Anti-Maoist operations: Chhattisgarh, IAF to carry out retaliation attacks from air
The IAF has been operating Mi-17s in the Bastar region for several years. The Maoists have been able to hit these helicopters quite often. So far, the state establishment and the IAF had been against air strikes. Adding a new dimension to anti-Maoist operations in Bastar, Chhattisgarh Police and the Indian Air Force (IAF) plan to carry out attacks from air “in retaliation”. The state police and the IAF have already conducted successful exercises in Bastar. Additional DG (anti-Naxal operations) R K Vij told The Indian Express: “Maoists have often fired at Mi-17s (helicopters). We have lost personnel and people, but we have never retaliated. The law has never stopped us from retaliation. We have conducted exercises. Garud commandos of the Indian Air Force practised firing from Mi-17. We are not sitting ducks, we can also attack them. It will help us handle the situation better.”
While the official statement is that the IAF will attack only in retaliation or self-defence, it gives enormous edge to security forces battling the Maoists. IAF officers in Chhattisgarh confirmed the change in strategy. The IAF has been operating Mi-17s in the Bastar region for several years. The Maoists have been able to hit these helicopters quite often. So far, the state establishment and the IAF had been against air strikes. “To counter this situation (Maoist attack on helicopters), senior officers of Chhattisgarh police and IAF held a joint meeting and formulated a strategy. As part of this strategy, exercises were conducted in remote areas of Bijapur,” Vij said. Maoists have large bases in Bijapur as they dominate vast area across this district of southwest Bastar.
“On October 13, three IAF helicopters flew over a specified area of Bijapur and practised strafing. Senior officers of the IAF and anti-Naxal operations of the state police participated in the exercise,” Vij said. Over the last four years, IAF officers in Chhattisgarh have repeatedly told The Indian Express that they would never retaliate with an aerial attack on their “own people”. Last year, the state police sought more helicopters but the government said they could not be used for air attacks.
“No. Not at all. I categorically deny this,” Chief Minister Raman Singh had said when he was asked about the possibility of aerial attacks on Maoists. In 2013, the Maoists fired at a Mi-17 and grounded it in the Chintagufa area, forcing the personnel inside to abandon it and get to safety. It remained in the forests for a few days until it was retrieved by engineers.
Gadchiroli cops bust Naxal arms dump
Nagpur:Gadchiroli police recovered substantial arms and ammunitions from a secret dump in the forest of Tonder near Damrancha in the Jimulgatta subdivision earlier this week in South Gadchiroli. The discovery of the dump is being viewed as a success for foiling a Naxal plan to attack police. The firearms recovered included one bharmar rifle, one country revolver, 15 cartridges of .303 rifles, 30 of SLR and 12 rounds of another local type. Material used for triggering blasts of improvised explosive devises (IED), some Naxal literature, banners and pamphlets were also recovered during the course of action.
It is learnt that police had come to know about the secret dump from a document retrieved during an encounter at Lekhamenda forest in Dhanora tehsil last week. Following the information, an operation was planned under Aheri Additional SP Pranay Ashok which led to the discovery. An offence has been also registered into the case. A section of the police feel that the dump may have been left behind by a small dalam-sized formation which likely to have mostly Area Rakshak Dal or Gram Rakshak Dal as members. Such smaller formations merely play supporting role for the bigger platoons and company. They also effectively engage in planting IED and mines to surprise the security forces during operations.
Agency cops panic as Reds step up presence in Chhattisgarh
VISAKHAPATNAM: The Maoists have reportedly deployed a large number of cadres from Chhattisgarh recently in an attempt to strengthen their rank and file in the Andhra Odisha Border (AOB) areas. According to sources, the abduction of the three TDP tribal leaders from GK Veedhi got the naxals a lot of publicity in the AOB areas, following which the Maoist central committee deployed around three companies (more than 250 cadres) from Dandakaranya in Chhattisgarh. Till about four months ago, the Maoist movement was confined to a few mandals in the Visakha Agency but now their presence is visible in south Odisha, including Malkangiri and Koraput, as well, a senior police officer involved in anti-naxal operations in AOB told TOI.
“They were confined to Korukonda area till the first half of this year, but they are now visible in Pedabayalu, Galikonda and other pockets in the Agency. The kidnapping episode has given them strength and spread terror among the tribals,” the police officer said. Though recruitment to the naxal rank and file is quite minimal, the deployment of forces from Chhattisgarh has added strength to the Maoist movement, he added. “We came to know that they have brought scores of cadres from Chhattisgarh and their operations are been monitored by senior cadre, who are divided into groups and work in various areas in the Agency. Our forces have been conducting combing operations in the area,” Visakha Rural SP Koya Praveen said.
Sources said the Maoists have strengthened their Korukonda and Galikonda area committees, besides the Pedabayalu area committee and the Malkangiri, Koraput and Visakha Border division committee with the help of Chhattisgarh cadres. The rise in the number of Red guerillas has spread panic among security forces, who thought that the movement was on the back foot till a couple of months ago. The cops suspect a major assault by the Maoists and security forces have been carefully conducting combing operations after learning of the ambushes planned by them, sources said.
