Six Naxals killed in Gadchiroli
Six Naxals were shot dead by the Gadchiroli police on Sunday morning in an encounter on the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarhborder in Ettapalli division of the district. “Naxals attacked a police team which was carrying out anti-Naxal operation on Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border on Sunday morning.
The operation is still going on. We have managed to recover six Naxal’s dead bodies, all in uniform. One Carbine, one .303 gun, three Bharmars (Country made rifles), hand grenades, backpacks and some Naxal literature were recovered from the spot” Gadchiroli Police PRO Dharmendra Joshi told The Hindu. But Mr.Joshi also said the number of casualties could increase because “the operation is still on”.
Plight of jailed tribal undertrials ‘serious’: Supreme Court
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has termed as “serious” the plight of tribal undertrials, lodged in various central jails in eight Naxal-affected states, but sought factual details for passing any judicial order. “These are very serious matters. You (PIL petitioner) are only relying on the media report. The data can be collected. You complete facts. We cannot pass order on generalised data. “If you want this court to entertain this petition, at least file certain facts so that we can act,” the bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said and asked the petitioner to file an additional affidavit giving factual details. The bench was hearing the PIL filed by Jinendra Jain on behalf of society ‘Fight For Human Rights’ alleging that thousands of tribals were languishing in various central jails without any trial in Naxal-affected states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Advocate K R Chitra, appearing for the society, argued that the Centre and the eight states be asked to respond as the issue was related to the fundamental rights of the underprivileged section of the society. “The Adivasi undertrials are languishing in various jails for very long period without any trial and as a result, unrest and hostilities are prevailing in tribal areas of the country,” the advocate argued.
“Often, the undertrials are not informed about the grounds of their arrests,” the PIL said. They are not even duly represented by lawyers of their choice as there are very few interpretors available in courts who can speak Adivasi languages like ‘Gondi’ and ‘Halbi’, it said. The PIL further said, “Adivasi undertrials speak only Adivasi language and there are no sufficient number of interpreters/translators available in courts, hence they are deprived of their fundamental rights of fair trials as they are unable to explain the real facts and circumstances to the judicial officers.”
The undertrials, arrested mostly in Naxal-violence related cases, are lodged in distant central jails and hence, they are deprived of “their rights to meet their relatives”, it said. The PIL also sought a direction to the Centre and the states to “initiate urgent concrete action and also appoint a special commission of eminent jurists” to oversee dedicated fast track courts to hear their cases.
Maoists taste success, form crack hit squads
KOLKATA : The CPI(Maoist) has formed “special operations group” after being rejuvenated following their successful operations in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand recently, according to Intelligence Bureau officials. The central military commission of the party is in charge of this group and cadres from nine states where the Maoists are active have been specially recruited for the SOG. A large number of them are women who hail from Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. They are being imparted training in jungle and guerilla warfare and also how to survive in dense forests for days without proper ration and hide from drone aircraft.
An intelligence official said, “During the last two operations it was noticed that Maoist squad members had fired rampantly which indicated that many of the cadres who had ambushed the convoy in which top Congress leaders were killed were novices. “As such, they are now imparting specialised training to their cadres by forming the SOG to use firepower at optimum level and also complete ambushes within minimum time and flee the area. They will basically be hit and run squads,” he said.
The West Bengal unit of the Maoists has also come under severe criticism for mishandling many operations and despite protests the state unit has now been placed under the command of the Jharkhand party unit. A tribal leader was killed by the Maoists in Purbo Medinipur district which the central party leadership felt was a big tactical mistake as tribals were their main support base. The central Maoist leadership, IB officials said, had also decided not to kill low ranking policemen or even those whom they suspect as informers among villagers. “They have decided to pin point top police officials, politicians and big businessmen as class enemies and annihilate them and thereby regain the support of the tribals. They had lost many of their bases due to ‘Operation Greenhunt’ but after killing the founder of Salwa Julum Mahendra Karma they are regrouping in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand very fast,” the official said. The SOG at present has 200 members and at least 15 are from Jangal Mahal area of West Bengal. The Maoist central leadership has directed that these SOG squads would be aided by local party units and its mass fronts.
