Cops yet to identify slain Maoists
NAGPUR: The Gadchiroli police are yet to disclose the identities of the six women Naxalites who were eliminated in an encounter at Mendhari encounter on Sunday. The outfits or ranks of the slain women cadres, said to have been in the traditional olive green uniform, are also yet to be identified.
The police have sent photographs of the slain women cadres to their Chhattisgarh counterparts for identification, as the encounter took place within a couple of kilometres of the state borders. Police did not rule out the possibility of some of the killed Naxalites being part of Chhattisgarh-based outfits. One 9mm carbine machine gun with three full magazines, .303 rifle with 22 rounds, five 12-bore rifles with 67 rounds, 25 hand grenades and around 18 rounds of ammunitions of different calibre, over 20 rucksacks and Naxal literature were seized at the encounter site.
Gadchiroli superintendent of police Mohd Suwez Haque said that identification of the slain cadres would lead to the other information about their rank or outfit. “We are getting concrete information but still verifying it before announcing it,” he said. He added that operations are still on in the area where the encounter took place. SP Haque did not rule out the possibility of more casualties among the Naxalites. “Searches are still on for bodies and other arms and weapons,” he said.
Reds’ Dumka informer held
RANCHI: A Maoist informer was arrested on Monday in connection with the Dumka ambush, in which Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar and five other police personnel were killed. Satan Besra, 30, who allegedly provided details of the movement of the SP’s cavalcade, was arrested by Dumka police. At a press conference in Dumka, DIG (Dumka range) Priya Dubey said the Maoist has confessed to the crime. “He was indirectly involved in the ambush,” said Dubey. Besra, however, could not provide much detail to police as he was not directly involved in the ambush. Besra is from Kathikund in Dumka where the ambush had taken place. He was also wanted in connection with a Maoist attack on a patrolling party in 2009 in Dumka.
Maoists Are Back In Business In India – Analysis
On May 25, 2013, the Communist Party of India – Maoist (CPI-Maoist) sent shock waves across the country by attacking a Congress Party convoy in the Darbha Valley of Bastar District, Chhattisgarh, killing 26 persons, including Mahendra Karma, the controversial architect of the armed Salwa Judum anti-Maoist ‘people’s movement’ Just over a month later, on July 2, 2013, the Maoists have killed Amarjit Balihar, the Pakur District Superintendent of Police (SP) and five other Policemen in an ambush in the Kathikund Forest area of Dumka District, bordering Pakur. The SP was returning from a meeting with Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Priya Dubey in Dumka District when his vehicle was attacked by Maoists.
The Maoists first triggered a landmine blast and then started firing indiscriminately on the convoy from higher ground. Another three Policemen suffered serious injuries. The Maoists escaped with two AK-47s, four INSAS rifles, two pistols and more than 600 rounds of ammunition. The attack took place at a time when some 3,000 Security Force (SF) personnel belonging to the Jharkhand Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were carrying out operations against the Maoists in the jungles of Palamu District.
These operations commenced on June 25, 2013, and it is unsurprising that the Maoists have exploited underprepared SFs in another area. In recent times, whenever the SFs have focused on areas of Maoist strength, the Maoists have retaliated by extending their violence to other areas, in keeping with their tactical decision to “step up” their tactical counter-offensive (TCO) “in new areas so as to divert a section of the enemy forces from attacking our guerrilla bases and organs of political power.” Thus, when SFs focused their operations on Latehar, Gumla and Garwah Districts in north-western Jharkhand, the Maoists struck in the Saranda Forest areas in south Jharkhand, forcing the SFs to divert troops to execute operation Anaconda II. As Force deployment has remained stretched in traditional Maoist strongholds, gaping holes have emerged in the security net in the Santhal Pargana areas of Northeast Jharkhand.
Jharkhand has about 20 battalions of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), 18 of the CRPF and two Sashastra Seema Bal, SSB; however, none of these were deployed in Dumka and Pakur Districts, which are thought to be marginally affected by Maoist activities. After the Dumka attack, two companies of CAPFs have been sent to the area. It may be noted that Jharkhand’s Police Population ratio (Policemen per 100,000 population) was 178 during 2012, well above the national average of 138, though substantially below the level needed to deal with the State’s complex problems of law and order administration and security. Only a small fraction of the available State Police Force is deployed for counter-insurgency operations. Shocked reactions to the fatal attack on the Pakur SP have emphasised the very low level of past Maoist activity in the area.
