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An Open Appeal ..Release Prashant Rahi, a senior journalis

Posted by Indian Vanguard on January 6, 2008


29.12.2007

An Open Appeal!!!

Dear friends and comrades ,

This is to inform you of the recent arrest of Prashant Rahi, a senior journalist of Uttarakhand, by the state police. Prashant was arrested on 15 th of this month in Dehradun and was allegedly charged of being a Maoist commander. The police secretly confined him for five days after which he was shown arrested from the forests of Hanspur Khatta on 21 st December. The police have charged him with various sections of IPC including 121, 121A, 124A, 153B, 120B. All the media carried the same version as stated by the police.

Just to give you a background, Prashant Rahi had been working in close association with the local people’s struggles in Uttarakhand since last 17 years. He has been a journalist by profession. Started his career from Himachal Times, moved on to The Statesman and worked many years covering people’s issues. He is a native of Maharashtra and pursued his education from Banaras Hindu University .

This incident is in continuance of the trend set by many innocent arrests in the last few months including that of Binayak Sen and some journalists in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh of targeting pro-people intellegentsia. The trend has become increasingly apparent in those parts of the country where people’s movement is strong.

We firmly believe that this state action is a part of the efforts being carried out by the various state governments to secure hefty amount of funds from the central government in the name of combating naxalism. For this, it becomes imperative for them to prove that the state is inflicted with this insurgency.

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the arrest of Prashant Rahi and call upon all the concerned individuals, civil society organisations, journalist unions, writers unions, people’s movements and struggling groups to join hands in solidarity and support.

Rajendra Dhasmana (President, PUCL, Uttarakhand)

Manglesh Dabral (Poet and Journalist)

Pankaj Bisht (Editor, Samayantar)

Anand Swaroop Verma (Journalist and Human Rights Activist)

P.C. Tiwari (National Secretary, Indian Federation of Working Journalists)

Suresh Nautiyal (General Secretary, Uttarakhand Patrakar Parishad)

Anil Chaudhary (President, INSAF)

Jagdish Yadav (Photo Editor, Pioneer)

Harsh Dobhal (Managing Editor, Combat Law)

Shekhar Pathak, Senior Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Gautam Navlakha (Consulting Editor, Economic and Political Weekly)

Ashish Gupta (Asamiya Pratidin)

Anil Chamadia (Journalist)

Jaspal Singh Siddhu (UNI)

A.K. Arun (Editor, Yuva Samwad)

Madan Kashyap (Poet)

Pankaj Singh (Poet and Journalist)

Karuna Madan (Journalist)

Piyush Pant (Editor, Lok Samwad)

Sarvesh (Photo Journalist)

Panini Anand (Journalist, BBC Hindi)

Avinash (Journalist, NDTV India)

Bhupen Singh (Journalist, STAR News)

Sukla Sen (CNDP India)

Aanchal Kapur (Kriti Team)

Vijayan MJ ( Delhi Forum)

Sanjay Mishra (Special Correspondent, Dainik Bhaskar)

Prem Piram (Director, Jagar Uttarakhand)

Ashok Pandey (Poet)

Arvind Gaur (Director, Asmita Theatre Group)

Pankaj Chaturvedi (Poet)

Satyam Verma (Rahul Foundation)

Ranjit Verma (Advocate)

Bishambhar (Secretary, Roji Roti Bachao Morcha)

Ajay Prakash (Journalist, The Public Agenda)

Swatantra Mishra (Journalist, IANS)

Vandana (Special Correspondent, Nai Dunia)

Shree Prakash (INSAF)

Abhishek Srivastava (Freelance Journalist)

Rajeshwar Ojha (Asha Pariwar)

Raju (Human Rights Law Network)

Rajesh Arya (Journalist)

Kamta Prasad (Linguist and Translator)

Abhishek Kashyap (Writer)

Thakur Prasad (Managing Editor, Samprati Path)

Rajiv Ranjan Jha (Writer)

Srikant Dube (Journalist)

Rishikant (Journalist)

Pankaj Narayan(Journalist)

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‘15,000-strong Maoist army posing threat’

Posted by Indian Vanguard on January 6, 2008

T’PURAM: The Maoists who have grown into an army of over 15,000, with sophisticated weapons smuggled illegally from neighbouring states like Nepal, have become a major threat to the country, particularly in and around Jharkhand where the system of law and order is yet to mature, according to Union Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar.

