Series of Maoist attacks in Bastar: A loud message for Raman Singh?

Lalit Shastri

bastar divisionChhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh was to land by helicopter to launch the ambitious State-wide Lok Suraj Abhiyan (People’s good governance campaign) from Bastar on April 13. The State Government had announced that the chief minister will make efforts to ensure immediate redressal of public grievances. He was supposed to conduct sudden inspection of any government school, hospital, hostel, or tehsil office check their functioning.

Later on April 13, the chief minister’s programme as revised and it  was announced that he would launch the Lok Suraj Abhiyan from Sarguja or Bastar th next day. On April 14, Singh formally landed at Chotedonger in Naraynpur district of Bastar formally start the Lok Suraaj Abhiyan.

Raman Singh Lok Suraj Abhiyan
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh launched Lok Suraj Abhiyan from Chhotedonger in Narayanpur disrict of Bastar division on April 14, 2015. This coincided with the birth anniversary of Baba Sahab Dr. Bheemrao Ambedkar

By April 11, Saturday, when senior state officials had done a review of the preparations for the Lok Suraaj Abhiyan and the in-charge Secretaries were busy visiting their respective districts and RP Jain, the Bastar Division Commissioner had rounded up a crucial meeting of all concerned officials at the collectorate conference hall at Jagdalpur – the district headquarters of Collectorate in Jagdalpur and had instructed them to be prepared on war footing for the chief minister’s Bastar visit, the Maoists attacked and killed seven and wounded at least ten security personnel belonging to the highly motivated team of Special Task Force (STF) in Sukma district of Bastar division.

The next day, the Maoists killed a Border Security Force jawan in Kanker district of Bastar division and torched over a dozen vehicles carying iron ore. On Monday, there was another terrorist attack – the third in as many days. This time the Maoists blew up a mine sweeping vehicle killing five security personnel in Dantewada district of Bastar.

The Maoists have given a clear message to the chief minister that he should keep away from the border areas of  Bastar.- D.M. Mitra, IPS, National Crime Records Bureau

These attacks were obviously timed to block the launch of the Lok Suraj Abhiyan by the Chief Minister in Bastar. When contacted, D.M. Mitra, a senior police officer and author of “Genesis and Spread of Maoist Violence and Appropriate State Strategy to Handle it” said that through the series of attacks in Chhattisgarh this past week, the Maoists have given a clear message to the chief minister that he should keep away from the border areas of  Bastar.

The Maoists who are deeply entrenched in the Bastar forests apparently chose not to launch a frontal attack this time as the naxalite terrorists belonging to the Communist Party of India (Maoists) had done in May 2013 when they attacked a convoy of Congress leaders in the Darbha Valley in the Sukma district and killed at least 27, including former state minister Mahendra Karma, Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and veteran Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla. It is also possible that the Maoists are currently following the strategy to consolidate, spread their network and enlarge their area of influence by attacking only the security forces and not the district officials or the VIP’s – a pattern adopted by the naxalites since the beginning. The 2013 attack on the Congress convoy could be an exception.

On a close examination of the Maoist or the naxalite attack on STF personel in Sukma district it has come to light that the security forces this time did not become easy targets for the terrorists. As part of their domination exercise, they were not moving on the motorable tracks, that easily get blown up by mines and when attacked, they too retaliated and there is information that in the exchange fo fire some naxalites were also killed. The motivation and valour on the part of the STF personnel notwithstanding, what is disturbing is that there was hardly any coordination between the district police force and the security personnel engaged in the anti-naxalite (Maoist) operations. If this had not been the case, a contingency backup mechanism would have been in place to counter the Maoists without loss of time.

Iraq remains a dangerous place, US taking full precautions for American people and facilities

Newsroom24x7 Desk

Iraq-ErbilWashington DC: A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was detonated directly outside an entry point on the perimeter of the U.S. consulate in Erbil in Iraq on Friday at 10:44 a.m. Eastern time when the duck and cover protocol was activated at the U.S. consulate.

Briefing media persons on this incident Marie Harf, Acting Spokesperson, US department of State said here that all chief of mission personnel have been accounted for. There are no reports of injuries to chief of mission personnel or to the local guards.

Host nation fire assets responded to extinguish the fire, Ms. Harf said adding local authorities have also responded and were securing the area. Appreciating the ‘rapid response of the Kurdistan Regional Government authorities to this matter’, she said the US will work with them to investigate the incident to determine the facts behind the explosion.

Ms. Harf emphasised that there’s already a high level of security at the consulate, at the US embassy in Baghdad and said the latest explosion in Iraq is something that the US would take as very serious.

I think that Iraq remains a dangerous place – many parts of it do. So I’m not going to get into specifics, but we know that the security environment there is quite a challenging one and obviously take a number of security precautions when it comes to our people and our facilities. – Marie Harf, Acting Spokesperson, US Department of State

On Chinese journalist Gao Yu

Ms. Harf also stated that the United States is deeply concerned that Chinese journalist Gao Yu has been convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison after a closed trial on charges of leaking state secrets to a foreign news outlet. The conviction of this veteran journalist, she pointed out, is part of a disturbing pattern of government action against public interest lawyers, internet activists, journalists, religious leaders, and others who peacefully question official Chinese policies and actions. We call on the Chinese authorities to release Ms. Gao immediately and to respect China’s international human rights commitments.

Syria

On Syrian President Assad’s denial of the Human Rights Watch reports about his use of chemical weapons in some cities in Syria lately, the US spokesperson said: These…latest denials of his are really not credible, sort of bordered on delusion. We have a lot of evidence about what’s happening here, not just in this most recent attack, but certainly before that. Ms. Harf went on to emphasise that the US is looking very closely, particularly into the latest one and considering next steps. There’s an investigation ongoing.

When asked about the allegations about the use of ammonium chloride, which is available on the open market everyone, Ms.Harf said Chlorine could be used, in a variety of ways. It can be used as a chemical weapon. In the past, she said, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has determined that this was delivered from helicopters. It has also been stated the past that only the Syrian military possesses the capability to use helicopters in such attacks.

Ms. Harf went on to assert that it’s the Assad regime that bears the overwhelming responsibility for the humanitarian disaster in Syria and in the region, and Assad often presents this false choice between his regime and terrorist groups like ISIL. And that’s certainly not how the US sees it. She refused to give credence to his comments – pointing to ‘his actions over the last many, many months’.