Police take three activists in custody for election boycott call
THRISSUR: Police took into custody three activists of pro-Naxallite group ‘Porattam’ from Thrissur on Tuesday for possessing brochures and posters appealing to boycott of the ensuing Assembly elections in Kerala. The detained activists are Ajithan, Dileep and Sabu. The police said they were taking legal opinions on whether they can be arrested under Representation of the People Act or other legal provisions. They were arrested when they were distributing brochures in the Jai Hind Market area in the city.
The brochures they were carrying contained write-ups against the prevailing democratic structure in the country. Intelligence agencies and police are questioning them. Experts are being consulted whether they can be charged for engaging in anti-national activities. Strong action will be taken if they were found to have acted against the national interest,” K K Biju, CI of Town East station said.
However legal experts said it was illegal to arrest somebody for campaigning for boycott of election. Police cannot arrest them under Representation of the People Act, just because they have campaigned for boycotting election unless they had engaged in any other illegal activities,” said Kaleeswaram Raj, noted advocate and civil liberties activist.
P A Pouran, advocate and state secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), condemned the arrest of three social activists, and said democracy also gives the right to campaign for not to vote, just like appealing for votes. Indian Election Commission has now introduced even NOTA provision in the ballot paper, and it is a shame that people are being arrested for boycott call, Pouran said.
Supreme Court grants bail to top ‘Maoist’ Angela Sontakke
The Supreme Court Wednesday granted bail to an alleged top Maoist Angela Sontakke, who was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad in April 2011. A SC Bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Prafulla Pant passed an order in this regard Wednesday. Angela was alleged to be the secretary of the Golden Corridor Committee of the banned CPI-Maoist. According to the ATS, this Golden Corridor Committee aimed at spreading the Maoist ideology of armed struggle against the government and recruit new members for the banned outfit from the urban areas of Gujarat and Maharashtra, including cities like Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Surat, Ahmedabad.
Angela was allegedly operating from a house in Paud area in Pune district. She is lodged in the Byculla Women’s Prison in Mumbai for the last five years. Angela was also named as accused in cases related to Maoism in Nagpur and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. “Angela was booked in as many as 18 cases. She was acquitted in 14 cases, discharged in two and granted bail in one case. In this UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) case registered by ATS, she is in jail for last five years and the trial has not started. The SC has granted bail to her in this 18th case now,” said Angela’s lawyer Gautam Bhatia, while speaking to The Indian Express.
The ATS had arrested Angela from Thane in April 2011 along with six others including Sushma Ramteke, Anuradha Sonule, Mayuri Bhagat, all three from Chandraput, Jyoti Chorge of Pune, Siddhartha Bhosale and Deepak Dhengle also from Pune and active members of city based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM). All were booked under the stringent UAPA. Then, ATS also booked eight more persons in this case including Angela’s husband and top Maoist Milind Teltumbde, a girl named Jyoti and KKM artists – Sheetal Sathe, her husband Sachin Mali, Ramesh Gaychor, Sagar Gorkhe, Prashant Kamble and Santosh Shelar.
ATS alleged that Angela and Milind allegedly indoctrinated the KKM artists and other city youths towards Maoist ideology. Investigators even say that suspects Shelar and Kamble of KKM have joined the armed cadres of Maoists in jungles. Around March 23, 2012, on the occasion of Shahid Din (death anniversary of freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev), posters were allegedly put by CPI-Maoist operatives at strategic locations in Pune city, demanding unconditional release of “political prisoners” including Angela.
Meanwhile, in January 2013, the Bombay High Court granted bail to the six suspects arrested with Angela, including Dhengle and Bhosle of KKM. The HC order stated that suspects could be “sympathizers of Maoist philosophy” but “none can be said to be active members of banned Communist Party of India (Maoist)” Meanwhile, after remaining underground for over a year, suspects Sheetal and Sachin surrendered on April 2, 2013, by staging “Satyagraha” in front of Mantralaya in Mumbai, in the presence of senior Dalit leaders like Prakash and communist leader Bhalchandra Kango. After a few days Ramesh and Sagar of KKM surrendered similarly. Sheetal was granted bail as she was pregnant.
