Federal agency equates Maoists with terrorists
HYDERABAD – The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has equated ultra left wing extremists with ISI-sponsored terrorists and has listed several top Maoists among the most wanted persons. The latest list of the most wanted persons has been uploaded on the NIA website. Maoist top gun Ganapati alias Muppala Lakshman Rao, who is the Secretary of the CPI (Maoists), figures in the list. He hails from Karimnagar district in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. The NIA’s revised list contains the names of 56 terrorists, white collar criminals and extremists, their portraits, history of their crimes, pending cases and cash rewards on their heads. The list includes criminals and Maoists wanted in illegal arms and explosives procurement, white collar economic offences, cyber crimes.
Besides Ganapati, the NIA has also listed out top Naxalite leaders Basavaraj alias Sambala Keshav Rao, Devji , Somji and Prabhakar, all of them members of the CPI (Maoists) Central Committee. The NIA has been entrusted with the case of Maoist Technical Committee Chief Sadanala Ramakrishna who was apprehended by the Kolkata Special Task Force in March 2012 along with eight other associates. They had also seized some components of rocket launchers, rocket propelled grenades and 51mm mortars and also spare parts of the latest SLRs.
The NIA probe revealed that all these spare parts were secretly produced in several workshops by Maoists in Pune, Rourkela, Indore, Bhopal and Bhubaneswar. The designs for the rocket launchers were generated and supplied by Asim Kumar Harnath Bhattacharya, a Maoist activist from West Bengal. The components were manufactured in workshops between 2002 and 2006 and assembled at Chhattisgarh till 2009, NIA officials said. The investigations had also revealed that the Maoists were also hand in glove with the extremist groups of North East in procuring weapons, assault rifles, pistols, explosives and also rocket mortar shells from China. Meanwhile, revolutionary writer and Maoist sympathiser P Varavara Rao assailed the Union Home Ministry for branding Maoists as terrorists. “Maoists are political activists and not ISI-sponsored terrorists,” he said and sought clarification from the government on the NIA list of most wanted persons.
Probe report blames poor planning and lack of information about terrain for the 2010 ghastly Dantewada massacre of 76 CRPF men
Three years after the Dantewada massacre, in which 76 security personnel were ambushed and killed by Maoists in the Tadmetla forest, the horror of the attack remains largely buried in the classified files with the authorities.
Mail Today accessed the inquiry report prepared by retired director general of the Border Security Force (BSF) E.N. Rammohan on the instruction of the ministry of home affairs. The report highlights the lapses on part of the Central Reserve Paramilitary Force (CRPF) in gauging the Naxalite threat and of the government in reacting to the gravity of the situation.
Even before the incident on April 6, 2010, there were signs of trouble for the security forces. On March 10, the rebels had shot at the personnel of 62 Battalion barely 300m from the site of the ambush, injuring one CRPF jawan. On April 1, Nalin Prabhat, deputy inspector general, operations, CRPF, suggested launching an ‘area domination’ exercise where the troops were to remain out for 72 hours to sanitise the area near the camps. CRPF’s leadership made a deputy commandant (DC), totally unfamiliar with the area, lead the operation.
The report notes that the DC had been sent to the area for supervising a change of companies. “Sending an officer without knowledge of the terrain was the initial mistake. Any patrol of the coy should have been led by the officer in charge of the coy (company) located there,” the report states. As per the plan, the operation had to cover an area of 5-7 km around the camp. It was to be launched from the Chintalnar camp of the CRPF at 1900 hours on April 4 and the personnel were to return to the base on the morning of April 7. However, the troops did not follow the plan.
They not only started late, but also moved in a single file and did not stick to the destinations that they were to cover. The entire party camped at 12.30 am at Mukhram village where they cooked khichdi with the help of locals who provided them firewood, utensils and water. Rammohan’s report says: “It is possible that their (troops) plan to go to Tadmetla could have been described by someone (from the force) in front of the villagers.” On April 6 morning, the CRPF men moved towards Tadmetla, only to walk into a fool-proof trap laid by the rebels. Firing started at 5.45 am and by the time the rescue party reached the ambush site at 9.30 am, all 76 personnel, including 75 CRPF men and one policeman, were dead.
The report lashes out at the casual manner in which the state government and the CRPF leadership treated the men on ground. From poor living conditions for troops to lack of inspections, senior leaders not participating in operations and making short visits to far-off camps in helicopters, all issues have been highlighted in the report. Rammohan, in fact, called for a comprehensive change of approach and Standard Operating Procedure to salvage the situation. He also added: “I did not find any lack of training in the field but there is a lack of leadership.”
