BJP to retain MP, Chhattisgarh, Cong will take Rajasthan: Survey

bjp-congress444New Delhi, Nov 9: The BJP is set to win the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, according to the latest survey released by ABP New-Lokniti CSDS.

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Naxal terror only next to Taliban, Islamic State says US report

naxals-365_1322992412Naxal violence is ranked fourth in the world after the Taliban, Islamic State and the Boko Haram. Following the bloodbath at Chhattisgarh on Monday, the death toll of security personnel since 2004 has shot up to 1,914. Looking at the statistics, it is clear that Naxal violence has claimed more lives of security personnel in India when compared to other attacks in states such as Jammu and Kashmir.

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In naxal hit Chattisgarh, CBI walks a thin line between life and death

  
The report submission by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to the Supreme Court regarding the naxal problem in Chattisgarh says a lot about the problem that officers face while conducting investigations.
The CBI which is probing the naxal attacks in Dantewada told the Supreme Court that it is extremely difficult conducting an investigation in these areas due to the naxal trouble.
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Naxal trouble- Between two sets of guns- Part 2

The Indian government should:

Pic: outlookindia.com

Promptly and transparently investigate alleged abuses against civil society activists, and prosecute those responsible as appropriate. Investigate the role of senior police and administrative officials in the commission of or failure to prevent abuses; take appropriate action against those responsible, including disciplinary measures, such as removal from office, and criminal prosecution.

Instruct police to end the practice of arbitrary detention and strictly implement the D.K. Basu guidelines on arrest and detention issued by the Supreme Court. Initiate disciplinary action against police officers who violate the guidelines.

End the practice of filing politically motivated criminal charges and instruct prosecutors to dismiss criminal charges where the evidence is not sufficient to support the charges.

Instruct national and state officials not to treat critics of the government and civil society activists as Maoist supporters. Instruct officials to stop discrediting rights organizations and activists through unfounded public accusations of complicity with the Maoists, which undermines their work and places them at serious personal risk.

Repeal the colonial-era sedition law used to silence peaceful political dissent in violation of Supreme Court rulings. Drop all pending sedition cases.

The Communist Party of India (Maoists) should:

Make a public commitment to respect international human rights standards, such as the rights to freedom of association and expression, in areas under Maoist control.

End attacks on schools and hospitals.

Cease all reprisals against people who work on government development projects and their family members.

End obstruction of development efforts, since this only harms marginalized and deprived communities.

In recent years the Maoist movement has spread to nine states in central and eastern India. The Maoists have a significant presence in the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, and West Bengal, and a marginal presence in Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

The Maoists assert that they are defending the rights of the marginalized: the poor, the landless, Dalits, and tribal indigenous communities. They call for a revolution, demanding a radical restructuring of the social, political, and economic order. The Maoists believe the only way marginalized communities can win respect for their rights is to overthrow the existing structure by violent attacks on the state.

Various state governments have responded to this challenge by carrying out security operations to defeat the Maoist movement, provide protection for local residents, and restore law and order. The police in these states receive support from central government paramilitary forces. Various state and national forces often conduct joint operations, in part to deny the Maoists sanctuary in other states. Because of the ineffective response by states, in 2009 the central government started to coordinate security operations.

Government Response

In 2006 the Congress Party-led government decided to adopt a two-pronged approach to the renewed rise of the Maoists. First, the government would increase and speed up efforts at economic development and social justice to win local support. Second, it would deploy security forces to counter the Maoists.

The government has deployed thousands of federal paramilitary police, such as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Border Security Force (BSF), to support state police forces. It has resisted calls to deploy the army, although the army has provided training in guerrilla warfare to these forces. In 2008 the government created the Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (COBRA). COBRA consists of 10 battalions (approximately 10,000 troops) of special forces trained and equipped for counterinsurgency and jungle-warfare operations. It operates as part of the CRPF.

