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MAOIST MENACE: Fewer attacks, fewer Maoist casualties but MORE SECURITY MEN killed. This and more that the govt won’t tell you.

Few paid attention to Ginugu Narsimha Reddy alias Jampanna (55) when he began as a technician in Hyderabad. But in the last week of December 2017, when he returned to the city with his 37-year-old wife Hinge Anitha, taking note was a posse of beaming Telangana policemen and excited journalists. Reddy, after all, had lived his life as a celebrated operative of the outlawed Communist Party of India (CPI) (Maoist). Joining the group in 1984, he started as a dalam commander and grew to the coveted position as a member of the apex, decision-making body, the Central Committee (CC).

2017, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) saw the decline in instances and intensity of Maoist violence. Recently, Home Minister Rajnath Singh pointed out “overall reduction of 21% in violence incidents over corresponding period of last year”.

But that is just one side.

While the attacks on security personnel may have reduced, Maoists have been able to carry out more intense attacks leading to increased casualties for security forces. At the same time they have been able to reduce their own casualties. Data accessed using the Right To Information (RTI) Act 2005:

Instances of security forces being attacked by Maoists

·         2016 – 111

·         2017 – 73

Killing of security force personnel by Maoists

·         2016 – 65

·         2017 – 72

Killing of Maoists by security forces

·         2016 – 222

·         2017 – 109

Surrenders by Maoist cadre

·         2014 – 623

·         2015 – 565

·         2016 – 1420 (1190 from Chhattisgarh alone)

·         2017 – 666 (till December 15, 2017)

Yet, as this report in THE HINDU (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/chhattisgarhs-fake-maoist-surrenders/article20547957.ece) claims, nearly 90 per cent of the surrenders  out of Chhattisgarh last year were fake.

Violence involving Maoists

·         2014 – 1091

·         2015 – 1089

·         2016 – 1048

·         2017 (till Nov 30, 2017) – 813

In this period, Maoists killed more than 212 security personnel and 616 civilians.

The Maoist movement was born before India became independent and it has survived by choosing when and where to fight. So it is hardly a surprise when the MHA notes that the Maoist have made efforts in “Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border areas, establishment of a base at the tri-junction of Kerala-Karnataka-Tamil Nadu and formation of a new Zone at the tri-junction of Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh”.

In trouble-prone areas, police is often the first and only significant arm of the administration. Yet instead of achieving the ideal average ratio of one policeman for every 547 citizens, India continues to field one policeman for every 720 citizens.

On ground, most admit that while Maoists can still pull a surprise, there exists better domination and coordination between various governmental agencies. “Instead of camping in villages and seeking food from the locals, Maoists are now camping in jungles and through emissaries are arranging their food since they fear locals will alert us,” said an officer posted in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district. In Odisha, “Barring the Malkangiri-Nuapada belt, they are nowhere”, said another officer.

Another theme emerging from the ground is the militarisation of Maoist insurgency. “Earlier their People’s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) was a significant component of the Maoist organisation, now increasingly it is becoming the only component. This works well for us as we are able to win over the people with sops and facilities,” said a source. In contrast, in addition to ramping up security, the government is avowedly constructing roads, mobile towers, schools, skill development centres, post offices, banks and ATMs to present its humane face.

The aging leadership and the lack of an effective second-rung in the CPI Maoist are bright spots when seen from the government’s viewpoint. Sources point to Jampanna and many before him to say, “several senior Maoist leaders are in touch with their families and through them with the police in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. We can expect big surrenders in 2018”. “The average age of their leadership is beyond 55 now. These people began in their 30s and 40s. Health is increasingly a concern for them. If you look at the Maoist hierarchy, they have no next generation to takeover”, said K Durga Prasad, former Direcor General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer with rich experience in tackling the Maoist menace agreed.

So what should the approach be in 2018?

