Chhattisgarh Naxal attack: NIA begins probe, Antony rules out Army role
New Delhi: A high-level team of officials of anti-terror agency NIA on Monday reached the deadly Naxal attack site in Chhattisgarh and began its probe to find out possible lapses on the part of the central forces or the state government. Ahead of its arrival, Minister of State for Home RPN Singh told reporters, “Action will be taken if anyone is found guilty.” “We have asked the NIA to investigate the Maoist attack. Security lapses could have taken place.
Any lapse on the part of central forces or the state government, buck will have to be stopped somewhere. We have to take action,” he said. Asked whether the mastermind of Saturday’s attack on Congress workers has been identified, Singh said it was too early to say that and any conclusion could be reached only when the probe is completed. The Centre has already deployed 30 battalion (approximately 30,000 personnel) in Chhattisgarh to help the state government carry out anti-Naxal operations.
Earlier, Union Home Secretary RK Singh said an official order formally handing over the case to NIA to carry out the investigation would be issued soon. “We will issue the order of NIA probe. The NIA team will also go to Chhattisgarh today,” he told reporters here. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had yesterday said that NIA will probe the Maoist attack on Congress leaders and the Centre has received a go-ahead from Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh for it.
Top Naxal leader Sudarshan behind attack in Chhattisgarh: Reports
New Delhi: Even as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) began its probe in the attack on Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh, reports trickled in that Katakam Sudarshan, a central member of the CPI-Maoist, was the brain behind it. As per reports, Sudarshan led a team of around 150 Naxals which attacked the convoy of Congress leaders and workers on May 25. It is also being said that the Intelligence Bureau had sent an alert that Sudarshan was active in the region and may be planning something. However, the warning was not specific in nature.
Centre fears more attacks on politicians in Naxal belt
In an oblique but stinging indictment of the Chhattisgarh police, the home ministry has sent out an advisory to all naxal-affected states to coordinate movement of political leaders through the naxal belt ahead of assembly elections, and otherwise. The home ministry – that has ordered a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into Saturday’s ambush and ordered 2,000 more central forces for south Chhattisgarh – has also told states there could be more such attacks.
A high-level home ministry team will also leave for Chhattisgarh on Tuesday for a second round of assessment of the anti-Maoist offensive and focus on intelligence-based surgical strikes by small teams rather than pump in larger numbers on operations for area domination exercises. related story The Centre’s initial analysis has pointed fingers at the state police leadership for failing to take the standard precautions for political leaders such as advance planning and threat assessment of the political leaders, adequate force deployment along the route to repulse a possible attack and coordination of the arrangements at a sufficiently senior level.
In this case, the security arrangements were delegated to the respective police stations which were highly inadequate. The advisory indicated the home ministry’s disappointment with the arrangements, particularly when the home ministry had “repeatedly advised” the Maoist-affected states to take adequate security measures during the Tactical counter-offensive campaign of the Maoists “wherein political leaders are also specifically targeted.
For the future, all states have been told to assign a nodal officer at the police headquarters to coordinate programmes of all political leaders. Besides, local arrangements should be fixed at the level at the district police chief or higher, depending on the number of districts involved. “There is a continuing possibility of more attacks on political personalities and programmes,” the advisory, that attributed Saturday evening’s attack to disquiet within the top leadership,” said.
How alleged Naxals executed the massive ambush on the Congress convoy
Raipur: From the remote regions of Chhattisgarh, where 30 people in a Congress convoy were massacred by suspected Maoists yesterday, details are now emerging of a precision strike, meticulously planned and implemented with deadly accuracy. Top Chhattisgarh Congress leader Mahendra Karma was shot in cold blood. The body of state unit chief Nand Kumar Patel was found this morning. Former Union minister VC Shukla is critically ill with three bullet wounds in his abdomen.
