Tag Archives: Corruption

Jan Lokpal : The Beginning of an End

I agree I have my reservations about individuals being given credit of a group’s achievement. It’s like you boss being accredited for all the hard work you put in. You break your back all round the year for a meager hike and your manager goes for a all expenses paid trip to Pataya!

Anna Hazare

What exactly did Anna Hazare do get so much credit after all?  Is it all just because of the 98 hour fast of this 71-year old ex-army man?

For a layman like me:

  • He united both, the people who sit in boardrooms and crib about corruption and the people who hang on footboard of train everyday and crib about the same.
  • He made the statesmen wake up and realize that the same herd that they drive every five years can be driven by someone else.
  • He made things move so much for the first time in over 60 years on this account.

People from all walks of life came out on the streets to say that they had enough. It wasn’t just the educated and elite from the metros but people from smaller towns like Kochi, Patna, Nashik, Asansol, Ranchi as well who came out to register their protest against corruption. The protest spilled well over the borders and we saw Indians in USA also joining in with fasts and candle light vigils. New York City witnessed 300-400 NRIs and Indian expatriates converge on New York’s iconic Times Square at noon on April 9 in support of Hazare’s crusade, other groups held meetings in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. This wasn’t one of the forums of Arundhati Roys and Mahesh Bhatts of India who come out to cry their heart out in favor of naxalites. This is a movement of the common man and we saw the common man on the street.

The government which claims to be the government of the “Common Man” did a complete U-turn within a span of 10-12 hours. Starting from a no negotiation mode to issuing a Gazette, the government not only made it look like they were against masses, they also lost face on account of nominating members on the drafting committee. The instance of Sharad Pawar “quitting” the Group of Ministers (GoM) panel on corruption after reservations made by Anna Hazare and the failed counter-attack by Pawar’s party.

From Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s initial expression of “deep disappointment” when Hazare confirmed his decision to go on a fast from April 5 and called upon the nation to join in, to issue of the notification. What made this happen. Taking cue from the fast catching up public unrest, Law Minister Veerappa Moily made recommendations to the government.

For four days, the UPA government was adamant on not yielding to the demands for a new draft of the Lokpal Bill. The government’s perspective changed dramatically yesterday afternoon — after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh received a letter from Law Minister M Veerappa Moily.

Moily told the PM that Anna Hazare’s fast unto death was fast catching the imagination of the people, and favoured an immediate resolution of the issue, sources said.

Many senior government functionaries were against the idea of having an activist as either the chairman or co-chairman of the proposed joint committee to draft the new Bill. But Moily was learnt to have suggested that the government should agree to a former Chief Justice of India as chairman of the committee. Chairmanship of the committee, he was learnt to have argued, must not be turned into a prestige issue.

Source: IndianExpress

The support of people was key to the whole movement and surely made the government think. Now the government has issued an official Gazette and the Drafting committee formed to draft the Bill to be tabled in the Monsoon Session. The committee has been asked to submit the draft by June 30, 2011.

Here is the text of the Gazette issued by government:

The Joint Drafting Committee shall consist of five nominee ministers of the Government of India and five nominees of Shri Anna Hazare (including himself).

The five nominee Ministers of the Government of India are as under:

Pranab Mukherjee, Union Minister of Finance, P Chidambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs, M Veerappa Moily, Union Minister of Law and Justice, Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource and Development and Minister of Communication and Information Technology and Salman Khursheed, Union Minister of Water Resources and Minister of Minority Affairs.

The five nominees of Anna Hazare (including himself) are as under:

Anna Hazare, Justice N Santosh Hegde, Shanti Bhushan, Senior Advocate, Prashan Bhushan, Advocate and Arvind Kejriwal.

The Chairperson of the Joint Drafting Committee shall be Pranab Mukherjee.

The Co-Chairperson of the Joint Drafting Committee shall be Shanti Bhushan.

The Convenor of the Join Drafting Committee shall be M Veerappa Moily.

The Joint Drafting Committee shall commence its work forthwith and evolve its own procedure to prepare the proposed legislation.

The Joint Drafting Committee shall complete its work latest by 30th June, 2011.

Source: Hindu

The Gazette can be accessed here: lawmin.nic

Now what remains to be seen is how serious is the government about allowing the civil society have its say in the drafting of the bill and how serious is the government in actually executing a tough law. Going by the track record it has established in last few months in the way the case of Adarsh ScamA Raja and Suresh Kalmadi, people like me still have a reason to be skeptical. At the same time if the civil society which is the common people like me, keep the tempo up, I see no reason why this tough act can’t be instituted and acted upon.

The coming few weeks will decide how this war will end. Anna has already indicated that this is a long battle and people should be ready for it.

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The (Un)Common Misadventure?

CWG-Delhi-2010

Abraham Lincoln once said:

God must love the common man, he made so many of them.

It seems that God did not like the Indian common man as he made so many politicians and bureaucrats to make their life tough if not hell.

Amidst rising inflation, poverty and lack of basic amenities plaguing the common man, politicians are busy playing the game they play best: mudslinging.

The latest example is the (non-)issue about the CommonWealth Games (CWG). Two of the top-notch politicians of the ruling coalition are busy mudslinging at each other while the repute of the nation is at stake. The worst part is the truth that billions have already been spent, overshooting the initial budget and still things are chaotic. All this at the cost of hard earned money of the poor common man.

