June 25, 2009

Ceasefire talk a time-buying stunt, Lalgarh operation to go on: Centre

NEW DELHI: Even as some CPI(Maoist) leaders in West Bengal on Tuesday sent media feelers for a ceasefire to end the Lalgarh impasse, the Centre rejected the “peace offer” as a “diversionary” ploy by the Maoists to escape the onslaught by the security forces.

Stating that the Maoists had made no formal offer for a suspension of operations to either the Centre or the West Bengal government, senior MHA officials insisted that the counter-operations in Lalgarh and its surrounding areas would be taken to its logical end.

According to an official, there was no question of frittering away the gains made by the security forces in the Lalgarh operation as the Maoists were virtually on the run. The counter-operations, the official added, would continue until the last of the Maoists have been flushed out.

In any case, the latest peace offer — in which CPI(Maoist) has made the ceasefire conditional to withdrawal of security forces from Lalgarh — is being viewed by the security establishment as only a publicity and time-gaining stunt as the Maoist cadres on the ground continued to unleash violence on the second day of the 48-hour bandh called by them in five states.

Naxalites carried out a string of attacks, opening fire on the Lakhisarai district court premises in Bihar to free jailed comrades, blowing up a panchayat office and community centre in Jharkhand and Bihar respectively, and setting fire to CPM offices in West Bengal.

The attacks, which injured several people, including the district development commissioner of Lakhisarai, came a day after the Centre separately banned CPI(Maoist) as a terrorist outfit under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Though the West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday defied the CPM line to “accept” the ban, he was ambiguous on how the state government would go about implementing the same. The ambiguity only got worse with CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat later stating that the West Bengal government had no intention of banning the CPI(Maoist).

Ban or no ban, the Maoists continued to defy the alert sounded across Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa to enforce their 48-hour bandh. The most daring strike was on the Lakhisarai district court premises in Bihar, aimed essentially at freeing four of their comrades who were to be produced in the court. A group of motorcycle-borne, armed Naxalites descended on the court premises and opened fire, targeting a police van carrying the four detained Naxalites.

The firing injured the district development commissioner Rajiv Ranjan Sinha, besides three policemen. Mr Sinha is now reportedly out of danger.

As confusion prevailed, the Maoists whisked away the four undertrials, including the Ranchi zonal commander Ghaskar Marandi. According to agency reports from Bihar, the Maoists also attacked the district magistrate’s office and fired at the commoners as they retreated into the jungles with the freed comrades.

In separate incidents, the Maoists also blew up a community centre and mobile phone tower in Bihar. A panchayat building in Jharkhand was also witness to an explosion.

The Left-wing extremists did not spare the security forces in Lalgarh either, as they attempted to disrupt the supply lines by detonating a landmine at Chara village between Midnapore and Kirakata. This apart, the Maoists torched CPI(M)’s offices across the Naxalite-infested districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore.

In West Midnapore’s Jhargram area and Purulia’s Burrabazar, suspected guerrillas set afire and ransacked CPI(M) party offices. In both cases, the miscreants left raising Maoists slogans.

Maoist spokesman remanded

KOLKATA: CPI(Maoist) spokesperson Gaur Chakraborty, arrested here on Tuesday, was remanded to police custody for 14 days on Wednesday. Another member of the group and his wife were nabbed in Bankura district.

Maoist death squads executed dozens around Lalgarh

By Praveen Swami

The Hindu
25th June,2009

Killing campaign focused on eliminating CPI(M) activists and other political opponents

JHARGRAM: Little pieces of glass still lie embedded in dry earth next to the cot where Abhijit Mahato fell.

On the morning he was executed as an enemy of the people, Mahato had been drinking a cup of tea at the end of an eight-hour night shift guarding trucks parked along the Kharagpur-Ranchi highway — the job that paid for the college classes he would have made his way to an hour later.

But then, six men arrived on motorcycles at the truck-stop, carrying automatic rifles. They announced to bystanders that Abhijit Mahato and his friends, Anil Mahato and Niladhar Mahato, were members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The punishment for this crime, the men announced, was death.

The June 17 murder of Abhijit Mahato and his friends didn’t make it to the national press — or draw the attention of the growing numbers of human rights activists, who have arrived in West Medinipur district to investigate the ongoing confrontation between the West Bengal government and Communist Party of India (Maoist) operatives in Lalgarh. But the killings — and dozens like it — are key to understanding the still-unfolding crisis.

