Naxal commander killed in encounter in Chhattisgarh
A naxal commander, who was carrying a reward of Rs 2.10 lakh on his head, was killed in a fierce gun-battle with the security personnel in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh this afternoon, police said. “The face-off between the naxals and joint contingent of district police and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) took place in the forests of Bukmarka Pahadi area under Manpur police station limits (over 100 kms from Rajnandgaon town) today afternoon,” Rajnandgaon Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Shukla told PTI.
“The killed naxalite has been identified as Udham Singh, Commander of Mohla LOS (Local Operating Squad) and secretary of Mohla Manpur area committee of Maoists,” the SP said, adding, he was carrying a reward of Rs 2.10 lakh on his head. According to the officer, the patrol party was on a combing operation from the last few days in the border region of Chhattisagarh and Maharashtra. In the afternoon, on seeing the patrol party in Bukmarka Pahadi, ultras started firing indiscriminately at them.
The search party retaliated and in the ensuing gunfight that lasted for nearly two hours the naxal commander was killed, the SP said. “Two more naxals had received bullet injuries, but owing to the heavy rains, the ultras managed to take them to the core forest region. However, the commander’s body was recovered,” the SP said. Police also recovered one SLR, one Insas rifle, two 12 bore guns, one 315 bore katta (country-made pistol), live cartridges of SLR and other rifles and a couple of detonators, the SP said.
Two Naxals held in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh
Two Naxals have been arrested in the Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh, police said today. ‘Militia commander’ Chaitu Ghawde and Sonu Lohar, the arrested ultras, were members of ‘Jan militia’ of Maoists, according to the police. A contingent of district police and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) nabbed the two in the jungle within limits of Madanwada police station, a restive area, late last evening, a senior police official told PTI over phone.
Both were active in the Naxal movement since 2007 and involved in cases of loot, arson and murder in the area, the official said. Two muzzle-loading guns were also seized from their possession.
CRPF troops busted Maoists camp, seize literature in Odisha
Nuapada (Odisha): CRPF troops on Saturday busted a Maoist camp and seized tiffin box bomb, literature, posters, books and some detonators in Odisha’s Nuapada district, official sources said. The temporary Maoist camp was spotted during intensive combing operation by CRPF personnel at Komna area during the week, CRPF Commandant Ram Singh said. The camp was destroyed during the combing operation at Patpani village on Nuapada-Bolangir border during the week and was later extended to Kushapali area, he said.
Besides some detonators and a tiffin bomb, Maoist uniforms, food, literature, posters, books and leaflets were seized from the site, he said. However, no ultra was nabbed as they are suspected to have fled on getting information about the movement of the security forces, the sources added.
Maoist wanted in attack on BSF personnel arrested
MEDININAGAR: Two Maoists, including the rebel who allegedly attacked a BSF team in 2005, were arrested at separate places in Palamau and Ranchi districts of the state, police said today. “Area commander Boleshwar sub-zone committee Dukhi Sao alias Jagirji was arrested last night at Panki Bazar in Palamau,” Superintendent of Police N K Singh said here. He said Sao was wanted in the attack on a team of personnel of Border Security Force.
A BSF jawan had been killed and two others were injured in Palamau district eight years ago in an encounter. Sao was also wanted in 12 other cases of murder, abduction and landmine blasts, the police officer said. In a separate raid by Palamau district police last night, Lalan Singh was arrested from Khalari in Ranchi district, the SP said, adding, he was wanted in at least four cases.
MHA denies Maoist-hit tag to state, Gogoi upset
GUWAHATI: The Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) has refused to tag the state as Maoist-hit despite the repeated pleas of the state government for assistance to check the spread of Maoists here. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has warned the Centre that state has a history of armed struggle and, so, it is vulnerable to the Maoists. The menace should be dealt with right now, added Gogoi. “The Centre thinks Maoists are not yet a problem in the state but my argument is that why can’t we nip it in the bud so that we don’t have to toil hard later to curb the menace,” the CM told TOI.
The negative response from the MHA has come as a huge setback to the state government. The state has been making several formal requests to the Centre to implement its Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for Maoist-hit districts in the state as well. According to the state government, four districts – Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Golaghat – have Maoist presence and qualify for implementation of the IAP.
Several Maoist cadres, including some central committee members, have been killed in police encounters and some have been arrested. According the state police there are about 150 enrolled Maoists cadres in the state and they have also started building their weaponry. In the Prime Minister and home minister’s conference with all chief ministers of the country on internal security held in New Delhi on Wednesday, Gogoi reiterated the urgency of implementing the Integrated Action Plan, which forms a major component of the joint counter-Maoist strategy, in Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Golaghat districts.