This speaks of amongst other the following failures:

Old time arch-rivals senior Congress leader, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Suresh Kalmadi, Congress leader and Chairman of the organizing committee of the CWG, are busy making accusations against each other while the preparations for the games are in a limbo. To give the matter an even more shameful flavor, the recent revelations by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) ranging from allegations like:

  • Award of works at higher rates – One of the accusations here are:

In the bid of L1, rates of some items and discount offered by the firm at the end of BOQ were tampered either by cutting or by overwriting in the price bid after opening in order to increase the quoted amount to avail the difference of Rs. 3,62,72,229/- between the next higher quoted amounts without changing the overall status.

  • Poor quality assurance – One among a list of eleven accusations CVC’s inspection note reveals :

Lot of deviations taken from the approved scheme of the Government without obtaining the approval of the competent authority. Specially poles of 12 meter length (Agreement rate of Rs. 28,358/-) and 10 meter length (Agreement rate of Rs. 28,974/-) have been deviated in such a manner which is beneficial to the agency with extra burden of about Rs. 1,13,32,464/-.

  • Award of work to ineligible agencies – CVC’s note states in one case:

Work finally had to be terminated which resulted into time and cost overrun

    Source: cvc.nic.in

    What is even more shocking and disturbing is the CVC revelation that the materials used in the construction failed “stress-test”. Basic safety norms are being openly flouted. Electricity installations remained to be tested for common checks like insulation test. With rains pouring and large crowd expected for the event, it is a dangerous proposition.

    As different parties peg the amount spent on the games at different levels, everyone agrees that it has zoomed way past the initial estimates and the whole proposition to organize the games is being questioned. A Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Government of India press release dated July 29, 2010 pegs the figures as below:

    • Expected Income as per the CWG Organizing Committee (OC)  – Rs. 1,708 crore
    • Expected Expenditure on condust of the games – Rs.2,394 crore (includes Overlays, Timing, Scoring, Result System and Games Time Sports Equipment)
    • Indian Olympic Association (IOA) estimate of expenditure (2003) – Rs.655 crore
    • Current estimates – Rs.11,494 crore (apart from expenditure of Sports Infrastructure and Conduct of the Games, also expenditure on Security, Broadcasting, Telecommunication, Training of Sportspersons, allocation to Government of Delhi etc.)

    Some sources peg the amount at Rs. 35, 000 crores (close to USD 8, 000 millions, Indian per capita GDP– USD 3, 100).  Mani Shankar Aiyar also alleged that India had bribed the various nations to take the game.

    “To take the Games, the Olympic association of every Commonwealth country was given $1 lakh ($100,000); it was given to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Britain. Those countries did not need this money,” he said. “I would call it a bribe, I don’t know what it is called from the legal point of view.”

    Source: EconomicTimes.IndiaTimes.com

    Aiyar openly declared that he would be happy if the “Games are spoilt”. Organizing such games and events are a good way to showcase the growth and cultural diversity of a nation to attract investment and tourism but the way this event is being managed, it will raise more doubts about Indian acumen and competence rather than creating a positive impact.

    “I am very happy with the rains, firstly because it will ensure a good agriculture for the country and secondly because it will ensure that the Commonwealth Games are spoilt,” Aiyar said candidly.

    Source: EconomicTimes.IndiaTimes.com

    As of now the CWG seems to have become a White Elephant which no one is ready to own. Games OC Chairman, Kalmadi has already wiped-off his hand from allegations of corruption.

    As the countdown clock on the games official page happily ticks away to the D-day, organizers are feeling the heat. CVC as well as the opposition parties and now even constituents of the ruling coalition are raising doubts on the successful conduct of the games. Delhi Finance Minister and a member of the Delhi government Commonwealth Coordination Committee, AK Walia has also gone on records, stating that he was not sure if all stadiums would be ready by the August 15 deadline for the Games.

    Come October 15, 2010, the day the games begin: the world is watching.

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    Asian Politicians you will hear of soon

    Varun Gandhi - BJP Secretary

    Politicians and Politics in some way or the other, touch each one of our lives daily.  We can love or hate them but we cannot ignore them. The Diplomat, an international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region recently brought out a series of publications on politicians to watch out for.

    The Indian fire band leader and Secretary of India’s main opposition party The Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP), Mr. Varun Gandhi featured as one of the leaders to watch out for. Already making headlines due to his comments on various issues and being accused of professing a politics of “hate“, Varun is being seen as one of the leading figures in the BJP’s youth stable.

    Other politicians figuring on the list are:

    The Diplomat states:

    In 2009, 29-year-old Varun Gandhi was elected to parliament by the biggest margin (nearly 400,000 votes) of any other new member of his party—main opposition group the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The emphatic win quickly marked him out as one to watch on the Indian political scene.
    Despite being a member of India’s foremost political family, Varun—cousin to fellow ‘new generation’ politician Rahul Gandhi and the grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi—broke the mould by joining the BJP in 2004, instead of the Indian National Congress, with which his family has traditionally been aligned. He has stated that the BJP’s recent values better reflect his and the original ones held by the Congress on issues such as nationalism, for which he is a strong proponent.
    Often portrayed as more direct and confrontational than his cousin Rahul, Varun Gandhi has emerged as the hero of the ‘Hindutva’ forces, or those seeking to ensure that Hindus in India get the same status as presently enjoyed by Muslims in Pakistan. The cousins may well end up competing head-on with each other at some point in the future as they try to persuade the Indian electorate to choose between their societal visions.

    In 2009, 29-year-old Varun Gandhi was elected to parliament by the biggest margin (nearly 400,000 votes) of any other new member of his party—main opposition group the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The emphatic win quickly marked him out as one to watch on the Indian political scene.Despite being a member of India’s foremost political family, Varun—cousin to fellow ