Army of 7,000 to rein in 323 Naxals active in state

Published: Dec 06, 2011, 08:06 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon |

With winter session of Assembly due in Nagpur, the anti-state actors in neighbouring Gondia and Gadchiroli -- angry after Kishenji's death and reinvigorated by ongoing PLGA week -- have forced the authorities to reinforce security; additional 9,000 personnel deployed in Nagpur

With winter session of Assembly due in Nagpur, the anti-state actors in neighbouring Gondia and Gadchiroli -- angry after Kishenji's death and reinvigorated by ongoing PLGA week -- have forced the authorities to reinforce security; additional 9,000 personnel deployed in Nagpur 

As incidents of violence spurred by left extremism continue to be reported in the red corridors across the country, officials concede that there are at least 323 Naxals active in the border districts of Gadchiroli and Gondia in Maharashtra that pose a threat to civilians and armed forces.

Big Blow: Security forces fear that the encounter of top Maoist leader
Kishenji in West Midnapore district of West Bengal on November 24, may
spark a revenge attack in the region. File Pic

In a grave observation, officials said that the violence aggravates during the ongoing Maoist-sponsored People's Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) week from December 2 to 8. Add to that, Maoist leader Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji's death last week, and you have a powder keg of Naxal fury and emotion waiting to explode, experts observe at a time when state Assembly is due to convene in less than a week. 

Over 7,000 police and Central paramilitary forces including special commandos have ventured deep into the thick forests of Gondia and Gadchiroli to avert any untoward incidents that may have been planned for the winter session of state legislature, which starts from December 12 in Nagpur, a neighbour of the two afflicted districts.

Senior police officials working in Gadchiroli and Gondia confirmed that Naxal activities surge during this week.

"They use the PLGA period to propagandise their fight against the government machinery and look for sympathisers to support their cause. In this week, incidents of sabotage and assault on police informers, paramilitary forces and other forces are on the rise," said an officer on condition of anonymity.

The special anti-Naxal squads operating in both the Naxal-affected districts have already procured intelligence data of 323 Naxals presently operating in the thick jungles. A cash reward of Rs 3 lakh has been announced for the top wanted extremists, who have been involved in grave crimes ranging from murder to arson to large-scale destruction of property.

The conundrum is further aggravated by the fact that the Naxals are using sophisticated weaponry such as AK-47s and self-loading rifles stolen from security personnel after carrying out guerilla attacks.

Recent mayhem
On December 2, a police constable Manoj Binzare (30) was shot dead by Naxals during daytime. The constable along with four other policemen was in civilian clothes and had ventured into Pipperkadi village in Gondia to gather intelligence from locals about Naxal movement when the assault occurred.

Binzare who was carrying a loaded revolver could not even use the weapon for self-defence - the Naxals struck speedily to fire a volley of four bullets from a .303 at him. As Binzare's companions -- all policemen -- ran for their lives, he died on the spot.

On Sunday (December 4), the Naxals set a gram panchayat office in Gondia ablaze and destroyed several land records and other documents. Prior to this, a similar incident was reported in Haldeware village in Etapalli taluka and Vairagad in Armori, both in Gadchiroli. Some 30 to 40 Naxalites set aflame the gram panchayat office, damaging furniture and records in the wee hours of morning.

'We can handle it'
The wanton acts of aggression haven't deterred officials from insisting they are in control. Additional Director General (Anti-Naxal Operations) V Mishra said, "We have carried out additional planning and have cautioned our men as well as paramilitary forces deployed on armed posts to be extra vigilant, especially on December 4 and 5, when the Naxals had called for a bandh in the locality to condemn the death of Kishenji. We are capable of handling any situation and are alert round the clock."

Superintendent of Police (Special Action Group) Dhananjay Kulkarni said, "We are taking all precautionary measures to avert any untoward incident. At present, we are focussing on intelligence-based operations. Since the beginning of this year, we have killed seven Naxals and arrested 16. During search operations, we have seized over 100 kg of explosives including detonators from them, other than pamphlets and other literature."

Asked why the police and security forces are not able to curb the Naxal threat in the two districts, Kulkarni said, "The dense forest is spread across an area of 360 by 140 sq km across both districts and it is humanly difficult to cover such a massive area." 

Strength in nos
Other than the 7,000 personnel in Gondia and Gadchiroli, some 9,000 security personnel have been stationed in Nagpur alone. Senior police officials added that apart from the local police, 5 battalions -- each battalion has 800 to 1,000 men -- of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), one battalion of Cobra special force of commandos and the C-60 local commando force consisting of 600 men, 10 companies -- each of 100 men -- of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) have been deployed in the afflicted areas.

Also a helicopter for aerial combat and medical emergencies has been stationed in Gadchiroli. Security forces have special bomb detection and disposal squads, along with bulletproof and mine-proof vehicles for operations.

3-tier security
Meanwhile, the Nagpur police have been working on a foolproof security arrangement around the Assembly building. Around 9,000 policemen and 1,250 officers would be deployed for security during the winter session. "The entire house will be covered by a three-tier security cordon - the first layer composed of city police, then SRPF and, finally, specially trained commandos from Force One to ensure that the session goes smoothly," said a police officer involved in the operations.

All-important places like the Assembly building, official residences of the CM and Dy CM, ministers' cottages and Raj Bhavan will be provided with adequate security.

Wanted: Top Wanted Naxals operating in Maharashtra

Name: Dipak alias Ashok alias Arun alias Milind Baburao Teltumbde
Age: 46
Residence: Rajur Colleiry Wani, Yavatmal, T/R Mumbai
Designation: Secretary, Maharashtra State Committee (Maoist)
Status: Wanted

Name: Jamni alias Manju alias Seema Hirani 
Age: 48
Wife of: Vishnu alias Shridhar Shirnivasan
Residence: Mumbai, Surat
Designation: Member and Secretary Surat Area Committee 
Status: Wanted

Name: Venu
Age: 42
Residence: Mumbai 
Designa-tion: Mumbai Area Committee member 
Status: Wanted

Name: Dilip alias Ramesh Gaud 
Residence: Surat
Designa-tion: Surat Area Committee Member 
Status: Wanted

Name: Arjun 
Residence: Surat 
Designa-tion: Surat Area Committee Member 
Status: Wanted

Name: Bhanu alias Raju alias Vivek   
Age: 40
Residence: Chandrapur  
Designation: Member and Secretary Chandrapur Area Committee Member 
Status: Arrested

Name: Iskara alias Enjala alias Anjali Sontakke
Age: 42
Wife of: Milind Teltumbde  
Residence: Chandrapur and Mumbai
Designation: Member and Secretary Chandrapur Area Committee Member 
Status: Arrested

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