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Posts Tagged ‘Maharashtra’

Maoists seek to push link-up plan

Posted by Admin on July 31, 2009

K. Srinivas Reddy

Activities of Maoists in ChhattisgarhRAIPUR: The sudden surge in Maoist attacks on security forces in Chhattisgarh in the last three months points to the implementation of a plan to link up the areas under their control in adjoining Orissa, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, with their base in the Bastar forests of Chhattisgarh.

In addition to a rash of incidents targeting security forces, the increased movement of rebels in areas so far relatively peaceful has been causing concern to the Chhattisgarh government.

In four attacks in the last three months, as many as 67 personnel were killed in Jagdalpur, Dhamtari, Rajnandgaon and Dantewara districts. The death roll has even surpassed casualty figures of security forces in the North East and Kashmir, police officers say.

The spatial spread of the attacks shows that the Maoists have put in place mechanisms to spread their control beyond Abuz Maad in Bastar, and to link up their struggle areas in the neighbouring States. The rebels, however, have been unsuccessful in inching their way into Andhra Pradesh.

The latest offensive is also aimed at dousing any ardour of the para-military forces and Chhattisgarh police for taking up counter-insurgency operations. Read the rest of this entry »

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HC respite for Vernon Gonzalves and Shridhar Shrinivasan

Posted by Admin on December 22, 2007

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday restrained the state police from transferring two suspected leaders of the banned Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Peoples’ War) from Chandrapur in Vidarbha till the next hearing on January 11.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad had arrested Vernon Gonzalves and Shridhar Shrinivasan from Mumbai on August 19. They were handed over to the Anti-Naxalite Squad in September. Gonzalves’s wife Susan Abraham, a practising lawyer, filed a habeas corpus petition seeking to know the whereabouts of her husband and Shridhar.

While Shridhar is an alumnus of Elphinstone College, Gonzalves is a gold medallist from Mumbai University and a former lecturer at Ruparel College and HR College. Their family members have denied that they are Naxalites. The police, however, claim to have recovered incriminating documents and explosives from the duo.

Abraham’s lawyer Anand Grover told the court that the duo was being transferred from one police station to another and kept continuously in police custody for over 61 days. By law, police custody cannot exceed 15 days.

DNA India

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Joint anti-Naxal action more effective than Central Command: DGP

Posted by Admin on December 13, 2007

MAHARASHTRA Director General of Police Dr P S Pasricha said that joint operations by the police of Naxal-infested states appear to be more effective than having a central unified command to tackle the growing left-wing extremism in the country.

Speaking to mediapersons during a day’s visit to the Second Capital on Wednesday, Dr Pasricha had discussed the special plan to curb the Naxal menace with senior police officials and reviewed the anti-Naxalite operations. “We are preparing a proposal after identifying the Naxal-affected districts to seek some more assistance from the Centre,” he said. He added that state was also recommending to the Centre certain amendments in the existing laws to make a dent in activities of the outlaws. He said that the Maharashtra Police had succeeded in building tremendous pressure on the Naxals in the past two years by arresting their 11 top commanders. Similarly, he said, 122 Naxalites had surrendered under the state’s surrender policy. “We are working with our Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh counterparts in the joint operations against the Naxalites,” he added. He said that last year Gaon Bandi scheme was implemented in 242 villages by encouraging the rural masses to prevent Naxalites’ entry into the villages. “I’ve asked officers concerned to study how to make the scheme more effective,” he added. Dr Pasricha informed that the police were getting vital inputs from Central Intelligence agencies that had helped in conducting joint operations against the Maoists. The state police chief thanked Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his deputy R R Patil for giving an excellent pay package to the police personnel working in the Naxalite infested areas in the state. “If a constable dies in an encounter with the outlaws or in any landmine blast, his wife gets Rs 18.50 lakh under his special insurance policy. Even if he dies, his family gets monthly salary till the date of his retirement besides his financial dues. This has been done to encourage the police personnel fighting the Naxals,” he said. When asked, Dr Pasricha said that the police already had identified some frontal organisations of the Naxalites trying to spread the movement in the urban areas. ” We will initiate appropriate action against them but we won’t disclose out strategies at this moment,” he added.

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Naxals attack in Gadchiroli

Posted by Admin on December 13, 2007

CHANDRAPUR: Naxalites set ablaze three vehicles – two tippers and a truck – of a contractor on Wednesday evening. The incident took place near Haldwahi Tola village in Chamorshi tehsil of Gadchiroli district, said the police.

According to sources, the Naxals came to the village and after identifying the vehicles of the construction company – Sainath Constructions – set those ablaze. The Naxalites then disappeared into the jungle.

Sanjay Latkar, SDPO of Chamorshi division, said, “The Naxals have burnt the three vehicles owned by Raju Biyani, director of Sainath Constructions on Wednesday evening.”

Offences under relevant sections of the IPC have been registered at Chamorshi police station

Times of India

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Cops hunt for absconding Naxal

Posted by Admin on December 13, 2007

NAGPUR: A manhunt has been launched to nab the absconding active Naxalite, Warlu Pansingh Madavi. The Nagpur police too have started searching for Madavi, a source said.

Police sources confirmed that Madavi had accompanied Surekha during her stay in Wardha for tumour treatment. However, a couple of days ago he left Wardha and Surekha was accompanied by Ramdas. Similarly, the Wardha and Gadchiroli police have also launched massive hunt to nab him.

Sources said that Madavi was active for spreading pro-Naxal activities in the region, particularly in Gadchiroli district. On Monday, in a joint operation, the Wardha and Gadchiroli police raided a hotel in Wardha and arrested Karuna alias Surekha Tanu Veladi and Ramdas Hichhami, both active Naxalites from Gadchiroli-based Maoist outfit Platoon dalam and residents of Bhamragadh. Meanwhile, when produced in court, both Karuna alias Surekha Tanu Veladi and Ramdas Hichhami were remanded to police custody till December 16.


