With clear strategy, specialist officers, Jharkhand govt to go all out against Naxals
Riding on the back of the longest period of peace enjoyed by security forces since 2007, the Jharkhand government is preparing for a decisive battle against the Naxal menace in the state. The new BJP government has brought in Rajiv Gauba, who was the additional secretary in-charge of LWE affairs at the Union Home Ministry, as its Chief Secretary. New DGP D K Pandey was additional director general, operations, of the CRPF; he was also IG, operations, of the CRPF in Jharkhand earlier. Police officials said with BJP governments both in the state as well as the centre, even the Intelligence Bureau has indicated that it was willing to work with the state government when it comes to the final push. Speaking separately in January, CM Raghubar Das and the then chief secretary Sajal Chakrabarty had said they would soon end LWE activities in the state.
The last time someone from security forces died at the hands of the Naxals in the state was at Itkhori in Chatra on December 24 last year, days ahead of Raghubar Das being sworn in as the CM. The last major strike on the security forces was on April 24, 2014, when alleged Maoists killed five security personnel who were returning after conducting Lok Sabha polls in Dumka district. “It (drop in number of attacks on forces) must be because we have more boots on the ground. We are able to conduct more operations, more area domination exercises,” said Anil Palta, ADG, Operations . Police casualties came down to eight in 2014 from 26 the previous two years. LWE incidents also dropped, from 404 and 349 in 2012 and 2013 to 231 last year.
There was also a sharp fall in civilian casualties: 124 (2012) and 126 (2013) to 86, which Palta termed “still too high”. Jharkhand, which saw most LWE-related deaths in the country in 2012 and 2013, fell second to Chhattisgarh last year. Former DGP Rajeev Kumar and Sajal Chakrabarty — replaced rather unceremoniously by the current administration — had set the tone by extensively touring LWE-affected areas during their tenure. Palta is also a Das appointee. Under him, the fight against LWE is being restructured: Palta has already succeeded in merging the law and order section under ADG, Ops, thereby ensuring the state’s specialised anti-LWE force Jharkhand Jaguar now reports to him. A February 20 order by DGP Pandey set out his intentions of empowering the JJ — it will have its own intelligence-collection unit. There was also the mention of the creation of a Psy Ops (psychological operations) unit.
Gadchiroli police take part in interstate anti-Naxal ops
NAGPUR: Gadchiroli police scripted their maiden success in the ongoing interstate operations when a combined party of C-60 commandos and Dechlipeth police cornered a group of Naxalites on February 13. The ensuing gunfight left at least two rebel cadres injured. The operation was launched in Central India on March 1 after a meeting between union home minister Rajnath Singh and chief ministers of Naxal affected states. On Monday, Additional DG (operations) Bipin Bihari and inspector general of police (Nagpur and Naxal range) Ravindra Kadam were at Gadchiroli to review the operations and also assess the ground situation. The latest offensive by police along Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border took place in Chitveli forest of Jimulgatta subdivision in south Gadchiroli and also at Sandra in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. Sources claimed a group of armed local organisational squad (LOS) of Sandra Naxalites tried to challenge Gadchiroli police’s combined forces, but had to retreat soon.
The action was the first of its kind in around a year by Gadchiroli police, who also crossed over into Chhattisgarh state. The ongoing interstate operations in Central India hinterlands, considered a Naxal stronghold, including the inaccessible Abujhmadh straddling Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, have been kicked off to weaken the rebels in the guerrilla zones. These are generally considered bases from which Naxalites wage war against the government in different forms. Odisha and Telangana states too are involved in the action. A part of the operation, conducted mainly by the central paramilitary forces, has also started discreetly in Maharashtra’s Naxal-affected zones of Gadchiroli district in eastern Vidarbha. This area shares borders with other highly sensitive districts like Bijapur, Narayanpur and others of Chhattisgarh towards the north and west, and with Telangana in the south.
The focus is likely to be on operations along the borders, where deep forests and rivers run through inhospitable terrain. Central India is also the hub for Naxal leaders of Dandakaranya and a section of the top brass is believed to be hiding in Abujhmadh. The highly sensitive districts of Sukma, Dantewada and Bijapur in Chhattisgarh have been made the ‘focal districts’ to serve as operation bases. The superintendents of police of these districts, and some in Telangana and Odisha have been made ‘focal officers’ to coordinate operations. A senior officer said the operations would be intensified in coordination with neighbouring districts, to ensure Naxalites cannot cross state borders to avoid security forces.
