RAIPUR: An anonymous anti-Maoist propaganda campaign has broken out in Chhattisgarh. The last week has seen the appearance of posters and advertisements targeted against the rebels as well as those seen as sympathetic to them. Neither the posters nor the ads bear any mention of printer, publisher or sponsor.
Raipur: From now on, people can expect some relief from Chhattisgarh passport office long queues.
The passport office officials have said, from now on, only online applications would be accepted for tatkal and normal passports. The orders in this regard were passed by the passport office on Thursday.
Passport official Amarjinus Lakda said, online application would be accepted with immediate effect for urgent and routine passports.
The decision would surely help people as they could apply for passports from any corner of the state with a click of a mouse.
The chief of the army's central command surveyed Abhujmaadh forests from the air and then landed in Raipur to allay anxieties over a potential conflict escalation in the Maoist controlled forest in Chhattisgarh's Narayanpur district where the army plans to train its troops.
"We will exercise maximum restraint. This is our country, they are our people," said Lieutenant General Vijay Ahluwalia, emphasising that the army would be deployed solely for the purpose of training.
He said the training will be restricted to manoeuvres with no firing drills and that it would be gradually scaled up to the brigade level. A brigade had 3000 troopers.
"The time frame will be dictated by the consultations with the state government," he said, adding that Chhattisgarh government had offered 500 square kilometres to the army for jungle warfare training in 2007. "We are considering 2-3 locations. The area could be 20 x 25 kms or larger".
Later, he added that the process was being delayed since there were no revenue records for the land on offer. This indicates that the training range will be inside Abhujmaadh, and not on its edges, as was indicated earlier.
Abhujmaadh is an unsurveyed forest spread over 4000 square kilometres, with not a single police post, and barely any civil administration. It is believed to be controlled by Maoists, who have declared it a 'liberated area'.
The army's move to train its troops inside the Maoist stronghold has triggered speculation over whether this will eventually result in army deployment against the insurgents.
The leadership of CPI Maoist certaintly believes so. In a statement dated January 22, Maoist spokesperson Gudsa Usendi asked people to oppose the army's entry, warning of impending "civil war" in the area.
The army, too, has expressed concerns over the possibility of its troops coming under Maoist attack. "I do not think the Maoists will attack the army, but in case the contingency arises, we have asked the government what will be the legal safeguards available to us," said Lt Gen Ahluwalia.
On Monday, in a television interview, the army chief V K Singh stated even more clearly, "Lets say while training, they come into an ambush, my troops are going to fire back, that's what they are taught. If they fire back and drop people (dead), and some people are able to take their (dead Maoists) weapons away, which is what often happens, then big clamour takes place that army has killed innocents.."
Currently, the army operates in Kashmir and the North East under the cover of Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA). The controversial act, applicable after an area has been notified as 'disturbed area', gives the army immunity from criminal proceedings, that human rights activists allege has amounted to giving the army the impunity to kill.
The army chief said he did not want AFSPA for Maoist affected areas, yet he repeated in the TV interview, " If something happens, somebody should not drag my troops to the court saying they have committed murder.."
NAGPUR: Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh has for the first time admitted that the 'salva judum' (people's resistance) against the Naxalites is being abandoned in his state as it was proving to be counterproductive. "Innocent people were getting killed. Moreover the matter was dragged to courts, right up to the Supreme Court," he said while talking to TOI.
BJP MP and senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani spoke on the Binayak Sen case after his visit to Chhattisgarh. Speaking exclusively to CNN-IBN, he said that the prosecution is ill advised and unsustainable and that the motive is to see Binayak Sen damned. He said that he has not mortgaged his conscience to his party.
CNN-IBN: There was an advocate who has requested the court to intervene in the Binayak Sen case.
BILASPUR: Expressing shock at Chhattisgarh government's decision to quietly scrap an elephant reserve, environment minister Jairam Ramesh wrote to chief minister Raman Singh, requesting him to review the decision. Jairam reminded the CM that his government itself had asked for two elephant reserves in the state.
AJMER: A delegation of Muslim leaders from BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, led by the state's Haj committee chairman Saleem Raj, offered prayers at Ajmer dargah for Indresh Kumar, a senior RSS leader who is a suspect in 2007 terror attack on the dargah.
Saleem came to dargah with a delegation that included former chairman of Rajasthan waqf board Salawat Khan and offered a "chadar" at the mausoleum. Minutes after offering prayers, they told reporters that allegations against Kumar in the chargesheet were false and that the Khwaja's divine powers would expose this.
Bijapur, Jan 13: In a joint operation, the state police and the paramilitary forces busted a camp of Maoists in the Kutru region of Chhattisgarh's Bijapur District on Wednesday.
B P Rajbhanu, Additional Superintendent of Police, Bijapur said that the Maoists rebel ran away after a fierce gun battle with the security personnel for nearly 30 minutes.
"Police personnel had an encounter with the Maoists. It carried on for half an hour. But they managed to ran away. We then searched the area and recovered some item including arrows and bows," said Rajbhanu.
Raipur, Jan 12 In the second such incident within a fortnight, a herd of nine wild jumbos demolished 12 houses in a village in Surguja district, forcing 50 residents to flee in panic, officials said Wednesday.
'Wild elephants sneaked into Damali village Tuesday night and brought down 12 mud-built houses,' Ramchandra Barai, a local forest official, told IANS. He said about 50 villagers ran away around midnight despite the extreme cold to avoid being trampled.
The Chhattisgarh High Court on Friday fixed January 24 for the next hearing of the appeal filed by Binayak Sen and two others against the sessions court order on December 24 sentencing them to life term for sedition.
Admitting the appeal and the application for bail, the bench of Justice T P Sharma and Justice R L Jhanwar summoned the records of the sessions court on Friday. On the next hearing, both the defence and prosecution lawyers are expected to present their arguments for and against the appeal.