Maoist leader killed in Odisha gun battle
Bhubaneswar : A Maoist leader wanted in more than 45 criminal cases including several murders was killed in a fierce gun battle with police in Odisha’s Gajapati district Monday, an official said. Based on a tip off on Maoist presence, police raided a forested area near Mohana, about 400 km from here, Sunday night, and retaliated when the guerrillas opened fire, C.S. Meena, district superintendent of police, told IANS. Pradip alias Gobinda Majhi was killed in the exchange of fire that lasted till Monday morning, he said. Although the rebels fled to the nearby forest, police recovered the body of 28-year-old Majhi.
The weapons recovered from the site include a gun, one pistol and two loaded magazines, he said. Majhi, who was considered second-in-command in the Maoist group led by the state’s most wanted rebel leader Sabyasachi Panda, was operating in the districts of Rayagada, Gajapati, Ganjam and Kandhamal. At least 45 criminal cases are pending against him, including cases of murder, abduction and rioting, the police official said. More than half of the state is Maoist-affected. The districts of Rayagada, Gajapati, Ganjam and Kandhamal are considered Maoist strongholds.
After Pradip’s killing, Odisha Police targets Sabyasachi
Bhubaneswar: The Odisha police was upbeat about apprehending top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda “soon” after eliminating his close associate Pradip Majhi alias Gobind in a fierce encounter on Monday. “We will get Sabyasachi Panda soon as police are very close to him,” Director General of Police (DGP) Prakash Mishra told reporters while describing the killing of Pradip as a “big setback” for Odisha Maobadi Party (OMP) in which he was the military in-charge. The OMP was set up by Panda after his expulsion from CPI (Maoist) last year. He said Panda was not present at the spot of the encounter but likely in a nearby area. Indicating that police would not harm Panda if he chose to surrender, Mishra said Panda and his group had remained adamant and rejected requests by police to surrender.
“OMP has been reduced to a small group and is not attacking police now. But Panda is found re-grouping instead of making any move to lay down arms,” Mishra said adding the outfit’s cadres were hiding in jungles and was active in Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada and Kandhamal districts of southern Odisha. OMP, though possessing a number of modern arms like AK47s and SLRs rarely attacked security personnel as they knew that any attack on police at this juncture would inflict big loss on them.
“One cannot say that the Panda group has links with any foreign terrorist outfit though some Italian and Chinese arms were recovered from them,” the DGP said. “If they (Panda group) do not abjure arms, we will do our duty and ensure that the state is Maoist free,” he said and claimed that police had done a lot to ensure smooth surrender of all the cadre members. “Still Panda and his group can safely surrender now,” the DGP said. Dubbing Majhi (25) as a “notorious Maoist”, Mishra said a total 46 cases, including murder, were pending against him.
Majhi was allegedly involved in the much publicised cases like abduction of two Italian nationals last year, attacks on Nayagarh armoury in 2008 and on R Udaigiri police station, killing of VHP leader Swamy Laxmanananda Saraswati in 2008, besides killing of two home guards and torching of several mobile towers. The slain Maoist was operating as the deputy to Panda and was a member of OMP’s Bansadhara division which was active in Gajapati, Ganjam, Rayagada and Kandhamal districts.
He had also worked as deputy of top maoist leaders like Uday and Azad, both of whom were now in prison, the DGP said. Acting on a tip off, District Voluntary Force (DVF) of Gajapati and Ganjam had launched a joint raid in Karanjaguda forests near Kendupada and a heavy exchange of fire ensued with ultras last night. “During search in the area this morning police found a body.
On verification, the deceased was identified as Pradip Majhi, a native of Karadapada under Gudari police station of Rayagada district,” Gajapati district superintendent of police C S Meena said. The other Maoists managed to escape. An Italian-made pistol, two loaded magazines, one SBML gun, a kit bag with food, personal belongings and Maoist literature were found on the site, he added. Majhi had joined Odisha Chatra Manch of CPI (Maoist) in 2003 when he was a student of class VIII. PTI
Karnataka, Kerala, TN officials’ meet on Maoist activities
The Anti-Naxal Force (ANF), police and forest officials from Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu held a meeting at Beechanahalli in the taluk on Sunday, in the wake of the reported increase in Maoist activities in Kodagu, HD Kote and other bordering regions of the three states. The meeting was attended by the top brass of the departments from all the three states.