District police records show that 111 West Medinipur residents have been killed by Maoist death squads since 2002. Most of the killings were concentrated in the twin blocks of Binpur and adjoining Salboni — the heartland of the Lalgarh violence.

Seventy four of the dead were targeted because they were cadre or supporters of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Twenty-three of the victims were police personnel; five were adivasis community elders; one belonged to the Congress; another was a former Maoist who had left the movement in disgust. Seventeen CPI(M) workers have been executed by Maoists since November alone.

It is instructive to compare the murders in West Medinipur with those in India’s most violent State — Jammu and Kashmir. In the years from 2003, Jammu and Kashmir Police records show, 71 political activists from all political parties have been killed by jihadists. More lives have been lost in attacks by Maoist death squads by one single party in one single district of West Bengal.

The data also shows the contest has been uneven: not one Maoist operative has been shot dead in West Medinipur until police moved into Lalgarh last week, either by the state or their political opponents.

Most of those killed by the Maoist death squads come from the ranks of the rural poor; many of them from the same adivasi communities whose name the Maoists have invoked to legitimise terrorism in Lalgarh.

The only son of his widowed mother, and one of five children, Abhijit Mahato was the first member of his extended family to succeed in gaining admission to a college degree. In photographs his mother, Savita Mahato, recently had taken at a local studio, to be shown to the families of prospective brides, Mahato can be seen posing against a movie set-like backdrop.

“I cannot understand”, Savita Mahato says, “what kinds of people would kill a boy who did them not the slightest harm”.

Many others have died in similar circumstances. Karamchand Singh, a noted chhau-dance performer, was executed in front of his primary school students at Binpur last year. His crime was to have campaigned for the CPI(M) despite Maoist warnings to dissociate himself from the party. Pelaram Tudu, a locally renowned football player who supported the CPI(M), was shot dead in another death-squad attack. So, too, was Kartik Hansda, a folk artist.

Honiran Murmu, a doctor working in the Laboni area, was killed along with staff nurse Bharati Majhi and driver Bapsi in October, after an improvised explosive device went off under their car. No explanation was offered by Maoists for the attack, why the vehicle was targeted, but Laboni residents say the attack was intended to punish Mr. Misir for renting out vehicles to the police.

In May, Maoists executed Haripada Mahato as he was bathing in a pond outside his home in the village of Bhumi Dhansola. A former activist with the Maoist-affiliated Kisan Mazdoor Samiti, Haripada Mahato had left the movement in disgust a decade ago. He had since then worked as a night watchman and polio-immunisation campaign volunteer at the Medinipur Medical College.

“The Maoists said he was an informer for the police”, says Haripada Mahato’s wife, Padmavati Mahato, “and we swore he wasn’t. But who can win an argument with a gun?”

Ban on Maoists will not serve any purpose: Karat

“We have to combat them politically and administratively”

NEW DELHI: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said on Monday that the ban imposed by the Centre on Maoists would not serve any purpose.

“Our stand in West Bengal is that we have to combat [Maoists] politically and administratively,” general secretary Prakash Karat told The Hindu.

His point of view was not in response to the decision of the Centre, which could ban organisations, but the party line, he said.

Combination strategy

Mr. Karat said a political strategy was necessary, because the Maoists had to be isolated from the sections of the people who associated themselves with them, and a firm administrative action was needed when they indulged in violence. “A combination [of political and administrative] measures is the most effective.”

All-India Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas said the Maoist movement could not be seen as a mere law and order issue, and banning it would not solve the problem.

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the government should also act against organisations that had ties with the Maoists.

Ban no cure, says Bardhan

CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan has said imposing a ban on the CPI (Maoist) is not a cure to the problem and the CPI will prefer countering such outfits politically.

“That has been our stand and that will continue,” Mr. Bardhan said. He extended his party’s support to the operations launched jointly by the State and Central governments in West Bengal to recapture the areas occupied and declared as ‘liberated provinces’ by the Maoists.

Asserting that the rule of law should be established in all parts of the State, he, however, said the operations should be conducted “as peacefully as possible” and the common people should not be unduly harassed. “Even if the operation is conducted slowly and steadily, efforts should be made to see that harassment is not unleashed on the people,” he said.

Misguided outfits should be fought politically, says Left Front

KOLKATA: The ruling Left Front in West Bengal believes that the activities of outfits such as the Communist Party of India (Maoist) cannot be countered by banning them. But the State government will ascertain whether the Centre’s announcement proscribing the Maoist organisation is binding on it. The legal implications will be looked into.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will discuss the matter with his colleagues and legal experts. The matter is not entirely an administrative one, Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said here on Monday when asked for the State’s reaction to the Centre’s ban.