In an exclusive interview to this website’s newspaper here on Saturday, the high-profile IAS officer from Kerala said his focus would now be on the North-East where the infiltration of Maoists was increasing day by day.

His observations gain importance against the background of the violence in Nandigram where organised Maoist activism challenged existing government institutions.

Chandrasekhar was the first Union Cabinet Secretary to visit the Naxal-prone areas in Jharkhand and moot a development initiative to counter the menace instead of using force.

Newindpress

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Cops took a bigger hit than Naxalites in 2007

Posted by Indian Vanguard on January 3, 2008

More than 200 policemen lost their lives fighting Maoists in central India’s killing fields this year. The number of Naxalites they killed was a little above half this figure, according to official records.

The year 2007 saw the highest body loss suffered by security forces in many years in the battle against Maoist guerrillas, whom Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called ‘ the single biggest security challenge to the Indian state’.

Singh told a conference of ministers this month that the Naxals – who were consolidating, getting stronger and more confident – had developed the capability in some areas to launch frontal attacks on police forces and establishments.

Official figures complied by the Union home ministry for this conference indicate that 214 policemen lost their lives in the first 11 months this year, up from 133 policemen killed during the same period last year and 105 killed in 2003. The number of naxals killed had, however, declined from last year’s 239 in 2006 and 216 in 2003, to 129 this year.

The union home ministry has explained the larger number of deaths to better coordinated attacks by the Maoists who have access to enhanced fire power, a militaristic strategy and an enviable ability to analyse adverse situation and devise strategies for counter them.

Vishwa Ranjan, director general of police of Chhattisgarh, where 181 policemen were killed this year, attributed the higher casualties to the series of operations undertaken by the security forces.

“We are trying to enter areas dominated by them… it is natural that the force entering an area held by the other side would have to take a heavier toll,” he said, pointing out that the casualties would increase, on both sides, as security forces push their way in.

But the sacrifice, he emphasised, was not in vain. “We reported 66 casualties among naxals as we had to go by the body count. But their literature seized recently indicates they loss about 180 people in the operations,” he said.

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Red corridor expands

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 22, 2007

Naxal cadres (file)

The Naxal movement of Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh has now found fresh breeding ground in states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, from where it had once been completely uprooted. And this has becoming a matter of grave concern for the internal security of the country.

After a fierce gun battle, in the dense jungles along the Western ghats in Theni district five hard core Naxalites were nabbed by the Special Task force of the Tamil Nadu police on Friday (December 21).

Over the past six months, over 15 dreaded Naxals – all trying to spread their agenda in the border areas – have been arrested.

And now Tamil Nadu is finally waking up to the harsh reality: that it has become a haven for these dreaded extremists. This has been admitted by Chief Minister Karunanidhi for the very first time.

“The intrusion is upto Theni… So far, we have managed and they had been prevented from infiltrating further. When compared to other states, the infiltration is very less in Tamil Nadu,” said Karunanidhi.

The Naxal tentacles have not just stopped with Tamil Nadu; in neighbouring Kerala, two members of the People’s War Group of Andhra were arrested only a few days ago trying to move weapons and set up ‘DALAMS’ – or cells.

These incidents are a clear indication that Left-wing extremism. which was thought to be non-existent in the southern most states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala – is nowfast gaining ground.

This confirmation has come from none other than the Prime Minister himself. PM Manmohan Singh spoke yesterday at the Internal Security meeting of chief ministers, where he said: “Naxals have been achieving some degree of success in enlarging their areas of militancy… Not a day passes without an incident of the Left-wing extremism taking place somewhere or the other.”

Clearly, the Naxal menace needs to be treated as seriously as terrorist activity.

On paper the Union government has called for “improved intelligence gathering” and better coordination between the Centre and states – but a situation check on the ground proves that the southern states are far from controlling Left-wing extremism.

The Naxal movement of Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh has now found fresh breeding ground in states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, from where it had once been completely uprooted. And this is becoming a matter of grave concern for the internal security of the country.

