Maoist strike disrupts train services in West Bengal
The indefinite strike called by the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA), a forum sympathising with the Maoist movement, has hit train services here on Monday.
Several express trains were halted at various junctions in Medinipur district to prevent any kind of mishap in the wake of Maoist shutdown call.
The stranded passengers complained of not being informed by the Railway authorities about the strike and expressed regretted over the inability of the State Government in dealing with the Maoist menace.
“The Railway Ministry has made no arrangement for us, neither have they made any announcement about it. The State Government is also not doing anything about it. It is causing us a lot of harassment and trouble. Patients, who are going to Tata Medical, are suffering because of this strike. Railway Ministry hasn’t provided any food, water, security or anything.” said Nirmal Biswas, a passenger.
The ultras left pamphlets, leaflets and banners on the railway tracks.
The members of the PCPA are demanding the withdrawal of the joint forces in various districts of West Bengal.
Meanwhile, police officials in Jhargram district on Monday arrested six Maoists from Bhulabheda village of Belpahari area during a search operation.
One fire arm, two landmines and ammunition were recovered from them. (ANI)
Six Maoists arrested in West Bengal
Kolkata: Six Maoists were arrested on Monday evening in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district, police said.
Six Maoist cadres identified as Baneshwar Pramanik, Bhagirath alias Putul, Biren Mordhanno, Patel Murmu of Bhulabheda village and Sashadhar Karmakar and Amit Mahato were arrested during search operation buy the joint forces from Bhulabheda village of Belpahari area under Jhargram sub-division of the district, said Jhargram police district Superintendent Praveen Tripathi.
‘All were members of Madan Mahato’s squad, which was active in Belpahari area. Among the arrested Baneshwar was a prime catch as he was wanted in at least 10 cases including sedition, loot and damaging government properties,’ said the police official.
One fire arm, two landmines and ammunition and Maoist posters were recovered from them.
‘After checking their background thoroughly we have arrested them in the evening. We will interrogate them further to know whereabouts of the other members. All the arrested Maoist cadres will be produced before the court Tuesday morning,’ said Tripathi.
Meanwhile, the members of the Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), who were observing a shutdown in several pockets of the district, put up a banner on the railway tracks on Monday afternoon, following which train services along the Kharagpur-tatanagar and Kharagpur-Rourkela routes of South Eastern Railway (SER) were disrupted.
Police said, the PCAPA members put up the banner on the railway tracks at Banstola station near Jhargram.
Train services along the routes were suspended considering the security and safety of the passengers.
Train services again resumed after five hours, when the security personnel comprising Railway Protection Force (RPF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and state police gave security clearance following a thorough search operation along the tracks.
Following the disruption, the Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express from Bhubaneshwar and Geetanjali Express were detained at Kharagpur and Jakpur stations respectively, said the spokesperson of the SER.
He said the train services were resumed after five hours under security cover.
The PCAPA members were observing last day of their 48-hours shut down demanding withdrawl of joint forces from the Junglemahal (forested Maoist affected areas of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia). The Maoists are active in three western district of the state – West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura.
58% in AP say Naxalism is good, finds TOI poll
India’s biggest internal security threat, as the Prime Minister famously described it, may be worse than you thought. That’s because even in Andhra Pradesh, where the battle against the Maoists has apparently been won, it turns out that the government is losing the battle for the minds and hearts of the people.
It’s a debate that’s been raging within the Congress, and outside it. Should the government adopt a largely law-and-order attitude towards the Maoists and deal with them like criminals or should the focus be more on cutting the ground from under their feet through a development agenda that wins over the population of the affected areas?
An exclusive survey of the once Maoist-dominated districts of the Telengana region by IMRB, well-known market research organisation, for The Times of India has found that while attitudes towards the rebels are ambivalent, the condemnation of the government and its means of tackling the problem is quite clear.
The findings raise disturbing questions about whether focusing largely on the policing aspects of the problem may be a flawed strategy in the long run. They also throw up another poser: Has the battle in AP truly been won or can the Maoists stage a comeback in a few years?
Tied to this is the question of how the Maoists are viewed by the populace of these parts. Are they perceived essentially as a bloodthirsty, extortionist bunch or as rebels standing up for people’s rights?
TOI decided to do an opinion poll of the affected areas to find out. The problem, however, was that this was a region where pollsters found very difficult to enter. We finally decided to conduct the survey in those areas of Andhra Pradesh which were till not too long ago strongholds of the Naxalites but where their activities have been checked. The survey was conducted, therefore, in five districts of the Telengana region Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Warangal and Khammam. These districts were chosen not only because they were till recently severely Naxal-affected, but also because of their proximity to current hotbeds in Chattisgarh and Maharashtra.
