Andhra police comb forests as intelligence reports warn Maoists are regrouping
The Andhra Pradesh police have launched an extensive combing operation in the Nallamala forests spread across five districts in the wake of intelligence reports that the outlawed Maoists are regrouping themselves in the area. For the last two days, police parties, supported by Greyhounds, the elite anti-Maoist police force, have been extensively searching the villages of Prakasam, Guntur and Kurnool districts abutting the Nallamala forests, once a strong citadel of the Maoists.
Additional security is being provided to public representatives from the region and other VIPs. The search operation follows some strategic inputs from the intelligence department that the Maoists are making a tactical retreat into safe zones after their dastardly attack on the Congress party leaders in Chhattisgarh on May 25. The intelligence department also suspects that the Maoists may wreak havoc in the forthcoming local body elections, to be held in the last week of June and first week of July. The state police department has received specific information that the Chhattisgarh attack was led by top Maoist leaders from Andhra.
They are thought to include Central Committee members Katakam Sudershan alias Anand, from Adilabad, and Mallojula Venugopal, alias Bhupati (brother of slain Maoist leader Kishenji), as well as Paka Hanumanthu alias U. Ganesh from Nalgonda, and Ravula Srinivas alias Ramana from Warangal, both heading the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee. The intelligence department alerted the state police that some of these Maoist leaders and their followers could have moved towards Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam areas via Jagdalpur to reach the safer zones.
And there is every possibility that they might even sneak into the Nallamala forests with the help of their sympathisers to take shelter, sources said. Till 2005, the Nallamala forest was an impregnable fortress of Maoists, then called People’s War Group. Police forces hardly had any access to the area.
Maoists’ paradigm shifts in Chhattisgarh
The well-planned attack on a Congress convoy on Saturday in Bastar with a deadly impact that virtually wiped out the Congress’ who’s who list in Chhattisgarh is a sign of a paradigm shift in the tactics of the Maoists in the state. And the latest warning to the Raman Singh-led BJP reinforces just that. “No longer are Maoists in Chhattisgarh targeting just policemen and security personnel. Their guns are trained on the political class now,” said a top security official engaged in anti Maoist operations, on condition that he is not named. For quite some months, the Maoists have been suffering serious military reverses due to sustained operations.
This is a time when they carry out offensives as part of their Tactical Counter Offensive Campaigns (TCOC) from mid March to mid June every year. And with the approaching Monsoons, the window for a big strike was getting smaller. “Moreover, the morale of the cadres from the bottom upwards was sinking with more than half of the Central Committee members either behind bars or having been eliminated. There was therefore an imperative need to stage a spectacular strike fast and hard,” said Prof Kumar Sanjay Singh, an expert on Maoist strategy and ideology. “It was a God-sent opportunity the Maoists were waiting for.Because of the high-profile targets, this was a decision that was must have been cleared at the apex Politburo level possibly after considerable brainstorming,” said the security official.
Of course, the ill-guarded Congress convoy which ferried Salwa Judum founder Mahendra Karma and state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel was only too tempting for the Maoists. The changing policy is however fraught with tremendous dangers from the Maoist point of view. Among other implications, it will also make way for a consolidation of political forces across the spectrum and also invite more vicious and intense anti Maoist operations by the security forces.
This scenario has precedence in Andhra Pradesh following an assassination attempt of then AP CM Chandrababu Naidu in October 2003. The state went after the Maoists and inflicted deep reverse from which the ultra leftists found difficult to recover and had to shift base. It was a déjà vu situation in West Bengal too after the Maoists’ failed attempt on the life of then CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya in November 2008.The possibility of a similar situation is strong now in Chhattisgarh. In effect, the Maoist leadership may have considered trade-offs and decided to favour short term gains over long term aims.
