Naxal arms dump unearthed, ammunition seized in Chhattisgarh
Raipur: Security personnel unearthed an ammunition dump used by Naxals and recovered two firearms in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Kanker district Wednesday, police said. “On a tip-off, a joint team of district police force and Border Security Force (BSF) seized two single-barrel shot guns (SBSG) from the hilly terrain of Nalkasa and Kumudkatta region under Lohattar police station limits bordering Rajnandgaon district,” Kanker SP R N Dash said.
New jail for Naxal prisoners
State prisons department has constructed special building in Gadchiroli for convicts with alleged Maoist links. In a major development, the state prisons department is planning to open a special jail for Naxalites in order to avoid delays in their court hearings. Work on the jail, located in Gadchiroli district, is complete, but it is yet to open as the department has demanded security cover by paramilitary forces to prevent untoward incidents.
Besides the Gadchiroli jail, the department also plans to set up jails in Washim, Sindhudurga, Jalgaon and Nandurbar in the state. Over the past eight years, as many as 150 persons have been arrested by Maharashtra police over alleged Maoist links. Most have languished in custody for lack of legal prosecution, with many subsequently being acquitted. According to prison department records, in 2008, the total strength of the ‘Naxal barrack’ in Nagpur jail where Maoist prisoners are kept, was around 170. Today, that number has dwindled to a mere 40. Additional director-general (prisons) Meeran Chadha Borwankar said it was difficult to set a precise date for the prison to become operational.
“The construction of the building is complete. But we will open once we have the required manpower. As of now, it is difficult to predict when exactly that will be,” she told Mirror. Most of the prisoners have been charged with involvement in Maoist violence in the state’s Gadchiroli- Gondia area and acting as the urban front for the Maoists. Advocate Surendra Gadling, who has been representing prisoners accused of having Maoist links, said, “At present, all these people are in Nagpur central jail. Most of the time, they are not taken to court due to security reasons. Their trials are conducted via video conference from inside the jail. As a result, they rarely get to meet their families or lawyers. A new jail would be better for them.”
According to Gadling, most of the prisoners were activists fighting for tribal or Dalit rights, or against displacement and have had multiple cases slapped against them. At times, the accused face over 60 to 70 cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) or for waging war against the state and sedition charges. “Most of the accused were acquitted after police failed to establish their alleged Maoist connection,” Gadling added.
A senior official from the prison department who did not wish to be identified, told Mirror, “It would be risky to start the jail without proper security cover. Our jail staff will work inside the jail, but security on the outside is important since it is a very sensitive area. Once we get the desired security, we will start the jail immediately.” Officials from the state Anti- Terrorism Squad (ATS) too are of the opinion that a separate jail for Maoists is long overdue, mostly because they feel these prisoners often exert influence over fellow inmates. A senior ATS official, who did not wish to divulge his identity, told Mirror, “It is crucial to have a special jail. We have seen Naxalites and terrorists influence other inmates with their ideology. Ultimately, their goal is to absorb as many people as possible into their group. So, a separate jail for them is indeed a welcome step.”
Village ‘Kotwar’ Killed by Naxals, Two Ultras Arrested
A revenue official at the village-level was on Wednesday killed brutally by alleged Maoists, which two ultras have been arrested in Chhattisgarh, said the police. Garibdas Naag, a ‘kotwar’ (lowest-level revenue staff) residing in Belpal village, Kanker district, about 125km from here, was attacked last night, Superintendent of Police R N Dash told reporters by phone. Around 20-25 armed ultras stormed Naag’s house and locked his family members inside a room, he said, quoting eyewitnesses.
They subsequently shot Naag and also hit on his head with an axe leaving him dead on the spot, he said. After committing the crime, the ultras fled from the spot raising slogans in support of the Naxal movement, which under CPI (Maoist) has completed ten years. The reason behind the murder, which took place during the ongoing “foundation week” observed by the extremists, was not yet known, Dash said, adding security forces have launched a combing operation to nab the assailants. Separately, two Naxals were arrested during a search operation by a joint team of CAF (Chhattisgarh Armed Force) and local police in Narayanpur district today, police said. The duo, Maahngu Kashyap and Sanku Mandavi (both aged 24), was rounded up on suspicion from Kodoli forests under Orchha police station limits. Later, they admitted to being involved in the Naxal movement, a police official said.
Probe launched into video of ‘Maoist’ leader
Telecast on TV channels, it shows CPI (Maoist) leader Roopesh warning of an armed struggle The Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the State-level Internal Security Investigation Team have launched an inquiry into the source of a video of wanted Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Roopesh, alias Praveen, telecast on some Malayalam television channels on Monday evening. The video showed Roopesh in army attire with a Sten gun giving a monologue of waging an armed struggle against the government as both the ruling and Opposition mainstream political parties were hand in glove on issues concerning Dalits and the environment.
His picture was blurred and the location of the video appeared to be some jungle. A compact disc (CD) containing the video clipping, along with a press note, was initially delivered by a messenger to a Malayalam news channel at around 3 p.m. Soon after the channel aired the video at 5 p.m., copies of the same were put inside the press boxes of a few more channels at the Calicut Press Club at 5.45 p.m. Sources in the intelligence agencies said the motive behind circulating the CD to the visual media was propaganda as the CPI (Maoist) was not in the limelight for quite sometime in the State. The media had been silent after the sighting of Maoists in some northern districts last year.
The combing operation carried by the Thunderbolt commando force of the State police might have pushed the cadres into the forests. Roopesh, who had worked with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [Peoples’ War Group] before joining the CPI(Maoist) in the State, is on the wanted list in multiple cases, including for sheltering CPI (Maoist) Polit Bureau member Malla Raji Reddy and his wife, who were nabbed from Angamaly in 2007.