Night train service cancelled in Naxal-hit Dandakaranya
New Delhi: Owing to Naxalite threat in Chhattisgarh’s Dandakaranya region, the Railways have cancelled train movement in the area during night from Tuesday till June 12. “In view of observance of ‘Janapituri Week’ by Naxalites from June 5 to June 11 in Dandakaranya area of Bastar district in Chhattisgarh, train services in Koraput and Kirandul section will be disrupted,” a release of East Coast Railway said.
Train movements during night from 8 pm of June 4 to 6 am of June 12 in the section will remain cancelled. Visakhapatnam-Koraput-Kirandul-Visakhapatnam passenger will be short terminated at Jagadalpur and will remain cancelled between Jagadalpur to Kirandul from both the directions, the release said. Freight trains services between Kamlur and Kumar Sadra during night have been restricted to run with a speed limit of 20 kmph during the above period, it said.
Meanwhile, Railways have alerted RPF’s all Chief Security Commissioners concerned to take precautionary measures. While patrolling along the tracks by GRP has been intensified in Naxal affected areas, RPF position has also been strengthened in the area. East Coast Railway, Eastern Railway, South Eastern Railway, South-East Central Railway and East Central Railway have been identified as Naxalite-prone zones. “Though combating Maoist menace is a law and order issue and tackled by state police, RPF personnel are being deployed in sensitive areas to guard tracks, bridges and tunnels,” a senior Railway Ministry official said. Currently, RPF is escorting 1,275 trains and GRP personnel are being deployed in about 2,200 trains as a preventive measure.
Govt to hold all-party meet on Naxal issue
Government will hold an all-party meeting this week to finalise a strategy to resolve the Maoist problem decisively as the UPA expressed serious concern over the May 25 audacious attack in Bastar that killed 27 people including three prominent Congress leaders. A decision in this regard was taken at the meeting of the UPA Coordination Committee at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence, which was attended by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, NC chief Farooq Abdullah and IUML chief E Ahamed.
The refrain in the ruling Congress is that since all parties by and large share a common view on fighting the Naxals, a joint response can be decided to tackle the menace. Terming the Chhattisgarh incident as “an attack on very foundations of democracy and entire political system”, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said after the meeting that this is something which calls not only for a UPA Coordination Committee meeting but for an all-party meeting. “Because it’s an attack on the system, attack on very foundations of democracy, which needs to be addressed. This incident affects our democracy and our Parliamentary norms. Hence a discussion with all is needed so that a strategy can be formed to resolve this problem for ever,” he said.
The minister said that detailed discussions were held in the UPA Coordination Committee over the situation arising out of the recent Maoist attacks in Chhattisgarh. “It was decided to have an all-party meeting on a day which is convenient to most parties. Serious concern was expressed over the attack on Congress leaders and various political are being contacted. An all-party meeting will be held.
“The attacks in Chhattisgarh was an attack really on our democratic system and all political parties must be involved and engaged in the further course of action and the strategy to be evolved,” he said. Nath said the all-party meeting will be held after the June 5 meeting of Chief Ministers of Naxal-hit states in New Delhi. The Bastar attack was also discussed in Congress Core Group meeting on Saturday and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had briefed the apex decision making body about the incident and actions taken thereafter.
Maoists had ambushed a convoy of Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district on May 25, killing 27 people including PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel, his son Dinesh, senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma and ex-MLA Uday Mudaliyar. Replying to questions on whether an incident of Naxal attack required this level of meeting, Nath said, “It’s not a mere a Naxal attack. I do not think we should minimise it. We cannot minimise what’s happened in Chhattisgarh.” The minister said that this incident is something which calls not only for a UPA Coordination Committee meeting but for an all-party meeting because “it’s an attack on the system, attack on very foundations of democracy, which needs to be addressed”. Asked what strategy to tackle the Maoists was discussed in the UPA meet, the minister said that no strategy is being formed until the government talks to all parties.