‘Naxals from AP, Odisha involved in Chhattisgarh attack’
Days after Naxalites killed Congress party leaders Mahendra Karma and Nand Kumar Patel, along with 26 others, in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, security agencies have concluded the massacre was carried out by rebels from Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, and not by those fighting paramilitary personnel in the state. Senior paramilitary officers have found that the Naxals had reached Sukma in small batches from different states to carry out the attack. They have probably gone back to their bases to avoid being detected by paramilitary forces and the police, who are now combing the area. “The fact that they were unable to identify Mahendra Karma and Nandkumar Patel and were asking people to help them identify these Congress leaders indicates that the Naxals were not from Chhattisgarh, but had come to Sukma only to carry out the attack,” said a senior officer involved in anti-Maoist operations in the state.
“The unmanned aerial vehicles had also not been able to spot the movement of hundreds of Naxals, which suggests they had reached Sukma in small batches from different routes to avoid being detected,” said the officer, who did not want to be named. Members of the anti-Naxal operations indicated the attack was carried out in the afternoon because Maoists wanted to return to their bases during night under cover of darkness. Blaming the state police for not following the standard operating procedure and not informing paramilitary personnel of the Congress rally in advance, senior officials say the security personnel of the state police were only armed with pistols and small arms against assault rifles of the rebels. “The state police made a blunder by not following the standard operating procedure.
This is a very big attack carried out to boost the morale of Naxals, who have faced heavy losses in the jungles of Saranda in Jharkhand and Abujmaad in Chhattisgarh. Instead of taking on security personnel, Maoists decided to select a soft target,” the assessment done by security forces suggested. Members of the anti-Naxal operations also believe the site of the ambush was selected by the rebels so that paramilitary personnel and state police units would be unable to reach for rescue in time. Senior officers said Congress leaders made the mistake of deciding to use the same road that they had taken to reach the venue of the public meeting to return.
“The road where the attack took place is seldom used by paramilitary personnel and state police. There was no road opening party to provide security cover to the Congress leaders, and the nearest camp of CRPF personnel was nearly 25 km away, which made it difficult for the rescue team to reach in time,” said another senior officer.
Hardened Centre to go after top Naxal brains
In the wake of May 25 ambush on Congress motorcade in Sukma, there’s a tangible hardening of stance in the Centre’s policy to deal with the Maoist insurgency in Chhattisgarh and in the entire Left-extremism dominated ‘red corridor’ overlapping five states. Abandoning the earlier stand of looking at the issue as a “socio economic problem”, the Centre is preparing a blueprint to be presented to the CMs’ meeting on June 5 which focuses on enhanced security cover for vulnerable politicians, coordinated action in the overlapping Maoist insurgency-affected areas and, most importantly, specific action plan to go after the Maoist “military strategists and guerrilla warfare experts”.
No more talks or offer of political engagement. Waking up to the crisis after the near annihilation of its state leadership in Chhattisgarh, indications are that the Congress leadership is pressing the government to go after the “perpetrators of the May 25 attack”. It’s worried that the Maoists may come in the way of its election campaign and booth management just not in Chhattisgarh, but in other Maoist-affected states in the general elections as well. Home Ministry, it seems, has been asked to acquire surveillance equipment that would help them to go after the insurgent formations. The hardening of the stance was best seen through Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh changing statements, in which he equated the Maoists with “terrorists” and the Congress following and categorising them as subversive forces inimical to tribals.
The Centre has asked CM Raman Singh to encourage political rallies in the state by assuring foolproof security to the leaders, but the Congress state leadership’s criticisim of the state administrative machinery may come in the way of a joint action. Sources said it was the Centre’s direction to Raman Singh to call an all-party meet on Thursday which surprisingly the Congress Legislative Party in Chhattisgarh has decided to boycott, as the agenda has not been shared with them. AICC in-charge of Chhattisgarh B K Hariprasad as well as the Congress spokesperson Bhaktacharan Das, taking a political line, targetted the Raman Singh government. “What is the point of an all-party meeting now, why did the CM not call the meeting earlier?
