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AP Chief Minister cautions police against custodial deaths May 31, 2006

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Special Correspondent

Calls for transparency in functioning of department

Says even a single death is a blot on administration
Says constables did not even have seats in the premises
Every station should become people-friendly

HI-TECH STUFF: Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy watching the functioning of the Andhra Pradesh Police Computer Data Centre at the DGP offices in Hyderabad on Monday. PHOTO: P. V. Sivakumar

HYDERABAD : Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy has sounded a word of caution to police about the death of people that continued to occur in their custody.

Inaugurating the computer data and network centre at the State police headquarters here on Monday, Dr. Reddy said even a single death is a big blot on the administration. He called for fairness and transparency in the functioning of police.

Poor amenities

Turning to the poor amenities available at the police stations, the Chief Minister said sometimes constables did not even have seats in the premises. They sat under trees or loitered around. Such conditions lowered the esteem of the police force. Efforts should be made to enhance their prestige and make them approachable to common public.

Dr. Reddy wanted steps aimed at securing ISO certification to all police stations in the State. Every station should become people-friendly. He urged the personnel to shed slackness or else events would overtake them. In this context, he lauded the proficiency of anti-naxalite Greyhounds units of police. They earned acclaim across the country. Director General of Police Swaranjit Sen said the centre was a centralised web-based data storage system for police network in the State.

Cut off date

Home Minister K. Jana Reddy, Chief Secretary T.K. Dewan and Principal Secretary, Home, M.A. Basith, also attended the function. The Minister said the Government was yet to finalise the cut off date to determine the upper age limit for the ensuing recruitment of constables. This had delayed the issue of notification for recruitment. The Government was consulting the State Public Service Commission and the law department in the matter.

He also said the killing of a CRPF constable by Maoists at Sileru in Visakhapatnam district on Sunday was an isolated incident as the movement of naxalite squads had come down drastically.

NCERT launches ‘Peace Education’ training for teachers May 31, 2006

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New Delhi, May 31 (PTI): The National Council of Education Research and Training has taken an innovative step to spread the message of peace among students by sensitising the teaching community towards this.

A group of 35 teachers from across the country are being taught conflict resolution, suppression of aggression and coping with stress. The six-week training programme began here yesterday.

“The programme aims to arm teachers with skills to promote a sense of harmony in oneself and social environment among students for avoiding conflict with law,” NCERT Director Prof Krishna Kumar told PTI.

“It is not an additional course for the students. But the teachers need to follow certain values and advise these to their students which will greatly influence the learners in shaping a healthy society,” he said.

“I have come from a naxalite belt marred by violence. The methods of coflict resolution which I will learn here, is of immense help for students in our area in combating naxalism,” said R N Pande, a teacher from High School Tamar, a state-run school in Jharkhand.

Similar was the views of S B Pande, a teacher from Government High School in Arrah in Bihar.

Anti-Naxal movement mired in controversy ? May 31, 2006

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NEW DELHI: When it comes to former Punjab supercop KPS Gill, can controversy be far behind? Barely a month into his posting as security advisor to the Chattisgarh government, Mr Gill is once again the target of the so-called ‘human rights watchers’ who have alleged that the ongoing anti-Naxal mass movement, or Salwa Judum, is causing “harassment” to poor tribals in Dantewara.

Fortunately, the Union home ministry has come out in defence of Salwa Judum, saying that findings of the citizen’s panel which has slammed the movement are based on “selective” research done over a brief period of 6 days.

The panel — comprising historian Ramachandra Guha, senior journalists BG Verghese and Harivansh and former bureaucrat EAS Sarma — had travelled to Dantewara between May 17 and 23 and spoken to a cross-section of people, including tribals and government officials and based on its “findings,” accused the Chattisgarh government of “outsourcing law and order to an unaccountable, undisciplined and amorphous group called Salwa Judum.”

Countering the panel’s claims one by one, the MHA said that the SPOs, in the first place, had not been given official arms for the very reason that it would make them vulnerable to Naxal attacks aimed at looting those weapons.

In fact, the Salwa Judum activists are asked to arm themselves with traditional weapons like bows and arrows to defend themselves, even as the police personnel are posted nearby to do the more important counter-attacking in the event of a Naxal strike.

As for the allegation that most of the SPOs are underage, a senior MHA official pointed out that the finding was based more on “presumption” rather than hard facts. The official also added that the state government was committed to providing basic facilities including food and shelter to all the tribals housed in the relief camps.

However, it was not possible for the state government to permanently sustain around 46,000 people entirely at its own expense and the camp inhabitants needed to work in due time to provide for themselves.