“In Maharashtra, the ploy would be to step up offensive along the border, either by solo efforts or in coordination with Chhattisgarh and Telangana counterparts, to ensure that the Naxals cannot sneak into the state for safety when the security forces are mounting operations in the neighbouring states,” said the official. He added that the even the remotest parts of Central India would be covered in the operations. The senior official also said that five battalions of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) with 25 companies are also expected gradually to start replacing the existing 30 companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). “Maharashtra government is also trying to ensure an additional company of ITBP to to maintain pressure on the Naxals,” said the senior cop.
Police firing that killed 17 Chattisgarh villagers three years ago was unprovoked, inquiry suggests
Eye-witness testimonies to a commission inquiring into an encounter between security forces and tribals in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district that took place three years ago and left 17 villagers dead suggest that the police fired without provocation. Scroll.in has copies of the testimonies of both villagers and key officers involved in the event, which took place on June 28, 2012 in Sarkeguda, Kotteguda and Rajpenta villages. These testimonies support the villagers’ claims that they were at a meeting to plan a tribal sowing festival, and were unarmed, over the claims of the officers, who said the villagers were Maoist guerrillas who fired at them.
“During the meeting, the police came and started firing from all directions, shouting ‘pakdo, firing karo (catch them and fire),” said Sarke Pulayya, a 22-year-old resident of Sarkeguda village, in his testimony to the inquiry commission. “We shouted that we were villagers, but they still did not stop.” The encounter took place at night in an open field between the three villages. The morning brought to light the blood-soaked bodies of young people lying on a sheet of tarpaulin. Of those killed, three were teenagers. The security forces incurred no casualties. Many villagers were injured, while the testimonies raise questions about the causes of the injuries sustained by some of the policemen.
…Also, on March 14, a Maoist operative was killed during an encounter with the security forces in Lohardaga town of Jharkhand. Heavy arms and ammunition were also recovered during the search operations after the encounter.
HC grants bail to activists
The Kerala High Court today granted bail to two activists arrested under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act by Kerala police in January this year on the charge of being Maoist sympathisers. Tushar Nirmal Sarathy and Jaison C Cooper, who are in jail since January 30, were granted bail by a division bench comprising Justice K T Sankaran and Justice Babu Mathew P Joseph. The court directed the two to furnish bond for Rs 25,000 plus two solvent surety of the like amount. They have been directed to appear before Thrikkakara Assistant Commissioner every Monday and surrender their passports. It also directed that they shall not leave Kerala without prior permission of the Sessions Court and shall not be involved in similar cases.
Earlier, the National Human Rights Commission had issued a notice to Kerala government over the allegations that human rights defenders and rights activists in the state were being arrested after being levelled as ‘Maoist sympathisers’. While Jaison was arrested here on January 29 this year Tushar was apprehended after a press conference in Kozhikode on the same day.
Maoists Protest Encounter, Torch Indra Project Vehicles
NUAPADA:Maoists set fire to construction equipment and vehicles at the Lower Indra Irrigation Project site under Boden police limits of the district on Sunday night. After setting fire to an excavator, two trucks and a tractor, the Maoists left behind a banner which mentioned that the police were killing Red rebels in fake encounters. In the banner, they called upon the people to ensure success of the bandh called by CPI(Maoist) in Nuapada, Kalahandi and Nabarangpur in Odisha besides Dhamtari and Gariabandh in Chhattisgarh district. About 40 armed Maoists arrived at the site and took away the mobile phones of the people present before setting the equipment and vehicles on fire, said Nuapada SP Sunil Kumar Joshi.
Maoists beat up Police officer in Chhattisgarh
Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres brutally thrashed a Police officer, Assistant Sub-Inspector Maheshwar Dewangan, posted at Polampalli Police Station in Sukma District, on March 16, reports Zee News. Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Harish Rathore said Dewangan was heading for the Police Station in a taxi from Dornapal to rejoin the duty after a vacation. He was in civil dress and unarmed. About a dozen armed Maoists stopped the taxi near Gorguda village, asked Dewangan to get down, and beat him with sticks before leaving him bleeding at the spot, Rathore said.