Go aggressively against Naxals: Centre to state
The Union government on Wednesday told Naxalism-affected states to brace for more attacks – particularly in areas with thin deployment of security forces – as the red rebels look to create a diversion to stave off the heat brought on by the ongoing offensive that has cornered many of its cadre. The advisory follows a key meeting chaired by home secretary Anil Goswami in wake of Tuesday’s attack in Jharkhand that killed several policemen including the Pakur district police chief Amarjit Balihar.
“There was consensus that we should not deviate from the original strategy. Go aggressively after the Maoists where they are most comfortable and raise our defences in other areas where they will retaliate,” a senior home ministry official said. Goswami is also learnt to have told the Central Reserve Police Force to assume the lead role in anti-naxal operations amidst mounting concerns that the force wasn’t delivering results. The immediate provocation for Tuesday’s attack could be a series of encounters in Jharkhand’s Latehar district where security forces have been fighting the armed guerrillas led by CPI (Maoist) central committee member Arvindji for more than a week.
“There is a view that the Maoists were hoping the well-planned ambush of Balihar’s convoy would persuade the government to back out from Latehar,” the official said, adding that Centre had sent a detailed advisory on the operational steps to be taken by the states. But intelligence sources indicate that the bigger worry for the anti-naxal operations was the political support for the offensive, particularly with Chhattisgarh going to polls later this year and signs in Ranchi that a Jharkhand Mukhti Morcha-led government could back come to power in the state. “To put it mildly, the JMM has traditionally been soft on Maoists and could impact the future of the operations that had picked up over the last six months,” an intelligence source said.
Elite forces for more states
Unfazed by a series of brazen attacks, the Centre is confident of taking on the Maoists in a big way in next six months. The reason is the newly formed Special Anti-Naxal Forces (SANF) in Chhattigarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar that will soon be equipped and trained on the pattern of Andhra’s elite Greyhounds. “All the four states have inducted personnel in full strength for the SANF that now will be trained by special instructors trained at Greyhounds academy.
Each state will get about 40 such special instructors to bring special forces at par with the Greyhounds,” said a senior home ministry official. The Centre has kept budget outlay of Rs373 crore for four years for the SANF whose upkeep will be directly monitored by the Union home ministry. This year, the ministry has dispersed Rs22 crore each to all four states. “We will ensure that they are used only for anti-Maoist operations, given incentives at par with the Greyhounds, used actively in operations and are given residential facilities within next four years,” said officials. The strength of SANF varies from state to state and broadly matches with the strength of armed Maoist cadre present in that state.
Each commando of the special anti-Maoist force (SANF) has been handpicked with equal emphasis being given on his mental prowess and physical ability. To keep SANF fighting fit throughout the year, top Greyhounds commandoes will visit them from time to time while each commando will have to go through a refresher course every year. Fresh security advisory for states In the aftermath of the Jharkhand incident in which superintendent of police of Pakur district was killed along with 4 other policemen, the Centre on Wednesday reviewed the situation and sent an advisory to all the affected states telling them to be alert.
After reviewing the situation with Asif Ibrahim, director of Intelligence Bureau, Pranay Sahay, director general of CRPF and the newly appointed security advisor on Maoist issues K Vijay Kumar, Union home secretary Anil Goswami told the Maoist-affected states to be more vigilant and focus equally on areas that are non-core to Maoists. According Centre’s assessment, after being pushed on the back foot by security forces in their core areas, the Maoists are now using diversionary tactics by carrying out attacks in non-core areas. To counter Maoists, the home ministry has asked the CRPF to be more proactive and make smaller counter action teams.
Remain vigilant in non-core Red areas, Centre alerts states
NEW DELHI: Apprehending more Jharkhand-type incidents as security forces are primarily engaged in core Maoist-dominated areas, the Centre on Wednesday sent an alert to all Naxal-affected states asking them to remain vigilant in ‘non-core’ areas. It feared that the ultras may break out from the main battlefield and carry out attacks like they did in Dumka district on Tuesday killing six cops including an SP.