He is being operated upon at the Medanta Medicity Hospital in Gurgaon. Sources say there are also indications that the local police and the top Congress leaders of the state participating in the party’s “parivartan yatra” might have ignored standard operating procedures that are considered crucial in Naxal-dominated regions. Top political leaders are advised not travel through such routes in a single convoy. Yet on Saturday evening, almost all the top leaders of the Congress’ Chhattisgarh unit were travelling in the line of 25 cars returning together after the day’s yatra in Sukma district. Only Ajit Jogi was not with them.
The former chief minister has to fly everywhere after his major accident some years ago. In such regions, the police are supposed to sanitise roads and surrounding areas an hour before an important movement. However, there are reports that the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) had reportedly done this only three to four hours before. That time reportedly allowed about 250 suspected Maoists, well-armed, to position themselves at the ambush site in the Dharma valley close to a forested area and ambush the convoy when it drove past.
The attackers positioned themselves on hillocks and blocked the road with trucks. As the convoy drove past first, the alleged Maoists blasted a heavy Improvised Explosive Device (IED) then several more. Heavy firing followed.
Maoists claim responsibility for attack on Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh
In a four-page note and an audio clipping sent to the media, the Maoists have claimed responsibility for the May 25 attack on a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh that left 24 people dead. The note, sent by a Maoists spokesperson from Dandakaranya, says a People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army or PLGA detachment carried out the attack on the convoy and adds that senior Congress leaders Mahendra Karma, Nand Kumar Patel and V C Shukla were its prime targets. While Mr Karma and Mr Patel were killed in the attack, Mr Shukla was critically injured. He is being treated at a hospital in Gurgaon. In the note, the Maoists have blamed Nand Kumar Patel for approving Operation Green Hunt and allowing central forces in anti-Naxal operations while he was the state Home Minister. They have also stated why they wanted to “punish” Mahendra Karma and have enlisted his alleged “misdeeds”.
While the Maoists have regretted the killing of some “innocent” Congress functionaries, they have blamed Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, the Congress and the BJP for their “anti-people policies.” The Maoists also condemned PM Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, BJP chief Rajnath Singh and Chief Minister Raman Singh for calling the incident an attack on democracy and alleged that they did not speak “when innocent people were killed by the state.”
Through the note, the Maoists have also put forward seven key demands. They are seeking the withdrawal of paramilitary forces from Dandakaranya and want Operation Green Hunt to end. They have also demanded that revolutionaries and “innocent” tribals should be released from jail unconditionally. At about 3:30 pm on Saturday, around 250 Maoists struck a convoy of 25 cars carrying Congress leaders and others, who were returning from the party’s Parivartan rally in Sukma.
They triggered landmine blasts and then rained bullets at the convoy. The two dozen-odd security personnel traveling with the convoy returned fire but soon ran out of ammunition. The Maoists then surrounded the convoy, took away the mobile phones of the leaders and then shot them in cold blood. The attack is being investigated by the elite National Investigation Agency or NIA. This is the first Maoist assault that the agency is probing.
UP seals borders with Chhattisgarh
LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh government on Sunday sealed the state borders with Chhattisgarh in Sonebhadra district in the wake of the Jagdalpur (Chhatisgarh) naxal attack on Saturday evening. Security forces had started extensive combing operations in the border areas on Saturday barely hours after one of the biggest naxal attacks was unleashed on a convoy of top Congress leaders. Though UP has not witnessed any active Naxal movement for almost a decade now, top sources in the government said there was every possibility that the Naxals were exploiting their silence in UP to use the border districts as a haven for their leadership to kill time after any of their strikes.
“We want to ensure that those involved in the Jagdalpur attack do not slip over into UP to escape the obvious pressure that the security forces would mount as a counter offensive,” said additional director general of police (law & order and crime) Arun Kumar. The ADG said that the state’s police chief DGP Deo Raj Nagar had already reviewed the deployment in the border districts of the state which open into Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the most active Naxal hot spots in the Northern belt.
