Karnataka to Centre: Give more funds, arms to fight Naxals
Bengaluru: Karnataka wants the Centre to consider it Naxal-affected as it will help the state get more funds, arms and equipment to fight the Left wing ultras. Home minister, K.J. George who along with Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, participated in the National internal security meeting at New Delhi, had urged the Centre to admit that the Naxal problem existed in the state. On his return to Bengaluru, George said the state pitched for ‘Naxal-affected status’ as it would help Karnataka obtain more funds and facilities which could be allotted to the Anti-Naxal Force (ANF). Meanwhile, the state is planning moves to make the Naxalites join the mainstream.
The government has decided to provide special training to people in Naxal affected areas including imparting skills like tailoring and motor winding. This would prevent them from joining the Naxal movement, said George. Compared to Chhattisgarh and Orissa, Karnataka has not witnessed any major Naxal attack barring minor incidents in which the Maoists targeted informants and tortured them.
Forces to target top Naxal leaders
Alarmed over unabated Naxal violence, the Centre and the state governments have decided to go after the top leadership of CPI(Maoist) through intelligence based operations. The decision was taken at a special session of Chief Ministers of Naxal affected states held here yesterday in the wake of the May 25 bloodbath in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar that left 27 people, including Congress leaders, dead. Official sources said the meeting resolved that there was a need for continuous targeting of top leadership of the CPI(Maoist) through intelligence based operations by special forces along with inter-state coordination and uniformity in approach by all the Left Wing Extremism affected states.
It was suggested that the special forces also need to target the “military companies and platoons” of the CPI (Maoist) by developing specific intelligence regarding their location. Currently five top leaders of the CPI(Maoist) are at large. They are: Mupalla Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathy, Nambala Keshav Rao alias Basavraj, Thippiri Tirupati alias Deoji, Balmuri Narayan Rao alias Prabhakar and Somji alias Sahdev. While Ganapathy is carrying a reward of Rs 15 lakh on his head, Basavraj, Deoji and Prabhakar carry a reward of Rs 10 lakh each. Sahdev carries a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde presided the meeting in which chief ministers of Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Bihar, Governor of Jharkhand and representatives of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal participated.
The meeting came to the conclusion that any state which fails to make a dent in the military capability of CPI(Maoist) will not be able to sustain developmental efforts and political mobilisation of the people in affected areas, the sources said.
Ex-CoBRAs, Greyhounds to train police
In order to combat against the ultras in the jungle warfare, the Naxal-affected states have agreed to use skills of former CoBRA and Greyhounds officials to train special state forces. A senior official on Thursday said that the proposal was discussed during the internal security meeting of the chief ministers held on Wednesday and the states concerned conveyed the agreement on the issue to the Centre.
“These officials will be re-employed and will get salary as per norms. The states agreed to meet the expenses of the trainer,” he said. However, the states raised concerns over Maoists’ firepower and the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to target roads and other public infrastructure. Chhattisgarh has demanded advance land mine detection units. The meeting also decided to neutralise top Naxal leaderships through a sustained and intelligence-backed joint-security operations. The states have agreed to share intelligence with each other to ensure that Maoist movement in the respective border areas could be tackled by the forces.
States agree to take lead role in tackling Maoist menace
NEW DELHI: States seem to have agreed that the Maoist threat can be combated only with their police forces taking the lead in going after the top ultra leaders and choking the flow of money. The message was amplified with states on Wednesday agreeing to lead the fight against Naxals with the Centre in a supplementary role like ramping up forces’ strength along with other logistical support. So far, the Maoist central leadership – Mupalla Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathy, Nambala Keshav Rao, Thippiri Tirupati, Balmuri Narayan Rao and Somji — remain untraced, making it impossible for state agencies to track the ultras’ control structure.
The capacity of the Maoists to repeatedly stage outrages like the one in Chhattisgarh on May 25 has brought home the realization that militancy can be taken on only if the state police’s morale is high and its leadership able and willing. The lesson was enforced in Punjab during the Khalistan movement and more recently in Jammu & Kashmir where the state police has developed impressive intelligence-gathering capacity.
Though state forces in Naxalite-affected states have been successful in eliminating some top Maoist leaders, including Koteswar Rao alias Kishanji and Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, and arresting couple of others like Kobad Gandhy, Narayan Sanyal and Amitabh Bagchi, the rest operate with impunity. Neither the state police nor the central agencies have any clue of their whereabouts. The matter was discussed in a separate session during the conference on internal security on Wednesday when states resolved to jointly fight against Red ultras with the Centre filling a critical gap in terms of manpower, materials and fund.
