Infrastructure, security equipment key to combat Naxal attacks: CAG
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has observed that efficacy and quality of police services largely depended on adequate number of trained police personnel and availability of infrastructure in naxal-affected districts like Palamau in Jharkhand. In its report for the year ended March 31, 2012, the CAG warned that large scale vacancies in the police services may adversely affect the preparedness of the police force in Palamau, a Naxal-affected district.
Observing that shortage of personnel in the ranks of deputy superintendents of police, assistant sub-inspectors and in the constabulary cadre in the district, it said Palamau being the oldest naxal affected district, it required adequate weapons as an important component under Modernisation of Police Force scheme. Referring to a May 2007 decision by the Jharkhand Police to phase out the out-dated and old weapons like .303 and SLR rifles by modern weapons, the CAG found that 489 (7.52 mm SLR) and 453 (.303 rifles) were retained by the Palamau district police, as of March 2012. “We also noticed that 157 SLR out of 489 and 346 (.303) rifles were kept idle in the district armoury,” the CAG said.
Besides, the CAG added, 163 weapons were not functioning as on March 2012, and the same position prevailed as of December 2012. “Non-replacement of these weapons by modern strike weapons even six years after the decision taken in May 2007 to phase out old weapons could hamper the preparedness of the police in Palamau district,” the report said. Out of total sanctioned strength of 2,070 combat personnel in the district, the report found that only 482 bullet proof jackets and bullet proof helmets were available, out of which 19 jackets and six helmets were permanently damaged in landmine blasts. “Shortage of the security equipment left the combat force vulnerable to risk to life or serious injury,” the CAG added.
On infrastructure and security arrangements in Palamau district to providing a suitable work environment to the police personnel, the CAG said the twin facilities were inadequate in the police stations and outposts. “In the absence of sufficient infrastructure facilities and security arrangements in a Naxal affected district, police stations and outposts face the risk of dire consequences in case of extremist attacks,” the report observed.
Home ministry warns of rise in Maoist activities in Telangana region
Economically backward Telangana region could witness growing activities of Maoists in coming months as the rebels may take advantage of the process of creation of the new state which may take close to six months. Home Ministry officials said Telangana, being the home of most of the top CPI(Maoists) leaders, could become easy target for the Naxals considering its close proximity with worst affected regions – Chhattisgarh’s Bastar and Maharashtra’s Gadchidoli.
During the process of the formation Telangana, the attention of the administration and the police is bound to be diverted as Andhra Pradesh will undergo the exercise of division of the assets, administrative officials and security apparatus etc., officials said. Once Naxal hot beds – Karminagar, Warangal and Adilabad districts –fall in Telanagana region and the CPI(Maoists) are bound to try their best to activate their old contacts and recruit new cadres in their poor region, the officials said. “We hope that before the Telangana region turns again into a Naxal hot bed, administration takes full control and rein in all undesirable elements,” an official said.
Martyrs’ week observed by Maoists paralyses normal life in Bastar
The ongoing observance of their martyrs’ week by the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) paralysed normal life on Tuesday in Bastar district in Chhattisgarh with transport and business activities coming to standstill, officials said. However, no report of violence was reported from any part of the sprawling Bastar district as the martyrs week entered the third day on Tuesday. Like previous years, Maoists are observing martyrs’ week from July 28 to August 3 and have asked people to organise condolence meetings in every village to pay homage to the rebels killed by security forces.
The terror of the Maoists’ fiat is visible in the area as fearing persecution by rebels, operators of buses – the chief mode of transport in Bastar – are keeping off the roads. The railway, too, has suspended operation of the single passenger train (Waltair-Kirandul Passenger) line. Operation of goods train has also been suspended during the night on this section. Impact of the Maoists’ influence was palpable mostly in inner parts of Bastar divisions as weekly markets were not organised, affecting the life of the common man who depended on daily earnings. For the last two decades, the Maoists are running a parallel administration in Bastar, though the state administration denies it.
