Suspected Indian Maoist rebels kill 19 in Congress convoy ambush
(Reuters) – Suspected Maoist rebels killed at least 19 people when they ambushed a convoy carrying regional leaders from India’s ruling Congress party in dense forest on Saturday, officials said, one of the deadliest such attacks in recent years. The rebels felled trees to block the 20-car convoy in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh and then detonated a landmine and raked the vehicles with gunfire, Indian media reported.
Among those killed was Mahendra Karma, a senior Congress leader from Chhattisgarh who founded an anti-Maoist group and was believed to be the main target of the attack. The state’s Congress party leader and his son were also killed. Senior Chhattisgarh police official Mukesh Gupta told Reuters by telephone six policemen were among the dead and that 35 people were also wounded in the ambush. Police had earlier put the death toll as high as 27 but that had been revised down, Gupta said.
Red alert sounded in Maharashtra, security stepped up in naxal-infested districts
Maharashtra government has sounded a red alert following the naxal attack in the tribal dominated Baster district of Chhattisgarh. The state home minister RR Patil took the review meeting while a committee comprising senior bureaucrats also monitored the situation and issued instructions for additional deployment of security personnel. Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli and Gondia districts are naxal-infested districts where in last five years more than 20 naxal attacks took place killing about 240 persons including security personnel.
State additional chief secretary (home) Amitabh Rajan told Business Standard: “We have taken a prompt cognisance of the events happening at the area which is very close to Maharashtra. We are absolutely prepared. There is a review mechanism in place wherein a high level committee headed by the chief secretary takes a review in Gadchiroli and Gondia districts. Besides, the government also pursues development approach wherein the status of ongoing development projects in these districts is checked and their implementation is expedited. The budgetary allocation in the naxal affected districts is of the order of Rs 300 crore.”
Rajan informed that on last day of every month he personally visits Gadchiroli along with the additional director general of police (law and order) and inspector general of police (anti naxal activities) to take stock of the situation. Rajan said currently there are about 10,000 security personnel deployed in the naxal affected districts in the state. Another government official said: “Immediately after the Saturday night’s naxal attack in Chhattisgarh the home ministry informed it to state chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. Simultaneously, the chief secretary and additional chief secretary issued necessary instructions to the state level machinery and subsequently further instructions were issued by the additional chief secretary (law and order) especially to the district level authorities to step up vigil.”
The official informed that the economic resources of the naxals are being targeted to ensure that the ultras did not benefit from forest produce.
UP: Police put on high alert in Naxal-hit districts
Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh police were put on high alert in three naxal-affected districts of the state on Saturday in the wake of the Naxal attack on Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh. Three Naxal-affected districts – Chandauli, Sonbhadra and Mirzapur – have been alerted and police patrolling have been increased, IG (Law & Order) RK Vishwakarma told reporters. All three district are adjoining Chattisgarh and Bihar.
Naxal attack: Centre rushes additional forces
New Delhi: After a major Naxal attack on a Congress rally in Chhattisgarh, the Union Home Ministry on Saturday night said it is rushing additional paramilitary forces to help launch a combing operation for release of abducted leaders. “Home Ministry has sent additional forces to Chhattisgarh to assist the local administration in launching combing operations for rescue of kidnapped persons,” Home Ministry sources said adding “the state government has been assured of all help”. The Home Ministry has also sought a report from the state government on today’s violence. The MHA officials are in regular touch with state government officials and are monitoring the situation.
While senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma was killed in the attack, another leader VC Shukla is reported to be critical after sustaining three bullet injuries. The Maoists also kidnapped PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh after attacking a convoy of Congress leaders in Darba Gati Valley in Jagdalpur district.
Maoist attack: More than 600 CRPF men mobilised
New Delhi, May 25 (PTI): More than 600 CRPF personnel, including CoBRA commandos, have been rushed to sanitise and take control of the Naxal attack site in Chhattisgarh where at least 17 people, including senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma, were killed today. The Centre has mobilised the CRPF personnel to not only take control of the area but also launch search and rescue operations as it is suspected that some people may be present in nearby jungles. Top officials of the force, deployed for anti-Naxal operations in the state, will visit the encounter site tomorrow, official sources said.