“The government should consciously work to prevent another lease of life to the Maoists. Fake surrenders, fake encounters, death of civilians by security personnel, or large-scale displacement of people is what helps Maoists expand their reach. We have to be careful,” said a source.

India’s record on this front is far from inspiring. In his book, ‘Blood Red River’, Rohit Prasad quotes from a study on displacement of native population in India. In it, he states how between 1947-2000, nearly 60 million were displaced – of which only 1/3rd have been rehabilitated. Among the displaced, nearly 40 per cent are tribals.

General election of 2019 aside, states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand which are at the heart of the Maoist insurgency are barely 24 months away from local elections. As a result, in addition to security-related efforts, political and developmental activities too are picking up pace.

In the battle for the heart of India, 2018 is not just another year.

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED AT THE DAILYO PORTAL: https://www.dailyo.in/politics/maoists-left-wing-extremists-india-naxal-surrender-tribals/story/1/21498.html

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‘Where CrPC fails, CRPF goes’, says training boss as he welcomes 80 young officers into the force

Jouyous & Jubilant - The trainees throw their caps up in the air in a ceremony after the Passing Out Parade

Eighty (80) young and direct officers, including five (05) Mahila officers were

inducted into the Force, in a majestic ‘Passing Out Parade’ of 45 (A) batch of DAGOs

(Directly Appointed Gazetted Officers) held today at CRPF Academy, Kadarpur, Gurgaon. Sh

Prakash Mishra, DG CRPF was the Chief Guest on this occasion and took salute on this

occasion. The officers have passed through 50 weeks of rigorous physical, WT (Weapon &

Tactics), survival, official procedure & combat leadership to carve out the best in them.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. B.N. Ramesh, Director CRPF Academy, Kadarpur,

Gurgaon lauded the role of the Academy in shaping young leaders of the Force, which

functions under most trying circumstances. He said that “CRPF goes to places where CrPC

Speaking on this occasion, Sh Prakash Mishra, DG CRPF congratulated the exhorted

the trainees to take every challenge as an opportunity and prove that they are the Best. He

advised them to be specially sensitive towards women and the weaker sections of the

society.

Sh Prateek Jain, Asst Commandant was adjudged the ‘Best All Round Candidate’ and

won the ‘Sword of Honour’ and the “Home Minister’s Cup”, Sh Prahlad Singh, A/C won

the ‘’Shahid Prahlad Singh Memorial Trophy”” for Best Firer, whereas Ms Poonam Negi, A/C

won the Shahid Manoranjan Singh Trophy for ‘Best in Drill’. Sh Rakesh Raman, A/C won the

Shahid Jatin Gulati Trophy for being the Best Trainee in “Combat”.

''Desh Ke Hum Hain Rakshak'' - The trainees taking oath during the Passing Out Parade

The function was attended by senior officers, a large number of jawans and their

families.

(Photos and text courtesy PRO, CRPF)

MY PIECE: Post Sukma ambush, CRPF’s two field officers get the boot; inquiry against top boss under a cloud

Report in MAIL TODAY newspaper on December 19
Report in MAIL TODAY newspaper on December 19

Recovering from a deadly blow dealt by the Maoists in the form of killing 14 of its men and looting their weapons, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has decided to move on. However, with a step forward it has also taken a step back which has raised many eyebrows not just among its rank and file but even outside.

Confirming reports about a poor fighting effort and a failure of command and control among its different battalions involved in December 1 ambush in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has ‘attached’ and relieved from command two of its leading officers who commanded two key units who participated in the ill-fated operations.

Even as it does so, it’s effort to conduct an impartial probe into the issue has come under a cloud. The reason behind this has to do with the Presiding Officer of the Court of Inquiry (CoI) launched into this episode.