“The officers overseeing the works like building of bullet-proof and bomb-resistant state-of-the-art police station for the three Naxal-affected districts in the state have been asked to expedite the work and the deadline for completion of targets have been proponed,” said inspector general (crime) RK Vishwakarma. The fears of the police top brass of Naxal bosses possibly using UP as a haven are not unfounded. UP Police had in December 2012 arrested Jaikaran and his wife Pushpa – who carried a cash reward of over Rs 2 lakh on their heads.
The arrests were made from Suarsot on UP-Bihar border. Similarly, another hardcore Naxalite Lalvrat Kol, who was declared dead in an encounter in 2001, was arrested after a gun-battle with police in Chikda village here in Sonebhadra district in 2012. The same year, others top Naxals Samjhawan Chero (Rs 1 lakh reward on his head), Munna Vishwakarma (Rs 3 lakh cash reward), Ajit Kole alias Harishankar alias Abhishek and Lalvrat Kol alias Kamalji were arrested from Sonbhadra and adjoining districts in UP.
“The STF and ATS have busted a number of gangs in the past couple of years involved in arms running and arrested jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for selling arms and ammunition to naxals in the state itself,” Arun Kumar said. Over 5,000 live cartridges, 16 magazines of INSAS rifles, .25 bore guns, SLR and AK-47s were recovered besides 245 kg of empty shells from a gang busted in 2010. “More recently another gang was busted involving high profile gun runners selling arms and ammunition to the Naxals,” Arun Kumar said adding: “This clearly explains that their movement is very much there in the bordering districts. Till recently, as many as 203 officers of special ranks were deployed in the Naxal belt of Mirzapur and Sonbhadra districts. Apart from companies of CRPF, 14 that of of PAC and about 2,500 police personnel from the UPP were engaged to maintain peace in Naxal hit pockets of the state.
IAF’s Israeli drones of not much use in Naxal-hit Chhattisgarh
Raipur: The deadly Naxal attack on the Congress leaders in Jagdalpur could have been prevented had the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) not been lying idle in faraway Hyderabad. According to intelligence sources, since every drone takes off from Hyderabad, they can’t spend sufficient number of hours hovering over the Naxal-affected regions in Chhattisgarh to gather intelligence. The Indian Air Force (IAF) never agreed to operate these UAVs from Jagdalpur, considering the region unfit for the stay its officials, the sources said. The 12 Heron drones, bought from Israel in 2009, have failed to scan the Darbha forests or Sukma region as they never fly over these interior regions, the intelligence sources said.
This is the reason why more than 500 Maoists gathered in these forests without being noticed by anyone. After the massacre, the killers were able to easily flee, putting a big question mark on the utility of such high-tech devices. These drones are operated from the Begumpet airbase near Hyderabad. After flying for almost three hours to reach the Naxal-affected regions in the state, these machines are forced to return as they run out of fuel and have already reached their maximum range.
Naxal attack: Alert sounded in Karnataka
Sensitive naxal areas in the state have been put on alert following Saturday’s brutal attack on a Congress envoy in Chattisgarh killing 27 people. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Sunday that measures have been taken to avert any untoward incidents. “Precautionary measures are in place, especially because naxals may enter Karnataka from Andhra Pradesh if combing operations start in the north,” Siddaramaiah told reporters. DGP Lalrokhuma Pachau told Express that teams headed by district SPs and two BSF companies have been deployed in sensitive areas. “More than 400 personnel of the Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) have been deployed in Shimoga, Udupi and other naxal-infested areas,” he said.
800 central jail inmates demand Vidarbha state
NAGPUR: Around 800 central jail inmates, including some alleged Naxal-linked prisoners, have asked for statehood for Vidarbha even as the issue is relegated to the back burner by so-called leaders of the movement. These include 50 women prisoners. They have written a letter to the President pleading for the statehood cause. The inmates highlighted the lacklustre development of Vidarbha during the last 53 years in comparison to western Maharashtra despite presence of adequate resources and factors conducive for growth.
