Maoist presence: Search operations yield zero results
The search operations organised by the special squads of the police and the forest officials to spot the suspected group of The police and the Thunderbolt Commandos deputed to hound out the group of Maoists suspected to have gone into hiding in the eastern hill region could not come up with any trace of evidence confirming the presence of the outlawed group of extremists even on the fourth day of the search.
Still, there has been no laxity on the part of the law enforcement agencies to take precautionary measures to face the looming threat. On the basis of the information provided by the villagers at the Chittari Colony and the residents of of Kanhirakkolli, the police had identified the presence of three hardcore Maoists in the region.
This was done based on the descriptions given by the local people about the strange visitors to the area and the photographs shown to them by the police.
The search team and the Thunderbolt Commandos concentrated their attention on the Aralam forest area on Saturday. The combing operations in the forest supported by the Karnataka cops carried out on Saturday yielded no results. The prevailing apprehension is that the Maoists haven’t abandoned the idea of organising a reprisal to mark the death anniversary of Naxalite leader Varghese. They are suspected to be waiting for an opportune moment to strike.
According to a senior police official, there was no doubt that the Maoists were trying to make an all-out bid to establish a foothold in the tribal belt of the state. Unfortunately for them, the tribal organisations and the leaders of the former Naxalite movement in the state weren’t ready to lend a helping hand. The Maoist intruders whose presence in the state is yet to be established would keep the strategy of lying low for the time being. Meanwhile, the Thunderbolt Commandos, the police and the forest officials continued their search operations at Aralam on Saturday.
Anti-Naxal Operations: Need To Define Ownership Parameters – Analysis
The recent spar between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) provides yet another occasion to raise some questions on what appears to be a recurring trend in the country’s military approach to Naxal conflict. In spite of the prolonged engagement in Naxal theatres, does unity of purpose continue to be a casualty among the security forces? Are basic camaraderie and coordination among the forces, standard rules of the game, conspicuous by their absence? Are the forces fighting the Naxals an unwilling bunch of men in uniform who have been constrained to operate much against their will? Answers are crucial, for these would have a bearing on the future of the conflict.
On January 18, an IAF Mi-17 helicopter, on a rescue mission to evacuate an injured CRPF personnel and the body of another, was forced to make an emergency landing in the densely forested Sukma district of Chhattisgarh after it came under fire from the Naxals. The police wireless operator on board the helicopter was hit by a bullet. What happened afterwards defied logic. The two IAF pilots then abandoned the helicopter and the injured wireless operator and scurried to the safety of a nearby police camp. The injured wireless operator, by the sheer dint of luck, survived till his evacuation four hours later. He is recovering from his injuries, although his “police career” has been described by the attending doctors as “over”.
Both the Chhattisgarh Police and the MHA blamed the pilots for abandoning the injured wireless operator. The IAF chief, however, came out in their defence, seeking not only to downplay the nature of injuries to the police personnel but also expressing satisfaction with the turn of events “which could have easily turned into a hostage situation” had the pilots not decided to run for security cover. The IAF chief’s comments have come for severe criticism. The MHA has called for a probe into the pilots’ conduct.
The army and the air force’s minuscule presence in the Naxal theatre is unenthusiastic, to say the least. While an army brigadier advises the MHA’s Naxal Management Division, the air force flies the helicopters for logistical requirements for the police and Central forces. The Ministry of Defence’s steady opposition has played a spoiler in the MHA’s repeated attempts to expand army’s role in the Naxal conflict. In the first week of February, the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) shot down an MHA plan to revive the proposal of deploying Rashtriya Rifles for static duties in the Naxal-infested areas.
It would appear that the clock has turned full circle for the victims, i.e. the Chhattisgarh Police, in a matter of less than three years. Back in 2010, a neatly organised Naxal ambush wiped out an entire company of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the Dantewada district. It was the biggest-ever attack on the Central forces which undermined the force morale and led, within months, to the near abandonment of Operation Green Hunt. However, responding to a media query regarding how the CRPF could have been targeted so lethally by the Naxals, then Chhattisgarh police chief quipped, “We can’t teach the CRPF to walk.” The CRPF authorities reacted with a volley of accusations against the police before the matter was hushed up by the MHA.
Unlike the army, the Central armed police force personnel have designated roles in the Naxal conflict. While the mandate of supporting the state police forces has been put to good use in some of the states, in many others, the ‘jointness’ suffers from a range of deficiencies—coordination among the forces being the most serious. State police forces, reluctant to lead, depend on the capacities of the
Central forces to deal with the Naxals. Central forces, on the other hand, want to confine themselves to only a supporting role. Even within the police forces, the inclination of the IPS officers is to avoid becoming commanders of fighting battalions. Not long ago, a senior army official had advised the MHA to turn file-pushing desk officers into battalion leaders. In sum, the anti-Naxal military coalition today appears to consist of highly committed as well as equally apathetic forces.
The Naxal situation in the country has undergone some improvements in the past year, raising hopes of its complete resolution. However, for such efforts to succeed on the military front, there must be a ‘coalition of the willing’—responsible and prepared to own up the war efforts.