Asking the states to intensify operations against ultras in ‘core’ areas, especially along inter-state borders, the Centre also advised them not to lose focus in other areas as Maoists are likely to go for more ‘spectacular attacks’ in such ‘non-core’ zones to boost morale of the cadre. “It is also advisable to avoid losses in non-core areas and put pressure in core areas thorough continuous offensive against the Maoists in their stronghold,” said an official, referring to a detailed note sent to the states. The alert was sent after a brainstorming session in the home ministry over what went wrong in Jharkhand which is currently under central control due to President’s rule in the state.
During the meeting, officials noted that local police had ignored inputs which were passed on to them on June 25 when Jharkhand Police and CRPF personnel launched a massive operation in the Maoists’ stronghold including Latehar, Palamau, Garhwa and Chatra districts. “The other districts were warned to remain alert as it was suspected that the ultras would try to target areas which remained out of the focus of the ongoing anti-Naxal operations,” said an official. It was noted in the meeting – attended by new Union home secretary Anil Goswami, Intelligence Bureau chief Asif Ibrahim and home ministry’s advisor on anti-Naxal operations K Vijay Kumar – that the ultras, facing the heat in jungles of Latehar and Palamau, had sneaked into Pakur-Dumka zone which is not their ‘core’ area and attacked the police convoy.
“As part of their tactics, the Maoists would always look for districts which have, so far, remained out of the priority list of security agencies due to reports of relatively lesser number of Naxal activities in such areas. Pakur and Dumka districts are certainly in that league where the state had never deployed CRPF,” the official said. Incidentally, the state announced these two as Naxal-affected districts only on Wednesday – a day after the Maoists killed Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar.
In fact, Balihar had assessed that Pakur was a moderately Naxal-affected district. He had written in his report – available on Jharkhand Police website ” that Maoists became active in Pakur only after the opening of coal mines in the mid-90s. “Their spread in the area is mainly for the extraction of levy from coal mines,” Balihar wrote after joining the district. His report, however, noted that the recent killing of social activist Valsa John by Naxals clearly showed that they enjoyed popular support in this area.
Over 1,000 Killed In Maoist Attacks in Jharkhand
Ranchi: Around 1,100 people, including 426 security personnel, have been killed in Jharkhand since it was carved out of Bihar in November 2000, police data show. The dead include a Lok Sabha member, two state legislators and an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. Superintendent of Police Amajeet Balihar was killed Tuesday in a Maoist ambush along with five other policemen. The Maoists attacked a police convoy in the Kathikund forest in Pakur in Dumka district, 350 km from the state capital.
The Maoists first set off a land mine and later fired indiscriminately on the convoy. Balihar died on the spot. In January 2005, Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist legislator Mahendra Singh was shot dead in Giridih district. In March 2007, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Lok Sabha member Sunil Mahto was assassinated. In 2008, former minister and Janata Dal-United legislator Ramesh Singh Munda was killed. The number of civilians killed has shown a rising trend over the last five years.
It was 57 in 2008, 138 in 2009, 70 in 2010, 130 in 2011 and 169 in 2012. “Civilians are worst affected in rural parts. Villagers are targeted if one Maoist group perceives that they support a rival group. There are more than six Maoist groups in the state and civilians are being killed in internecine war,” a police official told IANS. When Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar, only eight districts were disturbed by Maoist activity. There are now Maoist guerrillas operating in 18 of state’s 24 districts.
Districts on Maoist strike alert
KOLKATA: The Centre on Wednesday warned the Bengal government about a possible Maoist attack after receiving inputs that rebels from Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand might try to enter the state before the panchayat polls. The warning comes a day after a group of around 100 Maoists ambushed and killed a superintendent of police and four cops travelling in a convoy of three SUVs through dense forests at Jamia in Jharkhand’s Dumka district, just 30km from the Bengal border.
