MCP calls for 12 hr general strike in Manipur
The Maoist Communist Party (MCP) is calling a 12 hour general strike in Manipur on Wednesday ahead of the polling in the general Inner Manipur Parliamentary seat. Its demolition squads have planted 15 bombs at strategic places to make the strike a success. This was stated in a press statement issued by Nonglen Meitei, secretary publicity and propaganda of the MCP on Tuesday. Making a frontal attack against the Congress and its MP for the last two terms, Meinya Thokchom, the MCP statement said that the MP Areas Development fund for the last two terms has not reached the people.
Under the Congress Ministry led by Okram Ibobi a number of persons had lost their close family members. The days of the Congress rule in India and Manipur are coming to an end, it said. Earlier the MCP had warned the people not to venture out during the general strike as they may get injured. The strike however does not cover press, essential services and those who are participating in socio-religious functions. However, the threat that the bombs will be detonated here and there comes as a damper and most sections of the people including presspersons may not stick out their necks. The MCP had blasted several bombs in the past few days.
They had targeted Meinya Thokchom, MP, Mirabai Akoijam, Social Welfare Minister. Police and security forces are not taking the bomb threat lightly. On April 9, the Deputy Speaker Presho Shimray had a narrow escape when militants carried out an ambush while he was returning to Imphal after casting his vote in Ukhrul district. Though the accusing fingers had been pointed to one armed group there has been no claim.
In view of the threats, Mr. Thokchom moves out and attends some campaign meetings only when there are adequate security coverage for him. He could not participate in the interaction programmes organised by the Editors’ Guild – Manipur and a news channel, probably on security grounds. Meanwhile, police have beefed up security measures throughout the three valley districts which go to polls on Thursday. Though some armed persons are reported to have been rounded up, the big fishes are still at large and this is causing sleepless nights to the law enforcing agencies. Efforts are on to locate some of the bombs using sniffer dogs and metal detectors. However so far there is no success.
Plan to ambush Manipur MP foiled
A meticulous plan to carry out an ambush on Meinya Thokchom, the sitting Congress MP of Manipur, was foiled by police with the timely detection of a very powerful foreign made bomb which was planted a little distance away from his house at Khumbung in Imphal West district. Police detected the bomb buried at the roadside at 11:30 am on Tuesday. Police bomb disposal squad neutralised it. Though the accusing finger is pointed at the Maoist Communist Party, so far there is no claim.
Police have also not arrested any of the MCP insurgents in this connection. Apart from blasting several bombs in the past few days it announced that it had planted 15 bombs at 15 different places as a part of the 12 hour general strike it is calling on Wednesday. Police sources said that perhaps the rebels were planning to ambush the MP and his entourage when they return home after campaigning which ends at 4 pm on Tuesday. In case of ambush there would be casualties since it was within the Khumbong village. Police dragnet has been spread wide to comb the areas. Besides the paramilitary, personnel guarding the MP have been put on red alert. However, in view of the shortage of security forces since polls will be held on Thursday, the government cannot increase his security guards as yet.
LS polls: Security beefed up in Kanker, Rajnandgaon and Mahasamund
Security has been stepped up in three poll-bound Maoist infested constituencies of Kanker, Rajnandgaon and Mahasamund in Chhattisgarh amid inputs that naxals may foment trouble in these sensitive areas on April 17, when voting be held there during the second phase of Lok Sabha elections. According to Intelligence Bureau sources, around 500 cadres of PLGA (Peoples’ Liberation Guerrilla Army)- a military wing of CPI (Maoist)- have been mobilised in these areas to create disturbances in the electoral process.
“We were already having inputs of naxals may obstruct electoral process in the conflict zone. But after the recent attacks on security forces and polling parties in Bastar Lok Sabha constituency, we are more cautious,” an Intelligence Bureau Official told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
Naxal arrested after encounter in Chhattisgarh
Bastar Superintendent of Police Ajay Yadav said that the Ultra was arrested following the gun-battle between rebels and the joint squad of Special Task Force (STF) and district force in Chandameta forests under Darbha police station limits.
Aerial surveillance in Red-hit constituencies
RANCHI: To ensure peaceful polls during the second phase, the Jharkhand police has arranged for aerial surveillance over the six Maoist-affected Lok Sabha constituencies that will go to polls on April 17. Police, armed with high-definition binoculars will hover over the hills and forest areas, believed to be the possible hideouts of the Maoists. Six choppers will be pressed into service to keep a close watch on the Maoist activities in the six constituencies – Giridih, Singhbhum, Khunti, Jamshedpur, Hazaribag and Ranchi. Confirming the development, DGP Rajiv Kumar said,”It is one of the several measures we have taken to ensure free and fair election.
The first phase was hassle-free and we would want that trend to continue.” Giridih’s Jhumra area, Ghatshila in Jamshedpur, Murhu and Torpa in Khunti, Bundu and Tamar in Ranchi need special attention as Maoist activities are often reported from these areas, he added. Kumar, along with ADG (JAP) Kamal Nayan Choubey and IG of North Chottanagpur Zone, Laxman Prasad Singh, visited Jhumra hills in Bokaro, Madhuban in Giridih and Churchu in Hazaribag on Monday to review the security arrangements in these regions.