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Naxals strike again in Nagpur

Posted by Admin on December 5, 2007

NAGPUR: A third Naxal-related incident took place in a row in Gadchiroli district on Monday evening, since the people liberation guerrilla army (PLGA) week began on December 2.

On Monday evening, an encounter took place at a place called Katta in Etapalli tehsil. Police claim three to four Naxals have been killed in this encounter, though the bodies could not be recovered.

The incidents began on Saturday with the Naxals blowing up a cell-phone tower of a private company. This was followed by an encounter over Bandiya bridge in which two Naxals were said to be injured in the gunbattle a day later.

The Monday evening encounter is the third incident in a row. “This was a tough operation for the police party as the Naxals were in larger numbers. A strategic position helped the cops,” said a source. The police have recovered a single-barrel gun, and two blasts of 15-20 kg each, said the source. Although the bodies could not be recovered, the blood stains are indicative of the toll, say cops.

In fact, the Naxals ensure that the bodies are not retrieved by the police as once the toll on their side is publicised, it would bring down the morale of their rank and file. Once their fellow falls to bullets, others open a heavy fire preventing the cops from approaching the body, and the dead are carried away under heavy cover fire, said a senior officer. A few bodies have been recovered during encounters in the year, said a source.

In fact, each year encounters with Naxalites go up during October to February while their activities are at an ebb during monsoons and summers. Movements are hampered due to slushy terrain and overflowing of rivers during rains. In summers when green cover dries up, they avoid encounters as a clean ground provides easy visibility to the police. This year around 4-5 encounters have taken place since October. Moreover, the police have also beefed up the security and have increased their movements in order to flush out the Naxals from their hideouts.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident Naxalites burnt two tractors of a private contractor Maksood Ahmed, engaged in construction of a road near Bakrundi village in Kurkheda tehsil of Gadchiroli during wee hours of Monday night.

Times of India

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Three Naxals wounded in firing

Posted by Admin on November 25, 2007

CHANDRAPUR: At least three Naxalites were seriously injured in an exchange of fire that followed the police attack on a suspected Naxalite camp in the Paletola jungles of Etapalli taluka, Gadchiroli district, early on Saturday, Gadchiroli police have claimed.

The clash broke out when two C-60 teams, acting on a tip-off, police began combing the jungle in search of the Leftist rebels. They had almost zeroed in on the training camp when the sentries guarding the camp opened fire. Large quantities of explosives and Naxal literature were recovered, but the Naxals managed to flee the camp and escape into the forests.

According to Gadchiroli DSP Rajesh Pradhan, the police got a tip-off that Naxalites were holding a special training camp in Paletola jungle. Accordingly, two C-60 teams from Etapalli division were dispatched to locate the camp in the early hours of Saturday. At about 6.45 am, the police teams reached the vicinity of the camp. The sentries spotted the approaching commandos and immediately opened fire. A heavy exchange of fire continued for 15 minutes before the Naxalites, believed to be around 30-35 in number, fled from the spot. As the police searched the campsite, and found fresh bloodstains. The police claimed that at least three Naxals seriously injured in the clash were taken away by their comrades.

“At least three of them have sustained serious injuries in the exchange of fire,” said Pradhan. He said the search team recovered two live grenades, two Claymore mines, a land mine, detonator and 350 foot-long wire, five bags and one backpack.


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Maharashtra Minister gets threat call from Naxals

Posted by Admin on November 7, 2007

NAGPUR: Maharashtra minister of state for transport and social justice Dharmaraobaba Atram has claimed to have received a threat to his life from Naxalites.

Atram was in his chamber in Mantralaya, Mumbai, when he allegedly received a phone call on Monday afternoon by Maoist rebels. The caller reportedly threatened him with dire consequences. The minister registered a complaint with the Mantralaya police.

Atram, who is also the guardian minister for Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district, was abducted by armed Naxalites in 1991. He was released after being held captive for 17 days.

Sources said, after Atram—who already has ‘Z’ category security, received the threat call, security around his residence was stepped up.

When contacted, Atram said he received a call, supposedly from a place in Andhra Pradesh. “I was told that they would not spare me this time. Stating that I had siphoned off Rs 1,000 crore meant for the area’s development, they said they would blow me up,” Atram said.

“I got the call on my cell phone the number was 08734-233662. I received the phone at around 12.30 pm and the secretariat has been informed about this,” he added.

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Tracking the history of Naxal movement

Posted by Admin on November 1, 2007

Understanding the Naxalite movement requires traveling back in time when the romance of revolution was in the air and when many young men and women left their homes and worked in the rural hinterland.

Not all of these revolutionaries turned to violence and not every revolutionary was misguided.

For instance, nearly 50 years ago, caught up in the mood of the times, Niki Cardozo – then a traditional Jesuit priest in Bombay found himself traveling to a remote tribal village in Maharashtra.

In a couple of months, he realized that each of the 100-odd women there had been raped by the upper caste men at some point.

And when a young mother dared to complain to the police, the police turned on her.

”A group of us took whatever we could find to beat the cop. I picked up a knife. I was so angry. But the cop ran away. After that I have not picked up a knife,” said Niki Cardozo, Social Worker.

Although the often cruel nature of the state may have provoked him to violence, Niki Cardozo is not and has never been a gun-carrying Naxal.

But many others, who like him left their sheltered urban homes to travel to the rural hinterland, made a different and more violent choice.

The romance, the danger and the often misguided idealism of those times is captured brilliantly in Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi, as the youth – fresh out of universities – were disillusioned by a system that had failed to deliver the country of their dreams.

”The 1960s, you can imagine – Mrs Gandhi comes to power with the promise Garibi Hatao, which the youth soon discovered was an empty slogan and was a political tactic.”

