‘Red’ signal to projects
BHUBANESWAR: Sarpanchs of Maoist-hit areas are having a tough time. They are neither able to carry out development work nor are able to meet the expectations of voters who elected them. Maoists are against new projects but locals are desperate for better infrastructure and amenities. Several sarpanchs of tribal dominated and Maoist-hit areas confessed this at the ‘Odisha Sarpanch Mahasangha’ convention in the capital on Wednesday. Jalandhar Nayak, sarpanch of Chaulamendi gram panchayat in Malkangiri district said, “Though this is my second term as sarpanch, I find it really hard to handle the pressure from both sides. The Maoists don’t want any development in our area, so that they can dictate terms. On the other hand, the locals demand better infrastructure and facilities.”
He added, “By road, Malkangiri to Jeypore is only one and half hour journey. But it takes almost 4 to 5 hours to travel that distance because the road is in a horrible condition. Everyone is aware of it, but the Maoists are against good roads and infrastructure. Similarly, the tender for 193-km road from Jeypore to Motu via Malkangiri was finalized, but the contractors returned unable to counter the threats of the Red rebels.” Nayak continued, “I have two PG degrees and was in government job as well. But as I wanted to pursue a career in politics, I resigned. The locals want their representatives to provide them more infrastructure and amenities.
But challenging the gun-totting Red rebels is impossible. The more the inaccessibility, the better it is for the Maoists. We want the government to realize that and end the terror in those belts. When they can kidnap a collector and a sitting MLA of the ruling party, who cares for a poor sarpanch?” Bhimsen Nayak, sarpanch of Bejaguda supplemented, “Our families are scared and if we challenge the Maoists, they would gun us down in the people’s court. We expect the government to take some stern steps and end the terror forever. The locals no doubt are scared and helping the Red rebels under compulsion, but the government has to win their confidence and act.”
Stating the grievances of sarpanchs of not only the Maoist-affected belts but throughout the state, Mahendra Sngh, president of Odisha Sarpanch Mahasangh said, “Apart from providing security to sarpanchs of Maoist-hit areas, we also want our untied fund to be raised to Rs 5 lakh and the monthly allowance of sarpanchs to Rs 5,000 from Rs 1,000.”
He added, “The government should pay panchayat employees instead of paying them from the GP funds. If MLAs can get pensions, why can’t sarpanchs be considered for similar benefits. Backwards region grant fund (BRGF) should be handed over to GPs and the Gopabandhu Gramin Yojana (GGY) funds should be distributed as per recommendation of the local panchayat.” The sarpanchs, who held a convention in the city, also submitted a memorandum addressed to the chief minister stating their seven-point charter of demands.
War machinery against Naxals gets more fund
New Delhi: Finance Minister P Chidambaram has enhanced budgetary allocation for all subjects dealing with upgrading police infrastructure and enhancing weapons and training of personnel deployed to tackle Naxalism. Chidambaram, who held the Home portfolio before taking over the new assignment last August, enhanced the allocation under eight various heads of subjects which are crucial to deal with the Naxal menace in various states of the country.
Country’s lead anti-Maoist operations force—CRPF—has been the biggest gainer in terms of getting funds with Rs 10,818.53 crore being allocated to it for the 2013-14 fiscal, a jump of about 10 percent from its last financial allocation of Rs 9,867.88 crore.
The finance minister also substantially enhanced the ‘assistance to states’, funds provided by the Centre as an aid to develop and train state police forces and special counter-insurgency units, under seven various heads. While the Modernisation of Police Force scheme got Rs 1,847 crore this budget, compared to Rs 300 crore in 2012-13, the Security Related Expenditure got Rs 789.08 crore, a jump of 11 percent money that was allocated under this head for various states in the previous financial year.
The scheme of ‘Special infrastructure in Left-wing extremism-affected states’ got a raise of about Rs 20 crore with the allocation of Rs 74.15 crore in this budget. Similarly, under the ‘Assistance to counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist schools’ which train state police and security personnel in special operations skills has been allocated an enhanced sum of Rs 20.50 crore.