“We have discussed the issue in the past too and taken a decision that outfits that pursue misguided politics should be countered politically, not by banning them,” Biman Basu, chairman of the Left Front Committee, said in a statement. But administrative steps should be taken at the government level to ensure that people could lead normal lives.

The “political fight” by the Left parties against the misguided politics of such outfits was continuing. “We are opposing the terrorist activities of such outfits which is why we are being attacked,” he said. To alienate the people from the dangerous politics pursued by the Maoists was a continuous process and this work had to be carried on.

CPI(M) never sought ban on VHP: Karat

NEW DELHI, JUNE 24: CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Tuesday clarified that his party had never demanded a ban on Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

Reacting to news reports stating that in the past, CPI (M) had demanded ban on VHP, Karat said, "We only demanded ban on Bajrang Dal after violence in Kandhamal. As for VHP and RSS, we have all along maintained that political organisations should not be banned."

Talks with PCPA possible only if it lays down arms: govt

LALGARH, JUNE 24: West Bengal government today ruled out talks with the People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), spearheading a tribal resistance against police at Lalgarh, until they laid down arms and ended the reign of terror unleashed by them in the area.

State chief secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said here that members of the PCPA, which is believed to have a strong link with Maoists, were equipped with sophisticated arms and unless they surrendered them in order to create a conducive atmosphere, talks could not be held.

He said a reign of terror had been unleashed by them in the area and they had to bring an end to this to pave the way for talks.

The administration was trying to restore law and order in the area by taking local people into confidence, he said, adding police was talking to the people to instill confidence in them in the fight against terrorists.

Chakraborty, who was accompanied by DG (Coordination) Bhupinder Singh, IG (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia and district magistrate N S Nigam, said police was helping the district administration revive the PDS system which lay disrupted for months.

Before coming to Lalgarh by a helicopter, the chief secretary visited some villages in Purulia, hit by Maoist activity, and Sarenga in Bankura district to oversee the preparedness of the forces deployed there.

“West Bengal needs to declare CPI (Maoist) an unlawful association”

NEW DELHI, JUNE 23: While the Centre has listed the CPI (Maoist) as a terrorist organisation, there is still need for the West Bengal government to declare the outfit an “unlawful association,” highly placed sources in the Union Home Ministry said.

Underlining the fact that the laws in force make a distinction between a “terrorist organisation” and an “unlawful association,” the sources said a terrorist organisation is defined in Section 2(1)(m) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.

It means an “organisation listed in the Schedule or an organisation operating under the same name as an organisation so listed.”

The Schedule to the Act listed 32 organisations and it included CPI(Marxist-Leninist), People’s War and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), all its formations and front organisations.

Once the Centre includes an organisation in the Schedule and lists it a terrorist organisation, that order will apply throughout India. Penal action can be taken against it, or a member or supporter of, or a fund raiser for it anywhere in India.

On the other hand, the sources clarified, the concept of an unlawful association is “very different.”

Under UA(P)A, ‘unlawful association’ is defined in Section 2(1) (p), and it means any association which has for its object any unlawful activity. “Unlawful activity” is defined in Section 2(1)(o) as any action which is intended to bring about secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union or which incites secession or which questions the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.

While UA(P)A is directed against unlawful associations that support secession, the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1908 has a very different objective. It is directed against associations which encourage or aid persons to commit acts or violence or intimidation. The power is vested in the State government to declare an association as unlawful if the object of the association is interference with the administration of the law or interference with the maintenance of law and order or if the association constitutes a danger to the public peace.

The sources said once an association is declared an “unlawful association” under Section 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1908, Section 17, 17A, 17B, 17C and 17E are attracted.

Broadly, these provisions provide for offences and penalties. It will be an offence to contribute or solicit a contribution to an unlawful association or manage an unlawful association. The offences are cognisable and non-bailable.

Further, the State government will acquire special powers under Sections 17A, 17B and 17E.

“It will be seen that the scope and application of the Criminal Law Amendment Act is very different – and much wider – than UA(P)A. Besides, the former Act vests power in the State government; UA(P) A vests the power in the Central government,” sources said.

The West Bengal government has been advised by the Union Home Ministry to act under Section 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act and declare CPI (Maoist) as an unlawful association, the sources said.