Field officers get the boot

In an order dated December 11, the CRPF HQs “attached” the Commanding Officer (CO) 223 General Duty battalion from which all the men who perished belonged alongwith a Deputy Commandant who was the officer leading 206 CoBRA battalion, a specialised force. The order has sought the respective formations to relieve these officers on an immediate basis. “They will not be given any task and will remain attached with their zonal headquarters in Kolkata,” it was learnt. When asked Director General CRPF RC Tayal said, “While there was a failure of command and control in the case of 223 battalion and the Commanding Officer was not around, in the case of CoBRA battalion, we observed that they failed to act and could not prevent the looting of arms despite not being too far from the embattled troops of 223 battalion.” According to Tayal, these actions emanated from the initial findings. “Nobody is off the hook yet, including the Inspector General HS Sidhu who was leading the operations on the ground. I am personally looking into the case,” Tayal added.

However this move has not gone down well with the force.

Said an officer aware of the entire operation, “The CO of 223 battalion had been called by the IG for a meet when the Maoists began firing. He took time to reach the location as the meet was some distance away and had to make his way back while the firing was on.” CO 223 battalion who was leading 90 odd men from his battalion was unharmed while his Deputy Commandant and Assistant Commandant fell to the Maoist bullets with 12 other men. In the case of the CoBRA Deputy Commandant, his party with specialised weapons claimed they had participated and even rescued some of the injured.

Cloud over inquiry

The CoI looking into the episode is presided over by DIG Sanjay Kumar who is stationed at Raipur and is administratively under the IG in this case. “Can you expect the DIG to scrutinize his boss? The IG was personally leading the operations on ground so like others his actions also need to be scrutinized. With this move I am confident that no fault whatsoever of the IG will be found,” said a CRPF officer.

Retired Additional Director General of CRPF, DC Dey agreed, “Someone from outside should have been assigned this task”. Former Director General of Border Security Force (BSF) Prakash Singh said, “The force headquarters needs to step in. I understand that the IG was on the field and he may not have anything to hide but a senior officer who could have examined the IG’s role too should have been asked to investigate. Otherwise it won’t carry conviction.”

While the IG refused to comment, sources in Raipur said there was no problem at all in anyone inquiring. “The force headquarters asked the IG to appoint an inquiry and he did. If there is any apprehension then CRPF HQ should directly handle matters, there will not be any resistance”, said a source.

The operation was not planned as it should have been: RC Tayal, DG CRPF

Q. What is the takeaway from this ambush for the CRPF?
A. There is no meaning in conducting operations by announcing our presence and moving in broad day light in areas dominated by the Maoists. We have decided that we will carry out our movements by night now onwards. We have also decided to improve motivation levels among our men, incentivize postings in Maoist-affected areas and plan better. MHA is already in the loop on this.

Q. Is that then an admission that this operation was not planned properly?
A. I would say that it was not planned the way it should have been.

Q. This operation also saw minimal participation from the side of the police. Do you then believe that in the time to come the CRPF can/should take on operations in unfamiliar terrain without the local police’s participation?
A. Our role is that of being in aid to the civil police. My view is that there is no meaning in conducting operations unless the state leadership comes forward. It is flawed model if we believe CRPF can take the lead and do operations on its own

WEEK AFTER SUKMA AMBUSH: Jawans who fought Maoists tell me, ‘700 of us couldn’t take on 100 Maoists, feeling appalled’

Article as appeared on December 7 in the MAIL TODAY newspaper
Article as appeared on December 7 in the MAIL TODAY newspaper

With a hint of anger in his blood-shot eyes, he revealed, “We were close to seven hundred. They were barely over a hundred. Yet we could neither save our colleagues or their weapons nor could we eliminate the rebels”. Rajat and three of his colleagues (names changed on request) were a part ‘Operation SS 14 (South Sukma)’ from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) who faced off with the Maoists on Monday and lost fourteen of their men including two officers. They are presently awaiting their return to their original location.

