Indian Maoists’ incursion of southern states
The CPI-ML-Naxalbari and CPI-Maoist merger can have significant impact for the Maoist movement in the tri-junction area of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. CPI-Maoist has been making continuous efforts towards creating a base in the area, and while they have not perpetrated any large scale violence in the area, they have been visible with an increasing frequency and there is significant evidence of their non-violent mobilisation. Violence and intimidation, however, have not been altogether lacking.
Mrinal Kanta Das
Moving a step further towards consolidation of Left Wing Extremist (LWE) groups in India, the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist – Naxalbari (CPI-ML-Naxalbari) jointly announced their merger on May 1, 2014. The new party retained the name Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). The joint statement announcing the merger was made by Mupalla Laxman Rao alias Ganapathy, general secretary CPI-Maoist and Ajith, secretary, CPI-ML-Naxalbari, and was issued to the media by Abhay and Krantipriya, the spokespersons of the respective outfits. CPI-ML- Naxalbari has limited pockets of influence in Kerala, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The merger of CPI-ML-Naxalbari and CPI-Maoist has been on the cards for several years, as ideological differences between the two groups have faded away. Further, according to an internal document of the People’s War Group (PWG), one of the constituent formations of CPI-Maoist, at the second meeting of the PWG CC held in November-December 2002, the CC noted that cadres from the CPI-ML-Naxalbari had quit and joined the ranks of PW in ‘sizeable numbers.’
The merger would now give CPI-Maoist further access to CPI-ML-Naxalbari underground/ over ground networks. In Kerala, the CPI-ML-Naxalbari is believed to be working through its front organizations, such as Ayyankali Pada and Porattam. Ayyankali Pada had taken the Palakkad collector, W.R. Reddy, hostage at the collectorate in 1996. Porattam had led the attacks on the World Bank Project Office at Kothamangalam in 2000; on the Coca Cola outlet in Kochi in 2003; and on the Citi Bank branch at Kochi in 2004. CPI-ML-Naxalbari cadres had attacked the NABARD offices in Kannur and Kalpetta in 2008.
The Viplava Sthreevadi Prasnthanam, Viplava Vidyarthi Prasthanam and Njattuvela Samskarika Samithi are the other formations believed to be associated with CPI-ML-Naxalbari. Given the prevailing situation, the CPI-ML-Naxalbari and CPI-Maoist merger can have significant impact for the Maoist movement in the tri-junction area of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. CPI-Maoist has been making continuous efforts towards creating a base in the area, and while they have not perpetrated any large scale violence in the area, they have been visible with an increasing frequency and there is significant evidence of their non-violent mobilisation.
Violence and intimidation, however, have not been altogether lacking. Confirming the Maoist presence in the tri-junction area, an internal communication of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) noted, in November 2013, that the presence and movement of Maoist groups had been noticed on over two dozen occasions in the Districts of Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur in Kerala and Mysore, Kodagu, Udupi, Chikmagalur and Shimoga in Karnataka.
Though adjoining areas of Tamil Nadu had not recorded any movement of armed Naxal cadres, activities of front organisations had increased distinctively in Erode District, the UMHA observed, adding, in a six-page letter sent to 13 States, “The party (CPI-Maoist) is trying to develop the tri-junction of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as a suitable operational base.”
In another communication, UMHA sounded a warning that armed CPI-Maoist cadres had earlier visited various Adivasi (tribal) colonies of Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram and Palakkad at least 50 times. In the tri-junction of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the Maoists function under the Western Ghats Special Zonal Committee (WGSZC). According to an article written by an underground Kerala Maoist leader Rupesh in ‘Mathrubhumi’ weekly in 2013, the WGSZC was formed to target Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in view of the ‘exploitation faced by scores of tribals, Scheduled Caste people, landless poor farmers’ in these areas, as against the booming economic prospects of nearby cities such as Erode, Coimbatore, Palakkad, Kochi, Kozhikode and Mangalore.
