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  • Arundhati: 'An independent Kashmiri nation may be a flawed entity, but is independent India perfect?'

    As a section of the political class and the media bays for her blood, author Arundhati Roy tells Shoma Chaudhury why her opinions do not amount to sedition.

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  • Campaign starts to arrest Arundhati Roy for support for Azadi Kashmir

    October 24, 2010 , Pioneer News Service

    Serial sedition: Will Govt act this time?

    Under pressure from the BJP to act against controversial Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy for her latest reiteration of Azadi for Kashmir, as the Congress-led UPA Government continues to weigh legal options, it turns out, social networking sites like the Facebook not only had the instant emergence of ‘Arrest Suzanna Arundhati Roy’ — like petitions no sooner than she made her opinion public a couple of years ago but also dished out the course of action.

    The ‘arrest Roy’ petition on Facebook, addressed to the Government of India and the Prime Minister, demands arrest of the 49-year-old author-turned-political activist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 (amended in 2008).

    “The offences listed under this law include any assertion or statement ‘which is intended, or supports any claim, to bring about, on any ground whatsoever, the cession of a part of the territory of India or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union, or which incites any individual or group of individuals to bring about such cession or secession’,” the petition points out to back its demand.

    Roy’s remarks on Kashmir aren’t new. She has been there and done that on earlier occasions too, only to invite customary rebuttals like “Kashmir is and will remain an integral part of India”.

    But often dubbed by critics as the ‘one-book-claim-to-fame’ author, Roy does seem to have perfected the art of hogging the limelight courting controversies with her opinions perceived by many as “anti-national” and a direct challenge to the law of the land. Be it her espousal of the cause of Kashmir’s azadi or her support to the Maoists; be it her terming as “unconstitutional” the Supreme Court’s death sentence to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru or her assertion that the Mumbai terror attacks were not akin to US’ 9/11 and could not be seen in isolation.

    Not surprising then that pro-Pakistan websites and organisations have more than lapped up Roy’s remarks. In fact, much before her latest statements on Kashmir they had already gone around to highlight her reported assertions about how “Pakistan will win hands down” in case of a referendum in Kashmir in an interview to David Barsamian, her co-author of Checkbook & Cruise Missile: Conversations with Arundhati Roy.

    Her statement to an English daily in 2008, when she visited the troubled State, that “India needs azadi from Kashmir as much as Kashmir needs azadi from India”, too got circulated big time. Roy has been reiterating this assertion ever since.

    “For the past 60 days or so, since about the end of June, the people of Kashmir have been free. Free in the most profound sense. They have shrugged off the terror of living their lives in the gun-sights of half-a-million heavily-armed soldiers in the most densely militarised zone in the world…. …Hadn’t anybody noticed that in Kashmir even minor protests about civic issues like water and electricity inevitably turned into demands for azadi?” Her opinion in an article in an English weekly magazine the same year saw responses ranging from demands for booking her on charges of sedition to praises of being bold enough to speak out her mind.

    But that didn’t deter her from speaking aloud her mind, even on an issue as sensitive as the Mumbai terror attacks. “November isn’t September, 2008 isn’t 2001, Pakistan isn’t Afghanistan and India isn’t America…. The Mumbai attacks are only the most recent of a spate of terrorist attacks on Indian towns and cities this year. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati, Jaipur and Malegaon have all seen serial bomb blasts in which hundreds of ordinary people have been killed and wounded…”

    “In much the same way as it did after the 2001 Parliament attack, the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express and the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express, the Government of India announced that it has “incontrovertible” evidence that the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba backed by Pakistan’s ISI was behind the Mumbai strikes. According to the police and intelligence agencies the Lashkar operates in India through an organisation called the Indian Mujahideen. Two Indian nationals have been arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks. So already the neat accusation against Pakistan is getting a little messy,” she wrote in her piece in UK’s Guardian newspaper.

    If she justified the ‘war’ waged by the Maoists against the corporates wanting to have control over natural resources like minerals, water and forests, she termed the Operation Green Hunt against them as a ‘war’ by the Government to move tribal people to ensure the hundreds of “secret” MoUs the States of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal signed with the corporates translated into real money.

    Her run-in with the Chhattisgarh police establishment too was much publicised. When asked why the State Government did not act against her, Chhattisgarh DGP Vishwaranjan said, “I don’t want to comment on a person who has been discredited across the nation. She had visited Chhattisgarh and went around meeting hardcore Maoists and their sympathisers in Dantewada and other places. She keeps on refuting her statements and we don’t want to give her that much importance.”

    In 2006, Roy, who was jailed for a day for contempt of court in 2002, yet again took on the judiciary. She said the Supreme Court’s ruling that Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru must be hanged ‘to satisfy the collective will of the nation’ though there is no proof of his involvement is in itself “unconstitutional”.

    With the latest controversy surfacing, whether the Government will or can act now remains to be seen.

  • News of Maoist resistance to Operation Green Hunt

    Gulf Times, October 24, 2010

    Patna: Security was tightened across the eastern state of Bihar yesterday after six policemen died in a blast triggered by suspected Maoist rebels, officials said. A hidden mine targeted a police vehicle over a small bridge in Bihar’s Sheohar district.

    The blast came two days after a six-phase, month-long electoral process to choose the state legislative assembly began. The second phase will be held today, and security was increased across the state after the explosion, police said. “Combing operations were intensified,” Bihar’s additional director general of police P K Thakur said. “Security has been tightened to give a sense of confidence among people a day ahead of polls following the Maoist strike.”

    The attack forced the Election Commission to change the poll timing in Sheohar district. Polling will now be held between 7am and 3pminstead of until 5pm.Bihar police chief Neelmani has urged voters not to panic. “I appeal to the voters to exercise their franchise without any fear...security forces will be available for their security and protection. I will request people to come out of their homes and reach polling stations,” Neelmani said. “There is no need to panic...the police will ensure violence-free polls,” he said. Police officials admit the threat of more Maoist violence looms large over the Bihar assembly polls.

    The rebels had declared early this month they would intensify attacks to disrupt the elections.?Maoists violence was also reported from several others parts of the country.

    An Intelligence Branch officer and an NGO worker were reportedly abducted by the Maoists from West Bengal’s Purulia district.

    In Orissa, about 30 Maoists early yesterday blew up warehouse, police said. “The rebels blew up the warehouse at Niliguda village with land mines,” police officer Debashis Mishra said.

    Meanwhile, life continued to remain paralysed in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist stronghold of Bastar region yesterday, the second and final day of shutdown by rebels, as buses did not ply and shops were closed. The shutdown had a strong impact in five districts of Bastar - Dantewada, Bijapur, Bastar, Narayanpur and Kanker as buses are off roads.

    The rebels called the two-day shutdown to oppose a crackdown launched this month.  Even the only passenger train that connects Kirandul town in Dantewada district to Andhra Pradesh has been restricted to Jagdalpur, fearing disturbances by Maoists. Reports coming in from Bastar also said that truckers are not willing to operate as the rebels had targeted them earlier.

    Security has been further stepped up in Bastar where police say nearly 25,000sq km of its total 40,000sq km area is intensively mined by Maoists. “Security has always been in top gear in Bastar but surely some more bold steps have been taken to bolster security arrangements during the shutdown period in areas vulnerable to be attacked by the rebels,” Bastar range inspector general of police T J Longkumer said.

  • Government Says It Will Break the “Maoist Grip on $80 Billion Investments in India by 2013"

    Bloomberg

    Pillai to Unlock Maoist Grip on $80 Billion Investments in India by 2013

    By Bibhudatta Pradhan and Santosh Kumar – Sep 17, 2010

    Maoist insurgents blocking $80 billion of investments will be subdued within three years as India pours security forces into contested regions, builds roads and opens schools, Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai said.

    “The tactic of keeping a hold on areas is working,” Pillai said in an interview at his office in New Delhi’s British-era government buildings yesterday. Security forces have clawed back 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) of territory where rebels operated almost one year into a major offensive, he said.

    Pillai, 60, and Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram last October started the campaign against leftist rebels who have attacked security forces, railways and mining infrastructure in a third of India’s 626 administrative districts. India needs to clear the so-called “Red Corridor” to access deposits of iron ore, coal, bauxite, and manganese that London-based Execution Noble Ltd. says may secure investments of $80 billion.

    To maintain control, India needs to recruit as many as 30,000 security personnel each year, Pillai, the top bureaucrat in the home ministry, and security analysts say. Ambushes by rebels in the jungles of central and eastern India have claimed 211 police lives up to mid-July this year.

    “We are nowhere near the required policing, training, and technology to check the Maoists’ growth,” said Ajai Sahni, executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management. “There’s no reason to believe that the situation will suddenly improve in the next three years.”

    Uprising’s Epicenter

    The epicenter of the attacks lies in the forests of the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, which has accounted for almost half of the 573 police and civilians killed in Maoist violence in the first half of this year.

    NMDC Ltd., Asia’s third-largest iron-ore producer, operates its biggest mine in the region, and Essar Steel Ltd., India’s fourth ranked producer of the alloy, plans to build a $1.5 billion steel plant there. The Maoists last year blew up Essar’s pipeline built to transport iron ore from NMDC’s mine.

    As the rebels have pursued their revolution, Indian governments “ignored the problem for a decade, thinking it will go away,” Pillai said yesterday, conceding Maoist guerrillas targeted by police may have regrouped elsewhere.

    Pillai said he doesn’t expect the rebels to agree to put down the guns in the next two years. “If you are comfortable, you are expanding and you are making money, why should you come for talks?” he said.

    ‘Peal of Thunder’

    The leftwing insurgents are known as Naxalites after the West Bengal village of Naxalbari where demands for land reform coalesced into a radical uprising in 1967 inspired by Mao Zedong. The Indian revolt was greeted as “a peal of spring thunder” by China’s People’s Daily.

    The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor villagers and tribal communities whose resources are, the rebels argue, being exploited to propel India’s $1.3 trillion economy with few benefits for local people.

    Pointing to what he says are newly opened police stations on a map of Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh, Pillai highlights the expanding area colored yellow, in contrast to a shrinking red region still patrolled by the insurgents.

    In these areas, roads have been built, schools have started functioning and markets have been opened for the first time in years, he said.

    In April, 76 policemen were killed in Dantewada district, the neighboring region to that displayed on Pillai’s computer, in the biggest strike on security forces in four decades of conflict.

    Districts Gained

    “The government strategy of clear-hold-develop is gaining the upper hand in some patches, mainly in Chhattisgarh,” N. Manoharan, an analyst at the Center for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi, said today. “But the overall spread of the Maoists is increasing” with 10 to 15 more districts coming under their influence in the last year, he said.

    The government needs to improve intelligence gathering, protection for informers and build its forces, Manoharan said.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the Maoists the greatest internal security threat to the world’s biggest democracy and its third fastest growing major economy.

    India’s Insurgencies

    None of the insurgencies at India’s margins — from a 21- year rebellion in Kashmir to even older separatist movements in the northeast — reach into the heart of the subcontinent.

    Pillai, who as secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industries from Sept 2006 to June 2009 played a leading role in expounding India’s opposition to developed world farm subsidies at global trade talks, said four Maoist attacks that resulted in large numbers of police fatalities obscured the fact that overall deaths were just below those of a year ago.