While Rajat Kumar is a young ‘sipahi’, joined hardly two years ago, his colleagues are not. “Nothing is going to change. I am looking at completing twenty years of service and exiting with pension,” said Mahesh Raj, a constable. For the force that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) wants to become the arrow head of India’s anti-Maoist effort, it is a difficult time. Those outside see it as fighting a difficult battle. Those inside have little hope of things improving.

By November 10, officers in various battalions were informed of a major, ‘four phase’ operation to be conducted later in the month. By November 15, personnel were sought from an array of battalions which included 74th, 150th, 201st & 206th CoBRA, team directly under Deputy Inspector General (DIG) CoBRA, team directly under Inspector General (IG) CRPF and 223th battalion. Before November 15, over 600 personnel had gathered at camps like Pollampalli, Kankerlanka and Puswada among others in Sukma.

“Our operations would take two nights and three days. We had nil intelligence. We would search, wander from one location to the other, expose ourselves to the Maoists and return,” said Rajat. It was reliably learnt that the operation has come under question from several quarters within the CRPF. When asked, the acting Director General RC Tayal had earlier commented, “The traditional area domination operations need to now change. We must hit the Maoists and operations need to be pinpoint, specific and swift.” As these operations progressed, on November 21, in its second phase, seven personnel were injured by the Maoists. Later, the third and fourth phases were merged into one and undertaken from November 29 to December 1.

On November 30, five of those who participated in the operations were detected with malaria and required immediate evacuation. However a Border Security Force (BSF) helicopter flew in on that day but did not land, citing unfit conditions. “We covered a hillock and slept there for the night. Next morning, you can say our operation had turned into one where we were only scurrying to detect a suitable landing spot for the helicopter,” said Pankaj Kumar, another constable.

As luck would have it, coordination with the helicopter fleet for such a massive operation was another debacle.

The IAF team at Jagdalpur readied itself to fly but all day the CRPF could not confirm just where to land till it was in the sunset range! “Helipad locations kept changing throughout. At 1610 hours, the fourth location came. And mind you, all along CRPF never uttered a word that there was an ambush. We got curious. Finally, at 1640hrs they asked us to go to evacuate their injured and we couldn’t because it was too late.The state government, despite repeated reminders has failed to install equipment which can allow us to land at night. Had they done that even at their Chintagufa camp, where the troops returned that night, we would have evacuated the injured,” said a MoD official.

Little of this means anything to these men on ground. “Forget malaria cases, even if the IAF/BSF had flown the next day when we asked them to on the day of the ambush, two of out men would have been alive today,” said Pankaj Kumar.

On ground, before all hell broke loose, all the team commanders were called to meet the IG at the ground zero. It was close to 9:30am. As the encounter began with firing from a ridge on to CRPF position near Kasalpad village, instead of fighting the hundred odd Maoists, different units of the CRPF were moving in different directions. “We still don’t know why many things happened the way they did. We did not act as one,” conceded an officer who was a key element of the entire operation.

Frustration written over his face, Rajat said, “We were looking for the Maoists all these days. We were tired but we wanted to finish them off because they had showed up finally. But when firing began we noticed that not all were fighting.” His colleague, Mahesh, quiet till now said, “In J&K, when militants show up, the entire area is cordoned and militants are not allowed to walk away like it happened here.”

The MHA has announced a slew of committees to investigate the lapses and review the CRPF’s functioning apart from the statutory Court of Inquiry (CoI).

An inspector who was watching the conversation flow said, “I have seen the CRPF for over 25 years. Never before has the force taken so many hits. We are being called upon to do the kind of work that militaries do yet we neither have that kind of training nor powers.”