”Say 20 years after Independence, the disenchantment with promise of independence was apparent. There were very serious famines, for example the 1967 Bihar famine. Those were very traumatic,” said Darryl D’Monte, Author, Journalist

The stories of these men were reported with more than a little sympathy by journalists like Bernard D’Mello.

”Those students and youth who were more sensitive to the problem of poor, the problem of India, were drawn towards the Naxal movement. They began to organize poor peasants, labourers and so on, and in a small way, it spread.”

”The epicenter in first half of the 1970s was really Kolkata. So if you contrast Mumbai with Kolkata up to early and the mid 1970s, the Naxalite movement was almost non-existent in a relative sense to that in Kolkata,” said Bernard D’Mello, Deputy Editor Economic and Political Weekly.

”In Mumbai, there were many sympathizers – some of whom were just camp followers and many of them had no idea of Marx or Lenin. They might have carried a little red book, but they certainly hadn’t read it. It was fashionable,” said Darryl D’Monte.

But in Bombay, for some it was not just the prevailing intellectual fashion that pushed them; it was actually their personal faith.

For some of Bombay’s young Catholics, it was the doctrine of Liberation Theology, which preached the need for social change.

That doctrine not only bore a striking resemblance to a Communist charter but also sat uneasily next to the Left’s aversion to religion.

It’s this odd mix of Liberation Theology and Marxism, which, for instance, drew someone like Vernon Fernandes into the more radical path of Naxalism.

”Liberation Theology is a mix of Christian option for poor and Marxist philosophy. It would fit into Vernon’s philosophy, like making option for poor,” said Kenneth Gonsalves, Brother of Vernon.

Today, some of these urban guerillas are in jail, while others have gone underground. Yet some others have returned to more respectable professions.

”We think Naxals are some kind of fringe idiots who have nothing better to do. But here are people who are putting their lives on the line, certainly their family, by working in remote inhospitable terrain with the risk of being shot by the army at any time.”

”And let me repeat that it’s misguided to take to arms; it’s misguided. But it’s a sign of the frustration of the very conditions,” said Darryl D’Montet.

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Where The Farmers Commit Suicides…

Posted by Admin on October 5, 2007

Where The Farmers Commit Suicide…
And Naxals rule the roost: all the six Maoist-affected districts in Maharashtra fall in the Vidarbha region. And the recent police ‘successes’ do not mean that the Maoist challenge is over ...
Bibhu Prasad Routray

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Considering the fact that only six of the state’s 35 districts are affected by Left Wing extremism (LWE), Maharashtra has, over the years, registered a significant number of extremist incidents and related fatalities. According to the ministry of home affairs (MHA), incidents of Maoist violence in Maharashtra rose from 75 in 2003 to 84 in 2004, to a further 94 in 2005 and 98 in 2006. Related fatalities were 40, 17, 56 and 61 in the corresponding years. 16 fatalities were reported in 58 incidents in the first six months of 2007.

Whereas the MHA designates Maharashtra as one of the states where LWE has been kept under control, these figures, at least for 2007, are certainly comparable with the states like Orissa where the problem is present in 22 districts out of a total 30. Between January and June 2007, Orissa registered 17 fatalities in 45 incidents. Similarly, Andhra Pradesh, where all 23 districts of the state are affected, though strong police action has brought the problem down to a low scale, registered 61 incidents and 40 deaths in the first six months of 2007.

All the six LWE affected districts in Maharashtra (Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gondia, Yavatmal and Nanded) are located in the eastern part of the state, in the economically backward Vidarbha region, sharing borders with Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. Geographical contiguity with, and the ‘spill over’ from, the Maoist affected districts of Adilabad, Karimnagar and Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh, as well as Rajnandgaon, Bastar, Kanker and Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, have been described as the principal reason for the extremism in Maharashtra.

The Maoists have also exploited the geographical conditions and terrain of these districts for their activities. According to the Maharashtra state Forest Department, 47.08 per cent of the total area in Gondia district is designated as ‘forest’; in Gadchiroli the forest area is 90.96 per cent; in Bhandara, 45.58 per cent; in Chandrapur, 46.69 per cent; in Yavatmal, 27.35 per cent; and in Nanded, 11.35 per cent. The scheduled tribe population – populations that have been highly vulnerable to Maoist mobilization – in these districts is also comparatively higher. With the state tribal percentage at 8.8 per cent, Gadchiroli’s tribal population is 38.3 per cent; Yavatmal, 19.2 per cent; Chandrapur, 18.11 per cent; Gondia, 18 per cent; Nanded, 8.8 per cent; and Bhandara, 8.6 per cent.

Given the existing challenge, the Maharashtra police, especially its Anti-Naxal Cell overseeing counter-Maoist operations, has claimed to have secured several successes in the recent past. Arrests and surrenders of the CPI-Maoist cadres are said to have been a major accomplishment of the Anti-Naxal Cell. Some of the incidents in which Maoist cadres were neutralised in just 2007 include:

January 15: Seven Maoists were arrested following a joint operation by the Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh police in a border village in the Gadchiroli district.

April 8: Four senior CPI-Maoist cadres surrendered at an unspecified location.

April 14: CPI-Maoist cadre, Kata Mainu Zuru, involved in several cases, was arrested near Fulbodi in the Pendhari area of Gadchiroli district.

April 14: Three Maoists, identified as Chhaya, Dilip and Shiva, surrendered before the Superintendent of police of Gadchiroli district.

September 13: Police neutralised a base training camp of the CPI-Maoist in Etapalli Tehsil (revenue division) in Jambiagatta range in the Gadchiroli district and arrested four unidentified teenage boys and three girls.

The Maharashtra police have also claimed to have curtailed the flow of cadres to Maoist ranks.

Maoist recruitment in both Gadchiroli and Chandrapur districts is said to have been drastically reduced, forcing the outfit to wind up several of its dalams (armed squads) in the Gadchiroli and Gondia districts by June 2007 and shifting the existing cadres into Chhattisgarh. The dalams that have folded up include the Gamini, Kotagaon, Dhanora and Jimmalgatta.

