Police, Maoists exchange fire in Silent Valley forests
The Home Department on Saturday said a team of police officials from Attappady and a five-member gang of suspected Maoists exchanged fire deep in the forests bordering the Kadukumanna tribal hamlet in the Silent Valley forests, about 15 km from Mukkali. Palakkad District Police Superintendent N. Vijayakumar said the exchange of fire took place between 10.30 and 11.30 a.m. and it appeared that the Maoists fired first to stall the police party and escape from the area. Agali Circle Inspector K.J. Devasya and Sub-Inspector Boban Mathew led a team of 30 officials for the combing operation following information that Maoists were camping in the Silent Valley forests bordering Attappady.
The team included the Thunderbolt police wing formed exclusively to deal with Maoists. None of the police officers involved in the operation was injured in the incident. Though the police said that they were not able to arrest any Maoist, they claimed that two of the Maoists sustained injuries in the exchange of fire. The police recovered three bags containing Maoist pamphlets from the area. Additional forces reached Mukkali by afternoon to intensify the combing operations. Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said in Thiruvananthapuram that the gang fired at the police who went to the forest region following secret information. Eleven months ago, a forest range office was vandalised and a department jeep gutted in an alleged Maoist attack at Mukkali in the buffer zone of the Silent Valley National Park.
Naxals kill police warden
NAGPUR: Naxals shot dead a police warden at Ghotpadi village in Bhamragarh tehsil in the wee hours of Saturday. The rebels eliminated Pindu Pungati suspecting him to be a Special Police Officer (SPO). It is learnt, a group of Naxals dragged Pungati out of his residence before firing a shot in his head from close quarters. Last week, Naxals had killed SPO Shankar Wadde at Mallumpodur village in Bhamragarh tehsil. A police warden gets an honorarium of Rs500 from the government.
The SPOs, who are prime targets of Naxals, are paid Rs3,000 for their services. Pungati came on Naxal’s radar after his honorarium was increased to Rs3,000 for participating in developmental works under government schemes. Naxals confronted Pungati over the hike in his honorarium before killing him.
Security stepped up on TN-Kerala border after Agali attack
Follows reports of attacks by Maoists on police and counter attacks at Agali in Kerala. Security was strengthened along the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border in Coimbatore and The Nilgiris districts on Saturday afternoon, following reports of attacks by Maoists on police and counter attacks at Agali in Kerala. “More than 600 police personnel have been deployed to check Maoist intrusion,” Inspector-General of Police (IG) for West Zone K. Shankar told The Hindu . Personnel from the Police Department, Armed Reserve force, Tamil Nadu Special Police force and home guards have been involved in intensive vehicle checking at check-posts and other roads connecting the two States.
Combing operation is being carried out by five Naxal Special Division (NSD) teams — two in Coimbatore and three in The Nilgiris Districts — by the police and Forest Department personnel. Focus is on strengthening security in villages and the border areas close to Thudiyalur and Pillur Dam police stations in Northern Coimbatore district and the Manjur police station in South Western part of The Nilgiris, which are close to Agali. Mr. Shankar said that armed security at police stations in Tamil Nadu — close to Kerala — was stepped up since Maoists launched an attack on the Forest Department office in Palakkad in December last year.
Jobless weavers see ray of hope in Reds
Obra (Aurangabad): In this agro-based district where unemployment forces the youth to migrate, thousands of skilled weavers trained by the Centre are facing penury as the government and netas seem to have lost interest in them. Unable to cope with poverty, many of them have also taken to Left-wing extremism by joining hands with Maoist rebels who have a sizeable presence in the district, Incidentally, Aurangabad has the distinction of giving Bihar its first deputy chief minister-cum-finance minister Anugraha Narain Sinha.
As Obra and five other assembly constituencies of Aurangabad district are set to go to polls in the second phase on October 16, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar visited the Mehfilen Kaleen Prathmik Bunkar Sahyog Samiti Limited centre, some 10 km from Aurangabad, and promised to revive it. Weavers, however, realise the futility of the poll rhetoric. “We have been crying hoarse before the government to pay attention to the plight of carpet weavers, but to no avail,” said Raj Nandan Prasad, manager-cum-secretary of carpet weavers’ society.
Prasad gets a meagre Rs 4,000 per month and finds it difficult to make ends meet. “Though my son has received training in weaving, I will send him somewhere in Surat or UP where he will have better prospects,” he said. Established in 1986, this carpet weaving centre used to be a beehive of activity with hundreds of weavers, cutting across caste and community, working there and also in surrounding villages. “Our products were also in demand in the export market,” said Anirudh Prasad, a weaver from Kuraipur village.