BOX – WEAPONS MAOISTS LOOTED

  • 2000 AK47 rounds
  • 300 rounds INSAS Light Machine Gun
  • 30 Under Barrel Grenade Launchers
  • 10 AK47 rifles
  • 01 Self Loading Rifle
  • 01 INSAS LMG
  • 04 Bullet Proof Jackets
  • 01 GPS Set
  • 01 VHF Manpack set
  • 02 Binocular

BEING HUMAN: CRPF to involve juniors in planning, wants to know about the living conditions of its men too

Article appeared in MAIL TODAY on December 5
Article appeared in MAIL TODAY on December 5
This is how CRPF men source drinking water in a camp in Bastar
This is how CRPF men source drinking water in a camp in Bastar

Smarting from the deadly encounter in Sukma and the controversy over uniforms of their dead being dumped in a bin following post-mortem, senior officials of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have begun damage control. Indications are that not only are operational aspects being reviewed but also efforts are being made at assessing the living conditions of their men who serve the force and the nation in inhospitable jungles of Bastar, something that seldom done and pursued.

When asked, the acting Director General RC Tayal chose his words carefully, “We have to hit the Maoists hard, there is not going to be any slowing down. But instead of continuing the traditional area domination kind of operations we will now need to look at specific, swift and pin point operations.”  His words hold significance given the criticism about conducting a 15-day long operation in Sukma and the fatigue it created for the men. Though the inquiry is on, many from the CRPF are quietly upset over an operation which was “too long, without a goal and ill-planed so much so that despite so much preparation the CRPF could not ensure a single helipad was secured for IAF choppers to evacuate”, in the words of an officer. It was also learnt that operations need to not only be better planned but also need the active involvement of the junior leadership at that stage.

Sources say the senior leadership went into an overdrive in the region on Thursday. Unit deployed in far flung areas were asked to immediately forward details of their living conditions, number of toilets in their camps, number of malaria cases, number of personnel, ration issues if any, leaves utilized or not and requirements. Many unit commanders were taken aback. “For years what has not mattered is suddenly important,” said an officer. When asked what could be the cause, “May be someone has reported about the pathetic conditions in which we are forced to live.”

From inadequate, filthy toilets to lack of communication facilities to improper potable water supply, camps have often come up with scant regard to the living condition they provide. The district police, as an end user of the CRPF, is responsible for the plight of the camps. Operational requirements have often ensured that camps are created without even security or communication links. For example, following the massacre of the Congress party leaders in Darbha region of Sukma in May 2013, a camp was opened near the ambush site within a month. “There was neither barricading nor communication links since satellite phones too aren’t really reliable in this region. So our bosses agree in creating sitting ducks out of us in a known Maoist stronghold,” said a source. Very often the on paper ‘facilities’ of a camp can be very different from the reality. “On paper, we have ten toilets for 120 men. In reality, only five are made and work on, the other five are yet to even take off,” mentioned another source.

Explained a source, “Our decision makers are IPS officers who come on deputation as IGs, ADGs and DGs. Hardly any IPS officer in his career has operated in a hard core area at the fighting level so they seldom understand our problems.”

Multiple committees are in the process of reviewing the force’s functioning. The MHA is keen to make the CRPF the frontline force to counter the Maoists and thereby attempting to review the functioning and revamp, if need be.

SUKMA: PMO spy agency pulled out UAV mid-way, unannounced; Hurt our ops, CRPF to MHA

 

Article appeared in the MAIL TODAY newspaper on December 3
Article appeared in the MAIL TODAY newspaper on December 3

 

On Monday afternoon, learning about the death of their men was not the only horror facing the top brass of the Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF). Despite their best efforts at convincing, the spy agency National Technological Research Organisation (NTRO) insisted and succeeded in pulling out its surveillance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(UAV) deployed over Sukma at the time the operation was on.

This ditching, being viewed very seriously as hampering the force when it needed all possible efforts has propelled the CRPF top brass to complain formally to its parent body, the Ministry of Home Affair (MHA). A senior IPS officer posted in the CRPF, confirming the development, said, “We are not going to take this lying down anymore. The MHA has been, in a very strongly worded manner, informed about this. It is now up to them.”

