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Chhattisgarh: Death shroud on kidnapped cops

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 22, 2007

Raipur, Dec. 21: Maoists kidnapped 12 policemen in Chhattisgarh last evening but officers don’t know if they have been killed — because search teams haven’t been able to cover the 15km to the spot till tonight.

A regional TV channel, however, aired footage of the bodies of 12 policemen and claimed it was reporting from the scene of the ambush in Maoist stronghold Dantewada.

Although senior officers wouldn’t confirm the deaths, PTI quoted an unnamed Dantewada police source as saying: “All the 12… are killed and their 11 self-loading rifles and one AK-47 weapon have been looted by the rebels.”

The police struggled to explain why their teams had failed to reach the spot after setting out from the Golapalli and Kisteram camps this morning when TV crew were apparently there long ago. Besides, of the 33 policemen ambushed, 21 made it to the Golapalli camp, negotiating the same terrain.

“The difficult terrain is causing problems. Besides, the ambushes laid by the rebels at various places makes our teams move with caution,” Bastar inspector-general of police R.K. Vij said.

He suggested the TV crew may have reached the spot from Bhadrachalam or Khammam in Andhra Pradesh.

Dantewada is the district where about 100 Maoists broke out of jail on Monday, and where most of the rebels’ central leaders are believed to be staying.

The 5pm ambush took place near Tarlaguda, about 500km south of state capital Raipur, while the jawans were returning to Golapalli from Kisteram. Of the missing jawans, eight are from the Special Armed Force and four from the District Force.

An officer said it was more likely the hostages had been killed “since there were no officers among them” who might have enabled the rebels to negotiate for a prisoner trade-off.

“The search parties are near the spot,” Vij said, adding that the combing would resume tomorrow. Once the teams reached the site, he said, he would be in a position to speak officially about the casualty.

Usually, villagers inform the police if they discover any bodies but even this network seems to have collapsed, a source said.


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Chhattisgarh 12 cops still missing

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 21, 2007

Raipur, Dec 21: A day after 12 policemen went missing from Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, police today feared they might be abducted by the Maoists.

We fear the missing 12 policemen from Chhattisgarh to be abducted by Maoists after a fierce encounter, Dantewada police sources said.

A police party had reached the spot, where the security forces had an encounter with Naxals yesterday and could not find any of the policemen or any blood stains, which indicates that they are not injured and might have been taken hostage by the rebels, the sources said.

“Police parties from various destinations have started search operation to trace the missing policemen, who are missing after a fierce gun battle with the Naxals in Golapalli forest of Dantewada district, about 45 kms from the state capital,” Bastar Range Inspector General of Police Rajinder Kumar Vij said.

“We are yet to get any information about the missing policemen,” IG Anti-Naxal Operation Giridhari Nayak said.

When a 28-member police party was engaged in an anti-Naxal operation yesterday, they were attacked by Maoists in Golapalli jungle. First, the Naxals triggered landmine blasts and then opened indiscriminate firing on the police party which split them into small groups, sources said. After the incident, five policemen managed to reach the Golapalli police station, where as additional forces later rescued 11 security personnel from the forest, they said, adding, 16 policemen out of 28 have reported back yesterday to their base camp.

A total of 12 security personnel, including eight from Chhattisgarh Armed Force and four from the district forces, are still missing even a day after the gun battle, they said.

It was in Naxal-hit Dantewada on last Sunday that 300 prisoners, including 105 Naxalites, had escaped allegedly with the help of the jail officials. (Agencies)

Published: Friday, December 21, 2007

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12 Chhattisgarh cops missing after gunfight with Maoists

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 20, 2007

Raipur, Dec 20 – At least 12 policemen went missing Thursday in a forested stretch of Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district after a brief gun battle with Maoist insurgents, police said.‘Insurgents opened gunfire on a 33-member police team late Thursday at the thick forested hamlet of Taragura under Konta block in Dantewada district,’ a top police officer told IANS.‘Twenty-one cops returned in two batches while 12 are missing,’ the officer said.

The missing cops comprised eight Special Armed Forces (SAF) personnel and four from the District Force (DF).The site of the gun battle was some 500 km south of state capital Raipur, a bastion of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist).It comes just four days after a group of Maoists successfully engineered a jailbreak in Dantewada, in which 299 inmates included some 100 Maoists escaped.

Indo-Asian News Service

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Maoists had vowed to free jailed comrades in February

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 18, 2007

NEW DELHI: The daring jailbreak masterminded by Maoists in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh on Sunday may have caught the authorities napping but the ultras were merely doing what they had promised to do long back.

