RETURN OF THE NATIVE: CPI-MAOIST IN KERALA – ANALYSIS
On 7 December 2014, in the first ever incident of its type, personnel of Thunderbolt, the elite paramilitary commando unit of the Kerala Police exchanged fire with a six-member team of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) at the Chappa forest area located on Kozhikode-Wayanad border. No casualties were reported as the Maoist team escaped following a 10-minute long encounter. In the subsequent days, small teams of Maoists vandalised forest offices at Wayanad and Palakkad and carried out an attack on a private quarry-cum-crusher unit in Kannur district.
On the basis of these three incidents, that occurring occurred within a span of two months (December 2014 and January 2015), it is difficult to conclude that Kerala could soon become a stronghold of left-wing extremists. However, what is undeniable is that the social conditions that allowed the rise of Naxalism in the late 1960s in Kerala continue to persist and are again being exploited by the extremists. Worse still, in spite of at least a two-year old input of the CPI-Maoist’s foray into the region, the state administration has done little to meet the exigencies. Inspired by the Naxalbari uprisings, Kerala witnessed the first incident of left-wing extremist violence in the form of a raid on the Thalassery police station in North Malabar’s Kannur district on 21 November 1968. The attack, however, ended in a failure. Of the 1000 Naxals and their sympathisers planned to take part in the raid, only 315 turned up.
A lone grenade hurled at the police station failed to explode and as the sentry at the police station set off the alarm, the group fled. Two days later, however, a successful attack was carried out on the Pulpalli police wireless station that resulted in the killing of some police personnel. Other raids on the same day targeted estates of landlords in the Wayanad forests by armed peasants, workers and students under the leadership of Kunnikal Narayanan. Grains seized from the estates were distributed among the poor. However, most of the people who took part in the attack, including Arikkad Varghese and Philip M. Prasad, were arrested. Following these raids, Naxal supreme leader Charu Majumdar sent a congratulatory message hailing the “heroism and courage displayed by the impoverished masses of Kerala” which he said “have raised a new wave of enthusiasm among the revolutionary people all over India.”
However, apart from the fact that arrests played a role in weakening the Naxal movement in Kerala, Majumdar’s insistence on targeting the unarmed landlords and zamindars further divided the Naxals in the state. Leaders like Kunnikal Narayanan wanted to remain focused on attacking the police stations. Few more raids took place in the subsequent years. In 1969, a police station in Kuttiyadi was attacked, in which Naxal leader Velayudhan was killed. In 1970, Naxals killed a landlord in Thirunelly and looted grains from another landlord’s house. The spike in extremist violence led the Congress party-led state government to launch an operation that led to several Naxal leaders being arrested. Prominent leader, 32-year old Arikkad Verghese, was killed in controversial circumstances.
Such measures crushed the Naxalite movement in Kerala by 1976. Charu Majumadar’s hope that the “heroic peasant revolutionaries of Kerala would lead the tens of millions of revolutionary people of India,” failed to materialise. The December 2014 and January 2015 incidents, have been interpreted as a resurfacing of left-wing extremism in the state after nearly four decades. Districts like Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur, and Kasaragod have been identified as areas of Maoist presence. State police sources indicate that these districts would link up the Eastern Ghats to the Western Ghats and provide the Maoists a safe route for movement of cadres and arms.
While these assessments could be true, what is being forgotten is that the CPI-Maoist has been building up its base in the tri-junction of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu at least since 2011. The Kerala government had been alerted by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2011 regarding the outfit’s plan to develop the tri-junction into a ‘perspective area’ for their activities. However, riding on a lethargic state response, by 2012, the CPI-Maoist had prepared well for launching the second stage of its presence in that region by declaring the formation of the Western Ghats guerrilla zone in Dakshina Kannada.
The outfit made an abortive bid to attack the Thirunelly police station on 18 February 2012 to mark the martyrdom of Arikkad Varghese. And yet, till the attack on December 2014 took place, the state administration did little in terms of a futuristic plan of meeting the extremist challenge. In terms of human development indicators, districts like Mallapuram, Wayanad and Palakkad lie at the bottom, thus, constituting perspective areas for Maoist growth and operation. The CPI-Maoist is a far more organised and capable extremist outfit compared to the Naxals who were crushed in the 1970s. Kerala would do well to develop a synchronised plan of development and security to respond to the emerging threat.