The state government has been alerted by the Centre about possible Maoist attack, as there are inputs that the Maoists from Chattisgarh and Jharkhand might try to enter the state before the panchayat polls. The border police stations have been put on high alert. An alert has also been sounded for VIPs touring the districts. They have been asked not to move in Jangalmahal without security. Even the police have been asked to take certain precautions.
They have been asked not to use the same route twice. The police administration has been asked to review the threat perception of the poll candidates, as the Maoists might attempt to kill some of them before the polls. “Should any candidate complain about a threat, it should be seriously verified,” said a senior police officer. The state government has been asked to continue with this high state of alert till the fourth phase of polling, as Birbhum, which is adjoining Jharkhand, goes to poll on July 22, said IG (West) S N Gupta. Murshidabad and Birbhum share a border with Dumka, so the cops have been asked to be in a state of high alert until the fourth phase are over, as the rebels can easily move up to Murshidabad, it was felt.
With Dumka district of Jharkhand there is border with Murshidabad and Birbhum, so the cops had been asked to keep a close watch till the fourth phase as rebels can easily move up to Murshidabad. Moreover, with intelligence reports that the rebels are trying to set up hideouts in the North-East, the police have also been asked to keep strong vigil on rail links as well as on the highways to keep tabs on their movement. Kharaisole and Murarai police stations in Birbhum have been particularly alerted, said sources.In Purulia, Bankura and Midnapore (West), the police have been asked to keep a close watch on villagers as well.
“If the Maoists are getting villagers’ support, they could turn proactive,” said a senior official. Local intelligence suggests that some Maoist leaders have been camping regularly in the Ayodhya hills and even holding meetings with the tribals. A senior officer said there was information that the Maoist leaders Bikash and Bikram are also headed for the Ayodhya hils. Akash, Kanchan and Madan Mahato are frequenting parts of Midnapore (West) along with leaders like Ranjit Pal, to improve relations with villagers.
Senior cops are worried that there is already an existing corridor – under the forest cover – for reaching Bengal. Particularly in Purulia, which shares a 380km border with Jharkhand, special tabs are being kept on the Bandwan, Barabazar, Balarampur, Bagmundi, Jhalda and Jaipur police stations. Even in Bankura district, Ranibandh, Barikul, Jhilimili police stations are on high alert. In Midnapore (West), the high alert has been sounded for Jhargram, Belpahari, Nayagram, Beliabera, Jamboni, Lalgarh, Sankrail, Gaoltore, Salboni and Gopiballavpur police stations. The cops ave been specially alerted that the Maoists might try to acquire explosives from the coal mafia.
On Wednesday, in Jhargram’s Jamaria, a container containing 25kg explosives was found and later defused. On Sunday, in Madhupur under Lalgarh police station, two landmines were spotted. Birbhum, too, has been on high alert following Tuesday’s attack in Dumka. All the eight police stations of Birbhum, which shares a 38km border with the disturbed districts of Jharkhand, have been put on high alert before the July 22 polls.
The red terror strike on the police convoy has posed a security threat to the Birbhum villages bordering Jharkhand that had witnessed Maoist activities earlier, particularly during the trouble that broke out in the illegal quarries running in the villages. IG (Western range) Siddhanath Gupta went to Suri, the district headquarters, on Wednesday and took stock of the security with officers of all nine police stations in the district.
Senior police officers fear that the Maoists would try to sneak into the bordering villages of Birbhum that do not have central forces stationed. Sensing that the threat has moved closer home, the IG briefed the policemen about the changing modus operandi of the Maoists and asked them to move cautiously in the “vulnerable” areas. Of the nine police stations in the district, eight – Khayrasole, Kankartala, Rajnagar, Dubrajpur, Mohammed Bazaar, Rampurhat, Nalhati and Murarai – which border Jharkhand have been marked vulnerable. “We need to take special measures to prevent the red rebels from entering Bengal. Police stations along the Bengal-Jharkhand border have to take extra caution to avert such incursions.