In the wake of the attack, Additional Director General of Police B.B. Pradhan observed, “Now Pakur and Dumka have also been officially declared as Maoist-hit Districts taking the total number of such Districts to 20 out of the total 24 in the State.” This suggests that Pakur and Dumka were not previously included among Districts in the Maoist-affected category. It is significant, however, that the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) lists 21 Districts of Jharkhand, and includes both Dumka and Pakur. Indeed, Deogarh District (a constituent District of the Santhal Pargana area that includes both Dumka and Pakur), is also on the SRE list.
In fact, on June 25, 2013, the State Intelligence Department had issued an alert about the movement of Maoists in Santhal Pargana and also underlined the possibility of a major offensive against the SFs. Clearly, then, Pakur and Dumka were not outside the realm of potential Maoist violence. Indeed, since 2010, at least two civilians and one SF trooper have been killed in Dumka; and two civilians, including a nun, have been killed in Pakur. More significantly, other patterns of Maoist violence and intimidation, including arson, extortion, etc., are far from unusual.
K. Vijay Kumar, the former Director General, CRPF, and presently, Advisor to the UMHA on anti-Naxal operations, has chosen to describe the July 2 killings in Dumka as an “opportunistic ambush” by the Maoists, aimed at making their presence felt after suffering “steady attrition”. For one thing, it may be noted that the ‘opportunity’ was not presented to the Maoists, but was, in fact, the result of careful planning and of the efficient mounting and deployment of resources. More significantly, Vijay Kumar’s assessment appears to militate against his own Ministry’s. On July 2, 2013, UMHA circulated a note to Members of its Consultative Committee, noting that despite a decline in violence levels, the “the core armed capabilities of the CPI (Maoist) have not suffered any significant damage”.
The note further emphasised that the CPI-Maoist was 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”. Similar and widely contrasting assessments have repeatedly undermined the credibility of official pronouncements on various aspects and dimensions of the Maoist challenge, and the purported ‘strategy and tactics’ of response. Official sources have sought reassurance in the dramatic decline in total fatalities and other indices of Maoist violence over the past years, from a peak 1,180 fatalities in 2010, to a comparable low of 367 in 2012. Further, and rightly, it has been emphasised that the Maoists have lost significant leadership cadres over the past five years.
What is missed out in such assessments, however, is the fact that much of the decline in violence is a consequence, first, of the abrupt termination of a bulk of offensive SF operations against the Maoists after the April 2010 massacre of 76 SF personnel at Chintalnar in Chhattisgarh, and a ceding of much of the Maoist “core areas” to the rebels; and, second, of a Maoist decision to focus on political consolidation in their areas of strength, after a demonstrable failure of their experiment to “extend the people’s war throughout the country”, which was initiated after the formations of the CPI-Maoist in 2004. It is useful to emphasise, also, that the overwhelming proportion of the loss of Maoist leadership occurred outside the Maoist “core areas”, and was the result of narrowly targeted, intelligence led operations, engineered principally by the Special Intelligence Branch of the Andhra Pradesh Police.
Very few leadership losses have been inflicted by the much-vaunted, but blundering, “massive and coordinate operations” to “clear, hold and develop” areas of Maoist dominance, which were launched by the UMHA. Whatever little reassurance could be derived from the absolute decline in levels of Maoist violence should now be abandoned. Total fatalities in 2013 already stand at 259 (till July 7), as against 367 for the whole of 2012. More significantly, the combined civilian and SF fatalities, at 166, are nearly twice the Maoist total of 93. The SF to Maoist fatality ratio is a poor 1:1.4. Worse, closer analysis of incidents demonstrates that an increasing number of attacks are initiated by the Maoists, rather than by the SFs, clearly showing where the initiative lies.
A review of major incidents indicates that Jharkhand remains the most active theater of Maoist violence with seven major incidents recorded in the State. Maoists targeted the SFs in three of these incidents, while the SFs took the fight into the Maoist camp in two incidents. Maoists targeted civilians in one major incident. The seventh incident involved an attack by a Maoist breakaway faction, the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), on the Maoists. 24 SF personnel have been killed by the Maoists in Jharkhand in six incidents, out of which just one incident was initiated by the SFs. Moreover, out of a 20 Maoists claimed to have been killed in seven encounters during SF-initiated operations, at least 12 bodies have not been recovered.
