Odisha cops arrest woman Maoist
Chintapalli ( Visakhapatnam agency): A Maoist area committee leader (ACM) Satyavati alias Bhagya was allegedly arrested along with another civilian by the Odisha police at Rollagedda village in Gumma block of Malkangiri district on Monday. The place from where the Maoist was picked up is very close to the border area of Korukonda in Chintapallimandal of the Visakha Agency. Bhagya (35) is a native of Gondipalli in GKVeedhimandal, which is considered to be a Maoist stronghold. She was taken into custody along with a civilian VandanamBangarayya, who is allegedly a sympathizer of the Maoist party.
They were picked up when they were resting in a hideout at Rollagedda village. It is believed that the Maoist leader has been suffering from ill health since the last four months and was in a shelter. According to police sources, Bhagya was not in position to walk and because of her ill health, the banned outfit had put her in a shelter. Sources said she was appointed convener of women’s organizations after her health condition worsened.
Bhagya was inducted into the Maoist party in the late 90s following her active role in women organizations. She had become a leader in the Maoists’ military platoon and was married to another leader Chinna Mahender, who is also the commander of a platoon in the PLGA (People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army), a military wing of the Naxals. On a tip-off, a special squad of Odisha police arrested her and shifted her to Koraput.
Maoist poster warns corrupt officials
A Maoist poster was found pasted on a hume pipe along the NH-57 near Sahajpal village under Baunsini police limits on Sunday. In the handwritten poster in red, Maoists threatened death penalty for corrupt officials and urged people to help identify them. The poster has been signed by one Arjun Singh who has identified himself as area commander of CPI (Maoists).
Although it is said that the Maoists had used the forest surrounding Talagaon post- Nayagarh mayhem, reports of Maoists trying to regroup in the district have also been received. With the Boudh strategically located with connectivity to Sambalpur, Angul, Phulbani, Nayagarh, Balangir and Sonepur, Maoists have long been planning to set up a base in the district. Boudh SP Bhawani Shankar Mishra said the poster is the handiwork of some mischievous elements.
Maoist mediator arrest sparks outrage
The arrest of Dandapani Mohanty, a known Maoist mediator and president of Orissa-based human rights forum Jana Adhikar Manch, has sparked off a major controversy with leading social activists dubbing the action “blatant” and “brute” misuse of state power. Campaign Against Fabri-cation of False Cases convenor Narendra Mohanty on Monday said the police had slapped “false” and “fabricated” cases against Mr Mohanty as he differed on the police version on November 14, 2012 Bhaliag-uda police encounter in which five tribals were killed allegedly in “cold-blood”.
“The police has booked Dandapani on charges of attack on security personnel, police stations, murder, burning of telephone towers and government buses and extortion. It (police) justifies its action saying that at least 15 arrest warrants, including six non-bailable, were pending against him for execution. If this is the case, why the state administration made him mediator to free former Malkangiri collector R. Vineel Krishna and two Italian tourists who were taken hostages by rebels in 2011 and 2012, respectively? asked CAFC convenor.
He called upon the Left and progressive democratic parties to strongly condemn the arrest of the Dandapani Mohanty and ensure that he was released with due honour. “In a democratic country, each individual professes his own political ideas and ideology and has every right to differ on issues even it contradicts the state version. It does not mean that the particular fellow will be chastised for his differences of opinion,” said Mr Mohanty.
Sources said Dandapani Mohanty was in police target ever since he declared that his son Sangram Mohanty would contest from Sorada Assembly seat in chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s home district, Ganjam, on Orissa Jana Morcha ticket.
Special force in Bokaro to counter Maoists
BOKARO: The district police have formed a special action team (SAT) to counter Maoist attacks. The special force will always be ready for action so that it can be deployed any time and to any place. The Centre identifies Bokaro among the worst Maoist-affected districts. Though the district police have succeeded in controlling the terror reign in 2012, Maoist activities have not stopped completely.
The rebels are often seen frequenting areas like Jhumra and Upperghat. During a Maoist attack, it becomes inconvenient for security forces to co-ordinate among officers deployed to different areas and by the team they reach the spot, the rebels usually manage to escape. So police feel that despite central police forces and Jharkhand Action Police, it becomes necessary to have a special team. Bokaro SP Kuldeep Dwivedi said SAT will have trained police personnel with hi-tech weapons and modern equipment. It will be an elite force specially designed for anti-Maoist operations under the command of the SP.
A senior police official said 60 security personnel, with training in jungle warfare, have been selected. There are two small teams with 30 personnel in each. They will be stationed in headquarters and rush to the spot when required. M L Meena, IG, North Chottanagpur Zone, and Laxman Prasad Singh, DIG-Koylanchal, reviewed the team. Many other Maoist-hit districts are trying to form a similar task force. Hazaribag has already formed a team.
