INDIA: MAOIST SHADOW IN KERALA – ANALYSIS
Two incidents of vandalism in quick succession by suspected cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) in Kerala have again brought the issue of the Maoists’ southern forays into the limelight. On November 18, 2014, six persons barged into the Agraharam Resort at Tirunelly in the Wayanad District of Kerala and broke the windowpanes of the resort’s office building, staff quarters and reception centre. They also damaged the furniture, computer, printer and other equipment kept in the office. They left after sticking wall-posts and posters declaring the celebration of the CPI-Maoist’s 10th anniversary and demanding land for the landless.
On November 10, the corporate office of Nitta Gelatin India Ltd (NGIL) at Panampilly Nagar in Kochi was ransacked by a group of nine masked men, causing extensive damage. The masked men, suspected to be CPI-Maoist cadres, accused the company of polluting the Chalakkudy river and neglecting local people. A press note purportedly released by the Western Ghat Zonal Committee of the CPI-Maoist in Thrissur claimed that an ‘urban action team’ under the Committee had carried out the attack. Later, the Kochi Police Commissioner disclosed, “We have recovered a letter, which has reference to Maoists. The letter has called for armed struggle and indicates that Maoists have taken claim for the attack. But, whether Maoists were actually involved in the attack could be ascertained only after the probe.” Interestingly, the incident of vandalism was captured by the CCTV camera and the footage was handed over to the Police.
The footage shows one man without a mask, but the Police are yet to identify the person. One among the nine-member team spoke Malayalam, while the others were native speakers of Hindi, the Police disclosed. The special squad probing the Nitta Gelatin corporate office attack case has invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against the nine unidentified men who carried out the attack. As part of the investigation, the Police has taken a few Maoist sympathisers into custody, for interrogation. The Kochi incident has raised a few eyebrows, as there was no intelligence about Maoist presence in the city. The attack was in the heart of the city, and Kochi is the first major urban concentration in Kerala to record a Maoist attack. Interestingly, Maoist ‘commander’ Deva in Dandakaranya (DK) claimed, on November 16, that there was no Maoist involvement in the incident, and accused the Police of lying.
He did, however, concede that the Maoists had deployed armed cadres in Kerala, though their number was not high, and that they did not enjoy a wide mass base in the State. The party was, however, working towards widening its mass base and increasing cadre strength, focusing on basic issues such as Jal, Jungle, Zameen (Water, Forests, Land), and power to the people. Specific issues relating to Kerala would also be looked into as the organisation expanded. After the Wayanad incident, Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala stated, on November 18, that the Police had identified the modus operandi behind the attacks and, for security reasons, were refraining from giving publicity to the investigations: “The modus operandi behind these recent attacks is a ploy by a few organisations that have links with Maoists to get the sympathy of the local people.”
He added, further, that there were quite a few organisations in Kerala that acted as Maoist fronts, and that these Maoist-friendly groups targeted places and establishments where disputes are ongoing: “Through this, they are able to win the confidence of the locals. Their key target areas are quarries, resorts and establishments.” Some of the incidents that demonstrate the Maoist presence in Kerala in 2014 included:
November 13: Maoist posters were found near the new bus stand, railway station and Cherkalain area of Kasargod District.
October 26: CPI-Maoist wall posters and notices appeared at some locations under Vadakara Police Station limits in the Kozhikode District of Kerala. The posters asked the people to join the CPI-Maoist for a new democratic, unexploited India by strengthening the ‘class struggle’.
October 3: Flex boards exhorting the working class to prepare for an ‘armed battle’ against ‘ruling elites’ were seen in the Kallamala region of western Attappady in the Palakkad District. A few were installed at Poonchola and Pambbanthode villages close to Mannarkkad. The boards mentioned the celebration of the CPI-Maoist’s 10th anniversary, and appealed to people to strengthen the party base in the three southern States.
