Anti-Naxal operations on in remote areas of Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh
A massive anti-Naxal operation is currently on in all affected states in a well co-ordinated manner at places that are “very remote and far-flunge”, sources told The Indian Express. Led by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and assisted by state police, the operations are on since December 26 – birth anniversary of Mao. While the CRPF is saying it’s a four-day long operation, sources refused to acknowledge the period, saying, “no comments on it.”
This is the first time that all states are doing these operations together with operational boundaries of jurisdiction being fused in a seamless manner. While it covers all affected states, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are where the operations are particularly intensive. Authorities, however, are completely tight-lipped about the nature of operations, but sources said, “it’s a ground offensive and combing by over 40,000 policemen in very remote areas and many Naxal camps have so far been busted.” A senior official told The Indian Express on Saturday: “That there is a security vacuum in many of these states is well-known.
The idea is to best utilise this clear-weather time of the year till monsoon by when the next elections are due, to make an effective dent in the Maoist-held areas .” The operation was planned at a recent meeting of all DGPs of Naxal-affected states. It was decided to undertake them after the forces are done with their preoccupation with the recently-held elections in five states. Choppers stationed at Nagpur and Raipur for assistance have been put on high alert, sources said.
Anti-Naxalite operation: Chhattisgarh police not kept in the loop, senior officials allege
RAIPUR: While the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on Thursday morning launched massive anti-Naxalite operations in eight states including Chhattisgarh, officials in state police and state intelligence bureau appeared upset by the fact that their departments were not informed about the operation. While reports say that state police would be assisting the 40,000 CRPF personnel in eight states, officials were quoted as saying they were not being involved in the operation at all. Other states, where the operation is underway include Jharkhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Talking to TOI, a few senior officials disclosed that it was only through newspaper reports that they came to know about the operation. “While it becomes mandatory to include state police in such operations, we were not informed or told about any kind of assistance with CRPF. Information on correct routes and locations of most affected patches are a few areas where the forces would surely require police assistance. But an absence of coordination with the state police, intelligence wing and Naxalite operation wing is clearly visible,” said a highly placed source at police headquarters.
While no one in the department was comfortable to quote against the CRPF’s alleged move, a few SP’s of Maoist affected regions admitted that they were not conveyed about the operation. This is for the first time that a co-ordinated operation between state and CRPF has been launched simultaneously in various states. The official said that such a stand is usually taken when the paramilitary force is gripped with imminent security concerns.
After 76 CRPF personnel were killed in a 2010 attack in Dantewada, the force has become more cautious, the official claimed. It is also possible that since the CRPF already has its own intelligence group, they don’t feel the need of state intelligence bureau, said the official. However, director general of police Ram Niwas told TOI that the operation was being conducted for confidence building among citizens and state police will give all possible assistance to CRPF at respective places.
“Main idea of the operation is to spread the force at the same time with proper co-ordination from all corners of their escape route. Under pressure, if Maoists try to flee to other neighbouring states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh or Odisha, they would be caught or killed. Due to a heavy deployment of force, they cannot gather at one place either, hence, it would be an easy trap,” said a senior police official. Soon, after the operation gets over, an analysis would be done on its impact. The ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police), BSF (Border Security Force) are also a part of the operation. BSF and IAF helicopters have been positioned for air droppings and evacuation.
Maoists blow up a bridge in Malkangiri
Armed Maoists blew up portions of a bridge in the Kalimela police station area of Malkangiri district, south Odisha early on Saturday. As per initial reports, a group of around 50 armed Maoists and their supporters reached the spot at around 2.30 a.m., and planted explosives on the bridge. They also left behind a handwritten poster at the spot which claimed that it was their mark of protest against continuing anti-Maoist operations in the district as well as the encounter in September 2012, in which around 13 Maoists were killed. Speaking to The Hindu, Malkangiri Superintendent of Police (SP) Akhileswar Singh said this bridge was on the Poteru river.
Mr. Singh said that these acts of naxalite violence were being conducted by a group of over 100 Maoists from Chhattisgarh who have infiltrated the area. After major setbacks in the district this year through a series of arrests, surrenders and successful encounters, the Maoists are alleged to have deputed these ultras from outside to re-establish themselves. In another development, a group of armed Maoists also raided the house of a Special Police Officer (SPO) at Sangel village under Kalimela police station on Friday night.
The ultras are alleged to have looted the valuables from the house of the SPO. On Dec 25, armed Maoists had used explosives to destroy the block office building at Padia, Malkangiri. Malkangiri district, in December alone has seen kidnappings, killing of civilians and torching of passenger buses by Maoists. Meanwhile, security personnel including the Border Security Force (BSF) have been rushed to the areas where blasts occurred and SPO’s house to intensify combing operation to track down the ultras.
Dead rebel’s diary gives vital information
BERHAMPUR: A diary and two mobile phones seized from Maoist cadre Amit Kumar Nayak alias Pratap Pradhan, who died recently, have given police some vital information about the future plans of the rebels and revealed the names of some Maoist sympathizers, sources said. Basing on information available in the diary, police busted a rebel camp in a jungle near Indragada in Raikia police station area on Wednesday. There was an encounter after which police seized some arms and several other items. “We have got some valuable information on the activities of the Maoists. Now, we are verifying the same,” said SP (Kandhamal) KV Singh.
“We have come to know of some persons in Ganjam and Kandhamal districts, who are linked with the Maoists. We will arrest them soon,” he added. SP (Ganjam) Ashish Kumar Singh corroborated the fact. “We are verifying the names found in the diary,” he said. Twenty-four-year-old Pratap Pradhan, who hailed from Ganjguda village in G Udayagiri police station area, was arrested from Kalinga road on last Wednesday, when he was extracting money from a contractor.