They include District Superintendent of Police R Dileep, ANF Commandant Vasudevamurthy and Assistant Commandant Shankar, the forest officials of the Nagarhole and Bandipur wildlife zones, the zonal forest officers, the officials of the taluk administration, apart from police officers from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, sources said. They discussed strategies to tackle increasing activities of Maoists in the region, said Karikalan, assistant forest conservator, Yadiyala wildlife zone. However, he said that the meeting was held once every three years and there was no need to attach any significance to it.
Speaking to mediapersons, Karikalan said the investigation has found no evidence for the suspected involvement of Maoists in the recent theft of a double barrel gun at a workshop on prevention of wildlife theft in Gundre zone. The officers from the bordering areas of all the three states assembled to take precautionary measures to check Maoists activities, he said. Dileep, in a bid to avoid the curious media crew, rushed inside the police station in a huff and changed the earlier plan to hold discussion at the pandal put up specifically for the purpose. The mediapersons were disappointed yet again when the DSP dodged their queries and rushed to his car soon after the meeting.
There are rumours that more than 120 personnel of the ANF have camped at Bhimanakolli Sri Mahadeshwara temple on the periphery of N Begur wildlife zone, on being alerted about the Maoists’ movements in Gundre or Bandipur wildlife zones. Divided into teams of five members each, they will soon begin combing operation, with the help of the police and the forest officials, the sources said.
They may comb the forest areas in Doddahalla camp, Banur, Nayisattahalla, Gundre, Kadavinakatte, Kalkere, Rampura, Mavinahalla, Boodana- katte, Soolekatte and other areas and talk to the residents of these areas for gathering information on the suspected Maoist activities in the regions, the sources said. The DSP is said to have instructed the taluk administration to distribute pamphlets to the residents in villages of these areas, allaying their fear of the Maoists.
Nearly 1 lakh central forces to reclaim Maoist-held territory
Nearly 2,000 border guards are getting ready to move into Maoist heartland over the next few weeks. Under a new home ministry plan, 8,000 more central security personnel will be pushed into the red corridor to reclaim territories from Maoist guerrillas. The surge will peak by June-end when central security forces fighting a bloody and fierce battle with Maoists will near 1 lakh security personnel.
That is comparable to the 1.06 lakh western forces fighting to stabilise Afghanistan. The centrally-coordinated offensive against the 40-year-old Maoist insurgency was launched three years ago to reclaim land where the guerrillas had pushed out the Indian state. Besides raising the security presence to enable execution of developmental projects, the plan intended to block routes across the bunch of contiguous districts in inter-state borders of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Maharashtra.
Government sources told HT that the fresh deployment plan — that will have a mix of CRPF, BSF and Sashastra Seema Bal — was shared with state police chiefs by home secretary RK Singh at a review meeting. The first ones to move in would be 2 BSF battalions —each has a strength of a 1,000 men — that were on election duty in Tripura. “They will head straight to Odisha,” a BSF source confirmed. Jharkhand and Bihar will get 3,000 more security personnel each.
Woman Naxal killed in Chhattisgarh
Raipur, Mar 10: A woman Naxal was killed in a gun-battle between the ultras and a joint team of security forces from Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh in the Bijapur district, police said today.”One women Maoist died in the exchange of fire between security forces and ultras in the densely-forested pocket in Pamed police station area on Saturday (yesterday),” Additional Superintendent of Police Vivek Shukla told PTI. “The identity of the killed Naxal is not yet known,” he added. A joint team of Bijapur police, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Greyhound force of Andhra Pradesh police was involved in the operation. The gun-battle lasted half-an-hour, Shukla said.