Air Force to lend support for anti-Naxal operations
The Indian Air Force (IAF) support for anti-naxal operations is all set to enlarge its footprint in the densely-forested Bastar region of Chhattisgarh that witnessed one of the worst and most fierce Naxal attacks last week, killing 27 people, including top State leaders of the Congress. The Maoist hotbed of Jagdalpur in Bastar will see enhanced Air Force support, as more helicopters would be made available for evacuation and surveillance, when a new helicopter unit comes up in Nagpur within the next few days. Rules of engagement to remain same Talking to journalists on the sidelines of the DRDO annual awards function, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne stressed upon deploying new systems in the Maoist-hit areas which would provide better surveillance capabilities to the forces stationed there.
He said that the rules of engagement would remain the same. At present, the IAF has deployed six MI-17 choppers from a unit based in Gorakhpur and they operate from three locations, including Ranchi in Jharkhand, and Raipur and Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh, to support the anti-naxal operations. “We are going to raise a unit of our latest MI-17 V5 choppers in Nagpur by next month which will provide full support to anti-Naxal operations in Jagdalpur,” the IAF chief said. Faster response He said the base of the new unit would be closer to Chattisgarh and would have faster response time in case of some incident there.
The Nagpur unit would deploy two to three of its MI-17 V5 choppers in Jagdalpur, which would be capable of carrying out both day and night operations. He said the decision to deploy these choppers in Nagpur had been taken two months ago and had nothing to do with last week’s incident. Defence Minister A.K. Antony reiterated that the armed forces would not be deployed in anti-Naxal operations in a direct role. Asked if the Defence ministry would provide help in the form of training para-military personnel, he said that any support was required for the training would be extended. The Air Force uses its choppers in the anti-Naxal operations for carrying out casualty evacuations and the transportation of police and Central forces in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
The Air Chief Marshal said that the Air Force was in the contract-negotiation stage for the procurement of five major systems including the Medium Multilrole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender. He expressed the hope that the deal for the 126 Rafale combat jet would be inked by this year-end. He said talks were in final stages for procuring 22 Apache choppers, 15 Chinook heavylift choppers and additional six C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft from the U.S. and six mid-air refuelling aircraft from Airbus Military of Europe this year.
Lurking threat: Why Assam is fertile ground for Maoists
Decades of militancy have pushed Assam back by ages, economically and otherwise. Now as the state finds a semblance of normalcy, there’s a new menace threatening to undo all the good work over the years. It’s the Maoists. While no incident of violence by the Left ultras has been registered so far, there are clear indications that the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is making a serious effort to strengthen its base in the state. The broader aim is to make it part of the zones under their control. However, not many think it’s a new threat. “Assam has many Maoist sympathisers since the 1970s, when the Naxalbari movement gained momentum in West Bengal.
But Maoism was never considered a force to reckon with in the state with nationalist issues always dominating the popular public discourse. However, with the strength of the separatist Ulfa on the wane, and large scale resentment on the state of development in the region as articulated in several popular movements, the Maoists now seem to be looking for some foothold in the state,” Chandan Kumar Sharma, professor at the Department of Sociology, Tezpur University told Firstpost from Tezpur. The Maoists normally tap into popular discontent to set foot among the target population. Their modus operandi involves identifying sections of the people who are unhappy with the government and take up their cause. Of course, poverty, struggle for land and unemployment are easy issues to capitalize on. Lack of development, particularly in the rural areas, provides an ideal ground for the Maoists, said Sharma. “Development is Assam has been mostly urban-centric. Rural areas have always been neglected. In these conditions, it is easy for the youth to get disoriented,” the professor added.
Assam Director General of Police (DGP) Jayanta Narayan Chowdhury agreed on the potential target groups for the Maoists. “Generally they look for people who are against the government for consolidation of their base.” For a state which is already losing massive swathes of land due to floods and erosion every year, the proposed hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh come as another huge challenge for its people. Worse, there are no proper rehabilitation schemes. The Maoists may be trying to infiltrate this section of people who are already up against these infrastructure projects. There are allegations that Maoist elements have already entered the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), which is spearheading the anti-dam protests in the state. Thousands of people flock when these protests are held anywhere in Assam.
