getting “institutionalised nurturing and support” in Pakistan.

“Wildfires of terrorism are spreading across the region,” he said, adding that “these terrorist attacks are a rapidly growing threat, not just to Afghanistan or India, but for the entire SAARC region.”

“No amount of outrage and condemnation can suffice to express the anger and frustration we all feel when faced with such mindless brutality and violence. In Pakistan, terrorism and its sanctuaries are gaining a deeper grip as demonstrated by the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto.”

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa highlighted the need to strengthen regional legal mechanisms and intensify intelligence sharing to boost South Asia’s collective prosperity, peace and stability. Sri Lanka had seen the benefits of such cooperation in combating terrorism and Mr. Rajapaksa hoped terrorism in the region would be wiped out sooner than anticipated.

Fangs of terrorism

“The deadly fangs of terrorism are spreading across the region. They threaten to disrupt peace and stability. We must combat this menace of terrorism across the broadest possible spectrum,” said the Head of Government and Chief Adviser of Bangladesh Fakhruddin Ahmed.

“Terrorism has perpetrated brutal attacks in every part of the world. We condemn the heinous terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan in recent times, which caused unnecessary loss of valuable lives and property,” he added.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley “unequivocally condemned these senseless and reprehensible acts of violence regardless of how sublime, noble and even desperate a cause may be.”

Pakistan joined other countries in condemning the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, with its Prime Minister, Makhdoom Raza Gilani, observing that terrorism had “shattered the entire value system of peoples and interferes with socio-economic development.”

Pointing out that Pakistan too had suffered from terrorism and lost the former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, in one such attack, Mr. Gilani said all countries need to fight terrorism “individually as well as collectively.”

He hoped the coming meetings of SAARC police chiefs and Home Ministers in Islamabad would focus on strengthening regional cooperation against terrorism.

‘Dharti Ki Katha’, a film on naxalism

31 07 2008

‘Dharti Ki Katha’, a film on naxalism
source: Sahra samay

Posted at Thursday, 31 July 2008 13:07 IST New Delhi, July 31: Known for his strong performances in films like ‘Bandit Queen’, ‘Godmother’ and ‘Daayra’, actor Nirmal Pandey plans to direct a film based on very much a real issue – naxalism.

“I have been directing plays for a long time and since the subject is quite close to my heart, it prompted me to jump into directing movies,” says Pandey, who also holds a unique distinction of winning a ‘Best Actress Award’ for his role in ‘Daayra’.

Speaking about his directorial debut ‘Dharti Ki Katha’, Pandey says, “The root cause of the problem stems from the fact that development is yet to reach the villages and with basic needs of ‘roti’, ‘kapda’ and ‘makaan’ not being fulfilled the anger is vented in this manner.” He adds, “Not many films in the past have highlighted this issue in the best manner. I think bollywood should make films on social problems apart from making routine masala movies.” The film, which is being shot mostly in Maharashtra and Karnataka, has students from the National School of Drama (NSD), playing various roles.

“The main challenge was to bring alive the characters in the film and ensure that there were no superficial elements,” says Pandey.

Explaining the reasons to opt for the NSD passouts, Pandey says, “The youngsters add depth to the role and most importantly a director can cast them into a mould of his choice and according to the need of the script.” Commenting on the current state of Hindi theatre in the country, the actor says, “The need of the hour is proper marketing and support from the government, as there is a good audience for the same.” The actor, however, is quite happy with the quality of Hindi drama, which he says still have the potential to produce some of the great artists.

Pandey, who is also ventured into small screen and doing some television soaps, is quite critical of reality shows. “The shows do give a platform to the youngsters to exhibit their talent but care should be taken so that dishonesty does not creep in,” he says.

UP constitutes special task force to tackle Naxal menace

31 07 2008

Source: Express India
Lucknow, March 20
In the wake of seven more districts of the state coming under the Naxal influence, the government has now constituted a separate Special Task Force (Extremists) to tackle the Maoist problem. Sources said that a DIG-rank officer would head the new force.

The government’s move comes just after the conclusion of a meeting of the Naxal Task Force (NTF) in Lucknow this week. Earlier, only three districts of Sonebhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli were supposed to have a considerable number of Naxals but the recent reports of the central agencies point to the presence of presence of Naxals in other seven districts of the state, including Allahabad, Chitrakoot, Deoriya, Banda and Ballia.

“The problem of the Left wing extremism is in Allahabad and Chitrakoot districts as the Naxals have almost completed their preliminary stage of growth and have now established their own units,” a source said. The knowledge about the spread of Naxals to new districts of the state came after some Maoists were arrested from different parts of the state. “During their interrogation, they said about their attempt to make inroads in the remote areas of the state.