“There is no strategy, which is being formed until we talk to all political parties. A formal all-party will be called. We have to fix the date with the political parties, which is convenient to them to have this. “The Home Minister is having a meeting with Chief Ministers of the Naxal-affected states in next two three days after that we will hold an all-party meeting and engage and move forward on what should be done,” Nath said.
Breakthrough in Chhattisgarh attack: Naxal leader held
New Delhi, June 4: The Andhra Pradesh Police has arrested Naxal leader Savita alias Madhvi, suspected to be involved in the May 25 attack on a Congress convoy at Darbha ghati in Chhattisgarh. According to media reports she was arrested in Khammam district, bordering Orissa. She had been injured during the attack. Savita was picked up from a vehicle during a routine checking when she was being taken to a hospital for treatement.
Savita is allegedly a member of CPI-Maoist Bastar Regional Committee and wife of Central Committee member Chandranana. She has a reward of Rs 5 lakh for her capture. Savita seems to be common name used by the Naxals, especially in Chhattisgarh. Last year in October, Naxal leader Vasanti alias Savita Pondu Potem (25), who headed national park dalam active in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, was arrested by security forces in Maharashtra. Her husband Nabbu, who was a platoon commander, was killed in an encounter with security forces in 2008.
Andhra cops arrest woman Naxal involved in May 25 Chhattisgarh massacre
Andhra Pradesh Police has arrested a suspected Naxal leader identified as Savita alias Madhvi in Khammam district of the state. According to a CNN-IBN television channel report, police suspect that Savita was involved in the May 25 attack on a Congress convoy at Darbha Ghati in Chhattisgarh. They says she was injured during the cross firing. The channel said that Andhra Police picked up Savita from a car during a routine check.
Savita is allegedly a member of CPI-Maoist Bastar Regional Committee and wife of Central Committee member Chandranana. Security agencies had declared a reward of Rs 5 lakh for her capture. Police have also apprehended a Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika member identified as Prithviraj. The organisation is suspected to be CPI-Maoist’s a frontal organisation.
Babus to ask Naxal-hit states’ CMs to adopt Andhra model of policing
NEW DELHI: With fear of Maoist violence being the key among politicians in the wake of the massacre in Chhattisgarh on May 25, the babus want government to fill police’s critical infrastructural gaps to eliminate the Red Ultras. They will ask chief ministers to adopt the Andhra Pradesh-model of policing to weed out Naxal menace and push Central ministers to spare more funds for states to achieve this goal.
Union home ministry has asked Andhra Pradesh Police to make a special presentation on this issue on Wednesday, when CMs gather here for a day-long Conference to discuss internal security situation in the country. Asking Naxal-affected states to look beyond the Andhra’s special force Greyhounds, the home ministry officials will urge the states’ representatives to rather lay emphasis on strengthening basic infrastructure and human resources right from police station level to district and sub-division level like what Andhra Pradesh had done over the years that helped virtually throwing the ultras out of the state.
Officials here believe that the Greyhounds-like special force is vital, but it cannot serve the purpose unless states strengthen their basic police and intelligence apparatus. “The states will have to get rid of the myth created around Greyhounds and be realistic as the special force alone cannot fight ultras. All affected states need special anti-Naxal force, but such structure cannot be set up on weak foundation,” said an official. He said states need to focus on police recruitment, training and intelligence gathering mechanism like what Andhra Pradesh did in Naxal-affected districts. The ministry has earmarked two hours separate session to discuss matters concerning Naxal problem during the conference.
The session, which is to be attended by CMs of all Maoist-affected states and home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, will also emphasize on importance of creating other infrastructure like roads and telephone towers that are important for mobility of security forces and their communication in the Red zone. A 20-minute presentation on role of local police stations in fighting ultras will be showcased to CMs of Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
The Centre is also expected to take consent from the CMs for launching an all-out anti-Red operation simultaneously in all Naxal-hit states to wipe out the extremists from their strongholds. The renewed effort is necessitated following killing of 28 people, including Congress leaders, by Maoists in Chhattisgarh on May 25. An official said, “Simultaneous operation is needed as there is inter-border movement of Maoists.The Ultras of one state often sneak into other state during operation. Our aim is to intensify the operations with close coordination of state forces as well central forces”.