We have decided to beef up forces in the bordering police stations and provide them adequate intelligence support,” the IG said. According to police, the Maoist activities recorded in the Birbhum villages earlier were all backed by insurgents from the Jharkhand side namely Dumka, Pakur and Jamtara. The topography – the forests along the Bengal-Jharkhand border – has helped the movement, and so did the continuing poverty among the villagers on either side of the border. Most of them have been put to utter exploitation in the illegal quarries dotting this belt. As a result, the threat lingers despite arrests of some hard-core Maoists from the area.
Aware of the ground reality, senior police officers from Bengal and Jharkhand have met from time to time either at Suri, the district headquarters of Birbhum, or at Dumka on the Jharkhand side to share information about the red brigade. The latest was in May this year at Suri where police officers of the two states discussed about the growing Maoist presence in Pakur. The Birbhum Police fears that some of the red guerrillas might have sneaked into the bordering villages of the district.
“Most parts of Birbhum are vulnerable to Maoist strikes. This is true even after the vigiligance along the border has been beefed up. There are chances that some of the accused in Tuesday’s Maoist ambush might have crossed the border. We have alerted the bordering police stations to keep a watch on those coming from Jharkhand,” said Birbhum SP Murlidhar.
Exclusive: Maoists becoming part of labour unions in Delhi-NCR, say intelligence agencies
If you thought the Maoist uprising is confined to the faraway badlands of Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, you’ve got another think coming. Ultra-left organisations are steadily infiltrating labour unions and workers’ groups in Delhi and the National Capital Region, intelligence agencies say. Information gathered by these agencies suggests that Delhi is emerging as a major urban base of ultra left ideology. Front organisations of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) have let their members loose across the capital. Many of their members are said to be active in Delhi’s satellite towns like Gurgaon and Ghaziabad. Intelligence inputs indicate that the Maoists have the clearly defined objective of entering the workforce, becoming part of workers’ associations, and motivating them to carry out violent protests.
One of the groups active in the national capital region is the Revolutionary Democratic Front. Intelligence inputs indicate they have penetrated various social fora, trade unions and workers’ groups as well as bodies working for social empowerment. Intelligence agencies have information that RDF has told its fraternal organisations to participate and lead in any retaliation against violence by dominant social classes. “This is not like AISA, the student body of the CPI(M-L). Their level of involvement is much higher; they are more like a Maoist overground,” one Delhi-based intelligence official says.
An intelligence report says that the group has “resolved to launch a militant campaign against caste violence”. Of Delhi’s 11 districts, seven have a have strong ultra-left influence. They are Central, South, New Delhi, North-West, North, South-West and North East. Sources say that the group has already developed a strong base in Delhi and the National Capital Region. Intelligence inputs indicate activity by ultra-left groups in states like Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. Sources say Maoist cadres from left-wing affected states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are being regularly sent to Delhi.
The RDF is just one of such identified organisations. “There are several frontal organisations of CPI(Maoist) that have penetrated into unions, workers groups’ and organisations working in the social sector,” says a source. Sources say the ultra-left cadres work in layers. The modus operandi of the group is aimed at provoking violence, starting from distributing pamphlets, distributing material related to Maoist ideology, holding rallies, holding rallies, and finally penetrating protests and triggering more violence. Anand Kumar, Professor of Sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University says such inputs cannot be dismissed out of hand but it is imperative to find reasons for this. “There needs to be engagement between policy makers, intelligence agencies and social scientists. We need to know what a sufficient indicator for being ultra-left is,” he says.
The Maoist strategy of creating urban bases in cities was uncovered in Delhi with the arrest of Kobad Ghandy in 2009 on charges of spreading the ultra-left influence. The presence of ultra-left groups and their active participation came to the forefront when Intelligence Bureau gathered information that left-wing extremist groups had entered the Maruti workers’ protests last year and instigated the workers to grievous violence.