3 MAOISTS HELD IN SUKMA
A joint team of Special Task Force (STF) and District Reserve Group (DRG) nabbed three ultras in insurgency infested Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, police said on Tuesday. Security personnel engaged in anti-Naxal operation, arrested three cadres from a forest close to village Jaggavaram falling under Bhejji Police Station, said Sukma Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Santosh Singh. The arrested were identified as Kalmu Joga (20), Kalmu Sanna (45) and Sodi Hinga (35), added Singh.
According to him, on the directives of Bastar Ranger IG SRP Kalluri and Superintendent of Police (SP) D Shravan, a joint squad of security personnel was dispatched towards village Palamdagu and Jaggavaram for searching on October 18. While undertaking search operation in Jaggavaram forest, trooper spotted movement of three suspects who bid to flee the spot after witnessing presence of security personnel. After short chase, the trio was nabbed.
Maoist cooling-off base coming up in tri-junction
Intelligence agencies have sent out a warning that a 40-member Maoist group is active in the tri-junction corridor between Kannur and Palakkad. Official sources said the combatants are deployed in three units (Dalams) namely Kabani Dalam, Nadugani Dalam and Bhavani Dalam — each comprising a minimum of 10 persons. The squads also possess modern weapons, brought from their armed bases such as Dantewada or Bastar. “The objective of their operation here is presumed to be for creating a cooling-off base for Maoist top leadership in case of temporary setbacks in their bastions in Central and North India,’’ said a top Intelligence official. Hence, their stated objective of liberating the tribespeople in Western Ghats also forms part of the Maoist party’s national design.
“Wresting the territorial control of the strategically important area, which has equal links to Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karanataka is important for moving the leaders and resources, if necessary,’’ the official added. Earlier, the Kerala Police had received reports about Maoists frequenting the area from the security agencies in the neighbouring States and the fact that tribal residents in several border villages were able to clearly identify some these Maoists have added credence to the reports.
“In addition to a couple of Keralites, majority of these operatives are from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka while there are also a few from the North Indian States,’’ official sources said. Meanwhile, the police have prepared an inventory of the arms possessed by these squads, which include Kalshnikovs, self-loading rifles, shotguns, workshop-grade anti-personnel weapons and wayside bombs, among others. Majority of these ammunitions are presumably procured at least about a decade ago when the Nepal route was alive.
The firing in Attappady was third such incident to be reported from the Kerala part of the tri-junction corridor over the past one year. Last year, Maoists attacked a Kerala Forest Department range office in Attappady and an outpost in Wayanad, following which security forces of the three States intensified combing operations in their respective regions. The objective is to create a base for Maoist top leadership in case of temporary setbacks
Tribal man kidnapped in Odisha
Maoists have kidnapped a tribal member of a Village Watershed Commitee, who was under Maoist threat, from his village in Malkangiri district, the police said on Wednesday. The incident took place on Sunday night when armed ultras abducted one Vima Madhi from Tandipadar village under Mahupadar gram panchayat in Mathili police station jurisdiction. Madhi was an active member of the Village Watershed Committee and his abduction has sparked panic in the area as it came just two days after killing of two other persons.
Vima had been kidnapped on suspicion of being an police informer, Mathili police station inspector-in-charge P K Mallick said. The Maoists on Monday killed two persons from Madakpadar village after abducting them two days ago. With the security personnel conducting operation in the area, the ultras have rertaliated by abducting at least 20 persons from villages under Mathili police station area. The abducted persons were produced in Maoist Praja Court and subjected to physical torture on charge of being police informers, the police said. While three of them have been killed within three months, 17 others were beaten up by the ultras as per the verdict of the Praja Court, the police said. Meanwhile, BSF personnel on Tuesday recovered a landmine planted by Maoists at Ramaguda village forest under Kalimela police station area, police said.
Roopesh produced in court
Maoist leader Roopesh, who was produced before the District Court here on Tuesday in connection with a case registered at Agali in Attappady during January last year, told mediapersons that he would continue to strive for the protection of the Western Ghats from encroachment and exploitation. He said the fight would continue till the environmentally sensitive region and its tribal inhabitants got justice. Roopesh, now housed in Coimbatore Central Jail following his arrest five months ago, was produced before the court in a case of threatening a tribal youth at gunpoint along with 10 others at Cherunallipotti, near Anavay, in Attappady on January 3, 2014.
The court would consider the request for his police custody on Wednesday. Roopesh was sent for medical examination to the district hospital after he told the court that had health problems. The court would consider the medical opinion along with the request for police custody on Wednesday. He was later taken to the Palakkad district jail. The Agali police told the court that police custody of Roopesh was essential as he was accused in 19 cases other than the Cheruallipotti incident. There was tight security in Palakkad. Roopesh was seen shouting slogans against the police for implicating him in “false” cases. He told mediapersons that the police were trying to implicate him in the case related to the mysterious death of one Benny in Agali.