Before discussing Naxal issues in a separate session, the conference will take up other key matters concerning internal security. It includes separate cadre for investigations, creation of district crime branch, community policing, mega city policing, cyber crime, modernization of state police forces, separate cadre for intelligence, setting up NCTC, coastal security, crime against women and prison reforms.
Naxal strongholds can be demolished by Greyhounds force only
Raipur: At a time when the menace of Naxalism has permeated into the very roots of 13 states, Andhra Pradesh devised tactical methods including Greyhounds to remove Moaists from the state. The Greyhounds force is an elite anti-naxal force that specialises in conducting jungle warfare applying guerrilla tactics to counter those of the Maoists. It has been highly successful in demolition of Maoists’ stronghold in Andhra Pradesh.
Intending to equip states before launching a fight to finish war against Maoists, the Union Cabinet in April this year had given its approval to the home ministry’s plan to raise anti-Naxal special forces in Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh on the lines of Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh and sanctioned additional fund for the purpose. The need for a specialised troop — adept in jungle warfare and matching up to the guerrilla tactics adopted by the Maoists — has been talked about repeatedly for taking on the ultras in the region since the police as well as the Central paramilitary forces are not trained for operating under such extreme conditions.
The specialized forces, capable of hot pursuit across the inter-state borders, will be set up with personnel fully trained in guerilla warfare and required infrastructure within six months. The fund, to the tune of Rs 280 crore, will be disbursed to these four states by the home ministry under its ongoing Scheme for Special Infrastructure (SSI). Part of the sum will also be used to upgrade infrastructure of Andhra Pradesh Police and its Greyhounds force. The West Bengal Government is also raising counter-insurgency force to be trained by the elite Greyhounds force based in Andhra Pradesh for specialising in counter-guerrilla activities of Maoists active in certain parts of the state.
The Greyhounds were raised in Andhra Pradesh in 1989. All officers and men are recruited on deputation from the various organisations of Andhra Pradesh police and are given special training in fields craft and weapon handling, development of physical fitness and mental alertness. The training is designed such that the police can take on the guerrillas on their own turf, and in their own style. Ranjit Shekhar Moosahary, former DG, NSG and BSF says, “The Greyhounds manual and its training course is of a very high standard. Only the best policemen of Andhra Pradesh are selected. I have watched them train and rank them very highly. They are not far behind the NSG.” The Greyhounds have been successful in wiping out the insurgents from Nallamala, Palnadu, and north Telangana regions in Andhra Pradesh and assisted the state-police of Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, and Orissa, in their anti-Naxalite endeavours.
Since June 2000, the Greyhounds have also trained police personnel of other states affected by left wing extremism in commando techniques. So, what is so unique about specially trained units such as these as opposed to the conventional forces of the Army operating in places such as the North-east? What is that makes them so adaptable and efficient in fighting insurgency? The Greyhounds consist of around 2,000 (the exact number has not been disclosed by the government) senior personnel (only the best from the police force make up to it) moving in compact bands of 15-25 commandos (the small size helps in infiltrating deep into the jungle) properly equipped with night vision glasses, bullet proof vests, sleeping bags and dry rations.
Drawn from the state police force, these forces have first-hand knowledge of the topography and are also in a better position to gain intelligence from the local population, considered crucial for any counter-insurgency operations. The best part of such forces is that they function more or less independently which enables them to take decisions on the ground. The present internal security scare calls for more Special Forces (like Greyhounds). The states infested with Naxalism have been demanding additional forces from the centre (Jharkhand is demanding 12,000 additional forces, Chattisgarh 8,000 while Orissa has demanded 5,000 Para-military personnel) to meet the threat.
