Peoples War in India Clippings 11/6/2013



Naxals fire at CRPF camps in Chhattisgarh

RAIPUR: Naxalites on Monday night opened fire at CRPF camps in Chhattisgarh’sSukma district but the attack was repulsed by security personnel. Sources said three different camps of the paramilitary in south Bastar were targeted in Naxal gunfire which was suitably retaliated to by the troops. The firing went on for about an hour, they said. There has been no loss of life or property. “This is Maoists’ regular strategy to aim and fire at security forces camps from a distance and then run away in the dark,” a senior official said. The forces are on alert everywhere in the state, the official said.

In how to tackle Naxals, sign of new battle between Centre and states

New Delhi: The Prime Minister is meeting representatives of all political parties in an attempt to engineer an agreement on how to tackle Naxalism. Last month, a convoy of Congress leaders was attacked in Chhattisgarh. 25 people were killed. The Centre wants states affected by Naxalism – like Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh – to forgo the focus on development in Naxal-affected areas and take more responsibility in combating Left-Wing Extremism (LWE). Specifically, it would like states to conduct thorough intelligence operations to identify and locate top local Naxal commanders, add more police stations in the worst-affected areas, empower and upgrade special state forces so that they are less dependent on central paramilitary troops, and speed up the construction of roads so that troops have better access to affected areas.

The Centre also believes it is essential for mainstream political parties to be encouraged to be more active in areas dominated and controlled by Maoists. At last week’s conference on internal security, called by the PM and attended by chief ministers of different states, there was resistance to “the military approach.” Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said, “We must work together to launch serious developmental initiatives so that misdirected people or those who were left of the development net can be brought back into the socio-economic net.” There have been no major Maoist strikes in Bihar in the last few years and ground support for the Naxals appears to be shrinking, which means there is little incentive for the government there to change its strategy.

“Unless tribal areas are developed on a war footing, they will continue to be vulnerable to the Naxalites,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said at the same meeting. The Centre wants to promote what officials refer to as “the Andhra model.” Over the last decade, the state of Andhra Pradesh has evolved a policy where the District Superintendent of Police (DSP) makes key decisions about how and when to target Naxals.

In most cases, this officer is expected to lead operations against Maoist military formations – platoons and companies of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army of the CPI (Maoist). The State Intelligence Bureau helps to gather information about Naxal activities and leaders, which is passed on to the DSP. Development of Naxal-affected areas by providing facilities like road, health, education and revitalising the Public Distribution System to counter the propaganda of Naxals takes second place to military action.

“We want political parties and states to realise that the soft option won’t work and unless they go after the Maoists, the Maoists will kill them at every given opportunity no matter how weak or denuded the Maoists may be,” a senior official in the Home Ministry told NDTV. This approach signals, say sources, a paradigm shift in the Centre’s assessment of the Naxal insurgency. The movement is no longer being seen as a result of the State failing to provide basic facilities to its own people.

The development-deficit approach is Nehruvian in nature. It puts the onus on the State to redress the grievances of the people. And, the Naxals are perceived as an instrument that highlights the neglect of the poorest and most backward parts of states. The powerful National Advisory Council, headed by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, had earlier endorsed this view. With today’s meeting, government officials hope to propagate the view that Naxals attack Indian democracy and its representatives and must be dealt with militarily. Speaking to reporters after the massacre at Chhattisgarh last month, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told reporters that there was no difference between Maoists and terrorists.

Bihar to step up anti-naxal strategy

The political class’ pledge to quell the Maoist violence renewed hopes that the Nitish Kumar government would finally carry out a “mid-course correction” in its handling of the naxal challenge. The Centre believes that Bihar had been going a little too soft on Maoists and had not adequately deployed state and central police forces to pro-actively carry out operations.

It was in the backdrop that the home ministry had ordered two CRPF battalions to move out of the state in March and put on hold its plans to induct more forces. A government official confirmed the decision – that had since been reversed – was aimed at sending a clear message that the state police need to get cracking on the Maoists. Bihar’s violence profile – Maoist-related killings doubled in the first five months this year as compared to 2012 – seems to have convinced the Nitish government to stress on security operations.

Maoists torch JCB, bulldozer, run away with tractor in Chhattisgarh

Raipur: Maoists on Monday torched two road construction machines and took away a tractor in the insurgency-hit Kanker district of Chhattisgarh. “Maoists torched a bulldozer and a JCB machine of the forest department, apart from taking away a tractor, engaged in road construction work in Mendra village,” Pakhanjore Sub-Divisional Officer of Police Anil Kumar Soni told PTI. Maoists are observing Jan Pituri Week from June 5 to June 11 to commemorate their ‘martyrs’. Vehicular traffic was thin at many places in south Bastar’s remote areas. People faced difficulty in reaching their destinations.