The Maoist move is said to be part of an ambitious plan to extend the purported Red Corridor from Jharkhand to Wayanad. Increasing Maoist activities have recently been noticed in Kerala, where the rebels’ presence has been identified in regions that come under 31 Police Stations limits in the Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Thrissur Districts. The Kerala Police recently issued lookout notices for 11 Maoists.
Though the Maoists claim that stepping into Kerala was part of their agenda to establish their grip on the Western Ghats area, the Police claim that it was the no-holds-barred effort of the Karnataka Anti-Naxal Force that made the armed group ‘retreat’ into Kerala. The Kerala Police believe that 11 Maoist cadres, including four women, active in the Maoist gang are operating in the State, with a considerable number of members currently in sleeping module as well. Of the 11, six named Vikram Gowda, Latha, Kanya alias Kanyakumari, Sundari alias Geetha, Mahesh alias Jayanna and A.S. Suresh are from the Malnad region of Karnataka. The six are believed to have been involved in many criminal cases, including murder, and Vikram Gowda has led the movement in Malnad in Karnataka. Sensing the urgency of the situation, the Kerala State Government, on February 21, 2014, directed the Police Department to fortify 16 Police Stations in north Kerala on ‘a war footing.’
The Government ordered 300 armed Policemen to the region to provide ‘perimeter defence and support’ to Thunderbolts Kerala, the special weapons and tactics team of the State Police, which was spearheading ‘anti-Naxal operations’ there. The Thunderbolt Commandos however, feel that a clear political mandate for operations is yet to be given. Putta Vimaladitya, Wayanad SP, who is also leading the anti-terror operations in the State, argued, “We have not yet received a shoot-at-sight order from the Government. Anti-Maoist operation in the State is being carried out at present without such an order.”
Effective operations, the Forces feel, are not possible in the absence of such an executive cover. Maoist efforts to secure a foothold in the tri-junction of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu may also be fed by the increasing and consistent pressure exerted by Security Forces (SFs) in other theatres in areas of traditional Maoist dominance. Nevertheless, past efforts to establish themselves in the Southern States have met with little success, though this has not deterred them from trying. The significance of the recent merger of the CPI-ML-Naxalbari and CPI-Maoist, coming after nearly ten years of the formation of the latter, must not be underestimated.
It constitutes a step forward in the consolidation of left-wing extremist (LWE) groups, in a process in which the formation of CPI-Maoist was itself a major advance that signalled a substantial escalation in LWE operations. The Andhra Pradesh based CPI-ML People’s War (PW) and the Bihar based Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) had, on September 21, 2004, merged to form CPI-Maoist. The Revolutionary Communist Centre of India – Maoist, operating in Punjab, had earlier united with the then Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) to form the MCCI in 2003. The Bihar-based Party Unity (PU) had also merged in 1998 with the CPI-ML People’s War, which was active in Andhra Pradesh.
The Maoists themselves acknowledge that their movement is currently in a ‘critical condition’. Nevertheless, their efforts at a ‘countrywide revival’ continue, and the recent merger highlights their determination to restore the strength of the movement. As an unnamed senior Police officer from Kerala noted in a media report, it would be stupid to wait for some untoward incidents to swing into action against the Maoists in the tri-junction area. Pre-emptive action in the early stages of Maoist intervention in this region, when the organisation is at its most vulnerable and susceptible to penetration, will prove far more effective than late action to contain an escalating trend in violence.
7 cops killed in Gadchiroli Naxal attack
Two days after the Gadchiroli police arrested Delhi University professor G N Saibaba for alleged Maoist links, Naxalites triggered a powerful landmine blast on Sunday in an unlikely area of the district, killing seven policemen on the spot and leaving two grievously injured. “The blast happened between 9 and 10 am when a police vehicle passing by Murmuri village in Chamorshi tehsil of the district was hit by a powerful IED explosion,” Inspector General of Police (Nagpur Range) Ravindra Kadam told The Indian Express. Two injured policemen were rushed to Nagpur by a chopper and their condition was stated to be critical.
