CRPF deployed in Naxal-affected states: R.P.N. Singh
New Delhi, May 7(ANI): Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh has informed that the Union Government has deployed Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), including Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the LWE-affected states to assist the state police in conducting anti-naxal operations.
“The deployment of CAPFs (including CRPF) is a dynamic process and is based on requirements projected by the State Governments, availability of Force and the security situation in a particular location. The deployment of CAPFs (including CRPF) keeps changing from time to time.
However, at present a total number of 532 coys of CAPFs have been deployed in the LWE affected States,” said Singh in written reply to a question by R. Thamaraiselvan in the Lok Sabha today. Singh further said some of the LWE affected States including Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha have demanded additional battalions of CAPFs, including CRPF.
“As stated above, the decision on deployment of additional battalion in the LWE affected States is taken on the basis of requirement of the State Governments, availability of Force and other ground realities. Recently, taking into consideration the requests of the State Governments, a decision has been taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide 10 additional battalions of CAPFs including 05 battalions of CRPF to Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar and Chhattisgarh,” he added. (ANI)
Naxals manufacturing improvised grenades, RPGs: Government
NEW DELHI: Naxals are manufacturing improvised hand grenades and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) in their arms manufacturing units, Lok Sabha was informed today. Minister of State for Home RPN Singh said as per reports available, the improvised grenades are manufactured by CPI (Maoist) in their stronghold areas of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar.
He said some of the steps taken to bust these manufacturing units include ban on CPI(Maoist), deployment of forces at strategic locations, firm police action against such unlawful activities and intensified intelligence-based anti-Naxal operations. “Besides, the central government closely monitors the situation and issues advisories to the Left Wing Extremism- affected state governments to keep a check on such activities,” he said.
Maoists blow up Panchayat building in Odisha
Malkangiri (Odisha): Maoists blew up a Panchayat building in Odisha’s Malkangiri district, in an apparent bid to scuttle an anti-Naxal operation. The police on Tuesday said about 60 armed Maoists and their supporters stormed into Kiang around midnight last night and broke open the doors of the two-storeyed building before triggering the blast using powerful explosives.
However, no one was injured in the incident though office documents were damaged even as fear-stricken people preferred to remain indoors. Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Akhileswar Singh said that an investigation was being conducted into the incident and the extent of the damage was being assessed.
No complaint has been filed by the panchayat authorities in this connection, he said. Ultras from neighbouring Chhattisgarh rule the roost in the district often terrorising people besides creating hurdles before the security forces in carrying out anti-Naxal operations. As different buildings, including those belonging to panchayats are generally used for accommodating security forces during anti-Maoist operations, the red rebels often target these structures, sources said. In the last one month they had kidnapped at least six persons from Kiang and adjoining Mahupadar panchayat areas suspecting them to be police informers and killed three of them. PTI
Maoist leader arrested in Odisha
Bhubaneswar, May 7 (IANS) An area commander of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) was arrested in Odisha’s Rayagada district Tuesday, police said. Gameli China Mohan Rao, 25, is an area committee member of Koraput-Srikakulam Joint Division of the CPI-Maoist. He was involved in 13 murder cases, a district police official told IANS. Rao had joined the Maoists in 2007. He was arrested during an anti-Maoist operation.
He was also involved in the kidnapping of ruling Biju Janata Dal legislator Jhina Hikaka in March last year, the official said. Several arms and ammunition, including a Belgium-made pistol, 16 bullets and three kg of ammonium nitrate were seized from him, he added. The district headquarters of Rayagada is about 390 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.
Maoists plan to form women’s group foiled
GUWAHATI: The plan of Maoists to form a women’s group in Assam has been hit after police succeeded to arrest top Maoist leader Aklanta Rabha’s wife Rekha Rani Raha alias Sonpahi in Goalpara recently. Assam Police had arrested Aklanta, the sole central committee member from the state and Siraj Rabha, an arms trainer of the Reds, on April 26. Subsequently, the operations wing of the state police arrested Rekha and two other women Maoist cadres from Goalpara district.
“Rekha revealed that she was acting as an overground member of CPI (Maoist). She had formed an organization called Nari Mukti Sangha to fight against social discrepancy towards backward classes and was propagating the Maoist ideology among women in particular. She confessed that she had managed to recruit at least seven to eight women Maoist cadres in Goalpara and Kamrup districts,” said a policeman.
