Ganapathy tops list of 17 most wanted men
EW DELHI: The Union Home Ministry in one go has cleared a bounty of 1.7 crore on the heads of 17 most wanted men in the country, including five top Naxal leaders and a dozen absconding terrorists of the Indian Mujahedeen including many hailing from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh.
The decision was taken by Home Secretary RK Singh last week following which the National Investigation Agency (NIA), in perhaps the biggest case of declaring such a huge bounty on 16 men in one go, has declared monetary awards for any information on the said terrorists which could lead to their arrest. The highest reward of 15 lakhs is on CPI (Maoist) supremo and chief commander, Mupalla Lakshman Rao, alias Ganapathy, who has evaded arrest for over two decades.
A reward of 10 lakh each has also been declared by the NIA for information on the whereabouts of Ganapathy’s three senior lieutenants in the CPI (Maoist) from Andhra Pradesh — Nambala Keshav Rao alias Basavraj, Thippiri Tirupati alias Deoji, Balmuri Narayan Rao alias Prabhakar and a five lakh award on one Somji Sajdev from Chhattisgarh.
The NIA lodged a case against these five men on charges of framing the larger conspiracy behind CPI (Maoist) collecting explosives, prohibited ammunition and huge amount of money in a concealed manner to wage war against the country. A reward of 10 lakhs each has also been declared on 12 terrorists of the Indian Mujahedeen.
Maoists down but certainly not out
GAYA: The recent reverses suffered by CPI(Maoist) including the killing of 10 of its very important leaders, establishment of police posts in the areas not long back regarded as ‘liberated zone’, periodic raid on the natural bunkers in the caves and forest cover in Chakarbandha and elsewhere notwithstanding, the police forces engaged in the anti-Naxal operation cannot afford any complacency, as the Maoists may be down, but the Red rebels are certainly not out.
Senior police officials admit that there was greater need for vigil and alert, as the Maoists desperate to prove their existence may resort to fresh aggression against the police forces and suspected informers. “We are vigilant,” says the Magadh Range DIG Naiyyar Hasnain Khan.
What has caused concern in the official machinery is the fact that the formidable armoury of the Maoists, which included assault rifles of the AK-47 and AK-47 variety and other weapons, is more or less intact. The Naxals, on their part, have enriched their armoury both by clandestine acquisition of sophisticated weapons and loot of hundreds of police rifles in Bihar and Jharkhand.
The police forces too have to learn the right lessons from their past mistakes. In several cases, the security forces have fallen to the trap laid down by the Maoists, who by all accounts have successfully planted their own agents masked as police informers and on more than one occasion, these moles have played an important role in executing the Maoist agenda. Lack of precise and credible information remains a major handicap.
The time-tested institution of the Chowkidar to maintain village level vigil has virtually crumbled, as the Chowkidars, in Naxal areas, have either turned to be Naxal sympathizers on account of class/caste affinity or are too afraid to report the truth. About 200 special police officers have been engaged in Gaya district to get proper feedback.
In several cases, the SPOs have started misusing their position and allegations of blackmail and other malpractices are not wholly without substance, admit police officials in private. In the recent past, four SPOS have been killed for reasons other than performance of duty.
Old timers recall that operation Siddharth, a mix of the time-tested ‘carrot and stick policy’ to combat Naxalism, has been the most appropriate strategy. But, in course of time, stick part of the policy got the better of carrot defeating the very purpose of the policy.
Repackaging of the operation Siddharth formula may still go a long way in combating Naxalism, as it was not a policing problem alone and lack of development, feudal mindset, delay in justice delivery and the status quo nature of the official machinery has contributed much to the problem, says a retired police officer.
Clamour grows to bring NE, J&K militants under uniform surrender-rehab policy ambit
NEW DELHI: With a more attractive surrender-rehabilitation policy for Maoists having kicked in from April 1, a clamour has begun for upgrading benefits under similar policies for north-east insurgents as well as militants in Jammu & Kashmir.
There is already broad agreement in the Union home ministry that the incentive for weapons surrendered by militants and insurgents across different theatres of unrest should be uniform, even though standardization of monetary benefits for the individual militant/insurgent is being questioned by some due to variations in risk factors across regions, depending on whether the source of conflict is internal or foreign.
Senior government functionaries had stressed on the need for a uniform surrender policy across the country in the wake of the Liyaqat Shah controversy. However, the home ministry feels disparities between benefits under region-specific surrender-rehabilitation policies may not be out of place.
“The compensation has to be commensurate with the risk faced by the surrendering militant. Given that a Kashmiri militant opting for surrender faces an external threat from their handlers across the border, he deserves a more handsome reward than his north-eastern counterpart or even a Naxalite, as the threat in their case is internal,” explained a home ministry official.
Regional discrepancies remain in monetary benefits under the Centre’s guidelines for surrender-rehabilitation of militants/insurgents/Maoists. The revised policy for Naxal-hit states is the most lucrative — extending from Rs 2.5 lakh as a one-time benefit for senior Maoist leaders to Rs 1.5 lakh for middle-level functionaries.
