806 kgs of explosives, 130 IEDs found during poll process
New Delhi: Over 806 kgs of explosives and 130 improvised bombs have been found by security forces from Naxal violence-hit areas since the announcement of Lok Sabha polls on March 5. The maximum of these death traps and ammunition, meant for use against security forces and poll officials, have been recovered by paramilitary CRPF from Left-Wing Extremism-affected areas of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Odisha.
According to an official report, a maximum of 61 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were recovered from Bihar, 34 from Jharkhand, 26 from Chhattigarh and nine from Odisha till April 30. The total number of these locally-made IEDs stood at 130. 750 kgs of explosives were seized from Bihar, 53 kgs from Jharkhand, 0.5 kg from Chhattisgarh and 3.8 kgs from Odisha, taking the total to 806.92 kgs during the period between March 5 and April 30.
During the same period, 10 IED explosions took place in Bihar, six in Jharkhand and 13 in Chhattisgarh. The maximum casualty for the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the lead anti-Naxal operations force and the largest security force deployed for polls, took place in the restive Bastar area of Chhattisgarh where 22 personnel were killed while 16 were injured in separate incidents. Five CRPF men were also killed in Bihar while seven were injured in the same state while on poll duty in the Maoist grid.
A total of 59 arms were also recovered during the same period from Bihar (11), Jharkhand (26), Chhattisgarh (15), Odisha (5) and Maharashtra (1). Similarly, a total of 546 rounds of ammunition was found by the paramilitary force from these states with the maximum being detected in Jharkhand (446), Bihar (50), Chhattisgarh (37) and Odisha (13). Till now, 53 encounters have taken place between CRPF and Naxals/insurgents in these areas with the highest number of such incidents being reported in Chhattisgarh (34), Jharkhand (11), Bihar (4) and Odisha and Maharashtra (two each). Security officials that while there has been one incident of snatching of an EVM by Maoists in Odisha’s Koraput on April 10, no case of damage to EVMs by the red ultras has been reported till this period.
Red shadow on dark zone
The indelible ink on the index finger would be put under the shadow of “Red” extremism when Sheohar votes on May 7. Most candidates dread going inside the Maoist-affected areas of this constituency. “Only RJD candidate Sitaram Yadav has come here to seek votes,” said a villager. Sheohar is witnessing a four-way electoral battle among Sitaram Yadav of the RJD, Rama Devi of the BJP, Shahid Ali Khan of the JD(U) and Lovely Anand of the Samajwadi Party. Once considered a Rajput stronghold, Rama Devi broke the tradition by winning the seat in 2009. Muslims, Baniyas, Yadavs and Rajputs are the major players in this constituency.
However, the Maoist problem has been underplayed. The writ of the Maoists runs virtually everywhere in Sheohar, around 250km north of Patna, as rightly told by the officer-in-charge at Tariyani police station: “Going in uniform to the riverine areas of Bagmati in several blocks of Sheohar and Sitamarhi, including Runnisaidpur, Belsand and Tariyani, is considered a risky affair even during daytime. Though incidents of Maoist attack have comparatively come down over the past couple of years, there is still a definite presence of Maoists in these areas.” Mahadev Rai, a resident of Sitalpatti block in Muzaffarpur, a few kilometres from Tariyani, narrated an incident of a Maoist attack at his house in May 2013. “They locked my entire family inside, assaulted me and my son. They stabbed my hands and legs, and broke my son’s leg. The attack was an outcome of a dispute over land with a person from their caste,” said Rai. If the residents are to be believed, Maoists have lately donned the role of tax collectors, illegal though.
“No private company or contractor engaged in construction or repair of roads here can start work before contacting rebel leaders and paying them levy. Businessmen are also required to pay regular levy to the rebels,” said Naveen Kumar, a businessman in the neighbouring Sitamarhi district and having bus operations in Sheohar. Naveen said the Maoists set one of his buses in Sheohar ablaze around two years ago. Almost the entire district is on high alert since a few days before the polls. Hundreds of suspected Maoists have been detained amid speculation of possible Maoist attacks during elections. In October 2010, four Special Auxiliary Police (SAP) personnel and two Bihar police inspectors were killed in a landmine blast in Sheohar just three days before Bihar approached the second phase of Assembly elections.
The first incident of Maoist violence in Sheohar was reported on June 24, 2001, when they snatched five police rifles and over 100 cartridges from Bihar home guards jawans deputed at Deokuli police outpost. Lately, many senior rebel leaders in Sheohar were either killed in internal rivalry or turned gangsters. For instance, Gaurishankar Jha, a former zonal commander of Maoists’ north Bihar regional committee, was shot at by Naxalite-turned-gangster Santosh Jha in Sheohar on November 24, 2011. Santosh, hailing from Dostiya village under the jurisdiction of Purnahiya police station, was arrested from Diamond Harbour Road under the jurisdiction of Bishnupur police station in South 24 Parganas in Bengal on February 13. A few other infamous Maoist leaders from Sheohar included former zonal commander Lal Babu Sahni of Malikana Tola village, Nek Mohammad and Jiya Lal Rai.
