Kasargod: Increased naxal action – police on high alert in five districts
Kasargod, Dec 21: Intelligence department has sounded the police that naxals have been making efforts to re-assert their presence in some districts of Kerala. Based on this information, the policemen are on high alert in five districts including Kasargod about naxal activities. The police have been told to be extremely vigilant in Wayanad, Palakkad, Kozhikode, Kasargod and Kannur districts.
There are chances of flash strikes by naxals and as such, there is a need to be on high alert in the areas adjoining northern forest areas, the intelligence reports have warned. Because of perceived threats of naxal attacks, Thunder Bolt team which is specialized in handling naxal menace, is being deployed in the border areas where chances of naxal attack are predicted.
Police brace for a renewed Maoist activity
They have identified four persons, including two women, “responsible” for the firebombing of a forest outpost in Wayanad. The State police view the attack on a shuttered forest outpost in Wayanad last week as the harbinger of a season of resurgent armed Maoist activity in forested regions of north Kerala. They have identified four persons, including two women, “responsible” for the firebombing of the vacant station. No one has been arrested so far. The provocateurs were part of a 20-member group of armed irregulars currently bivouacking in the area.
They claimed allegiance to the so-called Kabani Dalam of the Western Ghats special zonal committee of the CPI(Maoist). Following the arrest of its leader Roopesh in May, the group has engaged police commandos at least three times in Wayanad. The last such fire-fight was on December 7 in the vicinity of the outpost. Investigators said their inventory of arms possibly included at least one AK-47 assault rifle and a few country-made muzzle loaders. They had based their deductions on the few expended cartridges and projectiles collected from the spot. The group could also have stockpiled workshop-grade anti-personnel weapons such as crude landmines or remotely triggered pipe bombs.
Police commandos routinely used landmine detectors during armed patrols in the area and most operations were at night. The police believe the political reason for the largely symbolic vandalising of the forest station was to discourage eco-tourism, the economic lifeline for the largely forested and least populated district in Kerala.
Seeking to notify armed presence
The Maoists wanted to notify their armed presence in the area to keep the usual arms of the State, including forest, police and excise officials, at bay. They have also threatened to target government officials, resort owners and granite miners who operated against their will in the region. Money-lenders were also high on their list of enemies. A senior official said the situation was grave. Forest patrols have nearly come to a halt. Law enforcers were loath to foray into the “Maoist dominated” forests. The police suspect that Maoists were increasingly resorting to theatrical direct action to degrade its response.
Anti-Maoist Operations In Chhattisgarh: Successes And Claims Of Successes – Analysis
Conforming to the speculations that New Delhi under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government would adopt a hardline approach against left-wing extremism, a two month-long operation is underway in worst affected Chhattisgarh to dislodge the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres from their strongholds in south Bastar’s Bijapur and Sukma districts. A critical objective of the operations is to neutralise senior Maoist functionaries with the belief that if successful, the leaderless movement would collapse in quick time.
This formula has been adopted in the past with questionable success. There are two notable features of the present operations. Firstly, there are enough indications that the current operation is driven by a strategy inked in Delhi. A visit by the National Security Adviser AK Doval and the Special Security advisor (internal security) K Vijay Kumar in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to Chhattisgarh in October 2015 started the initiative. Secondly, to an extent, the current operations are somewhat comparable to Operation Green Hunt in 2010, which had amassed a huge number of forces with the intention of bulldozing the extremist movement to nothingness.
This time, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has deployed 11 battalions of its forces in Sukma and another eight battalions in Bijapur. As a result, nearly 25000 security force personnel including the state police forces are currently operating in the two districts. According to the Chhattisgarh police, three new developments make the current operation different from the past. Firstly, there is an increase in the level of coordination between the central forces and the state police. Secondly, the coordination and exchange of intelligence with neighbouring states have improved. And lastly, the state police establishment has been able to effect an optimum utilisation of the District Reserve Guard (DRG) consisting predominantly of the Koya tribals.
In June and July around 500 Chhattisgarh police mostly from Sukma and Dantewada districts underwent a 45-day counter-insurgency training course in Assam with an eye on the operations. This has allowed the police to carry out operations even during the lean monsoon season. Among the major ‘successes’ claimed by the police is the killing of 10 Maoists, including five “commanders” in Sukma and Bijapur districts in November. In the first week of December, the police further claimed that 26 Maoists including seven hardcore cadres have surrendered in Sukma district. The CPI-Maoist, on the other hand, questioned the claims. With particular reference to the surrender of 26 Maoists, the outfit claimed that villagers unconnected to the outfit have been shown as surrendered by the police.
Independent media investigations have supported the Maoist claim. At least three persons termed as Maoists by the police have been found to be petty criminals who had declared themselves as Maoists under police pressure. On most occasions, the intense conflict situation makes verifying such claims and counter-claims difficult. However, fake surrenders have precedence in the state. Along with the ‘successes’, excesses and human rights violations by the security forces have also been reported. Large scale violence by a section among the two companies of security forces who carried out operations in five villages of Bijapur district between 19 and 24 October, included rape of a pregnant women and a teen; looting of money, livestock, and food items; ransacking of houses; and intimidation of the villagers. An investigation being conducted by the police department has not led to any arrest so far. The state’s reputation of failing to prosecute similar culprits in the past has indeed reinforced a culture of impunity among the security forces in these remote regions.
For analysts, the level of motivation among the Maoist cadres and future strategies of the outfit have mostly remained subjects of speculation. While the state for known reasons underlines a deep state of desperation among the Maoists leading to frequent desertions, a rare media interview of Papa Rao, a senior Maoist leader and one of the planners of the 2010 Chintalnar attack on the CRPF that had claimed the lives of 76 personnel, revealed a different picture. Papa Rao, while acknowledging the temporary state of weakness in the outfit, dismissed the possibility of a peace process with the government and underlined the commitment of the outfit to a protracted war against the state. “Violence will the forbearer of peace,” he claimed.
Red presence deters Sunabeda from activating VHF towers
BHUBANESWAR: The Sunabeda wildlife sanctuary authorities are worried about activating very high frequency (VHF) towers for communication in the forest, which has turned into a Maoist hotbed. The authorities apprehend that once they activate the towers, Maoists will misuse them as they also use walky-talkie sets. In 2009, Maoists had destroyed the towers. Once the communication network is restored, the Left-wing extremists might use it to their advantage, official sources said. In an effort to restore the communication network for better coordination among the wildlife field staff in the sanctuary spread over 600 sq km area, the wildlife department recently made five towers functional.
Three of them are located deep in the forest and two on the fringes. These towers will help the offices of three ranges and the division office to communicate freely. “There are a total of 11 towers in the sanctuary. But just five are functional now. We are not activating the remaining six for fear of Maoists. There have been instances in the past of rebels snatching walky-talkie sets from the field staff. Only after the towers are activated can walky-talkie sets get signals,” said divisional forest officer (Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary) Viswanath Neelannavar.