    In Dantewada, Pillai says, there are 1,500 police personnel, a fraction of the 45,000 based in the similarly sized northeastern state of Tripura, where a separatist insurgency is now largely dormant.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net

  • India: Bihar police in no mood to fight the Naxals

    Operation Green Hunt is in disarray. Bihar’s forces are in no mood to fight the Naxals

    BY VK SHASHIKUMAR

    Broken will -- Members of the Bihar Special Auxiliary Police look desolate while taking a break from Naxal ops

    YOU DID nothing for me. The police and the government did nothing to rescue me. My family negotiated with the Naxals for my release. I am pleading with folded hands, please let me go home. I will not accompany you to the police station. I don’t want to be in the police.” –Sub-Inspector Abhay Yadav to Lakhisarai Superintendent of Police, Ranjit Kumar Mishra, after the Maoists released him on 6 September.

    Eventually Lakhisarai’s new SP forced Abhay, Rupesh Sinha and Mohammad Ehsan Khan, the three surviving policemen from the abductors, to take a detour to the police station for a debrief session. These policemen survived an eight-day ordeal as captives of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) in Lakhisarai, Bihar. The PLGA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), popularly known as Naxals.

    It is unlikely that Abhay will give up his job. Employment in the government service, especially the police, is coveted because it brings in unaccounted wealth. “I want to leave my job. But my family will decide,” he says. “Dheeraj Rakhiye” (Please be patient). These words were used every time a police officer spoke to those in the lower ranks. But each expression brought despair and a sense of inadequacy to the policemen in Lakhisarai, Jamui, Munger and Banka.

    In some areas of the dense hills connecting these districts, several teams of the Bihar Police and the CRPF staged short bursts of combing operations to trace the kidnapped policemen. Some, like Jawaharlal Singh, assistant sub-inspector, Jamui Police Station, berated curious villagers: “Your netas are responsible for Naxalism. They create the problem, they use Naxals for political one-upmanship and we have to face the brunt of it.”

    Several policemen, overwhelmed by the killing of Lucas Tete, admitted that the writ of the government runs dry across a large swath of Lakhisarai. Tete was killed when the state government refused to release eight imprisoned Naxal commanders.

    ‘What am I doing here? I ask this question to myself. I feel like leaving the force. But what will I do if I leave?’ asks SI Prasad

    “What am I doing here? I often ask this question to myself. I feel like leaving the force. But what will I do if I leave? How will I earn? My family wants me to quit police service. But when I am jobless and unable to provide for my family, will they treat me well?” asks SI Rajendra Prasad of Kajra Police Station. The post is barely 15 km from the spot where four policemen were kidnapped after a skirmish with the Naxals on 29 August. Seven policemen were killed and 10 injured.

    With the state government failing to put a rescue plan in action, Abhay’s father, Indu Prasad Yadav, contacted his caste brethren linked to PLGA commander and self-styled spokesperson for Naxal operations in eastern Bihar, Avinash alias Arjun Yadav.

    “The appeal made by all political parties, including Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad and the pressure mounted by the Yadav community on caste leaders within the PLGA led to the release of Abhay, Rupesh and Ehsan. The government did nothing,” says Sambhu Yadav, Abhay’s uncle, who received the three captive policemen at 6 am in Simra Rari, a Naxalheld region of Lakhisarai.

    POLICEMEN IN Bihar don’t want to fight the Naxals. They have AK-47 and INSAS rifles but aren’t trained for jungle warfare. They are not led by officers who lead from the front. They admit that the Naxal tactics are superior to theirs. “Why would a policeman want to die in the line of duty? I joined the police because it gives me power, influence and prestige. These villagers come to me because I am a bada babu. I joined for law and order duties, not engage Naxals in combat,” confesses Atul Kumar Mishra, the SHO of Chanan Police Station. He was waiting for the Banu Bagicha village chowkidar to return from the Morve Dam area, a stronghold of the Naxals, after they announced they would free the hostages.

    Every rural police circle in Bihar has 23 village chowkidars who are paid Rs. 1,200 and used as informers and spotters. Mishra, camping at Banu Bagicha’s defunct Block Office, felt insecure in spite of 25 well-armed Special Auxiliary Police (SAP) accompanying him. “India can win the Kargil war but not this war, not this way,” he says.

    No comfort The  Kajra Police Station in  its dilapidated glory
    No comfort The Kajra Police Station in its dilapidated glory

    Policemen in Naxal-dominated areas have an informal standard operating procedure (SOP). First, stay out of areas that have Naxal presence. Second, after 6 pm, ensure that the station they are holed up in is well protected from a Naxal attack. The idea is not to fight back, but ensure that they don’t lose their lives. “I have trained 30 stray dogs. They don’t allow anyone inside the premises after dusk,” a policeman says. After 6 pm, any crime within a police station’s jurisdiction goes unattended till daybreak.

    Meanwhile, Prasad can’t shake off his gloomy, introspective mood ever since 29 August. “We have no comforts. We don’t have a place to stay. Several police stations in Naxal-dominated areas are functioning from dilapidated, rented buildings. This police station used to be a Congress party office. We built our barrack by raising funds from local residents.

    Our welfare must be taken care of for us to get mentally attuned to combat duty,” says Prasad.

    Besides, they are trained for regular policing duties, not for combat operations. “I went through police training 25 years ago. Since then I haven’t had the chance to retrain and re-skill. I can aim and shoot, but don’t know what to do in a combat situation. I am not trained for jungle warfare. How can I survive an encounter with the Naxals in the jungles?” asks Prasad.

    BIHAR POLICEMEN are seething with anger. “We will lose our jobs because service rules prohibit us from telling the truth,” says a policeman. There are a lot of uncertainties to be afraid of. “What if we are ordered into combat without planning? Death is certain.” The sight of their dead colleagues provoked the BMP personnel to thrash former Lakhisarai SP Ashok Singh for pushing them into a Naxal ambush. Senior officials, including IG (Operation) KS Dwivedi and ADG (Headquarters) PK Thakur denied that Singh was assaulted. Denials notwithstanding, he was transferred out of Lakhisarai three days after the incident.

    “For 10 days prior to the 29 August encounter, we were alerted almost every day by intelligence reports of a Jehanabad- type attack in Lakhisarai. There are several Naxals imprisoned in the Lakhisarai jail. We were told that Naxals would attempt a jailbreak, attack the District Magistrate’s office and the CRPF camp at Kajra,” says Rajendra Prasad, a distressed sub-inspector of Kajra Police Station. This was corroborated by the commandant of CRPF’s 131 battalion, Bidhan Chandra Patra. “SP Ashok Singh told me that he received an intelligence input of 30 Naxals moving in the Lakhisarai forest. He said there was no specific input, just a generic alert and that he was putting together a team to conduct area domination exercise and get back. There was no intimation of the possibility of a gunbattle. So I passed instruction to assemble a team of 34 CRPF soldiers.”

    Singh put together a force of 43 policemen, 20 from the SAP and 23 from the Bihar Military Police to launch combat operations. “Our intelligence input said that there were at least 500 Naxals in the hills. But the SP, in an unusually strange decision, put together a small combat force,” reveals Prasad. SI Bhulan Yadav, who was killed in the encounter, was inexperienced in counter-insurgency operations. Yet, he was deputed as the leader of the combat unit. Mishra, a close friend of Bhulan, was the last person to receive his call. “Bhulan called asking me to inform the SP to send reinforcements. Then his phone disconnected abruptly. I repeatedly called back but could not get through.”

    Mishra and Prasad revealed that Singh did not follow the SOP laid down after the Dantewada massacre. “A detailed strategy is formulated, GPS coordinates are set before the force begins its movement. But Ashok Singh did not make a plan,” Mishra says. “He knew that we were operating in undulating, hilly forest terrain. He knew the topography. He should have been aware, going by the recent ambushes in Chhattisgarh that the Naxals will occupy higher ground and lure the policemen into a trap.” CRPF commandant Patra concurs. “The SOP was not followed. Once force is assembled the commanders discuss the terrain, topography and intelligence. This is explained to the troops using sand models and Survey of India maps,” he says.

    Bhulan’s inexperience in combat operations resulted in splitting in the team splitting in two different directions. He asked the CRPF contingent to move towards the right and patrol the Ghaghar Ghati area and Morve Dam, while he moved in with his men towards Kanimai and Sitala Kodasi villages.

    As the police party moved into the villages, they came under heavy fire from both sides. Bihar Police officers claim that when their men were ambushed, the CRPF troops withdrew instead of retaliating and providing cover fire to rescue the trapped men. “Our men regained higher ground to provide cover fire, which enabled 36 men to escape,” asserts Patra. That the Bihar Police surrendered is barely mentioned. “After we came under heavy fire, the Naxals kept announcing we should surrender or everyone would get killed. We surrendered because the CRPF withdrew,” says Abhay.

    Bihar Police claim that when their men were ambushed, the CRPF troops withdrew instead of retaliating and providing cover

    “They treated the injured personnel, bandaged those who were wounded, gave water to those who asked for it and asked them to leave. They collected all the weapons and asked four of us to accompany them into the jungle.” Later, the Naxals informed local journalists that they had seized 35 INSAS and AK-47 rifles.

    The Bihar Police is facing a severe crisis of confidence. According to protocol, a deputy commandant of CRPF is equivalent to the rank of an SP. Yet, it is rare for a SP to go out for combat. “Officers don’t lead, they just pass orders. If senior officers can’t lead us on combat duty why should we put our lives in danger?” asks Yadav.

    Naresh Kumar, who teaches at the Janta Mahavidyalaya, Surajgarha, emphasises his primary identity is that of a farmer. Surrounded by friends and villagers of Alinagar, Naresh, loses himself in a tirade against Bihar’s politicians. His list of complaints is long.

    “Ration cards are not issued to people living below the poverty line in Alinagar; the widow pension scheme is on paper and not being implemented by the babus; those who can pay 60 percent commission to the gram sabha are availing subsidised housing loans through the Indira Awas Yojana; there are no free medicines either in public hospitals or primary health centres as promised by the government,” he says.

    “If the bank manager is paid a bribe of Rs.5,000, he will process the land owner-ship certificate and promptly issue the Kisan Credit Card worth Rs 50,000; the Asha scheme for pregnant women with the objective of decreasing the Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate is not being implemented as well,” he says.

    ‘Senior officers just pass orders. If seniors can’t lead us during combat, why should we put our lives in danger?’ asks Abhay

    THE ALINAGAR locality in Lakhisarai is a microcosm of people’s sentiment in rural Bihar. They are sympathetic to the Naxalites. They don’t trust the State. The angry voices from the ground explain why the Maoist insurgency is expanding in Bihar. Nobody in Alinagar has benefited from the employment guarantee scheme, though it is officially under implementation. “All politicians work for those with money. The bureaucracy is always looking out to loot us. There is no equality. So why is everyone surprised by the growth of Naxals?” says Naresh.

    Perhaps, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has sensed the mood of the people. “The pace of development has to be accelerated and corruption removed in execution of development schemes to uproot Naxalism,” he said at the Patna Medical College Hospital after meeting policemen injured in the 29 August encounter.

