Exclusive: India losing more soldiers in Red Corridors than J-K
A deadly trend has struck roots in India’s Red Corridor over the past three years. A soldier fighting Maoists deep inside the jungles of central and southcentral India is far more likely to be killed than his uniformed brothers taking on militants in Jammu and Kashmir or insurgents in the North-east. Rebels in the Red zone are killing more soldiers than are dying in all insurgency-hit areas put together. Official data from the Union home ministry shows that at least one security personnel loses his life to Maoists possibility of the enemy surprising security forces makes the job of their personnel highly risky. “Numbers can never tell the real horror tales. There is death at every step,” says an official who has served in these highrisk zones. Maoists are acknowledged experts in planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and are always devising new strategies to ensure mass killings.
And they seem to be getting better. There have been recent incidents when several security personnel have been butchered in one ambush. Sources say IED explosions have been responsible for most deaths. “They plan attacks and ambush our forces resulting in large killings,” the officer said.
The numbers tell the tale. The death toll of security personnel killed between 2011 and 2013 was 371 in the Maoist zone; the number of incidents of violence in the Red zone was 4,311. High intensity conflict zones like Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya seem safer than the Maoist bastions of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh or Orissa where most the security personnel killings have taken place. The total death toll in all insurgency-affected areas was 239 in the same period and the number of incidents of violence 3,123.
Odisha: Anti Naxal combing operation beefed up in Rayagada
Rayagada: In yet another move to curb the Naxal movement in Nishikal area of Rayagada dist, a massive anti naxal operation was carried out by 4th Battalion CRPF under command of Commandant Shri Balaram Behera since last four days. During the operation, two land mines of 20 kg and 15 kg respectively and three SBML guns were recovered.
16 per cent hike in Home Ministry’s budget
New Delhi: Home Ministry has received a 16 per cent jump in the 2014-15 Interim Budget over its allocation last year with the focus this time on, among others, schemes for safety of women in Delhi and creation of special infrastructure in Naxal-affected states. Out of a total budget package of Rs 59,387 crore for Home Ministry, Finance Minister P Chidambaram earmarked Rs 2 crore for schemes for women’s safety in Delhi, Rs 789.08 crore for security-related expenses and Rs 600 crore for modernisation of police forces.
The country’s largest paramilitary force, CRPF, has been given Rs 12,236.82 crore in 2014-15 as against the Rs 11,373.72 crore which it had received in 2013-14. BSF has been extended Rs 11,221.77 crore for the next fiscal. In 2013-14, the force which guards the India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders had been given Rs 10,378.77 crore. CISF, which protects vital installations like airports and, among others, Delhi Metro, received Rs 4,727.69 crore as compared to the Rs 4,391.49 crore it got in the last budget.
Assam Rifles, which plays a key role in anti-insurgency operations in the northeast and guards the Indo-Myanmar border, has been allowed Rs 3,580.21 crore. In 2013-14, it had received Rs 3,358 crore. ITBP, which guards the icy heights along the Sino-Indian border, has been given Rs 3,077.50 crore against the Rs 3,124.11 crore it received this fiscal. SSB, which protects the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders, has received an allocation of Rs 3,062.82 crore. In 2014-15, the force had been given Rs 2,763.40 crore. The Interim Budget has also earmarked Rs 1,196.43 crore for Intelligence Bureau, Rs 241.20 crore for the Bureau of Immigration, Rs 59.40 crore for Narcotics Control Bureau and Rs 101.03 crore for the National Investigation Agency.
CRPF seizes 3,400kgs of ammonium nitrate
New Delhi: Security forces have seized 3,400-kgs of ammonium nitrate– used for making IEDs and explosives– and detonators during an anti-Naxal operation in Bihar’s Rohtas district. The operation was conducted by paramilitary CRPF along with state police forces in the Rudrapur forests of the district. “Numerous bags weighing 3,400-kgs of ammonium nitrate were seized during an operation in the district. Also, 700 electronic detonators were seized,” a senior official here said. Thirteen large bundles of iron wire mesh were also seized during the same operation, the official added.
Maoist Finances: Sources, Methods of Collection and Utilization
Naxalites of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), or Maoists in short, founded in September 2004, is the largest and most lethal Naxalite outfit in India having a presence –– intense to nominal –– in 20 states, spread across 203 districts. To run a war machinery of this size the outfit requires large amounts of funds. Responding to Question No. 2276, in the Rajya Sabha, on February 12, 2014, Minister of State for Home Affairs, RPN Singh said, “…the CPI(Maoist) party has been collecting not less than Rs. 140 crores annually from a variety of sources. Further, the possibility of certain front organizations of the CPI (Maoist) … clandestinely getting foreign funds cannot be ruled out.”
