‘Zero’ Naxal kill in 3 months upsets Home Secretary
NEW DELHI: Chairing a meeting on Friday to assess the security scenario ahead of the two-phase elections in Chhattisgarh in November, Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami expressed his concern over the CRPF and BSF being unable to neutralize even a single Naxalite in the state in the last three months. At the meeting, attended by the CRPF director general, top BSF officials and the Director General of Police of Chhattisgarh, it was pointed out by the home ministry that CRPF and BSF had hit a lull in operations in the state while it had been decided that operations will in fact be stepped up after the Darbha Valley massacre by Naxals in May. Important state congress leaders lost their lives in the massacre.
“No Naxal has been neutralized by the CRPF and the BSF during the last three months. This does not auger well for election build-up since the Naxals have been allowed space to operate with impunity. This needs to be looked into and reversed immediately. A purely defensive strategy will not succeed…operations are needed,” a home ministry official said, detailing proceedings of the meeting. It was also pointed out by the Home Ministry that effective intelligencebased operations need to be conducted and COBRA teams of CRPF need to be deployed extensively and given result-oriented tasks.
“The Chhattisgarh DGP and heads of CRPF and BSF were told that the superintendents of police should be provided teams of special forces which are to be used as a striking force during the elections. Maoists have deployed small ‘action teams’ to hit at security forces. Counter action teams should be deployed by the police to neutralise them,” a ministry official said. He said that the home secretary also stressed upon the objective of ensuring “zero casualty” of security forces and civilians during the elections.
The Home Ministry had last week also sent a detailed advisory to Chhattisgarh government saying the Naxals planned to attack helicopters in the state and had already laid improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on roads that security forces and polling parties are supposed to take during the election process. In the meeting on Friday, it was emphasised the state government and paramilitary forces stationed in the state should do extensive checking for IEDs on the roads and buildings during the run-up to the elections and a comprehensive security plan should be drawn up for every single hyper-sensitive and sensitive polling booths.
“All concerned, like polling parties, have been told to exercise extreme care and caution while returning after the conclusion of the elections,” a ministry official said. The Home Ministry will have another detailed meeting with the Election Commission on October 30 to work out a detailed security plan for Chhattisgarh, the state worst affected by Naxalism.
Chhattisgarh polls: Security forces gear up to counter Maoists’ disruption
With the Maoists planning to cause violence in their stronghold Bastar division of Chhattisgarh to disrupt polls, security is being ramped up with the deployment of 1 lakh security personnel in the area of elections. Besides, more than 10 helicopters of Indian Air Force will be pressed into service to airlift the polling parties to far-flung and inaccessible areas, and around 20,000 cameras and video cameras will be installed to monitor polling booths in naxal-affected areas.
Currently, around 30,000 to 40,000 security personnel have been deployed. More security men from state police and para-military forces will be deployed in the naxal-affected areas of Chhattisgarh that go to polls on November 11, police sources said. Chhattisgarh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sunil Kujur said that they are going to use helicopters and cameras and video cameras where they are needed for free and fair polls. Chhattisgarh Director General of Police Ramniwas and Bastar division Inspector General of Police AD Gautam didn’t shed light on security preparedness for polls. “It was not right to disclose their plan due to security reasons,” they told India Today.
According to some reports, Maoists have held a meeting in Andhra Pradesh and drawn up a plan to disrupt polls in Bastar division and other places where they have their strong hold. The rebels recently held a meeting on the Chhattisgarh and Odisha border to disturb polls, sources said. Some reports said that naxals have already put banners and posters in Bastar division asking people to boycott polls. In 2008 assembly polls, the naxals carried out attacks, snatched away electronic voting machines in Bastar division and fired at a helicopter of India Air Force in Bijapur district.
Sarpanch shot dead by Maoists
SEELERU: 30 CPI Maoists killed Somendra Bhati, 23, sarpanch of Marteru in Podia block of Odisha’s Malkangiri district, neighbouring Vizag district, on Friday morning by branding him a police informer. Cops said the Maoists alleged that the victim was responsible for the encounter at Silakota in Podia block in mid September this year, in which 13 tribals allegedly belonging to Maoist squads died. They alleged that Bhati was responsible for passing on information to the police and had been encouraging the youth in his village and neighbouring villages to join the Special Operations Group (SOG), an elite force of anti-Naxalite operations in Odisha.
Maoist informer held with 41 kg explosives in Jharkhand
Ranchi: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Jharkhand Police arrested a Maoist informer in Ranchi and recovered 41 kg explosives from him, a CRPF official said on Saturday. Ulfat Ansari, 30, was nabbed on Friday evening from the Bhelwa Ghati area in Giridih district of the state following a tip-off. “The 41 kg explosives, including four gelatin sticks and two detonators, were found on Ansari, a sympathiser and an informer of the Maoists. He was moving about on a motorcyle at the time of his arrest,” said the official. His associate, Majid Mian, 50, however, managed to flee from the spot.
