Odisha: Jawan injured in gunbattle with Maoists
A jawan was seriously injured in a gun-battle between security forces and Maoists in a forest area in Odisha’s Malkangiri district early Thursday. The encounter took place in Parsanpalli forest located in Padia area when a team of District Voluntary Force (DVF) launched an operation following information about presence of Maoists in the jungle, Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Akhileswar Singh said.
As the DVF team moved closer to the Naxal hide-out, the ultras fired injuring jawan Gopal Mandal (28), he said. Personnel of BSF and Special Operation Group (SOG) soon joined the DVF team and outnumbered by the security forces, the red rebels fled the area, the SP said. The injured jawan was admitted to hospital where his condition was stated to be critical, police said. A combing operation has been launched inside the forest by the security forces after the Maoists fled the area, they said.
Nine Maoists arrested with weapons
A joint team of the Special Task Police (STF) and police have arrested nine Maoists, including two hardcore ones, with weapons from Bihar’s East Champaran district, a police officer said today. Carrying out a search operation against Maoists since yesterday, the joint team nabbed nine ultras, including the two hardcore ones identified as Zaheer Madari and Nanhat Paswan, the Superintendent of Police (SP) Vinay Kumar told reporters. A self-styled area commander, Madari was wanted in at least 25 cases of loot, murder and naxal violence in the district and carried a reward of Rs. 50,000 on his head, he said. Paswan, a hardcore Maoist too, was wanted in nine cases of naxal violence, Kumar said.
The other arrested ultras have been identified as Vidya Mahto, Lakhindra Paswan, Arun Kumar Thakur, Lalita Prasad, Muslim alias Islam, Ramekbal Bhagat and Rambharosh Das, the SP said. On identification of the arrested Maoists, the joint team raided Goregaon village under Kundwa Chainpur police station area and seized one AK-56 with three magazines, a 9 mm pistol, one country-made pistol, 98 ammunitions, three mobile phones, two motorcycles and naxal literature, he said.
Tribal ‘forced’ to de-mine in Maoist areas, severely injured
While de-mining an area in south Bastar as a precautionary measure prior to the November poll, forewarned of possible violence, the local police “forced” Madvi Nanda – a farmer from village Burkapal in Sukma district – to dig out a land mine near his village. The land mine exploded while Mr Nanda was defusing it, allegedly without any safety gear, thus severely injuring him. The incident is in clear violation of all humanitarian laws that says, non-combatants can not be made to participate in a conflict. Video footages of Mr Nanda shows that his face has burnt and eyes have almost melted. His head and half of left eye are bandaged and Mr Nanda is having problems talking to the journalists, who met him after he was transferred to a Jagdalpur hospital. In the video Mr Nanda could be heard saying in Gondi that he was “forced” by the police to de-mine an area in Sukma district.
When asked if he has de-mined any area before, Mr Nanda answered negatively and added, “Police asked me to dig it (land mine) out and (then only) to go home.” The Hindu accessed the video and got the conversation translated between Mr Nanda and the local video journalists. Elsewhere in the video, Mr Nanda also clearly said that he was “called from the village by the police to dig out the explosives.” He named one “Shukla” whose identity could not be confirmed. Jagdalpur journalist, Naresh Mishra, who visited Mr Nanda in the hospital told The Hindu that the Gond tribal had no “protective body cover” when he was trying to dig out the landmine.
“He was given only a metal detector and asked to pull out the landmine,” the journalist said. Mr Mishra also said that the police are not allowing journalists to talk to Mr Nanda any more. “So we could not find out if Mr Nanda is a surrendered naxalite or a villager who was asked to dig out the land mine,” Mr Mishra said. The security officials airlifted Mr Nanda from Burkapal – about 100 kilometer south of Jagdalpur – and dropped him at the hospital and disappeared, the locals said. Any such coercive or forceful methods applied on civilians by security personnel stands in complete violation of the international humanitarian laws, under the Geneva Conventions IV of 1949 to which India is signatory in 1950 and thus “non-combatant immunity is regarded as on of the cornerstones of the humanitarian law of Armed Conflict,” in any country, wrote human rights scholar Judith Gail Gardam.
Maoists blast mobile tower in Bihar
Patna: Maoists blew up a mobile tower and set ablaze a bus on Thursday in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district to enforce a 24-hour strike called by them to protest the acquittal of 26 men convicted for the 1997 Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre, police said. Bihar Police have alerted all the districts affected by Maoists, particularly those bordering Jharkhand, and asked for extra vigil at all police stations in rural areas considered to be their stronghold, Additional Director General of Police Ravinder Kumar said here. According to police officials in Muzaffarpur, about 70km from here, armed Maoists torched a private bus and blew up a mobile tower. No casualty was reported.Muzaffarpur in north Bihar is one of the areas worst affected by the Maoists.
Police have intensified combing operations across the state and additional security forces have been deployed at public places. “The state police headquarters has directed all superintendent of police to be on high alert and increase vigilance on soft targets like railway tracks and government installations across the state,” he said. The Maoists’ strike call evoked mixed response in the state as normal life was hit in some rural areas but urban areas were largely unaffected.
“Fear of Maoists forced closure of rural area markets in Gaya, Aurangabad, Arwal, Jehanabad and other districts. Vehicles stayed off roads and common people suffered,” a police official said. Police officials admitted that life in some rural pockets, known as Maoist strongholds, was paralysed, as neither shops nor banks opened. Despite the police deployment and the administration’s promise of security cover, shopkeepers downed their shutters and stayed home. Maoists spokesperson Prahar said the court was forced to acquit the 26 accused in the 1997 Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre case due to dilution of the cases by the state government. Citing lack of evidence, the Patna High Court acquitted the 26 people.
Of these, 16 were earlier sentenced to death and 10 had been awarded life imprisonment in 2010 by the additional district and sessions judge of the Patna civil court. Ranvir Sena men had allegedly carried out the massacre on December 1, 1997. According to police, charges were framed on December 23, 2008, against 44 men of the Ranvir Sena for killing the Dalits, including 27 women and 10 children. Laxmanpur-Bathe, on the banks of the Sone river in Jehanabad district, was targeted by armed Ranvir Sena men. According to police records, four Dalit families were completely wiped out in the bloodbath. The state government has already decided to appeal against the high court verdict. The families of the massacre victims also expressed disappointment over the acquittals.