Maoist’s finance Policy
At the 9th/Unity Congress, held in 2007 January, the CPI (Maoist) adopted a document entitled “Our Financial Policy”. This document enumerates the Maoists’ financial policy, identifies sources of finances, mentions areas of expenditure and issues guidelines to avoid wrong, wasteful expenditure.
Through a consultative process involving various levels the Central Committee fixes the annual amount to be collected at the all-India level. The Zonal Committee appears to be the basic unit responsible for conveying the decision on the amount to be collected from each source. In effect, money is collected at all levels beginning from the Area Committee. In Jharkhand, there have been instances where the source has been informed of the amount he would have to pay, money left at the source(s) itself, and collected from the source at a later date, as and when the need arose. The Armed Squad need not necessarily go to collect the money. Usually, an over-ground member of the outfit is deputed to collect the money. These could a member of the Krantikari Kisan Committee, Krantikari Mahila Committee, a contractor, or an NGO, or any other designated person.
Money is collected from individuals as well as businesses –– ranging from petty to big industries.
Sources at a Glance
Government Works and Schemes
Industry and Businesses
Revolutionary Taxes in cash and kind
Fines on Defaulters
There is some vagueness about what amounts are stored at each level, but certainly money is delivered to the next higher Committee. Possibly, some amount is retained at each level. At each level only two people are aware of where the money is stored. Various methods are being employed to store the money. In some cases, money is left with the source itself 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.
Also, in some cases the Maoists are said to have purchased vehicles and given them to their supporters. 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 syntax tanks; thereafter, these tanks are being stacked away in dumps in forests. In Jharkhand, as a very top-ranking former IPS officer told this researcher, there have been some instances –– that came to the knowledge of the authorities –– in which money has been deposited in banks.
Income and expenditure:
The Maoists have a meticulous system of accounting and are very good at book-keeping. As has been mentioned earlier, each level in the hierarchy maintains a detailed statement of expenditure, while those responsible for collecting money also maintain a detailed account of the amounts collected. On perusal of a few documents recovered by the Andhra Pradesh police, that this researcher has been privy to, the expenditure in the entire North Telengana Special Zone area at the peak of the movement, during 2001 and October 2003, was Rs 4,42,51,256. At the same time, the income in the NTSZ area for the corresponding period of 2001 – October 2003 has been Rs 6,20,48,500.The balance of the amount as at that time was Rs 1,79,27,926, besides 562 gold biscuits.
Monitoring and audit is pretty strict within the outfit. Each cadre has to maintain a detailed account of expenditure meticulously. A consolidated expenditure sheet of the squad is prepared by the Commander and submitted to the higher committee at regular meetings. Such a procedure is strictly followed at all levels of the hierarchy, upwards. These expenditure statements are scrutinized carefully and wasteful and unwanted expenditure is taken seriously. The rebels have also issued guidelines on financial discipline and how to avoid wasteful (non-proliterian) expenditure.
Safety of Dumps
In a document that this researcher has been privy to, the Maoists discuss in some detail the safety of dumps where money, as well as arms and ammunition, is stored/stashed away. In a document entitled ‘Maintenance of Dumps’ the Maoists had discussed various issues, in some detail. Busting of a dump by the security forces, indeed, dampens the morale of the Maoists and are, therefore, quite cautious to ensure its preservation. Recoveries from a dump cause two types of losses for the Maoists. One, they are deprived of the material lost, until replenishments come-in, and are, thus, handicapped in their armed activity to that extent. Two, and worse, the security forces succeed on a number of occasions in tracing the source of supply and disrupt it permanently.
In a document entitled “Our Financial Policy” that was adopted at the Unity/9th Congress, the Maoists have identified various incorrect trends that have been noticed at various levels and have suggested corrective measures.
State gets ‘worst’ rebel-hit crown – Home ministry lists 150 deaths in 2013, calls for introspection
Ranchi, Feb. 16: The Union ministry of home affairs has termed Jharkhand the “worst LWE-affected state” of 2013, lending credence to this tag with chilling data that include 383 instances of rebel violence and 150 deaths. The fact came to fore when Union home secretary Anil Goswami sent a confidential letter to Jharkhand chief secretary R.S. Sharma on January 21, 2014, a senior official in the secretariat told The Telegraph. Included in the 150 casualties are 30 security personnel and 12 Maoists.
