Surjagarh project would destroy villages, say Naxals
ETAPALLI (Gadchiroli): A section of top guerrilla leaders of Western regional committee of South Gadchiroli division, during a marathon meeting with the scribes at an undisclosed location on Chhattisgarh border last week, claimed that exploitation of irone ore in Surjagarh hills would bring irreparable adverse consequences on the adjoining villages. The Naxal leaders, whose media interaction also saw them appeal to Gadchiroli police’s C-60 commandos not to fight against fellow tribals, claimed that government’s compensation schemes would remain only on paper for Surjagarh project like they have at other places.
“If prime minister Narendra Modi-led government is promising Rs 15 lakh in each citizen’s account, then where is the need to lure the tribal with benefits from the projects on Surjagarh hills? Can government compensate the irretrievably damaged natural resources of the place,” asked a senior Naxalite leader of South Gadchiroli division. “The party (banned Communist party of India-Maoist) opposes the project,” said the senior cadre putting to rest the speculation regarding the Naxals’ stand on the mining and steel making project that has failed to take off so far. “State government’s ploy to set up police posts is part of the providing blanket security and meant to ensure that the natural resources of the region could be plundered by the corporate bodies. Gadchiroli is seeing a rising trend of setting up police posts and camps to ensure more capitalists projects are started here,” said the senior cadre.
The party has also strongly condemned the government’s decision to ban cow-slaughter as one that goes against tradition of eating beef among that has continued through generations. “Beef is the cheapest form of meat consumed by a economically weaker population and also formed means of livelihood for many who are now left without income,” said a senior leader talking to the media. The Naxals also sounded their opposition against tobacco and consumption of alcohol. These substances were destroying families along with the addicted member, said the rebel leader. “Party is against all sorts of contraband and tobacco products,” he said. The Naxal cadres also made a point to hit out at Modi-led central and Devendra Fadnavis-led state governments. “A sizable number of elected representatives of BJP are facing different criminal and corruption charges. What can be expected from such a legislative wing,” asked the senior cadre.
CoBRA jawan injured in face-off with Naxals
Raipur: A CoBRA jawan was on Tuesday injured in a gun-battle between security forces and Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Sukma district, police said. The face-off occurred in the restive forests of Chintagufa police station limits while a joint squad of CRPF’s elite battalion-CoBRA (Compact Battalion for Resolute Action) and district force was carrying out an anti-naxal operation, Sukma Additional Superintendent of Police Harish Rathore told PTI.
When security personnel were cordoning off forests between Burkapal and Chintagufa, a group of armed cadres opened indiscriminate fire on them following which they retaliated, he said. After the ensuing gun-fight that lasted for around half-an-hour, ultras fled into the deep forests on finding security personnel zeroing on them, he added. However, constable Satpal sustained bullet injuries in the incident. Soon after receiving information, reinforcement was rushed to the spot and the injured jawan was shifted to a local hospital in Jagdalpur for treatment, he said. The operation is still underway in the region, located around 450 kms from the state capital, he added.
Cops eye permanent camp at Korukonda
VISAKHAPATNAM: Korukonda may soon turn into a fortress with a strong army of 200-odd security forces camped in a permanent paramilitary base, if the Andhra Pradesh police bosses have their way. The plan is part of their strategy to flush out the Red rebels from the Maoist stronghold area located in Chintapalli mandal of Visakha Agency. The camp, which is expected to house one company of CRPF and special police each, is aimed at cutting down on the time taken to respond to Maoist attacks and ensure 24/7 area domination.
While the authorities have already started laying a 20-km black top ghat road from Lothugedda Bridge Junction to Korukonda, plans are afoot to set up the base over a four-five acre site on the hill slope area of Korukonda, which is close to the primary health centre where the weekly Sunday market is held, sources said. “Apart form the Visakha Rural police top brass, state intelligence bureau (SIB) officials have visited the area to study the feasibility of setting up the camp there. They are also assessing all possible scenarios for rushing reinforcements and providing logistical support to personnel based at the camp as Korukonda has access to the main road only via the currently un-motorable ghat road,” an officer involved in anti-naxal operations told TOI on condition anonymity. According to sources, the main reason behind the police focus on Korukonda is that naxals have been crossing the borders from the Gumma block area in Malkangiri of Odisha to Korukonda in the Visakha Agency at will, committing offences and leaving the area within hours as the distance from Korukonda village to the Odisha border is only 5 km.
