Wednesday, April 30, 2014

India - analisys in Indien press JHARKHAND: MAOISTS NEVER SAY DIE –

Turning adversity into advantage is easier said than done, but when the adversary lets his guard down, difficulties diminish. After the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) managed to engineer a succession of attacks during the earlier phases of the General Elections in different States, especially Chhattisgarh and Bihar, Security Forces (SFs) and poll officials were expected to be more cautious. Jharkhand had a surprisingly peaceful poll during the first two phases on April 10 and April 17, in areas where the Maoist threat was much higher, and this appears to have seduced a section of election officials and SFs to relative complacence during the third phase, for which a tragic price has been paid.
On April 24, the third and last phase of General Elections in Jharkhand, the Maoists triggered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast in the Shikaripada Police Station area in Dumka District, killing eight persons — five Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP) personnel, two poll officials and a cleaner of the minibus in which they were travelling – and injuring at least another nine. The poll party was returning with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), after completion of the polling process, towards the helipad through an alternative kutcha [mud track] road, when Maoists triggered the land mine under a culvert near Palsa village and fired indiscriminately.
The Maoists also attacked the first rescue party, but later withdrew after looting five INSAS rifles, 25 magazines and about 550 bullets. Though the poll party took an alternative route on its return, important standard operating procedures (SOPs) were flouted, with the group travelling in a minibus instead of walking back with the EVMs. Reports suggest that Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel deployed at booth no 101, from where the poll party started its ill-fated journey, advised the JAP personnel not to travel in the minibus. However, they chose to do so, and were ambushed within fifteen minutes. The CRPF team suffered no casualty.
Despite the peaceful completion of the first two phases in the State, there were some apprehensions of trouble during the third phase. Documents recovered by SFs in the Jamui area of Bihar on February 2, 2014, indicated that Maoist cadres had been instructed to arrange for explosives to carry out strikes, including the targeting of vehicles used in election campaigns, abduction or elimination of political leaders, and ambushing security personnel, across operational areas in the Red Corridor, through the election process.
Accordingly, elaborate security arrangement had been made for the third phase. IAF helicopters had been pressed into service for dropping poll personnel in sensitive areas in the Dumka District. Polling personnel of 19 booths in Kathikund, Shikaripara and Gopikandar blocks in the District were ferried to respective helipads, which had been specially constructed earlier amid fears of a possible attack. The District administration had identified six booths in Shikaripara, seven in Kathikund and six in Gopikandar Blocks in the District as ‘most vulnerable’.
Chopper services were made available to ferry poll workers in these blocks. A total of 76 polling personnel were lifted by IAF helicopters which ferried them from Dumka Airport in separate trips, and were deployed until April 24 for any emergencies, particularly injuries to SF or polling personnel in all the three Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) constituencies in Santhal Pargana. 132 companies of the CRPF already deployed in the State and another 80 CRPF companies from other States, were deputed for elections in Jharkhand scheduled on April 10, 17 and 24. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Maoists had ambushed a polling party in Dumka killing one and injuring three.
The incident is the second major Maoist attack in Dumka after Maoists killed Pakur District Superintendent of Police (SP) Amarjit Balihar and another five Policemen in an ambush on July 2, 2013, in the Kathikund Forest area of Dumka District, bordering Pakur. The SP was returning from a meeting with Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Priya Dubey in Dumka District when his vehicle was attacked. The Maoists first triggered a landmine blast and then started firing indiscriminately on the convoy from higher ground. Another three Policemen suffered serious injuries. The Maoists escaped with two AK-47s, four INSAS rifles, two pistols and more than 600 rounds of ammunition.