According to information accessed, the operations directorate of the CRPF placed an advanced ‘indent’ (read requisition) for UAV deployment over Sukma from 8am to 5pm for Monday, December 1. It was learnt that this was done keeping in mind the Maoist build up and the operations which were on for a fortnight. From Sukma, the Israeli-made Heron UAV was to fly to Jharkhand to provide an assessment of the Maoist presence since the state was to go for polls on Tuesday. Only then was it to return to its base at the Begumpet airport.

“The UAV arrived over Sukma only by noon. By around 1:30pm, it was gone. The NTRO’s point was that the fuel supply was nearly exhausted and it needed to fly more than 90 minutes to reach Hyderabad,” said a source. What bewildered the CRPF top brass was the sudden change of plan. “Given what was happening, we told NTRO to cancel flying to Jharkhand and maintain presence over Sukma. What we got in return baffled us. If you have been informed of a job as critical as this, how can you just walk away,” a source stated.

The UAV, despite its limited visual penetration of the thick foliage over jungles of Bastar is of immense help to the security forces since it beams live images of the location over which it flies. In a limited way, the UAV also helps forces to track, detect and react to any possible build up of the insurgents.

The NTRO’s UAV is operated by personnel from the Indian Air Force (IAF) who are on deputation to the spy agency. The spy agency is facing a crisis of pilots and observers and one set of pilots and observers can’t work for over four hours and NTRO has barely two set of people at the best of times. As a result of this, the Heron UAV which can actually operate for over 18 hours, effectively is not utilized beyond eight hours at the most. What makes the matters worse is that the NTRO only flies one UAV at a time and that too for a limited duration owing to the manpower crunch. Its pay, mandated by the government rules, also is too meagre for it to be able to attract fresh recruitment. When reached for a comment, Air Vice Marshal Arvind Verma, chief of UAV operations of NTRO heard the entire issue and said, “You should speak to the right authority. I can not comment.” When asked who should be reached, he did not reply.

It is not for the first time that the CRPF and NTRO have had a run in. In the past, former Home Secretary and now BJP MP RK Singh had put it in writing the need to stop relying on NTRO and developing own fleet of UAVs. Apart from that, for years now, the ground forces have pleaded the NTRO to shift out of Hyderabad and operate from Jagdalpur or Bhillai or any other air strip in the vicinity but NTRO has refrained. “Imagine the constraints that the NTRO already faces. In that by insisting on operating out of Hyderabad, you end up wasting considerable flying time in merely reaching over places in Bastar or Jharkhand. You have barely reached and it is time to head back, exactly what happened in the Sukma operation,” explained a source.

While the CRPF reports to the MHA and the police to their respective state goverments, the NTRO comes directly under the National Security Advisor’s secretariat and thus under Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

DG CRPF’s plain-speak during his final press conf. Read this for an insider’s account of a top IPS officer

Following is the gist of some of the pointers from the final press conference of the outgoing Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Dilip Trivedi:

1. A lot of consultants are floating around and they manage to secure contracts also. People take our details and do their studies. After all of this, governments want us to give comments. What are we to say?

2. States need to ensure Maoists do not get their hands on explosives. It is the job of DM and SP. Violence levels will go down if we can do so.

3. In some ways state governments have a stake in ensuring this violence continues. They get a lot in terms of aid.

4. CRPF is operationally most troubled force in the country, working in the most challenging circumstances. Found this when I was taking over.

5. Systemic policies have gone towards encouraging/formenting trouble in JK and North East.

6. Govt is lacking a systemic approach towards choking supply of explosives that Maoists have access to. Such a system is not in place.

7. Problems that the country faces are not just of the police, other agencies need to get involved too

8. Have found people seeking transfers on the flimsiest of grounds in CRPF

9. COMMITTEE MADE BY MHA TO EXAMINE CRPF (He laughed)
Committees attract retired people, govt is not interested in serving people for some reason. After I retire nobody is going to be bothered about this issue. People are waiting to see my back.