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Archive for October 7th, 2009

Chidambaram invites Naxalites for talk, after abjuring violence

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2009


Mumbai, Oct 6 : Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has said that the Government has made it clear that it does not view the confrontation with the Naxalites as a war against the Naxalites.

Delivering the fourth Nani Palkhiwala memorial lecture here on Monday, Chidambaram said: "The Naxalite leaders and cadres are Indian citizens. No government of a civilized country will wage war against its own people. What we ask is that the Naxalites should abjure violence."

"If they represent the poor or the tribal people of a State, certainly the Government of that State would be willing to talk to them on their demands and listen to their genuine grievances. I hope that leaders of civil society would prevail upon Naxalites to abjure violence and participate in democracy," he added.

Noting that in the last ten years, the Naxalite movement has grown both in its area of influence and its capacity for violent actions, he said, "It is a sad fact that some sections of civil society continue to romanticise the left wing extremist movement."

In an extraordinarily frank document issued by the politburo of the CPI (Maoist), he said, "They regard elections as a meaningless, irrelevant, pseudo-democratic exercise."

"They have declared that their goal is seizure of political power and establishment of base areas. Their method will be expanding our guerrilla war to new areas on the one hand and intensifying the mass resistance in the existing areas; to intensify the war in the States; and expand the area of struggle," he added.

Speaking on Kobad Ghandy, a member of the politburo, the Minister said: "Ghandy has stated on record that the Naxalites will never participate in the mainstream of politics." "How can a country that is democratic and republic accept these pronouncements?" he said.

Referring to Maoists in Nepal who participated in Parliamentary elections, he said why Indian Maoists do not follow this example.

"There is no logical answer to this (why Naxals do not take part in democratic elections) from Maoists, from human rights activists who support them, or the left-leaning intellectuals," he added.

Terming Naxalites as "anti-development", he further said, "In 2009 alone, they have caused 183 violent attacks on economic targets including railway tracks, telephone towers, power plants, mines, school buildings and panchayat bhavans."

Chidambaram later said, if the Naxalites accuse the elected governments of capitalism, land grabbing, exploiting and displacing the tribal people, and denying rights of forest-dwellers, what prevents them from winning power through elections and reversing current policies and putting in place policies that they think will benefit the people?
http://www.bombaynews.net/story/551198

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Kobad Ghandy moves court to meet lawyers in police custody

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2009


New Delhi: Top Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy on Tuesday moved a Delhi court seeking permission to meet his lawyer during his police custody and consult doctors of a super speciality hospital for a check of his health.

"The applicant is suffering from some serious ailments and his condition is precarious. A request is made to send him to some super speciality hospital for proper evaluation and assessment of his medical condition.

"He has an apprehension that he is being denied proper and adequate medical care," Ghandy’s counsel Rebecca M John and Vikas Gosain said in the application.

Ghandy, a member of CPI(Maoist) politbureau who was sent to three days police custody yesterday, is accused of being member of the banned outfit under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Ghandy, who was going around allegedly using nine fake names and found setting up a base for Naxal activities in the national capital, was arrested on September 21 by the special cell of the Delhi police.

His application alleged he was "surreptitiously" produced in the court yesterday without any intimation to his lawyer a day before the end of judicial remand. He was yesterday ordered to be taken to LNJP Hospital for medical check-up by the court, he submitted.

The application filed in the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kaveri Baweja is to come up for hearing for tomorrow.

Bureau Report

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Maharashtra: ‘No flying over Naxal areas’

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2009


Maharashtra police’s special operations wing has advised politicians not to fly in commercial helicopters over the three Naxal infested districts in the state — Gadchiroli, Chandrapur and Gondia.

This advisory comes after the Border Security Force (BSF), deployed in these districts to ensure peaceful polling, issued alerts about Naxalite plans to target such helicopters.

The Centre has deployed 27 companies of BSF in these Maoist-infiltrated areas, to assist the state police in maintaining law and order during the state polls.

“Politicians should avoid flying over these areas,” said N.S. Jagtap, spokesperson for the Gadchiroli police.

After a patrol party of the BSF came under Naxal attack at Tadgaon in Gadchiroli, 360 kilometers south of Nagpur, the BSF has sought assistance from the air force. The BSF has requisitioned four Mi17 helicopters for intensifying surveillance in the dense forests of these areas where Naxals have their stronghold, state police sources said.

A top officer of the state police’s special operations wing told HT on Monday, that the request had been conveyed to the Centre and Mi17 helicopters, which have a proven record in anti-insurgency operations, were likely to be made available “anytime” this week.