On June 13, 2013, Jharkhand Director General of Police (DGP) Rajiv Kumar claimed that encounters in the State had increased in the first five months of the year, with 31 encounters in 2013, as against 22 in 2012, and 27 in 2011, in the corresponding period, though there was a slight drop in total Left Wing Extremist (LWE)-linked incidents in this period. In Chhattisgarh, anti-Maoist operations have yet demonstrate any dramatic improvement in efficiency. With 26 SF personnel and 23 Maoists killed in 2013 (till July 7), the SF-Maoist fatality ratio is adverse.
Out of 23 ‘Maoists’ killed, at least seven are widely believed to be villagers killed in a single botched operation. Nine were killed in another incident which was planned and executed by the Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh. The remaining seven Maoists were killed in 11 encounters. According to partial data compiled by SATP, however, out of a total of 27 encounters, SFs clearly took the initiative in at least 17. Out of 26 SF personnel killed, nine SFs were killed in SF-initiated encounters.
In Bihar, anti-Maoist operations have taken a back-seat, with the State Chief Minister insisting that ‘development’ and not the use force, was the ‘solution’ to the ‘Maoist problem’. The Maoists have not lost a single cadre in the State in 2013, though they have killed 10 SF personnel, seven of them in a single major attack. The Maoists also attacked the Dhanbad-Patna Intercity Express train, killing two SF personnel and one civilian. Maharashtra has engineered a success, by comparison, with four out of five major incidents initiated by the SFs, and inflicting heavy casualties on the Maoists, with at least 23 dead. The SFs lost just one trooper in these encounters, and total SF fatalities in the State in 2013 are a low three. The Maoists have failed to initiate even a single major attack on SFs this year.
They have, however, targeted civilians in one major incident, killing three persons, including the Vice President of Lloyds, a sub contractor and a Police patil, in protest against a proposal to start mining in Surajagad and Damkodvadavi hills in Gatta, Gadchiroli District. In Odisha, while the Maoists have extended their network in the Nuapada, Balangir and Bargarh Districts, their activities have been eroded in other areas of the State, particularly as a result of the split in the party, with the Sabyasachi Panda group that dominated Ganjam, Kandhamal, Gajapti and Rayagada Districts, breaking away, to form the Odisha Maobadi Party (OMP).
A bulk of current violence is concentrated in the Malkangiri District. Even the Koraput District, where the Maoists had a vice-like grip, has seen a waning of their influence, as more than 2,400 supporters of the Narayanpatna-based Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), a CPI-Maoist front organization, have surrendered to the Police since the beginning of the current year. The current escalation in Maoist violence, and the patterns of engagement with state Forces suggest progressive consolidation on the part of the former, even as the state fails to forge and sustain a coherent strategy of response.
It is also apparent that the lessons of past successes against the Maoists are yet to be learned, and an overwhelming and ill-advised dependence on CAPFs and on clumsy, often counter-productive, ‘area domination’ exercises persists, to the abiding neglect of State Police and intelligence capacities and capabilities. Under the circumstances, the Maoists will continue to retain, and, indeed, build, their capacity to deliver shock after shock to the system.
Mrinal Kanta Das Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management
Maoists kill two, dump bodies in village
Left wing extremists killed two villagers in cold blood in Bejangiwada, about 50 km from the district headquarters, presuming them to be police informers. The rebels dumped the bodies in front of the local gram panchayat office sending a stern message to the locals. Barely half a kilometre from the site, BSF had set up a camp about two months ago.
The deceased were identified as Naresh Dhali and Ramesh Kabasi, both about 35 years of age. They were farmers by vocation. Police said the two farmers had been kidnapped at gun-point by a group of 30 Maoists from their villages on Saturday night. Dhali is a resident of MPV 25 while Kabasi lives in Bapanpalli village. Late on Sunday night, the Naxals dumped their bodies in front of the GP office.
Both had been shot in their chest. While Dhali’s ankles were hacked, Kabasi’s private parts were severed. District police said none of them was informer. Malkangiri SP Akhileswar Singh said Dhali was quizzed for four to five days about a year and half back by the district police as he was considered a Naxal sympathiser. The incident has sent shockwaves in the region. Bejangiwada, located about 15 km from Kalimela police station, is a Naxal hotbed.