The Indian Reserve Battalions, raised specifically to undertake active operational role in Naxal-hit areas, got a Rs 6 crore hike at Rs 52 crore in this budget. Another subject on this list—Assistance to Naxal management—got Rs 40 crore, a 100 percent rise from last fiscal’s Rs 20 crore under this head. For construction and strengthening of fortified police stations, the finance minister allocated Rs 160 crore, a Rs 10 crore hike from the last budget.
Maoists burnt four vehicles near Jhadpurda village
The story of development in remote parts of the State is caught deeply into a quagmire of official lethargy and corruption paving way for extremism. In the most recent flare of violence, Maoists burnt four vehicles near Jhadpurda village, in remote part of the Maoist-hit Balaghat district on Monday.
Balaghat Collector informed on Tuesday that the Maoists burnt the vehicles belonging to a contractor, building road in the village under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY). The Naxalites are apparently against building of roads in the area, he added. However, sources in the area have a slightly different view of the incident.
Tatu Singh Dhurve, sarpanch of Songudda village nearby informed that while the view of the collector cannot be absolutely denied, it does not gives the complete picture about the incident. The sarpanch said, “A large number of labourers in the area, who are working under various Government schemes, have not received their wages for nearly a year. There is a widespread resentment among the people over this.”
He informed that in Sonagudda alone, nearly 2,000 labourers have not received wages from six to 10 months. The same picture is true for other villages as well. There have been reports of such disgruntled labourers going to the Naxalites regarding their grievances. The Monday incident may be better understood in this perspective as well, he added. Besides, Dhurve also pointed out that corruption on wide scale has taken place in the work done under Government schemes. “The culverts that have been built under PMGSY are of bad quality.
Even the Government officials had raised objections last year about their quality but nothing has been done,” he said. The collector, however, denied that labourers are not receiving wages in the area. “Firstly, people won’t sit quietly if they are not getting wages. The administration has not received such complaints so it is difficult to believe that wages for so many persons and for such a long duration is pending,” the collector said on Tuesday.
“Secondly, as far as the Monday incident is concerned, under PMGSY the responsibility to pay wages is upon the contractor. The administration has no role in this,” he added. When asked that in case the contractor is not paying wages under PMGSY what action the administration would take, he replied that appropriate action would be taken. “But there has been no complaint of non-payment of wages or corruption in the work being done under PMGSY,” he further said.
In contrast to the Collector, however, Bhagat Singh Netam, legislator from Baiher assembly seat, accepts that problems exist regarding payment of wages as well as other financial benefits under many Government schemes. “It is true that wages have been delayed at many places. Firstly, this is due to the large distance that labourers are required to receive their wages.
Most of the payments are made through post-offices and cooperative committees which are far away for most of the people. People are often required to travel 40-50 km to get wages,” Netam said, adding that the delay is compounded by the cumbersome and slow processes at the post-offices and cooperative committees. Netam also accepted that there have been complaints of non-payment of wages by the contractors under PMGSY. “We have taken initiatives to redress such complaints whenever it is received,” he said.
“I had also raised the issue of non-payment of wages under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in the assembly. In the Act, it is provided that the worker should be provided wages within 5 km, but this rule is not followed here. The department takes an excuse that this is remote area where it is difficult to make such arrangements,” Netam said.
Powerful landmine recovered and defused
A powerful landmine planted on a state highway was recovered and defused in West Singhbhum district on a tip off by a hard-core naxal arrested by the security personnel, police said today. A landmine weighing around 40 to 45 kg was planted on the state highway between Chotanagra-Manoharpur road to target the security personnel, Superintendent of Police of West Singhbhum, Pankaj Kamboj.
The landmine was recovered yesterday following the arrest of the Chairman of Krantikari Kishan Committee, a frontal organisation of CPI(Maoist) Vishnu Cherwa, Kambhoj said. Cherwa told te police about the landmine during the interrogation, the SP said, adding that the district police force and CRPF carried out massive search operation in the naxal-affected Saranda forest on the lead provided by him. Kamboj said a bomb disposal squad from Ranchi defused the landmine.
Gogoi seeks spl treatment for Naxal, ultra-hit areas
NEW DELHI, Feb 27 – Confirming that Maoists has emerged as the latest threat to internal security in Assam, Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi called for special treatment for all naxal and insurgency affected districts of the State. The Chief Minister, who was reacting to a move to declare Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts as naxal affected districts, expressed the opinion that there was no difference between insurgency and naxalism.