September 22: Regional television channels in Kerala showed video clips, reportedly of CPI-Maoist leader Roopesh, threatening to launch an armed struggle in the State.
July 28: Kerala Police arrested a Swiss youth, identified as Jonathan Baud (24), after he addressed a meeting arranged by CPI-Maoist sympathisers at Valappad in Thrissur District to condole the death of their comrade V S Sinoj alias Ramesan who was accidentally killed while assembling crude bombs on June 16, 2014 in a forest. The Swiss national is out on bail but is yet to be allowed to leave the country, as the matter is being heard by the court.
July 6: A group of CPI-Maoist cadres held a meeting of Adavasi (tribal) families at Vaniyampuzha Adivasi Colony, Munderi, in the Nilambur Forest of Malappuram District. About 60 Adivasis, including women, attended the meeting.
June 16: Senior CPI-Maoist leader from Kerala, Sinoj alias Rajan, was killed in an accidental blast while assembling explosives in the deep forests of Wayanad District.
April 24: A four-member armed group, suspected to be CPI-Maoist cadres, threatened a Police officer, Pramod Bhaskaran, and his mother at their house in Wayanad District. According to an alert sent to the State by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) on March 27, armed cadres belonging to the CPI-Maoist had earlier visited various Adivasi colonies in Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram and Palakkad at least 50 times, after they were first sighted in Kanjirakolly in Kannur district early in 2013.
State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala acknowledged in the Assembly, on June 9, 2014, that there were reports of a Maoist “presence” in the forest and adjoining areas in six northern Districts of the State. Replying to questions in the House, he said the Government was in receipt of intelligence reports of Maoist “presence” in Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur, and Kasaragod Districts. Besides, the State Home Minister said, “The intelligence wing has reported that some Maoists are masquerading as migrant labourers in Kerala”.
Further, Intelligence sources assume that the total recruitment of Maoists is currently at about 50 in the State. The assumption was based on information that CPI-Maoist cadres bought clothes to stitch around 50 new uniforms for the armed group. The Maoists are known to have one existing dalam (squad), the ‘Kabani Dhalam’, which functions in Wayanad District. State intelligence has also warned of the presence of Maoists in houseboats, in Alappuzha.
In view of the emerging Maoist threat in the State, the State Government, on February 21, 2014, directed the Police to fortify 16 Police Stations in north Kerala on ‘a war footing’. Further, 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 what the Government termed ‘anti-Naxal operations’.
Wayanad District, where a six-member Maoist group was seen moving more frequently, would be the ‘base station’ for the operations. The State is also taking necessary precautionary measures to monitor the link between migrant workers and Maoist. Seen in the light of the Maoists’ declaration of “opening up a new war front in the Sahyadri (Western Ghats) border region of Karnataka-Kerala-Tamil Nadu”, the Maoists are preparing for the long haul in the State, though such an effort is currently largely restricted to the widening of the mass base.
The merger of the CPI-Maoist and the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist – Naxalbari (CPI-ML-Naxalbari), under the CPI-Maoist banner, on May 1, 2014, is a significant step in this direction. Though past efforts to extend the Maoist movement into the Southern States have met with little success, the Maoists are far from admitting defeat.
High security arrangements for polling, DC visits Naxal infested areas
Jamshedpur : The East Singhbhum administration is all set for the peaceful conduct of polling on December 2. DC Amitabh Kaushal visited Badsol the last police station of East Singhbhum near Odisha border and reviewed the security arrangements. He also met the local people and instilled confidence in them. The district administration is making all necessary efforts to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls. Deputy commissioner said that that they have completed the preparations for the elections in the district. The increased activities of ultras belonging to the banned out fit CPI (Maoist) is posing major challenge for the security forces deployed at Ghatshila subdivision to ensure peaceful polls at the Assembly seats of Potka, Bahragora and Ghatshila .