State gets a dedicated force to combat urban terrorism
Military-style light weapons in hand, dressed in camouflages and their faces masked, one unit approached stealthily from the top of the building. Another took the stairs while a third confronted the door. As the three units stormed the room simultaneously, a “terrorist” holed up there had no option, but to give himself up. Well, it was just a simulated room intervention by the Special Tactical Unit (STU), a dedicated force to fight urban terrorism, which Odisha Police’s anti-extremist wing Special Operation Group (SOG) unveiled on Monday.
The 30-member specialised unit is trained in commando operation to tackle urban terrorism scenarios. Chief Secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra formally unveiled STU following a special demonstration at the 7th Battalion premises here. Director-General of Police Prakash Mishra was also present. The STU, a unit carved out of the SOG, has received three months advanced training from National Security Guard (NSG) at Manesar in Haryana before undergoing anti-extremist training at the SOG headquarters. It is equipped with sophisticated weapons, masks, tactical vests, night vision devices and sniping equipment.
Odisha is the third State after Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to have a dedicated force to combat urban terrorism. Andhra Pradesh had created Octopus while Maharashtra formed Force One after 26/11. “SOG as a special anti-Naxal force is trained in jungle and guerilla warfare, but the State needed capability in tackling urban terrorism such as hostage situations, taking out extremists holed up in buildings and shrines or engaged in sabotage of vital installations. This is where STU will fill the gap,” IG (Operation) Arun Kumar Sarangi said. The State Police is contemplating to develop STU gradually as a Counter- Terrorism Force independent of SOG so that it can be deployed anywhere in the State and even outside, whenever necessary.
The NSG takes over during major situations, but in the rest of the cases, the tactical unit will be pressed into service, Sarangi said. Modelled after the NSG, the STU will be stationed in Bhubaneswar and mobilised to urban areas whenever necessary. In fact, another such tactical unit is being formed from the Special Security Battalion (SSB) of Commissionerate Police. The commandos will soon be sent to NSG for advanced training. Once the STU emerges as a full force, it will act as a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit and will be equipped with helicopters too. The present unit is headed by an Assistant Commandant.
Maoists turn on the heat ahead of PR elections
SEELERU (VISAKHAPATNAM): With the state gearing up for the upcoming gram panchayat polls, Maoists have stepped up their attacks in the Andhra Odisha Border (AOB) areas, striking terror in the hearts of the people, especially politicians. As part of their terror tactics, the Red rebels killed two persons at Bappanapalli village and MV 25 (migrant village) on the AOB in Odisha on Sunday night in two separate incidents.
The deceased were identified as Ramesh Kabasi of Pavanbhali (30) of Bappanapalli village and Naresh Dhali of MV 25. Around 30 armed Naxalites dragged the two persons from their villages before allegedly slitting open their throats as they suspected them to be police informers. The bodies were found at Bappanapalli in Bejjangiwada panchayat in Kalimela police station limits on Monday morning. Following this incident, the candidates of the panchayat elections have left their villages for areas in the plains like Narsipatnam, Madugula, Chodavaram among others.
Even though the jawans of BSF and District Voluntary Force (DVF) have stepped up their combing operations in the affected areas in Malkangiri district of Odisha, people are scared to stay in their villages. This is the third such incident in one week after a Maoist militia committee brutally beat up two villagers in Balapam village in Chintapalli mandal on June 3 and tried to kill former Chintapalli agricultural market yard committee chairman and present PCC secretary Vantala Subba Rao. ‘Leaders on Reds’ hit-list cautioned’ Rao, a resident of Chikatimamidi village, luckily escaped the Maoist gunfire on Saturday midnight.
Four months prior to the Sagulu incident in GK Veedhi in February this year when two tribals were brutally murdered and four months after that there was lull in Maoists activity in the Visakha Agency. But suddenly, the red guerillas have started striking at will again, creating terror in the Agency area. After these incidents, politicians and the persons on the Maoist hit list have been asked to move to safer places by the police. “The activities of the naxals have been on the rise for the past one month. We have already informed the political leaders on the Maoists hit-list to go to safer places.
Some of them are still in their villages in view of the upcoming panchayat elections. We have already warned Vantala Subba Rao,” Narsipatnam OSD Damodar said. Maoists from the AOB Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) also left leaflets and pasted wall posters in Budaralla village in Koyyuru mandal on Sunday, urging the people to boycott the panchayat elections and asked them to thrash leaders who come begging for votes. They even urged the people to fight against the government that had allegedly made agreements with multinational companies and condemn the alleged fake encounters carried out by security forces.