These sombre statistics called for “introspection on the part of the state government”, the Union home secretary’s letter said. The home secretary’s letter clearly states the Centre’s dissatisfaction with the way the state government is handling Naxalism and is mulling to request the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for a special audit of development schemes in Jharkhand to assess the magnitude of work done and undone. Goswami’s letter also expressed concern over the “absence” of proactive role of respective superintendents of police of districts during anti-Naxalite operations. According to the letter, most operations in Jharkhand are led by the Central Armed Police Forces, which include CRPF and BSF, among others.
“The police have largely been playing a secondary role. The absence of proactive intent and action on the part of the district superintendents of police is a cause for concern,” the official quoted from Goswami’s letter. The Union ministry of home affairs is also implementing upgrade of the Special Forces in four states, including Jharkhand, but is not happy over the way its guidelines have been flouted here. Goswami’s letter pointed out that most parameters under the guidelines were not being followed in the case of Jharkhand Jaguars, the special task force of Jharkhand Police, to the extent that the forces did not even have an independent inspector-general, a basic requirement.
Two Sabyasachi Panda aides held after encounter
BERHAMPUR: Security forces arrested two Maoists from a forest near Salima Gochha in Ganjam district after busting a camp of Odisha Maobadi Party (OMP), led by top rebel leader Sabyasachi Panda, on Saturday. The arrested are Bhupati Mohanta, 22, and Govinda Moharana, 22, (both from Keonjhar district). Sabyasachi fled the spot following heavy exchange of fire between security forces and Maoists, SP (Ganjam) Ashish Kumar Singh told the media here on Sunday.
At least 10 ultras, including five women cadres, were present during the operation, the SP said. Bhupati joined OMP in December last year and was acting as a courier for Sabyasachi while Govinda was a new entrant to the outfit, he said. “When his organization gradually weakened, Sabyasachi tried to revive it by recruiting people from far-off places like Keonjhar,” Singh said. Police said the exchange of fire lasted about 45 minutes and security forces used around 250 rounds. The anti-Maoist operation was jointly carried out by special operations group and Ganjam police.
“We suspected some cadres might have been injured or killed. But causalities are yet to be established,” he said. The operation was further intensified in the area by deploying CRPF, the SP said. Huge quantity of arms and ammunition, apart from other items, were seized from the camp. These included two 7.62 mm rifles, a magazine, an SBML (single barrel muzzle loading) gun, a camera, 17 electrical detonators, two bundles of electrical wire with detonator, batteries, a stabilizer, two solar chargers and three mobile phone chargers.
Naxalite shadow on new village roads
New Delhi, Feb. 16: Road construction in 27 Maoist-hit districts, including Bengal’s West Midnapore, under a flagship central programme has suffered in recent years with contractors reluctant to take up projects, officials said. In some areas the Union rural development ministry, which implements the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), had to allow work to be allotted to individuals nominated by local committees instead of issuing tenders. The 27 districts include eight in Chhattisgarh, six each in Odisha and Jharkhand, two in Bihar and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal, sources said. Rajendra Pratap Sinha, the collector of Jharkhand’s Garhwa that figures on the list, said PMGSY tenders had evoked poor response in recent years. “For some road projects, there is no response. No contractor is interested in taking up work and the connectivity scheme is affected.”
A village killed by isolation
Increased rebel activity made it impossible for anyone to commute outside Jagargunda unless they left permanently, as the original inhabitants and the new entrants were marked as Salwa Judum supporters, and overtly boycotted by the Maoist-controlled villages surrounding the enclave. In Jagargunda, a large village in south Chhattisgarh, the villagers have been waiting for their winter rations for more than two months. Ordinarily, this would not be news but Jagargunda is no ordinary village. A paramilitary officer, witness to the delivery of rations, terms it a “gigantic security effort.” The single biggest event in this part of the world was nearly 60 trucks carrying food and construction material, followed by another 15 with security escorts, said Jeetender Kumar, the paramilitary officer in charge of the village.
The sight of the convoy along the 54-kilometre road peppered with landmines, numerous security camps and mobile Maoist squads would have been a spectacle if one were to make a film. The ration is delivered twice a year — in summer and winter.