No ‘Rambo-style’ operations in Naxal areas, SOPs being revised: CRPF
CRPF will desist from undertaking any “Rambo”-style operations in the Naxal-affected areas even as the standard operating procedures in that regard are being rejigged, the chief of the country’s largest paramilitary force has said. Also, in the Left Wing-Extremism operations theatre, more than one lakh central security troops, apart from state police forces, will now be able to get better feed and intelligence data from technological gadgets as the NTRO’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) base has now been operationalised right inside the Naxal hotbed in Chhattisgarh.
“We don’t need to do Rambo-style operations… we don’t want that. When we ask our boys to perform a task (in Naxal- affected areas), they do it with a prompt sincerity and hence it is our responsibility to see that they are safe,” CRPF Director General Prakash Mishra told PTI. The former Odisha DGP, who took charge of the lead anti-Naxal operations force a few months back, said that the operations of the force will now be more focused and intelligence-based rather than being done by deploying security personnel in “herds” to effect a Rambo-type offensive that requires a huge number of boots on the ground. “We believe quality operations with specific intelligence should be the aim. I have already said all large operations where a large mobilisation of forces is required will need to get clearance from the headquarters,” the DG said. He added that the SOPs in this regard were being “fine-tuned and rejigged”.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) chief, after taking charge of the three-lakh-strong force in December of last year, had made it known that his “top priority” was to ensure fewer or zero casualties involving personnel in anti-Naxal operations. Mishra had earlier said that such operations, where there are a big number of troops on the ground, leads to larger visibility of personnel in the operation area, thereby making them vulnerable, tired and easier to be spotted and identified. Close to 100 security personnel were killed in these operations last year with the major cause of death being Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks or ambushes staged either by Naxal or security forces.
Naxal with Rs 2 lakh reward on his head arrested in Gadchiroli
A member of ‘area security committee’ of the Naxals who carried Rs two lakh reward on his head was arrested in a joint operation by the police and CRPF in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, police said today. Ramesh Dhanoram Netam (43) was arrested last week and after three days in the police custody was sent in judicial remand till March 26, said a release by Gadchiroli police. He was a member of ‘Tippagarh Dalam’, police said. A rifle and explosives were also seized from him.
Three hardcore Naxals held in Jharkhand
Three hardcore Naxals including one carrying a reward of Rs 2 lakh on his head, were arrested today from Saomarangbeda village under Arki police station in Khunti district.
Turf war among Maoists likely to turn bloodier
GAYA: With TPC, a splinter group of CPI (Maoist), threatening to indulge in more violence and Maoists’ well-known eye-for-eye principle, the ongoing turf war between the different sects of the “gun religion” is going to be bloodier in the days to come. On Wednesday, TPC squad gunned down Jaglal Ganju, said to be an area commander of the CPI (Maoists). Jaglal’s body was recovered from a field under Kothi police station in Gaya district. A resident of neighbouring Jharkhand, the alleged area commander was deployed in Dumaria-Imamganj region of the Naxalite-hit district.
Virtually throwing an open challenge to the parent organization, the TPC left behind a hand note near the slain’s body. Besides owning the killing of the Maoist area commander, the TPC note threatened more such killings. Acknowledging Jagalal’s assassination as a retaliatory action, the TPC note said the score was yet not fully settled and the Maoists will have to pay for their acts through the lives of its cadre. However, the TPC note did not specify either the next target or the location of its next operation. Interestingly, the TPC note also denied any police-TPC nexus and attributed the nexus story to the “Maoist canard”.
Maoists, on their part, allege that TPC enjoyed police patronage as the forces engaged in anti-Naxal operation encouraged and helped TPC to engage in a proxy war with the Maoists. The charge was also made during a Chatra (Jharkhand) incident earlier when more than a dozen Maoists were killed in a gun battle with their estranged “Red siblings”. Though senior police officers formally deny the Maoist allegation that TPC enjoyed police support, the war within the extra large Naxal umbrella brings good news to the forces engaged in anti-Naxal operations as it weakens the enemy.