To tap into the mood of the aam admi in these areas, the survey was restricted to the not so well off socio-economic categories, SEC B and SEC C and to men and women between the ages of 25 and 50. What we found has come as an eye-opener for us and should be worrying for everybody. The state may have won the battle of the guns, but the Maoists are clearly ahead in the perception game. This is particularly true in the districts of Warangal and Nizamabad as the accompanying charts show only too clearly.
The root cause of the disaffection is the overwhelming feeling of neglect of the areas by the government. About two-thirds expressed this view and in Warangal the figure was as high as 81%. That, you might say, is hardly alarming. Similar figures would probably be thrown up anywhere in India. True. But when two-thirds also say that the Maoists are right in choosing the methods they have to highlight the neglect, it is difficult to dismiss it as normal.
Perhaps the most revealing answers are in response to questions on whether the Maoists — still better known as Naxalites in this belt — were good or bad for the region and whether their defeat by the AP police has made matters better or worse.
Almost 60% said the Naxalites were good for the area and only 34% felt life had improved since they were beaten back. As for whether exploitation has increased after the Naxalite influence waned, 48% said it had against 38% who said it hadn’t, the rest offering no opinion.
Those answers are buttressed by the responses to three other questions. The first of these was on whether the characterization of the Naxals as extortionists and mafia was accurate. Two-thirds disagreed. An elaboration of this came in response to a slightly more open-ended question. Over half said the Naxalites worked for the good of the area, another one-third said they had the right intentions but the wrong means. Only 15% were willing to describe them as just goondas.
Equally importantly, 50% of the respondents felt the Naxalites had forced the government to focus on development work in the affected areas. What these responses show is just how negative the perception of the government is in these parts.
That the people here are not entirely comfortable with Naxalite methods is also quite clear. Even a question on what explained their strength in these parts showed that very few attributed it to popularity alone, a majority saying either that it was due to fear or that it was a combination of approval and fear. That despite this ambivalence there is a sympathetic view of the Naxals only betrays the people’s desperate search for any means to shake shaking up the state.
Given these findings it is hardly surprising that killings by Maoists are looked upon more leniently than those by the government and that the state’s claims about encounters are viewed with extreme suspicion.
The government may say, and with some justification, that the Maoists represent the biggest threat to India’s internal security, but what this poll shows is that the aam admi in these parts views government apathy as the biggest threat to his wellbeing.
The towns in which the poll was conducted were Kamareddy in Nizamabad district, Gudi Hathnoor in Adilabad, Sirsilla in Karimnagar, Mahbubabad in Warangal and Palwancha in Khammam. A total of 521 people were polled in these five towns, a statistically robust sample size.
Maoists torch two vehicles in Orissa
ROURKELA: Maoist ultras on Tuesday torched two stationary trucks in Orissa’s Sundargarh district, though the police had claimed to have sealed the Jharkhand border following a major encounter in Saranda forest in the neighbouring state.
Police said, the Maoists torched two trucks parked along the NH-215 in Roxi area under K.Balang police station and left several posters at about 5.30 am.
Following the encounter with the Maoists in Saranda forest in Jharkhand since Saturday, Rourkela police had claimed that they had “sealed” the border to prevent the ultras from entering into Orissa.
Police had said here that security was tightened with heavy patrolling and vigil in the border areas.
After the arson today, the police reached the spot and started combing operation.
Chaibasa encounter ends; 3 cops, 10 Naxals killed: Police
Chaibasa, Jharkhand: A fierce Naxal encounter and a subsequent combing operation that took place in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district over the last three days finally ended on Tuesday morning.
The Jharkhand Police say three of their men died in the encounter. Police also claim that 10 Naxals were killed, though only three bodies were found.
“This is one of the biggest anti-Naxal operations in the state so far. We have killed 10 Naxals and recovered a few bodies,” said Neyaz Ahmed, the DGP of Jharkhand.
Police say rest of the bodies were left behind in the jungles as they could not carry them back to the base camp.
The bodies of the three slain policemen were handed over to their families after a guard of honour.
The Naxal operation started on Saturday near Chaibasa in West Singhbhum. Around 2000 Special Forces comprising jawans of CRPF, COBRA, Jharkhand Jaguar and local police were involved in the encounter with at least 400 Naxals.
Police say the search operations might resume later in the day.