India: Half Empty In Odisha – Analysis
Speaking in the State Assembly on December 3, 2012, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik claimed that situation was improving in Naxal [Left Wing Extremism (LWE)]-afflicted Districts due to “strong action” taken by Security Forces (SFs). “Districts such as Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Nayagarh, Deogarh, Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur and Gajapati have not witnessed any Maoist [Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)] violence this year while ultras were active in Koraput, Malkangiri, Nuapada, Bolangir, Bargarh, Kalahandi and Nabarangpur District,” he elaborated.
In an earlier reply in the Assembly on September 3, 2012, he had claimed that LWE activities had considerably reduced in nine of the 19 Maoist-hit Districts – Rayagada, Gajapati, Ganjam, Nayagarh, Jajpur, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur and Deogarh. However, Director General of Police (DGP) Prakash Mishra subsequently claimed, “About 8 of the 17 Maoist-affected Districts are now free from the menace [LWE] following aggressive drives.” The eight Districts identified were Nayagarh, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Sundergarh, Keonjhar, Sambalpur, Mayurbhanj and Deogarh, he said. The variation in details notwithstanding, the underlying message in the claims was that a great deal had been achieved in the fight against the Maoists.
These claims notwithstanding, the reality is that the decline in the intensity of violence is relatively modest, even as other indices of Maoist activity remain worrisome. According to Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) data, total fatalities in 2012 stood at 55 – including 31 civilians, 14 SF personnel and 10 LW extremists; as against 76 in 2011 – including 29 civilians, 14 Security Forces (SFs) and 23 LW extremists.
Significantly, SF fatalities remained where they were, while civilian fatalities declined by 20 per cent and, crucially, LW extremist fatalities dropped by 56 per cent. It is necessary to note, furthermore, that even the 10 LW extremists killed in 2012 were not all from the CPI-Maoist, the overwhelmingly dominant LWE outfit; half of them were from the Sabyasachi Panda-led Odisha Maobadi Party (OMP), which split from the CPI-Maoist in August 2012. While most parameters appear to be comparable over the two years, the number of attacks on the Police more than doubled, from nine to 19 and the number of ‘Jan Adalats’ held – a critical index of Maoist political mobilization – increased considerably, from three to 10.
The number of arms training camps held also increased, albeit marginally, from seven to eight. Indeed, two high-profile abductions by the Maoists in 2012 – the abduction of two Italian tourists by Sabyasachi Panda, who was then the secretary of the Odisha State Organizing Committee (OSOC) of the CPI-Maoist; and the abduction of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Jhina Hikaka, by the Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) – exposed the fragility of the security situation in the State. In both cases the State had to bow before the demands of the Maoists to get the hostages released.
During the abductions, however, a power struggle escalated within the CPI-Maoists, resulting in a split in the Odisha chapter of the party in August 2012, when the CPI-Maoist expelled Sabyasachi Panda for “betraying the great cause of the toiling masses”, even as Panda announced the formation of the Odisha Maobadi Party. The split weakened both the CPI-Maoist and Panda’s splinter group, and the latter suffered further with the killing of five of its cadres, during an encounter on November 14, 2012, in the Bhaliagada Forest in Gobindpur Panchayat area under the Mohana Police Station in Gajapati District.
Some significant recoveries of arms and ammunition belonging to the OMP further and considerably diminished the splinter group’s capacity to engage in violence. The State Police, apparently to put further pressure on the OMP, have on February 8, 2013 arrested Dandapani Mohanty on charges of links with the Maoists. Mohanty, considered close to Panda, had acted as an interlocutor between the CPI-Maoist and the State Government during the high profile abductions of the then Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna in 2011 and Italians Paulo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo in 2012.
The CPI-Maoist, appears to have retained its capacity for violence, though its area of activity was diminished with the August 2012 split. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) data, the Maoists remain highly active in two clusters – Malkangiri, Koraput and Nabarangpur Districts in the Southern-Western part of the State; and Bargarh, Bolangir and Nuapada Districts in the Western part – though, other Districts like Sundargarh and Keonjhar in the North and Kandhamal, Rayagada, Gajapati and Ganjam in the South (the latter, strongholds of Sabyasachi Panda) still witness some LWE violence.
A majority of the killings of civilians and SFs in 2012 (30 out of 46), took place in Koraput and Malkangiri Districts, while another seven occurred in Bolangir, Bargarh and Nuapada Districts. A bulk of the incidents of arson – nine out of 18 – were recorded in Bolangir, Bargarh and Nuapada; while Koraput and Malkangiri accounted for another seven out of 18. The Maoist influence in Koraput and Malkangiri can also be gauged from the fact that Maoist posters were found pasted at the entrance of the office of the Malkangiri District Magistrate (DM) and Collector on December 24, 2012.