In February, the Maoists had held their ninth congress on the Jharkhand-Orissa border and resolved to free their comrades languishing in jails in several states. And if the Maoists stick to their word, jails in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra could be next in line where 48 of their hardcore activists have been behind bars for years. Incidentally, the resolution adopted at the congress is not a secret, and is readily available with the home ministry as well as the police of all 13 naxal-affected states.

Buoyed by their successful jailbreak operations in Jehanabad, Bihar (November 2005), and R Udaigiri, Orissa (March 2006), the Maoists had said in the resolution that they intended to carry out similar strikes in Chhattisgarh where 25 of their comrades were behind bars. The naxals held their ninth congress under the leadership of CPI (Maoist) in February at one of their forest hideouts along the Jharkhand-Orissa border where nearly 1,000 red ultras assembled and vowed to continue their armed struggle against the state. Security and intelligence agencies got to know about the gathering only when they dispersed, leaving copies of their resolution behind — a move viewed as an open challenge to the authorities.

The resolution, a copy of which is with the TOI, says, “This (ninth) congress resolves to strive to carry out every possible means to free our comrades from jails… with support from the masses, we had carried out historic actions such as the Jehanabad and R Udaigiri jailbreaks.” Perhaps, this warning was not heeded by jail authorities in Chhattisgarh, where the ultras managed to free around 105 of their comrades in the Dantewada incident.

According to the resolution, while six comrades are lodged in Andhra jails, 26 are in Tamil Nadu and 16 in Karnataka. Besides, the ultras also expressed the need to free five comrades each from Asagarh, Bhamragarh and Tipragarh areas of Gadchiroli division and five from Gondia division (all in Maharashtra) who have been serving life imprisonment in different jails.

Though Maoist literature and the resolution have not carried operational details and modus-operandi, it hold enough inputs to send warning signals to state authorities. Realising the threat to jails in naxal-affected states, Union home secretary Madhukar Gupta had written to all states in September on the need to increase security in prisons and address the problem of overcrowding. In his letter, Gupta had also mentioned the need for prison reforms.

Meanwhile, in view of Sunday’s incident, the home ministry, which reviewed the overall naxal situation on Monday, sought a detailed report from Chhattisgarh and directed the state government to beef up security and surveillance in and around jails. Incidentally, the Dantewada jailbreak came just two days after a meeting of the naxal taskforce in Bhubaneshwar on December 13-14, where the issue of providing more security in jails had figured prominently.

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Hunt on for escaped Maoists in jungles

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 18, 2007

Vinay Kumar

Centre concerned over jailbreak

NEW DELHI: Concerned over the daring jailbreak in Dantewada district, the Centre on Monday asked the Chhattisgarh government to pay special attention to tightening security in jails.

Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta spoke to Director-General of Police Vishwa Ranjan after the incident on Sunday, and pointed out that the Home Ministry had been advising the State governments to step up security and surveillance in and around jails.

The issue of further tightening the security arrangements in and around jails had also been discussed in meetings of the Task Force on Naxalism, the Home Ministry spokesman said. Minister of State for Home Affairs Sriprakash Jaiswal met Ministry officials connected with the anti-naxalite operations.

DIG suspended

The State government suspended DIG (Jails) P.D. Verma and arrested Jail Superintendent B. S. Mankar amid reports that the prison staff in Dantewada could be involved in the escape of 300 inmates. It was the biggest jailbreak in recent times, coming two years after the Jehanabad jailbreak in Bihar, where Maoist cadres attacked the prison and freed some 130 inmates.

The Chhattisgarh government also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, in which 105 naxal activists fled. A massive manhunt has been launched by security personnel in jungles.

Taking a serious view of the incident, Chief Minister Raman Singh ordered Mr. Verma’s suspension, saying prima facie it appeared he had not done his duties properly. According to Dantewada Superintendent of Police Rahul Sharma, police personnel were moving about cautiously as they suspected landmines could have been planted by Maoists. The jail in Dantewada, about 400 km from Raipur, had 383 inmates when the “pre-planned” action took place.

State Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam, who reviewed the situation after visiting the jail, said that if any personnel were found to be involved they would not only be terminated from service but also arrested and tried in a court of law.

