Centre in full control of Jharkhand Red hunt
Taking advantage of the breather coming through president’s rule in Jharkhand, Centre has set out to tackle Maoist challenge by directly overseeing developmental schemes and security action. The team headed by cabinet secretary Ajit Seth and comprising secretaries from key development ministries like rural development, tribal affairs, health, road transport, is slated to visit Jharkhand on February 8 and 9 to carry out an exhaustive review of all the central development schemes concerning rural employment, road development, health and sanitation and drinking etc.
Seth, along with union home secretary RK Singh, is also expected to do full stocktaking of security issues in Jharkhand where despite strong presence of central armed police forces, the Maoist are still holding on in several vast stretches. In its bid to improve a low police morale and security situation in Jharkhand, the Union home ministry has already deputed former director general of CRPF K Vijay Kumar as security advisor to governor Syed Ahmad.
The Centre intends to fill up huge vacancies n police forces and increase the number of women in police. “This breather gives us a golden opportunity to improve administration and morale of the police forces that had dipped to rock bottom during the previous rule. Non-interference by politicians will help us make the administration and police more responsive and make inroads in areas dominated by Maoists,” government sources said.
C’garh CM to get NSG security
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh would soon be guarded by the elite ‘black cat’ commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG) in view of a security risk from Maoist cadres in the insurgency affected state. Singh, who is currently provided security by a special police squad, would be provided round-the-clock mobile security cover by the NSG. NSG Chief Arvind Ranjan said formal orders in this regard would be made by the Union Home Ministry.The Chhattisgarh Chief Minister would be the 18th protectee of the elite commando squad.
Conflict intensifies in Gadchiroli with police making some inroads
The police and security forces have achieved some success in the Naxal affected Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra with the surrenders and death of some of the top Maoist leaders in last six months. There has been no casualty on the part of police or the CRPF in Gadchiroli, after the Pustola blast in March 2012, in which 13 CRPF personnel were killed. But the police have managed to eliminate eight Naxal cadres and many senior cadres have either surrendered or have been arrested. Last month’s Govindgaon encounter in which the C-60 force of Maharashtra police shot dead six Maoists in Govindgaon village in Aheri division of the district was considered “one of the most successful encounters in the history of the Naxal conflict of the district”, informed one officer of Gadchiroli’s Anti-Naxal cell.
“Successful area domination exercises have boosted the moral of our ground level security forces. We have been able to strengthen our network also” said Ravindra Kadam, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Naxal range. The top Moaists killed in last six months include the Aheri Area Cammander Shankar Anna and Aheri Dalam Commander Vinod Kodape, who were killed in Govindgaon encounter with four other Dalam members last month. But the surrender of Shekhar, the South Gadchiroli Divisional Secretary and member of Western Military Command of the CPI (Maoist), was a “bigger jolt” to the Naxals, according the Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police (SP) Suvez Haque. Shekhar alias Bandarapa Mallaiah alias Chandranna and his wife Vijaya Akka had surrendered before Andhra Pradesh police in November last year. The CPI (Maoist) Dandakarnya Western Regional Committee had issued a press note “condemning the treachery of Shekhar”.
“Despite being associated with the party for a long time, Shekhar suffered from many ideological weaknesses. The party did carry an ideological battle with him but he decided to deceive the movement with which he was associated for more than two decades. Due to his narrow minded thinking and bureaucratic approach, he was not getting along well with the party cadres” says the press note signed by Mr. Shrinivasan, the spokesperson of the CPI (Maoist) Dandakarnya Western Regional Committee. According to some police sources, Shekhar played an important role in giving “hot inputs” to police in carrying out the Govindgaon encounter.
The CPI (Maoist) press note accepted that Shekhar was taking police to some important locations and had given them (police) some important documents. A day before the surrender of Shekhar in November last year, Gadchiroli police arrested senior Khobramendha Dalam member Rajita alias Sukri Weladi, Suman alias Sumitra Malo Lekhami and Tunge Hedo near Korchi Tehsil. In the same month, a member of Kasansur Local Operating Squad (LOC) Riky alias Lakshmi Lekhami was killed in an encounter near Ambapur forest in the district. Another woman naxalite was killed on December 4 last year in an encounter on the bank of the river Parlkota but the ultras managed to drag away her body inside forest. But this encounter sparked rumours of the death of 57-year-old Narmada Akka, the Divisional Secretary of South Gadchiroli CPI (Maoist). Police considered the death of “the senior most women naxal cadre Narmada Akka’”, as a major blow to the Naxal movement in Gadchiroli and it was said that Narmada Akka’s funeral was carried out in a village in Chhattisgarh.
But after a month, police refused to confirm her death with SP Suvez Haque refusing to comment on it. Even the Maoists decided to keep quite on the wellbeing of Naramda Akka. But Narmada Akka visited some of the villages bordering Kanker district of Chhattisgarh in Gadchiroli last month. Villagers of this area confirmed to The Hindu that Narmada Akka is “healthy and perfectly fine”. Apart from the area domination exercises, the operations carried out by the C-60 force has helped Gadchiroli police in strengthening its network in the interior parts of the district.
“The C-60 has been an effective force since long. It is a force of local boys and they have a very good network and capacity to sustain in Jangle for weeks” says Mr. Kadam. “Our C-60 boys have undergone the Greyhounds training, some of them have been trained at the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College in Kanker(Chhattisgarh) and some of them have been trained with the NSG commandos as well “ informed Mr. Kadam.