Maoist spokesman arrested in Kolkata

23 Jun 2009, 2301 hrs IST

Just minutes after a naxalite spoke to TIMES NOW , the government cracks down ordering the police to detain and arrest the spokesperson of the Maoists, Gour Chakraborty. The West Bengal government is now cracking down on Maoist sympathisers on a day it decided to comply with the Centre's ban.

"Chakraborty was initially detained for interrogation this evening as he left a media office at Park Street after giving an interview. He was later put under arrest," Deputy Commissioner (Detective Department) in-charge of Headquarters Jawed Shamim said.

A resident of Patuli, in the southern outskirts of the city, Chakraborty acted as the spokesperson of CPI (Maoist) which was banned by the Centre yesterday.

Maoists were believed to be behind the tribal agitation at Lalgarh in West Midnapore district.

But only hours before Gour Chakaorty was detained, the Maoist spokesperson told TIMES NOW that they were ready for talks with the Centre provided security forces were withdrawn from Lalgarh. In short, the Maoists are ready to strike a compromise, but with riders.

Delayed monsoon may hit paddy sowing in West Bengal

MUMBAI (Reuters),JUNE 23: Paddy sowing in West Bengal, India's largest rice producing state, may be affected following an over two-week lull in monsoon rains, and the preparation of seed-bed has been affected, a senior government official said.

"If it starts raining from tomorrow there will not be any problem...but if it does not rain in June at all then it will adversely affect the rain-fed seed-beds," S.D. Chatterjee, director in the state's farm department, told Reuters on Tuesday."The delay in rains has also impacted direct seeding," he added.

Paddy is usually first sown in a nursery or seed-bed and allowed to develop for about 21 to 24 days before transplanting it into the main field. Farmers in West Bengal also under take direct seeding, without growing it first in a nursery. "Sowing is not progressing well...It is time for preparing seed-bed but a delay in rains have impacted the process especially in south Bengal," Chatterjee said.

Early onset of monsoon in West Bengal had given a push to early sowing, but the monsoon's progress was subdued between June 7 to June 21, which has impacted seed-bed preparation. As per data from India Meteorological Department, in the period between June 1 to June 17 monsoon rains were more than 50 percent lower than normal in the state. As per the latest government figures, paddy has been sown in over 0.8 million hectares compared with 0.72 million hectares in the same period last year.

MP Birla group to go for major expansion of healthcare venture

KOLKATA, JUNE 23: The MP Birla group has decided to go for a major expansion of its healthcare venture. The group, which runs reputed hospitals like BelleVue Clinic in Kolkata and

Bombay Hospital in Mumbai, has decided to set up three new multi-speciality hospitals — one in Kolkata and two each in Rajasthan.

The group is now finalising the investment outlay. For starters, the group is scouting for 5-to-6 acres in Rajarhat for the Kolkata facility which will have more than 200 beds. While it has sought land in Rajarhat from the West Bengal government, the group is also exploring options to acquire land on its own.

"The Kolkata hospital will provide world-class healthcare to patients from the economically weaker sections of society. The cost of the service will be priced accordingly," said Harsh Vardhan Lodha, trustee and member of the managing committee of Belle Vue Clinic and son of the erstwhile MP Birla Group chairman Late R. S. Lodha.

On the other hand, the two proposed hospitals in Rajasthan will come up in Jaipur and Chittorgarh. The group has already acquired seven acres in Jaipur from the Rajasthan government. "The Jaipur hospital will have more than 300 beds. On an average, we will invest around Rs 10-15 lakh per bed for these facilities," said Mr Lodha.

The MP Birla group also operates a speciality eye care venture in Kolkata, Priyamvada Birla Aravind Eye Hospital, Bombay Hospital in Indore, and M.P. Birla Vikas Hospital and Priyamvada Birla Cancer Research Institute, both in Satna. It plans to expand the Belle Vue Clinic by increasing number of beds and foraying into newer specialities.

"We are adding 60 new beds by setting up a mother and child care department comprising maternity unit and a neonatal intensive care unit. This apart, there will be a 26-bed invasive cardiac unit with provision for Cath Lab and a dedicated cardiac operation theatre. The total investment on this expansion will be around Rs 20 crore," said Mr Lodha.

Kolkata police to have specialised anti-terrorist unit

KOLKATA, 23 JUNE: The West Bengal government will raise a new specialised force to deal with terrorism in Kolkata, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said here on Tuesday.

The crack unit, to be trained by instructors from the army and the Border Security Force (BSF), will be attached to the Kolkata police.

"We already have three battalions of a specialised unit - Straco - to deal with terrorist strikes in areas under the state police. Today it was decided to recruit one battalion for the Kolkata police to fight terrorists," Bhattacharjee said after a meeting of the state cabinet.