Nevertheless, the Maoists have carried out attacks targeting not only state police personnel, government offices and infrastructures, but have also carried out a campaign against ‘police informers’ and their own surrendered colleagues. In the first three months of 2007, at least eight surrendered Maoists were killed by their former comrades in Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur districts. At least four incidents of suspected police informers being killed by the Maoists have been reported from Gadchiroli district in 2007 (till end-September).

Police ‘successes’ have, in fact, been largely incidental, and the state’s anti-Maoist policy suffers from several drawbacks. Each of these existing loopholes has the potential of allowing the Maoists to regain their lost bases.

Among the state’s initiatives is the Gaonbandi (no entry to the villages) scheme that has been implemented since 2003, to prevent the Maoists from exploiting, mobilizing and recruiting the villagers. As part of the Scheme, any local village body or panchayat passing a resolution barring entry to the Maoists, is provided with Rs 200,000, to be paid in two instalments. Regrettably, the implementation of the Scheme has been far from adequate. Till the end of 2006, only 112 of the total of 324 Gaonbandi villages (villages that had banned Maoist entry) had been given the assured funds. Of these, only 73 villages received the full amount of Rs 200,000. In November 2006, the Maharashtra government increased the reward amount to Rs 300,000, to be paid in one instalment. However, the Scheme continues to be marred by a poor record of disbursement of the promised funds.

The state police’s surrender scheme, introduced on August 29, 2005, has also faced problems of fund shortage. The policy offers Rs 200,000 for a dalam commander, Rs 100,000 for his deputy, Rs 75,000 for dalam members, and Rs 40,000 to Rs 5,000 to lower rank cadres who surrender. The state government had initially decided to keep aside Rs 50 million for the scheme, only to withdraw this amount, asking the perennially cash-strapped police department to meet the expenses from its regular fund. By February 2007, Maharashtra police chief, P. S. Pasricha, was expressing concerns about the shortage of funds and its negative impact on the surrender policy.

Similarly, little success appears to have achieved in terms of disrupting the Maoist network that has targeted the forest areas in the Vidarbha region through any state scheme to deliver financial benefits. Way back in December 2000, deposing before the Estimates Committee of the state legislature, then Principal Secretary (Home) M.R. Patil had stated that forest contractors, tendu leaf (leaves of diospyros melonoxylon used for rolling bidis) traders and local businessmen in the Maoist -affected areas of Maharashtra were being forced to fund the extremists in the state out of fear. According to state police officials, Gadchiroli district alone, had been coughing up nearly Rs 140 million every year from the trade in tendu leaves and bamboo produce. Of late, teakwood smuggling from Gadchiroli forests had overtaken extortion from tendu leaf and bamboo contractors, as the prime venture for Maoist resource generation. The largest proportion of this trade reportedly occurs on the banks of the Godavari River, along the Maharashtra-Andhra Pradesh border in south Gadchiroli.

Money passing into Maoist coffers ranges between Rs 200 to 500 for a 3.70 metre-long plank of teakwood.

The orientation of the anti-Maoist strategy in Maharashtra appears to be prejudiced heavily towards containing the violent potential of the outfit. Accordingly, the Maharashtra Police have invested substantially on augmenting the fighting capabilities of its force. At the forefront of anti-Maoist operations in the Vidarbha region is a Special Action Group (SAG) of 300 specially trained Armed police personnel, raised in 2006 on the lines of the Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh. Trained at the Unconventional Operations Training Centre (UOTC) at Hingana on the outskirts of Nagpur, SAG personnel have been deployed in Gadchiroli, Gondia and Bhandara districts.

The Maharashtra Police can rightly take credit for having contained Maoist violence within manageable limits, but there appears to be a bigger challenge at hand: countering the emerging Maoist potential to carry out urban operations. Three arrests in 2007 have brought this tactic into the open, as the Maoists consolidate capacities in urban centres to station their propaganda units and middle and senior level strategists.

On May 8 , the Nagpur police arrested Arun Ferreira, the Maoist communications and propaganda strategist, and a Maoist ‘divisional secretary’ Murali Sattya Reddy, from the Deekshabhoomi area, seizing a 9mm Chinese-made pistol, two magazines, 16 rounds of ammunition, two VCDs, an MP3 CD, and a notepad containing information on the manufacture of improvised explosive devices and the use of walkie-talkies in operations.

On August 19 , two Maoists – Vishnu alias Shridhar Krishnan Shrinivas, Maharashtra ‘state secretary’ and a member of the central politburo, and Vikram alias Vernon Gonzalez, a National Committee member – were arrested from the outskirts of Mumbai. Six gelatine sticks, one hand grenade, revolvers and cash were recovered from them, in addition to incriminating documents, CDs and pen-drives.

On August 20 , in a joint operation with the Andhra Pradesh police, the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra police arrested K. D. Rao, a lawyer practising in the Bombay High Court, outside the YMCA hostel near Colaba in Mumbai for his alleged links with the Maoists and involvement in the killing of a police officer six years ago.

Maoist mobilisation and networks have long been suspected in Maharashtra’s urban centres, including Nashik, Pune and state capital Mumbai. A large number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in these urban areas are believed to be funding and otherwise supporting the Maoists. In 2006, the state intelligence department had blacklisted 59 such Mumbai-based NGOs. Nevertheless, Maoist consolidation in urban Maharashtra is believed to be continuing apace, with the police handicapped by a wide range of legal and constitutional constraints that prohibit significant action against over-ground collaborators, and a conscious effort on the part of the Maoists to exploit every available democratic loophole.