However instead of providing these states the additional forces, it would be more economical and feasible for the Centre to raise more Special Task Forces, an indication of which was visible when the Prime Minister gave the assurance that it will look into the formation of more of such commando forces on the pattern of Greyhounds. Considering the fact that the virus of left-wing extremism has spread its tentacles in thirteen states of the country, the governments in the states as well as the Centre need to act without further delay.
‘Special plans afoot to root out naxalism in Jharkhand’
Lohardaga: Gripped with 18 officially declared districts as naxal hit, Jharkhand government is renewing its anti-naxal operation plan. “A special plan is underway to root out naxalism in the state,” K Vijay Kumar, the advisor to Jharkhand Governor Syed Ahmed, said. Contending that naxalism has hindered the state’s development, the retired CRPF DGP said naxalites do not want progress and have become a stumbling block in the development path.
Kumar, who was here to meet senior officers, stressed on effective implementation of developmental projects. According to police records, 18 out of 24 districts are naxal-hit while two other districts—Pakur and Dumka—have reported sporadic naxal incidents in the recent past. Jharkhand is dealing with at least six naxal outfits, including the CPI (Maoist).
Countering the Naxals: Will the Centre substantially increase troops?
Ahead of the all-party meet to finalise the strategy to counter Maoists, chief ministers of naxal-hit states are scheduled to hold a two-hour special session on Wednesday to discuss the response to left-wing extremism (LWE). It remains to be seen whether the Centre’s change in strategy will see a substantial increase in troopss in naxal-affected states. According to Home Ministry data, 81 battalions of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and a number of Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (CoBRA) teams are deployed in Leftwing Extremism-affected States.
After the attack Chhattisgarh, among the four states classified as being “severely affected” by LWE, has been sanctioned two more battalions of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), taking the total number of central forces in the state to 30 battalions. What does a 30-battallion strong paramilitary mean in terms density of security forces in the state? How does it, for instance, compare to other conflict zones in India?
Putting presence of state police and central paramilitary forces in Chhattisgarh in perspective, Ajai Sahni, Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management says, “It is crucial to understand that a battalion of CAPFs yields, on the average, roughly 400 personnel in actual deployment, and not a thousand, as is generally assumed… Even in Chhattisgarh, for instance, just 16 battalions of Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) personnel are deployed in the Maoist-affected areas. This yields a State Police Force of roughly 8,000 men (the CAF has a slightly higher ratio of operationalisation, at 500 per battalion). So, in Chhattisgarh, we have a total of roughly 12,000 CAPF and 8,000 CAF, that is, 20,000 personnel in the Maoist areas.
“The Bastar Division – the Maoist ‘heartland’ — alone is nearly 40,000 square kilometres, and there are many districts outside the Bastar Division that are also afflicted, at varying levels, by Maoist activity and violence. Even to those who are completely unfamiliar with security and counter-insurgency operations, if should be obvious that this is a tiny fraction of the force actually required to dominate the State, and many times more would be required to execute the Centre’s currently purported ‘clear, hold and develop’ strategy.” Ten of the state’s 19 districts of Chhattisgarh are classified as ‘most affected’ by LWE.
The police to population ratio in state in 2011 was 173 per one lakh population. (The national average that year stood at 137 per 1 00 000.) In other conflict-ridden states such as Manipur and Kashmir the police to population ratio stood at 877 per 1,00,000 and 612 per 1,00,000 respectively in 2011. Comparing the presence of security forces in LWE affected states with other conflict zones, Sahni says, “At the peak of violence in 2008-2009 Manipur had a Police-population ratio at about 613 per 100,000, and, in addition, 42 Battalions of CAPFs and the Army were deployed in the CI grid in the State. Manipur’s population at that time was just 2.4 million, and total area is 22,347 sq km.” (In comparison Chhattisgarh has a population of 25 million and total area of 1 35 192 sq km.) Sahni adds, “Despite this deployment, Manipur accounted for 416 fatalities in 2009, the highest in the country, when Assam, with a population of 26.7 million, had 392; and Jammu and Kashmir, with a population of 10.1 Million, had 377. Fatalities in Manipur, however, dropped to 138 in 2010.”