Srikrishna panel warns of Red challenge for Telangana
NEW DELHI: Will Telangana meet the fate of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand which turned into Naxal hotbeds after being carved out from Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, respectively? Security indicators point to this possibility as it found special mention in the Srikrishna Committee report that factored in the region’s history and its proximity to ‘live’ Red Zones. Though the committee did not make the particular chapter, which deals with internal security issue, of its report public, it shared its content voicing concerns of security experts and stakeholders separately with the home ministry. The chapter pointed out how the formation of new state could spell trouble in maintaining peace in the region which had once been in the grip of Red terror.
It also specifically noted how the over-ground sympathizers of Maoists had been in the forefront of supporting the pro-Telangana agitations, making it possible that the new state may go soft towards the left-wing extremists. The government had set up Justice (retired) B N Srikrishna Committee for consultations on the situation in Andhra Pradesh, specifically in view of the separate Telangana statehood demand. The committee had submitted its report to the home ministry in December, 2010. Referring to the concerns raised by the Committee as well as security agencies, officials here said the division of Andhra Pradesh would see bifurcated police force contributing to a weaker response to the Maoist menace.
“The state’s special anti-Naxal force, Greyhound, which had successfully countered Red ultras in the past few years will also be bifurcated, giving breathing space to the Maoist top leadership that was chased out of Andhra Pradesh,” said an official. Incidentally, CPI (Maoist) chief Muppala Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathi belongs to the Telangana region (Karimnagar district) like his other comrades from the ultras’ top decision-making body, politburo, and the outfit’s central committee.
While six of them belong to Karimnagar, 13 others are from Warangal. Though they all had started from Andhra Pradesh, they had to eventually flee the state amid intense pressure from Greyhound and other security agencies and took shelters in the ultras’ hideouts either in Chhattisgarh or Jharkhand. It is believed that the proximity of north Telangana region with the Red zones in Odisha, Chhattisgarh (Bastar) and Maharashtra (Gadchiroli) will turn out to be advantageous for the ultras who may use it to coordinate with their inter-state wings for bigger strikes, specifically when the bifurcated police force will hardly pose any challenge for the.
“Such a situation will also see Naxals from neighbouring states to take shelter in relatively safer Telangana during anti-Maoist operations in Odisha, Chhattisgarh or Maharashtra,” said an official. Citing examples of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the official also pointed out that the new states have to pass through a phase of slowdown in economic activity that ultimately drive people to deprivation, forcing them to take up radical steps like taking up arms or other illegal activities. “Maoists, generally, look for recruiting cadres from among such vulnerable people and the new state, having history of Naxal violence, may provide a fertile ground for them,” said the official while keeping his fingers crossed amid fear of facing any extreme eventuality in the long run.
Combing operations fail to deter Maoists
Despite heavy deployment of security forces, Maoists continue their campaign in remote pockets of Koraput and Malkangiri districts to enrol the tribals in their cadre during their ongoing martyrs’ week. According to sources, 4000 State and Central armed forces have been pressed in combing operation in Maoist hotbeds of Bandhugam, Narayanpatna, Boipariguda, Mathili, Kalimela, Motu, Kudumulgumma and Nandapur. But, the Maoists continue to hold meetings in remote villages of Narayanpatna, Mathili and Kalimela blocks and are seeking tribals’ support.
Even Maoist posters, banners, songs and literatures are being distributed among the tribals at these meetings. Senior Maoist leaders are camping in the villages to monitor the meetings and motivate the tribals, the sources said. Over 100 Maoists from neighbouring Chattisgarh have reportedly sneaked into odisha side after the infamous Tarva ghat mayhem two months back and are playing crucial role in cadre recruitment drive. Meanwhile, the bandh called by the Maoists under Odisha-Andhra special zonal committee at the beginning of martyrs week on July 28 paralysed road communication services in Korpaut and Malkangiri districts.