“As per our estimate, four lakh people are living on embankments in Assam as their houses were swept away by rivers. The government data keeps the number at one lakh. And if the ultra mega power projects come up in Arunachal Pradesh, a huge section of the population will lose their land. These people join our protests. If the government fails to take care of these issues, it is not impossible for individuals to join the Maoists,” said KMSS publicity secretary Kamal Medhi. He, however, denied that KMSS was associated with any kind of Left-wing extremism. “We only believe in Left ideologies. We are not connected with any other like-minded political parties, leave alone CPI (Maoist).” Sharma agreed. “The number of landless people in Assam is increasing day by day. During floods, large areas are prone to sand siltation, making land useless for farming.
Also the hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh threaten a huge number of people downstream. We have already seen how people in Assam’s Lakhimpur district suffer when water is released from the Ranganadi Hydroelectic Project in Arunchal Pradesh.” Accentuating the matter is the failure of the political leadership to address local issues which might turn big later. There are complaints that the state government is not doing enough for the tea garden community also considered vulnerable to Maoist ambitions. “We have told Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi many times. However, there is hardly any serious response.
Due to increasing unemployment among youths of the tea garden community and lack of development in the tea estates, these youths may get attracted towards Maoist activities,” senior tea community leader and Congress MLA Rameswar Dhanowar told Firstpost from Guwahati. Sharma, while accepting that the prevailing situation in the tea gardens was not good, also blamed the political leaders from the tea garden community for this predicament. “So many tea garden leaders have been ministers and MLAs all these years. Paban Singh Ghatowar is also a Union minister. Why have they not done anything so far? They are equally at fault. Illiteracy is high and the wrong policy of labour retention is prevalent in tea gardens. The provisions of the Assam Plantation Labour Act, 1952 have never been sincerely implemented,” he said.
The answer to tackling the Maoist threat could be a uniform development agenda and quick response to localized discontent. “Development must be people-oriented and local communities must be involved in the process, which is not happening at all in Assam. This has an alienating effect on the young generation in the state, especially those from the marginal communities and areas,” said Sharma. In places where there is all-round development, the Maoist threat is comparatively low. The chief minister’s home district of Jorhat is such an example. “Although we made one arrest, Maoists activities in Jorhat are unlikely in foreseeable future. Apart from the towns, the villages are well developed in the district. So the Maoists do not get ground to breed as favourable conditions do not exist for them,” superintendent of police, Jorhat district, Sanjukta Parashar told Firstpost.
Maoists threat: Will Assam become the next Chhattisgarh?
Barely out of the decades old Ulfa terror, Assam is staring at another similar, and potentially bigger, menace: Maoists. While there is no concrete proof yet that the red rebels have entrenched themselves in the state, stray indications point to that fact they could be in the process of doing so. Some recent cases prove that Maoist leaders from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are trying hard to spread out in the state by recruiting local youth. The arrest of Maoist politburo member Anukul Chandra Naskar alias Pareshda (65) by a joint team of Assam Police and special intelligence branch of Andhra Pradesh Police on 8 May from Assam’s Silchar district already has the establishment here worried.
Naskar’s wife Kabita Rabha was also arrested on 16 May. The arrests took place following the confession of two other senior Maoist cadres—Aklanta Rabha and Siraj Rabha—who were arrested earlier in the month. Aklanta is a CPI (Maoist) central committee member and Siraj is a central training instructor in the outfit with expertise in landmines. Both were wanted by cops in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. While it is already known that Maoist are already trying to infiltrate upper Assam districts of Jorhat, Sivasagar, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Dhemaji and Lakhimpur, the Maoist couple had told the police that the Left extremist organisation is now on a mission to create bases in the char areas (river islands) in Dhubri district besides targeting the Barak valley and lower Assam districts as well.
As per an official report, 60 Maoists have already been arrested from the state while 81 others are believed to be active. The number of arrests in the moth of May alone, coupled with the deadly attack on the Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh by Maoists on 25 May killing 29 people has sent the state top brass in a huddle. For many years now, there was the talk that Maoists are seeking to sneak into the tea garden community in Assam. The tea garden community here—originally tribals from the Odisha-Chhattisgarh-Jharkhand belt—are particularly vulnerable to radical ideas given their socio-economic circumstances.