    Perhaps, he should visit Banu Bagicha village, which is barely 5 km from the spot where captive policemen were released by the Naxals. The villagers have been waiting for eight years for the fully constructed Block Office to begin functioning. The district administration built an office complex but locked it up for “security” reasons.

    In fact, four days before the 29 August skirmish, Lakhisarai DM Manish Kumar visited Banu Bagicha and told the villagers: “Hand over five Naxals and I will ensure the Block Office is made functional.” Banu Bagicha villagers walk 15 km to Mananpur Block Office for official documentation like land registration and securing caste certificates for jobs and educational purposes.

    Phakira Yadav, a leading opinion maker of the village, quipped: “If the DM demands five Naxals to be handed over, isn’t it better if we join the Naxals? How can we hand over Naxals to the police? We are caught between the two gunwielding groups.”

    PHOTOS: SHAILENDRA PANDEY

    Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 37, September 18, 2010

  • As India overhauls homeland security, U.S. firms vie for $billions in business

    By Rama Lakshmi

    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Saturday, September 18, 2010; 8:16 PM

    NEW DELHI – At a sprawling exhibition hall in the capital, Indian military officers browsed displays of modern surveillance systems, sophisticated mine detectors, anti-hacking software and guns. They asked questions, took notes and scheduled meetings with company officials, setting in motion a major shopping spree.

    In recent years, India has secured billion-dollar defense deals with U.S. companies to modernize its military. Now the country is overhauling its homeland security, and U.S. companies are again hoping to be first in line.

    “As far as internal security goes, its strengthening and augmentation, there is going to be no dearth of money or resources,” Ajay Maken, India’s deputy home minister, said at the security conference this month.

    After the terrorist attacks in Mumbai two years ago, authorities demanded better weapons and more sophisticated technology for police forces. Today, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, X-ray machines and bomb squads proliferate in airports, the Metro, malls, multiplexes and high-rises.

    But analysts say the country’s arsenal of domestic security weapons remains woefully inadequate in the battle against terrorism, separatist violence and Maoist guerrillas.

    To upgrade its arsenal, India should turn to a “country which is strategically a friend of India,” Maken said.

    India and the United States have emerged as strong strategic allies since reaching a civilian nuclear accord that is likely to generate more than $100 billion worth of business. The two countries set up a counterterrorism cooperation initiative this year. Last month, Indian law enforcement and the FBI participated in a counterterrorism program that included sessions on improvised explosive devices and post-blast investigations.

    “The two governments have outlined the ‘what’ of homeland security priority areas. The industry will now map the ‘how,’ said retired U.S. Adm. James Loy, a former deputy secretary of homeland security and commandant of the Coast Guard. “The American companies want to make a contribution in the areas of counterterrorism, police modernization, cyber-security and transport safety.”

    Business opportunities for security companies over the next few years will be worth nearly $1.7 trillion, said Loy, who led a U.S. delegation to the conference this month.

    Maken said India is also setting up a national intelligence database and modern crime tracking systems that prioritize cyber-security. “The more we are technologically advanced, the more is the threat of infiltration in our networking systems,” he said.

    India’s internal security department has also bought long-range acoustic warning systems, sound guns and other devices from American companies.

    In recent weeks, the country’s police and paramilitary forces have been widely criticized for firing at stone-throwing teenage protesters in the troubled Himalayan valley of Kashmir. About 85 protesters have been killed this summer.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has directed state police chiefs to find nonlethal means to control mobs. That opened up opportunities for companies such as Taser International, an Arizona-based firm that set up an office in India after the Mumbai attacks and attended the homeland security conference this month.

    In August, paramilitary forces and the Kashmir police department decided to buy Tasers, and the state’s police officers are now learning how to use them. India’s national police training school and commando force have also bought Tasers this year for training.

    “Earlier, our force had weapons that were meant to kill,” said P.M. Nair, inspector general of the Central Reserve Police Force. “But now we have introduced nonlethal weapons to deal with volatile situations in Kashmir or other demonstrations elsewhere in the country.”

  • 78 Chhattisgarh cops evade duty in Maoist areas

    IANS, Sep 25, 2010

    RAIPUR: As many as 78 policemen in Chhattisgarh have been sent show cause notices for refusing to join postings in Maoist-hit areas of the state, a senior police official said Saturday.

    The police headquarters here served notices to 33 inspector-rank officers and other police officers who refused to take postings citing health reasons, mostly diabetes and high blood pressure.

    “The police department can’t afford such kind of gross indiscipline among jawans. The 78 policemen, who have been evading new postings, have been asked to explain within three days, otherwise we will take stern action,” Inspector General of Police (administration) Pawan Deo said.

    The problem of state policemen refusing to take postings in the seven Maoist-infested districts has been rising every month, an official said, adding that new recruits were not joining their duties in such areas.

    The worst-hit districts are Rajnandgaon and Surguja, besides five districts in the sprawling 40,000 sq km mineral-rich Bastar region – made up of Bijapur, Bastar, Narayanpur, Kanker and Dantewaa. The region is known as the nerve centre of Maoist militancy.

    Nearly 40,000 forces, including roughly half of them from paramilitary troopers, have been put in Bastar region to take on Maoists armed with rocket launchers, mortars and AK-47s.

    THE TIMES OF INDIA

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/6625169.cms?prtpage=1#ixzz10apRFVMQ

  • West Bengal: Stories of Unjust Arrests under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act

    Chharadhar Mahato, leader of People's Committee against Police Atrocities in Lalgarh, arrested under UAPA

    Satyarupa Jana: Prize Catch under UAPA

    by Nisha Biswas

    Indian Vanguard, September 25, 2010

    On July 9, 2009 Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the Chief Minister of West Bengal assured his colleagues in State Assembly that the government would see that Unlawful Activity Prevention Act (UAPA) is not misused.

    He also informed the assembly that from the day of banning of Communist Party of India (Maoist) by the Centre and the imposition of UAPA in West Bengal (June 22, 2009) till that date, only 39 persons have been arrested by invoking this Act, out of which thirty were from West Midnapore, five from Bankura and four from Purulia. However, as his habit is, he did forget (intentionally?) to mention the first arrest of Gour Chakroborty, spokesperson of CPI(Maoist) on the day the Maoist party was banned by the Government of India, without giving him a chance to clarify his stand.

    The exact number of persons arrested so far under this Act is not known but the estimate is that it is not less than a couple of hundreds. However, an RTI inquiry by APDR reveals that, till March 2010, only 30 persons have been arrested from West Midnapore under UAPA. The list begins with unbanned CPI(Maoist) party Spokesperson Gaur Chakroborty, activists Raja Sorkhel, Prasun Chatterjee, Bangla People’s March editor Swapan Dasgupta (who died in custody), PCPA spokesperson Chhtaradhar Mahato, treasurer Sukhashanti Baskey, and other high profile persons, including activists of democratic movement to people like Satyarupa Jana of Pankhai, Khejuri of East Medinipur.

    Satyarupa belongs to the region, which happened to be the ruling party stronghold during Nandigram protest. She is such a politically naïve person that she never bothered to find out what is happening on the other side of Taikhali Bridge. Even today, she is at loss in explaining why so many from Nandigram were murdered. Her life of 48 years has been a struggle to make both ends meet – she has tried to educate her three sons and is proud of the fact that they are doing well and that one of her daughter-in-law is a para-teacher and the other one is doing her graduation. Hers is a normal conventional life of a little ambitious and industrious person who has taken risks and has almost never missed any opportunity of an extra earning. Satyarupa says that she did hear gun shots and the noise of bomb hurling, but has always tried to keep her family and self away from all these political chaos.

    Today the same Satyarupa Jana is languishing in Midnapore Central jail since 24th May of this year and is accused of various offenses including waging and conspiring war against the state, collecting and keeping arms, sedition. Her “seizure list” includes a bag of arms used for killing the Trinamool Congrss Panchayat leader Nishikanta Mondal at Nandigram on September 22, 2009. She is booked under Sections 121/121A/122/123/124A/120B of Indian Penal Code, Sec 25/27 of Arms Act and also under section 20 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In Khejuri PS Case no. 65/10 dtd 14.05.2010 she is termed as a hard core Maoist; such a hard core Maoist who before her arrests had not heard the name of Mao or his ism.

    Satyarupa is a perfect example of the misuse of a draconian Act to meet the agendas of political parties and their associates. So who is Satyarupa? Satyarupa is one who has never missed any chance of earning money for a better life. She has vended vegetables, fish, sold sarees in the weekly bazars. But she has always treaded the lawful and truthful ways and was never ever lured by illegal means. It was four or five years back when she first heard the name of Self – Help Groups and how it can improve one’s economic status. Being industrious, she was among the first few who took the training and made her own group naming it Ma Durga Self Help Group. Among the few groups that she formed one was named after revolutionary freedom fighter Matangini Hazra, who had been assassinated in front of Tamluk Police Station. Her group includes ex-panchayat President of CPI(M) and wife of ex-panchayat member belonging of Trinmool Congress. Including all colours, she had skillfully tried to avoid any political confrontation.

    Problem started with the government instruction that the Supervisor of NREGA work will be amongst the presidents of the Self-Help Groups functioning in the locality. And there too we find that Satyarupa has already taken seven-day training in BDO office around March end. Therefore the work of renovation of B M School pond at Pankhai, Khejuri costing more than two Lakhs goes to her. Satyarupa, even today in Midnapore jail believes that truth prevails and that as long as her accounts are clear and that she is honest and sincere, she has nothing to be afraid off. She never felt the need to give any commission to any political group or person. This raised a huge discontent amongst the local leaders and their accomplices. They, therefore, tried to stop her work under NREGA and instructed local village people not to work in her projects. But, who can stop Satyarupa? She was growing big to bigger without any political patron. She recruited people from Bartala, a neighbouring village. Work started at 11am of May13, 2010 and the commotion started within three hours, i.e. around 2pm while she was going home for lunch. She was beaten up by the vested interests and was brought to Khejuri PS. She was interrogated there and when in the night, Lutfar Rehman and Somen Mondal of the same village, on the instruction of OC Atanu Santra went to the PS for her release, they too were arrested.

    She and the other two were produced in Court on 15th May and police took them in custody for further investigation for ten days. In these ten days Satyarupa witnessed severe beating of Lutfar and Somen and was taken to Nandigram once. According to police in these ten days she helped them in locating a bag of arms used for killing Nishikant Mondal. She denies knowledge of any such bag and remembers the threat of OC Atanu Santra of Khejuri PS that they are going to put her in jail to rot for the rest of her life.

    I met her in the only Female Ward of Midnapore Central Jail, where I too had to spend 43 days for waging and conspiring war against the State and sedition. Bengali writer Manik Mondal, school teacher Sri Kanishka Chowdhury and myself were arrested from Rameswarpur of Lalgarh on June15, 2010. All through the 43 days of my stay with her, I did not find her interested in politics, she never read newspaper and always asked me who are Maoists and who am I. She does not understand an iota of politics and her only worry is when will she be back with her family and the losses that she is incurring because of her detention. In Jail we were termed Maoists, I used to enjoy the special status and privileges associated with this word, whereas Satyarupa used to get very angry and had repeatedly complained to jail authorities and warned other inmates that if they do not stop calling her Maoist, she too will start calling them by their crimes for which they are arrested or convicted.