Maoists blame A.P. govt. for Prasadam’s death
The Dandakarnya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) of the outlawed CPI-Maoist has condemned the death on Saturday of activist and Ganti Prasada Rao alias Prasadam (60), and blamed the Andhra Pradesh government for what the rebels called an “organised assassination.” Claiming that Prasadam was assassinated in a planned manner, the statement signed by DKSZC spokesperson Gudsa Usendi said that “ … the State [Andhra Pradesh] is threatening all those forces who are raising their voice, agitating and fighting against its anti-people and oppressive policies.” Prasadam was critically injured following an attack near a Nellore hospital on Thursday.
He died of a deep knife wound early on Saturday morning. Prasadam joined the Srikakulam Girijan Armed Peasant Struggle and started working with the undivided CPI (ML) in his teens. Later he joined the A.P. State Committee of the People’s War. He was arrested and eventually released but continued with open mass organisation. “…he continued in the committee of relatives and friends of Martyr Heroes [Amaraveerula Bandhumitrula Committee] and participated in all legal and open democratic movements that have been going on in A.P. He stood in support of the revolutionary literary movement also. He integrated with the ongoing mass movement for separate Telangana State,” the CPI-Maoist said.
According to the State Committee statement, the killing of Prasadam has to be seen in the backdrop of retaliatory attack by the State to avenge the Maoist ambush of May 25 that witnessed death of senior Congress leaders. “On the pretext of this attack [May 25 ambush], the rulers of the country have conspired to crush all democratic and revolutionary movements and to carry on their offensive with more severity. Comrade Ganti Prasadam’s killing should also be seen as a part of this conspiracy,” the release said.
Reds look to revamp military wing Specially trained men to take up positions in guerilla zones, says document
Hyderabad, July 6 Facing the heat from security forces, the Maoists have firmed up plans to raise an additional 14 battalions of People Liberation Army (PLA), the military wing of the banned CPI (Maoist). An internal document of the outlawed outfit, procured by the anti-Maoist intelligence wing of the state police, reveals that the task of PLA reorganisation, training and placement of forces has been entrusted to a key member of the party’s central committee (CC), Sonu, alias Nambala Keshav Rao. The Maoist document (dated June 28) surfaced after week-long celebrations in the forests of Chhattisgarh to mark the 10th anniversary of the formation of the CPI (Maoists).
The celebrations were followed by a meeting of the central committee at an unknown location in Jammu and Kashmir last week. The document indicated the plans to declare several regions in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra as “guerilla zones” in the near future. The specially trained guerillas will take positions in these zones and continue their support for what they call “people’s agitations” for land. “The Maoist teams will wage war not only in their strongholds but also in the new areas to demonstrate our strength and commitment” the document said. Nambala Keshav Rao (58), alias Basavaraj, accused in over two dozen cases and also said to be the one behind the recent attack on Congress leaders in Bastar, is the brain behind the Maoist intelligence network.
In a statement handed over to some select media organisations, Namburi Pratap, a spokesman of the central committee, has accused the AP Police of spreading false reports about the illness of some of the Maoist top guns like Ganapati, Katakam Ramakrishna and Sudarshan, as part of a propaganda to mislead the cadres. The statement, handed over to mediapersons at Paderu in Visakhapatnam, indicated that the district committees of CPI (Maoist) would be revived in AP after a gap of over eight years.
The reports from Chhattisgarh say the Maoists have constituted ‘Baal Action Teams’ to deploy school children in different capacities, to counter the build-up of security forces. BAT, a specialised school children unit of the Maoists, which has started operating in Bastar region from past several months, would also help the Baal Sanghams (children’s associations) and Chhatra Sanghams (students’ associations), that are already functional in the areas, police sources said. Bal Sanghams and Chhatra Sangham were active for the past several years in the region. They are used as informers, messengers and even as shields during the military operations.