The incident was then considered an opportunist strike, since the Maoist were not believed to have any significant influence over the area. The Jharkhand Police website maintains, “Dumka is a tribal-dominated District as a result of which tribal culture and system is predominant in the way of living of other communities living in the District. Naxalism has not taken its root [emphasis added] because of Santhal culture and their system and their own village administrative set up.” However, the website concedes that two armed Naxalite gangs of a strength of 15 to 18 were active in the Dumka District, one of them in the Northern part of the Rampurhat pakki road, under the ledership of Pravil Da aka Hirendra Murmu; and the other in Southern Dumka, led by Ramlal Rai. In 2000, Dumka was ascribed the status of the sub-capital of Jharkhand, and is considered to be the political ‘backyard’ of former Chief Minister Shibu Soren and his son and present Chief Minister Hemant Soren, both of whom are known to be soft towards the Maoists.
The recent attack in Dumka can also be read as an index of the Maoists’ attempt to implement elements of their revival plan formulated by the Central Committee (CC), after acknowledging the reversals the movement had suffered, and the weaknesses that had crept into it. A parallel development in Jharkhand is also significant in this context. The 4th CC Resolution observes:
Thousands of party leaders of various levels, cadres, activists of mass organizations and RPCs and sympathizers are incarcerated in jails all over the country. They form a considerable part of our party at present. The leadership inside the prisons and outside should put efforts so that all of them get rallied through jail communes and build movements with coordination and get educated ideologically and politically. We should put efforts so that they can play appropriate roles directly in the revolutionary movement after their release from the prisons.
A February 14, 2014, media report indicates that, after simultaneous hunger strikes by 1,100 to 1,500 prisoners, led by imprisoned Maoists across Central and District Jails in Palamu, Hazaribagh and Garhwa Districts, the Jharkhand Sentence Review Board recommended the release of 53 lifers who had completed 14 years. The prisoners were demanding that the board, which had not met in a year, convene a meeting to consider remitting sentences of those serving life terms.
In the Palamu Jail, where eight had applied for release, 410 prisoners went on fast. A senior official in the Palamu Central Jail stated, on condition of anonymity, “On January 31, eight prisoners called a fast. The next day 20 more joined them… By February 6, 410 of 817 prisoners were on strike led by Naveenji, a Maoist prisoner, and Satish.” Jail Superintendent Uday Khushwaha declared, “In my 28 years here, I had not seen prisoners going on a mass fast before.” While it was mostly in Central Jails, where those serving life terms are kept, that prisoners went on fast, in some instances prisoners in District Jails also joined the protest in large numbers. Bandi Sangharsh Samitis — prison committees — led by Maoist prisoners have been active in the Garhwa District Jail for several years.
Jail Superintendent K. Paswan noted, “The sangathan members [Maoists] imprisoned here have led a fast several times. But this time, 515 of the total 640 prisoners — the largest number — went on a fast for four days.” None of the prisoners in the Garhwa Jail had applied for remission. Officials at Hazaribagh Jail put the number of prisoners who went on strike there at over 250. The CPI-Maoist called a bandh (general shutdown strike) on February 7 in support of the striking prisoners. Inspector-General (Prisons) Shailendra Bhushan disclosed, “Of 106, we approved the release of 53 prisoners. These will now be considered by Chief Minister Hemant Soren. He has approved these already in his capacity as Home Minister.”
The activation of Maoist leaders and cadres in jail, and the ideological mobilisation of other prisoners is an openly declared objective of the CPI-Maoist’s two-year plan for revival, and the incidents in jails across Jharkhand cannot be viewed in isolation from this general intent. Given the wide participation of prisoners in these jails in the hunger strike, it is clear that the incarcerated Maoists’ efforts to indoctrinate fellow inmates have met with substantial success. The incident in Dumka, moreover, indicates that efforts to widen operational areas and to hit SF and Government targets are ongoing. Jharkhand has now the dubious distinction of the highest Maoist-related fatalities among States in 2012 and 2013 (Union Ministry of Home Affairs data), and the 4th CC Resolution has singled out cadres and activists in this State for high praise.
Jharkhand has, moreover, a record of sustained political ambivalence in the state response to the Maoist challenge. The Maoists have, moreover, formulated a complex and detailed strategy of revival across their traditional areas of dominance and beyond, and unless the state devises a systemic counter to target and neutralize the Maoist leadership, the limited gains of the past years may quickly dissipate.

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