They also have cultural affinity to the people in areas where the Maoist problem is rife. The clear evidence of Maoists trying to create base among this community came to light with the arrest of Aditya Bora, Singh Raj Orang and Ashik Sabar (all from Assam) in a Maoist camp bordering Orissa and Jharkhand in February 2011. The trio had revealed to the police about Maoist activities in upper Assam, both within and outside tea gardens. “The racial similarities of the Maoist leadership in Jharkhand or Chhattisgarh with the tea tribe in Assam do make the tea gardens prone to Maoists infiltration,” said Chandan Kumar Sharma, professor at the Department of Sociology, Tezpur University in Assam. “Once the tea gardens are Maoist infested the state’s economy will go for a toss. Just think of a situation if highways are mined as they do in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Most of these tea gardens are along the highways. This will destroy everything the state has,” Sharma said. The professor’s fear is not without substance.
“We are aware that tea gardens are vulnerable. In fact, we have noticed a sudden rise in the number of faltu (casual) labourers in the tea gardens of Barak Valley. We are keeping a watch on it,” Director General of Police (DGP) Jayanta Narayan Chowdhury told Firstpost from Guwahati. The Maoists have not pulled the trigger yet, but if steps are not taken to nip these indications in the bud, a Chhattisgarh- or Jharkhand-like situation cannot be ruled out in the future. As per a report by Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses “the Maoists have established three guerilla zones—the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh, Assam-Nagaland, and Assam-West Bengal border areas—in Assam”. The DGP said that there are different stages of Maoist activities. “Initially they go for mass mobilisation to secure mass support following which they look for local recruitment.
Then they go for arms training and finally they begin their trail of violence,” Chowdhury said. However, there is one more problem that has not gone unnoticed. The arrested Maoists are not from the tea tribe community alone. “People from Ahom, Rabha and other indigenous communities have also been arrested. This is a clear signal that the issue is not limited to the tea garden community alone. It has affected other local communities as well,” the professor said. “The Maoists have actually started penetrating interior areas of the state as well where people have not tasted any fruits of development,” he said. On its part, the state government has started preparing for the battle against the Maoists in its own way.
“It is clear that only armed action will not serve the purpose. We in the government are focussing on the development aspect and the state is already in touch with the Planning Commission. To give special attention to the more vulnerable districts of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia, the Centre would soon declare them Maoist-affected,” the state police head said. The Assam Police is also taking a look at its infrastructure and methods to effectively tackle with the country’s deadliest internal threat. “We are improving our intelligence network. But I must say we would like to be even better than we are. We are keeping a tab of the central committee members of the organistion,” Chowdhury said. He said every step had to be taken keeping the long term scenario in mind. “We have asked for more civil police presence. We are recruiting 200 personnel into the civil police force,” he said.
The only geographical advantage Assam has is that the state does not have thick forested area like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, he added. “The lack of thick foliage and shrinking forest areas are not ideal for Maoist activities. The terrain advantage is not there for them.” However, there is another worrisome aspect. It is suspected that the Maoists are in touch with militant organisations like the United Liberation Front of Asom, or Ulfa. Community sensitization, however, is so far missing to prevent youths from taking the path of Left-wing extremism. This was apparent from what All Assam Tea Tribes Students Association (Aattsa), state publicity secretary, Ashok Orang told Firstpost. “How can we take responsibility if individuals follow the path of Maoists? Who will protect us if the Maoists come against us?” Orang said when asked if the student organisation has taken steps to curb any Maoist tendencies among the youth of the community. It is indeed high time to figure that out.
All-out war against Maoists will have to wait for 2-3 years
NEW DELHI: The intensified multi-state offensive planned against Maoists would essentially comprise surgical strikes, or hit-and-run operations in security parlance. According to sources in the security establishment, the more decisive battle to reclaim the “liberated” Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, Koraput-Malkangiri in Odisha and Latehar in Jharkhand would have to wait for another two-three years, when enough Central forces would have been raised, trained and inducted to fill the gaps in the counter-Maoist grid. According to a home ministry official, the anti-Maoist grid is short by around 27,000 troops to carry out a flush-out operation in the Maoist strongholds along the Chhattisgarh-Andhra-Odisha border and Jharkhand. Around 82,000 Central force personnel currently deployed in the grid are not enough for an all-out war that can hit the top Maoist leadership hiding deep inside Bastar.