Operational successes by the police are, no doubt, significant. Much more will, however, be needed in terms of a strategy of containment and defence against the creeping Maoist consolidation in widening areas of the state, and to plug the unique vulnerabilities of a democratic system, compounded by the structural infirmities and lack of resources committed to policing in the state, and across the country. The recent police ‘successes’ provide little grounds for the euphoric statements that followed, and the Maoists challenge can be expected to hang heavy over Maharashtra for some time to come.

Bibhu Prasad Routray is Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management. Courtesy, the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal

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A `guerilla zone’ in Maharashtra

Posted by Admin on September 14, 2007

Guerilla zone

in Gadchiroli


In a Madia Gond village in Gadchiroli.

PRABHAKAR Tekavade and Pandu Alam, were classmates and friends at the Lok Biradari residential school near Bhamragad in Gadchiroli district, the heart of the naxalite-affected region in Maharashtra. After completing school education, Pandu joined the police force and went on to become a commando in the C60 squad, which carried out anti-naxalite operations. Prabhakar joined a naxalite group and adopted the alias Juru. He rose to become a commander in a dalam (armed squad).

On one of the rare occasions when Juru emerged from his forest hideout to attend a wedding in Jandia village, Pandu showed up with his force. The police shot dead Juru. It was given out that he was killed in a police encounter. Some months later, when Pandu was on his way to search a naxalite hideout, he was killed in a mine explosion. The two were only 35 years old when they died in 1997.

In the jungles and 120-odd naxalite-affected villages of eastern Gadchiroli, it is the Adivasis who pay the price for extremist violence. “Whether a policeman or a naxalite, it is the Adivasi who is caught in the crossfire. The bosses are never Adivasis. They are safe in their offices or hideouts,” said Suku, a resident of Bhamragad.

Police records show that the more than 80 per cent of those killed on both sides are Adivasis, says Shirish Jain, Superintendent of Police, Gadchiroli.

Ultra-Left revolutionaries operate in the western and southern parts of this resource-rich jungle at the tip of eastern Maharashtra, bordering Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. These forests are home to the impoverished Madia Gond tribe. Deprivation is so acute among the Adivasis that the infant mortality rate here is one of the highest in India. Poverty, exploitation, jungle cover and the proximity to naxalite-infested neighbouring States have made Gadchiroli a hotbed of extremist operations. According to the police, naxalite violence in this area is escalating every year. This year saw the highest number of incidents.

Naxalities came from the adjoining Andhra Pradesh and the undivided Madhya Pradesh in 1980 to “liberate the people” from “state repression”. Fifteen dalams work in Maharashtra. The Communist Part of India (Maoist) has around 250 full-time members and 3,000-odd local supporters, the police say.

Many tribal people accused of being informers are killed by naxalites or harassed by the police. In 2000, extremists visited a village one night and dragged Masa and his brother Beka out of their hut. They tied them with a rope to two other villagers, Kesa and Katiya, and flogged all the four of them in the village square. They were accused of being police informers. The extremists slit the throats of Beka and Kesa. Masa and Katiya were spared. “They thrashed me till I became unconscious and my whole body had swelled. Luckily, I was taken to the hospital soon, so I survived. After killing my brother and Kesa, they sang some revolutionary songs and left,” says Masa. “The police arrived only at 1 p.m. the next day.” After Beka’s death, his two sons stopped going to school and started tilling his farm.

On the other hand, several innocent residents have been jailed on the suspicion of being supporters, and some have even been charged under repressive anti-terrorist laws. Bande was jailed for one year. “The police found my father’s old hunting gun in my house and arrested me. After I was freed, I struggled for the next few years fighting the case in court. Finally, I was acquitted,” he says. People fear the naxalites more, says Bande. “The police will put you in jail, but the naxalites will kill you without any explanation.”

WHAT makes the people join the naxalite movement? Initially, most of the rebels came from Andhra Pradesh. They recruited young locals like Sudha (who has surrendered), who were taken up by the romantic band of people who visited their village, chatted with them, sang songs and gave eloquent speeches against the exploiters – the Forest Department, the police, the government, the contractors…

Harassment by the police pushes many naxalite sympathisers underground. “Once there is even a minor case against you, the police arrest you every time there is a violent incident. Many Adivasis have had to sell their land or cattle to pay for the court cases against them. When they run out of money, they join the naxalites or they go underground to escape police harassment,” says Bande.

The naxalites explain that they exist only because of local support. Every night, the activists rely on village residents to feed them. They camp in tents on the outskirts of the villages. “There is a people’s war going on and the vast majority of the Adivasis are supporting the war and participating in it. The movement could not have survived and expanded without the local people’s participation,” says Narmada, a member of the Maharashtra State committee of the CPI (Maoist), in an e-mail interview with Frontline.

Are the local people really supportive or are they terrorised? Can you refuse food to a visitor who arrives at your doorstep with a gun? “Everyone in the district feeds them, but that doesn’t mean they support them,” says Bande. “If you refuse, they will get angry and attack the local police station, and run away. And the villagers would have to suffer the consequences, face police arrests.”

Despite the constant fear, Adivasis do agree that naxalites have forced contractors to give them higher wages for tendu leaves collected and bamboo cut. The contractors are also a major source of revenue for the naxalites. The naxalites demand one day’s wages of all workers for the party fund. They call it tax. Even the Ballarpur paper factory in the region has reportedly been forced to pay huge amounts to the extremists every year. When it comes to money, they have no problem dealing with “class enemies”.

The villagers say that the naxalites have also reduced the harassment by forest officials and the level of corruption. “Earlier, forest officials would demand money if we cut wood to build our homes. They would keep harassing us saying we were farming forest land illegally. After the naxalites punished them, the harassment has reduced considerably,” says Suku, a panchayat samiti leader who was once reportedly beaten by extremists on the grounds of corruption. (He denies that the incident happened.)

A downside of the naxalites’ presence is that development is virtually non-existent in the area. Industries or businesses are deterred by the violence and extortion. Government funds meant for rural and tribal welfare remain unutilised and/or reach the wrong hands every year. Doctors, teachers and government officials are scared to enter the villages. Government employees view a transfer to Gadchiroli district as a punishment.

