Anti-Naxal ops:5,000 addl ITBP troops to be deployed in Chhattisgarh
In order to give a boost to anti-Naxal operations in Chhattisgarh’s worst affected areas, Centre has sanctioned additional deployment of 5,000 troops of mountain-warfare trained ITBP in the state. Officials said five battalions of the Sino-India border guarding force will soon take positions in Bastar, Narayanpur, Rajnandgaon and Kondagaon districts of the state which have witnessed maximum violence in the recent past in the entire Left Wing Extremism (LWE) hit areas of the country.
With this, the total deployment of central security forces including CRPF and Border Security Force will come to about 40,000 personnel in the central Indian state. According to the new blueprint for operations, officials said, two Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) units will be based in Narayanpur and one each in Rajnandgaon, Kondagaon and the notorious ‘Keshkal’ valley in Bastar district of the state. All these districts are in the southern part of the Chhattisgarh and figure under the LWE affected regions.
“The fresh deployments have been sanctioned recently and the forces are expected to take position after monsoon. The new ITBP units will work to either bolster the forces already present in these areas or take over the task from CRPF like in the ‘Keshkal’ valley area,” they said. In Rajnandgaon, where the ITBP already has three battalions, the fresh unit will aid the existing ones and fan out deeper into jungles. In Narayanpur, which has witnessed some deadly ambushes and attacks by armed Naxal cadres against security forces and civilians, the ITBP will take charge of the core areas in coordination with CRPF, officials said. It is the first time that the special mountain-trained force is being deployed outside Rajnandgaon where the force has been holding fort against Maoists since 2009.
The force has one of the best operational records in the LWE affected areas of Chhattisgarh and hence, sources said, it was felt necessary to increase their numbers. Operations in the Naxal grid in the state are primarily led by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) with ITBP and BSF in specific pockets of Rajnandgaon and Kanker respectively. The decision to deploy ITBP in Chhattisgarh, sources said, was also facilitated by the fact that its five battalions earmarked for similar tasks in Maharashtra’s Gandchiroli were later stopped from taking over the job from CRPF owing to operational difficulties.
“However, it will have to be seen that the logistical and administrative linkups with the ITBP units is established properly so that they are not isolated in the Maoist area,” sources said. The Union Home Ministry has been wanting to launch effective operations dove-tailed with development works in these areas and hence has put its increased focus in the south Bastar area of Chhattisgarh which borders Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and parts of Maharashtra.
ECR to raise bomb detection squads in Maoist-prone areas
PATNA: Concerned at frequent Maoist attacks on railway property as well as planting of bombs on railway tracks or inside coaches, the East Central Railway (ECR) has decided to raise bomb detection squads to strengthen security measures in Maoist-prone areas. The ECR has witnessed a large number of incidents of planting bombs under its five divisions during the past five years. According to RPF (Railway Protection Force) chief security commissioner, ECR, Haranand, railways was seriously mulling over the proposal for quite some time to ensure better security on the railway premises as well as on running trains under the integrated security system.
“The plan is in initial stages and will be finalized soon,” he said. Several attacks on passenger trains by the Maoists in the recent past has forced ECR to raise its own bomb detection squads. As of now, railways depends on the state government for detection of bombs or for defusing them by experts if found on tracks or inside coaches of passenger trains, an ECR official said, adding the then ECR GM, Madhuresh Kumar, had approved the plan for raising bomb detection squads in railways and a sum of Rs 1 crore was initially sanctioned to procure the required kits for RPF personnel. According to sources, the ECR has chalked out a comprehensive plan to introduce bomb detection squads in Maoist-infested Dhanbad division followed by Danapur, Sonepur and Mughalsarai divisions.
It plans to procure latest bomb detection kits from the open market. An ECR security official entrusted with the task to raise bomb detection squads said railways would incur an expenditure of about Rs 5 crore to raise and train the bomb detection squads in the zone. The squads would make the railways more prompt in detecting or disposing off any bomb found on railway tracks, he said. ECR has at present seven sniffer dogs, which are being used under Dhanbad and Danapur divisions, mostly during movement of VIP passengers and at the time of departure of Rajdhani and other premier passenger trains from Patna Junction and other major stations.
However, railways intends to increase the number of sniffer dogs so that they could be readily available under each division of the zone, an RPF official said. In the run-up to the Independence Day, railways has asked RPF personnel to keep a tab on CCTVs installed at all major stations of ECR to avert any untoward incident on railway platforms, sources said, adding about 500 RPF personnel are engaged in train escort duty.