Five Maoist sympathisers arrested
JAMSHEDPUR: Five sympathizers of outlawed CPI (Maoists) including Dilip Murmu, a resident of Belpahari police station in adjoining West Bengal, were arrested from Chakulia police station under naxal-affected Ghatsila sub-division, a senior police officer said today. The arrested persons have been engaged in collecting levy in the area on behalf of the Maoists, Devendra Thakur, Superintendent of Police (Rural). Acting on a tip-off, a police team conducted the raid and arrested them when they arrived to collect levy. Thakur, however, said it was yet to ascertained about the person from whom they came to collect levy.Asked whether any cash or arms were recovered from them, Thakur said the details were being gathered in this regard.
Massacre boost for Maoist morale Jolt to Delhi after successes
New Delhi, May 25: The Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh has jolted the security establishment, which was till recently celebrating recent successes against the rebels. Union home ministry sources said the massacre would go a long way in repairing the shattered morale of Maoist cadres, who were on the defensive following a coordinated blitzkrieg by the central and state police forces. Sustained security operations in the past three years had reduced the 39-member central committee of the CPI (Maoist) to less than half.
In the Northeast, a tie-up between Maoists and Manipuri militants was busted. Earlier operations in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra too put the rebels on the defensive. “That may threaten to change now,” said a source. Since most Maoist politburo and central committee members were in hiding and the armed squads had been put in charge of their protection, the cadres’ spirit was low. Any political turmoil in the run-up to the elections now would only play into the rebels’ hands, officials warned tonight.
“There was intelligence with the Maoists that a huge convoy was going to pass on that route,” said a home ministry official. Officials said there were warnings to the local party unit not to venture into the dangerous south Bastar belt as the Maoists usually carry out a tactical counter-offensive drill this time of the year. In the same area last year, a group led by state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel had come under attack. Patel and his son were allegedly abducted today.
The special secretary (internal security) in the home ministry, S. Jayaraman, briefed the Prime Minister about the incident late tonight. Junior home minister R.P.N. Singh will travel to Chhattisgarh tomorrow. Senior minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and home secretary R.K. Singh will return from the US early tomorrow. Maoist sympathiser P. Varavara Rao described the attack as retaliation for the May 17 killing of eight tribals, including three children, in an apparent “mistake” by the police in Chhattisgarh.
Police capture prominent Maoist leader in Chatra
Chatra, May 25 (ANI): Police in Chatra district of Jharkhand nabbed a prominent Maoist leader Vinod Yadav, aka Abhaya Yadav with assistance from paramilitary personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA) unit on Saturday. The state government had placed a bounty of three lakhs on him two years ago. Chatra Police feel this is a very large success as this man played a crucial role in prominent bombings and shootouts targeting Police in the region for the last ten years. Police have received essential information on interrogation of the Maoist commander. Abhaya Yadav has been a part of the Maoist group since 1995 and has led and planned several attacks in the state since then.
Combing operations underway at Darbha Ghati
SUKMA: Paramilitary personnel are combing the forested area in the Bastar district where Maoist insurgents on Saturday attacked a convoy of Congress leaders and workers returning to state capital Raipur from a rally. The troopers first took stock of the area where a landmine was triggered, and inspected the cars which were attacked by insurgents with hail of fire. However, it was still not known how deep into the jungles the troopers would be moving to hunt for insurgents, as the area is close to the Andhra Pradesh border.
The dense jungles in the area, where the attack took place, posed problems to security personnel, especially as there was also incessant rain in the morning hours. Reports from Sukma stated that the troopers found used cartridges which could establish the nature of weapons used in the attack. Since morning, half a dozen more bodies were shifted from the Darbha Ghati to Jagdalpur for the last rites. The road on the Darbha Ghati remains closed for normal traffic, as a huge crater was created from the landmine blast. After the blast, insurgents opened indiscriminate fire on vehicles in the convoy.
Maoist couple held
Karimnagar police arrested two Maoists at Godavarikhani on Friday evening. Producing them before the media on Saturday, district SP V Ravinder said Pittala Narayana (51) alias Arjun and his wife Rella Prashanti (36) came to Godavarikhani to instigate the coal workers. The government had announced a reward of `5 lakh on Narayana and `4 lakh on Prashanti, the SP said that investigation officers were appointed to track some more sources from Maharashtra. Maoist leaders of Maharashtra directed Narayana and Prashanti to go to Ramagundam industrial area and promote party activities. The police seized revolutionary literature and some computer accessories from them. The SP said they would produce them before court.