(By Durga Nandini)

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Naxalite extortion puts brakes on UPA flagship project

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 22, 2007

New Delhi: It’s not just jailbreaks, landmines or kidnappings, 2007 has also been the year when Naxalite groups have been systematically targeting development work.

Their extortion has led to a situation where work on the flagship project of the UPA government.

The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana has come to a standstill, especially in a Naxal-affected state like Bihar.

Sources tell CNN-IBN that work connecting nearly 10,000 villages has come to a halt as Naxals demand up to 10 per cent of the tender value from the contractors which include giants like NHPC, NBCC, NPCC, IRCON and CPWD.

Now, their refusal has led to attacks on men and machinery.

“They want to exploit lack of development. They don’t want development to take place,” says Madhukar Gupta, Home Secretary.

The seriousness is reiterated in an internal report of IRCON underlining the Naxal threat across Bihar in Naxalite affected areas.

Contractor is not able to work due to threatening for high demand by extremist.

The Prime Minister has emphasised the need for anti-Naxal force and not just to contain incidents like this but to also ensure support and security for basic development work as well.

Naxals targetting government work is not new but holding crucial projects like the PMGSY and NREGA to ransom is something that the Government of the aam admi has to ensure stops if it insists on connecting and developing it’s villages on the national highway.

IBN Live

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Crush Maoists, says Manmohan Singh

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 21, 2007

Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, Dec. 20: Underlining again, that Maoists posed the single biggest security challenge to India, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today urged chief ministers to cripple their rebellion with all means at their command.

Delving at length on the Maoist movement that affects at least 12 states, Dr Singh reiterated the need to shore up the country’s internal security machinery and called for superior policing techniques to defeat the insurgency. “Not a day passes without an incident of left-wing extremism taking place somewhere or the other. There also seems to be a consolidation of various groups with better coordination and strike capabilities,” the Prime Minister told chief ministers attending a conclave on internal security. “I have said in the past that left-wing extremism is the single biggest security challenge to the Indian state. It continues to be so, and we cannot rest in peace till we have eliminated this virus. We need a coordinated response to this challenge. The answers to the problem are well known. We need to cripple Naxalite forces with all the means at our command.”

Although the number of violent incidents blamed on the Maoists fell from 1,509 in 2006 to 1,285 until Oct 31 this year, the number of security personnel killed by them rose from 157 last year to 188 until the end of October in 2007.
Referring to this week’s jailbreak in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district ~ the epicentre of the Maoist rebellion ~ where nearly 300 prisoners along with Maoists escaped, Dr Singh lamented the paucity of policemen to counter the fast-emerging challenges including hinterland terrorism.

“I hear that there were only three personnel at the Dantewada jail. Inadequate, ill-equipped, ill-trained, poorly-motivated personnel cannot take on the Naxal extremists who are increasingly better equipped and organised.”

“They are carefully targeting all aspects of economic activity. They are targeting vital economic infrastructure so as to cripple transport and logistic capabilities and also slow down any development activity,” he said. He urged the chief ministers to strengthen core policing, fill up vacancies in police forces and show better leadership and resolve to face up to the challenge.

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Naxalites may be plotting a move

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 21, 2007

Hemendra Narayan
NEW DELHI, Dec. 20: Even as the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today sounded the alarm on Naxal activities, it would be no surprise if there is “dramatic” action within a day for two by the extreme Left groups in the areas mentioned by him.

Since the jail break in Jehanabad in Bihar two years ago, the extreme left groups, particularly the CPI (Maoists), have taken the security forces completely by surprise, be it in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh or Andhra Pradesh. Last Sunday’s jailbreak at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh was another example of meticulous planning.

They have overpowered a passenger train, looted an armoury of Home Guards in Giridih and mingled with a wedding party on the main road in Dhanbad to undertake daring action. The element of surprise is their “trump card” as is their hogging the headlines. They have slain an MP in the interior of Jharkhand after apparently being participants in a football match, killed a son of a former chief minister while being part of celebrations. Such activities cannot be successful without local support base. In areas under their control in the hills and jungles, the only government “machinery” available is the airwaves of All India Radio. There are no primary schools, no primary health centres or connecting roads. It is in these areas that the extreme left groups hold complete sway.