A monthly stipend of Rs 4,000 is also given to the surrendered Maoists for 36 months. Under the other surrender and rehabilitation policies, the one-time benefit is limited to Rs 1.5 lakh, whereas the monthly stipend ranges from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,500, with some north-eastern states extending it only for a year. According to a senior home ministry, there is, however, justification to bring the incentives for surrender of various categories of weapons at par across J&K, Naxal-hit states and the north-east.
The ministry, which is mulling uniform norms for surrender of weapons under Centrally-sponsored surrender schemes for different regions, feels a militant/insurgent/Maoist should get the same compensation for a given category of weapon, irrespective of the place of surrender.
The compensation for surrender of weapons was recently made more lucrative under the Centre’s surrender-cum-rehabilitation scheme for Naxal-hit states. Under the new policy, a Maoist surrendering with weapons will get an additional incentive of up to Rs 35,000 per weapon. Depositing a light machine gun (LMG) or sniper rifle will fetch Rs 35,000, an AK-series (Rs 25,000), a pistol/revolver (Rs 10,000) and each high-frequency communication set Rs 5,000.
Central Coalfields Limited in red because of Maoist bandhs
RANCHI: Central Coalfields Limited (CCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited, suffered huge losses due to bandhs called by Maoists and other rebel organizations in the state in the 2012-13 fiscal that ended on March 31. As per CCL records, production and dispatch were affected on around 30 days in the financial year due to such bandhs, with the company unable to dispatch around four million tonnes and produce around two million tones of coal.
In the last fiscal, the total dispatch by the company was around 53 MT and production was around 48.05 MT. Sources in the company said dispatch at times is higher than production because of previous stock available at the mines. A CCL spokesperson confirmed that the company’s production and dispatch was affected due to bandhs in the last fiscal.
“The company was hoping to exceed 50 MT production in the last fiscal. but we failed due to frequent bandhs,” said the spokesman. Officials revealed that this fiscal too started with a bandh called by CPI (Maoist) on April 6 and 7. “On those two days, the company suffered production loss of around 0.08 MT. Similarly, dispatch of at least 0.10 MT of coal could not take place. We are worried that frequent bandhs this year again will make things difficult for us,” said an official. The company has a production target of around 53.5 MT of coal and 57.2 MT of dispatch for 2012-14 by CIL.
All efforts to allay voters’ fear in Maoist areas
As people residing in the Naxal affected areas are under threat to cast their votes for fearing backlash from naxals, the district administration is making all efforts to make them exercise their franchise. The Systematic Elections Voter Education and Electoral Participation Program (SVEEP) has been introduced in these areas to boost the morale of the voters to come out and participate in the democratic process.
The Central Reserve Police Force and Rapid Action Force platoons that will soon reach here as part of election security will also ensure smooth conduct of polls in naxal prone areas. Paramilitary force Superintendent of Police Dr Boralingaiah M B told Deccan Herald that Paramilitary Force will take up the position shortly in the naxal areas. Through these forces, the department will create an environment of safety and make the people feel secured. Combing operation has also been intensified to avoid possible disturbances from Maoists.
The SVEEP programmes will be introduced in these areas. If need arises, the parade exercise by Paramilitary Force will be frequently held. Under SVEEP programme, voters are made to sensitise to ignore if at all, they come across Maoists scriptures threatening them against voting.
The voters will be asked to be confident on the measures taken up by the police force. The people are given maximum security, he added. ZP CEO Prabhakar Sharma said that measures are taken up under SVEEP programmes to make the people in the naxal affected areas aware about the importance of voting. Special authorities from the district administration will visit the areas and ensure security measures.
The block level officers and village accountants in the areas are directed to sensitise the voters and assure them all help in case of threat and danger, he added.
Hospital to build new mortuary for Maoists’ bodies
Gadchiroli (Maha), Apr 10 (PTI) Facing shortage of space to keep the bodies of Maoist insurgents killed in police encounters, the General Hospital administration here has decided to construct a new mortuary building. The facility will be constructed within three months to ease the shortage of space and preserve the bodies of Maoist insurgents who are killed in police encounters, General Hospital’s civil surgeon R S Faruqui told PTI.
242 armed fighting companies proposed
Patna, Apr 11 (PTI) Bihar government has proposed to set up 242 armed fighting companies of police to deal with rioting, Maoist violence and organized crime in the state. Director General of Police Abhayanand said the decision was taken by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at a high-level review meeting of the home department today.
When Maoists ‘trapped’ 250 cops on hilltop and ‘blocked’ 1,000 would-be rescuers
Jharkhand Maoists “trapped” 250 policemen on top of a hill for over 24 hours last month, engaging them from below and preventing 1,000 other cops from reaching them until a team led by the DGP finally rescued them. The Maoists numbered an estimated 250 to 300. Policemen involved in the March 13-14 encounter at hill number 974 between Sibil and Saksari villages of Chainpur block, Gumla, as well as Maoists The Indian Express spoke to, agreed that the police would have suffered heavy casualties — they lost one man — but for the fact that the Maoists had unwittingly forfeited what would have been a locational advantage.