“The Bundelkhand region comprising Chitrakoot, Banda, and Mahoba have been Naxal target for long. They also want to spread it to Jhansi,” he said.

The officials believe that Naxals have made inroads in the state through the bordering Naxal-affected districts of Bihar. “Ballia district shares border with the Bihar’s Buxar district, which figured in the list of Bihar’s Naxal-affected part. Moreover, Bhabhua and Rohtas districts border Ballia,” the source. Presence of Naxals in Allahabad is not surprising as Shankargarh is notorious for explosive supply to anti-socials.

Melsunka: A haven for Naxals

31 07 2008

source: New Indian Express
Tuesday November 27 2007 08:41 IST

Manjunath Hegde

SHIMOGA: Melsunka village in Hosnagar taluk has neither road connectivity nor power supply, but people still stay here as KPCL paid them compensation in instalments after the village became a restricted area in the backwater of Mani Dam of Varahi Power Project.

Away from the civilian world, lack of facilities and impenetrable rainforests have made this village an ideal hub for Naxalites. It is feared that the youth here are slowly turning towards Naxal ideology.

Melsunka village of Sulgodu GP in Hosnagar taluk has 87 families and they have to walk 18 kms to Yadur to buy something.

They are cut off from the outer world. The only entry to the area is through Mani Dam, with permission from KPCL.Villagers of Kumribailu, Ultiga and Melsunka depend on forest products like bamboo and a few are engaged in agriculture.

After the entry of Naxalites, villagers say that the Forest Department personnel have stopped harassing them. A village without any civic amenities, Melsunka has become a favourite hide-out for the Naxalites. Whenever there is a fight between the policemen and the Naxalites in Amasebailu area of Udupi district, it is said that the Naxals rush to Melsunka region which is just a one-hour walk away through the ghat section. Whenever the police head for the village, Naxals disappear into the forests.

It may be recalled that a pamphlet was recovered from a camp deserted by Naxalites near Amasebailu, which showed that they had plans to blast Mani Dam, which is very near to Melsunka.

However, Hosnagar CIP SK Prahlada said no untoward incidents were reported from the area so far. Residents of this hamlet do not say a word either against policemen or favouring Naxalites. Alarmingly, a couple of Naxalites including Parvati, who was killed in Idu encounter, were from this village. Police say that the Naxal team wandering in the surroundings of Melsunka is ‘Varahi Dalam’, and they often visit Melsunka whenever they need grain and vegetables.

Interestingly, the village which had roads and electricity 30 years ago, has nothing but backwater and forests everywhere today. The youth here get offers from Naxals to join their group.

Why do Naxals hate NGOs? A case study of Bihar

31 07 2008

Monday, 02.04.2008, 01:20am (GMT-7)
Source: India post

Naxalism is a grave problem in Bihar. According to a March 2007 document of the Bihar Police, 30 of its 38 districts have been affected by Maoist activities. Maoist violence is endemic across the state’s territory. The fight against the state by the Naxalites is explicable.

But, why do they hate the NGOs? The ground reality provides many reasons for this hatred. First, the power of the Naxal outfits is the people, the masses. They fight for the downtrodden, the poorest of the poor, the lowest castes.

For instance, the Naxals fight against the state to bring social justice to the Dalits. At the same time, the NGOs also work for the betterment of the downtrodden and poorer sections of society. Thus begins the rivalry for custodianship between the two.

There are, however, fundamental differences in attitudes and approaches between them. The NGOs work at the grassroots and associate themselves with the masses. They seek to empower the Dalits through non-violent methods.

They inform the people about existing government schemes for the poor and often influence government officials to being proactive and helping the downtrodden. Through the Right to Information, many Dalits claim their rights to shape their future. These initiatives by the NGOs delink the Naxal outfits from the masses.

There are many such examples. The Musahar community is one of the most marginalized in Bihar that faces exploitation and discrimination. There are many NGOs working for their betterment in Bihar, but a number of them have received threatening calls to shut down their projects or face the consequences. A school run by an NGO was shut down in Gaya district, for example.

Children, who studied in the school, probably know nothing about the Naxalite movement, except that their school has been closed now because of the Naxals’ frequent demands for money. Second, the extortion money collected from government officials is immense.

There are many developmental projects for the poorer sections of society and the Naxalites claim their share in almost all these schemes. These projects are convenient and easy prey for the Naxals to establish a channel for sharing this booty. Their collection programs target forest contractors, businesspersons, civil contractors, villagers and government officials, including the police, in some areas.