“We did a recce of the area to ensure that a comprehensive security arrangement is in place. We are ready to give a befitting reply to the Maoists, in case they try to disrupt the election procedure,” a confident Kumar told media persons in Ranchi. A series of explosives have been recovered from Khunti and Chaibasa in the last one week following which sense of fear has gripped the electorate in these areas.
Three bombs recovered in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district
At least three bombs were recovered on Tuesday from a jungle in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district, police said. According to the police, the bombs were found in a jungle near the national highway connecting Ranchi to Patna in the Kuju area of the district, 55 km from Ranchi. They were recovered after villagers informed police about them. Ramgarh falls in Hazaribagh constituency which will go to the polls April 17.
Maoist’s warning to polling officers in Bengal
KOLKATA: In a press release issued by the Dankaranya Special Zonal Committee on Monday, Maoists have warned people, polling personnel and journalists, not to travel in vehicles of paramilitary or police personnel. This comes after Maoists killed 14 people, including seven polling officials, at Bastar in Chhattisgarh on Saturday. The release is a clear indication that during the election, the rebels might target many parts of the country.
In West Bengal, where five Lok Sabha constituencies, Ghatal, Midnapore, Jhargram, Bankura and Purulia, have been labelled as Maoist-infested, security arrangements are not adequate. Senior police officers did not take the release seriously but chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta admitted that there was a threat perception. “There is a Maoist problem in Jangalmahal even now and the Election Commission will do everything to make this election peaceful.
The voting time in these six assembly constituencies have been cut short. Polling will take place from 7am to 4 pm in assemblies like Binpur, Jhargram, Bandowan, Bagmundi, Joypur and Balarampur,” Gupta said. Apart from this, the Election Commission allotted ten satellite phones for the ten sector offices in Jangalmahal. “These areas fall under the shadow zone and therefore, there will be no IT enabled application.
To stay in touch with these polling stations, the EC has sanctioned these SAT phones,” Gupta added. But is that adequate? When polling stations all over the country will have the latest IT facility like web-casting, mobile live tracking and will get android base mobiles to keep themselves updated, the nearly 3,000 sensitive and 3,900 highly sensitive booths of Jangalmahal will have to rely on traditional methods.
According to an EC official, “The vulnerability mapping of the villages of Jangalmahal is going on and we have identified sensitive and highly sensitive villages and accordingly, we have sent our report and our requirement to the commission. Now, the EC will decide about the allotment. So far, there has been no specific instruction for the area. As the districts will go for polls on May 7, there is very less time. Let’s see what can be done”. However, sources in the Election Commission indicate that the requirement list includes helicopters, anti-landmine vehicles, more Sat phones for better communication, satellite-based tracking system and UAVs, so that the entire polling process can be monitored properly.
When asked about it, DIG (Midnapore Range), Ajay Nanda said, “We will have to work with whatever we have got. We are relying more on source-based information network and will arrange our forces according to that. We have also asked for helicopters but that has not been sanctioned yet”. According to a senior cop of the district, Maoists like Shyamal and Madan in Belpahari and Bikas and Jayanta in Jamboni are traced in and around Jhargram and Purulia. “Some unknown group members are also moving around Nayagram and Gopiballavpur. They are coming in plainclothes and talking to the villagers,” he said.
Heavy movement of Maoists in regions polling on April 17 in Chhattisgarh: Intelligence
RAIPUR: Two days after Maoist attack on CRPF jawans and polling party, state intelligence bureau has received inputs about reds’ movement in large number in parts of Mahasamund, Kanker and Rajnandgaon that goes to poll on April 17 indicating another attack in the offing. According to a senior official at state intelligence bureau, department has been alerted about intense Maoist movement in Kanker and Rajnandgaon districts which are among red-dominated regions after Bastar.
“Inputs received indicate the presence of over 150 Maoists on the border of Rajnandgaon and Gadchiroli. They have distributed themselves in groups. Kanker is comparatively more sensitive with nearly 500-700 cadres active in the region,” the official said. He added that they may again target road opening parties (ROPs) who have to walk on road. Security forces have been alerted and plans are being made to add more security personnel and conduct polling amid heavy security cover to avoid any more incidents. Security personnel of Special Task Force and Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) would be deployed at affected regions.
Of the three districts going to polls in second phase are Mahasamund, Rajnandgaon and Kanker which have 442 sensitive and 431 hyper-sensitive polling booths. Rajnandgaon’s Manpur-mohalla and Aundhi, Mahasamund’s Sihawa, Borai and Khallari while Kanker’s Antagarh, Abujhmar, Keshkal and Bhanupratappur are among the worst Maoist affected areas. Rajnandgaon has suffered attacks during previous polls and has 240 sensitive and 106 hyper-sensitive polling booths.
An effort on search operations for recovery of IEDs and landmines planted by reds is on. Subsequently, in Kanker 36 booths have been shifted to safer places. The region has 129 sensitive and 301 hyper-sensitive polling booths. Moreover, the greenbelt there provides a good cover for Maoist movement and attacks. Mahasamund’s 24 polling booths have been declared as hyper-sensitive. Forces have started settling in the region for peaceful and safe polls.