In fact, a 40 sq km area on the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border is considered a `liberated zone’ where even the police do not venture. There are around 25 villages in this zone. Here, naxalites hold military training camps and even run an arms factory and a printing press, the police say.

“I agree there has been sheer neglect of the Abujmad region,” says Shirish Jain. “We can’t do anything in the Chhattisgarh part of the border. We are trying to have more police outposts, but there are many practical problems and governmental delays.” He says that the police are trying to reach out to the people though meetings, peace rallies and surrender schemes. “Policemen go to the villages to find out the problems. Then we inform other government agencies and ask them to work there,” he says.

Around 232 villages have signed up for the Gaon Bandh (village ban) scheme, which gives Rs.2 lakh for development if a village agrees to impose a ban on naxalites. However, this seems to be more on paper. Many villages signed up to please the police, but they succumbed to threats from the rebels. ” Anyway, we did not get anything from the government after signing up,” said the sarpanch of a village that agreed to the scheme. However, Shirish Jain claims that resistance to the naxalites is increasing. In Bholepalli village, people got together and stopped the extremists from killing a police constable in April, he says.

The names of some persons have been changed to protect their identities.

`I am 27, my life is destroyed’

I WAS around 12 years old when the naxalites started coming to our village. During the meetings [they had with the village residents], they used to say young boys and girls should come forward so that we can bring about the rule of poor people.

They had guns but I was not scared because they were so free with us, like our own brothers and sisters. They used to ask us about our troubles, the problems in the village, our thoughts, feelings… . They used to even settle small disputes in the village.

My parents died when we were young. I have a younger brother and sister. We used to live with our uncle, who worked with them and later, joined them. One day, the commander told my uncle, “We are taking this girl with us.”

I was 12 years old. I don’t even remember why I went with them, I was so young, uneducated. They taught me everyday for two hours in the morning. They made us listen to the radio, talk about politics, world history. I didn’t feel any desire to do anything for my country or my people. Many from our village joined them, so I thought that I should also go. We used to visit the villages all day, until the evening, and return to the jungle in the night to sleep in tents. We used to plan eight days ahead which villages to go to.

Just like the police, the naxalites undergo a tough military training. I was in three winter camps. They teach us how to use a gun, how to open it, fit it, what to do if the enemy comes. They also used to sing songs and tell us what is happening in the world. Even when I was in the village, I had learned to throw bombs and shoot. It’s not difficult.

I joined the dalam [armed squad] straightaway. I was commander for three years. I was ill, so they demoted me to area committee. For six months, I was platoon commander. Then I went to a military camp, where they teach you rolling, jumping. There, I got very ill. My stomach started hurting a lot. Six months later, I had to be operated for ulcers. So I left the platoon.

I was married in the dalam to Naresh. I left him after three years. He didn’t tell me his surname but after we got married, someone told me that he was a distant relative. I didn’t like that so I left him.

During the 14 years that I was in the party, I went back home only twice, that too for one or two hours.

I faced 11 encounters. If the police fired, we would return the fire. I didn’t know whether anyone was killed or not. I have seen my comrades cut others’ necks if they were informers. I didn’t kill, but those with me did. When I saw that, I felt it was not right.

I didn’t like it in the jungle. I thought: “How long will I keep roaming?” I wanted to go home. The police force had become stronger, so firings had increased. Sometimes you didn’t get food. I tried to leave, but I had gone very far in Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh. My health worsened there, so I asked them to transfer me to Maharashtra. But they kept refusing and told me, “Don’t go. You are so senior, you know the jungle, and you know the language.”

They sent me to a platoon, which came to Maharashtra, so I took my chance and ran. I got up at 4 a.m. and escaped to my village. When I reached the village, I thought that I would rest for two or three days and then surrender to the police. But my uncle called the police the same day.

My uncle left the party before me. I heard them say that our house will be burned because my uncle went back. I felt that it was best to leave. What was the point of staying after they had harmed my family and destroyed my home? After that, my seniors started to be suspicious of me. How could I tell them to save him [my uncle]? They would not listen. I was small, didn’t have any say in decisions.

I surrendered in May 2005. I can’t go back home. I knew that I would have to go to jail or stay with the police. There was no other way. Even there, I would have eventually died by a bullet. Luckily, the police have pardoned my jail sentence. I am living with my uncle and his family. He now works for the police. If I go back to my village, they will come to get me. The rest of my family is still in the village. They are still in danger.

Now, my life is destroyed. I wasted 14 years. Coming back half-way through my life and starting again is difficult. If I had stayed at home and got married, it would have been better. Now at 27 years, I have to start a new life again.

As told to Dionne Bunsha

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Who are Naxalites

Posted by Admin on September 6, 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007 12:32:18 IST
What they are and what they do. CHARUL SHAH takes us into the grim world of Naxalites