As for the panel’s call for a national dialogue, the MHA said it was never averse to the idea but remained firm on talking to only those who shunned violence and gave up arms. In any case, there seemed to be no willingness from the CPI(Maoist) to cease armed operations, as was evident from the rising graph and deadliness of their attacks.

Though the MHA agrees that the displaced villagers must be resettled in due course, it does not see this possibility unless Left-wing extremism is uprooted from there. Given that a ceasefire at this juncture does not seem likely, the Centre and the Chattisgarh government have chalked our a detailed plan to launch surgical strikes against Naxalite camps and hideouts in Abujmarh forests.

The plan involved identification of blocks in which the counter-strike will be undertaken one by one. As these blocks are sanitised, the administration and police will move in and then resettle the villagers in these “liberated” zones. Only then can development can be taken up in the right earnest as the Naxalites are known to put up armed resistance to any attempt at socio-economic uplift ofthe regions dominated by them.

Home Ministry seeks report from Chattisgarh over US officials visit May 31, 2006

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New Delhi, May 30 (PTI): Notwithstanding denial from the US embassy here, the Union Home Ministry has sought a detailed report from Chattisgarh Government over the visit of two American mission officials to Raipur where they “assured” assitance to the State Government for fighting naxal violence.
According to senior Home Ministry officials, the State Government has been asked to furnish a detailed report on the visit of the US mission officials to the state and the nature of discussions held by them with senior state government officials including the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) B K S Ray.

The move by the Home Ministry comes after a statement by the US mission contradicting reports that it had offered any assistance to Chhattisgarh Government to fight the naxals.

Reports by central security agencies claimed the US officials did discuss the naxal violence and had extended support to the state government, the officials said.

A press release issued by Chhattisgarh Government issued on May 25 had said “American Consulate General officers William Inman and Kevin Green queried about problems arising out of Naxalite violence in Dantewada district of the State.” and had assured all possible help to the State Government for ending naxal violence from the state”.

Heavy rush for police recruitment in Vidarbha, Gadchiroli May 31, 2006

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Nagpur, May 30 (PTI): The drive to recruit personnel for the police department in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra has received a tremendous response from both boys and girls with more than 70,000 applicaiton forms being sold for nearly 3,000 posts in Vidarbha region, police sources said today.

On the first day of the recruitment, a large number of aspirants were seen near Police Line Takli headquarter in the city since early morning. Strict security arrangements have been made at the venue, sources said.

All over Maharashtra, recruitment would be made to fill 12,000 posts of police personnel.

In naxal infested Gadchiroli district, the response was equally tremendous as over 5,500 aspirants turned up at the police ground for 332 posts.

Meanwhile, in a bid to make the recruitment process transparent and impartial, the authorities have asked the candidates to refrain from malpractices and also approach higher officials, if anyone demands a bribe, assuring strict action against the accused.

Naxal acts come in handy for border villagers May 31, 2006

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Tuesday May 30 2006 14:16 IST
BHADRACHALAM: For once, the people of the villages that border Bhadrachalam Agency area and the Chattisgarh state are thankful to the Naxals for their acts of destruction.

But for their destructive activities, these people could never have communicated with their relatives on both sides of the border at such cheaper rates.

Till recently, the people of Kunta division in Chattisgarh had to pay roaming charges for making calls to their relatives in neighbouring villages in Andhra Pradesh.

Though the distance between Chintoor in Andhra Pradesh and Kunta in Chattisgarh is a mere 10 km, but for the BSNL, calls between these two towns amount to inter-state communication and calls for application of roaming charges.

However, the Maoists had recently destroyed the two BSNL cellphone towers and the optical fibre network recently.

Due to this, the people of Kunta have now been allowed to buy pre-paid cards from Chintoor and make calls to their relatives in Andhra Pradesh without inviting roaming charges.

“Most of the residents of Kunta are settlers from Andhra Pradesh, who mainly deal with places like Bhadrachalam, Khammam, Rajahmundry, Hyderabad and Vijayawada for educational, trade and medical purposes.

This new facility is proving to be a boon to us,”said S Tagore of Kunta.

‘‘We are happy, thanks to the Naxals,’’ quipped K Srihari of Chintoor. The BSNL officials too are happy, as their revenue has gone up.

Eight Maoists surrender May 31, 2006

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Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh), May 29: Eight Maoists, including a woman, surrendered in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh today.

The maoists, surrendered to the district Superintendent of Police Sanjay Kumar Jain giving various reasons.

Woman Maoist G Ratnamma alias Swarna (18), who was member of Maddileru Platoon, said she has decided to come out from the movement as there was no “protection” for women.

Swarna, who was involved in various naxal offences, stated that “sexual” harassment of women cadre was on the rise and this was one of the reasons for her surrender, police said.