Unlike Mi17 helicopters, commercial helicopters fly at a low altitude and therefore can be targeted easily from ground.

During the general elections in April, Naxalites armed with automatic rifles attacked a commercial helicopter owned by the state at Dinogonda in Gadchiroli. The helicopter was deputed with the police for patrolling during the polls.

“We have informed the home ministry about the situation in these area and our dire need for air cover,” the officer said.

According to the state police, an estimated 800 to 1,000 heavily armed Maoist cadres are suspected to have infiltrated into Gadchiroli and Gondia districts to disrupt the poll process. HT

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West Bengal: Ally ire on strict law

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2009


Ally ire on strict law
OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Calcutta, Oct. 6: The Left partners of the CPM today questioned the government’s move to slap the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act on Chhatradhar Mahato and two Maoist “sympathisers” without consulting the cabinet core committee.

“The Left Front had decided in the presence of Buddha (chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee) that use of the central law would not be indiscriminate and the decision would be taken at the core committee of the state cabinet. I will ask Buddha in the next front meeting why he changed the decision,’’ Forward Bloc veteran Asoke Ghosh said.

CPI leader Nandagopal Bhattacharjee said: “I feel that a core committee meeting must be called immediately to discuss the issues related to the use of the act in the state.’’

The core committee has as its members senior ministers from the CPM ally parties.

Most of the Left partners are opposed to the UAPA but they differ on its use against Mahato. “We will oppose the use of the UAPA against those involved in democratic movements as it is against the Left Front’s policy. I would like to know first from the chief minister what led the government to slap the law on Mahato,’’ Ghosh said.

Nandagopal Bhattacharjee, who is the water resources minister, was “happy” with Mahato’s arrest but was against charging him and others under the UAPA because of his party’s “opposition” to the central law.

The Socialist Party’s Kiranmoy Nanda defended the arrest of Mahato under the act. “I had opposed the UAPA in the earlier front meeting. But Chhatradhar’s case is different and I don’t find anything wrong in his arrest under the act against the backdrop of incidents in Lalgarh,’’ the fisheries minister said.

Human rights organisations sympathetic to the Lalgarh agitation today wrote to the chief minister demanding the release of Mahato as well as rebel “sympathisers” Prasun Chatterjee and Raja Sorkhel.

Activist Sujato Bhadra said the state government had not notified the public about implementation of the UAPA as required by the law. “People don’t know when the law was promulgated here. Neither did the state form a review or appellate body, as required by law, as a lifeline to those arrested.” TT

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Eight Maoist sympathizers picked up by police in Kolkata, two arrested in Hooghly

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2009


Even the possession of a poster demanding arrested tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato seem to be enough provocation to be picked up by the police in Kolkata right now.

On Tuesday evening two members of Bandimukti Committee, a human rights organization were picked up from central Kolkata while they were pasting posters demanding the release of Mahato.

Mahato, 44, spokesperson of Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities was arrested in Lalgarh, about 200 kms to the west of Kolkata on 26 September by two policemen posing as journalists o a Singapore-based news organization.

“Two of our members, Bhanu Sarkar and Ramesh were putting up posters demanding the release of Mahato near Student’s Hall in central Kolkata. Policemen, in plain clothes picked them up. Two others managed to escape,” said Choton Das, secretary of the Bandi Mukti Committee.

Both Sarkar and Ramesh are in their mid-thrities.

“We have picked them up for questioning,” said Javed Shamim, deputy commissioner of the detective department of Kolkata police.

Two suspected Maoists have been arrested in Hooghly district, about 35 kms from Kolkata.

A printing press in Maniktala area in north Kolkata was raided and sealed by the police on Tuesday. Police said that the press was used to print maoist posters and leaflets. Six persons have been detained in this connection. HT

KOLKATA: A day after two persons were arrested from Kolkata, Vivekananda Kumar, a former CPM leader and now with People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), was arrested from Arsha in Purulia on Tuesday for alleged Maoist links. Besides, police sealed a press in Manicktala for publishing PCPA posters and leaflets and arrested owner Sadananda Singh.

Two members of rights organization Bandi Mukti Committee Ramesh Das and Bhanu Sarkar were also picked up from College Square late on Tuesday and detained at the Amherst Street PS. Swapan Dasgupta the editor of magazine People’s March was picked up by plainclothesman from his Garia residence the same evening.

The crackdown against the Maoists and their sympathizers in the state follows a method similar to Binayak Sen’s arrest in Chhattisgarh. The plan, as it appears, is to isolate the core group of Maoists from those in the periphery, snap the intellectual fraternity between Kolkata and Lalgarh and confront the Maoists on their home turf.