He died at the district headquarters hospital at Phulbani the next day. Two other rebels, who were with Pradhan at the time of his arrest, fled the spot and are yet to be traced. Police suspect the camp busted on Wednesday might be of the Bansadhara division of the Maoists, led by Nikhil and Rama Krishna. Some papers and CDs seized from the camp had Telugu texts, which hints at the presence of cadres from Andhra Pradesh in Ganjam-Kandhamal border areas, a senior police officer said.
India’s Maoists: Financing The War Machinery – Analysis
The raising of finances by terrorist/extremist groups has been a major source of concern for different world governments, as well as the United Nations, since the past many years. In its now well-known Security Council Resolution No. 1373, the United Nations asked various world governments to “Criminalize the wilful provision or collection, by any means, directly or indirectly, of funds by their nationals or in their territories with the intention that the funds should be used, or in the knowledge that they are to be used, in order to carry out terrorist acts”, as well as “Freeze without delay funds and other financial assets or economic resources of persons who commit, or attempt to commit, terrorist acts or participate in or facilitate the commission of terrorist acts…”
Similarly, extortion by terrorist groups in the various theatres of conflict in India has been a cause of serious concern for the Union government and the various State governments. Within the context of extortion by the Naxalites, the Union government, perhaps for the first time, admitted what has been suspected. The Rajya Sabha, India’s Upper House of Parliament, was informed on December 18, 2013, that the Naxalites of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), or Maoists, in short, extort money from a variety of sources to finance their activities.
Replying to Unstarred Question No. 1457, the Minister of State in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs said, “The main source of funds for the Maoists include(s) extortion from tendu patta contractors, infrastructure/development work contractors, businessmen, corporate houses, etc. In addition, they rob banks and public/private property to augment their finances. Barely a week later three contractors were arrested on December 26, 2013 from Madanpura-Kasma road, Salaiya police station limits, Aurangabad district, Bihar. They were apprehended by the police while they were on their way to pass on Rs 75,00,000 lakh extortion money to the Maoists. This is, but, just once instance. Earlier, too, several such instances were reported, and more have likely gone un-reported.
In a document entitled ‘Our Financial Policy’, the Maoists mention that, in the main, they have three types of economic needs, viz. the needs of war, political propaganda and the people. To cater to these needs there are three broad categories of resources, viz. (a) membership fee, levy and contributions from the people; (b) confiscation of the wealth and income of the enemy; and (c) ‘revolutionary taxes’ collected in guerrilla zones and base areas. Thus, money is collected from individuals as well as businesses –– ranging from petty to big industries. Development Works (PWD) contractors, government schemes such as MGNREGS, IAY, mining industry, illegal mining of all minerals, big industries, businessmen, timber contractors, bamboo contractors, contractors dealing in Minor Forest Produce (MFP), small-time shop keepers, protection racket –– including for the cultivation of ganja –– PDS, tendu (kendu) leaf contractors, etc.
The rebels also levy taxes in their strongholds. In fact, as one government official told this researcher, ‘there is a symbiotic relationship between the Maoists and illegal mining, as well as forest produce’. There is also a darker side to the extortion racket. As all the actors involved get a share of the pie everyone is happy – the contractors, Maoists and a few concerned unscrupulous public servants. Eventually, due to the poor quality of the works completed, it is the people who suffer. Also, in the affected areas, because of extortion and corruption the projects have been falling into the trap of the vicious cycle of time and cost escalation.
There is an interesting story from Chaibasa district, Jharkhand. A contractor was awarded work by the Railways to build a tunnel. After paying-off to the Maoists and greasing the palms of Railway engineers, he was left with some money that was insufficient to complete the work at an acceptable quality and yet make a profit. Moreover, he was also running the risk of time escalation, as it was a time-bound project. At that juncture, an inspecting team was just about to visit the work-site. So, the contractor cleverly asked the Maoists to blow-off the work that was already completed. Resultantly, he could plead for additional time and money to complete the construction of the tunnel!
In fact, in a number of cases the projects are non-starters because multiple groups have to be paid. Resultantly, the contractor is left with little money to undertake the work, and is deemed to have been completed on paper. There is some vagueness about how these amounts are stored; various methods are being employed to store the money. Possibly, some amount is retained at each level of the Maoist hierarchy. In some cases, money is left with the source himself and collected as and when required. Some money is also being kept with very trust-worthy over-ground sympathizers/front-men. It is learnt that money is also being given to real estate agents. Perhaps, these are trust-worthy former radicals or cadres, who would invest it in their business and return the money to the Maoists as and when demanded.
Also, in some cases the Maoists are said to have purchased vehicles and given them to their supporters. These can be used for ferrying logistics and cadres and leaders as and when required. Besides, those allotted vehicles would also pay fixed amount to the outfit every month from their earnings. In some cases, the money has also been converted into gold biscuits. Large amounts are also being packed neatly in multiple layers of polythene, kept inside a metal box and then dropped into syntex tanks; thereafter, these tanks are being stacked away in dumps in forests. There is no evidence yet to suggest that the Maoists are investing money in businesses or in the stock market.
Surely, considerable amounts are being spent on acquiring weapons, ammunition and explosives from the grey arms market, while some money is also being spent for the daily needs of the armed cadre and running the war machinery, as well as expanding it. A small portion of the finances are being spent on propaganda and development work in their base areas where they are running a parallel government, which they term Janatana Sarkar. Understandably, it is difficult, if not impossible, to bottle-up extortion by the Maoists. However, it is possible to check In this wake, some of the measures could include, close monitoring of known sources of finance, including big industry, monitoring of Maoist conduits/front-men, registering criminal cases against sources of finance, irrespective of their social/economic standing, etc.