Current anti-Naxalite deployment of CAPFs (Courtesy: SATP)
Bihar: 6 Battalions
Chhattisgarh: 28 Bns (plus another 2 to be deployed after the Darbha massacre. It is not clear where these would be relocated from, and whether the total commitment to Naxal areas would increase.) Jharkhand: 20 Bns
Maharashtra: 5 Bns
Odisha: 13 Bns
West Bengal: 6 Bns ____________________________
Total: 78 + 2
Odisha to seek 2 more CRPF battalions after Chhattisgarh Naxal attack
Bhubaneswar: Odisha government will seek deployment of two additional battalions of CRPF jawans along its borders with Chhatisgarh following the the May 25 deadly Maoist attack in that state. “Odisha government will make the demand to the Centre for two battalions of CRPF at the Chief Ministers’ meeting on internal security in New Delhi on June 5,” state Home Secretary UN Behera said on Monday.
The state government, he said, felt that more security arrangement needed to be made at the border in view of the prevailing situation in Chhattisgarh and the fact that Sukma was close to Odisha’s Malkangiri district. Odisha presently has at least seven battalions of CRPF, six battalions of BSF and one battalion of Cobra personnel, besides the state’s own special operation group and general police to deal with the Maoist menace.
UPA feels Red outreach initiatives haven’t paid off
NEW DELHI: Concern over the anti-Naxal policies not yielding desired results despite massive fund allocations and ambitious development schemes found voice at the meeting of the UPA coordination committee meeting on Monday. The discussion, held in the wake of a massacre of Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh on May 25, saw leaders pondering whether the government is getting it right in terms of its policy efforts and needs to do more to address tribal alienation.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi agreed efforts should be made to bring disadvantaged sections living in the Naxal-affected areas within the national mainstream. She is understood to have been in sync with the view that initiatives had not quite paid off. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar is understood to have spoken at length, making the point that the approach to dealing with naxalism needs to be improved. He said the continued disengagement of people in “Red zones” with the state is worrying and cannot be wished away. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not say much during the discussion.
He has in the past described Maoists as a primary security challenge. The meeting felt that an all-party meeting on Naxalism should be called. “Serious concern was expressed over the attack on Congress leaders,” parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath told the media after the meeting. The views expressed at the coordination committee are significant as the incident that has claimed 30 lives saw some Congress leaders calling for concerted action against the rebels. Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh described Naxals as terrorists – a term that that his colleagues like tribal affairs minister Kishore Chandra Deo did not agree with.
Congress and UPA have not been able to resolve a schism over how to deal with Naxalism, with some leaders emphasing a “softer” approach that lays stress on enhanced development initiatives. There are others who have argued that development cannot be prioritized unless the state is able to regain control over “liberated” zones. It is necessary to convince local population that Naxals were losing the war. At the meeting on Monday, it was pointed out that the massive infusion of funds for schools, banks and hospitals is not providing desired results.
This indicated that there is a skew of miscalculation as the government’s efforts are missing the target. Sources said the continued of sections of local population to the Naxals is worrying and this requires attention on an urgent basis if the war against the ultars is to be won. Those favouring sustained action against Naxals have argued that lack of resolve or a policy confusion will only encourage the extremists despite a steady attrition in their leadership.
Naxalite ‘hurt’ in Chhattisgarh ambush held in Khammam
HYDERABAD: After a dramatic car chase in Palavancha in Khammam district on Monday morning, police discovered they had a ‘prize catch’. On interrogating the three persons caught after the chase, police discovered that one of them was Mothubai alias Radhika, Darbha Divisional Committee member and wife of CPI (Maoist) Central Committee member PulluriPrasadaRao alias Chandranna. The other two were identified as University of Hyderabad student Pruthviraj and his father Dharma Rao, a railway employee.