Hardcore Maoist found dead in Bihar
Gaya: A hardcore Maoist was on Thursday found dead in a locality under Kothi police station area in Bihar’s Gaya district, a police officer said. Acting on information by local people, the police recovered the body of an ultra from Talaiya Bazar, Kothi police station in-charge Qayamuddin Ansari said. The body was identified as that of one Jaglal Ganju, a native of Chatra district of Jharkhand, who was said to be an area commander of the proscribed outfit – CPI(Maoist), Kothi police station in-charge Qayamuddin Ansari said.
The dead body bore marks of injuries from bullet indicating that he was shot dead, he said, adding a pamphlet was found from the spot bearing the name of another Naxal outfit – Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) in which it was claimed that Ganju’s murder was a revenge for killing of a TPC cadre Kuldeep Yadav recently, he said. The body has been sent for post-mortem, Ansari said, adding a probe was on in the matter.
Gumla encounter after alert on top rebel; Maoist killed
RANCHI/GUMLA/BOKARO: One Maoist was killed and four others were injured during an encounter with security forces in Gumla district early on Friday morning. Unconfirmed reports, however, said four more Maoists were killed but police did not confirm the report. Pawan Kumar Singh, ASP (operations), and SDPO Mohammad Arshi led two teams of forces to Sargaon village in Maoist-hit Chainpur near Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh border after police got information that top Maoist leader Deokumar Singh alias Arvindji was holding a meeting with his core in the hills.
“Maoists started firing at our team when they approached the hills. Our forces launched a far stronger retaliatory fire which killed one and injured at least four of them,” said CRPF IG R K Mishra, who is camping in Gumla. The ecurity forces destroyed the Maoist hideout in Gumla and two bunkers in Bokaro. “We have seized one rifle, a hand grenade, 150 live cartridges, huge quantity of food grain and several utensils from the Maoist camp,” said Lohardaga SP Manoj Ratan, who is in-charge of Gumla.
“We saw the rebels run away with injured men on their back. They took the advantage of the topography and escaped,” Mishra said. The encounter went on for two hours after which police launched a search operation. The combing operations continued throughout the day, an officer said. Gumla SDPO Mohammad Arshi said, “The encounter continued for about two hours and then search operation was carried out.” In Bokaro, Jharkhand Jaguar jawans and CRPF personnel busted two artificial bunkers of Maoists on Jhumra Hill in Gomia block on Friday. Police seized grenades, live cartridges, can bombs and other items hidden by the rebels in the forest. This was the third major recovery from Jhumra and Luggu in 25 days.
Bokaro SP A Vijaylaxmi said they launched a search operation following intelligence inputs about movement of a Maoist squad headed by its leader, Santosh Mahto. “We have recovered two hand grenades, 10 kilograms cane bomb, live cartridges of AK-47 and Insas rifles besides naxal literature,” said Vijaylaxmi. Vijaylaxmi added that they found soaps, detergent powder and registers in which Maoists kept account of their expenditure. Police have information that apart from Mahto group, an outsider squad is also making movement in the area. “We are carrying out frequent raids in Jhumra and other Maoist-prone areas. This is the third big achievement for police,” said Vijaylaxmi.
Meanwhile, suspected Maoists attacked a site of Dhibra mica mines under Lokaynayanpur police station area of Giridih in the wee hours on Friday and killed the manager Shyam Rout, 35, injured his aide and thrashed all the 10 labourers. “They torched two vehicles and warned them of more attacks if they do not stop the work. It appears that the Maoists had sought levy from the contractor. An investigation has been launched into the case,” DSP headquarter Vijay Ashish Kujur said. No arrest has been made in the case so far. DGP D K Pandey also visited Gumla to take stock of the situation. He has directed policemen to carry out extensive combing operations against the Naxalites.
INDIA: CHHATTISGARH ASSESSMENT 2015 – ANALYSIS
Continuing the momentum after the December 1, 2014, Kasalpar [Sukma] attack on Security Forces (SFs), in which 14 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, including two officers, were killed, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres killed at least seven civilians in six incidents, and 10 SF personnel in nine incidents, while losing just three cadres in two incidents, as of February 25, 2015, in Chhattisgarh. Interestingly, there has not been a single major incident [resulting in a total of three or more casualties] in this period, indicating that the Maoists are going about their business steadily, without drawing much attention to themselves.