The Korukonda area committee of the East Division of the Maoists has been showing its strong presence in the area with the support of the Gumma Block Area Committee led by Ekkanti Seetaramireddy alias Saleem. The Korukonda naxals reportedly played a key role in the kidnapping of Malkangiri collector Vineel Krishna in February 2011 apart from other major strikes. They also played a key role in occupying AP Forest Development Corporation’s coffee plantations and have been actively involved in killing tribals by branding them as police informers. So far, the hostile terrain, lack of road connectivity and strong Maoist presence has been a major hurdle in deploying security forces at Korukonda over the past three decades and it is only recently that they have been able to penetrate a 4-km stretch till Rallagedda following large-scale surrenders and arrests as well as the lynching of two Maoists late last year. The Korukonda area comes under the Balapam panchayat, which has 32 villages in its jurisdiction.
“That was the main reason why Visakha Rural SP Dr Koya Praveen dared to venture into the Maoist stronghold area by road a couple of days ago,” said a source. However, the plan is facing opposition from some senior officers who feel the Reds could target vehicles carrying reinforcements and rations on the Lothugedda Junction-Korukonda stretch despite widening and paving of the ghat road as the tough terrain favours the Maoists and they fear a repeat of the 2009 Balimela massacre, where 37 security personnel met with a watery grave in the Seeleru river, could hit the morale of the cops. Sources said the SIB cops too are of the same opinion.
Two Maoist militia members arrested
Two militia members of the CPI(Maoist) were arrested by the G. Madugula police, Assistant SP of Paderu A. Babuji said on Monday. Pangi Ramesh and Vanthala Kameswara Rao of Tadapalem village were involved in offences such as destroying nomination papers of panchayat elections at Nurmathy and Boithali, murder of Balakrishna at Boithili, attack on Anjanadri Ashramam at Gugalam Veedhi village, burning of an earth moving equipment at Ondrungula and exchange of fire with the police at Pinaluvasingi village. All the incidents occurred between May 2012 and January this year.
ACQUITTED AFTER 7 YEARS, TRIBAL WOMAN SAYS SHE WAS TORTURED
At the age of 17, Kawasi Himde was arrested for “being involved in the killing of 23 policemen” in Dantewada district of South Chhattisgarh. A young girl, full of energy, at the time of her arrest in 2008, a tired Kawasi Hidme walked out of jail three days ago when a Dantewada court found her not guilty. “I was never involved in any Maoist activity. Yet, I have lost seven years of my life. I am exhausted now with a number of health issues caused by police torture. What was my fault?” she asks. Hidme was accused of being a part of a team of over 350 Maoists that killed the policemen near Errabore village of Bastar in July 2007. She was charged under sections 302, 147, 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code and different sections of the Arms Act.
“Hidme is a typical case study of how tribals of Bastar are subjected to harassment and exploitation in the name of tackling Maoists,” alleged tribal activist Soni Sori who received Hidme at the gates of the jail on Wednesday. “She was innocent, but it took the system seven years to realise that. The proceedings in her case were completed many months ago, but the judgment was delayed…” Advocate Shalini Gera, who fought for Hidme along with senior lawyer Bichem Pondi, said the evidence presented by the prosecution was frivolous.
“Hidme was not even named in the first FIR. Five months after the incident, some policemen suddenly recalled that Maoists present at the ambush site took her name. But none of the witnesses identified her,” Ms. Gera said. “I was arrested in 2008 January. But for the first three months I was lodged in different police stations and subjected to all kinds of torture. I cannot even think of marriage now because of my health issues,” Hidme said.