Home Minister fears escalation of Naxal problem
Shinde told Manmohan that sufficient forces weredeployed in the Seemandhra region to maintain law and order The growing protest against the creation of Telangana has senior officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) a worried lot. They fear that a long spell of “zero-governance” in the State could see escalation of the Naxal problem, while law and order could deteriorate, particularly in Hyderabad. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Monday briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the situation in the State. As the protest spread to more areas in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra Pradesh, the officials are apprehensive that Maoists would now try and reassert their presence in areas where the police and paramilitary forces have managed to regain control in the last few years.
Moreover, as paramilitary forces engaged in anti-Naxal operations were being diverted to contain protests, Maoists would sense a chance to regroup. “It is a well-known fact that most of the top Maoist leaders belong to the economically backward Telangana region, which used to be the hotbed of Naxal activities. Persistent operations by Greyhound commandos of the Andhra Pradesh police, along with the paramilitary forces, forced Maoists to shift base to the neighbouring States. But now with attention diverting towards protests and people getting restless, Naxals might try and rebuild the cadre base in the State,” a senior MHA official said.
Of the 10 districts of the proposed Telangana State, which shares borders with some of the Naxal strongholds like Gadchiroli in Maharashtra and Bastar in Chhattisgarh, 8 have been declared worst hit by the left wing extremism. They include onetime Maoist hotbeds of Karimnagar, Warangal and Adilabad. Significantly, even the other districts that will fall in divided Andhra Pradesh are also facing Naxal problem, which include Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam that have turned out to be the epicentres of the current anti-Telangana protests.
Security ache for Centre
New Delhi, Oct. 7: The Centre is “unprepared” for the fallout of the Telangana decision on the country’s overall security, home ministry officials said, flagging a possible regrouping of Maoists as the biggest worry. The concerns were expressed on a day home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the situation in coastal Andhra in the wake of protests against the planned bifurcation. Shinde’s predecessor, current finance minister P. Chidambaram, was also present. “We are unprepared,” said a senior official as state staff opposed to the split struck work not only in industrial units in Andhra but also in strategic installations like the Visakhapatnam naval base and ports.
“Even 80 battalions (over 80,000 troops) cannot control a single state beset with riots or widespread protests,” said the official. A big worry is a resurgence of Maoists, whom Andhra succeeded in containing over the past few years. A note on the anticipated security situation submitted to Shinde and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) much before the Congress cleared Telangana in late July outlined the threat that could emerge.
The note warned the CPI (Maoist) would regroup “as soon as” Telangana was formed and the new state’s dispersed leadership could be exploited by the rebels to turn it into a safe haven, said a source. Telangana was also discussed at a recent meeting of the central committee of the CPI (Maoist). “In Telangana the movement for a separate Telangana is developing in militant forms. Revolutionary political propaganda are ongoing widely in Andhra Pradesh, North Telangana (NT) and Andhra Orissa Border (AOB),” says a Maoist resolution. Other worries abound. The Centre is keeping a wary eye on the Darjeeling hills.
It has said it is ready to talk to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha over its Gorkhaland demand. Today, the hill outfit claimed it had been called for tripartite talks, also involving the Bengal government, in Delhi on October 23 but there was no confirmation from the Centre. Northeast is another area of worry. Soon after the cabinet cleared Telangana last week, the home ministry sent out invites for second round of talks to Assam groups demanding statehood. The talks with Koch Rajbongshis, Bodos, Karbi and Dimasas are slated between November 4 and 12, ministry sources said. “Once Telangana is created, there could be problems in Manipur too,” said the home ministry official. The United Naga Council and the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) have been fighting for a homeland for Nagas separate from Manipur. Officials pointed out that the state erupts at any mention of threat to its territory, the way Seemandhra is burning now.
Anti-Naxal ops: NTRO base to be operational by early next year
The first base of the country’s specialised technical snoop department NTRO will be made fully operational by early next year in Chhattisgarh to aid anti- Naxal operations and fly Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to help security forces track Maoist activities. The centre will come up at the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) facility in Durg and will host technicians and authorities of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), sources privy to the development said.
The key project has already been activated with the initial establishment of five satellite-linked terminal stations at a designated location in the state. The sources said the CRPF has also linked the operations of its 10 UAVs with the new facility which will function round-the-clock. The station will act as a gateway for acquiring satellite data and pass them on to ground patrol parties. The UAVs can then be operated in specified areas for aiding troops on ground.
A lease agreement for use of BSP airstrips for NTRO sponsored sorties have already been finalised sometime back, the sources said. The centre will have the facility to analyse information about geographical features, weather, available troop reinforcements and logistics before the on-field commanders undertake an operation. The facility, which will be manned by NTRO-trained Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) ‘Signals’ officials, will also share intelligence and geographical information with the NTRO headquarters in Delhi. Parking bays for the UAVs will also be created in the next few months based on a similar facility of the NTRO in Begumpet near Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.
Police in Tamil Nadu searching for PLGA squad which is agitating agricultural workers.