Therefore, I have been requesting that special treatment be extended to both insurgency and naxal affected districts,” said Gogoi. “I have been saying this since long that in all those districts affected by insurgency and naxalism special treatment should be extended,” he said. The Chief Minister, who was addressing a press conference, said that he has called on the Prime Minister, Home Minister, the Congress president and vice president Rahul Gandhi. Referring to ULFA, the Chief Minister expressed his confidence that Paresh Barua would one day join the peace process.
The support base of the militant outfit has shrunk and ULFA has weakened over the years. “Today, I am in a better position to control ULFA,” he said. Meanwhile, the Chief Minister has urged the Prime Minister not to lower the deployment of forces in Assam. “I am surrounded by foreign countries and some of the insurgent outfits still have bases in these countries,” he said, adding that most of the insurgent groups still operate out of Myanmar. “We are vulnerable and hence the deployment of central forces cannot be decreased,” Gogoi said, admitting that the State’s police force also needed to be further strengthened.
About the political turmoil in neighbouring Bangladesh, the Chief Minister said he was worried over the recent development. “Assam is Bangladesh’s immediate neighbour and whatever happens there has a direct impact in my State,” he said. “We have best of relations with Bangladesh and we are keen to promote trade and economic ties with the country. Let there be peace in the country,” Gogoi said.
Magisterial probe begins in encounter of naxal couple
Raipur: A magisterial inquiry has begun into the alleged killing of a naxal couple by a police team in a retaliatory firing last year in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh, a government official said on Thursday.
Sonu Netam (21) and his wife Kamla Markam (19) were allegedly shot dead near Chameda village on Odisha-Chhattisgarh border by a police team in a retaliatory firing on July 17 last year. “Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Nagri tehsil has begun probe into the killing of naxals Sonu Netam and Kamla Markam in an encounter dated around seven months back in the Chameda village of the district,” the official told PTI on condition of anonymity.
“In an advertisement released in the newspapers, the investigating officer has asked if any person or institution wishes to file claims or objections or wanted to share some information in this connection, he/they can appear before SDM court on March 8,” the official added. According to police, Sonu and Kamla had surrendered to Dhamtari police on June 8 last year and were living in a room adjacent to Sihawa police station in the district.
On the night of July 5, the couple decamped with one INSAS rifle, three SLRs and 90 cartridges from the police station following which the teams of STF and CRPF troopers fanned out on their trail. Four police constables of Sihawa station were suspended for dereliction of duty. On July 17, the search party got a tip-off about their presence in Chameda village near the inter-state border. When the security team reached there, the duo opened fire at them and later the ultras killed them in retaliatory firing.
Six-fold increase in assistance for police modernisation
New Delhi : The home ministry’s budget outlay for 2013-14 has seen a six-fold hike in allocation for police modernisation and increase in funds for organisations dealing with terror threats. The outlay under ‘police’ has been increased from Rs.43,739 crore in the revised budget estimates of the current fiscal to Rs.52,264 crore for 2013-14.
The assistance to states for modernisation of police forces has risen sharply from Rs.300 crore in the revised budget estimates of 2012-13 to Rs.1,847 crore in the budget for 2013-14 presented by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in parliament Thursday. The National Intelligence Grid, which seeks to link intelligence databases to combat terrorism and improve capability to counter threats to internal security, has been allocated Rs.66.50 crore.
The grid had been given an outlay of about Rs.11 crore in revised estimate of 2012-13. The outlay of Intelligence Bureau had been hiked from Rs.1,040.96 crore in the revised estimates to Rs.1,196.58 crore in the 2013-14 budget. The outlay for National Investigation Agency has gone up from Rs.72.7 crore to Rs.103.8 crore. Assistance for ‘Naxal Management’ has been increased from Rs.20 crore to Rs.40 crore and assistance to counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist schools from Rs.9 crore to Rs.20.50 crore. The outlay under Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems has been increased from Rs.85 crore in revised budget estimates to Rs.276.25 crore for 2013-14.