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The Naxalites, also sometimes called the Naxals, is a loose term used to define groups of people, waging a violent struggle on behalf of landless labourers and tribal people against landlords and others. The Naxalites say they are fighting oppression and exploitation to create a classless society. Their opponents say the Naxalites are terrorists oppressing people in the name of a class war.
The Naxalites claim to represent the most oppressed people in India, those who are often left untouched by India’s development and bypassed by the electoral process. Invariably, they are the Adivasis, Dalits, and the poorest of the poor, who work as landless labourers for a pittance, often below India’s mandated minimum wages.
The most prominent area of operation is a broad swathe across the very heartland of India, often considered the least developed area of this country. The Naxalites operate mostly in the rural and Adivasi areas, often out of the continuous jungles in these regions. Their operations are most prominent in (from North to South) Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra, the Telangana (north-western) region of Andhra Pradesh, and western Orissa. It will be seen that these areas are all inland, from the coastline.
The criticism against Naxalites is that despite their ideology, they have gradually become just another terrorist outfit, extorting money from middle-level landowners (since rich landowners invariably buy protection), and worse, even extorting and dominating the lives of the adivasis and villagers who they claim to represent in the name of providing justice.
The earliest manifestation of the movement was the Telengana Struggle in July 1948 (100 years after the Paris Communes were first set up, coining the word Communist). This struggle was based on the ideology of China’s Mao Zedong, with the aim of creating an Indian revolution. Not surprisingly, the ideology remains strong in this region of Andhra Pradesh.
The Naxalite movement took shape after some members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) split to form the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), after the former agreed to participate in elections and form a coalition government in West Bengal. Charu Mazumdar led the split. The peasant uprising against the oppressor landlords was organised and led by Charu Mazumdar, Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal. Mazumdar was the chief ideologue of what has been described as the first authentic Maoist phenomenon in India.
The Naxalite movement takes its name from a peasant uprising, which took place in May 25 1967 at Naxalbari – a place on the north-eastern tip of India situated in the state of West Bengal. A section of the CPI (M) leaders and cadres having disagreement with the politics pursued by the party magnified the movement. It started with a movement on the demand for recovery of benami land, that is, land held under false names unlawfully and distribution of the same to the landless and poor peasants. At that time, the First United Front Government of which the SUCI was a constituent was in power in West Bengal. Under the leadership of their ideologue, a 49-year old Communist, Charu Mazumdar, they defined the objective of the new movement as ‘seizure of power through an agrarian revolution’. The strategy was the elimination of the feudal order in the Indian countryside to free the poor from the clutches of the oppressive landlords.

How do they operate?
Naxalism has survived in India since the late sixties in one form or the other. In the early seventies it had gripped Calcutta city and a reign of terror had prevailed. Much blood was shed before it was firmly crushed, just before the Bangladesh (liberation) war. However, the movement survived on Mao’s tactics- “Retreat when the enemy attacks, rest and regroup when the enemy is strong and attack when the enemy rests”. Thus while they retreated in West Bengal, they gained strength in Andhra and Bihar and grew roots in Orissa, Maharashtra and in the new states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. They have established Regional Bureaus in all the southern states as well as in U.P, Delhi and Haryana. They aim at crippling the economic centres, the political and technological centres, the minerally rich pockets and at overthrowing the established system of governance. The professed aims and objectives as well as the means are similar to that of any extremist organisation. The Naxalites feed on neglect and ignorance, and the only means to counter them is through knowledge, action and constant vigil.
In the whole organisation structure, one can find a clear distinction between the political and military wings of the outfit.

The administration:
On the political side, the organisational hierarchy consists of the Central Committee at the top, and then follows Regional Bureaus, Zonal or State Committees, District or Division Committees and Squad Area Committees respectively. Apart from that bellow the Central Committee there is a polite bureau, which consist 13 members and they are the people who make policy decisions.

The armed force:
The military functions under a single operational command, the Central Military Commission. In the Indian State where it has a presence, there is a State Military Commission and in special guerrilla zones, there is a Zonal Military Commission. A Regional Military Commission supervises a group of State Military Commissions or Zonal Military Commissions. Each Regional Military Commission reports to the Central Military Commission.

Active groups
Maoist Communist Centre (MCC)
The outfit came into existence, in its earlier version, on October 20, 1969, as Dakshin Desh. When the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) was formed with the merger of several Maoist groups in 1969, one left-wing extremist group, Dakshin Desh, did not join and decided to retain its independent identity. In 1975, the outfit was renamed as the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC). Like other left wing extremist groups, the purported objective of the MCC is to establish a ‘people’s government’ through ‘people’s war’. It traces its ideology to the Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse Tung’s dictum of organised peasant insurrection.

People’s War Group (PWG)
The People’s War Group was formed in Southern Indian State of Andhra Pradesh on April 22, 1980 by Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, one of the most influential Naxalite leaders in the State and a member of the erstwhile Central Organising Committee of the Communist Party of India––Marxist-Leninist, (CPI-ML). The PWG’s operations commenced in Karimnagar district, in the North Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh, and subsequently spread to other parts of the State as well as in other States. The PWG traces its ideology to the Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung’s theory of organised peasant insurrection. It rejects parliamentary democracy and believes in capturing political power through protracted armed struggle based on guerrilla warfare. This strategy entails building up of bases in rural and remote areas and transforming them first into guerrilla zones and then as liberated zones, besides the area-wise seizure and encircling cities. The eventual objective is to install a “people’s government” through the “people’s war”. In short, as the PWG claims, it wishes to usher in a New Democratic revolution (NDR).

People’s Guerrilla Army
The military wing of the People’s War Group (PWG), the People’s Guerrilla Army (PGA) was reportedly founded on December 2, 2000 in Bihar and Jharkhand and a month later, on January 2, 2001, in Andhra Pradesh, somewhere in dense Dandakaranya forests in the North Telengana Region, by reorganising its guerrilla force.

Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)
The Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCC) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War (also known as the People’s War Group or PWG) merged to form a new entity, the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) on September 21, 2004, somewhere in the projected ‘liberated zone’. Officially, the merger was announced on October 14, 2004, by the PWG Andhra Pradesh ‘state secretary’, Ramakrishna, at a news conference in Hyderabad, on the eve of peace talks between the PWG and the State Government.
The CPI-Maoist intends to carry on the new “democratic revolution, which would remain directed against imperialism, feudalism and comprador bureaucratic capitalism.” The new party believes that the merger would cause “fear among the ruling classes” and would fulfil “the aspirations of the masses” for a strong revolutionary party that would usher in a “new democratic society” by advancing towards socialism and communism.

Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Janashakti
Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Janashakti or CPI (ML) Janashakti was formed on July 30, 1992 with the merger of seven communist groups. The seven groups were the CPI (ML) Resistance, one faction of the Unity Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India (Marxist-Leninist), CPI (ML) Agami Yug, Paila Vasudev Rao’s CPI (ML), CPI (ML) [Khokan Majumdar Faction], Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (CCCR) and Communist Revolutionary Group for Unity (CRGU).

Maharashtra Foot prints:
According to the State Government, out of the 35 districts, Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gondia, Yavatmal and Nanded have been described as ‘Naxalite-prone’. All the six affected districts are located in the eastern belt of the State, lie contiguous with the Maoist-affected districts of Adilabad, Karimnagar and Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh, Rajnandgaon, Bastar, Kanker and Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, and Balaghat in the State of Madhya Pradesh. Apart from such close proximity that has triggered a spillover effect in Maharashtra, the topography and the sheer economic backwardness of these districts have provided a fertile ground for Maoist operations. Fifteen Maoist dalams (squads) reportedly operate in Maharashtra.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs Annual Report 2004-2005 notes: “In Maharashtra, while the level of Naxal violence increased by 15 per cent during 2004 as compared to 2003, the CPI ML-PW (Communist Party of India – Marxist Leninist – People’s War) continued to dominate the forest and mountainous tracts of Gadchiroli and Gondia Districts and made efforts to extend its influence to the districts of Chandrapur and Yavatmal.” Seven fatalities in Naxalite violence were recorded by the MHA Report in 2001; 29 in 2002; 31 in 2003; and 15 in 2004 (incidents of Naxalite related violence, however, rose from 75 in 2003 to 84 in 2004). In 2005, according to the Institute for Conflict Management database, 21 persons, including 15 SF personnel, 4 Maoists, and 2 civilians have died.

Three stages of revolution
According to the first scenario, Maoists would be strong in their traditional areas and government would make sure that they do not spread their influence to other places. Regular battles between Maoists and police forces would take place just like today. Mostly the Maoists would have great influence in three states: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and pockets of influence in other states.
In this kind of scenario, the Maoists would consolidate their hold in the newly acquired regions and may expand into new areas. Inevitably, the armed forces have to be used to tackle this problem. This would weaken the nation on the external front. Instead of taking advantage of the economic opportunities, India would be busy fighting for its stability. The most important cause for this scenario would be the neglect of the government(s) in creating nation wide
strategy to tackle Maoists. The current scenario is that we still do not know much about them and to some extend it is being neglected by the government.

Ideologically, the Naxalites claim they are against India, as she exists currently. They believe that Indians are still to acquire freedom from hunger and deprivation and that the rich classes —landlords, industrialists, traders, etc — control the means of production. Their final aim is the overthrow of the present system, hence the targeting of politicians, police officers and men, forest contractors, etc. They strongly believe that the power will only flow from the battle of guns.
To achieve their goals, the Naxalites have invariably targeted landlords in the villages, often claiming protection money from them. Naxalites have also been known to claim ‘tax’ from the Adivasis and landless farmers in areas where their writ runs more than that of the government.
What started as a movement questioning and protesting against inequality and disparity has slowly degenerated into one surviving on extortion, torture and ill gotten wealth. Till date all the naxal victims have been police personnel, forest guards and in large numbers, the impoverished tribals. None of the contractors, businessmen or moneylenders have been targeted. The naxals have opposed roads, bridges and other public works in the villages saying that it would benefit the police more by providing access. They discourage the local boys from studying beyond class 9 and insist that each family sends one boy and one girl to join the dalam.

Naxalism In Maharashtra
The naxalite problem originated in Maharashtra when the Peoples War Group (PWG) from Andhra Pradesh entered bordering Sironcha taluka in the then Chandrapur (it is presently with the Gadchiroli district which was carved out of Chandrapur in 1983) district in 1980.The naxals played up the local grievances and exhorted the people to join the “Nav Janvadi Kranti”. They appealed to the people and exhorted them through song and dance groups termed as Jan Natya Mandals. Soon armed dalams appeared. With their Olive green uniform and their guns, they attracted some of the local youth to joining them.
There were voices of protest and one of the first acts of the armed dalam was to cut off the hand of Raju Master, a local school teacher for opposing them. Raju master was not killed so that he would serve as a living reminder of naxal brutality and terror .Till date the naxals have been using this method to spread fear and to procure recruits from the local populace.
At present, two districts, viz Gadchiroli and Gondia are declared completely naxal affected while parts of Chandrapur and Bhandara are also declared affected. As of date 17 dalams are active in Gadchiroli, 3 in Gondia and 3 in Chandrapur.The districts of Nanded, Yavatmal etc have their presence while Thane, Nandurbar and Nasik have their influence. Regular meetings by the overground support organizations are held in each of these districts as well as in Nagpur, Pune and Mumbai.
The ultimate aim of naxalism is to gain power through the barrel of the gun. Their desired centres of power in Maharashtra are not Gadchiroli and Gondia, but the big cities of Mumbai and Pune. The groundwork for this is being done with the naxal supporter and sympathizer, balladeer Gadar holding meetings among the slum dwellers of Pune. The topic for the meeting was the Khairlanji (caste) killings in distant Bhandara!.

Government Action
In Maharashtra a two pronged strategy of Police Action and Development has been used to counter naxalism. The State has a Surrender Policy which also entails a Rehabilitation Program. Public Contact programs like Jan Jagaran Melawas and Gram Bhets are held by the Police, village to village to create awareness among the population. These programs are participated in by the different Govt. Departments so that in effect governance moves closer to the masses. The State Government is also giving Rs.3 Lakh to each village in the affected area which declares Naxal Gaon Bandi, a kind of declared non-cooperation with the naxals. As a result Maharashtra has succeeded in curbing the spread of at least the violent part of the movement beyond the border districts of Gadchiroli and Gondia though the naxal movement here had started almost at the same time as it had begun in Andhra before encompassing almost ninety percent of that state.

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