INDIA: MAOIST EBB IN TELANGANA – ANALYSIS
..Interestingly, even as the undivided Andhra Pradesh successfully broke the backbone of Maoist movement in the State, the Maoists managed retain a shadow of their presence in the State. That shadow remains visible in Telangana. At the time of the creation of Telangana, there was some apprehension that the Maoists would find conditions in the new State favourable to engineer a comeback, particularly in view of the fact that the movement for the bifurcation of Andhra was deeply penetrated by Maoist elements.
Eight months after the creation of the new State, however, the profile of Maoist activities has not changed significantly. On February 14, 2015, the Bhadrachalam Sub-divisional Police claimed to have foiled a bid by Maoists to plant explosives in the Korkatpadu forest area in Charla mandal in Khammam District to kill policemen. Four persons were arrested, including Madakam Deva (20), a special guerrilla squad (SGS) member and Madakam Jogaiah (21), a ‘militia commander’.
The Police team seized one directional mine and one landmine, 100 metres of electric wire, two electrical detonators and one electric battery from them. On December 28, 2014, the Bhadrachalam Sub-divisional Police had thwarted a bid by Maoists to blast a cell phone tower, after a half- hour exchange of fire, at Satyanarayanapuram in Charla mandal. The Police recovered three weapons, live ammunition, bows and arrows, petrol cans and revolutionary literature from the incident site. SFs reached the spot after receiving specific information about the Maoist plan. According to partial data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the new State of Telangana, since its inception, recorded two civilian fatalities and one Maoist fatality in 2014.
Before the bifurcation, one civilian and one SF trooper had been killed in 2014 in the Telangana region. Thus, the area that now comprises the Telangana State recorded a total of five fatalities – three civilian, one SF trooper [an SPO from Chhattisgarh killed during a private visit] and one suspected Maoist – in 2014. The same area had recorded three fatalities – two civilians and one SF trooper – in 2013. There has, so far, been no casualty in 2015 in Telangana in Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-related incidents.
On December 29, 2014, State Director General of Police (DGP) Anurag Sharma observed that there was no current Maoist activity in Telangana, but that the ultras enter the State from neighbouring States to attempt mischief: “After bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the Greyhounds (anti-Naxal force) was divided and whatever units have come to us, they are good enough. We are also training the District Special Parties to tackle the Maoists.” Seven incidents of exchange of fire with Maoists took place during 2014, resulting in the death of one extremist, Sharma added, and as many as 68 Maoists surrendered before Police, while 18 were arrested. 166 Maoist cadres hailing from Telangana were still underground.
On the basis of underground and over ground activities of the Maoists, Khammam District remains moderately affected while Adilabad, Karimnagar, Mahabubnagar and Nalgonda Districts are marginally affected. The Maoist, however, are unlikely to give up their efforts to revive the movement in Telangana – the region that was, for decades, their ‘heartland’. The Karimnagar Police foiled Maoists’ attempts to revive party activities in the District with the arrest of three persons, including a militant, and the recovery of a huge quantity of ammunition and INR 1.6 million in cash from their possession, on January 13, 2015. Karimnagar DSP J. Rama Rao disclosed that, on credible information, the rural Police arrested Botla Rajendra Kumar (48) of Cheelapur village in Bejjanki mandal (revenue area), Sunil Kumar (53), an illegal arms dealer from Kanpur, and his assistant Vikas Kumar (31), from the Railway Station, and recovered the ammunition and the cash. Maoists are also making efforts to revive their old dalams (armed squads) in Adilabad District, though the area has not recorded significant rebel activity after the death of Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad in an encounter on July 1, 2010.
According to sources, the Maoists have revived their Mangi and Indravelli dalams and are focusing on fresh recruitments. Police claim that they were involved in two exchange of fire incidents in and around Mangi Forest in September 2014. In both instances, the Maoists escaped unhurt. Sources indicate that the Maoists are trying hard to impress upon the people that the welfare programmes of the present Telangana Government were only due to the struggle waged by the CPI-Maoist in support of the poor.