Earlier, the official word to denote extreme left activities was “menace”; today the Prime Minister used the term “virus”, more popular these days in IT than medicine. Dr Singh asked the states to develop a police force solely dedicated to combating the Maoists. But there are some in the Planning Commission who would point out that the naxalite ‘virus’ is not really a law and order problem but more the result of lack of development in 33 districts spread over eight states which have been identified as worst affected by Naxal activities. Most of them are in tribal areas. According to one count, as many as 165 districts in the country have some Naxal presence.

Many acknowledge that poverty and non-development of the regions were major reasons for the extreme left groups building up a support base. Rampant corruption and unresponsive bureaucracy along with feudal tendencies and no effort at land reforms help these groups gain an upper hand in the poverty-affected areas.

There has been stray efforts to take up special development projects in the affected areas but they have not gone very far as in the case of Operation Siddharth in Jehanabad in the mid-eighties to prevent the rebels from consolidating their base.
The merger of the CPI (ML) People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) after protracted talks to form Communist Party of India (Maoists) on 21 September 2004, has also given them a wider area of operation and better coordination of their activities.

The Statesman

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Chief ministers’ meet to discuss Maoist menace

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 19, 2007

Published: Wednesday, 19 December, 2007, 01:42 AM Doha Time

NEW DELHI: Chief ministers of several states will meet in New Delhi this week to discuss ways to combat a firmly rooted left-wing rebel movement, reports said.

The rebels, who say they are fighting for the rights of landless labourers and neglected tribals in rural India, have been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the biggest single threat to domestic security.

Ahead of the meeting tomorrow, Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal talked with senior officials on ways to counter the rebels, including extending more rights over forest produce to tribals.

Many in India’s hinterland still survive on its shrinking forests, gathering items such as the leaves used for Indian “beedi” cigarettes.
But industrial and real estate developers are increasingly eyeing such land as well.
Officials are particularly concerned about 33 districts, more than half of them in two newly created eastern states — Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh — carved out of other states seven years ago.

The chief ministers’ conference will be held just days after a jailbreak on Sunday that saw hundreds of inmates, including many accused of being Maoist sympathisers, flee into the hills in Chhattisgarh.
The jail superintendent was arrested and under investigation, a Press Trust of India report said, and only a handful of the fugitives had been recaptured.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Home Minster Ramvichar Netam have admitted that escape from the Dantewada jail in a smooth 10-minute operation was a “clear case of security lapses”.
They said that officials posted in the jail department in the capital Raipur and those responsible for security at the Dantewada jail had let down the government.

But the government got into action only late Monday when hundreds of police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel returned after a daylong search of Dantewada’s thick forests.
“We will not let any official who is either directly or indirectly involved in (the) shameful jail breakout go free. I have sent several letters to senior officials in the past to look into the security issue of Dantewada jail but my instructions were overlooked,” Netam said.
Meanwhile, in the neighbouring state of Bihar, a siege by Maoist inmates at a jail ended yesterday evening after the police used force.
The police resorted to mild baton charge to disperse the inmates and send them back to their wards. The siege ended without any violence.

The Maoists took control of the inner wing of Patna’s Beur jail in protest against alleged ill-treatment by jail authorities.
It all started when Maoist inmates attacked policemen on duty inside the jail, forcing them to flee. The inmates freed two top Maoist leaders, including Ajay Kanu.

Kanu was the mastermind behind the Jehanabad jailbreak when around 300 inmates, including 150 Maoists, escaped in 2005. He was later arrested and lodged in Beur jail. The Maoists also reportedly assaulted some inmates, including a legislator, who tried to pacify them.

Maoists have been staging protests inside the jail for the last few days after Nagina Manjhi, 40, a member of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), committed suicide on December 14. Manjhi was found hanging from the iron gate of the jail infirmary where he was being treated for a minor ailment.