The Khammam police suspect that Mothubai, a native of Adilabad, directly participated in the massacre of 28, including Congress leaders and police, at Darbha Ghati area. “We are still grilling Pruthviraj to know his exact role,” an investigating officer told TOI. They suspect she might have suffered injuries in the incident and was on the way to Vijayawada for treatment. Mothubai is the wife of Chandranna alias Shankaranna alias Bhaskar from Vadkapur in Karimnagar. Apart from being the Central Committee member of the banned outfit, Chandranna is also the North Telangana region in-charge of the party.
Acting on a specific alert, the Palvancha police put up a road blockade and began checking vehicles. A silver Maruti Alto (AP 16 BM 7841) moving from Bhadrachalam to Kothagudem did not stop at the check point at Indira Colony and the driver sped away. At that point, another police vehicle started coming in the opposite direction and, while trying to avoid a collision, the Alto driver lost control over the vehicle and it overturned. Police immediately took three occupants of the car, including a woman, into custody.
On interrogation, police realised that the woman in custody was Mothubai and the two men with her were identified as Pruthviraj, an Integrated MA student of University of Hyderabad, and his father Dharma Rao, a railway employee from Vijayawada. On further grilling, Pruthviraj confessed that he had left the campus a few months back to join the Maoist party. Pruthviraj also claimed that he was a member of the Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika of the UoH. Mothubai told interrogators that she was ill since the past one week and Pruthviraj was accompanying her to Vijayawada, to consult a doctor.
Saranda yet to be free of Maoists
Notwithstanding heavy deployment of security forces in the dense Saranda forest in neighbouring Jharkhand, the Maoists are gradually rejuvenating themselves in Saranda which shares around 75 km of border with Sundargarh district. Recent movements of Maoists along Odisha-Jharkhand border do not bode well for the prevailing peace in the border pockets of the district. According to reports, a small armed Maoist group on Saturday had a brief exchange of firing with Jharkhand police in Baliva area of Saranda in West Singhbhum district, about 35 km from Jareikela in Sundargarh.
On Sunday, another armed group of Maoists set fire to an excavator engaged in road construction work at the far away Baipi village of Saranda. After CRPF set up six permanent camps at Digha, Thalkobad, Kaliaposh, Bitkelsoy, Kiriburu and Chhota Nagra and launched two massive ‘area domination operations’, the Maoists have shifted to distant locations of Saranda connecting Porahat forest. In March this year, Maoists had killed six villagers and police gunned down one Maoist while retrieving the bodies of the villagers in West Singhbhum district. Sources said the free movement of the Maoists has been drastically curbed in and around the areas of security concentration.
But, they continue to make their presence felt in Saranda. On December 16 last year, 18 heavy vehicles and equipment of a firm engaged in rail track laying project were destroyed at Derua under Sonua police limits. Before that, six heavy vehicles and earth moving equipment of a firm engaged in road laying project were burnt under the Saranda Action Plan (SAP) in Chhota Nagar area. However, Jharkhand’s DIG AK Singh described the latest two incidents as ‘sporadic’ action of Maoists and claimed that over the past six months police have further consolidated their position in Saranda.
Three Maoist sympathisers arrested
Chaibasa (Jharkhand), Jun 4 (PTI) Three Maoist sympathisers were arrested from Chakradharpur bus stand, about 25 km from West Singhbhum district headquarters town of Chaibasa in Jharkhand today. West Singhbhum Superintendent of Police Pankaj Kamboj said acting on a tip-off, a police team cordoned off the area and arrested the three who were moving around in a suspicious manner. Police seized three cartons containing different capacity pressure cookers, nails, epoxy putty and Rs 10,000 from them.