The specialised force, comprising around one thousand men, will be ready within a year, city police sources said.

In a colonial legacy, the West Bengal police has jurisdiction over 18 districts, while the metropolitan area of Kolkata has a separate city police force constituted and administered under Calcutta Police Act,1866 & Calcutta (Suburban Police) Act, 1866. This arrangement is unique in the entire country.

West Bengal cannot say ‘no’ to ban on Maoists: Buddhadeb

“How to enforce the order against the outfit is our business”

KOLKATA, JUNE 23: The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act under which the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has been deemed a banned outfit is applicable across the country “and West Bengal is no exception” though “how far the States will go [enacting it], whom to arrest, how to arrest and when is our business; that we will decide,” West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said here on Tuesday.

“This is a Central Act and is applicable to all States. We just cannot say ‘no’ we do not want to accept it [in West Bengal],” he told journalists, even as the operation by security forces against the Maoists and activists of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janashadharaner Committee in the Lalgarh area of the State entered its sixth day.

Pointing out that the CPI (Maoist) is now banned in the State as stipulated by the Act, Mr. Bhattacharjee said a “holistic” approach was required to tackle Maoist activism. It should comprise socio-economic development in areas where the extremists were trying to extend their influence, a political campaign to isolate them from the people and strong administrative steps against their activities.

“There is a strong opinion that administrative action is not enough and should be backed up with a political campaign” against the Maoists, he said in a reference to the call by the ruling Left Front to counter the outfit’s activities politically.

“What is also imperative is that the State government continues with development schemes to improve the lives of the people [being influenced by the Maoists],” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

Earlier Mr. Bhattacharjee held a meeting with his Cabinet colleagues where the developments at Lalgarh were among the issues discussed.

The joint operations will continue, the Chief Minister said. “We are raising our combat forces and it is increasing in number [to tackle Maoist activities] … A new battalion is also being raised by the Kolkata police to combat other types of terrorist groups,” he added.

Rejecting the argument that there has been no development in areas such as Lalgarh where the Maoists are active, he said a task force had been set up to oversee development in the economically backward areas of the State and much work had been done over the past year, though much more needed to be done.

Socio-economic backwardness was, however, not the only factor giving rise to terrorism, he said. If that were so how did one explain the terrorism in the name of the Khalistan movement in Punjab — a State whose per capita income was among the highest in the country, he asked.

On whether there was need for separate legislation in the State to enact the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against banned outfits, Mr. Bhattacharjee replied in the negative.

The Chief Minister said he had got to know that the Centre was contemplating adding the CPI (Maoist) to the list of banned organisations during his discussions with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi last week.

Knowing the reds: A primer on Maoists

ZEE NEWS Bureau Report

New Delhi, June 22: Maoist rebels have killed 10 CPI(M) supporters in West Bengal this week and declared a "liberated zone" close to the city of Kolkata, sparking unease among investors in the communist-ruled state.

The attacks by the rebels, who are fighting for the rights of poor farmers and the disenfranchised, are among the most brazen in years.

Who are the Maoists?

The rebels began an armed struggle with a peasant revolt in Naxalbari village in West Bengal in 1967 but were initially crushed by the Congress-led government.

After regrouping in the 1980s, they began recruiting hundreds of poor villagers, arming them with bows and arrows and even rifles snatched from police.

Authorities say they are led by Koteshwar Rao, also known as Kishanjee, who is in charge of militant activities, and Ganapathi, the political leader. Neither have been seen in public and remain hidden in dense forest bases.

How big is the movement?

The rebels have an estimated 22,000 combatants in more than 180 of the country's 630 districts. They operate across a "red corridor" stretching from Andhra Pradesh to Chhattisgarh and into West Bengal.

How severe is the Maoist threat?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the insurgency as the biggest internal security challenge since independence. More than 1,000 attacks were recorded in 2008, as the Maoists targeted politicians, police and villagers suspected of being informers.

Authorities say the Maoists have a well thought-out plan to spread their influence into urban areas. Some of their recent attacks have been closer to cities and the latest strike in West Bengal is a show of their capability. Others say their influence will not extend far beyond remote rural areas.

The Maoists regularly attack railway lines and factories, aiming to cripple economic activity. Their base in the "red corridor" gives them control of some of country's mineral rich areas.

They could feed off the resistance in parts of rural India, including in West Bengal, against rapid economic growth that excludes hundreds of millions of poor.