States’ consent to “take control of operations” marked a major shift from the existing practice where the state police largely depend on central forces for such actions. Besides, the state police, at present, go after top Maoists only if they are suspected to be in that particular state. There is hardly any coordination for inter-state operations. Realizing the impact of the absence of a national policy, the states felt the need for a uniform approach that aims at eliminating the Maoist top leadership through sustained operations and disrupting the ultras’ financial base by accessing tendu leaf directly through a minimum support price (MSP) mechanism.
At present, the lucrative forest produce is procured by contractors who share it with Maoists. Under the national policy, the states will strengthen police stations and intelligence gathering mechanism in Naxalite-affected districts with the help of central fund. “The Centre will continue to provide paramilitary forces, but states will have to set up police stations, recruit police personnel from Maoists’ zones and develop basic intelligence network like what Andhra Pradesh has successfully done over the past few years. The police station will become the hub of counter-insurgency efforts”, said an official, adding it will take two to three years to complete the task.
During discussion over the issue, CMs agreed that this is a battle that can only be won if the state police provides leadership and takes control of operations under a “national policy”. The central forces, because of their very nature, can only play a supporting role. This lesson is evident from the success of state police forces in Punjab, J&K, Tripura and Andhra Pradesh. Sources said that the government will try to get political approval of the policy in June 10 all-party meeting which is being convened in the backdrop of last month’s Chhattisgarh incident that left 27 people, including Congress leaders, dead.
The special session on Wednesday, presided over by the home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and attended by CMs of Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Bihar, also resolved that political mobilization by mainstream political parties is necessary to wean local populations away from the Maoists’ influence and such political activity has to be encouraged by all the state governments.
It was noted during discussion that there is a need for uniformity in approach by all the Maoist-affected states if success has to be achieved in eradicating the Naxalite problem. “The strategy and tactics required for this is by and large based on the lessons we learn from each other. Hence, any state with a completely different strategy is bound to face serious problems in the long-term,” the meeting resolved, while pitching for a national policy.
‘Maoists May Attack Political Leaders in Jangalmahal’
There is a “high probability” of political leaders coming under a Chhatisgarh-type attack during their panchayat poll campaign in Maoist-hit Jangalmahal in West Bengal, intelligence sources here have indicated. The Maoists have been trying hard to regroup in the area, once the hotbed of their activity, ever since their leader Kishenji died in an encounter with joint forces in 2011 and arrest of several top leaders. The intelligence sources said the extremists would probably try to strike big in the area, which comprises three districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura, to make their presence felt.
“The Maoists are trying to regroup in Jangalmahal for the last few months but till now they haven’t tasted success. There is a high probability that Maoists might try to attack political leaders campaigning in Jangalmahal. But we are keeping a close watch,” a senior official of the State Intelligence bureau (SIB) told PTI wishing to remain anonymous. The SIB official’s warning came days after the Union Home Ministry instructed the state government to beef up security in areas with Maoist presence and review of security of political leaders following the massacre of Congress leaders in Chattisgarh last month.
The state government had also appointed Virendra, Director of the Chief Minister’s security, as a nodal officer in this regard. According to sources, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Trinamool Congress leaders Mukul Roy, Suvendu Adhikary and other leaders of TMC and CPI(M) are on the hit-list of Maoists. The ultras had in 2008 unsuccessfully made an attempt on the life of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Jangalmahal, which had witnessed killings, kidnappings, encounters and sabotage of trains since 2008, passed a relatively peaceful year in 2012 after the death of Kishenji and surrender of leaders like dreaded Jagori Baske.
A senior official of the SIB had told PTI earlier that the squads of Maoist leaders Bikash at Lalgarh in West Midnapore district, Ranjit in Ayodha hills of Purulia district, and others like Madan Mahato, Akash, and Jayanto were trying to regroup. According to SIB sources, although the Maoists in Jangalmahal are not in an organisational position to strike on their own, they might import cadres from Jharkhand and Orissa to carry out such attacks. The views of the SIB official was endorsed by IG western range S N Gupta, who said, “There is a perception of threat to top political leaders in West Bengal visiting the area. We are coordinating with the joint forces and are on high alert,” Gupta told PTI.