There are intelligence inputs that ultra-left elements had even entered the Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement as well as the public protests after the Delhi gang rape case of December 16 last year. “These were instances where they instigated the mob. They have a planned strategy and there are inputs that they continue to do this,” said an intelligence officer.
‘Cops engaging in false propaganda’
VISAKHAPATNAM: The banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) accused the security forces of mounting a psychological war against the movement by carrying out false propaganda about the ill-health of top Maoist leaders to convince Naxalites to surrender. Urging the people to ignore and condemn the malicious campaign against the Maoist leadership, Pratap, a spokesperson of the Maoists’ Central Regional Bureau (CRB), which is the heart of the Maoist party, said in a press release issued on Wednesday, that all the top Maoist leaders were doing well and striving hard for the revolutionary movement.
“This propaganda is nothing but a way to confuse people and shatter their confidence in the Maoists party,” Pratap said, pointing out that the security forces were using a few Telugu channels to telecast false stories that top leaders were ready to give up and come over ground. “The channels have been targeting Maoist party general secretary Muppalla Lakshma Rao alias Ganapati, CRB secretary Katakam Sudarsan alias Anand and AOB secretary Ramakrishna alias RK,” he said.
While admitting that faulty strategies had dealt a severe setback in the Naxalbari and Srikakulam movements, he said the movement had rekindled at Jagtial in Karimnagar of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. “The government has brutally killed many Naxal leaders in the past three and half decades. Despite these setbacks, the party has been going ahead with the movement and all the senior leaders are in field and actively involved in the revolutionary struggle,” he said. Pratap said that revolutionaries being human beings also fall sick sometimes. “The party is trying hard to avoid deaths due to ill health by taking various measures. But Despite taking precautionary measures, we have been losing a few cadres to ill health due to the severe repression by the government,” he said.
Maoist core strength remains intact: MHA
NEW DELHI: The Union home ministry has admitted that despite a decline in violence levels, the core armed capabilities of the CPI (Maoist) have not suffered any significant damage. In a note circulated to members of the consultative committee during its meeting on Tuesday, the ministry said the Naxalites were expanding its area of influence besides upgrading military tactics. Large budgets, deployment of paramilitary and police modernization programmes have been able to degrade the Maoist capacity to the extent hoped for by the Centre.
The home ministry said CPI (Maoist) is working “assiduously to extend its area of influence in eastern Chhattisgarh and Western Odisha…The outfit focused on organization consolidation, besides upgrading its military tactics”. The assessment offered a couple of hours before the Jharkhand incident accurately reflects failure of security agencies and state police in keeping pace with Maoists. The incident again exposed the vulnerability of security agencies, even in a state currently under the Centre’s direct rule.
The usual explanations that Maoists are actually on the back foot following arrests or deaths of leaders and that strikes are intended to rally morale are sounding less and less convincing and the home ministry note contains some frank assessments. Although the area of Tuesday’s attack is not a part of the core Red zone, there is clearly no leeway for the police to relax its guard against Maoists due to its proximity to two Naxal-affected states – Bihar and West Bengal. The minutes of consultative committee meeting – attended by home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and other senior ministry officials including the new home secretary Anil Goswami – convey the impression that nobody seems to have a real grasp of the Naxalite situation.
The country has witnessed three major incidents – one each in Chhattisgarh (May 25), Bihar (June 13) and Jharkhand (July 2) – in the last 40 days which left 37 people, including senior Congress leaders of Chhattisgarh, dead. Though the home minister during his address admitted that the Maoist threat was one of the gravest challenges for the country and pitched for two pronged strategy of security action and development to end this problem, the action on the ground does not seem to be effective.
Focus on Maoist who took control in Feb
The killing of the Pakur SP and five other policemen has brought the focus on a previously little-known Maoist, who rapidly moved up the rebels’ hierarchy to become the zonal commander of the Santhal Pargana region only in February this year. Pradeep Majhi alias Praveer has emerged as the main suspect who led the band of Maoists that attacked SP Amarjit Balihar’s convoy, officials said on Wednesday. According to the police, the previous zonal commander, Ramlal Rai, was arrested in February and his second-in-command Majhi took control days later. The latest attack is being considered his first major strike — to stamp his authority in the area.