Several naxal-infested areas like Musaboni, Chakulia, Dumaria lies in the Ghatshila sub-division. About 100 companies of state and central forces have been deployed strategically after careful scrutiny of the terrain. Though the authorities refused to reveal the exact number of securitymen, but according to information more than 40,000 jawans and officers had been deployed. The bordering areas of Odisha and West Bengal have also been sealed. Sources informed that seven to eight companies of armed forces have been deployed at the bordering areas to keep a strict vigil on the movement of ultras. “ The administration is all set toe ensure peaceful polling. We have helicopters, which will be used for air surveillance as well as ferrying poll officials. We have adequate number of reserve forces, too,” said the deputy commissioner. “Going by the situation in past ten days, it would really tough for the administration to ensure peaceful polling. The Maoists recently left behind posters warning people. Moreover several times they have triggered blasts,” said Jay Kishan, political activist of Ghatshila.
He went on to inform that the ultras are active in tribal areas like Kaladuba, Chapri and Badajundi of Ghatshila. They have been asking people to boycott polling. The ultras are trying to create tension among villagers so that the polling exercise could be disturbed. But still the deployment of security forces has instilled confidence among the local population. Sources also informed that the ultras might also block roads by putting trees to hamper traffic movement during polling.
Reports suggest Naxals plan to attack Lalu Prasad’s RJD, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha during polls
Security agencies in Jharkhand were put on alert after intelligence inputs suggested that Naxals were planning to attacks leaders of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM)…. The sources said that according to the reports, CPI (Maoists) would try to attack leaders of RJD and JVM during the campaigning and five-phased polling period which will start tomorrow.
Two Naxals arrested in Chhattisgarh, two IEDs recovered in separate places
Raipur: Two Maoists were arrested and improvised explosive devices (IED), including a powerful one planted by Naxals to harm security personnel, were recovered today from separate places in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Sukma district, police said. A joint squad of security forces found two IEDs – one of around 20 kg and another of 2.5 kg, placed beneath Chintagufa-Dornapal route under Chintagufa police station limits, Inspector General of Police, Bastar Range SRP Kalluri said.
The joint contingent of CRPF, its elite battalion CoBRA and district force was carrying anti-Naxal operation from past few days in the region. When they reached almost a km away from Chintagufa on Dornapal, Jagargunda road, at around 10 am they spotted a 20-kg IED packed in a container placed beneath the road. Subsequently, another explosive of 2.5 kgs was detected at a nearby place in the restive patch, the IG said. The IEDs were immediately destroyed by the bomb disposal squad, the IG said.
New camp of Maoists found at Golluru
It is just 20 km from tourist centre Araku Valley.
Earlier, he discussed with PO of ITDA P. Vinaychand works under IPA programme of the Central Government. Even as the Visakha Agency started sensing the increased tension ahead of banned Maoist party’s People’s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) week celebrations starting on December 2, the police found a camp of Maoists at Golluru on the border with Koraput district in Odisha and Vizianagaram district.
Golluru is a village just 20 km from tourist centre Araku Valley and neither the AP police nor the Odisha police were aware that the Maoists were active there, Superintendent of Police Koya Praveen said while talking to reporters at Paderu on Saturday night. Maoist activity there would be curtailed soon with Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Koraput police taking up combined combing operations, Dr. Praveen said. “Golluru is in a valley and hence we did not suspect (about Maoist activities there). Vizianagaram and Koraput police too did not have information. We understand that the entire Maoist cadre in Andhra-Odisha border zone is camping there,” he said.
Earlier, he discussed with PO of ITDA P. Vinaychand works under IPA programme of the Central Government. Situation in the Agency is tense as combing operation has been stepped up and vehicles were being checked at several points, following an attack on CRPF men near Chintagufa in Sukma district in Chattisgarh on Friday and expectation that the Maoists would cross over to Visakha Agency after the attack. On Sunday, DIG of Malkangiri Jaswant Jaswa made an aerial survey of the border with Andhra. He alerted the BSF camps and said operations would be coordinated with Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh police.