Another Salwa Judum in the making?
HYDERABAD: In what could be a rerun of the failed Salwa Judum campaign of Chhattisgarh, the Andhra Pradesh government, faced with a renewed threat from Maoists, is planning to raise a tribal police battalion to take on the insurgents. The cabinet sub-committee on Naxalite problem, headed by finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, has recommended a tribal battalion, staffed by tribal youth from East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam, exclusively to counter Maoist insurgence on the Andhra-Odisha-Chhattisgarh border.
Plans are afoot to locate the battalion either at Rampachodavaram in East Godavari or Paderu in Visakhapatnam district. While the government says the decision is aimed at discouraging angry tribal youth, many of who would be dislocated due to the Polavaram project, from joining the Maoist fold, security experts feel the move is likely to backfire. “What happened in Bastar in Chhattisgarh, which is not far from tribal areas of Visakhapatnam, East Godavari and Srikakulam, is still fresh,” cautioned former director general of police Pervaram Ramulu. “In the name of Salwa Judum, tribals were fielded against Maoists. The proposed tribal battalion is similar to Salwa Judum. In the name of employment, tribals should not be made to suffer,” he added.
Roughly 3,000 tribals were slaughtered by Maoists for taking part in the Chhattisgarh government-backed Salwa Judum in mid-2000, before the Supreme Court banned it in July 2011. “There are still hundreds of tribal youth missing. We hope and pray that it’s not repeated anywhere else,” a former member of the civilian militia told TOI from Raipur. However, the high-powered AP committee, which has deputy chief ministers N Chinnarajappa, KE Krishnamurthy and minister Sidda Raghava Rao as members, wants to go ahead with its plans as the Union home ministry is keen on a tribal police force. The fact that the Centre moved the proposal to rope in Andhra Pradesh, which has a proven track record in dealing with left wing extremism, made the decision easier.
AP enjoys high respect in the country when it comes to controlling Maoists as its Greyhounds wing had effectively reduced the number of Naxalites earlier. “The Union home ministry has prepared a comprehensive anti-naxal policy and wants the state governments to take the lead in the fight against Maoists. We recommended a tribal battalion with the financial assistance of the Centre,” said a minister who is a member of the committee. The AP government has been assured ‘full’ financial assistance by the Centre to raise the battalion, which is expected to cost Rs 300 crore in the first phase. The cabinet sub-committee has asked the government to come out with liberal eligibility qualifications for the tribal youth willing to be part of the battalion.
It has further asked the government to fill 300 vacant home guard posts in Visakhapatnam district with tribal youth in order to stall recruitments to Maoist outfits. The committee has also recommended increasing the compensation for property loss from the present Rs 10 lakh to full compensation while allotting land to victims of extremist attacks.
Naxal attack ex-MLA’s house, loot arms
Suspected Maoists late on Monday evening raided the house of former Congress MLA Manturam Pawar at Pakhanore in north Bastar district of Kanker in Chhattisgarh and looted sophisticated weapons from his security guards, the police said. However, Mr Pawar was away in Raipur. According to the police, a group of armed Naxals, who came in three bikes, surrounded Mr Pawar’s house at Pakhanjore and opened fire into air to scare apparently to scare away the locals gathered there. The ultras then overpowered all the five security guards deployed at Mr Pawar’s house, before they could retaliate. “The Naxals came in three bikes. While four of them entered Mr Pawar’s house, three others overpowered the sentry posted there.
Later, the rebels took control of the situation and snatched the weapons from the security guards before escaping”, a police officer said, adding, “It seems the small action team (SAT) of the rebels had carried out the attack”. “No one was hurt in the incident. The Naxals have looted oneself loaded rifle (SLR), four INSAS assault rifles, and four hundred rounds of ammunitions,” Kanker district superintendent of police Rajendra Narayan Das said. Mr Pawar was in the news recently when he withdrew his nomination as a Congress candidate in the last minute for the byelections to Antagarh seat, held a couple of months ago, dealing his party a severe blow.
Odisha, Andhra Pradesh start massive joint anti-Naxal offensive
Malkangiri (Odisha): Andhra Pradesh and Odisha police on Sunday night launched a joint offensive against the Maoists in the cut-off areas along the Chitrakonda reservoir in Malkangiri district. The BSF, AP’s Greyhound force, Odisha police’s Special Operations Group and the district voluntary force, began a joint combing operation on Sunday night following intelligence input that the Maoists were running training camps in the area. Top Maoist leader and central committee member of the party Ramakrishna, who carries over Rs 2 crore reward on his head, was present in the camp, addressing a plenary session, when the heavy exchange of fire began on Monday morning.