Rs 2 Crore for Police Modernisation in U’khand: Bahuguna
Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today said Rs 2 crore will be spent on police modernisation in Uttarakhand and a special allowance of 30 per cent will be paid to non-gazetted employees of the Intelligence department and CBCID in the state. Bahuguna made the announcement at a workshop on internal security here attended by senior police officials, including the DGP. Citing lack of development as a major reason for growth of Maoist activities anywhere in the country, Bahuguna said effective implementation of the historic Food Security Act and MNREGA can be potent tools to combat red terror.
He also laid emphasis on better coordination among intelligence and law enforcing agencies and stepped up vigilance along the borders for better handling of the situation in Maoist strongholds. Bahuguna said people of Uttarakhand join the armed forces in large numbers and considering their patriotic fervour terrorism or Maoism cannot flourish in the hill state. DGP B S Siddhu said Maoist activities have not been sighted so far in Uttarakhand but the fact that some of the areas in its Kumaon region are located close to the Nepal border where Maoist elements are united and active cannot be ignored. “Anti-India sentiments are being stoked by Maoist elements in Nepal and we will have to remain vigilant,” he said.
A Special Operation Task Force (SOTF) has been set up considering the vulnerability of the state’s Kumaon region to Maoist activities, he said. SOTF teams consisting of police and intelligence personnel are conducting regular combing of the sensitive areas to keep an eye on anti-national elements, the DGP said. So far 16 persons accused of being involved in Maoist activities in the state have been arrested out of which two died while on bail. 14 of them are out on bail at present but the police and intelligence departments are keeping a tab on their movements, the DGP said.
Release Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi: IADHRI
New Delhi: On Monday, 28th October, the Supreme Court of India will take up the bail petitions of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi, adivasi prisoners in Chhattisgarh who have been incarcerated for more than two years. The arrest and the subsequent torture of Soni Sori in October 2011 drew international condemnation. Soni’s nephew Lingarama Kodopi who was studying journalism was also arrested and subjected to torture by the Chhattisgarh police.
Sori was implicated in eight cases and Kodopi in two cases. Sori was acquitted in all but two of the cases and Kodopi in one of the two cases. Sori was also granted bail in one of the two remaining cases. The one remaining case against both of them relates to allegations of acting as a courier between Essar, a business conglomerate with steel manufacturing operations in Chhattisgarh, and the outlawed Maoist Communist Party of India.
Though two other accused in this case, the general manager of the Essar operations in the state and a contract worker, were granted bail within months of their arrest, the trial court and the state High Court have denied Sori and Kodopi bail earlier this year and it is their appeal against this decision that the Supreme Court is expected to hear on Monday. International Alliance for the Defense of Human Rights in India (IADHRI) in a statement issued today has said that they deserve to be free.
“During her more than two years of incarceration, the Supreme Court of India has been the only institution from which Soni Sori has been able to get any judicial relief. We are hopeful, therefore, that this time too, the Supreme Court would decide in her and Kodopi’s favor and grant them bail,” said IADHR in a statement. “Now bereft of their father, Sori’s three young children need to be urgently reunited with their mother. “ IADHRI demanded the Chhattisgarh government to drop all charges against Soni sori and Lingarama Kodopi and compensate them for all their suffering. They also demanded an impartial investigation into cases of all prisoners and release of those facing spurious charges.
State should and punish the police officials responsible for torture and filing of spurious charges, demanded IADHRI. Sori was arrested on October 4, 2011 in New Delhi, where she had gone seeking legal help, and taken by the Chhattisgarh police to Dantewada. As detailed in her letters from prison, she was tortured in police custody and sexually abused. Her allegations were substantiated by independent medical examinations conducted in Kolkata under the directions of the Supreme Court.
While imprisoned in Raipur, she continued to face abuse and denial of medical care from the police and the jail authorities until the Supreme Court ordered that she be taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences for treatment. . Sori’s husband Anil Futane died last August, soon after being released from jail . He was arrested in July 2010 and accused of involvement in the attack on the home of Congress politician and contractor Avdesh Gautam. Sori, Kodopi and fourteen others were also falsely implicated in this case but all of them were acquitted. According to other jail inmates, Futane was beaten so severely in the prison that he was paralyzed.
They attribute his death to health complications resulting from torture and the failure of prison authorities to give him medical care. Kodopi himself has undergone serious abuse and torture since his detention without charges in 2009, when he was locked up inside a toilet in a police station for forty days. He was freed the following year only after the intervention of the Chhattisgarh High Court responding to a habeas corpus petition. Facing continued threats from the police and the Maoists, he went to Delhi where he studied journalism for a year. During his time in Delhi, he spoke out against the atrocities committed by the police on the Adivasi communities.
Soon after he graduated from his journalism program in April 2011, he returned to Chhattisgarh where police and paramilitary forces had burnt down the villages of Morpalli, Timmapuram and Tadmetla, killed three people and raped three women. He documented the scenes of these crimes and recorded video testimonies of the survivors. The cases of Sori and Kodopi are not isolated. Especially (but not exclusively) in Chhattisgarh, thousands of other prisoners are known to be held for years on spurious charges, some of them are not charged for many years and held as under trials for long periods of time. The draconian provisions of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act enable the state police and other security officials to arrest and imprison anyone on dubious grounds, often to silence critical voices. Many of these prisoners are also known to undergo torture, sexual and other abuse at the hands of police and prison officials.