Gondia cops scan city for suspected Naxal front spreading urban base
A police team from Naxal-affected Gondia district was in Pune on Friday to probe details of an organisation ‘Green Future Foundation’ suspected to be a front for Maoists to spread their ideology and base in urban areas of the state.
The visit of the team was part of the investigations into the activities of a group of suspected Maoists arrested by the Gondia police in December 2010. The arrested included Bhimrao Mandal Bhowate (42) alias Bhanu and his wife Sunanda alias Megha. Police had recovered an identity card of ‘Green Future Foundation’ from Bhimrao, carrying his photograph but the name mentioned on the card was Sharad Nimje.
The identity card mentioned a Pune address and a Nagpur address of the ‘Green Future Foundation’. The Gondia police team on Friday visited both these addresses, Anjali Building, Ekbote Colony, Pune 42, and Ravi Nagar, Nagpur. The team, however, found no organisation by that name operating at these addresses.
The Gondia team led by assistant inspector Prithviraj Ghorpade visited Ekbote Colony on Friday. The team also visited the Charity Commissioner’s office in Pune. But no information about registration or address of this organisation was obtained. Police suspect that Maoists may have used the name ‘Green Future Foundation’ as a front for carrying out their activities in urban areas of Pune and Nagpur.
Maoists are suspected to be operating under different organisations to expand base in urban areas.
The Gondia police had arrested the Bhowate couple along with Gangaram Poretti, Chandramani Walde and Sanjay Banjara of Chhattisgarh in December 2010. Maoist literature was seized from the suspects.
Police considered these arrests an important breakthrough for understanding the alleged urban movements of Maoists. A Mumbai-based writer, Sudhir Dhawale, who published a monthly journal ‘Vidrohi,’ was also arrested in the case. Angela Sontakke, general secretary of the Golden Corridor Committee of CPI (Maoist), which aims at spreading Naxal base in urban areas of the state, was also booked. Angela was arrested by the State ATS from Thane in April 2011.
The Bhowate couple, residing in Amravati, are suspected to have close links with Angela’s husband and top CPI (Maoist) operative Milind Teltumbde, who is absconding.
Meanwhile, Dhawale is suspected to have helped the alleged Maoists spread their base in Pune.
Investigation by the ATS revealed that Dhawale had allegedly introduced Angela alias Sadhana to Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) founder Amarnath Chandaliya of Pune. While Chandaliya claimed to have cut down contacts with alleged Maoists due to differences, it is suspected that Angela and Milind indoctrinated other young KKM artistes and used the organisation as a front for expanding base in Pune.
ATS had arrested six persons along with Angela, including KKM poet Dhawale Dhengle and a Fergusson College student Siddhartha Bhosale, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly spreading Naxal ideology of armed struggle against the government. The Bombay High Court recently granted bail to all the six saying they could be sympathisers of Maoist philosophy, but not active members of the banned CPI (Maoist).
Meanwhile, six KKM members, Sheetal Sathe, Sachin Mali, Ramesh Gaychor, Sagar Gorkhe, Prashant Kamble and Santosh Shelar are still absconding.
As per ATS, Kamble and Shelar from Kasewadi slums in Pune are suspected to have joined the armed Naxalite movement in the jungles.
Maoist threat keeps villagers at bay
NUAPADA: More officials than villagers greeted Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh during his visit to Nuapada district on Saturday. Maoists’ threats and subsequent bandh call given by them kept most villagers at bay even as the minister claimed local people met him in large numbers.
After Jairam’s Barkote visit was cancelled following detection of explosives and landmines there, the minister visited three villages of Saliha, Kodomeri and Kuliabandha in the district amid elaborate security arrangements, where only a few villagers interacted with him.
Sources said two days before Jairam’s visit, Maoists had warned the villagers, village headmen, shop owners, businessmen and transport operators not to join the minister’s meeting. At Saliha, where he met a few villagers while inspecting a farm pond dug under MGNREGS, villagers interacted with him hesitantly even as he persuaded them to speak up.
Similarly in Kuliabandh, the last village where the minister was taken in a procession, there was no involvement of people except a folk dance troupe and a posse of district officials and media persons. The minister himself had to visit the houses of villagers to inquire if they were getting the benefits of various government schemes.
The minister, however, claimed during a press meet that villagers from Maoist-dominated areas came to meet him in large numbers. “Villagers were not scared by Maoists. At least 25 villagers, who introduced themselves as residents of Sunabeda reserve area, met me,” Jairam claimed.
Special forces of the state police were deployed along all the routes taken by the minister. A few CRPF personnel were also seen reviewing the security arrangements. “We were following the standard operation procedure (SOP) in view of Maoist threats. Every place where the minister was to visit was sanitized,” said a CRPF official.
FIR against Pyari for Maoist links
The Odisha Loka Dal on Saturday lodged an FIR at the Capital police station here demanding arrest of Rajya Sabha member and Odisha Jan Morcha chief Pyarimohan Mohapatra under the National Security Act (NSA) for his alleged link with the Maoists.
Odisha Loka Dal president Dipti Ranjan Mohanty alleged that Mohapatra has links with the outlawed CPI(Maoists) and the Odisha Maovadi Party and the arrested Maoist sympathiser Dandapani Mohanty and his son Sangram Mohanty.