But the process is less simple than said. A day after chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti gave a veiled threat to city luminaries sympathetic to the tribal cause, state home secretary Ardhendu Sen said police won’t arrest writer Mahasweta Devi, filmmaker Aparna Sen or poet Joy Goswami because there is no evidence against them.

However, the less-known or the unknown may not have this privilege. For, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the onus is on the accused to prove his innocence. Senior lawyers maintain that the state administration need not ban any outfit such as PCPA before rounding up an individual on charges for aiding and abetting a terrorist act or killing police personnel. "The most important thing is how police frame charges using provisions of the UAPA," said a retired high court judge. Under the legal framework, a person collecting funds for PCPA can be booked under provisions of the UAPA, no matter what the court observes while passing its judgment.

The administration is thus not going into the debate of whether PCPA is a frontal organization of the banned CPI(Maoist), or whether it should be banned. Instead, it is concentrating on individuals, PCPA organizers and their linkmen as the state government has been doing for long without banning the Maoist outfit like many other states. That explains why Prasun Chatterjee and Raja Sarkhel have been booked under the UAPA. Police claimed that both Chatterjee and Sarkhel, who were working under the banner of Gana Pratirodh Mancha, had provided financial assistance to the rebels through Chhatradhar and PCPA.

"These two had handed over more than Rs1.5 lakh to Chhatradhar in the last few months and attended several PCPA meetings where Mahato and some Maoist leaders like Bikash, Batas, Rakhal and Sasadhar were present," said a senior official. The grounds are enough to create pressure on those who had been to Lalgarh to meet Chhatradhar when the Lalgarh movement was on in full swing.

Also, the government isn’t coming clear on whether it would ban PCPA. But DGP Bhupinder Singh clearly says: "At this moment, we are looking at the PCPA as a frontal organization of the CPI (Maoist), but we are not the ones to decide on a ban."

Police have also shortlisted 20 PCPA leaders who can continue the movement. Some of them are Santosh Patra, Srikanta Mahato, Lalmohan Tudu and Lochan Sardar.
TOI

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Lalgarh: Mahato falsely implicated, Buddha told

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2009


Statesman News Service

KOLKATA, 6 OCT: In a letter to chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, members of the Coordination of Individuals and Organisations alleged that Chhatradhar Mahato has been falsely implicated in criminal cases and booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

They alleged that under sub-Section 4 of Section 3 of UAPA, the state government needs to float an advertisement in at least one daily newspaper regarding the implementation of UAPA. As no such advertisement was published, the government cannot book Mahato under the Act, they maintained.

They also said that that the sub-Section 5 of Section 36 of the Act clearly states that the accused can appeal before the review committee if he/she is not satisfied with the imposition of the UAPA.

The accused can further appeal before the appellate committee before moving the court, but no such review committee has been formed in the state till date, they alleged.

Magsaysay award winner Mahasweta Devi has meanwhile said the state government has brought false charges against Mahato. “The state government has actually

been trying to sell Junglemahal to big corporate houses to set up SEZ. The administration has brought false charges against Mahato to remove hurdles that appeared in its way to cut Junglemahal into pieces and sell them to industrial houses.”

Admitting that she met Mahato, the writer claimed that the PSBPC is an umbrella association of 13 tribal outfits that had joined hands to fight against state sponsored atrocities. Throwing a challenge to the state government, she said: “The PSBPC is not a Maoist outfit. The chief secretary must disclose how much money the intellectuals had given to Maoists and where the transaction had taken place.” Mr Sujato Bhadra, member of the organisation argued that helping any democratic movement is not an offence but their fundamental right. The government is attempting to prove that the PSBPC and the Maoists are the same and deeply interconnected. Actually the government is intending to malign the people’s movement in Lalgarh. Mr Bhadra also maintained that the Maoists’ organisation was banned in July this year and if any tangible evidence exists regarding the connection of Mahato and the intellectuals with Maoists before July, that does not attract any penal offence. The UAPA cannot be used in a retrospective manner as it is clearly stipulated in Section 38 of the Act. The members also alleged that both Prasun Chatterjee and Raja Sarkhel were falsely implicated under UAPA. They are planning to take legal steps against the government, but it would take some time, added Mr Bhadra.

Meanwhile, condemning the arrest of two Human Rights Activists by the state government for their alleged links with the Maoists, noted Human Rights Activist Ms Medha Patkar said that the government by doing this will only aggravate the problem.

