Ch’garh: Cache of arms recovered after encounter with naxals
Raipur: A huge cache of arms, ammunition and electronic gadgets were recovered after a prolonged gun-battle between security personnel and Maoists in the naxal-hit Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh today, police said. The exchange of fire took place in Bodra hills under Khadgaon police station limits last night, Rajnandgaon Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Shukla told PTI. Based on inputs that around 20-25 armed cadres of Dallirajhra Area Committee, Pallemadi and Mangaltarai local operation squads (LOS) of Maoists were camping in the Bodra Hills, police personnel were mobilised in the region, located over 200 kms away from the state capital Raipur last evening. Sensing the presence of security personnel near restive hills, armed naxals opened indiscriminate firing on them following which security forces retaliated.
After the ensuing gunfight that lasted for around an hour, naxal fled to the core forest taking advantage of the darkness, he said. Later a search operation was launched in the region during which one 315 bore rifle, live cartridges of 315 bore rifle, 9 MM rifle, 2 Insas rifle magazine, a wireless set, a solar plate, radio and batteries, six big and six small bags, naxal uniform, school dress, medicines, commodities of daily use, naxal literature and other naxal-related things were recovered from the spot, he said. Prima facie, it appears that rebels were gathered to create some disturbance in the inter-district border of Rajnandgaon-Kanker district of Chhattisgarh, he said. Security forces have launched a manhunt in the region to nab the cadres who fled towards Rasooli village of Kanker after the encounter, he said.
Four arrested for Maoist violence during polls
Thirty-five-year-old Budhu Murmu and his brother Shom Murmu (32) were arrested on Thursday at a village under Shikaripara police station on charges that they had dug up and planted landmine exploded by the Maoists, Deputy Superintendent of Police AK Srivastav said. Their sister Tala Kuri was arrested along with Baburam Baski (35) on Monday on charges of harbouring the left-wing rebels, Srivastav added.
‘Karnataka fled Maoists have field day in Kerala’
Maoists were said to have been spotted over 40 times in the forest periphery of Kannur, Wayanad and Malappuram districts . Ever since the CPI Maoists sighted their presence in the Northern Kerala more than a year ago, it seems they have a field day in the state unlike in Karnataka, from where they were forced to flee. Sources in Kerala police say that in a year, Maoists were spotted over 40 times in the forest periphery of Kannur, Wayanad and Malappuram districts. Visiting tribal hamlets and preaching Maoist leanings, collecting rice and groceries, distributing phamplets, setting ablaze an earth mover of a quarry owner are the Maoist activities reported in this period.
To nip the menace in the bud itself, the state has set up a special commando force, ‘Thunderbolt’ and have been carrying on combing operations in the Maoist suspected areas, but in vain. The latest advance from the ultra force took place on April 24 midnight at Mananthavadi in Wayanad district where the Maoists threatened a traffic police officer at gunpoint at his house. The five member team warned the police officer, Pramod of dire consequences if he tipped off police.
Though the ‘Thunderbolt’ and police take swift action in such instances, it loses the vigour midway due to the lethargy at government level, disclosed a senior police officer to Deccan Herald. He attributed the reason that state government cannot abruptly switch into a ruthless mode in pursuing Maoists as the civil society in Kerala would not accept that. “But at the same time, to wait for some untoward incidents to happen will be a stupidity,” he added. The combing team haven’t come across the Maoists ever since the team was formed though people have reportedly come across Maoists several times.
In Kerala, Maoist presence has been identified in regions that come under 31 police stations limits of Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakad and Thrissur districts. The first time Maoists were sighted at Kanjirakolli in Kannur near Karnataka border was on February 2013. Since then, the prowling route of Maoists in the dense forest is through Kannur—Wayanad—Nilambur regions. The Kerala police have issued lookout notice for 11 Maoists recently. Though ultras say that stepping into Kerala is a part of their agenda of having their grip on Western Ghat area, police are of the opinion that it was the no-holds-barred effort of Karnataka Anti-Naxal Force that made the armed group to retreat to Kerala.
Target Western Ghat
The ultras are functioning under the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army wing that comes under the Western Ghats Special Zonal Committee (WGSZC) of CPI Maoists. According to an article written by the absconding Kerala Maoist leader Rupesh in ‘Mathrubhumi’ weekly last year, WGSZC was formed targeting the fertile soil of the regions of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu adjacent to the Western Ghats. He wrote that the extent of exploitation faced by scores of tribals, SC people, landless poor, farmers in these areas as against the blooming economic prospects of nearby cities such as Erode, Coimbatore, Palakkad, Kochi, Kozhikode and Mangalore provide the ground for Maoist ideology to take roots. The ultras move is said to be part of an ambitious plan to create a red corridor from Jharkhand to Wayanad.