SSB joins anti-Naxal operations in Jharkhand
New Delhi: After Jammu and Kashmir, the SSB, which guards Indo-Nepal border, has been again deployed on internal security duty – this time in Jharkhand to fight the Naxal menace. Around 2,000 personnel of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) have now been dispatched by the Centre for anti-Naxal operations in Jharkhand. The Centre, through the Union Home Ministry, has decided to step up operations in the state which is under President’s rule at present, official sources said. The two SSB battalions will be deployed at Ranchi and Jamshedpur and will supplement the efforts of the CRPF and the state police who are already involved in the same task, they said.
The battalions have been trained by the CRPF in jungle warfare and counter-IED skills and techniques apart from undergoing rigorous drills in their own centres. Jharkhand already has about 16 CRPF battalions and the Centre wants to develop and clear more areas like the Saranda forests in order to bring in the state machinery and wipe off the effects of Maoist violence.
The SSB, which is also designated to guard Indo-Bhutan border besides Indo-Nepal border, used to be a part of anti-Maoist operations till October 2011. Their duties in Chhattisgarh involved guarding of Salwa Judum camps which, however, came to end after the Supreme Court banned the movement aimed at rallying former Maoists and locals against the red rebels.
The force will be the fourth central paramilitary after CRPF, BSF and Indo-Tibetan Border Police to be a part of this task in a full-fledged manner. With this induction, the total number of para-military personnel deployed for anti-Maoist operations has crossed well over one lakh with CRPF having deployed 82 battalion, BSF 11 and ITBP six. Each battalion comprises around 1,000 personnel. The SSB has deployed five battalions in Jammu and Kashmir where they are part of counter-insurgency grid. PTI
Cabinet likely to clear anti-Naxal force for 4 states
The Cabinet Committee on Security is likely to clear the proposal to raise specialised forces in four Naxal-hit states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, on Tuesday. The Home Ministry plans to raise specialised force on the lines of Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh. The forces will be trained in guerilla warfare and will be assisted by other Central forces during operations.
The four states will get funds to create and upgrade infrastructure, arsenal and equipment. The proposed outlay during the 12th Plan is Rs 280 crore by the Centre and Rs 56 crore by states, the MHA said. It has, however, put certain riders before funds are released. “The special force of the state has to be upgraded as per approved guidelines of Greyhounds. Only states that give such an undertaking will be considered for funding,” said an official.
Three Naxals arrested in Chhattisgarh
Three Naxals were arrested during a search operation in Chhattisgarh’s Bijpaur district on Monday, police said. “The cadres were arrested from the forests of Chintanpalli village in Toynar area by a joint contingent of Chhattisgarh Armed Forces and district police,” Bijpaur SP Prashant Agrawal said. The trio – Vijja Telam (40), Mudma Vande (35) and Mudma Pandu (42) – were active members of National Park Area Committee of Maoists and involved in cases of attempt to murder and arson, he said. In a separate incident, a Naxal carrying a reward of Rs 3,000 on his head was arrested during a search operation along the border of Kanker and Rajnandgaon districts. Talwar Boga (30) was nabbed by a joint team of Kanker district force and BSF jawans from Jakke village, a senior police official said.
More troops, drones to combat Maoist menace
Anti-Maoist operations are set to get more teeth. The government has cleared a plan to deploy more troops, choppers and drones to revamp the nationally-coordinated offensive against Naxal violence launched in 2009. The home ministry has sent a note to the cabinet committee on security in this regard. A panel headed by cabinet secretary AK Seth has already cleared a plan to assign 14 Indian Air Force choppers – recalled recently from United Nations peacekeeping operations – to anti-Maoist operations. The choppers will replace the fleet of six MI-17 IAF choppers currently at the ministry’s disposal. The government has also given the go-ahead to increase the number of surveillance drones and make them more effective.
To accomplish this, the unmanned aerial vehicle base will be shifted from Begumpet in Hyderabad to Bhilai, a town in the middle of the Maoist battleground in Chhattisgarh. As many as 8,000 security personnel will also join the 80,000 central police officers already deployed across 70,000 sq km of territory where Maoists have retained control for almost two decades.