In Chhattisgarh, the government in 2005 embarked upon a plan to involve civilians in fighting the Maoists, setting up a group called the Salwa Judum to raid villages believed to be pro-Maoist. The Police Act of 1861 allows states to temporarily employ civilians as Special Police Officers (SPO). In essence, SPOs have the same powers as regular police, but do not receive proper training. The Chhattisgarh government recruited large numbers of SPOs, all of them Salwa Judum supporters, seeking to use their extensive knowledge of the terrain for combat operations.

The Salwa Judum and SPOs were responsible for serious human rights abuses. Security forces often joined Salwa Judum members on village raids, which were designed to identify suspected Maoist sympathizers and evacuate residents from villages believed to be providing support to them. Salwa Judum and SPOs engaged in threats, beatings, arbitrary arrests and detention, killings, and burning of villages to force residents into supporting Salwa Judum and relocating to government camps. They also coerced camp residents, including children, to join in Salwa Judum’s activities, beating and imposing penalties on those who refused. Tens of thousands of villagers were displaced and forced to move into government shelters. Others escaped into the forests in neighboring Andhra Pradesh state.

In July 2011 the Supreme Court in a public interest lawsuit ordered the disbanding of the Salwa Judum on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. It ordered the government to “immediately cease and desist from using SPOs in any manner or form in any activities, directly or indirectly, aimed at controlling, countering, mitigating or otherwise eliminating Maoist/Naxalite activities.”

The Maoists assert that while inequality and lack of development gave rise to their movement, current government efforts are merely a “developmental mask to their fascist repressive measures.” Mining-company-initiated projects accompanied by forcible land acquisition and displacement of villagers, or otherwise perceived as threatening villager well being, have fueled local resentments.  The Maoists’ strategy has been to disrupt state attempts at delivering development by targeting infrastructure such as telecommunications towers and roads.  They also attack police stations, state infrastructure, politicians, and persons they claim are public enemies.

Many observers agree that the Maoist rebellion has drawn attention to the plight of the communities and forced the government to try and improve living and economic conditions. Prior to the Maoist movement, tribal community members say, they had no rights or control over the forest, were forced to sell their produce to contractors at low rates, and faced abuse or extortion at the hands of money-lenders, contractors, and those few low-level government officials who did bother to venture into forest areas.

Human Rights Abuses in the Conflict

Villagers are caught between Maoists and the security forces, both of whom demand loyalty and information. Both claim to be acting to protect the local population, but both often take harsh measures against villagers as retribution for what they see as villager  support for the other side or inadequate support for their side.

In its submission for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council, the government said that 464 civilians and 142 security forces were killed by Maoists in 2011, and most of the victims belonged “to poor and marginalized sections of society.” According to data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management, nearly 1,200 people, half of them civilians, were killed in 2010, while around 1,000, including 391 civilians, were killed in 2009. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, over 3,000 people have been killed in the conflict since 2008.

The government’s security response to the Maoists has resulted in serious human rights violations. Villagers, mostly from tribal communities, have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, tortured, and extra judicially executed. In Chhattisgarh, the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA) has filed 522 complaints of abuses by government forces, including murder, rape, beatings, and arson.

Local jails are packed beyond capacity as hundreds have been arbitrarily arrested. At least 600 people, most of them tribal villagers, are in jail in Orissa, accused of being Maoists. In May 2011 the Orissa High Court ordered compensation in the cases of Gangula Tadingi and Ratunu Sirika, who died in custody, finding that the prisoners did not receive proper medical treatment.

Unable to locate Naxalite fighters who hide in the forests and ambush soldiers on patrol, security forces have retaliated against civilians suspected of being Maoist supporters. In some cases, government security forces have burned down huts and beaten villagers in retaliation for Maoist ambushes. An inquiry was ordered by the Chhattisgarh government after allegations that security forces had attacked the villages of Tadmetla, Morpalli, and Timmapuram on March 16, 2011, burning down huts and raping and killing villagers. Activists condemned the killing of 20 people in Chhattisgarh in June 2012. Security forces had initially claimed to have killed Maoists, but after it emerged that a number of those killed were innocent villagers, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said, “If any innocent person has been killed, I am deeply sorry.” An inquiry has been ordered and the National Human Rights Commission has called for a detailed report.