The state police’s Special Operation Wing (SOW), which has booked the rebels in an extortion case, is currently quizzing them. Police said Rekha went to West Bengal in 2005 and then to Jharkhand for training. During the same time, she got married to Aklanta Rabha. Later, coming back to Assam, she started her organizational activities at Krishnapur and Boko areas of Goalpara district. Settled in Goalpara in 2012, she started a tea stall near the Bhalukdubi area from where she started to form the women’s group via the Nari Mukti Sangha. Police recovered several letters from her possession that contain information about Maoist activities.
Assam Police’s task force, which was formed to deal with the growing Maoist activities, said at least 181 Maoists cadres are active in the state. “Out of them, 23 are women. However, most of them are political workers and not armed cadres,” said Assam police IGP L R Bishnoi, a member of the task force. Investigation revealed that Aklanta was the main facilitator for Maoists and served as a conduit for procuring sophisticated arms from across the border.
He was arrested with a .22 pistol and huge cache of ammunition. “Security forces had encounters with Red rebels on five occasions in Assam. We found sophisticated arms like AK rifles and carbines from them. The Maoists are getting latest arms through ultras in Manipur, Tripura and Nagaland,” added Bishnoi. A close associate of CPI (Maoist) top leader Prashant Bose alias Kishenda, Aklanta is part of the elite group of five top Maoist leaders in charge of operations in Jharkhand, West Bengal and the northeast. Other members include Kishenda, Deo Kumar Singh, Chandraprasad Yadav and Misir Besra.
Withdraw forces from Bengal’s Maoist areas: Mahasweta
Kolkata, May 7: Alleging that many people, including Maoists, have been jailed without trial in West Bengal, Magsaysay award winning writer Mahasweta Devi Monday said human rights groups would ask Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to withdraw forces from Maoist areas. “We have been demanding for many years that joint forces should be withdrawn from (West Bengal) and tribal areas should not be described as Maoist-affected.
We will submit a memorandum to the chief minister on these issues,” the octogenarian writer-social activist told mediapersons. “Without a trial, so many people, some branded as Maoists, others tagged as Naxalites, have been locked up in prison by the government,” she said. Dhiraj Sengupta, general secretary of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), said that “200 tribals in the state’s Maoist affected areas are still in prison”.
Criticising Banerjee, he said: “What she could have done for the tribals, she has not done.” Sengupta added: “Banerjee had promised to get the joint security forces withdrawn from Jangalmahal, political prisoners released and boost development in the tribal-dominated areas. On the contrary, false charges were being slapped on tribals in Jungalmahal.” Jangalmahal is a forested area comprising West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts, known as the hub of Maoists.
“They are being told, if you join (Banerjee led) ruling Trinamool Congress, the cases will be withdrawn,” Sengupta said. She said that development projects announced by the Trinamool Congress government in the state were ineffective while tribals still faced police torture, rape and pillage.
Joint forces comprising central paramilitary troopers and state police personnel were deployed in the Junglamahal in July 2009 to combat Maoists, who had made the area a virtual “free zone” by torching police camps and offices of the then ruling CPI-M and driving out the civil administration.
Indian Maoists give green light to local land restoration in conflict zones
KANKER DISTRICT, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Four years after Kalavati Salam was elected to lead the Nangarbeda village council in Central India’s Chhattisgarh state, she has finally got her first development plan rolling. The plan, focused on reversing land degradation and boosting crop yields, benefits from a generous budget and a dedicated work force.
Equally important, it has the support of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), a banned political organisation that has blocked many previous development efforts. “In the last four years, I tried building a road and a mobile phone tower and laying a water pipeline. Each time, we had to abandon work halfway because they (Maoist activists) opposed them,” says Salam.
“But now we are taking up works like restoring village land. We are trying to change the definition of development,” she adds, visibly relieved. The process includes levelling the land, clearing it of stones, and then covering it with manure. “Most of the farm plots here are uneven, lifeless. We remove layers of soil from those plots that are higher, until the entire farm is at the same level,” says villager Sonkumari Bai, 42. “We also remove big and small stones. Sometimes we winnow the top soil before putting it back into the land. Finally, we till the land and cover it with dried cow dung and gypsum.”