What, however, changed the scenario was the advent of synthetic carpets in the mid-90s. “While we used to sell carpets for Rs 300 per square feet and best ones between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000, the synthetic ones were available in the market for as cheap as Rs 100 per square feet. Gradually demand for our carpets nosedived and that was the beginning of the end of the weavers here,” said the manager. It all started three decades ago when Md Ali Mian, a local carpet weaver, received the National Award and drew the attention of the then Union textile ministry for setting up a centre here. In 1986, a cooperative was formed and villagers were trained in weaving under Training Rural Youth for Self-Employment (TRYSEM) scheme of the centre.
“Those days we used to get bulk orders from Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh, also known as the carpet city,” recollected Rajnandan. Dhurries or rugs were also made here. “If the government wants, it can also give us huge orders for supplying these rugs to government schools where children are made to sit on the floor,” said Manoj Paswaan, another weaver. Left with only 30 looms and equal number of workers at the centre who are paid Rs 175 per day for nine hours of work, the weavers have lost interest in the election process. “Except the chief minister, none of the candidates have bothered to visit us yet. We are yet to decide, but we will certainly not support any of the parties as they have allowed us to die pre mature death,” a weaver said with finality in his voice.
CoBRA commandos thrash woman sarpanch
CRPF DIG denies attack, says troops only searched her house.
Some commandos of the Central Reserve Police Force’s elite Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) allegedly thrashed the woman sarpanch and other villagers of Chintagufa in Sukma district of the Bastar region on Thursday. “My mother Pudiyami Muiye and some other villagers were attacked by the CoBRA men on Thursday. My mother suffered grievous injuries and she is not even able to move now,” Pudiyami Kosa, son of the sarpanch, Ms. Pudiyami Muiye, told The Hindu on the phone.
A team of journalists visited the village on Friday. According to Saleem Sheikh, a journalist based in Sukma who led the team, many villagers claimed that they were attacked by the “force.” “They [the villagers] had gathered near the police camp to protest against the incident when we reached there. Six other villagers have suffered injuries. Most of the villagers had fled the area after the attack on Thursday and returned on ,” said Mr. Sheikh. According to Mr. Pudiyami Kosa, his mother was attacked when she was alone at her home. “They accused her of being a Maoist supporter and thrashed her,” he said. Mr. Sheikh said some personnel from the district police force tried to stop the CoBRA men when they were beating up the sarpanch.
The CRPF, however, refuted the villagers’ allegations. “I spoke to the company commander of CoBRA and the SHO [Station House Officer] in Chintagufa. They denied any beating happened,” said Dinesh Pratap Upadhyay, Deputy Inspector-General of the CRPF, Dantewada range.
CENTRE, STATES TO HOLD ANTI-MAOIST MEET ON NOV 3
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is chalking out a strong strategy to deal with the Maoist menace, and the State Governments will be roped in to formulate a move on multipronged anti-Maoist efforts. According to MHA sources, there are 35 districts in the country which are “Most affected by Maoist menace”. There are two such districts in Odisha, Malkangiri and Koraput. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has convened the meeting of the Chief Ministers of the seven Maoist-affected States, including Odisha on November 3 at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. Home Ministers, Chief Secretaries and DGPs of the States will also attend the meeting. Besides, this time, District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of the 35 districts will also attend the meeting.
The MHA has received inputs from various States that Leftwing Extremist (LWE) incidents and resultant deaths in the country has gone down during 2015 compared to the corresponding period of last year. However, the situation in the 35 “Most-affected” districts needs careful handling and close monitoring in togetherness between the Union Government and the State Governments, feels Singh. The situation needs a “Multipronged strategy” covering security-related interventions, development initiatives, ensuring rights and entitlements of the forest dwellers and management of public perception, said a senior official. The Maoist menace in Odisha is on the wane; however, the ultras are targeting civilians, By September 14, as many as 14 civilians have been killed in 48 violent incidents.
Koraput and Malkangiri districts are facing the menace in a big way. The Malkangiri police were able to arrest at least 29 Maoist cadres. Large numbers of Maoist sympathisers are surrendering to the Malkangiri police. Maoists are trying hard to have their presence in Narayanpatna of Koraput district, but active district police forces and a large presence of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are halting their move, said sources.
Two tiffin bombs found in Odisha
Security forces on Friday recovered two powerful tiffin bombs from Maoist-hit Adava area in Gajapati district of Odisha, police said. “The explosives, suspected to have been planted by Maoists, were recovered from Kattama-Baliganda route under Adava police station limit during joint combing operation by CRPF, district voluntary force (DVF) and local police,” Superintendent of Police, Gajapati, Satyajit Nayak said. During the combing operation, the security personnel found two tiffins containing Improvised Explosive Device (IED), weighing around 47 kg each, he said.