Two suspected ultras shot dead by CPI-M activists
Jamshedpur: Two suspected ultras were shot dead by the activists of CPI (Maoists) allegedly over a dispute regarding sharing of levy at Kadamdiha in naxal-hit West Singhbhum district on Tuesday, police said. The victims have been identified as Surendra Surin alias Dela and Simran Surin, both residents of Chota Kuira, Sub-Divisional Police Officer (Chakradharpur), Alok Priyadarshi said.
Telangana firm on controlling Maoists
Appointments of IPS officers for the anti-naxal operations in Adilabad dt. says a lot. According to observers, the development indicates that the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) government does not prefer any change in the previous governments’ policy towards Maoists.
The appointment of a direct officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS) to the post of Bellampalli Additional Superintendent of Police in Adilabad at this juncture is certainly not a routine affair. As this Police Sub-Division has been crucial in terms of extremism in this district, it is being assumed here that by appointing Nyalakonda Prakash Reddy, a 2010 batch IPS officer, the government has made its intention on controlling Maoist activity quite clear. Mr. Reddy is the third direct IPS officer among the six officers posted as Additional SPs at Bellampally since Mahesh M. Bhagwat, who was promoted as Superintendent of Police in 2001. The incumbencies of Stephen Ravindra, who had succeeded Mr. Bhagwat and Mr. Bhaskar Bhushan, who was transferred just a few days ago, were quite eventful when it comes to anti-naxalite operations.
Though Maoist activity in Adilabad had lost its tempo about a decade ago, there were always reports of naxal movement in Bellampally Sub-Division, mostly of extremist bands crossing over into the district from Gadhchiroli in Maharashtra. Also, the Dalam which was involved in two exchanges of fire last year, and is involved in recruitment of cadres, is mostly sighted in this Sub-Division only. According to observers, the development indicates that the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) government does not prefer any change in the previous governments’ policy towards Maoists. There were many who had expected a spurt in extremism in Telangana after the formation of the State on the premise that the ruling would ‘relax’ the conditions in the new State.
Top police officers confirm that the initial fear that the government would ‘interfere’ in anti-extremist operations has been belied as they continue to be given a free hand in dealing with the issue. “Nothing has changed and we are in pursuit of Maoists who do not accept the offer of rehabilitation on surrendering themselves to the law,” observed an officer involved in anti-naxalite operations in this district. The new incumbent has his task cut out in controlling the active Dalam from carrying out any further recruitment among tribal youths in the district. Also, the task of securing the riverine border which eastern Adilabad shares with Aheri and Sironcha Tehsils of Gadchiroli would be among his priorities.
Court Adjourns Bail Petition of Suspected Maoists
PALAKKAD: The Judicial First Class Magistrate Court here has adjourned the bail plea of the two suspected to have Maoist links and arrested for attacking a foreign franchisee restaurant in Palakkad, to January 12. The two were arrested on December 22 for allegedly attacking a KFC restaurant in Palakkad town. Adv Sree Prakash appeared for the duo to raise the bail petition in the court. While adjourning the bail petition, the court has, however, consented to the request of the police for keeping them for seven more days in custody against the twelve they demanded. The extension is, however, in addition to the nine days they already had. The court has also directed the police to conduct medical examinations every 48 hours before they will be presented on January 12.
The police custody has been extended on the plea that the investigation has not yet been completed as telephone calls and CCTV videos are still to be checked in detail, said Adv Sree Prakash, who had pleaded for the accused. Arun Balan and Srikanth Prabhakaran, B.Ed and journalism students respectively, were arrested by the police for allegedly attacking a KFC restaurant in the town. Following the arrest on December 22, they were presented before the court on December 23 and remanded to nine days’ police custody. A case has also been registered under UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention) Act 9. The police, however, said that the two have been established as holding links with the Maoist elements, and it was on the directive from CPI (Maoist) Western Ghats Special Zone that they attacked the restaurant. The arrested, according to them, are thorough in Maoist ideologies, whose motive is armed revolution against governments.
The two are intelligent as well as well-trained, police said. In the raids conducted by the Kasargod police at the houses of both the accused on the request of Palakkad police, a number of handbills were recovered, which were later transferred to the Kasaba police station in Palakkad, where a case against them already exists. The Judicial Magistrate Court, however, will hear the bail plea on January 12.
‘No Let-Up on Tackling Maoists’
Thrissur: In view of the recent reports of Maoist attacks from different parts of the state, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala has held a meeting with top police officials on Monday to review the situation. In the meeting held at Ramavarmapuram Kerala Police Academy, DGP K S Balasubramaniam and Intelligence ADGP A Hemachandran were present among other top officials. The minister and the officials are learnt to have discussed in detail the plan of action to be initiated with regard to the cases already registered and on the expected ones.