Maoist’s activist-wife among three held
Kurasam Mothi Bai alias Madhavi, 40, CPI (Maoist) south Bastar division committee secretary and wife of North Telangana Special Zonal Committee (NTSZC) secretary Chandranna, and two others were nabbed by the police after a 20-km-long hot chase on the Bhadrachalam-Kothagudem main road near Palvancha town on Monday. According to police sources, the remaining two persons have been identified as A. Prudvi, 22, a student of integrated MA course of Hyderabad Central University and his father A. Dharmaraju, 50, a railway employee of Chirala in Prakasam district.
Sources said that the car carrying the trio overturned after hitting a roadside pole while negotiating an empty jeep kept as a road barrier by the local police at Peddamma Thalli temple, a few km from Palvancha. It is suspected that Madhavi was heading towards Vijayawada to undergo treatment for an ailment. Acting on specific intelligence inputs, the Bhadrachalam sub-divisional police had reportedly organised a road checking drive near Bhadrachalam in the afternoon.
The car managed to escape the police dragnet and sped past the barricades. However, it subsequently met with an accident while trying to surpass a police barricade near Palvancha. The occupants of the vehicle reportedly escaped unhurt. The trio were immediately shifted to Kothagudem by the Palvancha police for questioning. Madhavi, a native of Adilabad district, is presently heading the Maoists south Bastar division committee in Chhattisgarh, said Superintendent of Police A.V. Ranganath. It is suspected that Prudvi was associated with a student organisation, a “secret” frontal organisation of the banned outfit, he said, adding that further investigations were under way to ascertain the antecedents of the duo.
Branded Maoists, publishers kept in custody
Inside the Spartan office of Vidyarthi publications tucked away in a corner of an old city building, books and magazines that it had published in the last three years of their operations are scattered on the table and on the ground. On Saturday, the police had raided the office and the houses of the publishers after five of them were arrested from Meppadi in Wayanad, the site of an ongoing Adivasi land struggle, for alleged Maoist connections. Speaking to The Hindu on Monday, a day after they were freed from the 24-hour-long detention, H. Shafeeque, one of the editors of the publishing house, said that what they had gone through in the past two days was an eerie warning for anyone who aimed to do in-depth studies on people’s struggles in the country.
“We had gone to Meppadi to conduct a comprehensive study of the Adivasi land struggle there and its successes and failures. It is part of the work on our upcoming book ‘Keralathile Samarabhoomikal’. The police came with arms and detained us while we were conducting the study on Saturday morning,” Mr. Shafeeque said. Accompanying the team of editors was Divya Diwakaran, who is in the second year of her Ph.D thesis work in Mahatma Gandhi University.
“I have been visiting places in the State having serious land related issues. My thesis topic is ‘Rights of the displaced vis-à-vis Right to development – a human rights perspective’. Last month, I visited Attapady and neighbouring areas for the study. The police refused to believe us even after we stated the purpose of our visit clearly and showed them the books and other materials collected,” Ms. Divya said. The police simultaneously raided their houses. “They took away our books, CPU, film DVDs and even my phone directory. Film titles like ‘Bicycle Thieves’ probably confused them. I had given them the contact of my Ph.D guide to clear the air. But they refused to do that. The police asked us why we had not asked them if we wanted information as part of our research. The questioning went on for several hours,” Mr. Shafeeque said.
“In view of the sighting of Maoists in Nilambur recently, we acted swiftly when we got information from one of the local people. It was a preventive arrest. Though the material collected did not point to the five having any Maoists, one of them has been in touch with a phone number in Andhra for a long time. We are enquiring on that. They should have asked our permission before this research. The Maoists usually operate with human rights organisations as their front and so we have to be alert,” said A.V. George, Wayanad District Police Chief. When contacted, Meppadi Sub Inspector N.M. Jose said the team was arrested after the police got information through an anonymous call of Maoist presence.
“The Maoist scare is an easy tool, which the police utilise to stop activists and researchers. The recent arrest of five people including a scientist in Mavelikara and the high profile Maoist hunts in Kerala’s forests which did not yield any result are part of this bogey that the establishment sells to hide its inefficiency and for the sake of global finance capital’s land grab,” Mr. Shafeeque said.