The inhabitants of Nangarbeda, which has a population of 2,700, hope this will help improve their harvests. “The temperature here is increasing day by day. Earlier in the summer, we would grow vegetables like cucumbers and cow beans. But now the land is so dry, we can grow nothing,” says Bhagobai Pradhan, who has a three-acre farm. “This treatment should make some difference. When the rain comes, the once-tilled land will get soaked easily and the manure will mix with it well.” Kanker district, where Nangarbeda is located, is one of 82 districts that have been severely affected by Maoist activities, according to the Indian government.
ATTACKS ON GOVERNMENT PROJECTS
In 2010, the government launched an 820 crore rupee ($150 million) initiative that includes building roads, supplying electricity and drinking water, building schools and community health centres and implementing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), a programme designed to end rural poverty by giving 100 days’ employment a year to the rural poor. The plan has faced stiff opposition from Maoist activists, who say it will only lead to displacement of local tribal people and give security forces easy access to their forest hideouts.
Salam recalls how Maoists disrupted a government project in 2010. “We brought in trucks full of stone chips, cement and sand to build a tar road. But when the bulldozers came, they set fire to them. We had to stop the work and couldn’t spend the budget allocated for the project,” she says. A half-built archway at the village entrance, together with heaps of stone and concrete on the roadsides, back up her testimony. Maya Kavde, head of Makdi Khuna, another village in the same district, says suspected Maoist activists recently vandalised a mobile phone tower in her village by cutting wires and pulling apart the antennas.
But in January, Kavde began carrying out a land restoration project through MNREGA, and so far has encountered no opposition. “We have a budget of 32 lakh rupees ($64,000) to spend on land levelling and deepening the two community lakes. We also have plans to plant 1,000 Neem trees during the monsoon,” says Kavde. Nanak Baghel, a senior Maoist leader in Kanker, says his party fully supports the land restoration project.
“We are against the government-backed development projects that are just tools to systematically destroy the tribal people. But we never oppose people’s right to better land, water or forest,” says Baghel, an area commander. Sukhanti Bai, head of Handitola village in another conflict-affected district, Rajnandgaon, describes how soil degradation and falling yields have pushed villagers to restore their land here too.
“There are many companies here mining for iron ore and limestone. They have caused a lot of deforestation. Also security forces cut many trees to build their camps inside forests. Now, we have less rain and a lot of dust coming from the mines and damaging our fields,” she explains. “Everyone in my village is experiencing a 10 to 20 percent drop in rice yield. Last year, we held a meeting to discuss what work we must make a priority, and everyone said it should be land restoration,” she adds.
The majority of the local people are landless, marginal farmers who own less than 2.5 acres of land. At 146 rupees ($3) a day, the 100 days’ employment under MNREGA is important to these people who have no work in the summer, from March to May, as agriculture is dependent on rain.
Another example is Peda Bandirevu, a village in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh state which shares not only a border but also the Maoist conflict with Chhattisgarh. It too has seen many violent protests against development projects like road building. In 2011, Maoists set fire to generators, hydraulic excavators and trucks carrying construction materials.
They also allegedly planted landmines to stop security forces from investigating. This year, however, Peda Bandirevu is implementing MNREGA to restore degraded land, and so far the work has not been disrupted. The village has suffered from drought since 2002, and has juliflora, a thorny shrub, growing everywhere.
The result is severely degraded land with a very high level of salinity. Srinivasa Rao, a local programme officer for MNREGA, says land restoration begins with uprooting juliflora and covering the land with red or black mud collected from village tanks and ponds. “These two works – land treatment and de-silting of tanks – go hand in hand,” says Rao. “The moisture of the silt slowly enters the land, making it softer. By the time the monsoon comes, the top soil will be alive, ready for sowing.”
According to Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), including land in development plans will help nations fight food insecurity. “Avoiding land degradation and restoring degraded land should be a centrepiece to every state’s development plans,” Gnacadja said in a recent interview.
For local people, the land restoration projects in Nangarbeda and Peda Bandirevu are not only a step towards ensuring food supplies. They also create a more secure working environment. Ramulu Amma, a 32-year-old villager in Peda Bandirevu, says she feels safer now. “For nearly five years we were working on road projects and every day we would anticipate trouble.
Though the Maoist activists would never hurt us, they would stop the work and send us home. And every time that happened, we did not get our wages,” she says. “But now, we are working to improve our own fields and there is no fear of a loss of pay or a threat.”
Maoist claims RIMS blast
IMPHAL, May 6: The proscribed Maoist Communist Party Manipur has in a press release claimed its hand in the bomb explosion at the Regional Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) campus. A press release of the banned outfit signed by its Publicity and Propaganda secretary comrade Nonglen Meitei said that the bomb explosion at the Regional Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) campus was carried out by Maoist Communist Party Manipur as a part of its “class struggle.”