The Hindu

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Over 100 Naxals escape from Chhattisgarh jail

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 17, 2007

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Mass jailbreak by Maoists

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 17, 2007

Mass jailbreak by Maoists

Bhopal/Raipur, Dec. 16: About 100 imprisoned Maoists snatched their guards’ guns and broke out of a Chhattisgarh jail this evening in a 15-minute operation timed perfectly between the chaos of dinner and the evening security drill.

The rebels shot and injured two guards and ran out of the Dantewada district jail, the highest-security prison in the Maoist-hit state, and were followed out by nearly 200 other prisoners.

Dantewada, about 450km south of state capital Raipur, is one of the Maoists’ strongest hubs in the country and the CPI (Maoist) top leadership is believed to be hiding in the area.

The first move was made around 4.45pm by a Maoist prisoner named Sudhir Kumar, who took advantage of the general laxity in security during dinner, said R.K. Vij, inspector-general, Bastar.

Kumar bent down as if to pick up his thali (plate) but suddenly snatched the lone sentry’s rifle. A group of Maoists then raided the armoury, grabbed the weapons and rushed towards the main gate, guns blazing.

They broke the gate open, fired at a guard and disappeared into the forests, carrying half-a-dozen .303 rifles. They left behind two injured guards, a bleeding non-Maoist inmate, and empty plates signifying the rebels had made sure they finished what could be their last meal for some time.

“It was all over within 15 minutes. Security personnel from Dantewada (about 5km from the jail premises) had reached by 5pm,” Vij said, adding 299 of the jail’s 373 inmates had fled.

At 5pm, the jail’s security would anyway have been taken over by a special armed police contingent.

Sources said that according to the jail manual, 16 sentries should guard the prison but just five were assigned for the task today. Only the two injured guards were found inside the premises after the jailbreak, and there’s suspicion the other three never turned up for duty.

The state government has suspended the jailor and five others, and ordered a magisterial inquiry. Embarrassed senior officers tonight spoke of a “well-planned conspiracy”.

The jailbreak is the Maoists’ biggest since November 2005, when 1,000 guerrillas held Bihar’s Jehanabad town hostage, freed nearly 400 jailed comrades and kidnapped two dozen Ranbir Sena prisoners.

The Naxalites later almost took over an Orissa town, R. Udaygiri, while freeing 40 prisoners in March last year. Today’s operation, however, did not involve a siege by outsiders.

“We have scattered the Maoist prisoners among the various district jails in Jagdalpur, Bijapur and Dantewada; but with so many Maoists being arrested, such division is difficult,” an official said.

He added that the need to present the prisoners frequently before trial courts was an obstacle to shifting them to faraway districts.

Vij said no hardcore Maoists were detained in the jail — a claim questioned by other sources who insisted that at least 15 inmates fitted that description. “A senior Maoist commander identified as Sunil is the suspected mastermind,” an official said.

Sources quoting eyewitness said the prisoners had fled towards Faraspal. The Dantewada-Faraspal stretch is completely under rebel control.


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Jail security across Chhattisgarh increased

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 17, 2007

Raipur, Dec 17 – A day after Maoists managed to break free from a jail in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada, jail security across the state was tightened Monday.Raipur and Bilaspur central jails housing several dreaded Maoist militants have also been put on high alert. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh held an emergency meeting late Sunday night here and asked top police officials to plug jail security loopholes in the state and announced a magisterial inquiry into the incident.He also suspended five jail officials, including Dantewada jailer KL Mankar, with immediate effect Director General (Jails) Sant Kumar Paswan, who termed the incident ‘shocking and surprising’, left here for Dantewada Sunday night.

The state government has sought help from neighbouring states like Orissa, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to apprehend the escaped Maoists.‘The Government has launched an operation at war footing to track down the Maoists who escaped from the jail,’ Paswan told IANS. Officials said that just two guards were on duty around 5 p.m. when a group of jailed Maoists led by Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) commander Sujeet Kumar executed the jailbreak.The entire drama was over in just 10 minutes.

The reinforcement took 35 minutes to arrive, but by the time all the Maoists had fled.State Home Minister Ramvichar Netam left here Monday morning for Dantewada with the state’s director general of police to boost the morale of thousands of police and para-military troopers deployed in the district for counter-insurgency operation.

Indo-Asian News Service

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105 ? Maoists flee after Dantewada jailbreak

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 16, 2007

Raipur (PTI): Amid a hail of gunfire, 299 inmates including 105 naxal activists escaped from the Dantewada jail in Chattisgarh after prison guards were overpowered in a daring jailbreak on Sunday in which three guards and two undertrials were injured.