  • Obama’s pitch to India: Settle Kashmir and get UN Security Council seat

    Times of India,  September 28, 2010

    WASHINGTON: Go for a Kashmir solution and help bring stability to the region for a ticket to UN Security Council membership and fulfilling your big power aspirations. That’s the broad message President Barack Obama will be bringing to New Delhi during his upcoming November visit to India, preparation for which are in full swing in Washington DC.

    The Kashmir settlement-for-seat at high table idea (euphemism for UNSC membership) is being discussed animatedly in the highest levels of the US administration, according to a various sources. President Obama himself has decided to revive the process of a US push in this direction, albeit discreetly, because of New Delhi’s sensitivities.

    Key administration officials are confirming that the UNSC issue will be on Obama’s agenda when he visits New Delhi. The US President is expected to announce an incremental American support to India’s candidature during his address to the joint session of India’s parliament, depending on New Delhi’s receptiveness to resolving the Kashmir tangle.

    “[UNSC reforms] is something that is under discussion as we prepare for the President’s important visit,” US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake confirmed on Monday during a read-out of the meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Indian counterpart S.M.Krishna, saying the two had agreed the “President’s visit will be a defining moment in the history of our bilateral relations.”

    The clearest insight into Obama’s thinking on the matter comes from Bob Woodward’s latest book “Obama’s War” in which top US policy makers are shown mulling on defusing the Kashmir situation as part of an exit strategy for US from the AfPak theater.

    “Why can’t we have straightforward talks with India on why a stable Pakistan is crucial?” Obama is reported as musing at one meeting. “India is moving toward a higher place in its global posture. A stable Pakistan would help.” Implicit in the rumination is the idea that settling Kashmir would mollify Pakistan, where, US officials say, hardliners are using the unresolved issue as an excuse to breed an army of terrorists aimed at bleeding India.

    But that is easier said than done, according to Bruce Riedel, author of the Obama administration’s Af-Pak strategy, who has canvassed the centrality of the Kashmir issue to peace and stability in the region. The spoiler to any settlement is the hardline Pakistani military and its jihadist proxies for whom attrition and confrontation with India is an article of faith.

    In fact, the solution Washington has in mind (also proposed by Riedel) is likely more palatable to New Delhi than to Islamabad. It’s on the same lines of what Prime Minister Manmohan Singhand Pakistan’s deposed military leader Pervez Musharraf broadly agreed on before the latter was turfed out of office: The Line of Control would become the international border, but it would be a soft, permeable border, allowing Kashmiris on both sides to move back and forth. The rest – safeguards, procedures etc – is a matter of detail.

    “President Obama’s strategy for dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan always needed a Kashmir component to succeed; that need is becoming more urgent and obvious now. His trip to India in November will be a key to addressing it,” Riedel said in a commentary this week.

    “India cannot become a global power with a prosperous economy if its neighbor is a constant source of terror armed with the bomb. A sick Pakistan is not a good neighbor,” he added, echoing Obama’s words (Woodward’s book also suggests he influenced Obama’s thinking).

    Virtually setting the agenda for Obama’s India visit, Riedel says Obama’s challenge is to quietly help Islamabad and New Delhi work behind the scenes to get back to the deal Musharraf and Singh negotiated. “He will have a chance to work this subtly when he visits India in November,” he writes.

    But Riedel and other US policy makers portrayed in Woodward’s book also recognize that the biggest hurdle to a settlement is a hardline Pakistani military. While the civilian leadership in Pakistan would like to embrace the deal “it is unclear if the army chief, General Kayani, is on board.”

    Woodward’s book shows that most top US officials, save Admiral Mike Mullen, believe Kayani to be a closet jihadi and a two-faced “liar” intent on perpetuating war with India. “I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m India-centric,” Kayani is quoted as telling US officials in one exchange.

    Although three top cabinet principals from India — S.M.Krishna, A.K.Antony, and Pranab Mukherjee — are in the US this week and next, exchanges on the UNSC and Kashmir are said to be taking place directly between President Obama and Prime Minister Singh through trusted interlocutors such as National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, who is also in Washington DC this week.

  • Maoists appeal to Naga troops to defy orders in West Bengal


     

    Nagaland Indian Reserve Battalion in transit

    Hindustan Times, September 29, 2010

     

    A top Maoist leader on Wednesday appealed to Naga troopers of the Indian Reserve Battalion [from the northeast state of Nagaland-ed] to defy orders and not take part in the ongoing security operations against the ultra left rebels in West Bengal’s Junglemahal region.

    In an open letter to troopers of the Nagaland Indian Reserve Battalion – who are on duty in the mountainous terrain of Purulia district to fight the ultras, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) politburo member Kisanji asked them to “revolt against the orders to battle against the people, desist from pumping bullets into the bodies of your brothers and sisters and defy all orders to dispatch you from one place to another at the diktat and whims of superiors to kill people and get killed”.

    “The government considers you as ambush expert Nagas who can easily kill and get killed in the battle zone of the Ayodhya Hills of Purulia district,” Kisanji observed.

    Two companies of NIRB troopers were deployed in the Ayodhya Hills of Purulia district recently to flush out the ultra left rebels from the area as part of the anti-Maoists operations launched June 2009 in Junglemahal (forested Maoist-affected areas of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura).

  • Israel supplies 10,000 assault rifles to India for Operation Green Hunt

    Israeli-made Tavor assault rifle

    Times of India,  October 1, 2010

    Israeli arms give CRPF the edge in Jangalmahal

    KOLKATA: The Army’s special forces were the first to receive them. It was then the turn of security personnel in J&K. Finally, CRPF personnel[Central Reserve Police Force paramilitary force] operating in Maoist-infested Lalgarh have got access to sophisticated weapons imported from Israel.

    Senior officials believe that the 5.56mm Tavor guns, manufactured by Israel Weapon Industries Ltd (IWI), will give their men that much-needed edge over the guerrillas who use the terrain to their advantage. The INSAS, AK-47 or 7.62 mm SLR used by the CRPF till now have not proved to be too effective in close quarter battles (CQB). Indian ordnance factories have been trying to come up with an effective solution, but their latest products have not yet cleared field trials by the armed forces.

    In 2009, Union home minister P Chidambaram cleared the procurement of 10,147 assault rifles from IWI in a `144-crore deal. The defence ministry had also imported similar weapons for use by its special forces.

    “The INSAS is a good weapon for an infantry soldier. However, it is too cumbersome for personnel involved in counter-insurgency operations. The AK-47s are easier to carry, but are not accurate enough. The weapons imported from Israel are not only accurate and lightweight, they also have a rate of fire to match the AK-47s. They are ideally suited for the CQB environment when personnel have only a spilt second to react,” an official said.

    Fitted with special sights, it doesn’t take long to aim the Israeli guns before firing. Unlike the AK-47s and SLRs, these weapons use 5.56mm ammunition, similar to the INSAS. Platoons no longer have to carry different types of ammunition.

    “These are ambidextrous weapons that can be used with both hands. They have integral reflex sights that allows a jawan to aim with both eyes open. They are good for both day and night operations,” the official said.

    According to experts in the defence ministry, the Israeli weapons are unlike anything that have been used by Indian troops. These are the only weapons that have the characteristic ‘Bull Pup’ design. This design makes these weapons extremely useful for special forces and troops involved in counter-insurgency the world over.

    “Unlike weapons used by Indian forces so far, these guns have their magazines behind the trigger. As a result, the centre of gravity is to the rear and the barrels point upward even when the weapons are not in use. In case of emergency, it is far easier to bring the barrel down and fire the weapons. In other rifles, the barrels have a tendency to point downward,” an Army officer involved in the training of special forces said.

  • Maoists tell freed Chhattisgarh policemen to quit their jobs

    After twelve nerve-wracking days, the Chhattisgarh police held a press conference in Raipur to confirm the safe return of Sukluram Bhagat, Narendra Khosle, Subhash Patra and B. Toppo who were abducted by the Maoists.

    On September 19, seven policemen were captured by the Maoists as they travelled between Bhopalpatnam and Bhadrakali in the forests of Bijapur district.

    While the corpses of three policemen were found the next day, the fate of the remaining four remained uncertain till late on Thursday night when they arrived at a police camp in Dantewada district.

    A pregnant woman, Kursam Jyoti who was travelling with her brother Krishna Erpa, was also reported missing. Police said Ms. Jyoti was freed a few days ago and she had returned to her village.

    Police sources said one of the conditions set for the release was that all the four men would resign from the police service. It is understood that four local television journalists escorted the men back to safety.

    At his press conference, Director General of Police Vishwarajan sought to dispel some of the confusion surrounding the hostage crisis.

    Clarifying that the freed policemen were yet to be debriefed after their ordeal, Mr. Vishwaranjan said the Maoist demands suggested that the men had been abducted by lower-level cadres, thereby complicating hostage negotiations. Maoist posters recovered in Bijapur demanded that the police call off Operation Green Hunt, withdraw Central paramilitary forces from Chhattisgarh, release unnamed Maoist leaders and stop police atrocities on villagers in Bijapur. The police said the lack of specificity made it impossible to meet these demands.

    Mr. Vishwarajan’s observations were supported by information gleaned from Maoist sources.

    In a telephone conversation on September 26, CPI (Maoist) spokesperson Gudsa Usendi told this correspondent that he had not received any information regarding the kidnapping, implying that top Maoist leadership was also struggling to ascertain the events surrounding the kidnapping.

    Mr. Usendi said that the monsoon and poor cellular connectivity had made it difficult to keep track of the events in Bijapur, but felt that the men would be released soon.

    The men were finally released after nearly two weeks of search operations, background conversations between the police and Maoists using the local press as mediators and public appeals by the families of the abducted policemen, Chief Minister Raman Singh, Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao, the Chhattisgarh chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and social activist Swami Agnivesh.

  • Getting Difficult for India to Control Manipur

    79 bandhs, 10 blockades in recent times take a heavy toll on State

    The Sangai Express, Imphal, September 22, 2010

    From January 2009 till the current month, Manipur witnessed as many as 79 bandhs and highway blockades ten times.These frequent bandhs and blockades have caused loss of 1/9th of the State per capita income.  According to a Government report, normal life was disrupted by 19 State-wide bandhs last year.

    At the district level, there was a district level bandh once in Senapati, twice in Ukhrul, once in Tamenglong, twice in Chandel, once in Thoubal and once in Churachandpur.

    In addition, the State witnessed hill districts bandh eight times. There were no separate district-level bandhs in Bishnupur, Imphal East and Imphal West. There were bandhs on National Highways five times and another bandh in Naga dominated districts.

    At local level, bandhs were witnessed at Moreh, Jiribam, Singjamei, Khurai and some other places.

    NH-39 and NH-53 were blockaded thrice last year while NH-39 was blocked on two occasions.

    This year, normal life was disrupted by five State-wide bandhs called on different dates.

    There were district level bandhs once in Senapati, once in Ukhrul, once in Tamenglong, twice in Chandel, once in Bishnupur and once in Naga dominated districts.

