Chopper unit on Maoist vigil
Hyderabad, Feb. 26: The chopper division of a unified command for anti-Maoist operations covering four states has started functioning in Andhra Pradesh’s Karimnagar. The division, set up after the Union home ministry’s approval, will help monitor operations in the rebel- infested districts of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra, which shares borders with the three other states.
The areas to be covered include Dandakaranya, an inhospitable hilly and forested stretch that is located not far from the conjunction of the four states. Among the districts known to be hotbeds of rebels in the zone are Gadchiroli in Maharashtra, Bijapur in Chhattisgarh and Malkangiri in Odisha. Andhra police chief V. Dinesh Reddy, who launched the chopper division at Mahadevpur in Karimnagar yesterday, said after an aerial survey that the unit would help improve combing operations, especially in the aftermath of attacks on forces and installations. The infrastructure at Mahadevpur is being developed and till the work is over, the helicopters will be kept at Visakhapatnam to facilitate operations.
The chopper vigils are also expected to bring down the incidents of Maoists entering Andhra from neighbouring Chhattisgarh, Reddy said. Such sky surveillance will soon be launched near the Andhra-Odisha border, he added. The rebel-affected districts in Andhra include Karimnagar, Adilabad, Khammam, Warangal, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and East Godavari.
Andhra, seen as a pioneer in anti-Maoist operations, will provide training to cops from Maharashtra, Odisha and Chhattisgarh in combing drills and prevention of infiltration, Reddy said. Greyhounds, Andhra’s crack anti-rebel force, will be sent to Chhattisgarh on missions if the latter makes a request. Reddy attributed the decline in rebel activities in Andhra to the offensives — including unmanned aircraft to monitor the movement of rebel cadres in districts near the Dandakarayna forests — and “people-friendly policing”. Welfare plans have also helped, the DGP said.
These include schemes under which medical and financial support is extended to families of Maoist activists to persuade them to give up violence and return to the mainstream. Cash baits have worked, too. Last December, Andhra increased from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 25 lakh the incentive for information on the movement of Maoist top guns. The incentive helped the forces hunt down around 22 leaders — commanders, district secretaries and central committee members of the CPI (Maoist) — so far, police sources said. Many of the leaders were aged or sick, and taking shelter in hospitals of border towns in the four states.
Maoists lurking in Bangalore
After establishing their bases in rural areas of the country, including some places in Karnataka, left-wing extremists are trying to move into the urban areas — in line with the objectives of their 2007 Urban Perspective Plan (UPP). Even as the State’s anti-naxal force remains busy in some of the ‘naxal-affected areas’, mostly in and around the Malnad region, the Maoists are spreading their tentacles in cities and semi-urban areas, including Bangalore.
Confirming this, a senior intelligence officer told Deccan Herald: “It is true that we are observing activity by left wing extremists groups in Bangalore. They are indulging in some over-ground operations and we are aware that certain people are involved in this.” He said such groups, going by their modus operandi, use colleges and certain sections of the society to expand their cadre. “This is part of their overall strategy,” he said.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, P V Ramana, a security analyst working closely with the Maoist problem for years and a research fellow with the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, said: “Although there are no signs of any armed movement yet, Bangalore certainly has seen a growth in the number of people joining the Maoist cadre.” He said that they take advantage of the anonymity of a metropolitan area to operate under the radar — making detection difficult.
Even though authorities spent hours at a reputed Bangalore college trying to discover if a local group of Maoist intellectuals and activists, the Karnataka Communal Harmony Group (KCHG), tried to influence college-going youth in 2007, the result remains unknown. “Sundararajan, the then Karnataka State Committee Secretary, had insisted that the focus of the Maoists should be on urban areas and, owing to differences with other members of the State Committee, he split the outfit, walking away with nearly two-thirds of the total strength of the State unit,” Ramana said.
He elaborated that Maoists use places like Bangalore as a resting place, where they plan and recruit. Members of such groups, who are injured in encounters with the police, are sent to Naxal dens in metros for treatment, education and relaxation, he pointed out. He said that it is not surprising that their activity have not received adequate attention in the media as their operations in the city are political and peaceful in nature.
At the same time, he said: “Because they are legitimate, over-ground and indulge in ‘democratic activities’, the State’s hands are tied. At best, it can keep a close watch on these organisations, but cannot halt their activities.” The intelligence officer could not reveal if the intelligence personnel or other agencies have been able to spot any big names from the Maoist cadre in the city as it is important to keep mum about the information his personnel possess. However, he said these people generally use cities to remain low and expand their network. “They use pseudo organisations to carry out their activities in a democratic and non-violent manner, which makes it difficult for us to act. However, we are keeping a close watch on this,” another senior official added.
Centre convenes meeting of Naxal-affected states on 4th March
New Delhi: The Centre has convened a meeting of top police and civil officials of Maoist-hit states on March 4 to review anti-Naxal operations and improve the efficacy of strategies.
Chief secretaries and DGPs of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh will take part in the meeting in which in-depth deliberations will be held on the security situation in the ‘Red Corridor’ and development initiatives. The meeting, earlier scheduled on February 20, has been reconvened on March 4, a Home Ministry official said. It would deliberate on the issue of coordination among state and central police forces and decide on a strategy to tackle Naxals who are known to flee from one state to another after carrying out offensives.
The meeting will also review the development programmes being carried out in Naxal-hit districts and ways to speed them up to reach the maximum number of people. Among other key issues that would come up for discussion are mobile telephone towers in Maoist-affected areas where the rebels often target and destroy the communication network and improvement of road connectivity. Naxal violence has been reported in areas falling under 270 police stations in 64 districts of these states.