In remote forest areas in central and eastern India, Maoists have also committed serious abuses, such as targeted killings of police, political figures, and landlords deemed deserving of punishment.

In some case individuals are brought before a jan adalat, or people’s court, where the Maoists conduct public trials to punish enemies or “offenders.” Wealthy landowners are brought before a jan adalat and asked to hand over a portion of their assets for the poor. Those who refuse are beaten after the conveners of the jan adalat have sought and received the approval of the gathering. Suspected informers are beheaded or shot, sometimes after they are sentenced in a jan adalat. These courts, which are of course illegal as a matter of domestic law, fail all international standards of independence, impartiality, competence of judges, the presumption of innocence, and access to defense.

The Maoists have acted with extreme brutality. In October 2009 they abducted and killed police official Francis Induwar in Jharkhand, leaving his decapitated body on the national highway. In Gadchiroli in Maharashtra state at around the same time, after 18 police officers were killed in a Maoist ambush, the Maoists beheaded suspected police informer Suresh Alami.  In November 2010 Maoists left a warning poster after chopping off the arms and legs of a man allegedly found to be an informer by a jan adalat in Jharkand’s Giridh district. In March 2012 Maoists abducted two Italian tourists and an Orissa legislator, demanding release of their supporters as ransom. In April 2012 Maoists abducted Alex Pal Menon, the district administrator of Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, and demanded a halt in security operations.

The Maoists often oppose government development efforts and target individuals implementing such schemes as alleged government agents. In Orissa, according to state police, at least six contractors have been killed for implementing infrastructure projects since 2010.

The Maoists have also been responsible for extortion and demanding shelter and intelligence information from civilians, placing them at risk. They have attacked schools and health facilities, directly targeting and blowing up government buildings. The Maoists claim that they only attack structures being used by government forces, but Human Rights Watch research shows that they also target structures not being used or occupied by security forces.

The Maoists routinely recruit children between the ages of 6-12 for combat operations through children’s associations called bal sangams, in which children are indoctrinated with Maoist ideology, used as informers, and trained to fight with non-lethal weapons (such as sticks). The children, once they join armed units, are not permitted to leave and in the case of noncompliance face severe reprisals, such as the targeted killing of their family members.

The Maoists obtain firearms and other weaponry and ammunition by looting police armories and making purchases on the illegal market. They also make and use explosive devices

Government security forces and Maoists rebels engaged in armed conflict seem to have one thing that unites them: a dislike for local activists who criticize their policies or practices. Both have acted against members of civil society, harming individuals working for the public good, and perpetuating a pervasive climate of fear.

Activists, by the very nature of their work, need to travel to remote areas where they might come upon Maoists and work out practical arrangements. They also routinely engage with various government officials to ensure effective implementation of development policies. Both sides nonetheless respond to these realities by accusing activists of acting as informers or being secret members of the other side. Himanshu Kumar of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA), an NGO that works on tribal welfare, described the situation in a 2009 interview:

The Naxalites were cautious of us, it was never a complete “go ahead” from their side. They would stop us at times, but the people for whom we worked were in complete support, they liked us. The Naxalites would accuse VCA of being with the government, saying, “VCA is implementing government programs here, we don’t want them here.” But our tribal activists would speak for us. “This is for our children, you can’t stop them.” And the Naxalites had to compromise. Lastly they said, “VCA doesn’t have political ambition, so we won’t disturb them.” The government says that VCA is pro-Naxal. Government officials had taken to corruption a long time back, and we intervened. The schools were non-existent even before the Naxalites came into the picture, so the government has always been unhappy with us. So they call us “Naxalites.”

Also Read: Part 1

Mobile towers and naxals-what is the connection?

