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Maoists’ daredevilry worries Jharkhand

Maoists’ daredevilry worries Jharkhand

On December 10, 2006 Maoist extremists intercept a passenger train near Chakulia station, near Tatanagar in Jharkhand, in broad daylight. Hold the train for about 30 minutes with a few “helpless” Railway Protection Force personnel looking on and taking repeated blows of the extremists, their service rifles snatched in no time.
nDecember 2, 2006 A group of armed Maoist extremists blows up a mini-truck carrying Jharkhand Armed Police personnel near a village in the dense Kanjkiro forests of Bokaro district, early in the afternoon. In an instant, thirteen personnel succumb to their injuries, one more die later in the hospital.
nMarch 13, 2006 ~ Armed Maoists surround and storm a passenger train at night between Hehegada and Kumandi stations along the Coal India Chord link near Latehar district of Jharkhand and snatch communication gears from the driver and guard of the train. The train is detained all through the night and set free only early the next day. The police remain mere spectators.

The three separate incidents have not only sent shivers down the spines of the Jharkhand state police and administration, but also the Railways’ police force, Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Central Paramilitary Force contingents posted in the state to counter Maoist extremism.
And shivers are not the only impact on lawkeepers, the complete change of modus operandi of extremists have taken one and all by surprise.
The shift of the Maoists from daring night attacks and guerrilla tactics, to that of bold and open operations in broad daylight has made all set-piece calculations of the police and state administration higher-ups to combat extremism go haywire.
Senior police officers who have been leading anti-Maoist operations for sometime have confided that the Chakulia incident is a major shift from the regular ways of the extremists.
“The incident is a shift from the guerrilla ways of the Maoists. But another important drawback is the Intelligence failure in tracing the activities of extremists along the borders of Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Information has come in that the extremists have been monitoring train movements along the Tatanagar-Kharagpur route and also the movements of the RPF jawans for some time.
They had dug a few trenches in the dense Kanimohuli jungles along the tracks between Tatanagar and Chakulia and were virtually prepared for a fullscale assault on the forces trying to combat them soon after the attack on the passenger train, had it been needed.
“To dig trenches and follow train routes and their movements, one needs time and a well-scripted plan, and none of the Intelligence agencies had reported any such development. It is a major area of concern and failure,” said a senior Jharkhand police officer.
According to official records sent to the Union home ministry, the Jharkhand government has acknowledged that 18 of 22 districts of the state is under direct threat of Maoist extremists. But successive state governments, starting from the rule of Mr Babulal Marandi to the present chief minister Mr Madhu Koda, have not come up with a clearly spelt-out rehabilitation policy for the surrendered extremists. Nor is there a move to announce one in the near future.
Sporadic steps have been taken to allure hardcore extremists to return to the mainstream, but none of these was followed up with legal aid or proper rehabilitation moves.
Even willing NGOs trying to negotiate with the state government have not been given the boost to carry the process forward.
Amid growing confusion over a missing rehabilitation policy and the fast- changing tactics of Maoist extremists, turning more daring by the day, the only thing that Jharkhand’s government has done is to appeal for more deployment of paramilitary force in the state to tackle the extremists.
While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed his willingness to open dialogues with Maoist extremists operating in Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the appeal of the Jharkhand government for more firepower and force from the Centre seems to be a total seems to be of no avail. The outcome of the coordination meeting between the Prime Minister, Union home minister and the chief ministers of the four Maoist-infested states has yielded little.
Having to deal with the bold change in tactics of the Maoists, the Jharkhand police and administration are bringing in the New Year with their “fingers crossed”.

(The author is The Statesman’s Ranchi-based correspondent.)

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posted by Bimal 3.1.07,


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