The police vehicle was returning from a routine anti-Naxal operation when it was struck. Kadam admitted that they were surprised by the site of the attack, “where no Naxal activity was known previously”. After suffering heavy setbacks at the hands of the police since January 2013, Naxals have of late been operating in small “action teams”.
In another surprise attack, they had killed a policeman and a “Naxal guide” working for the police in a village market. Saibaba was, meanwhile, remanded to magisterial custody for 14 days. Names of the deceased policemen were not available immediately.
Naxal killed in face-off with police in Chhattisgarh Arms, ammunition seized
A Maoist was killed and a cache of arms, ammunition and electronic gadgets were recovered in two separate gun-battles between security personnel and naxals in the insurgency-hit Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh. The Naxal cadre was gunned down by the joint squad of state’s DRG (district reserve group) force and STF (Special Task Force) during a search operation in the forest stretch under Narayanpur police station limits last evening, Narayanpur Sub-Divisional Officer of Police CD Tirki told PTI over phone on Monday. On sensing the security personnel near restive Korobeda village forests, Naxals opened indiscriminate firing on them following which they retaliated.
After the gunfight that lasted for around an hour the ultras fled to the core forest taking advantage of darkness, he said. Later, body of a slain Naxal was recovered from the spot. Besides, two 12 bore guns, a grenade, Naxal literature and commodities of daily use were also seized, he said. The SDOP claimed that two more Naxalites were killed in the exchange of fire but their bodies were not recovered as their colleagues managed to take them away inside the forests.
The deceased was identified as Darbari (26), a divisional committee member of CPI(Maoist), he said. In another incident, a .312 bore gun, a 12 bore gun, live cartridges of 12 bore gun, couple of detonators, wire, a camera flash, a walkie-talkie and commodities of daily use were seized from a Naxal transit hideout after the encounter under Dhaudai police station limits of Narayanpur on Sunday.
The exchange of fire took place between the joint party of CAF (Chhattisgarh Armed Force) and district force (DF), and the Naxals in the forests of Rengabeda village during a combing operation, Mr. Tirki said, adding, “no injuries or casualties were reported from both sides in the incident.” According to the SDOP, separate groups of security personnel were on anti-Naxal operations in restive forests of Narayanpur since May 10 evening and returned to camps this afternoon.
Anti-Naxal operations: CRPF ‘limits’ armoured vehicles usage
NEW DELHI: In order to reduce casualties of its troops from landmine blasts in anti-Naxal operations, the Central Reserve Police Force has decided to shun its mine protected vehicles as troop carriers for routine operations. The force has issued a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to its commanders in the Naxal operations grid to “limit” the usage of these mobile armoured bunkers.
No new player shows interest in mobile-towers project in Naxal hit states
In a major setback to the Department of Telecom’s efforts to rope in more players for setting up mobile towers in nine Naxal-hit states, only two companies have shown interest in the much-delayed project that is being considered a key element in government’s fight against Maoists.
Explosives haul: internal security wing takes over probe
Police team from Bangalore visits Gulbarga district
The internal security wing of the State police has taken over the investigation into the recovery of explosives from two places on the Secunderabad-Wadi railway section on Saturday. Amarkumar Pande, Additional Director-General of Police in-charge of internal security; Seemanth Kumar Singh, Inspector-General of Police in-charge of operations; and M.N. Reddy, Additional Director-General of Police in-charge of law and order, visited the spots from where explosives were recovered.
They were accompanied by Suresh Kunhi Mohammed; Inspector-General of Police (North Eastern Range); Amit Singh, Superintendent of Police; Shahajadar, Deputy Inspector-General, Railway Protection Force; and S.K.M Mishra, Divisional Railway Manager. The officials visited the spot near Malkhed bridge and the area near Mogala tanda in Chittapur taluk in Gulbarga district. Initial investigations have not ruled out the involvement of Naxalites in the incident in an apparent attempt to blow up the track.