The superintendent of police, Central Jail, however, refused to forward the letter sent to him on May 16. The protesting inmates then released a copy to the media through their own means. The inmates cited poor industrialization, lack of proper irrigation facilities, farmer suicides, growing crime, atrocities on women, backward classes and other weaker sections along with issues like malnutrition, poverty and unemployment as having crippled Vidarbha while western Maharashtra shone with favours granted by leaders.
The protestors also highlighted that the projects like ‘Advantage Vidarbha’ too failed to generate any hope. While signatory prisoners have diverse backgrounds, the security agencies have pointed towards political prisoners with alleged Naxalite links as prime architect of this move. The officials said reds already had such an agenda. Prior to the Vidarbha issue, the so-called Naxalites had also joined the fray demanding Telangana state through their front organizations. Jail superintendent VV Sekdar could not be reached despite several attempts. Text messages to his cell phone were not responded to.
Maoist attack leaves Odisha leaders jittery
BHUBANESWAR: Saturday’s Maoist attack on Congress leaders in neighbouring Chhattisgarh has left the political class in Odisha shaky, with some expressing serious concern about their safety. “We are very worried about our security,” said a BJD legislator representing an extremism-hit constituency. “We inform the police about our movements but are not sure if that would keep us safe. We are in politics and have to attend functions and meet people.
It’s very difficult to follow all security guidelines all the time.” The government said it would issue fresh directions advising elected representatives to abide by the security guidelines. “We have security guidelines in place and would again issue an advisory to strictly follow the guidelines meant for the security of VIPs, MPs and MLAs,” home secretary U N Behera said. He said superintendents of police of the districts bordering Chhattisgarh, such as Malkangiri, had been asked to remain alert. DGP Prakash Mishra said there was no immediate plan to change the standard operating procedures but everyone concerned would be advised to abide by those.
“Maoists are enemies of mankind and should not be tolerated under any circumstance,” school and mass education minister Rabinarayan Nanda, who represents Koraput district, told TOI. “Only security arrangements would not help. Maoists have to be dealt with severely in every way and drastic measures have to be taken.” Opposition leaders are not happy with the present security bandobast and cite the examples of the killing of Umerkote MLA Jagabandhu Majhi in 2011 and the kidnapping of Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka in 2012 to drive home their point that political leaders are vulnerable to the Red outlaws.
“We want adequate security while touring remote areas,” said Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja. “Ruling BJD leaders are given proper security, but no such arrangement is being made in case of opposition leaders.” He said as people’s representatives they frequented remote areas and apprehended danger from the guerillas. “Giving security to only MPs and MLAs is not enough,” state BJP president K V Singhdeo said. “The government should provide a security cover to all elected representatives, starting from ward members.” State Congress chief Jayadev Jena said: “It is high time the government took all parties into confidence and convened an all-party meeting to discuss the security requirements of political leaders.”
Combing operations in southern Odisha
BERHAMPUR/BHUBANESWAR: Security personnel intensified combing operations in Maoist-affected districts of Malkangiri, Rayagada, Ganjam, Kandhamal and Gajapati in Odisha on Monday, apprehending an influx of Maoists from neighbouring Chhattisgarh. Since the last few years, Maoist cadres from Chhattisgarh have been making forays into Malkangiri and the tri-junction area of Gajapati-Kandhamal-Rayagada. “Anti-Maoist operations have been intensified in the area,” said DIG (southern range) Amitabh Thakur. “We are keeping a strict vigil on their movement. Police have also launched a drive to check suspected persons in the area.” The DIG said more security forces would be engaged in the operation.
Activists held for inquiring about Maoist encounter in Ranchi
RANCHI: District police detained six human rights activists, who had been to Maoist-hit Chatra district to conduct inquiry into an encounter between the rebels of CPI Maoist and the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) on March 26. In this encounter 10 Maoists including the area, zonal and platoon commanders and one central committee member at Lakarbandha village in Chatra district were killed. The activists were taken into police custody when they were holding talks with the media around 5.30pm at Albert Ekka chowk on Sunday. The team was in Chatra on Saturday. Sources said the human rights activists were suspected to have connections with the rebels and police took them into preventive custody to inquire the same.