The government has got every right to arrest a person if he or she commits a crime, but the police cannot arrest anybody because he is a believer of an ideology.
This is absolutely ridiculous,” said Ms Patkar. “The manner, in which, the chief secretary is making statements and the way they are arresting people, is not only undemocratic, but inviting problem for the state,” she added.

Gopal Menon, documentary film maker also said that the state government has gone berserk and they are trying to oppress the voice of the people to stay in power.

The Statesman

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West Bengal: 2 intellectuals get 14 days in police custody

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2009


A court in Jhargram today remanded Prasun Chatterjee and Raja Sarkhel, two Kolkata-based intellectuals arrested by the state CID last night for their alleged links with Maoists in Lalgarh, in police custody for 14 days.

The CID had picked them up from their homes in Jadavpur for their alleged links with the banned CPI (Maoist) and booked them under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The CID had also pressed other criminal charges, including anti-national activities and criminal conspiracy, against the two intellectuals. Chatterjee and Sarkhel were active members of Gana Pratirodh Mancha, a social outfit based on the Left as well as Maoist ideology. They were also members of the Lalgarh Sanhati Mancha, which was formed in December 2008 to provide support to the mass movement at Lalgarh.

Both are also said to have organisational links with Gaur Chakraborty, spokesman of CPI (Maoist) who is currently lodged in jail custody since his arrest on June 23 from Kolkata under the UAPA.

Public prosecutor Suman Das Mahapatra told the court that both were arrested on the basis of information provided by the arrested PCAPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato and had links with the banned CPI (Maoist). He said the police had also recovered posters and hand-bills of the Maoist outfit from them during the arrest and they had helped the Maoists on several occasions.

Prasanta Roy, counsel for Chatterjee and Sarkhel, argued there was no evidence of their involvement with the CPI (Maoist).

Rights activists up in arms over CID’s midnight swoop
Following the arrest of two intellectuals by the CID late Monday night for their alleged links with tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato, city intellectuals today came out in protest against what they termed as an illegal arrest.

At a press meet in the city, human rights activist Sujato Bhadra denounced the way that Prasun Chatterjee and Raja Sarkhel were arrested last night. “Their families were told they would be back soon. Then they were detained and charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). They have long been associated with the Gana Pratirodh Committee and are certainly not involved in terrorist activities,” said Bhadra, adding that supporting the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) was not illegal since it was not a banned outfit.

“Participating in the tribal movement in Lalgarh and helping the PCAPA is certainly not illegal. What is illegal is the way they have been arrested and detained,” he said. Bhadra said the method being used by the CID to interrogate Mahato is illegal since he was being deprived of proper rest and sleep.

“The state government is trying to create a fear psychosis so that people stop supporting the PCAPA and the movement. We do not feel Maoists and the PCAPA are the same. Only the government is trying to equate the two,” he said, while drawing parallels between the UAPA and TADA and POTA.

“Let them arrest Mahasweta Devi or Bibhash Chakrabarty. They have also drafted a letter of protest they have sent to the CM. As a next step on their agenda, they will also be holding a protest meet on October 8 from College Square to the Metro Channel,” Bhadra added. TT

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Focus on fringe groups, relief for celebs, Press sealed over Maoist magazine

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2009


07raja.jpg Raja Sorkhel (top) and Prasun Chatterjee while being brought to the Jhargram court. (PTI)

Oct. 6: Police cracked down on Maoist “sympathisers” in the city today, arresting the owner of a press that printed a banned rebel magazine as well as its publisher.

The police said they found books and leaflets on Maoists in the Calcutta Graphics press in the Manicktala Industrial Estate. The press prints the People’s March magazine, a banned publication.

The police claimed they found a copy of the magazine in the house of Raja Sorkhel, an alleged Maoist sympathiser who was arrested yesterday in the city along with Prasun Chatterjee.

Sorkhel, 46, and Chatterjee, 34, run an outfit called the Ganatantrik Adhikar Manch.

Four others were also detained tonight when the owner of the press, Sadananda Singha, and the publisher of People’s March, Swapan Dasgupta, were arrested. Dasgupta stays in Paschim Balia, Garia.

The police also detained Bhanu Sarkar and Ramesh Das, members of an organisation called Bandi Mukti Committee. They were picked up from College Street.

Chatterjee and Sorkhel were arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Today, they were remanded in police custody for 14 days by a Jhargram court.

Public prosecutor Suman Das Mahapatra said the two had been charged under seven sections of the UAPA for terrorist activity, raising funds for terror activity, conspiracy for terror activity, offence relating to membership in a terror organisation and supporting such an organisation.

