Maoist mediator Dandapani Mohanty arrested
Berhampur: Social activist Dandapani Mohanty, who negotiated with Maoists and helped the Odisha government to resolve two abduction crises in the past, was on Friday arrested for his alleged link with the Left-wing rebels, police said. Mr Mohanty was arrested from his home in Berhampur town, about 180 km from here, a senior district police official told IANS.
“At least six non-bailable warrants were pending against him. Besides, he was found to be involved in more than a dozen of criminal cases mostly related to Left-wing violence, including blast, abduction, rioting,” the official added. Mr Mohanty’s wife, Geetanjali, expressed her surprise about the way a police team picked up Mohanty from home. “If he has Maoist links, why did police not arrest him earlier? Why did the government request him to mediate?” she told reporters. Mr Mohanty, who is an elderly communist leader and is known for his fight on rights related issues, has been critical of the government functioning, especially in recent months after his engineer son Sangram was arrested in December last year on the charge of supplying arms to the rebels. Police had also slapped five more cases against Sangram, including a rape case, earlier this week.
State gets another Specialised Reserve Battalion
As the Maoists have put on hold construction of crucial bridges and roads in Odisha, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sanctioned another Specialised India Reserve Battalion (SIRB) to undertake infrastructure projects in the Maoists-infested zones of the State.
This will be the third of its kind as the State was earlier sanctioned two SIRBs. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had recently asked for another SIRB to be deployed in the Maoist regions. The MHA in 2011 had sanctioned two SIRBs to Odisha out of seven in the country. While one SIRB will be deployed in Malkangiri district, another will be stationed in Kandhamal. The area of deployment of the third one would be decided soon, said sources.
The MHA would fund the entire cost for the three battalions, which would be to the tune of Rs.468 crore and it would be provided in a phased manner, said the sources. This coast would include infrastructure support, arms, ammunitions and salary component. The MHA would bear the salary of the SIRB personnel for eight years and later the State Government would bear the cost. While State DGP Prakash Mishra has given green signal to the concerned authorities to start the process of recruitment for the two existing SIRBs, recruitment for the latest one would take some time, said sources.
It may be mentioned that for long years, the projects of bridges and roads in the Maoist zones of Malkangiri, Rayagada, Koraput and Kandhamal districts have been stalled as the Red rebels are adamant not to allow infrastructure projects in these areas. Works for two major bridges on River Gurupriya at Chitrakonda and River Saleru at Motu, both in Malkangiri district, are yet to be started though their foundation-stones were laid as far back as in 2000. The two bridges, when completed, will connect Odisha with neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
Earlier, the State Government had requested the Union Minister of Defence (MoD) to allow the Border Road Organisation (BRO) to do the job, but the MoD was reluctant to take up the projects. The SIRBs would have their engineers and technicians who would be responsible for executing the basic infrastructure projects with the help of security being provided by their own force. The security unit of the new force would accompany the technical and engineering staff wherever they would be engaged in development works. The newly-raised battalions would also provide security to local contractors for executing their works.
Acts of Adivashi ultra group cause of concern
GUWAHATI, Feb 7 – The re-emergence of militant group Adivashi People’s Army (APA) as a potent force has created concern among the security forces as it is now confirmed that the members of the outfit were involved in the blast on the railway track near Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar district on the night of February 2.
The security forces are of the view that the outfit might try more such attacks to make its presence felt and a high alert has been sounded to prevent any such sabotage by the ultras. Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune today that the APA is out to make its presence felt because of the slow progress of the peace talks, while, the recent arrest of senior members of the outfit by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also provoked the recent attack. Sources said that the APA has the expertise of triggering off lethal explosions and in 2011, the outfit triggered off a major explosion on railway tracks in Rangiya. On February 2, the Delhi bound Garib Rath had a narrow escape when the militants triggered off an explosion near Gossaigaon.
Sources revealed that the APA has a number of experts who can handle explosives and it has been maintaining contacts with criminal elements in Jharkhand for some time. However, it is still not known whether the outfit has any contact with the Maoist rebels, who have strong bases in Jharkhand. At one point of time, the APA was maintaining links with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), but after hardcore militant Hira Sarania came overground by joining the pro-talk faction, the APA and the ULFA is not maintaining any link.
The APA, along with eight other militant groups of the state, officially laid down arms before the then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on January 24 last year to express its desire to solve their problems through talks and the main demand of the outfit was the status of Scheduled Tribe for the Adivashi people. But following the slow progress of talks with the Government, the outfit was planning to make its presence felt by indulging in acts of violence and the security agencies were aware of the designs of the outfit.
The recent arrest of four senior members of the outfit by the CBI was the immediate provocation to the outfit to show its strength. The CBI recently arrested the chairman of the outfit, along with its deputy commander-in-chief and two other senior members in connection with the murder of Don Bosco Chermako. The murder took place two years back and the case was later handed over to the CBI.
Unmanned aerial vehicle base to be shifted to closer to Red corridor in Bhilai
NEW DELHI: The government has decided to move unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) base for anti-Naxal operations from Hyderabad to Bhilai in Chhattisgarh, closer to the red corridor where security forces are engaged in a bloody battle with the Left Wing Extremists (LWEs). It would also be setting up a couple of more UAV bases to improve surveillance of the insurgency area, sources said.
The move comes even as the government is looking at taking a final call on which all security and intelligence agencies should be operating strategic UAVs that have long endurance and need elaborate infrastructure to operate. Presently, the three services — Army, Navy and Air Force — and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) operate strategic UAVs. According to sources, the UAVs of NTRO, presently based in Begumpet (Hyderabad), would be shifted to Bhilai airport.
The airport is part of the Bhiali steel plant of the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) . Sources said NTRO has completed identification of land and other facilities and the relocation is expected to be completed by the end of this year. NTRO is also tasked to identify two to three new bases for strategic UAVs that can be used for both Naxal operations as well as manage border surveillance.
The move comes in the face of complaints from CRPF, the lead force for anti-naxal operations, about the inadequacies of UAV coverage provided by NTRO. CRPF has been demanding that it be allowed to acquire its own fleet of strategic UAVs. It is already in the process of acquiring mini-drones, which can be launched from soldier’s shoulders, from a truck etc. The Union home ministry has recently asked CRPF to prepare qualitative requirements for procurement of the bigger UAVs.
According to sources, the government may initiate a process of adopting a formal policy decision about which all forces should operate strategic UAVs, in the face of various requirements, complaints and the difficulties of operating a fleet. The requirements for trained personnel, runways, hangars etc for operating strategic UAVs are the reason why the government would be designating agencies that would operate these unmanned aircraft.
Sources said UAVs have been effective on many occasions in Naxal operations. Last month, when an IAF helicopter was force landed in Naxal area, and it was abandoned along with an injured cop by the IAF commandos, a UAV kept surveillance through most of the night until security personnel arrived to secure the area. In May, 2012, when Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon was kidnapped by the Naxals, UAV surveillance had spotted the collector and his kidnappers. However, the government withdrew the UAV, when the negotiations gained momentum.