For now, however, the Centre has decided to intensify strikes in Bastar, where around 18,000 central paramilitary personnel are currently stationed. Using special forces like Andhra’s Greyhounds and CoBRA battalions, the counter-Maoist forces would be embarking on a major combing operation to bust Maoist hideouts. The immediate objective is to nab the masterminds behind Darbha Ghati attack in Sukma last Saturday, suspected to be CPI (Maoist) politburo member Katakam Sudarshan and central committee (CC) member Thippari Tirupati. “We have to neutralize leaders and senior cadres rather than just going after Maoist camps.The special forces should work out ways and means to reach the big fish,” a senior official said.
But pragmatists within the security establishment warned that the intensified offensive would come with its own risks and challenges, primary being lack of ground intelligence and treacherous, unfamiliar terrain that prevents real time intelligence-based operations. The surgical strikes, they anticipate, may cause casualties to the security forces while also exposing locals to collateral damage. A senior MHA officer said there is need to improve ground intelligence and build “sources” among the locals. This is seen as a challenge considering that local police informers, if exposed, mostly meet a brutal end at the hands of the Maoists. The other challenge is to the time lag between intelligence and action. The difficult terrain in Maoist strongholds impairs real-time operations, and it often takes days for the forces to reach a mapped Maoist camp, by which it may move to another location. “We have to figure out ways to reach the Naxalite adversary faster,” said an official.
Naxals may carry out targeted killings in cities: Reports
New Delhi, May 29: Major urban centres, including the national capital, may witness targeted killings by Maoists in coming months as the ultras are looking for opportunities to carry out violence, intelligence reports have warned. After the massacre of 27 people, including Congress leaders, in Chhattisgarh, Naxals are trying their best to expand the CPI(Maoist) activities beyond its area of influence and targeted killings are one of the key options.
The reports, prepared by intelligence agencies, suggested that Maoists have suffered significant reverses in recent past and Saturday’s attack in Jagdalpur was result of the extremists’ attempt to hog national limelight and reassert their influence. To get maximum mileage in respect of getting international attention as well as to boost the morale of the cadres, the Maoists would now try to carry out spectacular violence over soft targets in urban centres, the reports said.
Three suspected Naxals arrested in Chhattisgarh
Raipur: Three suspected Naxals including a woman were arrested Wednesday in the Maoist-hit Bijapur district of south Chhattisgarh, police said. “Chaiti Muhanda (24), member of military platoon no 25 of the Maoists, and Rainu Muhanda (26), member of Jatloor LOS (Local Operation Squad), were rounded up on suspicion by the district police during patrolling in Ghanora area,” a senior official told PTI over phone.
During interrogation, both admitted to being involved in Naxal movement, the official said, adding that they were booked under Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005. The district force also apprehended 24-year-old Anganpalli Ganpat in Modakpal area, a Naxal who was allegedly involved in several crimes ranging from loot and arson to murder.
Centre prods Odisha to intensify anti-Red operations
BHUBANESWAR: Following a request from the Centre, the Odisha police have intensified operations along the Odisha-Chhattisgarh border, especially in the Koraput-Malkangiri belt, as a Maoist group involved in May 25 carnage is suspected to be hiding in a nearby forest, official sources said on Wednesday. “The Union home secretary R K Singh had called to discuss the need for a coordinated effort to nail down the Maoists (involved in the bloodbath in Chhattisgarh which left at least 28 people, including several senior Congress leaders, dead). We have accordingly stepped up vigil along the border and intensified combing operations in the border area,” DGP Prakash Mishra told TOI.
