Chhattisgarh faces dearth of forces

Chhattisgarh faces dearth of forces

Only about 25,000 policemen to guard 2 lakh sq km Plea for additional forces fell on Centre's deaf ears 24 Maoist camps said to be operating in...

  • Only about 25,000 policemen to guard 2 lakh sq km
  • Plea for additional forces fell on Centre's deaf ears
  • 24 Maoist camps said to be operating in the State
  • Maoist attacks went up to 76 in 2012 from 75 in 2011
Raipur/ New Delhi (Agencies): After lying low for the last few months, Naxals struck a deadly blow on Saturday evening when they attacked a convoy of Congress leaders in the dense forests of Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh and wiped out almost the entire party leadership. The audacious attack once again exposed the limitations of the government in controlling the menace and is yet another example of the brutal and macabre way in which Naxals carry out their threats. On Sunday morning the body of Chhattisgarh Congress President Nand Kumar Patel was found in a ditch a few hundred meters away from the ambush spot in Darba Ghati near Jagdalpur while another badly mutilated body was found near him. While some eyewitnesses claim that the second body was of Patel's son Dinesh but till now there has been no official confirmation. Most of those killed were Congress workers taking part in the party's Parivartan Yatra in the state. The convoy included many important state Congress leaders.
Those injured during the attack and other eyewitnesses recounted the horror of the attack and claimed that the Naxals had prior intelligence and came prepared to eliminate the state Congress leadership. "I fell on the ground and fainted. When I regained consciousness, I tried to run away. The Naxals were surrounding us. When Patel was being taken away, I could hear gun shots," said Konta MLA Kawasi Lakhma, one of those injured in the attack. Another eyewitness claimed that the Naxals called out Karma and fired indiscriminately at him from automatic rifles. According to an eyewitness, Karma was dragged out of the car and then taken 200 meters away from the spot and shot at point blank range and that more than 80 bullets were found in his body during the post-mortem. The ambush sport clearly reflected the brute force with which the Naxals carried out their attack. The cars in the convoy were riddled with bullets with eyewitnesses claiming that the attack was carried out by heavily armed Naxals numbering into several hundreds. The state is short of police personnel and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's promise of increasing the police force strength in the state has still not been met. The State has only about 25,000 policemen to guard an area of 2,00,000 sq km where as smaller states like Delhi have more than 70,000 police personnel. Chhattisgarh Police also has serious dearth of officers and only 288 of the 370 senior positions have been occupied. Commandos trained for anti-Naxal jungle warfare are reportedly being used for VIP protection and the decision to use drones for anti-Naxal reconnaissance has not been implemented effectively. Heron drones are yet to be moved closer to Naxal areas as was announced, while real time monitoring of drone images is not being done. The Central government's claim that Maoist activity is going down is also misleading. Twenty four Maoist training camps continue to operate in the state, and the Ministry of Home Ministry's figures show that the number of Maoist attacks in 2012 went up to 76 from 75 in 2011. While Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh held an emergency meeting of senior administrative officials, ordered a judicial inquiry into the massacre and announced three days of mourning; the state-wide bandh called by the Congress received an overwhelming response in all the cities and district headquarters.
'Maoists danced on finding Karma, shot gunmen in legs'
Sukma (IANS): Anti-Maoist Salwa Judum movement's founder Mahendra Karma was the prime target of the insurgents when they attacked the Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region and the rebels danced before they riddled him with bullets, a survivor said Sunday. As the insurgents went about shooting two to four bullets into the occupants of the vehicles after they Saturday ambushed the convoy at Darbha Ghati, 35 km from Sukma, they started dancing when Karma identified himself and then sprayed him with bullets, said the shaken survivor. As Karma fell, the insurgents stabbed his head with a bayonet. Similarly, the insurgents inquired about Leader of Opposition Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh, and after finding them, took them hostage about 100 metres into the woods before shooting both of them dead. The insurgents, it was learnt, made all the gunmen of the leaders lie on the ground and shot in their legs one by one and asked them to run away after taking away their weapons.
Tribals will suffer ultimately: Deo