India: Maoists Never Forgive, Never Forget – Analysis
A former Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadre, identified as Madhav Warlu Padda (38), was killed by his former colleagues with sharp weapons near Mauja-Kotmi village in Etapally area of Gadchiroli District in Maharashtra on July 22, 2015. An unnamed official said the former Maoist was eliminated because the Maoists were against his decision to surrender. He had surrendered in November 2014. Before his surrender, Padda had been with the Kasansoor Dalam (armed squad) of the CPI-Maoist for 10 years, since 2005.
Earlier, between June 22 and July 5, Maoists killed another four of their senior cadres – Hemla Bhagat, a member of the Darbha Divisional Committee (DVC) and ‘chief’ of the Maoists’ military intelligence wing in the area; Kosi Kursem, wife of Hemla Bhagat, who was working with the Dandakaranya Adivasi Kisan Majdoor Sangh (DAKMS), a Maoist front organization; Masa Podivami alias Badru a DVC member of the Darbha area, and Hinge – who ‘wanted to surrender’. Ayatu, the ‘secretary’ of the Malangir Area Committee, has reportedly been ‘detained’ by his comrades in the Bastar Division of Chhattisgarh. The Maoists also killed a former intelligence unit ‘chief’ of the West Bastar Division, identified as Korsa Jagaram alias Shivaji, at Kottapal village in Bijapur District on January 1, 2015, three years after his surrender to the Police in 2012. Jagaram had been recruited as a Gopniya Sainik (secret informer) by the Bijapur Police after his surrender.
Due to his involvement in several prominent attacks on the Security Forces and proximity to top Maoists, he had been a major intelligence source for the Police. “His death is a major loss for us,” an unnamed officer conceded. According to partial data collected by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), since 2005, 70 surrendered cadres have been killed by the CPI-Maoist, till August 2, 2015. These included 14 in 2005, six in 2006, two in 2007, five in 2008, eight in 2009, 12 in 2010, four in 2011, seven in 2012, four in 2013, six in 2014, and two in 2015. The data for 2015 does not include the four Maoist cadres killed in the Bastar region, as they had not yet surrendered. The current killings are to be seen against the backdrop of the recent surge in surrenders in the Bastar area of Chhattisgarh, considered to be the strongest Maoist base. According to partial data collected by SATP, 251 Maoists have surrendered across India, thus far in 2015.
At least 4,245 Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) have surrendered across India since 2005 (data till August 2, 2015). Crucially, in 2015, eight ‘deputy commanders’ surrendered in Andhra Pradesh; one ‘section commander’ in Maharashtra and one ‘commander’, one Local Guerrilla Squad (LGS) ‘commander’ and one Local Operation Squad (LOS) ‘commander’ in Telangana. However the majority of ‘commander’ rank surrenders have been from Chhattisgarh, with one ‘divisional commander’, three ‘deputy commanders’, five ‘commanders’, one Jan Militia ‘commander’, one LGS ‘commander’, one LOS ‘commander’, one ‘section commander’ and two ‘platoon commanders’.
In Jharkhand, there was no commander rank surrender in 2015. Rattled by the spurt of surrenders in Chhattisgarh, the Maoist leadership, on November 1, 2014, warned journalists working in Chhattisgarh against helping the Police in securing the surrender of Maoist cadres. “We appeal to the journalist brothers to condemn the fake surrenders and stop encouraging those who have deceived the people’s movement. The journalists who support the surrendered Maoists will be termed as ‘anti-people’ by the party,” declared Ganesh Uike, ‘secretary’ of the CPI-Maoist South Regional Committee (SRC), in a press statement. The Maoist leadership has always despised cadres who surrendered ‘without discussion’, or who plan to ‘run away’, though there is a standing policy of permitting some categories of their cadres to surrender after they have sought the permission of the leadership. Indeed, there have been phases when the surrender policy has been exploited to ‘retire’ aging or ailing cadres, at least some of whom are subsequently found to engage in overground activities in support of the Maoists.
In one recent case, where details of some such arrangement emerged after the arrest of a CPI-Maoist cadre, identified as Maansingh alias Arjun (45) from the Pakhanjore area in Kanker District on July 23, 2015. Kanker Superintendent of Police (SP) Jitendra Singh Meena disclosed that Arjun had been associated with the Maoists since 2000 and initially worked as a ‘temporary member’, but was later assigned the task of assembling crude firearms and repairing guns and rifles. Maansingh surrendered on the direction of Maoist leaders, was sent to jail. He was subsequently released on bail, and again joined the underground movement. He was elevated to the rank of ‘commander’ of the Kuli janmilitia (people’s militia) after rejoining the outfit, but due to prolonged illness, was demoted from the position and again tasked with making and repairing weapons till his arrest. The reasons for his earlier surrender are not clear, but this may have been the result of ill health, or an attempt by the Maoist leadership to learn more about the surrender cycle. Where surrenders are unauthorized, the individuals are initially monitored and subsequently warned, and are also strongly criticized through the media.