As the Railways have decided not to run the passenger train from Visakhapatnam to Kirandul beyond Jagdalpur fearing Naxal attacks during the week, passengers were forced to travel by bus from Jagdalpur to Kirandul. Police said patrolling by paramilitary forces had been intensified in the Naxal-infested areas. However, this time Maoists neither announced any relief for public transport system nor gave any call for bandh during the Jan Pituri week, contrary to their past practice. Meanwhile, a Naxal was arrested from Mardapal police station area of Kodagaon district, police said. “Guddu Muriya, 25-year-old member of Usri Jan-militia, was arrested in Mulnar village on Sunday late night,” Additional Superintendent of Police Surjeet Atri told.

India: The Maoists Are Winning – OpEd

By Ajai Sahni

Once again, the Maoists have engineered a mass slaughter, this time at Darbha in Chhattisgarh, killing 27, among them, Mahendra Karma, the architect of Salwa Judum, who was under Z-plus protection. The reaction has been somewhat more shrill in the present case, as compared to preceding excesses, including the greater Chintalnar massacre which killed 76 security force (SF) personnel, because the Darbha attack killed politicians, and is being projected as a ‘direct assault on democracy’.

It is not clear how the killing of large numbers of SF personnel is less of a ‘direct attack’ on the democracy that they stake their lives to protect; but such distinctions are perhaps best understood by those who have a more subtle appreciation of democratic theory. Nevertheless, the greater agitation would be reassuring, if one could believe, as many commentators have stated, that the Darbha incident will be a ‘turning point’ in the national approach to counter-insurgency; that, finally, after decades of incoherence, prevarication and periodic cycles of political opportunism, consensus on dealing with the Maoists is near at hand.

The Minister of State for Home, R.P.N. Singh, standing in for Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who chose not to disturb his vacation in the US, has assured us that “there will be more active operations” and that the Government would “relook” at its Naxal policy. Home Secretary R.K. Singh has declared that coordinated and joint operations will soon be launched in Chhattisgarh and neighbouring States. In the exercise of its hoary and revered ‘battalion approach’ to crisis management, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) has announced that all of two battalions of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) are soon to be dispatched, to reinforce the 28 presently deployed in Chhattisgarh.

The Prime Minister has reiterated his ‘determination’ to fight the Maoists. Various leaders from different political formations have, diversely, declared that the time has come to ‘crush’ the Maoists. Demands for the deployment of the Army and Air Force are rife. Appearances notwithstanding, none of this is particularly reassuring. But before examining the reasons for this, it is useful to look at some essentials of the Darbha incident. Various investigations have been instituted, and it is not the intention, here, to second guess these. However, the magnitude of the failure that preceded the attack is abundantly clear.

Virtually every aspect of state, security and administrative function collapsed, and the most rudimentary of established procedures were ignored, virtually gifting the Maoists with the opportunity to engineer this devastating strike. As usual, cries of ‘intelligence failure’, including the Chief Minister Raman Singh’s accusation that the Centre provided ‘no timely input’, have been matched by the Centre’s assertions that due warning of escalating Maoist threat in the area had been given. But those who speak of ‘intelligence failure’ lack all understanding of the sheer disintegration of the system. The constant demand for ‘specific information’ from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) misunderstands both the nature of insurgent organisation and violence, as well as the reality of the IB’s existing capacities and mandate.

The IB has an actual strength of 18,975 personnel (against a sanction of 26,867) including all support and secondary staff, and an unspoken mandate that covers everything under the sun. No more than a few score personnel would be fully committed to monitoring the Maoist movement across the worst afflicted States, spanning nearly 500,000 square kilometres (excluding affected areas in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh) and a population of well over half a billion. State intelligence agencies add limited capacities to this rudimentary capability, as do technical surveillance operations managed by the Air Force from faraway Hyderabad and the more distant National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) at Delhi. The combined intelligence cover in the Maoist heartland of Bastar Divsion is sporadic, inaccurate, generalized and, indeed, often no more than notional.

To imagine that real time and actionable preventive intelligence could be available on an incident like Darbha borders on absurdity. Indeed, demands for specific intelligence on impending Maoist attacks are no more than an index of the degree to which India’s political leaders are divorced from the ground realities of the theatres of violence, and of the state of their own security apparatus. Another aspect of the Darbha incident requires attention.

The Maoists are boasting about the “dog’s death” they have inflicted on Mahendra Karma; spokesman Gudsa Usendi declared, “this historic attack has created a festive atmosphere in entire Bastar region (sic)”. Partisan exaggeration notwithstanding, this impact must not be underestimated. The Darbha attack proves that the state cannot protect its own, even as it demonstrated the sheer relentlessness, determination and efficiency with which the Maoists pursue their declared enemies. This will have inevitable impact on Maoist mobilisation and recruitment in the immediate future. To return to the issue of response; shared anger, agitation and frustration are a matter entirely different from a strategic consensus, and there is already evidence of the quick dissipation of any such emerging consensus.