The Maoists had descended the hill shortly before the police arrived. DGP Rajeev Kumar, however, denied his troops had been encircled and said “our boys fought bravely”, without casualties, until the rebels had to withdraw. The Maoists, who described it as an achievement that has raised their confidence, have carried out a series of attacks since. At Chainpur’s crowded Thursday market on April 4, they surrounded a police vehicle and opened fire, killing five cops.
On April 6, they triggered an explosion that damaged the block headquarters. The hilltop encounter began after police had received information that Maoist leader Arvindji, alleged mastermind of January’s Latehar attack, was camping in the Sibil forests. The 250 state police, Jaguar and CoBRA personnel reached the hilltop at 11 am on March 13. The Maoists began firing from below, killing a Jaguar, Manoj Bakhla, and injuring two others. The police admit they could not come down. “The Naxals were firing regularly.
They had also laid pressure bombs and landmines along the way,” said Pankaj Singh, Chainpur thana-in-charge, who served with the Jharkhand Jaguars for four years. “Two other teams tried to come to our aid, but the Naxals fired at them and didn’t let them come near us.” “The cops were saved by sheer chance,” said one of the Maoists whom this reporter met in the forest, but who did not want to be named.
“We had climbed downhill only that morning. Had we trapped the police at the bottom, they would all have been killed.” Singh agrees, “It did seem that the Naxals had left the position not much earlier. Had they been on top (and police at bottom), there would have been massive casualties.”
At Tadmetla in April 2010, Maoists firing from a hilltop had killed 76 cops in three hours, the highest ever casualty count for the armed forces. As the March 13-14 encounter raged, villagers alarmed by the gunshots took shelter in a school. Local news channels ran reports such as, “Maoists hold cops hostage for over 24 hours. As police try to come to their ad, Maoists fire and force them to withdraw.”
One March 14, the DGP’s helicopter landed on hill number 999, a short distance from 974. By then, the other 1,000 personnel had intensified their counterattack and the Maoists gradually left, allowing the team on 974 to unite with the rest. Then Gumla SP Jatin Narwal (since transferred) conceded police had been trapped for 24 hours, while DGP Kumar said, “The 974 team was supposed to stay there. We were never surrounded by anyone.
As the operation intensified, the ADG and I landed at the spot, secured the area and evacuated the injured jawans. The Maoists had to withdraw. It was a very well fought battle,” he said. The DGP estimated the Maoists must have suffered at least 13 casualties — no bodies were recovered — while Maoists admitted having lost one man. “Over 1000 troops were deployed to rescue the policemen trapped by the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army.
They threw in the entire police department for this operation… controlled by DGP Rajiv Kumar himself,” said Gopal, spokesperson for the CPI(Maoist)’s Bihar-Jharkhand-North Chhattisgarh special area committee. “Yet PLGA encircled a major section of the police for over 30 hours and destroyed their coordination and supplies,” Gopal said. “This battle has raised the confidence of the PLGA.”
In the market attack that followed on April 4, a group of Maoists came from several directions, surrounded a police vehicle on patrol and sprayed bullets from the front, killing four cops on the spot while a fifth died later. Chainpur thana was less than 500 m away. “It was around noon,” said an eyewitness. “Suddenly a few men appeared, blocked the vehicle, hurled abuse and fired. They brandished their guns, opened fire again and left with the guns and ammunition of the dead cops.”
“The last time police suffered major casualties in Chainpur was in 2001 when Maoists triggered a blast in Kurumgarh. But that was a landmine,” said sub-inspector Taranand Singh, veteran of several Naxal battles. “Here they came, stopped the vehicle, killed and ran away.” Maoists have termed it revenge for last month’s killing of 10 of their men by a splinter group, allegedly helped by police.
DGP Kumar rushed to Chainpur to boost his men’s morale. How far that has flagged was evident during a Bihar-Jharkhand bandh called by Maoists on April 6-7. At 1 pm, Chainpur thana too was locked — with a pair of handcuffs.
Silda attack mastermind remanded to police custody
Jhargram (WB): Shyam Charan Tudu, alleged mastermind of attack on Silda paramilitary camp which left 24 personnel dead, was today remanded to police custody by a local court here. Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Priyajit Chatterjee remanded Tudu to 12 days police custody after he was produced before the court following his transit remand from a court in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
Twenty-six-year-old Tudu was arrested by a team of policemen from West Midnapore district of West Bengal on April 6. He was working at a casting and foundry firm in Peelamedu area near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. A resident of Andharsole village near Jhargram, he was allegedly part of a 60-member group that attacked Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) outpost at Silda in West Midnapore district on February 15, 2010. Superintendent of Police at Jhargram, Bharati Ghosh said, “Tudu is a member of Maoist squad led by Jayanto.” He has been accused of murder, sedition, arson among several other crimes, the police said.