6 ultras from Malnad
The Kerala police believe that 11 people, including four women are active in the Maoist gang with a considerable number of members currently put in sleeping mode. Of this, six are from the Malnad region of Karnataka, viz., Vikram Gowda, Latha, Kanya alias Kanyakumari, Sundari alias Geetha, Mahesh alias Jayanna and A S Suresh. They are involved in many criminal cases in Karnataka including murder and Vikram Gowda has led the movement in Malnad. Rupesh, Sinoj are from Kerala and others belong to Tamil Nadu. Reports also indicate that ultras from northern states have also joined the group though police do not have much information.
The intelligence agency says that in 2011, half a dozen of Malayalee youth have undergone training in Jharkhand. Inspite of these identified ones, intelligence wing suspects that several others such as Rupesh’s wife, Shyna who was an employee in Kerala High Court have been providing support under cover. Though the respective anti-naxal wings of three states—Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu—are co-operating with each other in pursuing Maoists, it has been learnt that there is dissatisfaction with the cold attitude on the part of Kerala. Both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are for an iron hand in dealing with Maoists with both states pointing the success of Andhra Pradesh’s special force, ‘Greyhounds’ in eliminating ultras. But Kerala is too cautious to take such a policy chiefly fearing public backlash. When Kerala-Karnataka joint forces were undertaking combing operations using helicopter at Mankundi near Cherupuzha on Kerala-Karnataka border on February 1, 2013, it was later revealed that at the same time ultras were having political ‘discussions’ with people just 15 kms away for hours.
Chhattisgarh accounts for 31% Maoist violence
RAIPUR: The union home ministry has asked the Chhattisgarh government to strengthen its intelligence set up and galvanise its task force for their optimal utilisation in conducting anti Naxal operations in the state. The ministry also asked the DRDO to operationalize the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) airfield at Nandini, Bhilai. At a recent high-level meeting, to review the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in the country, held under the Chairmanship of Union Home Secretary, it was observed that basic policing in the Naxal affected areas of the state also need to be strengthened. The state was also directed to expedite construction of fortified police states in the affected areas.
The meeting, which reviewed the incidents of LWE violence in the affected states in 2013, observed that Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh remain the worst affected states followed by Bihar, Odisha and Maharashtra. As per the data presented in the meeting 80% of LWE violence remained confined to 23 districts, with Chhattisgarh’s Sukma, Bijapur and Dantewada topping the list of the 10 worst affected districts.
Incidentally, Chhattisgarh accounted for 31% of the total LWE violence in the country in 2013. It may be recalled that Naxals had brutally massacred almost the entire top leadership of the Congress in an attack in Sukma on May 25 last. Those 28 people killed included VC Shukla, Mahendra Karma (founder of Salwa Judum) and state party president, Nand Kumar Patel, and his son, Dinesh. Even this year, Sukma witnessed a bloody massacre of poll officials and security personnel a day after the second phase of the Lok Sabha polls on April 12. According to information provided at the meeting by the IB Director, there is a huge presence of Naxal cadres on the Chhattisgarh-Odisha border.
He advised both the state government’s to conduct joint operations in the border areas and advocated for strict compliance of standard operation procedures (SOPs) by both the state polices and central forces deployed there. While advising all the states to be on a “maximum alert”, the Home Ministry has asked the Chhattisgarh government to closely monitor the training in the Counter Insurgency and Anti Terrorist (CIAT) schools.
The state government was also directed to finalise locations for Army training ranges within four weeks. The home ministry has also directed the Chhattisgarh government to immediately fill the near 8000 vacancies in the police force. These vacancies include 5000 jawans, 26 additional SPs, 192 DSPs, 982 SI/ASI and 1,362 head constables. The state government was also directed to immediately provide “critical infrastructure” for housing of central forces in the naxal affected areas. These included construction of 107 barracks on priority.
The meeting also took stalk of health and educational infrastructure in the Naxal affected areas and directed the Chhattisgarh government to ensure posting of doctors and paramedical staff in the 30 primary health centres in LWE areas of the state. The state government was also directed of foll vacancies of all teachers in these areas within six months. The government was also directed to expedite the tendering process for construction of 512 kms of roads in the LWE area, besides completing on going work on 850 kms. The meeting was held last month and was attended by DGPS and Chief Secretaries of the affected states, officials from the Army, NSA, CRPF, and IB, besides those from the Home Ministry.