The developmental activities run by the NGOs do not share the booty with the Naxals. The Naxals cannot directly demand a share from the NGOs, nor can they directly threaten them, as this would expose their pretensions to provide social justice.

The NGOs, therefore, become a consistent irritant for the Naxals. Third, there are many cases where school-going children have been picked up by Naxal outfits from the Dalit community. They advocate that education will not bring any change in their future lives, but that the bullet can restore their lost social status. Therefore, these children turn out to become hard-core Naxalites.

Fourth, since the Naxal outfits are unable to fight the NGOs directly, they have started their own registered organizations. There is speculation that a number of NGOs in Bihar are funding the training of Maoist guerrillas.

The writer is PGT, Teacher Koilwar, Bhojpur, Bihar

Naxals news

31 07 2008

For more news on Naxals

Source: Indian Express
Full Coverage > Taking on Naxals

26 Mar 2008

Probe slams officers, staff for largest Naxal jailbreak

An administrative inquiry into Chhattisgarh’s Dantewara prison break on December 16, 2007 where 299 prisoners…

03 Mar 2008

Naxalites shift gaze to urban areas, think of car bombs, suicide missions

Seized Naxal laptop suggests bid to acquire urban warfare capabilities, training in anti-aircraft guns

29 Feb 2008

This station has weapons, Internet, mineral water, needs a few more cops

“I am giving you a constable. He will drop you off there and come back.” When Circle Inspector of Chennur police station…

28 Feb 2008

How do you win back 11 villages from Naxal control? Check with these 75 policemen

“One number sentryiiiiiiii…, hoshiyaaaar hai”. The loud, long-winding call in the dead of night breaks the silence in this village…

27 Feb 2008

If Naxals can have special squads, why can’t we, ask cops

Naxals frustrate Jharkhand cops by fleeing to adjoining states

26 Feb 2008

In Naxal’s latest den, police station can’t fill up vacancies

With barely a dozen cases being registered every year at the local police station…

25 Feb 2008

No electricity, no phone, this Bihar police station has only God to thank

Each day, when Sub Inspector R L Thakur gazes at the setting sun falling behind the hills facing his police station, he shivers.

24 Feb 2008

Fighting a war with two mobikes, one phone and no drinking water

A tiny room, one light bulb, a table and a chair, an AK-47 hanging from a nail on the wall, a cot in one corner with four bamboo sticks…

For more recent news features related to this topic, please click on a link to the left.

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PWG / Maoists
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Naxalites destroying tiger reserves: Census

31 07 2008

Source: MSN

New Delhi: Tiger reserves in areas with heavy Naxalite presence and influence are the country’s worst, according to the Wildlife Institute of India’s latest tiger census report that has recorded a sharp fall in tiger population.

The reason for the fall in the number of tigers in these reserves can be anything-—from poaching to loss of habitat, it said.

Qamar Qureshi, WII’s chief tiger census investigator, said the tiger reserves in Naxal-affected Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa have fared poorly. “They are suffering because of Naxalism,” he said.

An official of the WII said forest officials in the three states have almost acceded control of the reserves to Naxalites. Five reserves-—Indravati, Palamau, Saranda, Valmiki and Simlipal-—are in huge contiguous forest areas, making it impossible for the thinly armed forest staff to move in, the official added.

The 34,000-sq km Indravati reserve in Chhattisgarh, identified by the WII as a “vital tiger reserve,” is now controlled by rebels. The reserve may be having tigers left in single digit as compared to 29 in 2001 census. “The figures are as per the local estimation. No census was done because of the Naxals,” a WII investigator said.

The fall in the numbers is clearly visible from the population estimation in Similipal (Orissa) and Valmiki (Bihar-Nepal border). Similipal has only 20 tigers against 99 in 2001. Valimiki has 10, down from 53 in 2001. Qureshi said conservation in these reserves is not working because of the Naxal threat, a charge the Orissa Government has refuted.

Jharkhand, which has 1,488 sq km of forests with habitat to support tigers, is in total disarray. The Palamau reserve, which had 32 tigers in 2001, did not report any tiger sign in the first phase of the census. “No further investigation was done because the state government’s data was not amenable for the census report,” Qureshi said.

Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, estimated that the tiger density would range between 0.5 and 1.5 tigers for 100 sq km in most Naxal-affected reserves. “The tigers may have suffered due to direct poaching, loss of quality habitat or loss or prey,” Gopal said.

A WII official rated Jim Corbett, Bandipur and Kanha tiger reserves as the best. “These reserves have good prey base and a healthy supporting forest corridor to allow expansion of tiger population,” Qureshi said.

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