Friday, September 15, 2006

Naxal rockets trigger Central alarm

Naxal rockets trigger Central alarm

NEW DELHI: A rattled Union government is suggesting strong counter-measures as the seizure of a big consignment of rockets from the Naxal heartland of Mahbubnagar in Telangana has exposed the claim that the extremists are on the run following strong police action in Andhra Pradesh.

Jolted out of its structured planning on the Naxal front, Union home ministry will soon summon top Andhra officials for a brainstorming session with Intelligence Bureau and CRPF on smuggling of rockets from Tamil Nadu.

Andhra and TN will be directed to embark on a "money trail" and "weapon trail" to unearth the source of money and the local units in TN where rockets are suspected of have been manufactured.

While only Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are in picture now, top officials say the intended end-user may determine the kind of security hazard it meant.

Rockets, sourced from Tamil Nadu and parked in a backward Andhra Pradesh pocket, point to a disconnect. Low levels of Naxal violence had emboldened the cops to claim that the rebels were on the run.

However, as a home ministry official pointed out, it is incongruous that there is an upgradation in weaponary when the Naxalites are apparently fighting with their back to the wall.

Shoulder-fired rockets have so far only occasionally been used, with Andhra and Chhattisgarh reporting four instances in the last two years.

It's not clear if the massive consignment was intended for Nallamalla forests, the den of Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh, or Dantewada in Chhattisgarh where the red army is calling the shots.

Andhra clearly better placed to fight Naxalites given that Greyhounds, its dedicated anti-Naxal force, has been able to put them on the defensive for now.

Centre's estimate of claims in Andhra Pradesh too disabuse the notion, which had triggered some backslapping, that extremism was on the wane.

It is felt that the fall in violence in Andhra Pradesh could not be the sole measure of falling Naxal presence but it depended on a "basket of indicators". Sources said while Naxals had been put on the backfoot, their earnings through extortions seem to have continued.


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