    Till date this year, there has been no district level bandh in Thoubal, Imphal East and Imphal West.

    During the current year, bandhs were called ten times on the three National Highways.

    These was against four bandhs called in hill areas.

    Blockades were imposed on NH-39 and NH 53 together on three occasions while NH 39 alone was blockaded once.

    All the highways of the State were also blockaded once.

    According to the Government report, these frequent bandhs and blockades caused loss of oneninth of the annual State per capita income.

    Notably, the number of recorded bandhs and blockades during 2004-05 was 80 and this figure jumped to 145 in 2005-06 .

  • Maoists call for bandh against new Bastar ‘peace’ campaign

    Joseph John, Tue Oct 12 2010

    Raipur : Outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) has given a call for a 48 hour ‘Dandakaranya’ bandh from September 22, demanding disbanding of Bastar’s newly formed “Shanti Sangharsh Morcha”, alleging that it was a new avatar of “fascist Salwa Judum” — the anti-Naxalite campaign which was launched in June 2005.

    The Maoist call for a two day bandh came after a group of tribals, who met on Gandhi Jayanti day in Bijapur district, formed ‘Dandakaranya Shanti Sangharsh Morcha” for launching a ‘non-violent’ people’s campaign to restore peace in the strife-torn Bastar region.

    “Maoists will be observing a 48 hour DK bandh on September 22 and 23 to protest against the newly formed organization as it is a new avatar of Salwa Judum”, CPI (Maoist) Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee spokesman Gudsa Usendi said in a communiqué sent to the media in Bastar.

    The so-called Dandakaranya region — which the rebels term as “DK” state — forms part of forest areas of Bastar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa. Maoists claim it as their ‘Liberated zone’ while the the civil administration’s consider it as areas dominated by the rebels.

    The initiative for a new peace campaign began last month when a group of people, including a few of those who were associated with the Salwa Judum, met at Karkeli village and decided to formulate strategies to take the campaign ahead for establishing peace in the area. Later, they met again at Kutroo village in Bijapur district on October 2 and resolved to work for peace without carrying any weapons by following the Gandhian path of non-violence.

    Salwa Judum, which began as a small protest from Karkeli village in Bijapur district on June 2005, had turned into frenzy in South Bastar, once the cherished zone of the Maoists. The movement, which the state government described as a spontaneous peoples campaign against the Naxalites, spread far and wide and turned the entire South Bastar into a battle field. The Naxalites unleashed attacks on Salwa Judum cadres, who went on a prowl against Maoist sympathizers, and the conflict led to police and Para-military forces swarming the region.

    Maoist call for two day bandh against the newly formed Dandakaranya Shanti Sangharsh Samiti is being seen as an attempt to thwart the possibility of new campaign spreading into the remote areas where the rebels have their base.

  • 10 injured in police firing in Assam

    Guwahati, Oct 12 : At least 10 protesters were injured in police firing incident in Assam’s Kamrup (Rural) district on Tuesday, officials said.

    According to report, thousands of people from Garo and other communities had gathered to form a human chain for their various demands at Santipur area under Boko police station in the district.

    When the police intervened, the protesters came forward to break the police barricade and damaged the police vehicles. A circle officer and a police official were injured.

    Police used canes and tear gas to control the situation and later opened fire on the mob, in which at least 10 protesters were injured.  The injured were taken to Rangia civil hospital.

    http://www.newkerala.com/news/world/fullnews-61603.html

  • Maoists’ new tactics to counter Operation Green Hunt

    Times of India, October 10, 2010

    Naxals’ new ploy: first blast, then bullets

    NAGPUR: The lull in the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district, ever since 17 cops were killed in Laheri in October 2009, was left shattered by the recent incidents of blasts in which seven security personnel were killed, nine others were left injured and four civilians, including three students of Sawargaon ashramshala, died in a blast on Friday morning.

    Though guns rattled in a few exchanges in the jungle and the elimination of police informers by the rebels kept the security personnel busy so far, this year witnessed the first major jolt being delivered by the Naxals at Perimili on Monday, when they killed four cops in a blast. They followed up by injuring eight C60 commandos on the following day at Mirkal around 13 km away from Perimili.

    The recent incidents are leaving clear indications that the rebels seem to be more inclined to first trigger the blast and then fire upon the panicked cops. This ploy was adopted by the rebels after sensing that security forces can now be difficult to tame in gun battles, especially after the reinforcement provided by the central government in the form of paramilitary forces.

    Shifting from the preference of intense gunfight, as manifested by the rebels in 2009, the Naxals seem to have made a deviation in their strategy in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh to counter central government’s so-called Operation Green Hunt launched to flush out the rebels from the hinterlands.

    Even the security agencies were aware of the paradigm shift in the rebel strategy. Intelligence agencies, it is learnt, had also alerted the cops about the new strategy.

    The Naxals wanted to curtail the movements of the security deployment in the affected regions. They started planting mines under roads and waiting in ambush. Generally a large posse of cops wanted to attack the Naxals after the debacles of 2009. The rebels switched to landmines to cripple the movements of the cops in the jungles.

    “They aim to take the security forces by surprise with altered techniques of attacks. Their guerrilla warfare is so unpredictable that the paramilitary forces falling easy preys to the Naxals,” said source from intelligence agency.

    The year 2009 had witnessed unprecedented violence as Naxals, killing more than 51 cops. They had merged their several dalams to form a consolidated military dalam, often bringing reinforcement of fighter guerrillas from Chhattisgarh and Abujhmarh to ensure that cops were outnumbered by many in such encounters.

    Changing tactics after the launch of Operation Green Hunt, rebels have started planting landmines this year. “The aim is to trigger more casualties with lesser manpower. Once the blast takes the cops by surprise and leaves them injured, rebels fire on the victims to increase the toll and also to curtail the chances of launching the counter,” said an experienced official.

  • Maoists expand political and military operations in West Bengal

    Maoist road blockade in Lalgarh area of West Bengal. Naxals spread wings, more Bengal districts want LWE-affected status

    Express News Service, October 15, 2010

    Kolkata: The Left Front may be claiming success in the anti-Maoist operations in Junglemahal but an internal government report indicates that the ultras who till now had been confined to Junglemahal — Purulia, West Midnapore and South 24 Parganas — have spread to other nearby districts.

    The police and local administrations of Birbhum, Nadia and Murshidabad districts have submitted a report to the state home department requesting that some police stations in their districts should be brought under the ambit of Left Wing Extremism-affected area considering the increased activities of the Maoists there.

    According to the reports submitted by the state police to state home department, eight police stations in Nadia, six police stations in Birbhum and three police stations in Murshidabad have seen increased Maoist activities in recent months.

    “The reports and the recommendations have been submitted to us and we have forwarded it to the state home department. After scrutinizing the facts, the report will be sent to the Centre for approval from the state home department,” said Surajit Kar Pura Kayestha, IG (Law and Order).

    Police sources said Dubrajpur and Khairashol police stations in Birbhum district, which have been mentioned as Maoist-affected areas, had always been a safe haven for the Maoists. “Several senior Maoists leaders, including Kalpana Ruidas, were arrested from the area,” said a senior police officer.

    The report accessed by The Indian Express further states that the Maoists have formed a regional committee in Nadia and an area committee in Jalangi. There are over 30 members in the area committee. “The Maoists started setting up their base in the area after forming an outfit called Mazdoor Krishak Sangram Samity, which works like a frontal organisation of the Maoists much akin to the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) in West Midnapore,” said a senior police officer.

    “As per the information we have gathered till now, the area committee is led by Prasanta Das alias Raja, a resident of Kotwali,” the officer added.

    “Das is the key person in the area who is strengthening the cadre’s base in Murshidabad and Nadia districts. They have started spreading their influence in the colleges of the district,” the officer said.

  • Forced Evictions Skyrocket due to Commonwealth Games

     

    Results of India's urban "beautification" campaign for the Commonwealth Games

    Housing and Land Rights Network

    New Delhi, October 13, 2010

    Forced Evictions due to Commonwealth Games Violate Human Rights, Contribute to a Permanent Negative Social Legacy

    The preparations for Delhi’s Commonwealth Games (CWG) have witnessed a range of human rights violations of the city’s working poor, including the homeless, beggars, street vendors, and construction workers. The process has also been marred by financial mismanagement, embezzlement of public funds, and lack of accountability. One of the least reported violations, however, has been the forced eviction and demolition of the homes of thousands of Delhi’s residents. These evictions have taken place for various reasons ranging from constructing stadiums, building parking lots, widening roads, city ‘beautification,’ and clearing of streets on grounds of ‘security.’

    Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) has been involved in a study on forced evictions carried out due to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. HLRN estimates that at least 250,000 people in Delhi have lost their homes as a direct result of the Games since 2004. A table of some of the demolished sites is included below.

    While the study is still ongoing, preliminary findings from a few sites reveal the following characteristics of forced evictions:

    1.            Failure to provide notice and reason for the demolition; due process not followed

    In majority of the cases, authorities did not provide a notice for the demolition. The only exceptions were Dargah Bhure Shah Camp, Viklang Basti, and Madrasi Camp (notice pasted two days before the demolition). The usual trend has been of police threatening people to vacate the area on the evening before the demolition. People of the settlement near Shiv Mandir, Sewa Nagar, were very vocal about the fact that they had not been informed about the demolition. Said Ms. Ishwar Kali, “If they had to break our homes, at least they could have told us.” People from various sites reported that their homes were destroyed while they were away.

    The Bengali Camp demolition took place on January 13, 2009, when people were celebrating the winter festival of ‘Lohri.’

    2.            Use of force and large police presence during the demolition

    All slums demolitions took place in the presence of a large police force. Approximately 200 police personnel were present for the Dargah Bhure Shah Camp demolition, 100 at Madrasi Camp, 100-150 for the demolition of 25 jhuggis (homes) in the Sai Baba Camp, and two police buses, eight bulldozers and 8-10 fire brigades for the Gadia Lohar Basti demolition. While women police officials were present during the demolitions, they generally just stood and watched.

    3.            Injury and adverse effects on health

    At Shaheed Arjun Das Camp in East Kidwai Nagar, a woman delivered a baby girl early in the morning, a few hours before the demolition began on January 13, 2009. On seeing the bulldozers she lost consciousness for four hours and could not even be taken to a hospital. The shock of the demolition has left Kamla, aged 40, from the settlement near Shiv Mandir, Sewa Nagar, permanently paralysed on her left side. People in Bengali Camp reported that there was a stampede like situation once the demolition started. An old woman fell to the ground and someone dragged a cylinder over her, and was miraculously saved.

    aMost people from the demolished camps reported that the frequency of illness, especially among children, increased after the demolition. Poor sanitation, lack of access to medical facilities, and living in the open, contributes to the spread of illnesses like fever, cough, and cold, and diseases such as pneumonia, malaria and dengue.

    4.           Loss and destruction of possessions

    Evicted people from all sites expressed their frustration at not being able to salvage their possessions. Women from Bengali Camp mentioned that children’s milk was confiscated, while a woman from Shaheed Arjun Das Camp said that even the food they were cooking got buried under the rubble. A disturbing fact is that whatever possessions people managed to save, including cooking vessels, were later confiscated by officials. Satyadeen Maurya of Sai Baba Camp recounts how all his belongings were crushed under the bulldozer. Dargah Bhure Shah Camp was the only settlement where people reported that they had managed to save their possessions.