“It is certainly a loss, but our forces are resilient and mature enough to respond to this,” said K Vijay Kumar, senior adviser on Naxal issues at the MHA, who was till recently an adviser to the Governor. The police said Majhi, who hails from Giridih, was instrumental in sneaking the CPI-Maoist into the region, where the erstwhile MCC did not traditionally hold sway. “There was a murder in 2001 within the Ramgarh police station area. A Paharia (tribal) leader was killed by the Mahajans (money lenders).
The Maoists exploited that, and Badri Rai became their leader here,” said an IPS officer, who has served in the region. Previous zonal commander Ramlal is Badri’s son. Shahdev Rai, Ramlal’s elder brother, works with Majhi, raising suspicions that the attack could have been in retaliation to his arrest. “They formed an armed squad in 2005, training local people. Most of the leaders were from Giridih and Bihar.
I reckon there are 20-25 active members in Kathikund/ Amrapara (the SP was killed along the road connecting these two areas), with 15 of them possessing police weapons,” said the IPS officer. The police had also arrested four Maoists in the Pakur-Godda border in April, which may have weakened the organisation considerably. The attack on the SP is also being seen as an operation to boost the Maoists’ morale
Arrested Maoist admits levy collection
CHHAPRA: Hardcore Naxalite Chandeshwar Sahni, who was arrested by Saran police on Tuesday from diara (riverine) area under Parsa police station area, has confessed that he was functioning as an area commander since 2006 and has been collecting levy under the name of ‘Prahar’ for CPI(Maoist). He said he has collected several lakhs of rupees so far. Giving this information, Saran SP Sujit Kumar on Wednesday said Sahni was a big catch for the police and steps have been taken to look into the call details of the three SIMs recovered from his possession.
It may be recalled that the police recovered one sixer, one pistol, six live cartridges, one cellphone and three SIMs from his possession. The arrested Naxalite confessed that he had issued letters to Navyug Construction Co demanding levy for the expansion of party activities and also for the establishment of an exploitation-free India. SP Kumar said, “Several criminal cases are pending against him under Amnour, Maker, Panapur, Parsa, Nayagaon and Bheldi police stations in Saran district and under Saraiya PS in Muzaffarpur district.
According to police, Sahni is a member of Naxalite armed group and was an expert in attacking trains, looting firearms from police stations and planting landmines. He has confessed to his involvement in explosion of vehicles belonging to Guddu Sharma, pramukh of Maker block, a few years ago. Saran SP said he had personally organized several raids to arrest Sahni but he has been evading arrest. The SP said Sahni’s arrest was a big setback to the Maoists.
CIF meets with police officers of ‘Maoist-prone’ districts
The Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) ADG, K L Tamta, today held a meeting with officers of all the eight police stations of Birbhum district which have been identified as ‘Maoist-prone’, police sources said. The meeting was also attended by district Superintendent of Police Murlidhar and DIG, CIF, Anil Kumar. The details of counter insurgency capacity of those eight police stations were discussed and some precautionary measures to combat the Maoists have been planned in the meeting, the sources said.
The meeting followed the July 2 killing of six policemen including a superintendent of police in Jharkhand’s Pakur, a neighbouring district of Birbhum. The CIF was established by the West Bengal government to combat the Maoist ultras in 2010.
Maoist insurgent carrying cash reward of Rs 25,000 arrested in Mardapal
A 33-year-old Maoist, carrying a cash reward of Rs 25,000, was arrested in the Maoist-hit Kondagaon district of Chhattisgarh, the police said. The insurgent was nabbed from Mardapal village of the district today, Kondagaon Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Surjeet Atri told PTI. The arrested Maoist was identified as Ramsingh Nag, who joined the Maoist movement as section commander of Kaknar platoon in 2010.
