Dantewada court acquits all 13 accused in Maoist attack case
Raipur: A Dantewada district court on Tuesday acquitted all the 13 accused due to lack of evidence in a Maoist attack case in 2010 in which 33 people, including security personnel were killed when Naxals allegedly blew up a bus in Sukma district of Chhatisgarh.
“Thirteen accused in the May 17 attack in which 33 people, including police personnel, lost their lives, were acquitted by the court of Additional Sessions Judge Anita Dahariya at Dantewada,” defence lawyer Bichen Pondi told PTI. “The prosecution failed to provide substantial evidence that could have led to their conviction,” he said.
On May 17, 2010, Maoists allegedly blew up a bus heading towards Sukma from Dantewada near Chingawaram rivulet, triggering a landmine blast, in which 33 people, including police personnel were killed, while 20 others were injured.
“Fifteen suspects were arrested after the incident, out of which two died during the course of hearings,” he said. Three months ago, the Dantewada district court had acquitted all ten arrested, due to lack of evidence, in connection with the 2010 Tadmetla attack case, in which 76 security personnel were killed in Dantewada district. PTI
Maoist meet: Accused get bail
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday granted bail to four accused persons who were arrested during a meeting allegedly to form a students’ organisation of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Justice S S Satheeshchandran granted bail to Rajesh Mavelikara, Gopal of Tamil Nadu, Devarajan of Mayyanad and Bahuleyan of Thiruvanathapuram. The court, while granting bail to the accused persons, observed that there was nothing to indicate that they had incited people to wage war against the state when they held the meeting.
The prosecution said, the five accused persons, along with two minor girls who are the children of Shyna and Roopesh of Mavelikara, were present at the meeting held in December 2012. The court asked the accused not to leave Alappuzha district for a period of three months.
Maoist-hit states model for Assam
Jorhat, April 9: The Assam government has decided to learn from Maoist-hit states to tackle the menace making inroads in Tinsukia district. Deputy commissioner S.S. Meenakshi Sundaram told The Telegraph today that Tinsukia officials would be sent to states like Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Odisha to get first-hand knowledge of the development plans being implemented in the rural areas of these states.
A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting held in Tinsukia town under the chairmanship of power and industry minister Pradyut Bordoloi yesterday. It was also decided that chief minister Tarun Gogoi would be urged to send police teams to the Maoist-affected states for an orientation course on strategies adopted there to tackle “Left-wing extremism”.
The meeting was a preparatory one before the first sitting of the 13-member high-powered committee constituted by Dispur recently under the chairmanship of Bordoloi for Tinsukia after the district was accorded special category status. The committee, comprising senior officers from several departments, including the commissioner of Upper Assam division and deputy commissioner of Tinsukia, was constituted to frame plans to focus on infrastructure development and avenues of employment generation in the district to contain Maoist growth.
Sundaram said the meeting, which was attended by him and all heads of government departments, decided to acquire knowledge about the integrated development plans taken up in Maoist-hit states. Apart from borrowing schemes undertaken by different departments, it also decided to send officials from various departments for training and field exposure. “We have unofficially taken up the matter with several district magistrates of Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha.
Now we shall officially approach these governments with the minister assuring to take up the matter at the highest level,” he added. He said such visits could help learn the difficulties in implementing development plans and how these could be surmounted. “We could learn from the shortcomings, if any, and rectify those in our proposals.” Sundaram said the meeting also recommended that police officials visit Maoist-hit states to get a first-hand experience of methods adopted to tackle Maoist violence.
The proposal will be placed before the chief minister, who is in charge of the home department, for consideration, he added. The deputy commissioner said the meeting also decided to get a baseline survey conducted in all the 1,126 villages of the district with special focus on about 200 villages identified as Maoist and Ulfa-affected to prepare an integrated district action plan. Most of the villages of Sadiya subdivision on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, where Maoists are said to be gaining a foothold, will be included in the list. Dibrugarh University and Sri Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development in Guwahati will be asked to conduct the survey. Talks are on with both the institutes and an agreement or an MoU is expected to be signed shortly, he added.
Hardcore Maoist arrested
Motihari: A hardcore Maoist was Wednesday arrested from a village in East Champaran district of Bihar, a police official said. Acting on a tip off, the police arrested the hardcore Maoist, identified as Rajendra Ram, from Pipra village where he had come to visit his relative, Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sanjay Singh said.