They have also been charged under IPC sections for attempt to murder, waging a war against the state, sedition, conspiracy against the state as well as the Explosives Substances Act.

Mahapatra claimed that on September 26, the day Chhatradhar Mahato was arrested, the Maoists tried to trigger a blast in Lalgarh when security forces were returning after patrolling. He said Chatterjee and Sorkhel had planned the blasts. “They were arrested following the interrogation of Chhatradhar Mahato, Sukhshanti Baskey (a treasurer of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities) and three others,” said the public prosecutor.

In Calcutta, CID officials said investigations had revealed that Chatterjee and Sorkhel had collected and given Rs 1.5 lakh to the tribal committee. “The committee is supported and guided by the Maoists,” an officer said. “So providing funds to the committee amounts to funding the Maoists. They organised medical camps for Maoists in Lalgarh.”

“Chhatradhar said the meetings in Lalgarh — on funds collection — had representatives from three sections: the Maoists, the people’s committee and some Calcutta- based organisations like the Manch,” another officer said. TT

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No evidence against intellectuals: West Bengal

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2009


Kolkata, Oct 7 (IANS) The West Bengal government did not have any specific evidence against those Kolkata intellectuals who had visited Lalgarh expressing solidarity for the movement carried out by the tribals in the region, state Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said Tuesday.

"We’ve no specific information on the basis of which we can arrest them (intellectuals)," Sen told reporters here.

"If we had any specific evidence against the intellectuals we would have arrested them by now," he said.

Earlier, the state government had declared that those who had links with the arrested tribal leader Chhattradhar Mahato and his organisation People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) could be interrogated by the police, if needed.

Some top officers in the state police told the media Sunday that some intellectuals were under the scanner for their links with Mahato and the Maoists.

On Monday, state Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said while the administration had no issues with the intellectuals, "under the centre’s Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), anybody who helps forces like the Maoists is also guilty. The law is equal for both intellectuals and the others. The law will take its own course."

Protesting the statements, the state’s principal opposition Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee warned the state government saying the people will launch protests if any of the intellectuals is touched by police.

A group of intellectuals, who have been stringently opposing the state’s Left Front government for the past couple of years over issues ranging from Singur to Nandigram, visited Lalgarh in June and met Mahato.

Filmmaker Aparna Sen, theatre personalities like Shaonli Mitra and Kaushik Sen and others had gone to the trouble-torn belt under the banner of Swajan.

Meanwhile, Magsaysay award winner author Mahashweta Devi, an active member of Swajan, said she was not at all surprised by the home secretary’s statements Tuesday. "We have always been opposed to violence. I have always been against violence."

Some police officials had said on condition of anonymity that Mahato regularly visited and received advice from a South Kolkata based veteran intellectual – which was construed as a reference to Mahashweta Devi.

Mahato was arrested Sep 26 by a team of Kolkata Police’s Special Task Force (STF). Later, the West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department (CID) took him into their remand for interrogation.

IANS

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Next target Kishenji: WB Home secretary

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2009


State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen today ruled out any action against intellectuals like Mahasweta Devi, actor Aparna Sen, playwright Bratya Basu for their alleged links with Chhatradhar Mahato but said their next target was top Maoist leader Kishenji. “As of now, we have no clinching evidence against these intellectuals… so there is no question of arresting them or taking any other action against them,” Sen said.

On June 21, these intellectuals had gone to Lalgarh and met Mahato and other members of the team.

“We are investigating the Maoist links of others and if that is established, they will be caught,” Sen added.

The home secretary said the next target was Kishenji. “He will be a much bigger catch and getting him will be more difficult,” he said. IE

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Lalgarh: Rights panel puts DGP on notice over Mahato’s arrest

Posted by Admin on October 7, 2009


The State Human Right Commission today asked the Director General of Police (DGP) Bhupindar Singh to file a report within two weeks on the arrest of Chhatradhar Mahato, leader of People’s Committee against Police Atrocities of Lalgarh. The police arrested Mahato from Lalagarh on September 26.

Justice (retired) Narayan Chandra Sil, who is the acting chairman of the SHRC, said it has taken cognisance of the complaint lodged by the Co-ordination of Individuals and Organisations (CIO), an outfit floated by city-based intellectuals and activists.

Sil said other members of the Commission were not available today as the office was closed. “But I have issued an order asking the DGP to file a report on the arrest of Mahato,” he said.

The CIO had alleged in its complaint that the police had arrested Mahato in violation of human rights principles and the CID’s method of interrogation had flouted Supreme Court guidelines. IE

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