The rebels advance to Lalgarh in West Bengal is near the construction site of a $7 billion steel plant by India's third largest steel producer, JSW Steel Ltd, which is watching how the government tackles the violence. It could potentially scare off prospective investors from setting up shop in and around the Maoists' sphere.

How do the Maoists get arms?

They are in touch with other militant groups operating in India, including groups in Kashmir and the northeast, who help them. Police say they are equipped with automatic weapons, shoulder rocket launchers, mines and explosives.

PepsiCo India to make Bengal unit the largest in India

KOLKATA, JUNE 22: At a time when West Bengal government’s industrialisation drive has suffered a major jolt, PepsiCo India is poised to make its Frito-Lay manufacturing unit in the state its largest in the country by 2011-12.

PepsiCo India has acquired an extra 4 acres near its existing factory in the state to ramp up production of Frito-Lay -- the food division of the company.

Talking to newsmen Mr Animesh Banerjee, vice -president (operations) at PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd (Frito-Lay division), said: "The West Bengal facility will emerge as the largest factory by calender 2011. The factory’s capacity will increase from 25,000 tonne per annum to 50,000 tonne per annum by 2011-12. However, the expansion plan will largely hinge on the demand curve in the next two years."

Incidentally, apart from West Bengal, Frito-Lay has manufacturing facilities at Channo in Punjab and Ranjangaon in Pune.

PepsiCo India had initially invested Rs 140 crore in its West Bengal facility, which is located at Sankrail Food Park. "In addition, the company will invest another Rs 110 crore in a phased manner to enhance the factory’s capacity," Mr Banerjee said. The unit produces two of its major brands - Frito Lay and Kurkure.

Frito-Lay uses around 1.5 lakh tonnes of potatoes per annum for its products, 50% of which comes from contract farming. PepsiCo has partnered with more than 10,000 farmers working in over 12,000 acres across Punjab, UP, Karnataka, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Kashmir and Maharashtra for the supply of potatoes. The company aims to collaborate with 25,000 farmers in next five years time for procuring potatoes.

Frito-Lay India on Monday launched a new brand Aliva in the baked savoury cracker category. "It is being manufactured at our Ranjangaon facility. With the launch of Aliva, the company aims to create a new sub-segment of great tasting savoury crackers in the greater than 1500 tonne biscuit category. Our aim is to make Aliva much bigger than Kurkure," said Mr Vidur Vyas, executive vice-president (marketing), Frito-Lay India.

2 CPI(M) supporters die, Nandigram bandh on Tuesday

Nandigram (West Bengal), June 22: Two CPI(M) supporters, severely beaten up by alleged Trinamool Congress men at Nandigram and elsewhere, died in hospital on Monday prompting the Marxists to call a 12-hour bandh in the area on Tuesday.

SP Pallab Kanti Ghosh said Keshab Das, stated to be a CPI(M) supporter, died at a Kolkata hospital late last night after being assaulted by unidentified persons the previous day.

Another CPI(M) supporter, thrashed by some men on June 13 at Moyna area, also died at a hospital today, the SP said.

The CPI(M) claimed both were beaten up by Trinamool Congress which wanted to finish off the Left Front activists from the district after the Lok Sabha elections.

The incidents followed cases of arson and recovery of arms from different parts of Khejuri last week with the Trinamool Congress wresting the erstwhile Marxist stronghold.

Maoist leader had named TMC, Mahasweta

By Kartyk Venkatraman


Posted online: Monday , Jun 22, 2009 at 1152 hrs

Kolkata : Months before Lalgarh hit the headlines in November 2008, the West Bengal Government had an idea of the extent of Maoist presence and activities in the state, including Nandigram. The information was received after interrogating CPI(Maoist) Bengal state secretary Himadri Sen Roy alias Somen. He was arrested by the state Criminal Investigation Department in February 2008 from Hridaypur railway station in North 24-Parganas.

According to Somen's interrogation report, accessed by The Indian Express, the 58-year-old admitted to Maoist involvement in Nandigram and links with Trinamool leaders and Trinamool-backed Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC).

The report, which was forwarded to the state Government, said:

• CPI(Maoist) leaders, including Soren, visited Nandigram in December 2006 to "assess the temperament of locals" when protests against land acquisition for a chemical hub just began.

• Based on the visit, a meeting of his party was held in Chakulia forest in Jharkhand in February 2007 to devise a strategy for Nandigram. A decision was taken to keep the Maoists away from the forefront of agitation due to lack of organisational network in Nandigram. It was also decided to procure arms. Accordingly, the party central committee sanctioned Rs 8 lakh, by which six .315 rifles and 500 bullets worth Rs 4 lakh were purchased from one Sahoo based in Jharkhand.