Maoists eventually eliminate their former comrades especially where they are deemed to have engaged in ‘anti-Party activities’. While ‘elimination’ is the final solution, a number of prominent surrendered leaders remain under current and significant threat. Thus on June 20, 2007, the Maoists in the Guntur District of then undivided Andhra Pradesh warned five surrendered Maoists to stop hobnobbing with the Police or face ‘dire consequences’. Similarly, on January 30, 2013, the CPI-Maoist Southern Gadchiroli ‘divisional committee’ criticized its former ‘secretary’ Shekhar alias Mallaya and his wife Vijaya, who had surrendered before the Andhra Pradesh Government in 2012.
On June 9, 2013, an “internal inquiry commission” of the CPI-Maoist blamed Suchitra Mahato, the surrendered Maoist leader, for the death of ‘politburo member’ Mallojula Koteswara Rao alias Kishenji in an encounter in Junglemahal area of West Bengal in November 2011. Branding her as a “traitor”, the CPI-Maoist central committee approved “retaliation” against those involved in the “conspiracy”. On January 13, 2014, the CPI-Maoist condemned the surrender of the ‘state committee’ member of ‘Dandakaranya special zonal committee’ (DKSZC) GVK Prasad alias Gudsa Usendi alias Sukhdev. Similarly a statement issued by the succeeding spokesperson of the DKSZC, who was also given the nom de guerre Gudsa Usendi, condemned the surrender of DKSZC member Arjun and his wife Ranita before the Police in Telangana on August 1, 2014. The party said the couple could not withstand the “difficult time” faced by the movement.
The pressure of ‘difficult times’ has enormously been compounded by the Central Government’s enticing surrender policy, with generous financial rewards and rehabilitation schemes, which have forced many Maoists to rethink their future. The LWE-affected State Governments have also increased the amount for surrendered cadres. Maharashtra’s “Kaun Banega Lakhpati” scheme, along with a propaganda campaign, peace rallies, dialogue with the locals; Andhra Pradesh Government’s grant of ‘white cards’ [a kind of ration card], housing, LPG subsidy and admission to skill development courses; the Jharkhand Cabinet’s decision to give CPI-Maoist politburo, special area committee and regional bureau members a whopping INR 2.5 million; the Odisha Government’s decision to provide enhanced financial assistance and house building grants at the rate of the Indira Awas Yojna; have all proved crucial for the success of the surrender policy.
On November 29, 2014, the CPI-Maoist admitted that its cadres were deserting the party and “It is true that some of our ‘weak’ cadres are getting attracted towards the bankrupt and corrupt surrender policy of the Government and laying down their arms,” Gudsa Usendi conceded in a Press statement. The killing of surrendered cadres, especially where the Maoists suspect collusion with the Police, is obviously intended to discourage the wave of surrenders and defections that is worrying the rebel leadership.
Crucially, however, it also underlines the failure of the Government to provide a secure environment to those who are deserting the Maoists. While financial rewards and other elements of ‘rehabilitation’ have played a crucial role in encouraging the rising tide of surrenders, if the Maoists succeed in inflicting frequent reprisals on such cadres, the policy will eventually fail.
Maoists set ablaze NMDC’s machinery in Chhattisgarh
A group of armed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres stormed into a mine operated by National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) Ltd on Bailadila hills mining area under Bacheli Police Station limits in Dantewada District and set afire dumpers and drilling machine involved in mining work, Superintendent of Police (SP) Dantewada, Kamlochan Kashyap informed on August 3, reports The Pioneer. “A group of Maoists arrived at NMDC’s deposit number-5 located on Bailadila hills mining area under Bacheli Police Station limits on the intervening night of Sunday (August 2) and Monday (August 3) and torched the drilling machine and a dumper engaged in mining work,” the SP said.
The unit of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel soon got the information of the incident, which reached the spot and opened fire on the rebels. The ultras could not stand the CISF’s firing and ran away deep into the jungle, the SP said. “No one was injured in the incident and police was undertaking combing operation for apprehending the persons involved in incident,” he said.