Official sources said over 300 Maoists were lodged in Beur jail. The Maoist inmates have found support from hundreds of other inmates.
According to jail officials, there are about 2,400 inmates in Beur jail, almost more than double its capacity.
Maoist inmates accused jail officials of failing to provide medical help to Manjhi. They began a hunger strike inside the jail on Sunday to protest against the lack of facilities. – Agencies

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Centre seeks ‘report cards’ on 33 Naxalite-hit districts

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 18, 2007

December 18, 2007

NEW DELHI: The Centre’s plan to fight Naxalism through development will be put to test during the chief ministers’ conference on internal security on December 20 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will seek the “report cards” of 33 districts which have been identified as worst affected by Naxal terror.

Chief secretaries of eight states, where these 33 districts are located, will have to tell the PM about the initiatives taken to ensure overall development in the past three months, sources in the home ministry said. The decision to seek “report cards” was taken by the home ministry after an inter-ministerial group (IMG), chaired by additional secretary Vinay Kumar, met to review the overall situation in these districts.

Incidentally, more than 20% of police stations in these 33 districts have reported Naxal violence with relatively higher number of casualties. “The states concerned will be asked to come with the progress report of these districts when their chief ministers attend the conference,” said a senior official.

Of the 33 Naxal-hit districts, Jharkhand accounts for 10 and Chhattisgarh for seven. These two states, in fact, accounted for more than two-thirds of the 571 deaths in the country due to Naxal violence till October 31.

The Centre has identified one district each in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in the new category for overall development on priority basis. While six remaining districts belong to Bihar, five are in Orissa and two in Maharashtra.

Though the IMG meeting also took note of ongoing development works in other Naxal-affected districts across 13 states, the focus was on the new block of 33. Currently, 165 districts in the country have Naxal presence in varying degrees.

Besides senior home ministry officials, joint secretary-rank officers from the ministries of panchayati raj, rural development, tribal affairs, elementary education, health, forest, information and broadcasting, environment, women and child development and agriculture also attended the IMG meeting.

Source: The Times of India, December 18, 2007

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Centre caught in red jail jolt dilemma

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 18, 2007


BHAVNA VIJ-AURORA

New Delhi, Dec. 17: Housing Naxalites in jails is proving to be a huge headache for the home ministry.

The Dantewada jailbreak has once again brought the tricky issue of imprisoning Naxalites to the forefront. The task force on Naxalites has failed to resolve the dilemma of whether to put the Maoists, who are in custody, together in one jail or spread them over in different jails.

“It has been noticed that if they are put together in one jail, they conspire and organise en masse escape. And if they are put separately in different jails, they tend to motivate other prisoners, converting them to their way of thinking. It may seem like a trivial issue but it is not,” disclosed a senior home ministry official.

Yesterday’s was the biggest jailbreak by Maoists after the Jehanabad jail storming in November 2005. The issue has figured in all the meetings of the task force, including the last one held on December 13 in Bhubaneswar. The issue of security and surveillance in and around the prisons was also discussed. It was also observed that though most states, affected by Naxalism, had managed to control the violence somewhat, it was Chhattisgarh which had failed to stem the incidents.

The home ministry today sought a detailed report from the state government about the major breach of security at the jail, which is supposed to be the most sensitive and the most-protected in the area.

“It is a well known fact that Dantewada is in the heart of Naxalism. The security of the area has been the highest priority. It is discussed at all coordination meetings of the affected states and the Centre. Yet the jailbreak happened. The administration of the area is extremely poor,” said the officer.

In fact, this observation was also made by cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar when he visited Chhattisgarh for a review in October-end. He had also noted that the “Salwa Judum”, the civil militia in the state, needed to be reoriented.

Home secretary Madhukar Gupta spoke to senior officers in Chhattisgarh administration, and also to the director general of police about the incident.

Sources said security in and around the jails had been an issue of great concern for the Centre and the ministry of home affairs had been writing to the affected states to beef it up. “In fact, a detailed action plan had been worked out about the steps to be taken to improve security of the prisons. The states had asked for additional companies of CRPF but the Centre told them to strengthen their policing instead by filling up the vacant posts,” the official added.

The states, specially Chhattisgarh, were advised on how to man their prisons better and also on how to train, equip and orient the jail staff, sources said.

Moreover, the state authorities had been asked to increase manpower in jails and install latest gadgets to keep a tab on the activities of jail inmates.


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