Around 70 to 80 armed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres, stormed into Pasiya village under Chak panchayat (village level local self government institution) in Manatu block in Palamu District on April 25 and set ablaze the equipment of a cell phone tower, reports The Pioneer. The Maoists also set ablaze a tractor–cum–trolley and assaulted the driver of the tractor Dineshwar Ram. Palamu District Superintendent of Police (SP) Patel Mayur K Lal confirmed the incident and claimed that the Maoists did this to hog limelight.
Maoists set ablaze vehicles, machines in Chhattisgarh
Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres set ablaze vehicles and machines deployed in construction of road from Godalbay to Kamar Bhaudi village under Piparchedi Police Station limits in Gariaband District on April 25, reports The Pioneer. According to Police, the incident happened under Piparchedi Police Station limits when some armed ultras reached the spot and set ablaze a JCB machine, water tanker and road roller deployed in the construction work. Soon after the incident the Maoists ran away from the spot threatening not to resume construction work, Police said. No casualty or injury incident was reported and a case was registered with Piparchedi Police Station in this connection.
The attacks in Chhattisgarh triggered a raging debate in security establishments on whether anti-Naxal offensives have been a massive failure. And whether a combined force of state police and Central paramilitary is in a position to tackle the insurgents, operating in 76 districts across 10 states. Let us face the facts. The government data in the past decade (2005-2015) throws horrific figures about the state of India’s anti-Naxal operations: 4,510 people—1,753 jawans and 2,757 civilians—were killed by Naxalites. During the same period, however, security forces killed 2,193 Naxalites.
This means that on an average, the Naxalites killed about two persons for every one they lost in the battlefield. They also snatched away 536 sophisticated weapons from the security forces. Now, what is worrisome is the ruthless killing of police informers. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in the first three months of 2015, around 19 informers, responsible for gathering and disseminating human intelligence (HUMINT), were killed. Between 2010 and 2014, the figure was 879. The data is self-explanatory and raises a pertinent question: Has the nation made any dent on the Naxal movement?
A senior IPS officer in his book notes: “We are fighting the war on their (Naxalites) terms, not our terms.” Pointing out the reasons for anti-Naxal operations not producing any worthwhile results in spite of huge investments and heavy deployment, he says, “The tragedy is that vast resources have been placed at the disposal of those who are simply not fit to command—who do not have slightest idea of combat.” Although anti-Naxal operations are coordinated efforts of Central and state police forces, the former has deployed over 108 battalions (134,667 personnel approx.)—83 battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 15 battalions of the Border Security Force (BSF), five battalions each of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) in the Naxal-hit areas. The states have deployed an estimated 30,000 police personnel. If we combine the total strength, 164,667 pair of boots are on the ground to crush an estimated 10,000-15,000 armed Naxalites—10 jawans to kill one Naxalite…
The curse of Bastar: Tribals caught in the war against Red terror
On the night of November 25, 2014, adivasis in Dantewada’s Jangampal village, about 400 km south of Raipur, capital of Chhattisgarh, noticed a battalion of security personnel appearing on the hillock overlooking their village. By dawn, their worst fear had come true. For about 30 minutes, the 150 armed security personnel, who had descended on the village, hauled up the men and beat the women and children. At the end of the operation, 26 men from Jangampal and the neighbouring villages of Chhota Tongpal and Chuleras had been picked up. They were told that they would be released after being questioned. Fellow villagers feared they would be taken away, branded Maoists and killed. Madka Ram Sodi, former village head of Jangampal, narrates what took place at the Kukanar police station, where he and 25 others were taken. “They made me sign a document stating that I was a witness to seizure and had seen the men participating in Maoist activities,” he says.
Out of 26 men, 11 were released after questioning. Charges were framed against 15, who got acquitted this month. The disturbing Jangampal incident is a typical example of how, every time Maoist activity intensifies in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar division, adivasis are picked up and framed as Maoists or sympathisers who aid them in anti-state activities. While some of these villagers are released after preliminary enquiries, most waste away in prisons for years unaware even of the charges against them. Prisons in Bastar are the most over-crowded in the country with occupancy rates exceeding 400 per cent in jails in the Kanker and Dantewada districts in 2012. The high acquittal rate (96 per cent between 2005 & 2012 in Dantewada’s district and sessions court) suggests that most of the accused are eventually set free.
However, acquittal comes only after the accused have been subjected to unusually long trials – a clearly appalling case of justice delayed being justice denied. Documents related to four cases including the Jangampal one (see side stories), copies of which are with HT, point to flimsy charges, forced confessions and shoddy investigations. Then, there are specific social factors that set apart under-trials in this region from those in the rest of the country. “Many men and women here have the same name. As a result, the wrong person may get picked up,” says lawyer Shalini Gera, who provides voluntary legal aid to adivasis in Bastar.