Mr. Mohammad told The Hindu that they would examine if the materials were meant to blast the railway track as a revenge for the arrest of Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba by the Maharashtra police in New Delhi for his alleged links with the Maoists. The officials also spoke to railway keyman Tuljaram who first noticed the suspicious movement of four persons speaking in Marathi on the railway track and foiled their attempt to connect the explosive material with the wires. Mr. Mohammad said one of the explosive materials found near the Mogala tanda bore the seal of Indian Explosive Factory. “These are generally used in mining and the people who planted them might have got it from anti-national elements,” he said.
Mr. Mohammad said a team of experts, bomb disposal squad, and officials attached to the operations and internal security were coming to Gulbarga on Monday. Sources in the investigating team said the Anti-Naxal Force had started investigating into the alleged involvement of Naxalites in the incident.
Maoist kill two villagers in Koraput
The Maoists, who had abducted three persons from Talagolur and Munungun Valasa villages under Pottangi police station limits in Odisha’s Koraput district late on Saturday night, have killed two of them and released the other person, police said. “Those killed were former village council chief Taudu Pateli and Simhalu B., brother of the present village council chief. Their bodies were found on the outskirts of their village,”IG of police Yashwant Jethwa said.
However, another person Petel Daudu, former sarpanch of Munungun Valasa, returned to his village after he was released by the Maoists, reports said. It may be recalled that a group of armed Maoist had landed at Munungun Valasa village at about 10 PM on Saturday night. Later, they barged into the house of former Sarpanch Petel Daudu and threw away household articles and set Petel’s bike on fire. Petel was then dragged out of his house by the Maoists and asked to follow them. The red rebels later entered Talagolur village and set three bikes and a tractor on fire. They also assaulted Baladabai Pati and his brother Baladabai Simalu and later took them away despite appeals by the villagers to spare them.
The Maoist left behind some posters in these villages wherein they had warned that they would kill the three abducted villagers if they find evidence on their role as police informers. They had also warned the villagers not to leave their village for the next four days. The posters also mentioned that the attack on Talagolur village was in retaliation against police encounter in which two of their cadre members were killed on March 4 this year. Meanwhile, a joint combing operation by the CISF and the district police has been intensified in the area to nab the ultras.
Maoists give poll boycott call in Purvi Champaran
MOTIHARI: Security has been strengthened for election to the Purvi Champaran constituency on Monday, May 12, in view of the Maoist threat. The Indo-Nepal border has been sealed by SSB jawans and patrolling has been intensified on both sides of the border by Nepal and Bihar police. Returning officer Bharat Dubey said poll personnel and forces have already reached their respective destinations. East Champaran DM-cum-district election officer Sridhar Chirivolu said there were six assembly segments in Purvi Champaran parliamentary constituency while three assembly segments of the district fall in Paschim Champaran parliamentary constituency, which also goes to the polls the same day.
Out of three assembly segments that fall in Paschim Champaran parliamentary constituency, Narkatiya is extremist-prone where Maoists have given poll boycott call. According to an Election Commission release, 482 booths of Purvi Champaran constituency and 163 booths of Paschim Champaran constituency falling in East Champaran district have been identified as critical, facing Maoist threat, where paramilitary forces would be deployed for holding fair and peaceful poll. Around 57 companies of security forces, including district force, mounted military police, bikers’ team and BMP women force have been deployed in the district.
Wall posters have been put up at Mazirawa, Birati tola, Jagiraha, Inarawa, Fulwar and other villages in which the Maoists have asked the voters to boycott election or face the consequences. It is for the first time in this area that Maoists have given poll boycott call. Umeshwar Chaudhary, Sikrahna DSP, told TOI he had received official confirmation of such threats and security has been tightened at these places. East Champaran SP Vinay Kumar said mounted police and bikers’ teams would be deployed in sensitive areas and seven motorized boats would also be pressed into service in Gandak areas under Gobindganj assembly segment. The mounted police would be deployed in Gandak diara adjoining Gopalganj under Gobindganj segment to keep an eye on antisocial elements. Ganesh Chandra Yadav, assistant commissioner, customs check-post, Raxaul, said the check-post has been closed till the election is over on Monday evening.