He was involved in a number of crimes ranging from loot, arson, murder in the region, Atri said. On a tip-off about his presence in Mardapal village, a police team nabbed Nag on suspicion, the ASP said, adding that during interrogation, he admitted his involvement in the Maoist movement. He was produced in Kondagaon’ local court from where he was sent to Jagdalpur jail, the police said.
Imphal blast: Manipur Maoist claims responsibility
Maoist Communist Party, Manipur Wednesday claimed responsibility for the bomb blast at the residence of chairman of the Board of Directors of Imphal Urban Co-operative Bank (IUCB) at Koirou Leikai in Imphal East district on Monday night. Claiming the blast incident, a statement signed by its publicity and propaganda secretary Nonglen Meetei, alleged IUCB chairman of involving in “massive corruption, appointment of relative to the banks fraudulently” and for his high handedness towards the party cadres. The blast they triggered at the residence of the chairman was a remote controlled one.
The statement, however, clarified that its cadres had not use any gun and the gun shot that was reportedly heard by the locality was fired out by the chairman Thokchom Dilipkumar and his men. The statement, further alleged that Maoist had already alerted the people about the misconduct of the chairman Dilip. He had appointed his own two sons as employees of the bank within this short span of two years as chairman by tempering the address of his sons.
Besides this he had appointed 40 persons so far in the bank without following the rules and regulations of the bank. The statement questioned the public motive when they staged a sit-in-protest against the bomb attack while appealing the people lend their valuable support to the outfit in rooting out corruption from the soil of Manipur.
Sonepur becoming hub of red rebels
Of late, Maoists have been using Sonepur district as their corridor because of its strategic location. Although reports of Maoists’ movement in the district were received after the jailbreak and loot of armoury in Nayagarh when the rebels from Chhattisgarh used the corridor to return to their base camp, it was for the first time on Tuesday that an encounter took place in Sonepur. There was an exchange of fire in Jharbahali forest under Ulunda police limits in the district between the security forces and the Maoists. Police said recovery of an SLR indicates that the Maoists had a senior leader who managed to escape.
Besides the SLR, the forces recovered four rifles, one hand grenade and a pistol from the spot. On Wednesday, security forces continued with combing operation hoping to stumble upon bodies of Maoists. They scurried through forested areas in Jharbahali, Singhasani hill in Jaunra Bhaunra, Tentulikhunti, Meghnad and Sulia. Sources said some women from Jharbahali village, who had gone to the forest to collect wild mushroom on Tuesday, spotted about 50 to 60 armed Maoists near Gudgudi nullah. Panicked, the women fled from the spot. Receiving information, SP Niti Sekhar rushed security forces to the spot.
Towards noon, the security forces came face-to-face with the Maoists. There was an exchange of fire for about an hour from 4 pm to 5 pm after which the Maoists disappeared into the forest. The villagers said they saw the Maoists carrying away two bodies, while many of them were seen injured. Sources said the Maoists could have escaped into Rairakhol area in Sambalpur, across Meghnad hill.
They added that divisional secretary of Dandakarnya division of CPI (Maoist) outfit Murali was in the group, but managed to escape. Hardcore Maoist Kunu Dehuri was also reportedly present and acted as the local conduit for the group. DIG (NR) Sanjay Kumar said the dominance of Maoists from Chhattisgarh is now becoming clear. He said the group comprised Maoists from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha.
Apart from the arms seized, the security forces had also recovered three landmines, about 3 kg of gun powder, detonator, fuse wire, flash gun, pellets, walkie-talkie sets and motorcycle battery to trigger the landmine. Kumar said the Maoist literature recovered from the camp pointed to the fact that this group had a hand in the killing of Chhattisgarh Congress leader Mahendra Karma. Meanwhile, SOG officer Loknath Bhoi, who was injured in the encounter on Tuesday, has been shifted to VSS Medical at Burla.