Intelligence surveillance enhanced in South Gujarat
SURAT: Central intelligence machinery has enhanced its surveillance of tribal areas of south Gujarat to check the possibility of any naxalite activity in the region. The intelligence establishment has been on the alert following the success of the bandh call given by Gujarat Adivasi Hitrakshak Samiti (GAHS) to boycott Independence Day celebrations in the tribal areas. The bandh was in support of the demand to take back land belonging to the tribals and the government that is being occupied by non-tribals as per the provisions of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.
Sources said around seven Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials are camping in the villages of tribal-dominated areas of Surat, Bharuch and Dang districts. The bandh was successful in the tribal villages and talukas of Surat, Bharuch, Narmada, Dang, Panchmahal and Tapi districts. Emboldened by the success, the GAHS is looking towards intensifying the movement. Denying any association with naxals, a senior member of GAHS told TOI, “It is a peaceful movement for tribal rights. We believe in resolving the problems and issues faced by the tribal community legally and not by weapons.”
JNU student held in Maharashtra for Maoist links
A Uttarakhand native and student of Chinese language in JNU was taken into police custody in Maharashtra on Friday for allegedly working as a courier for Maoist rebels. The arrested student, identified as Hem Mishra, was remanded in police custody for 10 days after being produced in court in Maharashtra, sources said on Saturday. Mishra was arrested in the Gadchiroli district of Nagpur division where he was said to be investigating alleged police atrocities against locals of the area. He was part of a 25-member fact-finding team of Left parties. Mishra was arrested along with a local lawyer Surendra Godling.
The sources said that Mishra was allegedly working as ‘Narmada courier’ in one of the three sub-groups among the fact-finding team. His group had six members. Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra is part of the infamous ‘Red corridor’ and has recorded considerable Maoist activities in the past. As late as April this year, four Maoists were killed along with one police personnel and two others in an encounter with the Maharashtra police. The ‘Red corridor’ is a belt affected by Maoist insurgency and spreads across Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal . Uttarakhand police on Saturday only confirmed the “arrest of one resident of Almora” but did not say whether he was Mishra. “We have received information about the arrest of an Almora district resident in Gadchiroli.
The matter is under investigation,” was all said inspector general of police, intelligence Deepakjyoti Ghildiyal, told Hindustan Times when asked about the arrest. Meanwhile, a local social activist and chief of Uttarakhand Jansangharsh Vahini (UJV) Samsher Singh Bisht has claimed that he received an anonymous phone call from Maharashtra on Friday confirming Mishra’s arrest in Gadchiroli. According to Bisht, the anonymous caller asked him to inform Mishra’s parents about the arrest. Bisht said that Mishra, son of a retired school teacher, was a “vibrant social and political activist” of People’s Student Federation (PSF) in Almora while pursuing his graduation here. “He was instrumental in building a strong cadre of PSF in Almora before shifting to JNU for pursuing higher studies,” Bisht said. Jeevan Chandra, a member of Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDM) has criticised the arrest of Mishra and said he was being victimised by the police.
Political prisoner line-up to be sanitised – Amendment next week to deny label to those charged with terror and divisive offences
Calcutta, Aug. 23: The government has decided to amend the West Bengal Correctional Services Act to bar people having links with terror outfits from getting political prisoner status. The amendment, scheduled to be tabled during Tuesday’s Assembly session, also seeks to disallow those involved in regional, communal, linguistic and caste-based agitations from applying for the tag, Writers’ sources said. The government is expected to push through the amendment given Trinamul’s strength on the floor of the House.
“The government wants to amend the existing law. Once the amendment is made, those connected to terrorist organisations cannot be equated with persons who strive to achieve political goals through a democratic process in a lawful manner,” an official said. Earlier, if any person charged with murder or waging war against the state could prove that the crime was not the outcome of personal greed, he could apply for the status of political prisoner.
“The amendment tries to address this anomaly, which was pointed out by the Centre,” the official said. He said the main aim of the proposed amendment was to tighten the noose around Maoists. Over 700 Maoist activists and sympathisers are lodged in various jails across the state. Some of them, including PCPA spokesperson Chhatradhar Mahato, enjoy the political prisoner status. In the past few months, a few other Maoist activists and sympathisers have filed pleas in courts seeking the tag. The West Bengal Correctional Services Act allows facilities such as books, newspapers, writing pads and pens to political prisoners.
They are also given separate cells, cots and mosquito nets. Although the government is trying to act tough against Maoists, it is yet to implement a proposal from the Centre to ban the CPI (Maoist). “The Maoists have been lying low for some time, but there are intelligence inputs that the rebels are trying to regroup in Jungle Mahal. By bringing this amendment, the government is trying to send the signal that it will take stern action against Maoists and their sympathisers,” an official said.
The government’s decision drew criticism from the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights. “We will build up protests across the state,” said Ranjit Sur of the APDR. “Mamata Banerjee had promised to release all political prisoners if she came to power. Now, she wants to take away the political prisoner status accorded to Maoists,” he added. According to sources in the home department, a number of factors prompted the government’s decision. “We have observed that arrested Maoists are taking advantage of the status to engage in subversive activities,” an official said. Special Task Force (STF) sources said incriminating documents were found in the possession of three city committee members of the CPI (Maoist) arrested recently. “We found letters that were written by Maoists from jail. Since the jailed rebels with political prisoner status get writing pads and pens, they easily communicate with their counterparts. The amendment will stop it,” an STF officer said.