Further, letters seized from CPI-Maoist ‘commander’ Ghasi alias Chenda Bhushanam, who was arrested in April 2011, indicate that the Maoists were in touch with at least one MLA (Koraput MLA Raghuram Padal) and one Member of Parliament (MP) of the BJD (Koraput MP Jayram Pangi) and the Pottangi Congress MLA. According to media reports, the Odisha Police put the total number of armed Maoist cadre in Odisha at a little over 500.
The AOBSZC operating in Koraput and Malkangiri Districts was the biggest group, with an estimated cadre-strength of 240 to 250. The second largest segment was the Dandakaranya Zonal Committee, which had around 100 armed cadres, mostly from Chhattisgarh. The third largest group was the OSOC, with some 80 armed cadres. Panda, the erstwhile secretary of the OSOC, who broke away from the Party, may have taken not more than 20 cadres with him. Police also believe that between 70 and 80 per cent of the total armed cadres in Odisha are not natives of the State.
There are indications that, of late, in January and February 2013, the Maoist hold over the Narayanpatna area in Koraput District may be declining, though it is still early to pronounce authoritatively on the trend. 168 supporters of the Narayanpatna-based Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), a known Maoist-front organization, have already visited the Narayanpatna Police Station in 2013 and pledged that they would no more involve themselves in the violent activities of CMAS and the Maoists. 47 cadres deserted CMAS on February 6, 2013, while sixty-eight had surrendered on January 13; 15 on January 12; and 38 on January 11.
Most of them were from the Bhaliaput, the native village of CMAS-Narayanpatna President, Nachika Linga. However, the State Police response to the Maoist challenge is yet escape the ‘fire fighting’ mode. DGP Prakash Mishra announced, on January 2, 2013 that some sections of the armed forces deployed in Maoist-hit Districts were to be diverted to Police Stations to overcome the manpower crisis there. He noted that Police Stations were running with ‘skeleton’ staff in Bhubaneswar, and would receive a major fillip after the proposed arrival of 700 personnel, who were being withdrawn from counter-Maoist operations. Earlier, on December 30, 2012, noting that understaffing was a big problem, Mishra stated, “efforts are on to enhance the staff by inducting more constable level personnel.”
The present strength of the Odisha Police is claimed at 60,000, up from 34,000 in 2001, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, but the main thrust was to create more armed units, keeping in view the Maoists problem. There are a number of other problems in the processes to strengthen policing in the State. In the performance audit of the ‘Modernisation of Police Force’ (MPF) Scheme in Odisha covering the period 2004-2011, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) observed, “long term planning to drive the scheme for modernization of Police in Odisha so as to derive optimal benefit from it was not made.
The annual plans, thus, were just a wish-list of various items projected to be purchased during the year rather than being outcome-based.” Understaffing is not just a problem in the Police Department but, crucially in a situation where ‘development’ and ‘good governance’ are constantly emphasized as a ‘solution’ to the problem of Maoist mobilization, also in civil administration, severely affecting the capacity of the State to bridge the development gap and deliver public services in LWE-affected areas.
This has been dramatically visible in one of the worst afflicted regions, the Malkangiri District, where manpower deficits in the administration remain a chronic problem, with at least 555 current vacancies – including 51 in senior level (Class I and Junior Class I), 49 in Class II posts, and 455 at the Class III and IV level, as in January 2013. On December 10, 2012 Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik informed the State Assembly that at least 47 Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and 82 Indian Police Service (IPS) officers’ posts were lying vacant in the State, against the sanctioned strength of 226 IAS and 188 IPS posts.
Further, large-scale irregularities have been detected in the implementation of Integrated Action Plan (IAP), intended to provide a ‘holistic’ solution to the Maoist problem, in the State. In the performance audit of the IAP in Odisha covering a period up to March 2012, the CAG made some scathing comments on the implementation of the scheme: Performance Audit of Integrated Action Plan (IAP) revealed that the projects were selected in consultation with line departments and local MPs and MLAs without taking any input from Gram Panchayat (GP) level institutions such as Gram Sabhas/ Palli Sabhas.
Critical gaps were not properly assessed. 249 projects with an estimated cost of (INR) 35.18 crore were cancelled as they were finalised without proper examination of their feasibility and ground reality. Instructions of Planning Commission for inclusion of livelihood projects was not carried out by all test checked Districts excepting Koraput though (INR) 440 crore was received by eight districts and 8040 projects were planned during 2010-12. Eight District Level Committees undertook 602 inadmissible projects with estimated cost of (INR) 20.90 crore under IAP, of which an amount of (INR) 13.86 crore was spent as of March 2012.
The CAG observed, further, “though periodic monitoring of the programme was being made (sic)by Planning Commission and the State Government, physical inspection of the works by the State level officers remained inadequate.” Nevertheless, concerned over Nuapada District, especially the Sunabeda Forest area, emerging as a Maoist hub and creating a launch-pad for violence in neighbouring Districts, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, on January 17, 2013, proposed that the State Government draw up a special plan in the line of Saranda Action Plan.