A top government source said once the initiatives – that would be formally vetted by the cabinet committee on security – are executed, it would considerably strengthen the offensive against Naxal violence, which has killed more than 11,000 people in the past 7 years. The home ministry also wanted to deploy helicopter gunships for surgical airstrikes as well as 30,000 personnel of the army’s anti-insurgency force, Rashtriya Rifles, but the defence ministry turned it down. Interrogation reports of arrested Maoists indicate that the offensive has been paying dividends, but the security forces are yet to have the upper hand in most areas.
Home ministry wants to bomb Maoist camps, Army chief says ‘no quick fix solutions’
The Home ministry wanted to deploy helicopter gunships to carry out surgical air strikes at Maoist camps in the hard-to-reach jungles of Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand but has been told to shove the controversial plan back into the deep freezer. The home ministry plan was part of the ambitious proposal for the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to deploy all available resources of the central government to scale up the battle against Maoists in their core areas.
The note – which also proposed deployment of 30,000 personnel of the army’s anti-insurgency force, Rashtriya Rifles – was sent to the CCS in early August last year. As reported by HT in January, the home ministry couldn’t muster support for induction of RR at the meeting of the committee of secretaries that scrutinised the proposals for the CCS. The panel of secretaries, however, cleared other non-controversial aspects of the home ministry plan. At these meetings, Army chief General Bikram Singh strongly advised against “quick fix solutions” to the battles that would need to be fought in the heart of India for many years. Defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma pointed to a host of negative implications of air strikes including “considerable collateral damage”.
Former home minister, P Chidambaram was the first to go public with the demand for aerial attacks after Maoists massacred 76 security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district in April 2010. But he backed out after strident opposition to the plan, settling for choppers to provide logistics support and carry out rescue missions. Behind the scenes, the home ministry not only worked to pump in funds for development in the Maoist heartland but also to raise the level of manpower, weaponry and logistics support to reclaim the over 70,000 sq km of territory where Maoists often have the last word.
The deployment of RR battalions and attack helicopters – the latter were extensively used by the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka in the late eighties – quietly resurfaced in the home ministry’s wish-list drawn last year. At the heart of this plan was the argument that the government stop dealing with Maoists with kid gloves. Home secretary RK Singh was clear that the Centre should deploy its full might and commit every available resource to the anti-Maoist theatre.
The view gained strength after Maoists shot an Indian Air Force chopper on a rescue mission this January in Sukma district close to the spot where 76 personnel were ambushed two years earlier. The Maoists had already shown their brutal face a week earlier when they placed a 1.5 kg explosive inside a CRPF jawan killed in an ambush in Jharkhand Latehar district. Government sources said the home ministry had agreed to withdraw the twin proposal from the CCS note “at this stage” in view of the reservations. But there is a strong view at the home ministry – articulated by Home Secretary Singh last year – that the State needs to use its “coercive power” as and when required and deployments should not only cater to the present situation but also futuristic situations”.
Rise & rise of Tritiya Prastuti
RANCHI: The TritiyaPrastuti Committee (TPC), the Maoist splinter group, has gained strength in the state over the past few years. While the outfit claims that it is because of the popular support that it has gained strength in Jharkhand, parent body CPI(Maoists) alleges that it has been gaining covert support of security forces which are helping the former spread its tentacles in the state. Tritiya Prastuti has remained in focus for clashes with Maoists at regular intervals. Tough both the groups have been killing armed rebels of each other it was for the time in past one decade that ten Maoists have been killed en-masse.
On February 21 this year, Maoists shot dead a TPC cadre, Anil Ram, at Baratetrai village under Nabinagar block of Aurangabad District in Bihar. Just one day ago on February 20 TPC, had pasted posters in Balumath area of Latehar District in Jharkhand, warning the upcoming power plants of dire consequences if they did not stop felling trees and give adequate compensation to the displaced families.
They also appealed to the displaced families to come forward for help from the organization. On January 16, Maoists shot dead a cadre of the TPC, identified as Avdhesh Yadav (45), in Palamu. Yadav was a resident of Jhargada village under Hussainabad subdivision of the District. Talking to TOI in an earlier interview, senior leader of TPC Alokji had said they were protesting the Maoists on ideological grounds and have gained popularity among the villagers who want a change in the system. “Maoists extend frequent bandh calls bringing economic activities in the villages to a standstill.
When they understand that fight for neo-democracy is a long drawn battle there is no logic behind the bandh calls,” he said. TPC also questions Maoists strategy to extort levy in development work and their resistance to road construction projects. “We are living with the villagers and if we stop administration from carrying out road construction and other development work the villagers would be adversely affected,” Alok said.
