Is Coimbatore proving to be geographically advantageous for Maoists to re-group and consolidate?
If one were to go by the recent arrests and resultant revelations about youth being brainwashed and roped into the Naxal movement, the western districts, which share borders with Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, are proving to be geographically advantageous for the extremists to come together and consolidate their base. The arrest of top Maoist leader Roopesh on May 3 on the city’s outskirts came as a rude shock to the State police as he and his wife had stayed in Tirupur for close to two-years.
The interrogation led to the realisation that that the Maoists were involved in brainwashing youth and making them members of their outfit, ‘Q’ Branch sources said. This turned the focus of the police on Naxals in a case of a 23-year-old Santhosh Kumar of Anamalai who went missing in August 2014. The police are firmly of the opinion that one of the five held now had recruited the youth into their outfit. The police also suspect that a few other fringe radical outfits with base here provided logistical support to the arrested Maoists.
Coimbatore region by virtue of its floating population and migrant workforce is proving to be ideal for the Maoists to rent a house and operate, says a Q branch official. In addition, from any pocket in Coimbatore they hardly require six to eight hours to reach Andhra Pradesh or Kerala or Bangalore. Reports of suspicious movement of persons in Western Ghats and the recent attacks at Silent Valley and Palakkad only signal the efforts of the Naxals to make resurgence, sources point out. Strengthening of police stations in district borders with additional manpower, roping in tribal youth from hamlets in Western Ghats as intelligence input providers and establishment of bunkers for gun totting police personnel only indicate that the State intelligence machinery is all out to pre-empt the efforts of the Maoists to stage a comeback.
Landmine found in Jharkhand
A powerful landmine planted by suspected Maoists has been found in Ghatsila sub-division of Jharkhand, a police official said today. The landmine recovered from underneath Shyamsunderpur – Gorbandha road, 60 km from here, yesterday was targeted at security personnel and intended to cause a major damage, Superintendent of Police (Rural), Shailendra Kumar Sinha said. The 20-kg landmine was defused by the Bomb Disposal Squad which arrived from Ranchi today morning, he said. Acting on a tip-off, police personnel had rushed to the area yesterday and identified the exact location of the landmine after spotting some exposed wire on the ground.
7 Maoists arrested in Bastar
Seven Maoists were arrested in the restive Bastar region of Chhattisgarh on Monday. The Maoists, accused of indulging in violent activities, including killings, were arrested from the Bhairamgad and Gangaloor areas of Bijapur district in a joint operation by the CRPF and the district police, Bijapur Superintendent of Police K.L. Dhruw told reporters. “We have arrested Punem Sukku, who worked for the CPI (Maoist) in Gangaloor block of Bijapur. Sitaram Bhaskar, Budhram Vako, Salaki Sodhi, Payaku Mandavi, Pardeshi Ram and Ganesh Bhaskar have been arrested from Bhairamgad block of the district,” the SP said.
Signs of Maoist revival in Tamil Nadu
For a long time, Kodaikanal has been the most preferred choice for the youth attracted by the Maoist ideology. The arrest of a Maoist, identified as Neelamegam alias Vinayak alias Kathir (30), near Vadamadurai in Dindigul district two days ago has put the spotlight once again on Kodaikanal hills. For a long time, Kodaikanal has been the most preferred choice for the youth attracted by the Maoist ideology. The jungles here have not only been a good hideout, but have also enabled them to avoid the police scanner. According to highly placed sources in the intelligence agencies, though some outfits are legally banned in the State, they continued to function underground and re-group as and when situations demanded.
The “encounter” in April 2008 in Kodaikanal hills is a case in point. When the Special Task Force (STF) was about to arrest a suspect, there was an exchange of fire. After a long battle, a well trained expert in handling arms, Naveen Prasad (27) was killed in Vadakavunji, near Kodaikanal. At that time, a few of his accomplices escaped. After almost seven years in June, one of them identified as Kannan alias Senthil alias Kumar (46) was held in Coimbatore. Suspected to be well trained in weaponry, Kumar’s arrest was described as a “big catch”. Close on the heels, the arrest of Neelamegam in Vadamadurai has raised eyebrows about the government’s claims that there were no Maoist activities in the State.
According to reliable sources in the State and Central intelligence agencies, the southern districts, particularly Madurai has been a preferred choice since 1980s for those who operated under the banner of the Tamil nationalist movements. An officer, who was then closely associated with the investigation into the blast case in the TV tower in Kodaikanal which claimed one life, said a Tamil nationalist Polilan figured as A-1 along with two Sri Lankan militants. The Dindigul District Sessions Court heard the case. Bank robbery Similarly, in the robbery case involving Bank of Madura (now ICICI Bank) in Madurai in late 80s also suggested the alleged role of Tamil nationalist and some of the Sri Lankan Tamils behind the crime.
In fact, the then Madurai Mayor Muthu’s son too figured as one of the accused, police said. While police agencies say that there was no space for extremists and the State was free from such elements, the encounter death in Kodaikanal hills in 2008 only proved that they had “regrouped” and determined to strike vital installations. According to the intelligence officials, Neelamegam, a Dalit and a native of Madurai Viratipathu, has a number of friends living in different names in Dindigul and Theni districts. He was married to a woman from Karnataka, also a Maoist, who was arrested a few years ago. The number of bruises and injuries on Neelamegam suggested that he was living in the forests, sources say, adding that sustained combing operation could lead to the arrests of his accomplices. All that he has repeatedly told the police is that they will continue to fight for the downtrodden.
Maoists to observe August 15 as ‘Black Day‘
KORAPUT: The outlawed CPI (Maoist) have urged locals to observe Independence Day as a ‘Black Day’ in protest against police excesses on tribals. The rebels have also demanded stop to combing operations in Koraput, Rayagada and Malkangiri districts. Secretary of Bansadhara-Ghumusara-Nabagali division of the banned organisation Umakant through letters sent to a few mediapersons in Rayagada on Monday has charged the security forces with harassing and arresting tribals in false Maoist cases.
“Scores of tribals are being implicated in false cases. Police are killing many tribals in fake encounters and labelling them as Maoists. We appeal to all to observe Black Day on August 15,” the letter stated. The Maoist leader has condemned the police encounter that took place at Madaguda in Kandhamal district on July 26 in which a couple were killed in police firing. “Keeping an eye on Independence Day celebration, elaborate security arrangements are being made. All police stations are on high alert,” said SP (Rayagada) K Siva Subramani.