Naxal held in Chhattisgarh
Raipur, Oct 27 (PTI) A Naxal, carrying a reward of Rs 25,000 on his head, was arrested from Maoist-hit Kondagaon district of Chhattisgarh, police said today. Acting on a tip-off, the cadre was nabbed by a team of local police from Aadwal village under Maradapal police station limits yesterday, Kondagaon Additional Superintendent of Police Surjit Atri told PTI.
The ‘Gandhian’ as a ‘Maoist’: Journalist Prafulla Jha fights back his sedition charges
Chhattisgarh called the arrest of Prafulla Jha and seven others its ‘biggest success in cracking the urban Maoist network’. Earlier this year, Jha became the first journalist convicted of sedition in the state. As he fights back, the holes in the police’s story are showing. Ashutosh Bhardwaj reports
For more than five years now, Prafulla Jha has been in Raipur jail. Fifteen months to go for the end of his term, the man whose arrest, along with seven others, had been termed by the Chhattisgarh Police as its “biggest success in cracking the urban network of Maoists”, has challenged his conviction in the high court. The court didn’t rule him a Maoist, nor did it find that he was a member of any banned outfit.
His interrogation report called him “a Gandhian who would never resort to or support violence”. Still, in July 2013, Jha became the first Chhattisgarh journalist to be convicted on charges of sedition and of attempt to wage a war against the nation. The recent arrest of alleged Maoist couriers Hem Mishra, a student of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Prashant Rahi, an Uttarakhand activist, from Gadchiroli, and the raid on the house of Delhi University professor G N Saibaba in the Capital have brought the urban network of Maoists back in focus. But while the security forces may assert that the instances confirm rebel operations in cities, Jha’s case underlines that the charges rest on little more than presumptions.
Two Maoist cadres arrested in Odisha
Koraput: A hardcore Maoist, wanted in 40 cases including the murder of many civilians, was arrested along with one other ultra from Kunjiri village of this Left-wing extremism affected district. Samburu Sirika (35), local commander of Srikakulam-Koraput divisional committee of the CPI (Maoist), was held with another ultra identified as Beeri Miniaka, police said on Sunday. Both of them, arrested late on Friday, belong to Tinganaput village of the Narayanpatna block of the district.
“Based on intelligence inputs about presence of Samburu and Beeri at Kunjiri village, a raid was conducted by the police and the duo was nabbed,” said Koraput SP Awinash Kumar. The police said after remaining engaged with Chasi Muliya Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) initially, Samburu was inducted into the armed squad of SKDC. He is accused of killing as many as 20 civilians in last four years by branding them as police informers, they said. In 2009, Samburu had killed 5 such persons, four in 2010 and again five in the next year. Continuing his offencive against the suspected police informers, he had killed five people in 2012 and 1 in 2013, police added.
“Samburu had unleashed terror in the area. He was leading local units of SKDC at Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks of Koraput district, bordering areas of Rayagada and certain parts of Andhra Pradesh,” the SP said. Apart from being directly involved in the murders, Samburu was part of Maoist group, which triggered a landmine blast on Narayanpatna-Laxmipur road in which 9 security personnel were killed in 2009, police said. Beeri was also an armed cadre and had assisted Samburu in many offensives, including murder. “During interrogation, Beeri has confessed to assisting Samburu in five murders and triggering landmine blast at Narayanpatna in which a BSF jawan was killed in 2012,” Kumar said.
Maoists get ready to strike in poll season
With the Communist Party of India (Maoist) preparing to strike officials and state symbols during the impending Chhattisgarh polls in a big way, there are growing fears that the Chhattisgarh polls may indeed be a violent one. “Maoists are preparing to go on an unprecedented scale for enforcing a violent boycott. Top leaders like Ganapathy and Katakan Anand have been openly sighted in Narayanpur (Abhujmadh) area and Bijapur,” said a senior security official engaged in combating Maoists. Ganapathy alias Muppalla Laxman Rao is the general secretary of CPI (Maoists) while Katakam Sudarshan alias Anand is the secretary of the Central Regional Bureau.