Meanwhile, the ATS submitted charge sheet before the court alleging that these four KKM members including Sheetal had participated in arms training with about 150 naxals in jungle areas of Gadchiroli between November 2011 and April 2012, while they were on the run. ATS recorded statements of three surrendered naxals who reportedly identified the KKM artists as active members of CPI-Maoists. Apparently, the HC rejected the bail pleas of Sachin, Sagar and Ramesh. Their bail application is likely to come up for hearing in SC in July this year. Meanwhile, Sheetal separated from KKM. She rejected all allegations saying these surrendered naxals are “paid witnesses” who can name anyone at the instructions of police.
Naxal nabbed by police
Police today nabbed a Maoist after a brief exchange of fire while two of his accomplices managed to escape at Muppalaveni village in the district.
The incident occurred at around 9 PM when the police were searching vehicles in Eturunagaram mandal when they spotted three persons travelling on a motorcycle.
“When police asked for their identity, one of them opened fire at police which was promptly retaliated,” said Warangal superintendent of police (Rural) Ambar Kishore Jha. He said the trio fled from the spot, but were given chase by police who nabbed one of them. The ultra is identified as Madhu, a Maoist Dalam Commander, while his two aides managed to escape. Police have seized two firearms from Madhu, Jha said, adding that combing operations are underway to trace other naxals.
Naxals set conveyor belt on fire at NMDC unit in Chhattisgarh
Heavily-armed Naxalites on Wednesday morning raided the premises of National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) in Chhattisgarh’s restive Dantewada district and set the conveyor belt on fire. The incident will, however, have least impact on the NMDC business as Naxalites are observing a two-day strike, starting today. During the strike, railways suspend the service after dusk, affecting the transportation of iron ore.
A senior police official in Dantewada, MZ Baig said a group of heavily-armed Naxalites raided the Bacheli complex of NMDC at around 12.30 am. After the blast, the rebels set the conveyor belt on fire. The incident took place in the forested hills between iron ore deposits number 11 and 5. A portion of the belt, which was one of the two in operation in the complex, was severely damaged.
The country’s largest iron-ore exporter and producer has been operating two fully-mechanized mines in the Kirandul and Bacheli complexes. Both the complexes have a production capacity of about 31 million tonne per annum — a major chunk of the company’s total iron-ore output. While the Naxal raid has unleashed a realm of terror, the development will not impact the company’s business. A company official in Bacheli said it will take two-three days to repair the belt. The NMDC has been evacuating iron-ore through rail route to Vizag.
“Since the train service has been disrupted, the NMDC had scaled down the loading and hence it would not require much stock at the yard,” the official said. The conveyor belt damaged was used for carrying iron-ore from the mine to the yard. On normal days, about two dozen goods trains ply the route, which will be confined to 10 to 12 during the Naxal strike.
Security tightened on Day 2 of Red bandh
Ranchi: The last day of the Maoist bandh in four states went without violence. But the impact of the bandh was felt in rural areas as people preferred to stay at home despite tight security. Security was stepped up in important locations and across highways, which are vulnerable to Maoists attacks – in the past, Maoists had torched vehicles on highways for defying bandh. “Highways remain mostly deserted. In some pockets which are considered vulnerable buses did not ply,” police spokesperson S N Pradhan said.
The vigil along railway tracks passing through forested areas was increased. Police found an IED (improvised explosive device) near a railway track in West Singhbhum district on Monday. The bandh, however, had little impact on cities. In Giridih, all modes of transport, including long distance buses and other vehicles on the highways, remained as usual across the region.
“Although, no untoward incident was reported. Adequate forces were deployed at most of the Naxal infested areas. Apart from other suspected locations in Pirtand, Dumri, Nimiyghat, Tisri, Deori, Bagodar and others, securities were tightened across the main roads, railway stations and a few other locations,” said Giridih SP A B Variar.
Three consecutive encounters between the security forces and the Maoists were witnessed during an anti – Naxal operations, which started 24 hour ahead of the Maoists band call on May 1 and ended yesterday morning. The Maoists have called the bandh in West Bengal, Odisa, Jharkhand and Bihar in support of a better life of farmers.
Huge haul of explosives in Latehar
LATEHAR: A huge cache of arms and ammunition, kept hidden in a bunker by the extremists, were recovered in a joint search operation from Thori Pundru jungle on the border of Herhunj-Panki in naxal-hit Latehar district today, police said. The explosives were kept hidden in a bunker made of three tanks, Superintendent of Police, Anup Birtheray said.