The Saranda Action Plan was designed to speed up development in the Saranda Forest area, purportedly ‘liberated’ from Maoist ‘control’ in September 2011. The plan was formally launched on December 3o, 2011. However, the implementation of the plan has drawn flak from critics due to the delays in several projects under the plan. The visible reduction number of Maoist-affected Districts in Odisha, and some diminution in total fatalities notwithstanding, Maoist violence and activity in the State remain high. The Administration is presently in a unique position to exploit the weaknesses of the movement resulting from the split in the State unit of the CPI-Maoist and the expulsion of Sabyasachi Panda, but unless these gains are urgently consolidated through aggressive operations, this window of opportunity can be expected to quickly shut down, with escalating Maoist efforts to recover lost ground.
Anti-talk ULFA emerging as major force: Governor
NEW DELHI, Feb 12 – Red-flagging increasing activities of the Maoists in Assam, Governor JB Patnaik has said that the anti-talk faction of ULFA led by Paresh Baruah, which is fast emerging as a force to reckon with in Assam, has planned to hold a crucial meeting to firm up its future strategy. The ULFA (anti-talk faction) headed by Paresh Baruah, self-styled commander-in-chief, has continued to carry forward its struggle for sovereignty.
The ULFA anti-talk group is today considered to be a militant force to reckon with, said Patnaik. The Governor, who was addressing the two-day Conference of Governors convened by President Pranab Mukherjee, said that ULFA anti-talk group is determined to regroup, reorganize and reinvigorate the outfit for reviving its lost ground with a view to boosting the morale of its cadres. “A recent input suggests that the outfit has planned to hold a meeting at Arunachal-Myanmar border near Changlang in December-January, 2012-13 apparently to strategise its future course of action.Paresh Baruah has restructured the outfit by forming an ad hoc committee of 16 members with one Abhijit Barman as acting chairman,” the Governor mentioned.
During the last year, the security forces apprehended as many as 357 ULFA cadres and killed 16 of them in encounters and simultaneously a good number of arms and ammunition including explosives have been recovered. Paresh Baruah is still operating from Myanmar-China border in Yunan province and has eluded all efforts of the Indian intelligence agencies and security forces to nab him. Claiming that Assam today is a comparatively peaceful State and is fast returning to normalcy after reeling under militant activities for about three decades, the Governor attributed it to signing of peace accords, ceasefire pacts and surrender of militants.
“Let me begin with the violence profile of militancy in Assam. Currently, majority of the militant groups of Assam including the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) pro-talk faction headed by Arabinda Rajkhowa have resolved to come overground to solve their problems through talks,” Patnaik said. Recalling that in the last Conference of Governors, he had red-flagged the problem of Maoist activities in the State, Patnaik said Left-wing extremists were active particularly in the remote areas of Dhemaji and Tinsukia districts bordering Lower Dibang Valley and Lohit districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
The Left-wing extremism has now made inroads into the State of Assam in a systematic manner under the cover of social frontal organizations championing the cause of the poor and downtrodden. Their organizational ground work includes a detailed plan to impart training on arms handling, manufacturing of country-made weapons and arrangement of indoctrination classes for the newly recruited cadres. CPI (Maoist) in Assam is growing under the shadow of the umbrella organizations such as Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Assam Students and Youth Organisation (ASYO), Chah Janagosthi Suraksha Samity (CJSS) and Big Dam Resistance Forum (BDRF). Assam has already been included in Eastern Regional Bureau of the party.
Their cadres are being trained in Jharkhand and Manipur since 2006. The CPI (Maoist) has formed three regional leading committees, one each in Upper Assam, Middle Assam and Lower Assam. Among these committees, the Upper Assam Committee has been very active in the districts of Dhemaji and Tinsukia. The Maoists are also trying to establish contact with KRA of Manipur for facilitating arms transshipment, the Governor reported.
Latehar district villagers hit by Naxal rivalry
Latehar: Mahuwadar block in Jharkhand’s Latehar District is a focal point of fierce rivalry between the CPI (Maoist) and its splinter group, the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC). The TPC is trying to make its presence felt by terrorising innocent villagers. Its cadres have scribbled graffiti on the walls of houses in various villages, pushing villagers to support them instead of the CPI-Maoist, which has a strong presence in the area.
The threats by the TPC have spread fear and anxiety among villagers. “It seems that (TPC) is trying to make its presence felt in the area. They want to control the region,” said Yadunath, a villager. “It is for the first time that a naxal group is doing such publicity through graffiti on the walls. It seems that they want a base in the village. Be it extorting money or other crimes, the main motive of this group is to make its influence felt among the villagers,” added Surinder Nath Shah, another villager.