Another surrendered militant, Boya Degal Sunkanna alias tiger Sunkanna (51), who was working in Penna Ahobilam group for the last six years, said that he surrendered against the decision of his group leader who wanted his son and daughter-in-law to join the movement.

Naxal’s bail plea rejected May 31, 2006

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[ Tuesday, May 30, 2006 01:18:09 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

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BANGALORE: A suspected Naxal, Suresh from Andhra Pradesh, came before the high court seeking bail which was rejected by Justice Ajit Gunjal. Suresh was accused of committing murders in the Venkatammanahalli massacre, in Tumkur.

Public prosecutor S Dore Raju said he was waging war against the state and was involved in serious crimes and deserved no leniency.

Rowdy’s detention:The high court ordered notices to the police commissioner, government and the superintendent of Parappana Agrahara prison for the detention of 37-year-old rowdy Istiaq Pahelwan alias Istiaq Ahmed under the Goonda Act.

Istiaq Ahmed has about 35 cases against him. His wife came Fareeda came before the court contending that he had been wrongly detained.

CRPF constable killed in Maoist attack (The Hindu) May 30, 2006

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VISAKHAPATNAM : In a surprise attack, Maoists on Sunday morning fired on a CRPF contingent at a crowded weekly market at Sileru, some 200 km from here, killing a constable. A head constable and two tribal women were injured in the incident, the first against CRPF men by Maoists in the Naxalite-infested G.K. Veedhi mandal of the district on the Andhra-Orissa border.

A CRPF contingent is stationed at Sileru to protect the police station. At around 11 a.m., six CRPF men went to the weekly market to buy vegetables. Five Maoists, including two women, who lay in wait, caught them unawares by opening fire with 9 mm pistols.

AK 47 rifles snatched

P.K. Sharma, a constable, died on the spot. Burman, a head constable, reportedly engaged one of the Maoists in a scuffle trying to snatch the weapon from him. He was injured in the head and his AK 47 rifle was taken away. The Maoists also managed to snatch another AK 47 from the CRPF men. In the melee, the Maoists left behind a 9 mm pistol. An action team of Maoists is reportedly responsible for the attack.

In serious condition

Two tribal women suffered bullet injuries. One of them was identified as Korra Jammu. The trio, said to be in a serious condition, was admitted to local hospital. Efforts were under way to shift them to Visakhapatnam. The CRPF men later rounded up some locals, took them to the station and let them off later, it was learnt.

Panel calls for end to Salwa Judum campaign : Why they don’t condemn NAXALS ?? May 30, 2006

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Panel calls for end to Salwa Judum campaign

Staff Correspondent

Team found evidence of excesses committed by members in tandem with local administration

Disarm members, State Government must reassert control
Form independent body to probe incidents of violence
Special Police Officers are untrained, underage men
Civil strife has gone up, administration on verge of collapse

NEW DELHI: An Independent Citizens’ Initiative of writers, senior journalists and former civil servants that visited Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh has recommended that the Salwa Judum campaign in the district be stopped immediately, its members disarmed and the State Government reasserted its control.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, the team members said they had found evidence of burning and looting of houses in villages, unrecorded killings, violence against women and summary arrests by the Salwa Judum in collaboration with the State Government.

The team comprised historian Ramachandra Guha, editor of Prabhat Khabar Harivansh, social activist Farah Naqvi, former Secretary to the Government of India, Vishakhapatnam A. S. Sarma, Professor of Sociology in Delhi University Nandini Sundar, and former editor of Hindustan Times and The Indian Express B. G. Verghese.

“Remove top police brass”

The team appealed to the Central Government and the Chhattisgarh Government to constitute an independent body like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to institute an impartial, credible and time-bound inquiry into the incidents of violence by Maoists and Salwa Judum cadres in Dantewada during the last one year. They said those found guilty of violence, murder or destruction of property should be tried and punished according to law.

They recommended that the Chhattisgarh Government revamp all top police officials in the district.

Pointing out that many of the 3,200 Special Police Officers (SPOs) appointed by the State Government were unemployed, untrained and under-aged, the team said that young people were becoming the “cannon fodder of militarisation in the State.”

They said the district administration had lent full support to the Salwa Judum, and that according to villagers, people were deemed to be Naxalite supporters if they did not join the Salwa Judum campaign.

A failure

“We believe that as a method of combating revolutionary violence, the Salwa Judum has been a failure. The State cannot outsource law and order to under-aged, untrained and unaccountable civilians. In the year since Salwa Judum started, civil strife has increased and the administration is on the verge of collapse,” Nandini Sundar said.

According to the team, a national dialogue must be initiated on the most humane and effective method to combat revolutionary violence.