Quoting party senior Alokji said that instead of state Maoists were their enemy because for implementation of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology restricting the group that has deviated from the ideological lines was a must. Contradicting the common understanding of ideological differences that led to birth of TPC, senior Maoist think tank who played an active role in several mergers and has been a witness to formation of CPI (Maoists) from the stage of party unity said that at the time of birth TPC was led by a true Maoist leader Bharat jee.
“We cannot deny his contribution in spreading Maoist ideology in parts of Bihar and Jharkhand but the party found him guilty of financial indiscipline and unethical approach to women,” he said adding “Bharat jee who was at the level of regional buro at that time was asked to introspect and start from scratch in the party reacting to which he went for a split and laid the foundation of TPC.”
The senior ideologue said that the split formally took place in 2002 when Jharkhand was a separate state and to gain popular support close aides of Bharat jee picked up the issue of caste dominance to build a strong force in Jharkhand. Police also corroborate to the view as they find the difference between Maoists and TPC more on caste lines than on ideological lines. IG Jharkhand police RK Mallick said that while Maoists in Bihar were dominated by Yadav the TPC had dalits and Bhokta as their support group. “TPC’s real strength is not known but they are obviously not as strong as the Maoists in number,” he said. Records available with latehar police shows that between January and September 2012 as against arrest of 24 Maoists from the district only three armed cadre of the TSPC were arrested. Police claim that activity and strength of TSPC is far below the Maoists and hence fewer people were arrested.
Maoist arrested in Bokaro: police
A hardcore Maoist was today arrested and explosives were seized from his possession in Bokaro district, police said. “Mangra Majhi, a hardcore Maoist, was arrested near Budgadha village. Ten pieces of detonators and five kgs ammonium nitrate were recovered from his possession,” Deputy Superintendent of Police S K Pathak said here. He was arrested following a tip-off, the DSP said. Three alleged Maoists had been arrested in the district yesterday.
3 Maoist activists, 1 PLFI militant held with arms
Bokaro/Gumla: Three persons were held in Bokaro for involvement in Maoist activisties and a PLFI rebel was arrested in Gumla on Monday. Bokaro police conducting a joint operation with 26 Battalion CRPF and nabbed the three persons in Chotki Sidhawara under Gomia police station here on Monday. Of the arrested, two are brothers, who were wanted in a Maoist case of 2004. Bokaro SP Kuldeep Dwivedi said, “The three were arrested from Chotki Sidhwara during anti-Maoist operation in the forests situated in the foothills of Jhumra.
The ones held have been identified as Daulat Mahto and Gulab Mahto, both of whom are brothers, besides one Dhaneshwar Mahto. They are residents of Chotki Sidhawara.” Daulat and Gulab were involved in triggering blasts in the house of Kamal Mahto and setting ablaze two houses in Tiskopi area of Gomia. Meanwhile, police arrested Dhaneshwar in connection of a 2002 case, in which Maoist literature and other materials were recovered from Jamnabeda area. All three were booked under the CLA Act with Gomia police station.
Jharkhand gets special force to protect industries
RANCHI: The Jharkhand home department has formed a dedicated force to protect vital industries threatened by Maoist insurgency. Called the State Industrial Security Force, its jawans have been specially trained to deal with Left-wing rebels and smaller, local criminal gangs involved in violence and extortion. Home secretary JB Tubid said the force is ready for deployment and a commandant has been recruited.
The force is headquartered in Bokaro, Tubid confirmed. More than 100 major industrial units like Bokaro Steel Plant, Electrosteel Plant and Tata Steel Plant among others are based in Jharkhand and, over the past few years, their properties have been ransacked and damaged by criminals and rebels. Their employees have also been killed and kidnapped on several occasions.
The proposal to give Jharkhand its own industrial security force was mooted in 2005-06. “The force of 850 jawans is constituted mainly of young personnel, most of who were recruited recently,” Jharkhand DGP Rajiv Kumar said. The jawans have been trained at Police Training College, Hazaribag, and JAP-4 in Bokaro among other centres. “The jawans are trained to tackle Maoist attacks as most industrial units in the state are in affected areas. They have also been trained to deal with organized criminal gangs in cities,” said a police officer. The forces will be deployed at industrial houses and banks to protect their premises or establishments for a fee. The home department has also framed rules and regulations under which the industrial houses would be charged.