AP was once a stronghold of Naxalites, so much so that the extremists were in a position to run parallel administration in their bastions, particularly in the Telangana region. However, over the years, the Maoist movement witnessed significant erosion in its support base. Dangerous plans An internal document of the banned CPI (Maoists), procured by the anti-Maoist intelligence wing of the AP Police, reveals plans to raise an additional 14 battalions of People Liberation Army (PLA), the military wing of the outfit Several regions in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra would be declared “guerilla zones”
Convenience Is Not Strategy – Analysis
The governments’ lack of enthusiasm and willingness to meet the Maoist challenge is pervasive and perplexing. Neither the 25th May attack in Chhattisgarh’s Darbha nor the 2nd July killing of the Superintendent of Police of Pakur district in Jharkhand by the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres constituted momentous military victories for the outfit. None of these attacks furthered the outfit’s purported objective of capturing state power in any manner.
Yet the 35 dead bodies of politicians, activists and security forces, left behind by these attacks, significantly deepened the myth of an invincible adversary. There are doubts whether the Indian state would be able to neutralise the threat. The 25th May attack was described as a game changer and a landmark event. Within hours, leaders and bureaucrats, propped by the agile media, promised decisive action to end the conflict through joint operations, kinetic actions and hunting the rebels down.
Each of these claims, rooted in the sense of shock and outrage against the first ever large scale attack on the political leaders, ended in a whimper a vaguely worded resolution by political parties asking the central and state governments to do all that is possible; and an assurance by the Prime Minister that his office with the Cabinet Secretary and the Home Secretary will fine tune the existing anti-Maoist strategy to strengthen the country’s defensive and offensive capabilities. How the fine tuned strategy differs from the one that preceded it, still remains unknown, although at least eight attacks leading to 20 deaths (until 2nd July) have followed the 25th May attack.
Extremists have killed security force personnel and civilians in ambushes, destroyed road-building instruments, attacked a train, and killed a vice president of a private steel manufacturing company. None of these, including the most outrageous attack on a passenger train in Bihar, has evoked emotions or been described as affronts on Indian democracy. The great Indian resilience, backed by the belief in the invincibility of the Indian state, has returned.
A lot has been made out of the achievements of the security force operations against the CPI-Maoist in the past years. The outfit is described to have been weakened, lost areas under its control and has been stripped of its ability to carry out sustained violence. The noticeable decline in violence levels countrywide, both in terms of incidents and fatalities, has been cited to support this claim. Extremism related incidents in 2012 compared to the previous year declined by 19 percent. Fatalities among security forces and civilians declined by 19 and 36 percent respectively. While much of this is irrefutable, whether these gains are due to a clear strategy or simply rewards that large deployment and operationalisation of security forces accrue over time, is a relevant question.
It is also possible to interpret each parameter of state success in the opposite manner, demonstrating that it is in fact the CPI-Maoist which has managed to achieve its objective of minimising its losses and holding on to its areas of influence. Compared to an annual average of 174 cadre deaths between 2007 and 2011, only 72 cadres were killed in 2012. Absence of larger attacks by the outfit were made up by 134 smaller attacks on security forces in 2012. Constituting more than 11 attacks per month or an attack every third day, these kept up the outfit’s violent profile, and its support among the tribal communities. Even in a phase when the outfit’s influence was described to have shrunk rapidly, the CPI-Maoist managed to organise 113 training camps and Jan Adalats (People’s Courts) in 2012, almost at the same level as 2008 and 2009.
The group lost some territories in Jharkhand, but managed to hold on to its strongholds in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, and Odisha. Amid claims that the paramilitary forces have wrested 5000 square kilometre area from the Maoists in 2012, Abujhmaad, arguably the most crucial stronghold from the outfit’s point of view, remained unscathed. The first ever and also the lone security force foray into Abujhmaad forests was undertaken in March 2012. Personnel interviewed by the media before the operation talked about their fears of encountering hydra-headed monsters. Apart from media headlines that over 3000 security forces have shattered the impregnability of Abujhmaad, this exploratory trip achieved little and has not been repeated ever since.