    5.            Children adversely affected

    The psychological impacts on children who lose their homes and witness a demolition, are severe and long-lasting. Several children have been forced to drop out of school. Many have lost a year because the demolitions happened immediately before or during examination time. Pyarelal’s son lost an entire school year as the Dargah Bhure Shah Camp demolition took place on May 14, 2007, during school exams.

    6.            Death of persons

    Two homeless persons lost their lives at the Pusa Road Roundabout when the MCD demolished their night shelter during the peak of Delhi’s winter on December 24, 2009. Investigations at various sites have revealed suicidal tendencies and some deaths amongst displaced communities due to adverse living conditions and the lack of any housing. At Bengali Camp, residents mentioned two lives being lost to dengue.

    7.            Loss of livelihood and income

    For most of the affected, demolition of homes also means a loss of livelihood opportunities. Several families of the Sai Baba Camp are now entirely dependent on the temple for their meals. “I have not been able to earn one rupee after the demolition” said Bajrang from Sai Baba Camp. Many others have reported a marked decrease in income. A woman at the Gadia Lohar Basti reported a drop in income from Rs. 100-200 (before the eviction) to Rs. 20-30 per day. Pyarelal of Dargah Bhure Shah Camp owns a barber shop. He said that while previously he earned between Rs. 400 to Rs. 1000 in a day, after the demolition, the maximum he has earned in a day is Rs. 400.

    Demolitions also result in temporary loss of wages for the evicted. Women of the Madrasi Camp who work as domestic help in nearby areas said they lost wages for two-three months when they were living on the streets. Wage labourers find it impossible to go to work when their possessions are lying in the open, as they fear theft. Evicted families at all sites reported a marked increase in expenses on healthcare, travelling and rent.

    It is not just homes but also small shops and other enterprises that have been destroyed for the Games. Daily wage earners, vendors and other informal sector workers across Delhi have lost their livelihoods. The police beat Shekhar, 14, from Sai Baba Camp when he tried to sell flowers near the Sai Baba temple. Authorities demolished around 70 shops in the vicinity of the Gadia Lohar Basti and 10-12 shops in Kotla Pilanji Gaon, adjacent to the Thyagaraja Stadium. Weekly markets have been prohibited and other markets such as the one in Sarojini Nagar have also been cleared of vendors for the duration of the Games.

    8.            No compensation or resettlement provided in all cases but one

    No compensation or resettlement has been provided at any of the sites surveyed. The only exception was the Dargah Bhure Shah Camp, where plots have been allotted in Savda Ghewra to around 80-85 of the 115 families who lost their homes. While the High Court of Delhi has ordered relocation for the families at Gadia Lohar Basti, they have still not received any form of rehabilitation. People of the demolished Shaheed Arjun Das Camp have survived by putting plastic sheets over the broken walls of what was once their home. But every morning they have to remove the plastic sheets, as they are afraid the police will destroy them.

    2

    9.            Violation of national and international human rights law

    All the above characteristics of forced evictions carried out in the run up to the CWG indicate a violation of a range of national and international legal instruments, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the ChildConvention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. They also contravene the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement, which stipulate that evictions must not take place in inclement weather, at night, during festivals or religious holidays, prior to elections or during or just prior to school examinations. The UN Guidelines call for States to ensure that no one is subject to direct or indiscriminate attacks or other acts of violence and also mandate just compensation and sufficient alternative accommodation, or restitution when feasible, to be provided immediately upon the eviction.1

    The forced eviction and demolition of people’s homes without due process also violates the Indian constitution. The Supreme Court of India has held that the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right emanating from the right to life. The High Court of Delhi in its February 13, 2010 judgement in the case Sudama Singh and others v. Government of Delhi and others, clearly calls for the protection of the right to adequate housing, minimising of evictions, and adequate rehabilitation.

    Forced evictions, as affirmed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1993, constitute a gross violation of human rights, including the right to adequate housing. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights encourages State Parties to ensure that “legislative and other measures are adequate to prevent, and if appropriate punish, forced evictions carried out without appropriate safeguards by private persons or bodies.”

    The Delhi authorities responsible for forced evictions have violated people’s entitlements to security of tenure and freedom from forced evictions; access to, and benefit from public goods and services; information, capacity and capacity building; participation and self-expression; rights to resettlement and adequate compensation for violations and losses; and physical security and privacy. All are elements of the human right to adequate housing as recognized in international law.

    While the attention of the media has been centred on lack of preparedness, organizational glitches and financial scandals related to the CWG, the more severe impacts of the Games have largely been ignored. Attention needs to be drawn to the serious human rights violations, especially of construction workers who have been denied minimum wages and decent working conditions, of the homeless and ‘beggars’ who have been arrested, detained and forcefully banished from the city, of women and children who have been trafficked, of over 300,000 street vendors who have been denied their right to work and are going hungry, and of slum dwellers who have been evicted for the Games.2 These abuses have contributed to the creation of a permanent negative social legacy of the Games, in contradiction to the claims of benefits and false notion of ‘national pride’ that the organisers constantly harp on.

    Recommendations:

    ·            Immediate compensation to be provided to all evicted families for loss of their homes, possessions and livelihoods.

    ·            Compensation to be paid to all those who suffered injuries or adverse health impacts.

    ·            Compensation to be paid to families whose members lost their lives as a result of the forced eviction.

    ·            Adequate rehabilitation to be provided to all evicted families, in accordance with international human rights standards, including the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement and judgements of the High Court of Delhi, in particular the Sudama Singh case.

    ·            Improvement of living conditions in existing resettlement sites, including provision of basic services, infrastructure, healthcare, education and transport.

    1 The Guidelines are available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/housing/docs/guidelines_en.pdf. 2 See HLRN press release on human rights violations at: http://www.hic-sarp.org/documents/Press_Release_12_August_2010.pdf.

    3

    ·            Restoration of educational facilities for evicted children, including provision of school books, uniforms and other material destroyed during the eviction.

    ·            Expansion of ongoing investigations by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Enforcement Directorate, Central Vigilance Commission, and Parliament, to include human rights violations.

    ·            Prosecution of all officials who are found guilty.

    ·            Study and audit of the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the Games.

    ·            Moratorium on evictions in Delhi, including of the 44 settlements that have been listed for demolition after the Games.

    The dazzling opening and expected closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games and India’s commendable sporting performance cannot in any way erase the gravity of human rights violations committed by the state and central government in the preparation of the event. The government must accept responsibility for the intense suffering of Delhi’s poor due to the Games, and provide compensation, restitution and rehabilitation at the earliest. The legacy plan of the Games must focus on restoring social justice to the thousands of evicted families, as well as the homeless, beggars, street vendors and construction workers who have witnessed the worst violations of their human rights in the name of the Games. The state must ensure the protection of the human rights of the city’s working poor and marginalised populations. India’s stark socio-economic reality should have precluded the government from bidding for the Commonwealth Games. Given the inability to deal with the colossal costs and consequences of mega events, as demonstrated in the case of the CWG, the country must under no circumstances bid for the Olympics or other such events.

    LIST OF SOME SITES DEMOLISHED DUE TO THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES

    Name of Area and Location

    Date and Time of Demolition

    Purported Reason for Demolition

    Number of Homes Destroyed

    Notice

    1.

    Camp behind Badrinath Temple (opposite Thyagaraj Sports Complex)

    January 13, 2009 – mid day

    - coveringofnallah(drain) and ‘beautification’

    - ‘security’reasons

    50

    No notice provided

    2.

    Bengali Camp

    (East Kidwai Nagar)

    January 13, 2009 – in the morning

    - coveringofnallah(drain) and ‘beautification’

    - ‘security’reasons

    approximately 200

    No notice provided

    3.

    Dargah Bhure Shah Camp

    (Nizamuddin East, near Railway Station)

    May 14, 2007 – around 8 AM

    o constructionofBarapullah elevated corridor

    115

    A formal notice was put up at a temple in the complex in February , 2007

    4.

    Shaheed Arjun Das Camp

    (informally also known as Jhansi Camp, East Kidwai Nagar)

    January 13, 2009

    7.30 am

    - coveringofnallah(drain) and beautification

    - ‘security’reasons

    300 – 350 jhuggis (homes)

    No notice provided

    5.

    Gadia Lohar Basti

    (near Thyagaraj Stadium)

    January 12, 2009

    12.30 – 1 pm

    -            to widen the road and build an underpass connecting Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with Thyagaraja Stadium

    18 jhuggis (homes)

    No notice provided

    6.

    Indira Gandhi Camp

    (New Khanna Market, Lodhi Colony)

    February 2, 2009

    in the morning

    -            to widen the road to build an underpass connecting Thyagaraj Sports Complex to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium

    -            ‘beautification’ purposes

    100 jhuggis that lined the road and some small shops

    No formal written notice provided. The police instead gave a verbal warning of the impending demolition the night before

    4

    7.

    JJ Camp, Prem Nagar

    January 12, 2009

    -            to widen the road to build an underpass

    -            beautification purposes

    30

    No notice provided

    8.

    Madrasi Camp, Jangpura B

    April 15, 2010

    -            laying of electric wire for construction of Barapullah elevated corridor

    200

    One notice was put up in the camp site. However, children in the slum tore up the notice before anyone had a chance to read it

    9.

    Camp near Shiv Mandir in Sewa Nagar

    January 12, 2009

    1.30pm

    -            to widen the road to build an underpass

    -            ‘beautification’ purposes

    10 – 12

    No notice provided

    10

    Prabhu Market

    (Lodhi Colony)

    January 9, 2009

    around 10 am – 11am

    -            to build a parking lot and link road to connect Thyagaraj Sports Complex to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium

    100

    No formal notice given. The police instead gave a verbal warning that there might be a demolition

    11

    Prabhu Market Extension

    (Lodhi Colony, near Railway Crossing)

    January 9, 2009

    10 -11am

    -            to build a parking lot and link road to connect Thyagaraj Sports Complex to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium

    120 – 130

    No formal notice given. The police instead gave a verbal warning that there might be a demolition

    12

    Sai Baba Camp

    (Lodhi Road)

    21 June 2010, 11 am

    - beautification purposes – security reasons

    25 (although MCD in court says that it destroyed only 13 homes)

    Two days before the demolition police gave a verbal warning

    13 .

    Viklang Basti

    (near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium)

    January 10, 2010

    - tobuildaparkinglotand link road to connect Thyagaraj Sports Complex to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium

    60 – 70

    Notice given 3 months in advance

    14

    Night shelter at Pusa Round Roundabout (Rachna Golchakkar)

    December 24, 2009

    - ‘beautification’–togrow grass on the roundabout

    250 people

    No notice

    15 .

    Yamuna Pushta

    April – June 2004

    - to clear the banks of the Yamuna river

    35,000 families

    4 – 5 days notice

    HLRN’s report – The 2010 Commonwealth Games: Whose Wealth? Whose Commons? and subsequent press releases are available at: www.hic-sarp.org.