• The consignment was received at Haldia, shipped to Nandigram and kept at the house of CPI(Maoist) East Midnapore zonal committee secretary Narayan's residence in Sonachura, the epicentre of Nandigram movement. Besides, 30 crude guns were procured locally. Narayan also acted as a link with the BUPC, whose members Karabi, Ranjit Pal and Dipak formed the Maoist squad along with Narayan.

• Somen also visited Nandigram in July 2007 for two days and stayed at Narayan's residence.

• Narayan was in contact with Trinamool MP from Tamluk Subendhu Adhikari, the then MLA from Contai South Assembly constituency, and BUPC leaders. Maoists also forged links with Sidiqullah Chowdhury's People's Democratic Council of India (PDCI), SUCI and Bandi Mukti Committee (BMC).

• Several Bengal intellectuals, including BMC president Mahasweta Devi, went to Nandigram at the Maoists’ behest to exhort people to join the anti-acquisition movement.

• However, relations between the BUPC and Maoists soured when the former rejected a proposal to form volunteer groups to take on the CPI(M) cadres.

About the Maoists’ organisational set-up, the CID report said:

• Kishanji, also operating under the names of Pradip, Bimal, Prahalad and Sridhar, collected “levy” from contractors in Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore averaging Rs 8 lakh per month. He also received Rs 1.3-1.5 lakh from the central party headquarters every month which he distributed directly to the state unit. He wrote press statements of the party in English while Somen framed the Bengali ones.

• Training of fresh inductees was conducted in Damuria Hills of Dalma forest in Gorabandha, Mayurbhanj, Orissa. Trainees would move in small batches of two to three by train from Howrah station to Tatanagar in Jharkhand, then by public transport to Dalma Hills and finally on foot.

• As state secretary, Somen handled political matters while military activity was under the Bengal-Jharkhand-Orissa regional committee.

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Centre bans CPI (Maoist)

Hope West Bengal government will also do so: Chidambaram

NEW DELHI, JUNE 22: The Centre on Monday banned the Communist Party of India (Maoist), terming it a terrorist organisation. It invoked Section 41 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against the extremist outfit.

The CPI (Maoist) came into existence following the merger of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), the People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC).

The ban came two days after West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee met Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram in the backdrop of violent incidents in Lalgarh and the ongoing operation by the police and the security forces to reclaim the area.

The Chief Minister had said that his government would give a “serious thought” to banning the CPI (Maoist) as advised by the Home Minister.

The ban was to avoid any ambiguity though all formations and front organisations of the PWG, the MCC and the CPI (ML) came under the purview of the ban.

In September 2004, the CPI (ML) and the MCC announced their decision to merge and named the new organisation CPI (Maoist). There was some opposition to the merger and some elements in the two organisations continued to function independently.

Mr. Chidambaram said the merged organisation would continue to be listed as a terror organisation. “When I looked into the matter a couple of days ago, I said that may be the position in the law. In order to avoid any ambiguity, let us add the CPI (Maoist) by name in that schedule of the Act.”

Many States, including Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, had declared the CPI (Maoist) an unlawful association. Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu had done so under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“When I had a discussion with Mr. Bhattacharjee, I advised him to ban the CPI (Maoist) under Section 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908. That power is available with the State. I did not change my view. I still think that West Bengal should declare the CPI (Maoist) an unlawful association,” he told journalists.

Asked about the Left parties’ opposition to the ban, Mr. Chidambaram said the Left had taken a view which was not that of the West Bengal government. “I hope distinction between the party and the government is still there in this country. I expect that the Chief Minister will look into the matter.”

Will talk to Centre about Lalgarh only when asked to, says Mamata

21 Jun 2009, 0533 hrs IST, TNN

KOLKATA: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is disappointed that the Centre did not consult her party, a UPA partner, before embarking on 'liberate Lalgarh operation'. "We'll tell Centre about the real nature of the problem in Lalgarh if asked for. We will not go and tell on our own," she said on Saturday.

Mamata alleged Lalgarh was stage-managed by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee following CPM's defeat in the Lok Sabha election. The CPM had an understanding with Maoists. "Otherwise how was it that CPM managed to win panchayat and assembly polls in areas dominated by Maoists and why People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) called for a poll boycott that helped CPM win Jhargram Lok Sabha seat against Congress", she asked. She also criticised the state government for failing to ban CPI (Maoist).