Partisan bickering has begun, as has the tug-of-war between the Centre and States. Many ‘experts’ have offered their own idiosyncratic interpretations of the Malay, Mizoram, Peruvian and other ‘models’ as readily available ‘solutions’, each with their own divergent recommendations. Despite a greater apparent consensus on a more ‘hardline’ approach, the decrepit debate over ‘military’, ‘developmental’, ‘social’ and ‘political’ approaches, is already re-emerging.

Crucially, moreover, a broad consensus on a ‘hardline’ approach does not constitute an actual counterinsurgency strategy; nor does a determination to improve ‘coordination and cooperation’ between States and with the Centre. Even where the ‘law and order’ approach and ‘military strategies’ have been adopted, their character and impact varies widely across theatres. There is no simple choice, with automatic and inevitable consequences to follow.

All use of force is not equal. The ‘law and order’ solution, indeed, comprehends an infinitely wide spectrum of Force dispositions, strategies, tactics, policies and practices, many of them effective, and others entirely counter-productive. The reality, moreover, is that the current and projected availability of counter-insurgency Forces in Chhattisgarh – some 30 battalions of CAPFs (yielding roughly 12,000 personnel on the ground) and 16 battalions of Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF, with a higher ratio of operationalization, yielding another 8,000 personnel) – are not even a fraction of what is needed to dominate the Bastar Division (nearly 40,000 square kilometres, of predominantly difficult terrain) leave alone all afflicted areas in the State.

As for the ‘coordination’ bogey, it is useful to recall that the Andhra Pradesh Police resolved the State’s Naxalite problem with little help from other States, and no more than the usual financial support for security expenditure and Police modernisation from the Centre. On the other hand, Chhattisgarh had ‘cooperated’ most enthusiastically with the Centre when then Home Minister P. Chidambaram launched his ‘massive and coordinated’ operations across the Maoist affected States.

The consequence was the death of hundreds of SF personnel, culminating in the slaughter at Chintalnar, and no enduring gains to show for these wasted lives. Current state capacities cannot be reconciled with any coherent CI strategy against the Maoists – be it ‘clear, hold and develop’, ‘area domination’, ‘intelligence based surgical strikes’, or any other current formulation, including the nonsense about developmental and political solutions.

The present enthusiasm for the ‘military solution’, ‘massive’ deployments, hi-tech wars, and ‘intensified operations’ will, likely, soon dissipate. It can only be hoped that hasty and ill-conceived political adventures don’t put more lives at unnecessary risk in the interim, as they have done in the past. (The author is an expert on counter-terrorism and serves as the executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi).

Maoist whiff spurs cop act- 66 youths yanked off train in Tinsukia

Jorhat, June 10: Police last night detained 66 suspected Maoist recruits from Tinsukia railway station as they were about to board the Chennai Express. Deputy inspector-general of police (eastern range) Satyen Gogoi told The Telegraph that the police had “some specific information” about a large number of youths trying to leave Assam through the district with the intention of joining the Maoists. The drive was carried out at the railway station based on this information.

He said the police detained persons found “doubtful” during the checking carried out on the train. These youths could not give proper answers when questioned by the police to verify the information on the documents produced by them. Tinsukia superintendent of police P.P. Singh said most of the 66 youths detained were supposed to leave Assam for jobs for the first time, while some were returning to their jobs in southern states.

He said the police were verifying each and every piece of information and documents along with the name of the proposed or current employers. Singh said parents/guardians of the youths were also contacted and asked to come to Tinsukia police station to help the police in the investigation. Sources said the fact that many of these youths were from villages known to be insurgency or Maoist-affected had made the police even more suspicious.

Most of the youths hailed from places like Sadiya, Tangana, Dhola in Tinsukia district, Rajgarh and Tingkhong (both in Dibrugarh district) and Namsai in Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh, which are deemed sensitive in terms of insurgency and Left-wing extremism. Sources said around 15 of the youths belonged to the tea community, while the others belonged to Ahom, Moran and other Assamese communities. The most wanted Maoist leader of the state, Adiyta Bora, who was arrested in Odisha in 2011 and brought to Assam and who later jumped bail, is from Tingkhong. In May last year, four Maoist cadres were killed in an encounter with the police in Sadiya.

The development assumes significance as, according to intelligence reports, Maoists are making inroads into Tinsukia district, with top police officers and also chief minister Tarun Gogoi admitting time and again to their presence in the district. Sources said there had been earlier reports about unemployed youths from tea garden areas of the district going out of the state in search of jobs and not returning home for a long time.

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