Nearly 250 mobile towers have been destroyed by the naxalites in the past one and half years. An incident occurred at the Baragada area in Ganjam district of Odisha where Naxals blew up three mobile towers.
It has been noticed that mobile towers are becoming the prime target of naxalites in the past couple of years and there is a reason why they seem to be doing this.
The incidents in the past have shown that naxals have been using various methods to destroy mobile towers. Either they have blown up the towers with the help of explosives or have set them ablaze.
Mobile towers are probably one of the most used devices to track movements of naxals. An official involved in anti naxal operations says that the signals that have been emitted by the mobile towers help in locating the naxals. These naxals use mobile technology extensively and when they make calls or communicate with mobiles, it picks up the location. This is one of the major reasons as to why they have been targeting these towers.
Anti naxal forces initially relied heavily on the inputs from locals. However it was noticed that the naxals had more sympathizers and the information that had been coming out from these locals was not up to the mark. However what the forces found was that the use of mobile communication helped them zero in on the likes of Kishenji. In this context the government even started to set up nearly 500 towers in naxal affected areas such as Odisha, Maharashtra, Bihar and Chhattisgarh which helped them track the naxal movement to a large extent.

Destruction of a mobile tower also meant that the forces were unable to communicate with ease thus leading to disruption of operations. Although the forces have alternative methods of communication, destroying a tower meant slowing down of operations which in turn helped naxals change their location and move with ease. Further the naxals also found that it had become difficult for the forces to seek reinforcement during an operation in the absence of a mobile tower.

The destruction of mobile towers is also aimed at cutting off the sources that the security forces rely on. Security forces have deployed several informers in naxal affected areas and it has been noticed that a lot of information is being passed on through the mobile phone by these informers. Prior to any major attack, it has been noticed that mobile towers have been destroyed and this has often helped them carry out successful operations due to the absence of proper communication.

Naxals do realize the strategy that is being adopted by the security forces and have started to target more towers over the years. In the year 2007 only six towers were targeted and that was at a time when the security forces were relying more on human intelligence. However today as per the Home Ministry at least 4 towers on an average per month are being destroyed by the naxals. Mobile towers have been targeted the highest in the areas of Bihar and Chhattisgarh where the operations are at the highest. In the year 2008, 37 towers were destroyed while in the year 2009 the number was 66 while in the year 2010 the number went up to 70. In the year 2011 the estimate is at around 70 towers.

The union government is aware of this problem and has directed the BSNL to work on a mammoth project to set up mobile towers in as many numbers as possible. In the first phase the government would be setting up 550 mobile towers and in the years to come would increase the number of towers. Security forces say that in the absence of any sort of help from the village folk, it is the mobile towers which would help carry out their operations.

No takers for Kishenji in Karimnagar

Photo courtesy: http://naxalwar.files.wordpress.com

The reported death of Kishenji alias Mallojula Koteshwar Rao has not created any ripples in his home town of Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh. There had been a lot of talk that he was sympathetic towards the Telangana movement and reports from the intelligence bureau had trickled in that the naxalites were trying to enter into this movement.
The people of Telangana are however keeping their distance from this man. It was alright as long as they were raising their voice for the farmers. However we decided to stay away from him once they decided to give preference to the bullet over the ballot.
Kishenji was born in Pedapalli village of Karimnagar district and he got attracted to the movement looking at the plight of the farmers.
A science graduate he started off with the Peoples’ War Group in Andhra Pradesh before moving to Chattisgargh, Maharashtra and then West Bengal.
Initially when he joined the naxal movement in AP as a student he had a lot of sympathy in the region. The people of his district today say that it was because of the naxal movement they were able to raise their voice against the Zamindar system. His influence on the social change is something that drove the Telangana movement in the first place.
However over the years a hatred started to build up when the likes of Kishenji took up arms and chose the bullet. In the bargain the people started to get crushed by the police. This brought about anger aming the people as a result of which they were not ready to even provide shelter to the naxals.
Gaddar a famous Telangana leader who has been associated with the Telangana movement said today that it was a loss. However there have been reports of a rift as Gaddar chose a politcal party to fight the Telangana battle. This was not acceptable to the naxals.
However the people of Telangana are not speaking much about the death of Kishenji. The government tried to give a wrong colour to the movement by stating that the naxals were involved. Hence they feel it would be better to stay away from the recent incident.