New Delhi (PTI): The audacious assault carried out by Maoists on Congress workers in Chhattisgarh appears to be the first major organised attack on the leadership of a political party by ultras. This is the assessment of several Congress leaders, including Union Ministers, with AICC General Secretary B K Hari Prasad dubbing the attack as a first major incident after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE in Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991. Hari Prasad is in-charge of the affairs of Congress in Chhattisgarh. While party chief Sonia Gandhi hailed the courage and bravery of the Congress leaders from the state, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs V Kishore Chandra Deo said the incident showed that the Maoists, who claim to be champions of the cause of tribals, have "gone off track." Deo, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, said the Naxalites there had killed Madhav Reddy, Home Minister in Chandrababu Naidu's erstwhile government, over a decade back and had even attempted to assassinate Chandrababu near Tirupati. He, however, felt the brazen attack in Chhattisgarh was the first of its kind since independence. A "Ultimately tribals will suffer by this kind of action by the Maoists. Development of their area will go back for two-three decades," he told PTI, adding that an incident like this will automatically be responded in an "appropriate manner." It is an "affront" to the democratic system and should be dealt with as such, he said. Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said, "What has happened needs to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The Indian National Congress has been on the frontlines of the fight against terrorists in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir as well as the Northeast. Terrorists cannot cow us down. "Our hearts and minds are with the near and dear ones of those who have been killed or injured in this outrage. While we do not want to politicise this incident, but it requires a detailed inquiry to establish the facts," he said.
Omar calls for steps to wipe out Maoists
Srinagar (PTI): Expressing condolences to families of those killed in maoists attack on a convoy of Congress party in Bastar belt of Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday said strong steps were needed to wipe out Maoists. "We condemn the attacks in Chhattisgarh �we also express sympathies with the families who have lost their nears and dears � we condole their deaths. A To wipe out them (Maoists), there is need to take strong and stern steps (by the State and Central governments)", Omar told reporters soon after inauguration of 4th bridge on river Tawi in Jammu city this afternoon.
PCC top brass decimated
Venkat Parsa forcesNew Delhi: The Saturday's Maoist attack in Chhatisgarh has left the Congress High Command dazed, as the entire PCC top brass has been decimated. All the possible Chhattisgarh chief ministerial faces have been either wiped out or grievously injured. They include Salwa Judum founder Mahendra Karma, PCC President Nand Kishore Patel along with his son Dinesh Patel, and former Union Minister VC Shukla, a CM aspirant who was grievously injured. These were all the leaders, who were not surrounded by any controversy and were specially handpicked by the Congress High Command to lead Congress campaign, which had recently launched the Parivartan Yatra. Ironically, it was during that very campaign that the Chhattisgarh PCC top brass had been decimated. Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said that the party will not back out under pressure from the Naxalites and asserted that steps will be taken to revive the Congress Parivartan Yatra. According to party sources, the BJP Government in Chhattisgarh did not take steps to ensure security of the Congress leaders. The route taken by the convoy of top Congress leaders was not sanitized. The Congress leaders were not given bullet-proof and anti-landmine vehicles, especially when they were travelling through the Maoist heartland. Road opening procedure (ROP) was also not followed. Significantly, the Bastar area and other Naxal-concentrated areas are also BJP-strongholds. The BJP, which accuses the Congress of not showing zero tolerance to Naxalism, will be hard-pressed to justify its own role in tackling the Maoist menace, with top leaders like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi always projecting the saffron party as being tough on Naxalism. The BJP has been constantly winning in the Naxal areas and has never antagonized the Maoists. Recently, CM Raman Singh successfully carried out his Vikas Yatra in the very same area without any problem. The Congress, which has set its sights on capturing power in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, where it has been out of power for 10 years now, is working overtime on a strategy. In Chhattisgarh, the party poll managers focused on the Naxal-dominated areas, which are vital as they return the largest number of MLAs. According to the party sources, Congress High Command is soon expected to come up with a strategy to tackle the Naxalite menace. The Congress, which has been focussing all along on the corruption of the BJP government in Chhattisgarh, will focus on the issue in equal measure. In Andhra Pradesh, the Congress had managed to tackle the roblem in 2004-05, when it came to power, after 10 years in political wilderness in the State. Ahead of the Assembly elections in 2004, the Congress had vowed to address the issue with a fresh and innovative approach. The Congress High Command is now expected to devote time and energy to study and carefully formulate its response, before coming up with a well-considered policy paradigm. The main concern and worry of the Congress High Command is how to put the party campaign back on track and how the party can reinvent itself, ahead of the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, slated for October-November this year.
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