The attempt here is not to paint the overall anti-Maoist strategy as mumpsimus. However, a sense that the efforts constituting each affected state’s strategy to defeat left-wing extremism is disjointed and aim only at temporary gains, is almost inescapable. The MHA (which has conveniently passed on the responsibility of all failures to the state governments), is yet to take the blame for letting the loopholes that hampered the big war strategy of 2010, culminating in the launch of Operation Green Hunt, persist. The deployment of insufficiently motivated forces prone to violating standard operating procedures, the abysmal lack of ground level intelligence, and absence of coordination between the central and the state police forces continue to mar operations in various theatres. Forces continue to suffer from leadership, and command and control crises.
The civil administration’s lack of enthusiasm to step into the areas cleared of extremist presence has often been cited as the greatest failure of the overall counter-Maoist effort. However, big attack-induced alacrity notwithstanding, the lack of enthusiasm to meet the extremist challenge is pervasive and perplexing. Here are some examples. It took over a week for the Home Minister to return from the United States of America, to attend to the May 25th attack, which he later described as an attack on democratic foundations of the country. A whole month passed before the Unified Command Structure in Chhattisgarh could huddle together to analyse the attack.
For almost seven years, security forces battled the extremists wearing the uncomfortable hard-leather shoes, before the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) relaxed the norm and allowed them to wear canvas shoes. It took four years for the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) high command to figure that not using the 50 mine-protected vehicles (MPVs) is in fact a better idea as far as preventing casualty among its personnel is concerned.
The longevity idiocies that play out in the Maoist theatres are the greatest bane of the country’s fight against extremism. Novelist and Nobel Laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote, “We do not err because truth is difficult to see. We err because this is more comfortable.” The country would have to wait for the governments, states as well as the Centre, to emerge from their comfort zone and stop masquerading tactical convenience as a counter-Maoist strategy that will secure victory, some day.
After Jharbahali firing, cops fail to trace red ultras
While the police and security forces remain clueless regarding whereabouts of the Maoists with whom they had an exchange of fire in Jharbahali forest under Ulunda police limits in Sonepur district on Tuesday afternoon, it is apprehended that the Maoists may trigger violence to make their presence felt. Under pressure from the security forces and on the run, the Maoists are believed to have escaped in small groups to Saranda forest on Odisha-Jharkhand border.
After being caught unaware by the security forces, they may have buried their arms and ammunition somewhere in the forest. Although the police and security forces are on look out for the arms and ammunition with sniffer dogs and gadgets, they have failed to meet any success. Even though IG (Operations) S Priyadarshi rushed to Sonepur after the incident and reviewed the situation after going around the districts and returned to the headquarters on Saturday, it is now emerging that at least two senior leaders of the Red rebels were in the group with whom the police had exchange of fire. While it is assumed that Divisional Secretary of Dandakaranya Division of the Maoists Murali was with the group and managed to escape on a bike, the identity of the other fugitive could not be ascertained.
It is believed that the Maoists, who have been using Sonepur district as a corridor, could have earned people’s support in the area that provided them logistics to set up camp in Jharbahali forest. The possibility of the Maoists breaking into small groups to elude notice of the security forces on combing operation and taking trains from Sambalpur, Balangir, Rairakhol for Ranchi and Rourkela enroute to Saranda is also not ruled out.
Well placed sources said the banned outfit recently held State Committee meeting and resolved to revive the Sambalpur-Deogarh-Sundargarh Committee and unleash violence to re-establish their base in the region. Hardcore Maoist Kunu Dehuri alias Ajay, who was also reportedly present in the camp and has been with the outfit ever since they announced their arrival on January 23, 2003 with killing of Kader Singh, has been made secretary of the Division and entrusted with the responsibility of reviving the outfit.
DIG (NR) Sanjay Kumar said combing operation is continuing and SPs of the districts including Sundargarh and Rourkela have been alerted as the Maoists are expected to retreat to these districts. He said the offensive against the Maoists will continue and they will not be allowed to settle down.