Anti-Naxal cops start operations in Mysore district
MYSORE: The Anti-Naxal Force, the elite commando force fighting Maoists in Karnataka, is extending its area of operation to Mysore district following apprehension that Naxals could extend their base to forested areas in Mysore and Chamarajnagar. After sighting of Naxals in Kodagu forests, the ANF on Sunday moved its commandos to rural Mysore, which the senior police officials described as preventive measure.
The ANF is opening a temporary camp at Beemanakolli in Heggadadevenakote taluk, one of the most backward taluks in Karnataka. Though the combing operations were planned to start on Sunday, it was put off. The ANF commandos are likely to start the groundwork from Monday and scan the forested areas, particularly those pockets that forms border with Kerala. The 100-plus force is stationed at Beechanahalli in H D Kote where ANF held a joint meeting with Mysore district police and forest officials.
A joint meeting of the cops from Kerala and Tamil Nadu too was held for better coordination. The ANF commandant Vasudeva Murthy has arrived to chalk out strategy. Mysore SP R Dileep visited the area. There are no Naxal activities reported from Mysore district. The ANF is extending its activities here as a preventive measure, Inspector General of Police (Southern range) K Ramachandra Rao told The Times of India. “There are also no reports of Naxal sighting in Mysore district,” he stated. We are combing the forests in Kodagu where Naxals were sighted.
As a preventive measure, the ANF is focusing on Mysore, he explained. Mysore DC Ramegowda stated the intelligence agencies provided information that Naxals could have infiltrated forested areas in Mysore district and the ANF is starting the combing operations. The area of focus for the ANF is forest cover bordering Kerala’s Waynad district where Maoists activities are witnessed. This comes one month after Kerala Thunderbolt, the elite group of commandos, intensified their combing operations along with forest staff and police in the forest areas of Brahmagiri hills on the Kerala-Karnataka border following reports of suspected Maoists movement in the area. The ANF is planning to comb the forests in Nagarahole and Bandipur tiger reserves and is likely to set up five temporary camps in Mysore district.
It asked details about the topography of the area with the forest staff during the joint meeting. Sources in the forest department said the ANF asked the officials of movement of suspected people in the forested areas and on the fringes. Chamarajnagar SP Rajendra Prasad said they are keeping a tight vigil in the border areas as a preventive measure. “This is to prevent Naxals from gaining ground in the forest areas,” he stated. However, the ANF has not moved its staff to Chamarajnagar district.
Has Mysore become part of the red corridor?
Mysore: For the first time, Mysore district is in danger of becoming part of the Red Corridor—a term used to describe the land stretch from Bihar to Karnataka where the left-wing extremists have a presence. The South Western Regional Bureau of the Naxal movement is reportedly trying to extend its activity to Mysore. Local authorities on Sunday were issued a high alert on the likelihood of Naxals entering the Mysore forest bordering neighboring Kerala.
Karnataka Anti-Naxal Force chief Alok Kumar admitted that Naxals were indeed targeting the Mysore forests to take refuge. “Naxals in Karnataka are feeling cornered and are seeking a safe haven in HD Kote forest which borders the Wyanad forest. The Kerala and Tamil Nadu police forces are combing their territory and our ANF teams are operating in Kodagu, where Naxal presence has been detected. The Naxal team, which visited Kalur village in Kodagu in October last year, was sighted in Wyanad recently. The Naxals cannot move deep into Kerala towards Kannur due to lack of forest cover. The only way out for them is to move towards HD Kote.
To corner them, we will send our personnel to HD Kote and seek people’s co-operation to curb the ultra menace”, he said. Meanwhile, a meeting of ANF officials, police officers of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu was held in Beechanahalli police station in HD Kote on Sunday afternoon to share information and discuss strategies to curtail Naxal movement. Reports about suspected Naxal movement in Gundre forests started circulating on Sunday morning with Mysore DC Ramegowda telling reporters that the cops were investigating. However, the ANF chief denied this and said only precautionary measures were being taken.