He said 16 cylinder bombs of 4 kgs each, five pressure cooker bombs, one Insas Rifle, 160 live rounds of cartridge, 194 pieces of gelatin sticks, 25 bundles of codex wire used in explosives, one walkie-talkie, large number of bandoleer, three torches, six helmets, levy collecting receipt book in large quantity, explosive making materials in large quantity and pencil battery among other articles. The SP had authentic information about the explosives stores in the bunkers, which led to a joint search operation by CRPF, jaguar personnel and district police force led by Superintendent of Police (Ops), Manish Bharti and CRPF Commandant Pankaj Kumar.
Police beef up security for Maoist bandh
Tension gripped the interior tribal pockets of Bhadrachalam division ahead of the 48-hour “Dandakaranya bandh” called by the CPI (Maoist) against the third phase of Operation Green Hunt on Wednesday and Thursday. The Bhadrachalam sub-division police have beefed up security arrangements at vital installations in the entire division, which shares a volatile border with Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, following the reported digging up of trenches by the rebels in Chintoor mandal in the early hours of Tuesday.
Posters put up
The rebels reportedly put up posters along the inter-State border calling upon people of both “Telugu States” to fight against the alleged “fascist, feudal and pro-imperialist” regimes in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The police have stepped up vigil in the temple town of Bhadrachalam, considered gateway to Dandakaranya region spread in the Bastar division of Chhattisgarh, in view of the Maoists’ call for bandh.
No news on abducted tribal youths
Meanwhile, the whereabouts of two tribal youths reportedly abducted by the Maoists from an interior village along Telangana-Chhattisgarh border a week ago on the suspicion of their alleged nexus with police, remained unknown. Meanwhile in Warangal, a group of armed Maoists fired at a police combing party in thick Eturunagaram forest area late on Tuesday night.
Four Maoists held with arms in Saran
Chhapra: The Special Task Force (STF) constituted by Saran police on Monday arrested four CPI (Maoist) activists from Baarhichak Dihee village under Maker police station in the district. The police also seized arms and explosives from the possession of the arrested Maoists.
Saran SP Pankaj Kumar Raj said acting on a tip-off, the STF team raided the diara area of Baarhichak Dihee village where the Maoists had assembled and arrested them. The arrested rebels have been identified as Anil Sahney, self-styled area commander of the outfit, Ambika Mahto, Dipak Ram and Shambhu Singh.
“The STF team led by Ashok Kumar Singh, ASP, Marhoura seized two rifles, a double barrel gun, a country-made rifle, 205 pieces of cartridges of 7.62 bore SLR with charge clip, two pressure cooker bombs with explosive materials, six pieces of magazine of SLR rifle, 22 pieces of charger, two detonators, handbills asking people not to participate in panchayat election and Rs 2.5 lakh in cash,” the SP said.
Police sources said road and bridge construction companies were on the target of the Maoists.
The same group had attacked the Chhapra-Ara bridge construction site at Chirand in Janaury this year.
CPI (Maoist) election boycott posters pasted in 22 panchayats of Muzaffarpur prior to May 6th Assembly elections.
7 Naxals held in Chhattisgarh
Raipur, May 3: Seven Naxals, including two women, were arrested from separate places during joint search operations by security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, police said today. A composite squad of Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF) 230th battalion and district force had yesterday launched a search operation in the interior forests, located around 450 kms away from here, Sukma Additional Superintendent of Police, Santosh Singh said.
While cordoning off Durma-Baddesatti villages, security forces nabbed four suspects who later admitted to their involvement with the outlawed Maoist movement, he added. Podiyam Ayta, Rawa Bheema, Rawa Ayta, all belonging to Dandakarnya Adivasi Kisan Majdoor Sangthan (DAKMS) – a frontal wing of the Maoists, and Rawa Ganga – a militia member, were apprehended, the ASP said. They were allegedly involved in looting polling materials during the last years panchayat elections in Sirsitti village of the region, Singh said. Similarly, three militia members were nabbed by a joint team of CRPF’s elite unit CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) 208th battalion and district force from Dubbakonta village of Chintagufa police station limits. They were identified as Madkam Hurra (35) and two women – Madvi Payke (19) and Madkam Jogi (24), he added.