Following Vietnamese strategy
This “gigantic effort” was started after a few local newspapers reported that there was shortage of food in a village that was reasonably prosperous a decade ago. Investigations revealed that a population transfer programme of the government, called “strategic hamleting,” was used — a process of isolating the rural community from the resistance force that was earlier used in South Vietnam in the 1960s. The government of Chhattisgarh tried this aborted Vietnamese model to isolate villagers from the Maoists, even as officials denied its existence.
Jagargunda was one of the first few villages where the population of four other adjacent hamlets — Milampalli, Kunder, Tarlaguda and Kodmer — was transferred, resulting in a shortage of food. Madkam Masa, the sarpanch of Milampalli, explained the impact of “strategic hamleting.” “We were in a thriving village (Milampalli) with our share of land but moved to the Jagargunda enclave even though we had no land or jobs in the enclave.” Initially, some work became available through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, but the programme stopped eventually. Milampalli, a few kilometres north of Jagargunda, resembles an abandoned graveyard.
As one enters the village from the western side, a hand pump is the first visible object apart from the tall grass and dead shrubs. The pump, like in the rest of the village, was land-mined soon after the whole of Milampalli had left for Jagargunda, locals said. “We lost our village but who gained from this displacement?” asks Bhima Madkam, a neighbour of Mr. Masa. Maoists, however, had a free run outside the new enclave as the villages nearby were evacuated. They began controlling about 900 sq.km of the area surrounding the village. Now, about 150 Maoist cadres with nearly 50 gun-laden fighters control the area. The team is headed by Pappa Rao, one of the most skilled fighters of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army.
Increased rebel activity made it impossible for anyone to commute outside Jagargunda, unless they left permanently, as the original inhabitants and the new entrants were marked as Salwa Judum supporters, and overtly boycotted by Maoist-controlled villages surrounding the enclave. The population of Jagargunda trebled. To protect the residents, concertina wiring fenced the village. Several companies of police and paramilitaries were introduced, thus completing the polarisation of Jagargunda, which was hoping to upgrade itself as a block headquarter a decade ago.
Even today, two companies of central paramilitaries and one company of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) with about 50 personnel are stationed in the village with several posts along the barbed wire. According to official sources, paramilitaries carry “area weapons” like 51-mm mortars, under barrel grenade launchers and even rocket launchers which are normally used in international conflict. In this case, the Muria Gonds and Telegu communities are protected from another set of Muria Gonds and Telegus settled in the area for centuries. “We are in a strange island,” laughed the chief of CAF’s Jagargunda camp, R. Kujur, whose camp is in what was once a busy office of the Public Works Department of a flourishing village connected to Dantewada in the east, Bijapur in the west and Bhadrachalam (Andhra Pradesh) in the south.
A mid-level leader of Salwa Judum, Vijay Jaiswal, now the head teacher in a local day school, sounded depressed. “Such a prosperous village ruined so fast,” he said with regret. “Now, the ration has been stopped. But even when the ration was arriving on time till last June, it was generating problems. We receive six months’ ration at one go, so it rots. We periodically spread it in the sun to keep it fresh. Storing, while avoiding rats, was another headache,” said Bhima Madkam of Milampalli, who is settled in the enclave. Each family, irrespective of its size, received 1.5 quintals last June. Managing space to store six months’ ration is another problem for the displaced people, as the houses have reduced floor space. The forces have their share of problems in bringing ration. “Copters which get our ration cannot fly between July and September due to the monsoon and we reduce our food intake,” said Mr. Kumar.
The gates of the enclave close at 6.30 p.m. and open at 6.30 a.m., just as in no-man’s land on the India-Bangladesh border in the Barak Valley of Assam, while the residents normally avoid travelling to their native villages or to the next big village, Chintalnar, about 12 km north of Jagargunda; this stretch is considered to be the most dangerous and is dug up in at least two dozen spots with no security camps, while nine camps are placed between the 44-km stretch between Chintalnar and Dornapal. The 12-km stretch is manned by junior Maoist militias who are aware that forces never take the mined road unless on a search operation. The militias verify the photo identity cards of the journalists and ask “why reporters are reluctant to report Maoist movement.” Assuming that they may be unfriendly, Jagargunda’s residents avoid going to Chintalnar, the nearest big market, a move which denies them the Minimum Support Price and bonus given on paddy sales. As a result, 600 quintals of paddy (mainly belonging to the Telegu community) rots in collective godowns.