CHENNAI: Two colleges in Madurai have come under the scanner of intelligence agencies as it has come to light that the CPI (Maoist) carried out a massive recruitment drive there over the past two years.
Police were jolted awake when the probe into the shoot-out in Vadakaunji forests near Kodaikanal in April 2008 revealed that three of the eight who escaped were college students. A wanted extremist—Navin alias Prasad of Naickankottai in Dharmapuri district—was killed in that encounter. During further investigation, it was found that one of those absconding, Kathir, a student of a government college in Madurai, had not been attending classes since January 2008. The other two—Senthil and Meenakshi—are students of an aided college in the southern city.
All three come from a very poor background, which made them vulnerable to extremist thinking. Their parents had no idea about their activities. “They believed their wards were working for some voluntary organisations,” said a senior police official.
The Maoists had influenced scores of other students too. However, only three of them, after several layers of filtering, graduated to the level of undergoing weapons training. The official added, “Their base is quite big. We have identified more than 100 people, including many students, who were in the Maoist loop in Madurai region alone. This is the first case in which we have been able to establish direct links between Left extremists in the state and the CPI (Maoist) central committee. Mallaji Rao, a member of the central committee, who was arrested in Kerala recently, had visited Tamil Nadu camps too. So far, we had only suspicions about such links.”
Tamil Nadu is not yet on the red corridor map. Though there have been intermittent efforts by extremists to regroup with a view to creating compact revolutionary zones within the state—Uthankarai in Dharmapuri district in 2002, Murugamalai near Periyakulam in Theni district in July 2007 and Varshanadu in Theni district in December 2007—they were put down with an iron hand by the state police.
Still, the state is far from being a territory where Left extremism has failed. The Madurai module has come as a bolt from the blue for police. “Extremists have targeted Madurai for two reasons: It is an urban area where their activities will go unnoticed and more importantly, it has forests within reachable distance for organising arms training,” said an intelligence official.
This article has one thing wrong LDO's stand for Legal Democratic Organisations
and not local democratic organisations.
Edu institutions to be sensitised on Maoists
CHENNAI : The state home department has cautioned the school and college education departments on suspected Maoist activities in educational
institutions across Tamil Nadu.
Home secretary S Malathi told TOI, “We have already alerted the school and college education departments. We will follow it up with more sensitisation programmes. Schools and colleges will have to keep a tab on students who stay back after class hours and those who do not attend classes for long. Authorities will also have to maintain contacts with the parents and inform them about their wards’ behaviour.”
In view of several students coming under the influence of Maoists, state police are also working on an advisory to be circulated in all educational institutions.
There have been recent instances of Left extremists trying their luck in schools too. On November 21, four cadres of the Revolutionary Students’ Youth Front (RSYF) assaulted Thirunavukkarasu, headmaster of the government higher secondary school at Thittachery in Nagapattinam district, when he refused them permission to enlist students in their movement. They were later arrested and remanded.
Making the task of the monitoring agencies difficult, Left extremists in Tamil Nadu have floated close to 50 local democratic organisations (LDOs) in Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Coimbatore, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts. As these LDOs are independent entities, there is little coordination among them. Only the hard-core elements in these groups maintain contacts with the area and state-level committees of the CPI (Maoist). It is estimated that Tamil Nadu has roughly a dozen hard-core Maoists, who are still at large. “As of now, we do not have concrete evidence to link any of these front organisations with subversive activities and hence cannot ban them,” said a senior police official.
Tamil Nadu police have instituted Naxalite special divisions (NSDs) under the supervision of superintendents of police in Maoist-infested districts. In consultation with the Q branch of the state police, the government has also carried out socio-economic development programmes worth Rs 14 crore in Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts. The scheme is expected to be extended to other sensitive districts next year.
Also, police will take up the task of training forest personnel in intelligence gathering with special focus on CPI (Maoist) and its front organisations. Forest personnel form a vital link in the fight against Maoists because all over India, extremists have been using forests to consolidate their force.
The director general of police had a meeting with the principal chief conservator of forests two months ago to discuss the modalities of the training programme for forest personnel. The training is expected to start next month.