Diaras, the birthplace of Maoists in Sheohar
Every Maoist-hit region has its own tale vis-à-vis the origin and spread of Maoist activities. So has Sheohar. Acute underdevelopment, caste-based suppression and illiteracy are significant factors that led to the rise of the rebels in this district. Baluwa, Giddha and Tariyani Chapra are a few riverine villages along the banks of the Bagmati under Runnisaidpur and Tariyani blocks, which have been the den of Maoists in Sheohar. In fact, a Naxal Mela (fair) is held every year at Giddha village in Runnisaidpur block. Underdevelopment and lack of connectivity is the tale of most of these Maoist-hit villages. The fair is organised by rebels to celebrate their stronghold in the region.
Jangalmahal cops make a friendly offer to Maoists
BELPAHARI (West Midnapore): The telltale signs were there. On Friday, Purulia SP Sudhir Kumar made it official by releasing posters appealing to Red rebels to give cops “an opportunity to be their friends”. Around 350km from Kolkata, Jangalmahal is preparing to go to polls on May 7 in the shadow of Maoist threat. They are regrouping and are urging tribals to go with NOTA. Frequent movement of CRPF vehicles, suspicion in the eyes of tribals and reticence of a usually garrulous people are telltale signs of the uneasy calm in Jangalmahal, spread across Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts.
“Their presence will intensify police action — nightly raids, picking up boys, holding them without arrest… We are the victims as we get caught between police and Maoists,” said farmer Bhrigu Mahato. Fatik Hembram, a member of Kheria Sabar Kalyan Samiti, said, “If I go to the forest, I will be stopped by police, who will ask what I saw. The chat might last a few minutes but it will be conveyed to Maoists. They will pick me up, suspecting me of being a police informer.” There hasn’t been violence since 2011 but the discovery of a cache of arms in Bankura on April 1 has reinforced the idea that the corridor has not been sanitized.
Now, the appeal from police leaves no room for doubt. “We don’t want to kill you. Why do you want to rob us of our lives? Police are friends of people. Please give us an opportunity to be your friends,” read posters on walls. The Red corridor covers four Lok Sabha seats — Midnapore, Jhargram, Bankura and Purulia — and forest land in Jharkhand and Odisha. Jhargram, entirely in the belt, will see a five-cornered fight with Jharkhand Party (Naren) playing a role. Fear of Maoists haunts parties. “We don’t feel safe after sundown,” said BJP’s Harun Baidya, campaigning for its Bikash Mudi.
4 Maoist supporters arrested in Uttarakhand
Four Maoist supporters were arrested for pasting anti-national posters at different places in the district, police said today. The accused identified as Govind Ram, Diwan Singh Bisht, Jagdish and Jiwan Arya-state president of ‘Krantikari Janwadi Morcha’-a Maoist frontal outfit, were nabbed from an abandoned house at Patia village, situated at 20 km distance from Almora town and have been sent to jail, SP Almora Ashok Bhatt said. Four of their accomplices managed to flee and a police squad has been formed to arrest them, he said. A sizeable number of anti-national posters, red ink pots, a wooden pen and magazines of ‘Krantikari Kishan Sangthan,’ were seized from their possession, he added. The accused have been booked under various sections of Peoples Representation Act, 1950 and Uttarakhand Public Property Distortion Act.
He added that the informer on whose information, the police managed to arrest the suspected Maoists, will be rewarded with a sum of Rs 20 thousand, as well as the team members of Special Operation Group of police, intelligence team and Special Task Force (STF) team, will also be rewarded for the success.
Maoist plan to disrupt elections thwarted: SP
The district police have arrested two Maoist action team members, along with two dalam members and six members of local militia, on Monday, and thwarted their plan to disrupt the elections to be held on Wednesday, District Superintendent of Police Vikram Jeet Duggal has said.
The police also seized some weapons from the extremists who were picked up in the region between Pedabayulu and Paderu, he said here on Tuesday, refusing to divulge the details. “There has been no major movement of Maoists in the last couple of days and the district police are working in tandem with those in the neighbouring districts in Odisha to ensure the Maoists do not enforce their call for poll boycott in the Agency areas,” the SP said.
“There is a possibility of minor incidents by some action teams in the Agency area as it would be difficult to identify such small teams,” he said. The Central Armed Police Force had also been deployed in all the Maoist-prone pockets to help the police in establishing a conducive atmosphere for people to go out and vote in the Agency areas, he said. There are two Air Force helicopters on standby in Visakhapatnam for immediate movement of the police force in case of any eventuality. An air ambulance is also stationed here on standby.
Cop injured in encounter with Maoists
A sub inspector was seriously injured during an encounter between the Maoists and the Special Operation Group (SOG) personnel inside a forested area near Mohanpalli under Jharbandh police station in Odisha’s Bargarh district on Monday night. According to reports, the SOG personnel and the police began a joint combing operation led by sub inspector of Gaisilat M Kisko in the forest area in the afternoon following information about the presence of a Maoist group. While the operation was underway, the Maoists suddenly opened fire at the security personnel in which Kisko was seriously injured.
The encounter took place between 8 PM and 9 PM, the reports said. The SI, who sustained bullet injuries on his back, was rushed to Padmapur hospital from where he was shifted to Ramkrishna Hospital in Raipur. His condition is stated to be critical. Sources said, the SOG personnel who had surrounded the forest area, following the encounter, began search operations this morning.
Maoists in Gaya torch two vehicles of road construction firm
Wazirganj, May 06 (ANI): Maoists in Bihar torched two road construction machines after a construction company refused to pay any extortion money. A group of 50 to 60 Maoists attacked the site of road construction at Wazirganj in Gaya district.