According to some police sources, the Govindgaon encounter was carried out by the two companies of the C-60. Apart from carrying out security operations, Gadchiroli police have started organizing a large number of ‘Jan Jagaran Melava’ (awareness programs). Sometimes, the SP and the DIG personally take part in these ‘Melavas’. Mr. Haque terms the ‘Jan Jagran Melava’ a success. “Its success can be gauged from the fact that the Naxals have threatened villagers against participating in our Melavas” says Mr. Haque. But with the increase in security operations, there has been an increase in the Naxal activities in Gadchiroli in last three months. In December last year, there were around 20 instances in which the ultras exchanged fire with police.
On January 13, the Naxals torched 26 vehicles near Godalwahi village in Dhanora division. On February 1, around 10 to 15 Naxals entered Dhanora town and fired in the air. The ultras distributed some pamphlets and put up a banner in the town, appealing the police Jawans “to stop serving Punjipati (Capitalists)” and accusing the officers serving in Gadchiroli of being “corrupt”. In a recent press note, condemning the killings of six Maoists in Govindagaon, the CPI (Maoist) has said that the Govindgaon encounter was a part of “brutal conspiracy of the police”.
“In this brutal conspiracy, local leaders Dilip Atram and Dharmarao Atram , some capitalists and Dalals of companies helped the police” reads the press note. The CPI (Maoists) accepted that the killing of six Maoists with two senior leaders in Govindgaon was a “setback of the revolutionary movement in Gadchiroli ”. “But the police are leaving in fool’s paradise after killing our comrades and by eliminating some of our leaders. They (police) cannot root out our movement from Gadchiroli” reads the press note giving signals of an intensified conflict in days to come.
Depleted numbers pose major challenge to Naxals
NAGPUR: Facing a stiff challenge from central paramilitary forces and a buoyed district police, Naxals have been left perturbed in their stronghold in Gadchiroli. However, bigger trouble is staring them in the face due to decreasing manpower in their formations, which could leave them fighting a grossly uneven battle. Information given by surrendered or arrested Naxals has often underlined the fact that the guerrillas are not too many in number. Now, their reducing numbers have made their formations comparatively much weaker than before.
The depleted strength of Naxals was also reflected in the interrogation of the surrendered couple Santosh Kolha and his wife Nirmala alias Shanti, who got married recently. A senior official of Aheri police in Gadchiroli said the Naxals used to deploy around 75-80 persons in their ‘company’ formations. The strength has come down to around 55-60 at present, said the official who has interrogated several guerrillas in custody. Similarly, platoons too have lost considerable manpower. A platoon would earlier have around 25-30 members but now there are around 12-16 persons, said the officer.
The dalam’s earlier strength was around 25-30 but it has come down to around 8-12. Additional superintendent of police, Aheri, Rahul Shrirame said the Naxals have been facing the heat of aggressive action by security forces for some time now. “There has been constant pressure on the Naxals, with repeated encounters and operations. There have also been several arrests in the recent past, with many rebels having laid down arms in the last few months,” said Shrirame. Sources in Gadchiroli police said the Naxals are facing the most challenging time in the district in the last three decades.
“There was a spurt in Naxal activities and the security forces suffered a series of setbacks beginning 2009. Police were on the backfoot then. Now, the change of guard and inclusion of some dedicated officials has helped change the approach, which is showing results,” he said. The official added that police now plan to observe ‘saptahs’ or weeks of various activities on the lines of the Naxals. The cops started off with the ‘Surrender Saptah’, where they ensured that two ex-Naxals were married off with a ceremony and feast. “We are encouraging surrenders, which will ultimately reduce the Naxal strength,” he said.
IEDs challenge for security forces: National Security Guard DG
NEW DELHI: The Latehar incident of placing an IED inside the abdomen of a CRPF jawan has caught the attention of National Security Guard (NSG) which is alarmed by the innovations of left-wing ultras and wants to ramp up training of paramilitary forces in bomb detection. Speaking on the sidelines of National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC) seminar at NSG headquarters in Manesar, NSG DG Arvind Ranjan said that the incident was a “phenomenon beyond imagination”.
He said that the force, which regularly trains paramilitary personnel in bomb detection, is planning to increase its training capacity so that more number of personnel can be trained every year. Now, NSG holds training for about 500-600 personnel every year at its Manesar headquarters. This too may change soon as NSG is planning to send its trainers to states to facilitate ease of training cutting down the travel of a large number of personnel to Delhi. Ranjan said, “Naxalites are making new bombs every day. Their predominant use of IEDs slows down the response of security forces to naxal attacks.
To counter this we need to improve the capability of forces to detect IEDs better. We are planning to increase seats for training of personnel and also send our trainers to states. There is also a stress on training of trainers.” Earlier speaking at the seminar, Ranjan said, “A ubiquitous weapon of terror, the IED continues to be the weapon of choice of the purveyors of terror and a formidable internal security challenge.
The recent incident where an IED was placed in the abdomen of a dead CRPF personnel in Jharkhand’s Latehar district was a phenomenon beyond imagination. This is a dangerous trend and requires to be nipped in the bud.” The NBDC is the country’s national repository for all information related to various types of bombs and IEDs. While taking on the recent trends in terror planning, the senior IPS officer said internet has become a comfortable tool in the hands of terrorists. “The modern age terrorist is an educated, technology savvy perpetrator, who leverages available technology not only to fabricate ingenious IEDs but also to enhance operational efficiency and to formulate logistical solutions. The omnipresent internet has provided a convenient medium for communication between the terror masterminds and their minions,” he added.