Friday, October 27, 2006

Chhattisgarh Maoists have rockets, launchers

Chhattisgarh Maoists have rockets, launchers

Officials say Maoists have arms storage facilities that are as good as those of the police


Raipur: Maoists in Chhattisgarh have dozens of rockets and launchers capable of shooting down aircraft flying 200 feet above ground level, senior officials in the state home ministry said on Thursday.

"We don't know whether the recent large supply of rockets via Andhra Pradesh reached Maoist militants in Chhattisgarh or not. But it is sure that since 2001 they have dozens of rockets and launchers in their thick forest hideouts in Bastar that border Andhra Pradesh," said a well-placed official.

In one of the biggest arms haul in recent years, police in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh seized at least 600 rockets and a dozen launchers early in September during a raid in the Maoist-stronghold of Mahbubnagar district.

"We do not have confirmed information on whether the rockets seized in Andhra Pradesh were meant for the cadres in Chhattisgarh or whether they managed to get some supply from them. What is certain is that they already have rockets that can hit aircraft up to 200 feet above the ground," he said on condition of anonymity.

Intelligence reports suggest that Maoists managed to get supply of some rockets and launchers in early 2001 from outside the state.

In 2005, Chhattisgarh police seized seven rocket launchers and four mortars and 47 hand grenades in 2005 from the Bastar forest belt.

However, in 2006, till September, just 11 hand grenades have been recovered, but not a single mortar or rocket launcher.

"The Maoists have arms storage facilities that are as good as the police. That's why police hardly manage to seize their terror weapons," the official said.

Police have also had less success in 2006 in apprehending senior cadres of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) as just 41 leaders were detained this year compared to 178 last year.

Moreover, only 168 Maoists affiliated with various frontal bodies of the CPI-Maoist have been arrested this year as against 395 in 2005.

In contrast, Chhattisgarh, the worst affected among 13 Indian states, suffered heavy casualties in 2006 with rebels killing 374 people, including 298 civilians and 34 policemen, till September 2006. This is a sharp rise from the 206 deaths last year, officials said.

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