The first phase of the panchayat polls are slated to be held in the Agency area on July 23 in the Paderu division, which a stronghold of Maoists. Around 23,000 staff have been appointed for the panchayat elections that are to be conducted in three phases, in which around 15.48 lakh voters are expected to cast their votes. Out of the total 920 panchayats in the district, the district administration has identified 240 panchayats as sensitive and 128 as extremely sensitive and has also arranged 5700 ballet boxes along with web cameras for the elections.
Brother in arms
Maoists have been able to acquire sophisticated weapons and cartridges from the police armoury in Uttar Pradesh to arm their cadre. Ironically, the same cartridges and weapons are being used to kill police personnel.Three policemen arrested on June 15 by the UP Special Task Force (STF) in Hamirpur district have revealed they stole and sold firearms and cartridges stocked in the armoury to Maoists and criminal gangs active in Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring states.
Two carbine, a rifle and cartridges were recovered from their possession. Police department sources told HT that the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) was also probing into the theft of cartridges and weapons from the police armoury. The NIA came into the picture after the Maoist attack on Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh recently.
It was then found that cops posted at the armoury had supplied weapons and cartridges to the Maoists, a police officer said on Monday. When asked to comment on the issue, ADG (Law and Order) Arun Kumar said investigations were continuing and cases were being registered against the policemen who indulged in smuggling of firearms from the armoury to criminal gangs. STF had on June 15 arrested Satya Prakash Tiwari, Jahan Singh and Brijendra Singh, all posted in the police armoury. “Now it is trying to find out role of other cops in the racket,” a police officer said adding smuggling of cartridges and weapons from the armoury had been detected earlier too. In 2005, around 3.47 lakh cartridges were stolen from the central armoury depot of UP police located in Sitapur.
Then the STF had taken 21 cops into custody. In January, 2010 the STF had taken two persons — Prakash Babu and Stephen (resident of Bengaluru) — into custody at Gorakhpur on the charge of supplying cartridges from the police armoury to the criminal groups. They had purchased the cartridges Rajesh Singh posted at the police line. Two middlemen Amlesh and Kamlesh, both resident of Kushinagar, were also arrested. After the pilferage came to light, the state government had issued an order that a gazetted rank officer will keep the record of cartridges used in practice sessions and those lying in the store.
But, according to sources, the officers rarely followed the order and left it on the junior staff to maintain the record. In majority of the cases, it was found that junior staff and armourers sold the cartridges at higher rates to the clients, including Maoists, insurgents and mafia elements. Weapons sold to Maoist and insurgent groups included AK-47, INSAS, SLR, .38 bore revolvers and 9mm pistols, said a source. Money played a big role to win over the armourers, who kept records of cartridges stored in the ammunition depot. Couriers and middlemen, majority of them retired police officers or jawan, transported the cartridges from the high security police lines to the hideouts of the Maoists, said a police department source.
Five get imprisonment for helping Maoists
Raipur, Jul 9 (PTI) A local court today sentenced five persons to seven years of imprisonment after finding them guilty for acting as Maoist couriers and receiving arms from various locations and passing them on to insurgents. The court also awarded three-year jail term to three others for supplying uniforms to Maoists.
Security alert for Jangalmahal police officers
PURULIA: Senior police officers of the three Jangalmahal districts – Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore – have been directed to strengthen security and strictly maintain standard operational procedures (SOP) after the Jharkhand ambush that killed Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar last week. IGP (western zone) Siddhinath Gupta told TOI that the police of these three districts have been taking additional precautions prior to the panchayat elections. After the death of Kisanji in November 2011, there has been no major Maoist strike in the state. But the police do not want to take any risks and have directed the SPs to remain alert.
The six-point SOPs include having additional forces in plainclothes as escorts, no red beacons on vehicles, a switch of number plates, changes in the routes while on the move, number of dresses to be kept in the vehicles and duty in plain clothes and change of dresses if required. Normally, other than two to three bodyguards, only an escort vehicle travels with the SP. From now on, another escort vehicle will recce the area before the convoy passes through.
Even mine detector machines and anti-landmine vehicles will be used. Purulia SP C Sudhakar admitted that the home department has advised all the top cops of Jangalmahal districts. In the Pakur ambush, there were reports that some SOPs were not followed. Even the candidates contesting in these districts have been directed not to visit crowded places like bus stands and market places alone while campaigning, sources said.