Police sources said a group of Red outlaws is suspected to be hiding in the forests of Tentuligumma along the border and security personnel, comprising Border Security Force and Special Operations Group men, are trying to zero in on them. “After the attack, the Maoists had split into small groups and are suspected to have moved southward and eastward of Dharba ghati. Some groups moving eastward are said to be close to the Malkangiri-Koraput border,” a senior cop disclosed.
The state police decision to beef up security operations came after the Union home secretary, who visited Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, ruled out Army deployment and stressed on continuance of anti-extremist operations with full force. Police sources said the Dantewada Special Zonal Committee of CPI (Maoist) had mastermind the attack and between 100 and 150 armed cadres besides large number of militia were involved in the massacre. “We are slowly ascertaining the details, but lot more information is required to be certain about who and how the attack took place. But a good number of those involved in the attack are believed to have already mingled with local villagers in Bastar region and it would be very difficult to identify them,” a police officer involved in the anti-Maoist operations said.
Sources said Maoists had been frequenting Mathili block in Malkangiri district during the past few months, holding meetings in village and also executed a series of offensives there. Last month, Maoists belonging to Dharba division of CPI (Maoist) had murdered at least three persons, including a naib sarpanch, in Kiang panchayat on charges of being police informers. Maoists also blew up a mobile tower and the panchayat office building at Kiang in April. “Though there is frequent movement of Maoists at Kiang, police are yet to set up a permanent security camp there. If hundreds of Maoists enter Odisha, the situation might get volatile,” a police source said.
Maoists kill another Salwa Judum activist
RAIPUR: Within days of their deadly attack in Bastar that killed 29 people, the Maoists struck again on Wednesday in south Bastar, killing a Salwa Judum activist M Mukka near Asirguda on NH-30 in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. Police said Mukka, a former deputy sarpanch of Errabore, was an active member of the controversial Salwa Judum between 2005 and 2008. Mukka was identified by the Maoists and shot dead.
The May 25 ambush has set off panic among people associated with the Judum movement. After their founder and mainstay, Congress leader Mahendra Karma’s gruesome killing, tribals who were earlier part of Salwa Judum are scared that the Maoist offensive will now be targeted towards them. The state government is yet to draw up a response mechanism to the likely spiral in attacks on former Salwa Judum activists. While many of them turned into special police officers with the brief of guarding tribal villages, there are many unarmed Judum workers who are dreading the worst.
NIA takes up arrest of 5 Maoists in Kerala
The NIA, based on orders of the Ministry of Home Affairs, has started a probe into the arrest of five men of CPI (Maoists) by the Kerala Police from a lodge in Mavelikkara, Alappuzha district, on December 29, 2012. It has also claimed that the banned outfit is recruiting juveniles in Kerala as two minors had also attended the meeting in the lodge. Six mobile phones and a laptop were also seized. The agency has already registered an FIR alleging that the five men were holding a meeting to carry out subversive activities. The move comes close on the heels of a brutal Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh.
The Kerala police had arrested the men on the charges that they were trying to form a student wing of CPI (Maoist). They were identified as Rajesh of Mavelikkara, Bahuleyan of Njarayilkonam, Devarajan of Kollam, Gopal of Rajilpakkom in Tamil Nadu and Mannur Ajayan. Gopal is a former scientist at the Indira Gandhi Centre of Atomic Research, Kalpakkam. He was also an activist of the Committee for the Protection of Civil Liberties. All of them were released by a Kerala court as the police failed to produce sufficient evidence. Now the Hyderabad unit of NIA plans to summon the five suspects and record their statements.
The NIA said they will also seek court’s permission to record the statements of the two minors who were let off by the police. The Kerala Police had identified the two minors as daughters of Maoist couple, Roopesh and Shyna. The police had taken them into custody but later released them as they were minors. The girls had later held a press conference in which they alleged that the police mentally tortured them. Roopesh, former state secretary of CPI (Maoist), and his wife, Shyna, are also under the agency’s watch. According to the NIA, they have been accused of harbouring Malla Raji Reddy, the politburo member of the CPI (Maoist) who was nabbed by the Andhra Pradesh police in 2007.