Some reports suggest that the Maoists are planning to remove Adilabad from the North Telangana Zone (NTZ) and merge it into the Dandakaranya Zone, as this would provide them with a shelter zone when SF pressure is exerted on the Andhra Odisha Border (AOB) area…
Karnataka budget: Stress on internal security, modernization sidelined
..For a state not affected by naxalism, the government’s sanction to raise three more units of anti-naxal squads is an odd decision, when in reality, more efforts and money should be expended toward improving communication, mobility and equipment that the state police require…
INDIA: MAOIST DECIMATION IN WEST BENGAL – ANALYSIS
The Maoists, who were rampaging across the Jungal Mahal region of West Bengal in 2009-10, appear to be in no position to do anything to revive the movement in the State after the body blows that they suffered with the killing of politburo member Mallojula Koteswara Rao aka Kishanji, on November 24, 2011.
Maoist activities have come to complete halt in the State since then. According to partial data collected by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), West Bengal recorded zero fatalities in all categories in 2014 and, so far, in 2015. According to Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) data, not even a single incident of Maoist violence was recorded in West Bengal in 2014, while just one incident was recorded in 2013. The abrupt decline in Maoist activities is confirmed further by a range of other parameters:
Police inflicted further damage on the Maoists with the arrest of Anup Roy, a CPI-Maoist ‘State Committee’ member, from the Sealdah area of Kolkata District on January 29, 2014. Another top CPI-Maoist leader, Arvind Bachhar (45), wanted in a number of cases including that of a major blast in the Jhitka Forest of Jhargram in West Midnapore District, was arrested from Baduria in North 24 Parganas District on July 27, 2014. On June 18, 2014, Police seized 500 detonators and 600 gelatine sticks from a car near Tetulgram village under Kotshila Police Station of Purulia District and arrested two persons, identified as Subal Mahato and Jaladhar Dwari. On April 18, 2014, two gelatine sticks fitted with detonators were recovered from a main road, about six km from the venue of Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s rally at Suri in Birbhum District.
On her part, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has visited Jungal Mahal many times to generate faith in people’s minds and to accelerate development. Media assessments indicate that there is little sign of any popular discontentment against her rule in the Jungal Mahal region. There have, however, been some reports suggesting Maoist plans to revive their movement in the State. Hinting that CPI-Maoist is trying to regroup in the Junglemahal area of West Bengal, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers disclosed that the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) were keeping a close watch on inputs about movement of various Maoist leaders in the area. On November 14, 2014, Vivek Sahay, Inspector General (CRPF) West Bengal Sector stated,
“I won’t say that Maoists are not trying to regroup in Bengal. We get inputs that Maoists leader Ranjit Pal and others are moving here and there in Jungal Mahal… We are on high alert. We have our six battalions placed here. But let me tell you one thing, the situation in Jungal Mahal is much better than it was two-three years back.” On all current indicators, it is clear that the Maoists are in no position to execute an effective plan for their revival in the Jungal Mahal region. However, with the challenging topography of the area, there is no scope for any complacency on parts the SFs, even as Maoist efforts to capitalize on any opportunity can be expected to continue.
7,000 detonators, 3,000 explosives seized from Maoist hideouts
Police today seized 7,000 detonators, 3,000 explosives and 2,000 kg ammonium nitrate during raids conducted at Maoist hideouts in Rohtas district. Superintendent of Police Shivdeep Lande said that police had got a tip-off about the presence of around 60-65 Maoists in the forest area of Chunnhatta village under Nauhatta police station limits. When police asked them to surrender after encircling them, the extremists opened fire, the SP said. Police returned fire, forcing the Maoists to retreat deep in the forest, Lande said, adding, one Maoist operative was nabbed during the operation. On the basis of information provided by the arrested Maoist, police seized 7,000 detonators, 3,000 explosives, 2,000 kg ammonium nitrate, two tractors and some Maoist literatures from their hideouts in Chunnhatta village, the SP said.
INDIA: BIHAR ASSESSMENT 2015 – ANALYSIS
Two troopers of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) – Constable Gulab Yadav and Constable Narottam Das – were killed and another 12 were injured when Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres blew up a mini-bus carrying personnel near Nandai on the Imamganj – Dumaria route in Gaya District on February 24, 2015. The unit also came under fire from the Maoists after the improvised explosive device (IED) blast.