“Not only top leaders, but senior and middle-level leaders are leading teams of cadres and are openly campaigning in villages trying to convince people to boycott the polls,” the official added. The Centre, while taking steps to counter any Maoist strike during the polls, already sounds worried. The home ministry has taken a dim view of the inability of the CRPF and the BSF to neutralise or arrest any important Maoist leader over the last three months. This does not augur well for the election build-up since the naxals have been allowed freedom of space to operate with impunity, government sources told HT, pointing that “accountability would be fixed for lapses arising out of poor planning and execution”.
Reports also said that the Maoists have set up small action teams of about five cadres, who carry small arms, including machetes, with some even dressed in school uniforms. Prospects of violence are particularly strong in the first phase of the polls on November 11 when the worst-affected Bastar — the core Maoist area — also goes to polls. The situation is considered more serious as Maoists from the neighbouring states of Odisha, Jharkhand and Maharashtra are also infiltrating into the state in small groups with plans to disrupt the polls. Maoists had given a poll-boycott clarion call on October 15.
Aerial route over Bastar vulnerable to Maoist attack: MHA
RAIPUR: Security arrangements are being beefed up at Bastar to prevent recurrence of Maoist attacks on helicopters during poll. As Bastar go to polls on November 11 in the first phase of the Assembly elections, the ministry of home affairs has alerted state administration about chances of Maoist attack on helicopters. Election officials have requisitioned 12 helicopters for aerial surveillance during campaigning and polls.
There were two major incidents of Maoist firing at choppers in Bastar in the past. MHA has issued an advisory stating that the Naxals might target helicopters which security forces and political leaders will be using during the elections. The statement said that Maoists had undergone a special training for the same and could apparently target while the helicopters are landing or taking off. Following this, series of meeting took place at Mana between police and air force officials to plan strategies. State intelligence officials said that Maoists have formed a special cell soon after the Jheeram valley attack on May 25, for attack during the assembly elections.
The cell comprises of 150 persons including women Maoists. Security arrangements and special care would be taken now with the choppers heading to the Maoist hot-bed areas. According to state police officials, Maoists have also planted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the interiors of Bastar region which will head to the polling booths to attack the polling parties as well as those going to cast votes. Notably, Maoists, in the last 2008 Assembly elections had targeted a chopper Mi-8 which was ferrying three injured paramilitary jawans, election officials and electronic voting machines. The rebels started ‘indiscriminate fire’ from ‘different directions’ soon after it lifted off from the helipad at Pedia on way to Bijapur.
‘The helicopter was barely 30 metres up in the air when it came under fire from automatic weapons like light machine guns with one of them hitting flight engineer, Sergeant Mustafa Ali, on the head. Though no other person was hit by bullets, some suffered heavy bruises. Another IAF helicopter, was attacked in January this year, which on a rescue mission to evacuate an injured CRPF jawan and the body of another. The chopper was forced to make an emergency landing in the densely-forested Sukma district after it came under fire from Maoists. Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region has a history of attacks and disturbance created by Maoists during election and polling day.
According to chief election commissioner V S Sampath, who was in Raipur last week, nearly 50 per cent of the polling stations in the state have been marked “hyper sensitive” or “sensitive”. Of the 21,424 polling stations in the state that has 90 constituencies, 3,249 have been termed “hyper sensitive” and 6,920 “sensitive”, he said.
Hence, polling parties would be airlifted to the remote and inaccessible areas in tribal Bastar division, Chief electoral officer Sunil Kujur said that about a dozen helicopters would be requisitioned from the air-force for deployment during the polls. “I can’t disclose the number or location and whereabouts of the helicopters or the polling parties for security reasons,” Kujur said. Director General of state police Ramniwas told TOI “There will aerial surveillance during campaigning and even on the polling day. But aerial surveillance has its own limitations and one can’t solely depend on it.”