In a major security lapse, the “pre-meditated” strike happened around 4.35 PM when the inmates were being served food during dinner time when a lone naxalite commandar Sujit Kumar overpowered a jail guard inside the prison and opened fire after snatching his rifle.

During the firing, three guards were injured, Dantewada jail sources said over phone. As many as 377 inmates are in the district prison, about 375 km from the state capital, which is located in a naxal infested area.

Principal Secretary(Home) N K Aswal said five jail officials including the jailer have been suspended in connection with the incident.

The naxals snatched one INSAS weapon, two .303 rifles and three muskets of the guards and one wireless set belonging before they fled, Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam told PTI.

Rahul Sharma, Superintendent of Police, Dantewada said the jail break was a “pre-meditated conspiracy” hatched by the undertrials, who were mostly naxal supporters.

“During the firing and clashes which lasted for about 15 minutes two naxal supporters were injured,” Sharma said.

To a question, Netam admitted there was a lapse in security in and around the Dantewada jail.

Police made some preliminary search operations in the jungle near the prison to nab the inmates but called it off as night fell. A major search will be resumed on Monday, police said.

The Home Minister said that Dantewada Superintendent of Police Rahul Sharma had informed him that they are facing problems in getting into the jungle in the night to look for the escaped inmates and are waiting for the crack of dawn to start a larger search.

The neighbouring states like Maharashtra, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh have been alerted along with other districts of the state, they said.

Director General (Jail) Sant Kumar Paswan had also been asked to rush to the spot to take stock of the situation, Netam said.

Meanwhile, official sources said the District Collector and the SP have been asked separately by the state government to submit reports on the incident and after that action will be taken against the officials who are responsible for the security lapses.

The officials also admitted that the local police of Dantewada were facing problem in the search operation to trace the inmates as the incident took place in the evening.

“The Maoists have planted landmines in many places of Bastar region, including Dantewada district, and entering the jungle in the evening will be directly getting into the naxal trap of ambush,” a top anti-naxal operation official said.

The Hindu

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India’s People’s War expands, Maoists seizing arms nation wide

Posted by Indian Vanguard on December 16, 2007

Raipur, Dec 15 Police in India’s worst Maoist-hit state of Chhattisgarh have now been left with only wooden batons to defend themselves from attacks by heavily armed guerrillas.

On Wednesday, when a group of Maoists armed with AK 47s and landmines attacked the Vishrampuri police station in Bastar district, the five policemen there had only their batons as weapons of defence except for an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) who had a service revolver.

The rebels killed three policemen and blew up the police station. The reason the police station, as most other police stations in
Maoist-hit areas, had only batons is because all the weapons have been taken away for security reasons as the rebels are looting arms and ammunition from the police.

Now, it is only batons that the majority of low-ranked police officials and cops deployed in restive southern Bastar region are left with.

No wonder then that they are asking, “Will we have to take the rebels head-on only with batons as was the case in Wednesday’s attack?”

This query can only be answered by the state government or by Director General of Police (DGP) Chhattisgarh, Vishwaranjan. The DGP, a former additional director, Intelligence Bureau, had called upon the police Tuesday to “take Maoist militants head-on in their hideouts”. The rebels
responded the very next day – with landmines, AK-47s and self-loading rifles (SLRs).

“The DGP wants the police to take on insurgents head-on, but only with batons. In dozens of police stations in Maoist strongholds of Bastar, arms and weapons have been taken back from police stations fearing the rebels may loot them. So the constables and head constables literally are left with only batons to counter the militants while the ASIs have their service revolvers,” an ASI posted in the rebel-hit Dantewada told IANS by phone.

“Policemen deployed in Maoist-prone areas feel they are sent to Bastar region as a punishment posting and they are not useful and capable. This is really very discouraging and if the government wants to take the rebels head-on, it must take steps to lift the morale of the police and make them feel that a Bastar posting is actually a reward posting,” said a Mizo jawan of the India Reserve Battalion, deployed in Konta area in Dantewada district.

He said that the “Chhattisgarh police force lacks commitment, motivation and backing up at the higher level”.

Vishwaranjan was not available for his comments when the correspondent telephoned him on the reported taking away of arms and weapons from several police stations.

However, a senior official involved in anti-Maoist operations had this to say: “Human lives are more important than arms. But it’s a fact that in certain vulnerable areas we have either not issued arms and ammunition to police stations or taken back ammunition as Maoists have a track record of looting police force weapons and ammunition for killing policemen.”

About 900 people have been killed in the state since the government-backed Salwa Judum was launched

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