She said some prominent CPM leaders, including a minister, were behind the operation in Lalgarh, she said they helped Maoists to escape from Lalgarh. The ransacking of a prominent CPM leader's house in Lalgarh was also a 'drama', she said, adding it was done not by Maoists but by a group of CPM rebels in the presence of a select group of media to give the incident publicity.

"CPM had created the same Maoists to capture Keshpur, Garbeta and Khanakul." She said there was a difference between Maoists in Andhra Pradesh and those in West Bengal. "Here, they are creations of CPM." Even Maoist leader, 'Kishenji', could be a creation of CPM, she added. If there were genuine Maoists, Midnapore West, Purulia and Bankura should be declared disturbed and let the Centre take care of the operation.

Denying any link of Trinamool with Maoists, she said she had no objection if Maoists were arrested. But, if police harassed and tortured common people, Trinamool would protest. Common people are being used as shields by Maoists. "Chhatradhar Mahato was a Trinamool member two years ago, but when we learnt that he had Maoist links, we expelled him from the party," she said.

Lalgarh tense, says Chidambaram

NEW DELHI, JUNE 21: Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Sunday described the situation in Lalgarh in West Bengal as “sensitive and tense.” He urged citizens, especially political leaders, not to go to the conflict area, even as Left MPs appealed to the Prime Minister to intervene following reports that some Union Ministers were reaching there.

“The situation in Lalgarh is sensitive and continues to be tense. Besides, the CPI (Maoist) has called for a [a two-day] bandh [from] tomorrow [Monday]. Security forces must carry on their work without distraction. Hence I appeal to all citizens, especially political leaders, NGOs, and others, not to go to the conflict area,” Mr. Chidambaram said in a brief statement.

The Home Ministry cautioned the people to remain vigilant against possible violence during the bandh called by the Maoists in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. The Maoists might target security forces, economic infrastructure and public places.

Sixteen MPs of the Left parties wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday, urging him to intervene. They pointed to media reports about some Union Cabinet Ministers proceeding to the affected areas and making public comments. They were apparently referring to reports that two Ministers, belonging to the Trinamool Congress, were in the area. They told Dr. Singh that he had drawn the country’s attention to the fact that the Maoist activities constituted “one of the gravest threats” to India’s internal security. “In this situation, we…seek your personal intervention to ensure that the joint operations are not adversely complicated by utterances and actions of some members of the Union Council of Ministers as reported by the media.”

The signatories are Sitaram Yechury, Brinda Karat, Mohd. Amin, Basudeb Acharya, Shyamal Chakraborty, P. Karunakaran, A. Vijayaraghavan, P. Madhu, T.K. Rangarajan, Bajuban Riyan, Khagen Das and Tapas Sen of the CPI (M); D. Raja of the CPI; Abani Roy of the Revolutionary Socialist Party; and Barun Mukherjee and Narhari Mahato of the All-India Forward Bloc.

(Full Text of the letter added below)

Left MP’s seek personal intervention of Prime Minister

June 21, 2009

Members of Parliament belonging to the Left Parties have sent the following letter to the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.


Dear Pradhan Mantriji,

We are writing to you to convey our apprehensions in connection with the ongoing joint operations by the Central Security Forces and the Security Forces of the Government of West Bengal in Lalgarh and other areas of West Midnapore against the Maoist violence.

We have learnt through media reports that some members of the Union Council of Ministers are proceeding to visit the affected areas and are making public comments which are adversely complicating the operations against the Maoists.

You had, yourself, drawn the attention of the country by stating that the Maoist activities constitute one of the gravest threats to India's internal security. In that spirit, the Central Security Forces have been dispatched at the request of the state government for launching these joint operations.

In this situation, we, Members of Parliament belonging to the Left parties seek your personal intervention to ensure that the joint operations against the Maoists are not adversely complicated by utterances and actions of some members of the Union Council of Ministers as reported by the media.

With regards,

Yours sincerely,

CPI(M): Sitaram Yechury, Brinda Karat, Mohd. Amin, Basudev Acharia, Shyamal Chakraborty, P. Karunakaran, A. Vijayaraghavan, P. Madhu, T. K. Rangarajan, Bajuban Riyan, Khagen Das, Tapan Sen

CPI: D. Raja, RSP: Abani Roy, Forward Bloc: Barun Mukherjee, Narahari Mahato

copy to: Shri P Chidambaram, Minister for Home Affairs, Government of India