It alleged that the doctors at RIMS are not performing their duty properly as a result of which, many poor people like farmers and labourers had to suffer a lot. While demanding resignation from the Director accusing him of not performing his duty well, the outfit has also also announced a general strike on May 17 from 5 am to 5 pm. The general strike will be suspended immediately if the doctors start performing their duty well and the Director resigns, the release added.
Divided, killed and ruled
A militia allegedly backed by the Jharkhand administration appears to be giving sleepless nights to what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as India’s biggest internal security threat – the CPI (Maoists) – in this eastern state. Armed with sophisticated weapons such as AK-47 assault rifles and SLRs (self-loading rifles) used by the state police and the Maoists alike, the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), meaning Third Action Committee, is wreaking havoc on the parent organisation, whose influence covers 18 of Jharkhand’s 24 districts.
Though the outfit is one of at least six rebel splinter groups in Jharkhand, it’s the most potent because it’s the only one which has the tacit support of the state and its security forces. The TPC is inflicting irreparable damage to its parent organsation by providing vital leads to the security forces, guiding them into Maoist hideouts, engaging its fighters in gun battles and then killing them with the help of the state forces.
Though the TPC – which claims to propagate Stalinism – was formed in 2002, it is only recently that it’s being used by the Jharkhand administration to battle the Maoists. It has also brought to light the state’s tactics of allegedly sponsoring an enemy to wipe out the bigger enemy, something first witnessed in Kashmir in the form of the state-backed Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen and then in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district where the state supported armed vigilante groups – named the Salwa Judum – against the Maoists.
The grisly killing of 10 Maoist guerrillas, including four senior leaders, by lesser known TPC cadres at Chatra in March-end this year signaled a new chapter in the 46-year-old Maoist or Naxal movement in the country. Both the TPC and the Jharkhand police, however, deny reports of their collusion.
“It’s true that the police are not our biggest enemies, but we do not enjoy any patronage from them,” senior TPC leader Alokji told HT from his hideout. Jharkhand director general of police Rajiv Kumar and his predecessor GS Rath vehemently denied reports of the police alliance with the TPC. “Any group which is into wanton killings cannot be our friend,” Kumar said, adding, “We have booked and killed TPC men in encounters whenever confronted.”
Said a former Maoist zonal commander now leading a civilian life in Palamu: “The TPC comprises a bunch of renegades, most of whom were thrown out for misappropriation of party funds or for indulging in adultery, womanising, and alcohol addiction.” He alleged that acting on police directives, TPC men had burnt the houses of all his relatives when he was in the organisation fighting an ideological battle with the state.
“They didn’t even spare the house of my newly-wed niece and looted all her belongings before rendering the family homeless,” he said. “Organisations like the TPC that thrive merely on state support don’t last long,” said former Jharkhand Maoist organisation secretary Yugal Pal, pointing to the Salwa Judum, which is non-existent these days. “The TPC has no commitment to the masses, neither has it had any ideology. Without the people’s support, no left-wing extremist group can flourish,” he said.
Maharashtra ATS arrests two alleged Kabir Kala Manch members
Two members of the Pune-based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), alleged to be Maoists, were arrested today after they surrendered to the police, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) said. KKM members Ramesh Gaychor and Sagar Gorkhe were apprehended after they surrendered, an ATS official said. The two have been booked under relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the official said.
A month ago, two KKM members, identified as Sheetal Sathe (27) and Sachin Mali (30), had surrendered outside the state assembly premises. In a crackdown conducted in April 2011, the ATS had arrested Angela Sontakke (42), an alleged Maoist and wife of Milind Teltumbde, allegedly the secretary of the Communist Party of India-Maoist’s Maharashtra committee, and also recovered Rs 1.54 lakh in her possession from the neighbouring Thane district, while her alleged aide Sushma Ramteke (27) was caught in Pune.
Days later, four more alleged Maoists, Mayur Bhagat alias Jenny (23), Jyoti Chorghe (19) and Anuradha Sonule (23) were nabbed from Pune, while Sonule’s alleged aide Siddharth Bhosale (24) was arrested at Nashik. Allegedly, Sontakke also worked as secretary of the so-called ‘Golden Corridor Committee’ formed in February 2008 to spread Maoist ideology among students and labourers.