Ram, who had been asconding for past several years, was wanted in four cases of naxal violence, including the murder of two police constables in 2004, he said.
PMC CCTV eyes shut, cops miss vital clues on ‘Maoist’ posters
The Pune police have once again lost vital clues in the “Maoist” posters case with CCTV cameras installed by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) at some prominent junctions through which the suspects are believed to have passed remaining non-operational.
The sleeper cell of the banned Naxal outfit Communist Party of India (CPI-Maoist) is believed to have put up the posters at strategic spots on March 23. Initiating a probe, the special branch of Pune police started looking for clues from CCTV cameras around the spots where the posters were found. The footage from a CCTV camera at Patrakar Bhavan showed posters being put up by three youths who arrived on a motorcycle around 11 pm on March 23 but it was too blurred to be of any use to the investigators.
Some posters were found at the junction near Balgandharva Rang Mandir and at Shramik Bhavan near PMC headquarters. Police suspect the youths may have travelled on motorcycle from Balgandharva to Shramik Bhavan through the junction where a CCTV camera was installed under the Intelligence Traffic System (ITS) project by the PMC. The special branch wrote to PMC seeking CCTV footage from cameras installed at Banlgandharva junction. As the cameras installed by PMC under ITS project, meant for keeping a check on traffic violations, are of superior quality, police expected to get vital clues like the number of the motorcycle used and the faces of the youths.
On April 5, PMC traffic planning department replied to Pune police that the footage cannot be provided as CCTV cameras were not operational. When contacted, Shrinivas Bonala, additional city engineer of PMC said, “The cameras are not functioning as there is a dispute over connectivity. We have floated tenders for connection and hope to make the CCTV functional soon. CCTVs under ITS are not for surveillance, but keeping a watch on traffic violations.”
Officials said that as part of the ITS, PMC had installed 70 cameras across the city but the contractor appointed for connectivity discontinued services citing non-payment of bills by the civic body. PMC repeatedly floated tenders for implementation of the ITS project, but so far nothing has taken off. Even Deputy CM Ajit Pawar had announced Rs 30 crore for installing CCTV cameras in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad after the J M Road blasts in August 2012. However, this ambitious project involving purchase of 1,000 CCTV cameras is yet to take off.
Police had failed to get crucial clues in the J M Road blasts as CCTV cameras of PMC on this road were non-operational. Now, police have missed out clues on suspects allegedly having links to Maoists and who intelligence agencies believe planned to spread their base in Pune. Last year on March 23, the CPI-Maoist allegedly put up posters in the city demanding unconditional release of Kobad Ghandy, Vijay, Vikram, Madanlal, Mahesh, Bhanu and Anjela Sontakke.
IAF flies double sorties in Chhattisgarh Red zone
NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force flew choppers in buddy pairs over Maoist strongholds in Chhattisgarh in the first week of April as extra precaution in the run-up to the third anniversary of the Tadmetla massacre where the rebels killed 76 CRPF men in 2010. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are also being used to sanitize routes of choppers. During double sorties, while one IAF chopper descends the other hovers above to provide aerial security cover, said a source. Each MI-17 chopper carries a light machine gun (LMG), besides other weapons, and Garud commandos.
The CRPF, nodal agency in anti-Maoist operations, throw a security cordon over the helipad during ascent and descent of choppers in Maoist bastions. The IAF commandos guard the chopper and man the LMG on board after descent. The IAF and BSF choppers are primarily used to provide logistic support — carry men and provisions in inaccessible areas as well as those injured in encounters with Maoists. IAF has allotted the CRPF 80 hours a month for sorties.
The security forces were apprehensive that double sorties would gobble up the flying hours. However, the IAF has decided to count flying hours of one chopper in case there is a need for a double sortie. The IAF is more careful after the January 18 incident when six of its men abandoned an injured Chhattisgarh policeman and rushed for safety after their chopper crash landed at Timilwada in south Chhattisgarh.
The IAF men also left behind a light machine gun and a pistol after Maoists fired 19 bullets at the chopper. Recently, there were inputs from Kishtaram and Bheji in south Chhattisgarh’s Konta that Maoist squads could do replays of Timilwada and attack chopper flying above their bastions, said a state police officer. Chhattisgarh Police and the CRPF beefed up security manifold to sanitize the areas before chopper landings.