Former Naxalite Vervara Rao also harbours the same opinion, saying the ultras in Jangalmahal still have the will to strike in a big way to make their presence felt. The political parties, however, left it to the state government to provide adequate security to avert any attack similar to the ambush in Chhatisgarh. Refusing to desist from campaigning in the area, political parties underlined the importance of political activity as well as development activity to stem the Maoists from recovering ground. “I have been on the Maoist radar for a long time. But that doesn’t mean that I will leave political activity or stop visiting the area. I visit there regularly. Increased political activity by mainstream parties is the best way to alienate them,”
Trinamoool Congress MP Suvendu Adhikari said. Suvendu was provided the ‘Z’ category security cover following Maoist threat. Opposition parties like the Congress and CPI(M) felt that it was the duty of the state government to provide proper security to the political leaders irrespective of political colours. “We will demand a proper security cover from the government when we visit Jangalmahal for Panchayat poll campaign. It is its duty to provide it. But even if they don’t provide it, we will visit the areas for campaigning,” State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharjee said. CPI(M) leader Mohammed Salim spoke in a similar vein, saying, “It is the state’s prerogative and duty to provide proper security to political leaders when they visit such troubled areas. However, laxity on the part of the state won’t stop us from campaigning.
Maoist who stitched belly bomb held in Bihar
A member of the Bihar Jharkhand North Chhattisgarh Special Area Committee of the CPI (Maoists), arrested in a joint operation by the Jharkhand and Bihar police on May 29 from a hotel in Muzaffarpur in Bihar, has confessed to his role in stitching a bomb inside the body of a Central Reserve Police Force jawan, who was killed in an encounter with Maoists at Katiya village in Jharkhand’s Latehar district on January 7, police said. Anup Thakur alias Subhash Thakur alias Tarun, a member of the Military Commission of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) admitted to have undergone training for this job with the Maoist cadre from Andhra Pradesh, said police sources.
The Military Commission, which was led by Arvind ji at the time of the encounter, aimed to target helicopters used for lifting injured CRPF jawans’ bodies. Thakur is alleged to have made the confession to a team of the Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh police that interrogated him in Jharkhand. Eleven security personnel were killed in the two day-encounter between the PLGA and the CRPF. The bodies of four policemen were retrieved two days later.
Four villagers, including a minor, were killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off when they lifted the body of Baijnath Kisku of the CRPF’s 112 Battalion on January 9 on the police’s instructions. Two days later, an IED, consisting of gelatin sticks, a detonator and a battery in a container, was found inside the body of the other jawan, Babulal Patel, and defused. While doing autopsy in Ranchi, doctors noticed fresh stitches on Patel’s abdomen and alerted the police.
Thakur was brought back to Latehar from Muzaffarpur. “Based on information extracted from Thakur, we recovered two .303 rifles, two locally made rifles,two Under Barrel Grenade Launcher and 110 bullets from the Pathki forest in Manika,” said Latehar Superintendent of Police Michael S. Raj. Thakur also confessed to his role in 24 incidents of Maoist violence.
With Maoist support, villagers not ready to vacate STR
Relocation of villages and settlements from the core area of Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) has proved to be a thorn in the flesh of the administration as Maoists are believed to have instigated the villagers against the move. As many as 146 families living in three villages and two settlements are yet to be relocated from STR’s critical area in view of opposition from the inhabitants. One of the villages, Jamuna, has proved to be a tough case as Maoists have penetrated the village and provoked the locals against relocation. The matter came up for discussion at a meeting chaired by Forest and Environment Minister Bijoyshree Routray.
The meeting was attended by Chief Wildlife Warden JD Sharma. Director, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe and Regional Chief Conservator of Forests (RCCF) of Baripada apart from local DFOs were also present. Although the Minister said all attempts are being made for relocation of the villages and settlements, moving the residents of Jamuna has posed a challenge for the STR management and Mayurbhanj district administration. While some of the inhabitants are ready to shift, the rest are in the clutches of the Red rebels. The Minister asked the park management to try and shift the willing villagers first.
The situation in Bakua village is equally tough for the administration as the villagers have resisted even survey teams from entering their area. Since the village is located on the periphery, it is second on the priority list. The case of Kabatghai is much simpler though. All the villagers have agreed to shift to Arjunvilla, the meeting was told. Besides the three villages, relocation of two settlements at Upper Barahkamuda and Bahaghar also came up during the discussion. These settlements are in the inviolate areas of the tiger park.
Forces beat up panchayat secretary
RAIPUR: Security forces allegedly beat up a panchayat secretary, leaving him seriously injured on Thursday near Darbha in tribal Bastar district, where the Maoists had ambushed a motorcade of opposition Congress killing more than two dozen people on May 25. Sonuram Kashyap, the secretary of village panchayat Sirmur, and two others were on their way to panchayat office on Thursday morning when a group of security personnel stopped them to find out why they were roaming around the area.
Kashyap, who is now admitted in the MPN hospital at Jagdalpur, told reporters that the security personnel had beaten him up without any provocation, despite explaining that he was on his way to Sirmur panchayat office. He said he would lodge a formal complaint with the police against the security personnel for assaulting him. After the Maoist ambush near Darbha, in which senior Congress leaders were killed, security forces have stepped up patrolling and combing operations in the entire region.