“We have a history of several armed struggles, right from the days of the Revolutionary Communist Party of India (RCPI). We are sitting on a tinderbox and at this juncture we cannot allow the Maoists to grow,” Gogoi said. He feels the numerous riverine islands that dot the Brahmaputra right till Bangladesh, where the river flows into from Dhubri district, are vulnerable to the Reds. “If they (Maoists) make inroads into these riverine islands, then it will be a difficult task to flush them out. Governing and policing the dispersed and innumerable river islands called chars and chaporis will be as difficult as the dense forests of Abujhmad region in Chattisgarh and Saranda in Jharkhand if the Maoists succeed in establishing a foothold there,” Gogoi said.
Home Ministry rejects DoT plans to track maoists through satellite
KOLKATA: The home ministry has dismissed a telecom department (DoT) proposal to provide satellite-based communications to beef up surveillance in India’s Maoist hotbeds, calling it an unviable “high-cost option” . Instead, it has asked the USOF administrator to expeditiously modify the Indian Telegraph Act (Amendment Rules) to award the contract to BSNL on a”nomination basis” to roll out GSM networks in these troubled regions, waiving the requirement of an open bidding process”.
The USOF, which subsidises telecom infrastructure in rural India and also supports the development of new products and services to improve broadband connectivity, is made up of funds from all telecom operators . “The home ministry is averse to deploying satellite communications technology in regions identified as Maoist hotbeds as it sees it as a short-term , expensive solution. It has advised the USOF to take the necessary legal steps to amend the Indian Telegraph Act to mandate BSNL to roll out GSM networks in these regions, bypassing the open bidding process,” said a senior DoT official.
Post-amendment of the Indian Telegraph Act, BSNL will be eligible to receive USOF subsidy “on an actual basis for opex and capex costs incurred” since the project involves providing mobile connectivity in regions facing security challenges and low revenues. Since the Union Cabinet has approved the mobile rollout in these maoist pockets, the USOF will shortly approach the law ministry to amend the Act.
The amendment is needed since under current the rules any contract for a USOF-subsidised telecom venture can be only awarded to telcos that participate in a bidding process since all mobile phone companies contribute 5% of their annual revenue to the USOF corpus. But the home ministry is averse to involving private telecom operators in this high-security mobile venture. In fact, it has rejected a recent Planning Commission proposal of initially inviting bids from private mobile phone companies, stressing that “this project must be awarded to a state-run telco on national security grounds” . The ministry wants BSNL to extend mobile coverage in 2,199 locations across Andhra Pradesh , Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand , Orissa, Bihar, Maharashtra , MP, West Bengal, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh that have been identified “as prone to left wing extremism”. According to a detailed feasibility report submitted by BSNL to DoT, the project cost is estimated at Rs 5,806.7 crore.
Maoists in poll strategy shift, field candidates
KOLKATA: The Maoists have decided to field sympathizers as independent candidates in the forthcoming panchayat polls, in a significant shift from their earlier stance of not taking part in electoral politics. Sources said that the Maoists’ strategy shift was necessitated by their effort to penetrate the local-level administrative bodies so that they could become a part of policy-making. According to intelligence reports, some individuals once considered “close” to the Maoists but who never got directly involved with the movement might contest the panchayat polls. According to the reports, there are at least seven blocks in West Midnapore — including Nayagram, Gopiballavpur, Sankrail, Jhargram, Jamboni and Binpur — where there is a strong possibility of Maoist sympathizers contesting as independent candidates.
Police have also identified four blocks in Purulia — Jhalda I and II, Joypur and Raghunathpur-I — and six blocks in Bankura — Sarenga, Ranibandh, Simlipal, Bandwan, Balarampur and Bagmundi — where the ultras might field sympathizers. Significantly, the number of independent candidates in these three districts is considerably high. There are 843 independent candidates in 3,846 gram panchayats and 152 independent candidates in 798 panchayat samitis in West Midnapore; 681 independent candidates in 1,944 gram panchayats and 137 independent candidates in 446 panchayat samitis in Purulia; and 498 independent candidates in 1,944 gram panchayats and 137 independent candidates in 446 panchayat samitis in Bankura. Apart from that, the Maoists are also trying to field candidates in Birbhum,
Hooghly, North and South 24-Parganas, the report mentions. To escape the scanner of the security forces, the rebels have avoided using banners of frontal organizations such as People’s Committee against Police Atrocities or Durniti O Samrajyabadi Agrashan Birodhi Ganatantrik Mancha. While these outfits are expected to provide outside support, this time they are mostly banking on the individual acceptability of the candidates. According to a senior police officer, the Maoists are mainly concentrating on gram panchayats and panchayat samitis because these two tiers are responsible for taking decisions as far as local issues are concerned.
“Surprisingly enough, they are not interested in contesting in the zilla parishad,” the officer said. “We had reports a month back that Maoists are trying to put up independent candidates. We are keeping strict vigil since nominations are going on. Such candidates will definitely be identified,” said Sumit Kumar, additional police superintendent of Jhargram. But senior police officers are not sure whether, even if identified, the administration can do anything. “During the Lalgarh movement, there were lots of people who had the Maoists’ tacit support. There were many who not only gave them moral support but also helped them indirectly. It is very hard to identify them,” a senior cop said.