    For more information and to schedule visits to sites contact:

    Shivani Chaudhry (9818 205234), Shalini Mishra (99586 25344), Miloon Kothari (98106 42122)

    Housing and Land Rights Network, A-1 Nizamuddin East, Lower Ground Floor, New Delhi – 110 013, (011-2435-1053), info@hic-sarp.org, www.hic-sarp.org

  • Kashmir: 35 day Pallhalan siege ends

    Indian troops at work in Kashmir

    ‘Wounded village’ heaves sigh of relief

    Asem Mohiuddin

    Pallhalan, Oct 17: With an end to the 35-day siege in the form of curfews, Pallhalan village of Bandipora district of North Kashmir finally woke up Sunday to a comparatively freer atmosphere and  residents quickly went about their normal chores.

    However, as one descends into this hamlet of over 60,000 population through a diversion from the Srinagar-Baramulla highway,  graffiti and slogans on the walls point to the intensity of confrontation between the government forces and locals during the past over four months of unrest in Kashmir.

    One of the most volatile areas of unrest, Pallhalan registered several deaths to the Kashmir unrest. The ‘war of words’ in the form of painted sloganeering on the walls and shop-shutters has both the sides: youth writing ‘pro-freedom’ and ‘anti-India’ slogans and next to these artistically scribbled ‘we want India’ by the uniformed men.

    The walls and shop-shutters are galore with this ‘written’ confrontation, besides the more injuring stone-pelting and the fatal bullets. Someone wrote ‘I am Indian’, but countered by an ‘I am Geelani man’. At the same time, ‘I love my Pallhalan’ has been erased and replaced with ‘I love my India’ or ‘Jai Hind’, and so on.

    This correspondent was a new face to them in a 35-day closed fortress. “It has been a long time we saw someone openly coming down to this village from the main road. Receiving guests are a forgotten thing for us. But, thank God, the siege was finally lifted,” says Ghualm Mohiuddin, a local. However, he is quick to add, “Don’t (authorities) again impose curfew.”

    But once in the village interiors, every soul seems to be wounded and recalling horror of the past four months of unrest. For instance, this villager in his late sixties, sitting outside his shabby house, narrates the horrendous tale of alleged harassment by the paramilitary CRPF.

    “One month back I was at home with my two young sons. All of a sudden I witnessed some commotion, followed by heavy teargas shelling and aerial firing. In the meantime, some troops barged into our house and started searching. My elder son (18) hid himself in the bathroom but the younger one (14) preferred to sit with me. The troopers picked him from my side and began thrashing him. They did not even tell me the reason for their unwarranted action. He suffered a fracture in the arm. When it was my turn, an Army official however came to my rescue and asked them not to hit me,” the elderly villager, pleading anonymity, recalls. The injured boy did not stay in the village after the thrashing and soon fled to his maternal uncle’s house out of fear.

    Next door stays another boy who is bed-ridden. Amir Ahmad (16) received a bullet in his leg on Shab-e-Qadr, the day four people fell to the firing by forces. Amir was off to the mosque for prayers when he met this fate. Worse, he was disheartened when he came to know that his cousin had succumbed to his injuries the same day in forces’ firing. Amir has no sensation in the right leg and doctor’s reports suggest that his injury has little chances of recovery.

    The family of six survives on the meagre earnings of Amir’s old father Ghulam Ahmad, a carpet weaver and Amir was the lone hope for the future.

    Across the lane is another wounded family. Nayeem Ahmad (22), the victim of same day’s troops’ action, who runs a grocery shop at Main Chowk, received two bullets in abdomen and arm.

    “There were protests on the road followed by stone pelting and clashes. The troops resorted to firing and everybody ran for his life. But I got two bullets in abdomen and arm. The troops did not allow ambulance to SDH Pattan which is only three kilometers away. Later I was taken to Sumbal SDH, around 13 kms away. Thank God, I survived although I had heavy blood loss,” Nayeem recalls.

    However, his brother, Ansarul-Haq was not so lucky. Pursuing his PG in English from Kashmir University, he met the inevitable after a week of coming out of Aetkaf during holy Ramdan. Nayeem said on September 18, Ansarul Haq was in mosque to offer Zuhar prayers when troops allegedly fired upon the people. According to him he received bullet in the head and died on the spot.

    Locals say since last two months over two hundred youth have fled the village to evade their arrest.

    Deputy Inspector General Police, North Range, Muneer Ahmad Khan said that all those wanted will be arrested and the deployment of troops in Main Chowk is to avoid blockade of Baramulla-Srinagar highway by protesters.

    “All those who disturbed public order and indulged in stone-pelting are wanted and will be arrested. The deployment on highway is to prevent the closure of road by protesters,” Khan said.

  • Orissa, India: Government enquiry committee finds that POSCO steel project is illegal

    [POSCO is a US-South Korean steel company that has plans to build a multi-billion dollar steel plant and port at Jagatsingpur in the state of Orissa.-ed.]

    Countercurrents, October 18, 2010

    By Abhay Sahoo

    Today, three of the four members of the committee set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests confirmed that the POSCO project is illegal and that all of its clearances were obtained by breaking the law. The Committee has also found that the project has potentially very dangerous impacts on issues like water, air pollution, and the coastline, and none of this was ever properly evaluated. After a detailed discussion of the huge number of criminal actions by the company and the Orissa government, the Committee says (in the conclusion of the report):

    “The POSCO project is an example of how a mirage of “development” can be used in an attempt to bypass the law. Such attempts, if allowed to succeed, will result in neither development nor environmental protection, but merely in profiteering. This will cause immeasurable harm to the nation and to the rule of law and justice in our society.”

    We particularly draw attention to the fact that the majority found that:

    • The Orissa government and the Central government have violated the Forest Rights Act and tried to grab forest land that belongs to the people. This is the second official committee that has reached this conclusion.

    • The project could cause environmental devastation particularly in regard to water, air pollution, coastal damage, danger of industrial disasters in case of cyclones, etc., all of which was ignored by the government.

    • POSCO suppressed facts and tried to get around the requirements of law.

    • The environmental, forest and coastal regulation clearances obtained by the project were all illegal and should all be revoked.

    • The forest clearance can only be given subject to the recognition of rights and the consent of the gram sabha under the Forest Rights Act.

    Those who keep talking of the POSCO project as one of “national importance” should answer these questions: would any other country in the world tolerate such violations of their law? Would South Korea tolerate an Indian company grabbing their land, breaking their laws and threatening to cause an environmental disaster? Is this what development means – robbing thousands of their lands and threatening lakhs with water shortage and other catastrophes?

    As for the dissenting report of Ms. Meena Gupta, her position reflects her own interests. She was the Secretary that granted the environment clearance, and asking her to review it is like asking a thief to don a police uniform. Naturally she has said that all the clearances should continue. Her report is full of distortions, such as claiming that there are only 700 families in the area (when over 4,000 will lose their lands and/or homes). She tries to cover up crimes by saying that it does not matter if the law was broken; all that is required is to impose some additional “conditions.”

    We call upon the Central government to heed the voice of the people and the findings of the majority report, withdraw all clearances and cancel this unjust, illegal and brutal project.

    Abhay Sahoo, Chairperson, PPSS , POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI

  • PCPA backs claim of massacre by Communist Party of India (Marxist) cadres

    Times of India, October 1, 2010

    KOLKATA: The Maoist-backed People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), on Thursday welcomed Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's demand for a CBI probe into the 'mass killings' at Jhargram villages by armed CPM cadres. PCPA even said they would help the probe team if needed. 

    PCPA spokesman Joydev Mahato said this in response to Mamata's claims that armed CPM cadres in police uniform carried out a Nandigram-style operation in the outskirts of Jhargram to capture several villages between September 25 and 27. 

    A few days ago, PCPA had made the same allegation when joint forces raided Chheraboni and Bandarboni villages of Binpur. A CRPF jawan and a suspected Maoist were killed during that raid. Police claimed that the raid was conducted to nab top Maoist leader Sashadhar Mahato who was reportedly camping there. The PCPA, however, denied the police statement. 

    "Guarded by joint forces, CPM cadres opened fire on unarmed villagers and killed at least 10 people, including Khokon Mahato, whose body was recovered. The CPM cadres ransacked several villages and forced villagers to flee,'' said Mahato. 

    PCPA called a 48-hour strike in Jangalmahal to protest the incident. And Mamata's statement has endorsed the same allegation. 

    On Thursday, the PCPA spokesman said, "We are happy that Mamata Banerjee has raised the issue and demanded a probe. If she comes to Jangalmahal, we will help her find out the truth. People will tell her how armed cadres of CPM are capturing villages. PCPA is even ready to help if any probe team arrives here." 

    Joydev Mahato alleged that CPM is continuing its armed operation in other parts of Jangalmahal. Two women, Basanti Murmu and Ghurmoni Mandi, sustained injuries and several others are missing from some villages in Binpur, alleged PCPA. In protest against this CPM-led violence, PCPA has decided to observe October 2 as Black Day. Chief Minister Budhhadeb Bhattacharjee is scheduled to visit Midnapore on that day. 

    The PCPA found Mamata's comment handy to justify its stance. "For long we have been saying the same thing," said Mahato. 

    Jhargram SP Praveen Tripathi refused to comment on the issue. CPM, however, came down heavily on Mamata. "It now becomes clear that Trinamool has a nexus with the Maoists. As the Maoists and their frontal organisation PCPA are cornered by the resistance of common people and joint forces, Mamata is trying to make the situation more complicated," said Dahareswar Sen, CPM district committee member in Midnapore. All her allegations are baseless, he said.

    Read more: PCPA backs ‘massacre’ claim - The Times of Indiahttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata-/-PCPA-backs-massacre-claim/articleshow/6654799.cms#ixzz133Vtqqhy

  • In 72 hour operation in Jharkhand, forces fail to nab Maoist leaders

    Manohar Lal, Times of India, Sep 28, 2010

    RANCHI: Security forces encircled jungle training camps in Jharkhand where some of the top Maoist commanders were present with scores of combatants, engaging the red cadres in a fierce 72-hour encounter. 

    While the four Maoist central committee members — CPI-Maoist No. 2 Kishanda alias Prashant Bose, head of Bengal-Jharkhand-Orissa zone Kishanji, Aravind of Bihar and Mahesh of Assam — reportedly conducting the war training, slipped through the extensive dragnet, security forces on Monday claimed they had killed 10 Naxalites in the dense Saranda forests during the first major anti-Maoist operation in the state. 

    A CoBRA jawan, Jaimal Singh and two Jharkhand Police constables — Jehangir Khan and Rajeev Ranjan — were killed in the encounter while CRPF assistant commandant Nitish Kumar was injured, said Jharkhand DGP Neyaz Ahmad. Only one body of a dead Maoist combatant had so far been located. 

    Although success eluded the forces, the operation demonstrated new levels of coordination between the different arms involved in anti- Naxal operations and a better degree of intelligence gathering. Such operations, clearly aimed at maiming the top leadership, would impede the Naxal surge and prevent them from launching attacks involving hundreds of combatants with impunity. 

    The joint operation was launched following information that Maoists were training since this month at Saranda forest in West Singhbhum district. Senior Maoist leaders had been visiting the camp to train recruits and hold meetings with the cadre. 