They were, however, released on personal bond after around three and half hours of verification. DSP Kotwali Surendra Singh Pal said nothing incriminating was found against them during the investigation. “All of them were released after they signed a personal bond,” said Pal. The activists were interrogated at Kotwali police station. All the six human rights activists belonged to different wings of the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organization (CDRO). The activists had been to Lakarbandha village in Chatra to find the truth behind the encounter. One of them Ashish Gupta had arrived from Delhi while Tapas Mukherjee, Monalisha Sarkar, Mantosh Mukherjee and Pratim Das Gupta hailed form West Bengal. One of them Shashi Bhushan Pathak was a local.
Chhattisgarh attack: High Alert in Koraput, Malkangiri
Security forces in Koraput and Malkangiri districts have been put on high alert following the Maoist attack on a convoy of Congress leaders during the party’s Parivartan Rally in Chhattisgarh’s Jagdalpur district on Saturday, killing at least 25 people including Congress leaders Nand Kumar Patel and Mahendra Karma. The attack took place near Darbha Ghat when Congress leaders were returning from the rally. With intelligence inputs stating that Maoists from the neighbouring State may sneak into Malkangiri and Koraput districts, additional forces were mobilised to these districts on Sunday. All areas under KBK regions have been put under high alert.
Sources said Darbha Ghat where the attack took place is a few kms away from Ramgiri forest in Koraput district bordering Bastar in Chhattisgarh. Two companies of para-military forces are already camping in Odisha side. Intelligence sources on Sunday said with security forces in Chhattisgarh launching a manhunt to nab the Maoists following the Jagdalpur attack, there is possibility of influx of the ultras to Ramigir, Kundra, Kotpad, Kiang, Mohupadar, Haldikund, Padmapur and some villages in Malkangiri.
Sources said top cops of neighbouring Bastar are in constant touch with their counterparts in KBK region as they feel that Maoists can easily sneak into Odisha. Patrolling has been intensified in the region and every vehicle entering Koraput and Malkangiri are being frisked. Koraput DIG SD Singh on Sunday held meetings with State armed forces and para-military forces in Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur and Nuapada and over 1,000 armed personnel have been mobilised to these areas. Singh said State’s border with Chhattisgarh have been sealed and combing operation is on at all vulnerable points.
Maoists remove rails at Jagdalpur, Kirandul section
Suspected Maoists removed rails from the tracks between Jagdalpur and Kirandul section in neighbouring Chhattisgarh leaving train services affected in both the States on Sunday. The incident came a day after the Red rebels ambushed a team of Congress leaders near Jagdalpur that left at least 27 persons dead. The East Coast Railway officials rushed a team to carry out emergency repair work, which was completed by noon and services were resumed.
Train movement was disrupted along Jagdalpur-Kirandul Rail section of Kottavalasa-Kirandul line under East Coast Railway jurisdiction after four pieces of rails were found removed from the line between Dantewara and Kamlur stations. That was not all. Overhead electricity line were also found stolen on Saturday mid-night. As soon as the matter came to light, the ECoR cancelled the Visakhapatnam-Kirandul-Visakhapatnam passenger from both the directions between Jagdalpur and Kirandul.
Freight trains were also detained en route at different stations on Kottavalasa-Kirandul line. In fact, since the CPI(Maoist) had given a call for Martyrs’ Week, the ECoR had stopped plying passenger trains along the route for the last two days. With the plates found removed, it immediately pressed its team on job and machinery into operations. Hectic repair work was undertaken for restoration of track. The railway track between Bacheli and Bhanshi were repaired by 8.10 am, while work between Kamlur and Dantewara was completed by 8.20 am. The section between Bhanshi and Kamlur was ready for service at 10.35 am. Similarly, the overhead electricity line was repaired by noon. Following the incident, the ECoR has asked for a close monitoring of status of tracks in areas which are in the Maoist stronghold regions.