According to Police sources, there was ‘heavy force mobilization’ in the area in the wake of an encounter in the vicinity a day earlier. The site of the explosion was part of an area believed to be safe, with regular traffic flows, and was not, prima facie in the ‘vulnerable’ category, which is why the COBRA unit took the liberty of travelling in a mini bus. A measure of complacency may also have crept in because of the decline in Maoist violence in the State in 2014.
According to the partial data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Bihar recorded 17 fatalities in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) related incidents in 2014, including seven civilians, seven Security Force (SF) personnel and three Maoists; these numbers represented a sharp drop from the 48 fatalities in 2013, including 21 civilians, 25 SF personnel and two Maoists.
‘Maoist activities in Assam’s Barak Valley’
Maoist activities are being carried out in south Assam’s Barak Valley, as claimed by four Maoists who were arrested in south Assam’s Cachar district. Maoists activities include running of training camps and convincing the local people to join them, Cachar Additional Superintendent of Police Shankar Brata Rai Medhi said today. Three Maoists were picked up yesterday and one of them Suman Orang, 20, was arrested while the two others were interrogated, he said. Suman was arrested on the lead provided by three other Maoists – Naren Orang, Arjun Orang and Borsing Teron – nabbed earlier on February 28 last, the ASP said. Upon the ending of their custody, the three along with Suman have been forwarded to four days police custody by a local court today.
The four told police that there was a Maoist training camp for indoctrination in the deep jungle area of Borail in the Valley. The border area of Cachar, near Sonachhera-Rupachhera of Barail foothills was the main base of the Maoists and police is on the lookout for three boys of Rupachhera who have returned after receiving arms training at Maoist camps in Chhattisgarh, the ASP said. Suman was in charge of the ‘tax collection gate’ in the training camp and was collecting money for Maoist organisational work in different parts of the Valley for a long time, he said.
Many central and state level Maoist leaders had visited the camp many times and took part in the training exercises, they said. Among them was also an artist from the Brahmaputra Valley who distributed many of his paintings to the villagers so that he could brainwash them in favour of the Maoist movement, the official said, adding a search was on for him and other Maoist leaders.
State to wage psychological warfare against Maoists
Jharkhand will raise a dedicated police team for waging psychological warfare against Maoists, a top official said, indicating a proactive policy shift in the Raghubar Das government’s tactics against left-wing rebels. Besides, the state will also set up special investigation teams (SITs) — both at state and district/range levels — for dealing with important extremism-related cases, according to an order issued by the state director general of police DK Pandey. HT is in possession of a copy of the order issued on March 10. Immediately after taking charge as the chief minister, Raghubar Das had announced his decision to go hard at the Maoist outfits, which are active in 21 of the state’s 24 districts.
The state has around 18 Maoist groups, many of which are rag-tag bands of criminals engaged in abduction and extortion. Several of them are also said to enjoy political patronage. “We’re working to make the central SIT operational by the first week of April. This will be the prototype that we will share with SITs at district and range levels. The objective is to ensure effective and fast investigation, prosecution, attachment of properties of extremists and secure their conviction,” said Anil Palta, additional director general of police (operations), on Friday.
According to Patla, the psychological operation unit will counter extremist propaganda, ideology and instill confidence among the common people. The government will also set up specialised wing under Jharkhand Jaguar Special Task Force for intelligence collection and creation of extremist database. Under the new system, the JJSTF and new SITs besides the psychological operation and intelligence wings will work under the additional director general of police (operations). According to home ministry data, Jharkhand has seen 103 casualties in 384 Maoist-related incidents in 2014.
Maoists regrouping in Bengal’s Junglemahal
Nearly four years after Maoist leader Kishenji was gunned down in an encounter in West Bengal’s Junglemahal area, Maoists have started trickling back into the forest-covered terrain of the state. According to inputs by both Central and state agencies, a number of top Maoist leaders from Bengal and Jharkhand have been spotted making their way into villages. They went missing after Kishenji — member of the CPI (Maoist) Politburo and Central Military Commission — was killed in an encounter with the security forces on November 24, 2011.
His death severely affected the rebels’ backbone in the region. Since November 2011 peace had returned to Junglemahal — the region stretches across three districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore in West Bengal — as other leaders were forced to go into hiding. Security agencies have received inputs form ground-level sources that in the last few days, regional commanders and leaders such as Bikash, Shyamal and Ranjit Pal have been spotted in the area.