After the January 18 incident, the IAF, too, has been insisting on sanitization of sorties routes in Maoist strongholds using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) before its choppers fly out on air support missions. “We have been using UAVs for sanitizing areas wherever possible,” said a senior police officer.
The Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) of the Maoist have also begun. Maoists conduct TCOC, or ‘escalation of violence’, twice a year — once in April-May, and then in December-January. During these periods, there is an increase in violence in Maoist zones across the country. A workshop was also held to sensitize personnel of all security forces, including state police, CRPF and IAF, involved in anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh about threat perception.
Maoists attack construction company site, burn two JCB machines
MUZAFFARPUR: Nearly 30 armed Maoists including some women attacked a road construction company’s work site near Sahebganj High School in Muzaffarpur district at about 1.30 am on Monday and burnt two JCB machines and an equal number of tractors in protest against the non-payment of levy demanded from company’s owner.
The Maoists forced all the 15 labourers to accompany them from the work site to a nearby chaur where each one of them was paid Rs 100 by Maoists to spend on bus fare to return to their respective homes immediately. The labourers came back to the site around 6 am but they were not ready to risk their lives and resume work even after the posting of 10 policemen along with an officer by the Senior SP, Saurabh Kumar, who visited the site in the morning.
Company’s owner Akhilesh Kumar Jayaswal has estimated a loss of more than Rs 1.50 crore in Maoist action. He had received threats and reminders from Maoists 17 times in the last one year for payment of 5% as levy of the total costs of the road projects. He had informed senior police officers about it but no police protection was provided to him.
He was engaged in execution of Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojna. On the other hand, the SSP, on his return from the site and other adjoining police stations, informed that the labourers were not kidnapped by the Maoists. They were falsely told that some bombs had been planted at the site with an instruction to leave the site immediately to save their lives as the bombs may explode any moment.
All the labourers were taken to a nearby chaur where they were asked to wait till the morning before leaving for their villages. None of them was harmed by the Maoists. The SSP said that extra force had been deployed at the construction site and the company has assured him to resume the work under police protection.
The SSP said the adjoining police stations of Deoria and Paroo besides Sahebganj have been given specific instructions to deal with the Maoist threat in future. In earlier incidents, the Maoists also burnt two mini buses in Paroo PS area and a truck at Ramchandrapur village under Deoria PS area during the two-day bandh call given by the Maoists.
Cops use Sveep to sweep out Naxal fear
MANGALORE: Battle of the ballot in Naxal affected areas of DakshinaKannada district tends to bring out fear for the bullet among the voters – thanks to incursion of left wing extremists in these parts off late. Literature exhorting people to abstain from voting, highlight the poor-rich divide and prying on sentiments of people vis-a-vis development issues spring up overnight in public places such as bus stands, much to consternation of authorities concerned.
Wanting to meet such emergent challenges head on, Dakshina Kannada district police has evolved a strategy that will see it effectively tap Election Commission of India’s systematic voters’ education and electoral participation (Sveep) programme. DK police in conjunction with the Dakshina Kannada zilla panchayat has volunteered to hold Sveep activities in Naxal affected areas and made a beginning in this regard at a school in Savanalu recently.
There are 55 polling stations which are located in the Naxal affected areas and these stations are mostly inside or on the fringes of the forest. Voters live in isolated condition with poor road connectivity. Many a time in the previous elections Naxal groups had distributed pamphlets in a few places asking citizens to boycott elections, said Abhishek Goyal, superintendent of police. “This makes Sveep activities in such areas all the more relevant,” he added. Abhishek told TOI that Sveep brings awareness among people to participate on the process in a free and fearless manner.
“The revenue department staff may find it difficult to visit these terrains therefore, DK police department is ready to take the lead in Sveep activities in these areas,” he added. “Sveep is relevant so that no one is denied of their right of franchise due to feeling of insecurity that Left wing literature can cause among the electorate,” he added.
Police officials in the Naxal affected areas have already initiated a number of confidence building measures, Abhishek said adding CPIs of Belthangady and Sullia have drawn up a tentative list of activities that can be undertaken under Sveep. Police undertakes route marches to instill confidence among people. With the central para military force coming to DK as early as April 18, these marches can be combined with pro-voting campaigns, he pointed out.