    Around 2,000 security personnel from state police, CRPF and CoBRA forces surrounded a 500 sq km swath of sal forests and closed in on the camps on Saturday night. About a fortnight back, West Bengal police had received a tip-off that Kishenji would come to Jharkhand's Ghatshila railway station. But that trail went cold. 

    During the operation, two training camps near Ratamati and Norda villages were destroyed. But senior Maoist leaders managed to escape. 

    A cache of arms, including a country made .303 rifles, a double barrel gun, six grenades, four landmines, four mortar bombs, one claymore mine, packets of explosives, jungle warfare training documents, solar panels, generator sets, UPS, tarpaulin and war fatigues were seized from the camps. The security personnel missed Kishenji narrowly, said sources. They had managed to trap him during the stand-off. But, the forces ran out of rations and had to withdraw, said sources. Forces returned to their base camps at Kiriburu and Manoharpur on Monday as they were exhausted fighting in a difficult terrain.
  • Dispossession of the Adivasis of Jharkhand

    By Stan Swamy
    05 August, 2010,  Sanhati.com

    The dispossessed Adivasi is hunted as a criminal; the looter-outsider has become ‘honourable citizen’

    1. The sad story of impoverishment of the Adivasi [the tribal people of India]: A few examples will suffice. Gladson Dungdung is a young human rights activist and writer. His family had 20 acres of fertile land in Simdega district, Jharkhand . It was forcibly acquired by the govt for the construction of a dam at a terribly low rate. The compensation for the 20 acres fertile land the family got was Rs. 11,000. Even by minimal standards, it should have been at least Rs. 20 Iakhs. This is just one example among many many such deprivations. Is this not deliberate impoverishment of a people ?
    2. The Suvernrekha Project in Chandil, Jharkhand, displaced 120 villages and alienated 43,500 acres of land from the Adivasi, Moolvasi communities. A rehabilitation package was worked out 27 years ago. But it has not been implemented in about half of the villages. Yet people of these villages have lost every thing they had. To add insult to injury, the project management wants to close the radial gates of the dam which will inundate 44 villages awaiting rehabilitation Is this not a deliberate act of deprivation of a people?
    3. Heavy Electricals Company (HEC) in Ranchi displaced 12,990 families and alienated 9,200 acres of land from Adivasi, Moolvasi communities. Of this, about 2000 acres of acquired land has been lying idle during half a century. This surplus land should as per law be returned to the original land owners. But the govt is giving it for real estate housing for the well-to-do. Is this not a deliberate violation of the legal rights of a people?
    4. During the past five decades, about 17 lakh of Adivasis & Moolvasis [1.7 million people] have been displaced and about 24 lakh acres of their land has been alienated from them at minimal compensation. Of the displaced, only 25% have been resettled. The remaining 75% have been neatly forgotten. This whole process of dispossession took place without any rehabilitation policy in place. Is this not a deliberate dispossession of a people ?
    5. The sad story of annihilation of the Adivasi: Now big giants in the form of national & multinational companies are landing in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa like devouring lions to capture huge tracts of Adivasi /Moolvasi land in view of looting the mineral riches. Over 100 MoUs between the govt and respective companies have been signed in Jharkhand alone, threatening the take over of 1,04,000 acres of land. There is no estimate of how many hundreds of villages, how many thousands of families, how many lakhs of persons will be displaced. All this is done without any reference to the gram sabhas which is a requirement as per the PESA Act. Is this not a calculated move by the ruling capitalist class to further impoverish the Adivasi / Moolvasi
    people ?
    6. Having been pushed to the wall during all these decades, the Adivasi/ Moolvasi people have reached a stage when they cannot be pushed any more. They have decided to take their life back into their hands. Clear Resistance Movements are emerging through which they have begun to tell one and all that they will not part with any of their land to any company. Consequently, big companies demanding big chunks of land have not been able to open shop in Jharkhand. A clear assertion of people’s power.
    7. And this is what the capitalist ruling class, the Indian govt, the corporate houses, the urban middle class, the bureaucracy cannot tolerate. They cannot understand how and why the poor Adivasi / Moolvasi farmers can defy the mighty power of the state and the powerful corporate houses. So they have compelled the Indian Govt to declare Operation Green Hunt against the Adivasi and the Moolvasi. It is actually a hunt for the green fields and green forests of the tribal region of central India, because it is beneath the green fields and green forests lay a treasure of minerals of all kinds. And the corporates want to loot them by all means. This is the last straw on the camel’s back, after which the tribals of central India will be wiped out of existence. Is this not a malicious move against the Indigenous People of India?
    8. Now, how to go about doing this act of annihilation? It has to be done in a cleverly manipulated way so that the general usually unthinking majority of the population can be carried along so that the act of extermination does seem justified. Terrorism, extremism, Maoism, Naxalism and the urgent need to counter them is continuously splashed in electronic & print media and the general unthinking public accepts the state’s action of annihilation as legitimate. The stage is now set for the drama of finishing off the extremists by pouring in thousands of para-military forces equipped with sophisticated weapons especially in those areas where there is an abundant stock of minerals.
    9. The villages inside jungles or adjoining jungles are occupied by these mercenary forces. School buildings are occupied thus putting an end to rural children’s education and by the same action stopping the mid-day meal to the children for most of whom that is the only full meal they get to eat. All the young men in these villages become suspects; they are picked up, abused, tortured, arrested in the garb of being ‘naxalites’. Young women wearing salwar-kamiz clothes are abused as being aides of naxalites and ordered to wear saries or school uniform. Grown up men are also beaten up because they do not give the expected answer to the queries of the occupying forces. People are not allowed to have small meetings by themselves as also not allowed to travel out of their villages. Women and children are prevented from going into the jungle to collect minor forest produce. For the first time in tribal history, the village bazaars are closing down because people cannot bring forest produce to buy and sell. The whole village is tense and a sense of fear prevails.
    10. How long will the people live in such an atmosphere? The sad fact is that poverty is deepening in rural tribal areas. Added to this is the fact that monsoon has failed last two years, and a people who survive on mono-monsoon-crop have nothing to eat. Hunger and malnutrition is a stark reality. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) done recently by Oxford University points out that the eight central Indian states have more poor people than all the sub-saharan African countries put together. Its estimate of poverty in India is: 81% of Scheduled Tribes, 66% of Scheduled Castes, 58% of Other Backward Castes are poor as per the measures of MPI. Why doesn’t the govt do some thing about this rather than hunting the hungry Adivasi people in the name of ‘naxalites’?
    11. Finally, the police and CRPF are indiscriminately using The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) picking up young men from inside buses, from inside their houses, from village bazaars. Most often one does not know where these young men are taken and what happens to them. The judicial process of producing arrested persons before a magistrate within 24 hours has been dispensed with . The tribal areas of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa wear the look of ‘police state’. The electronic and press media are playing to tune of the govt. A frightful situation indeed. At the same time, the laws which are in favour of the Adivasi/ Moolvasi, such as The Panchayats (extension to Scheduled Areas) 1996, The Forest Rights of Scheduled Castes and other traditional forest dwellers Act, 2006, are not implemented. So the principle seems to be “starve them, shoot them and finish them”! What is awaiting the Adivasi and Moolvasi People of central India in the near and distant future is difficult to predict. One thing is certain: the corporates, the capitalist ruling class, the Indian State, the urban middle class want to see the end of the Indigenous People of India.
  • Chhattisgarh to Step Up Offensive against Maoists

    Sify News, October 12 2010

    Raipur, Chhattisgarh has decided to step up the offensive against Maoist guerrillas.
    The offensive against the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) had slackened since July as the security forces found it difficult to operate in the thick jungles that serve as Maoist hideouts.
    ‘After a let up during monsoon, we will now step up the offensive in Maoist pockets,’ an official at the police headquarters told IANS.
    Chhattisgarh’s 40,000 sq km Bastar region, a long-time stronghold of the Maoists, is ringed by landmines placed by the guerrillas to prevent the movement of security forces.

    The official said that roughly 40,000 personnel drawn from the state police and paramilitary forces including the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Border Security Force (BSF) have been deployed in the five districts of Bastar region.
    These include Dantewada, Bijapur, Bastar, Narayanpur and Kanker.
    The state police force will also intensify operations in parts of Mahasamund and Raipur districts where rebels have made inroads in recent months.
    Maoists have a presence in 13 of state’s 18 districts, with a dominating presence in seven.
    Officials say roughly 2,100 people have been killed in Maoist violence in the state since it was born in November 2000.
  • PCPA calls 48 hour bandh in Janglemahal area

    United News of India,  September 27, 2010

    PCPA Bandh Hits Life

    Jhargram, Sept. 27 -- PCPA activists raised blockade on State Highway nine at six places between Lodhasuli and Jhargram on the second day today of their 48-hour bandh in the Junglemahal areas.  Official sources said the activists blocked the highway by felling trees. These were removed by the security forces in the morning.

    The bandh paralysed life in the Junglemahal areas of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura districts for the second consecutive day.  The People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA) was protesting alleged atrocities against innocent villagers by the combined forces.

    Roads wore a deserted looks, while shops and business establishments kept their shutter down. Educational institutions remained shut and attendence in government offices was thin.  Despite the threat by the PCPA that they would target railways, train services were normal.

    SDO Jhargram C Murugan said, ''Life has been paralysed in West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura districts. No untoward incident, however, has been reported so far.''

    Incidentally, a Maoist and a CRPF jawan lost their lives in an encounter on Saturday.

  • CRPF to Remain in Lalgarh

    Sify News, 2010-10-20

    CRPF Director General K. Vijay Kumar has said the Para- military forces will remain in Lalgarh and operations against Maoists will be intensified if necessary in West Bengal.

    Talking to reporters after meeting force's local commanders and senior Bengal police officers here on Tuesday, Kumar said: "The operations against the Maoists would continue and the central forces would remain. If necessary, the operations will be intensified".

    He further said: "I visited Lalgarh and Midnapore to assess the ground-level situation and see how effective the co-ordination was between the CRPF and the state police. The understanding among the forces is good. We looked at ways to take it forward."

    Meanwhile, Chief secretary Samar Ghosh Ghosh said the State government was ready to allot 10 acres of land for the eastern zone headquarters of the CRPF at Jyoti Basu Nagar.

    He also said the State government was going to allot 120 acres to the CRPF for setting up its operational hub. At present, the CRPF's operational hub for eastern zone is located at Jamshedpur.

    "We kept aside a few plots of land for NSG hub, and we will give one of them to the CRPF," Ghosh added.

    Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked for the withdrawal of the para-military forces from Naxal affected areas of West Bengal (ANI)

  • Call for Convention on Kashmir

    COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

    VENUE: LTG AUDITORIUM, COPERNICUS MARG, MANDI HOUSE, NEW DELHI
    DATE: 21-10-2010, THURSDAY TIME: 2PM-8PM

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  • Forum for Promoting lnclusive Growth, 18-19 October, 2010

    Development -- Maladies and Remedies National Seminar
    18 and 19 October 2010 - 11 AM 6 PM
    Auditorium, India International Centre (IIC)
    40, Lodhi Estate, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi - 110003
    On 18 October, and;
    Speakers Hall, Constitutional Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi
    On 19 October 2010

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