They have also been in touch with some known associates in villages along the Bengal-Jharkhand border. Sources pointed out that the state police, with assistance from other agencies, have collated a report and sent it to the headquarters of the concerned agencies. The report details the movement of these rebel leaders in villages of Purulia and West Midnapore. Since these villages are close to the Bengal-Jharkhand border, they have been able to move unnoticed for sometime. Sources further said that a group of rebels, under the leadership of Madan Mahato, commander of the Belpahari region in Purulia, was spotted in the Ranibandh area of Bankura three weeks back.
“Security agencies believe Mahato to be unwell. There is a high chance that he is hiding somewhere in the dense forest along the Bengal-Jharkhand border. Bikash and others must have contacted him to get a ground report,” a senior officer said. “We’re keeping an eye on such people who surrendered after Kishenji’s death. These people are a dedicated lot and it’s not unknown for them to return to the squad life after few years,” a police officer pointed out.
SWOT matrix to help CRPF draw war plan
RANCHI: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) will conduct SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis of anti-Maoist operations in Jharkhand that will help them devise a foolproof strategy against the rebels’ guerrilla tactics. The CRPF’s elite CoBRA battalions’ officers from Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar will participate in the evaluation process at the CRPF establishment in Ranchi today.
“It is important to know the strength and weaknesses of your enemy during war. The battle against Maoists is a strategic one. The analysis will help us know them better. We can identify their weakness and strength through the deliberations,” said CRPF IG Rakesh Kumar Mishra, who heads the central paramilitary force in the state. Key officers from CoBRA’s 209 battalion (Khunti), 203 battalion (Barhi, Hazaribag), 205 battalion (Barachatti, Gaya), and 207 battalion (Salboni, Medinipur) will participate in the SWOT analysis which will continue throughout the day. It would be a confidential programme closed to the media. CoBRA jawans from Gaya are often deployed for anti-Maoist operations on Jharkhand-Bihar border and those from Midnapore are often deployed in Jharkhand-West Bengal border areas.
Maoists burn four vehicles at Odisha construction site
Maoists wreaked havoc late last night burning down four vehicles at the camp of a private construction company at Timaligaon under Nuapada district of Odisha. The Maoists set fire to a JCB, two Haiwas and a tractor at the camp of the contractor entrusted with the Lower Indra Irrigation Project. Banners and posters of Nuapada division of Maoist Organisation have been found from the scene. “They have burnt down four vehicles, including one JCB, two Haiwas and one tractor. There were three men in the group,” confirmed Duryodhan Bag, an eyewitness.
Former Red cadre killed in Palamu
Daltonganj: A group of unidentified miscreants killed a former Maoist cadre at Chainpur in Palamu late on Saturday night, police told the media yesterday. Palamu SP Patel Mayur Kanhaiyya Lal said police are still looking for 34-year-old Giriwar Chowdhury’s killers. However, police did not get any leaflet near Chowdhury’s body and could not confirm any rebel outfit’s hand in the killing. Chowdhury was a CPI(Maoist) activist but later he had joined its splinter groups Tritiya Prastuti Committee and Jharkhand Prastui Committee. Police said bullet wound on Chowdhury’s head showed that he was shot from a close range.
Landmine planted by Maoists defused
Security personnel had a narrow escape as a powerful landmine planted by Maoists in a forest road in Odisha’s Kandhamal district was detected and defused by them today, police said. The landmine weighing about 7 kg and kept in an aluminium container had been planted beneath the road inside the forest in Gochhapada area, about 40 km from here, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Phulbani) Arjun Barik said. The landmine was detected when CRPF personnel and district policemen were carrying out a combing operation in the Maoist-hit forest area, he said.
Azad encounter case: orders on March 24
Adilabad Judicial First Class Magistrate B. Mary Sara Danamma on Friday posted the Azad case protest petition for orders to March 24. The petition was filed by K. Padma and Babita Pandey, wives of slain Maoist Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad and journalist Hemchandra Pandey respectively seeking filing of murder case on the policemen who participated in the 2010 July 2 encounter which, they alleged was a fake one. The petitioners appeared personally in the JFCM court and filed written arguments for taking cognizance of their plea. Talking to newsmen after emerging from the court, they hoped that they will get justice in the court.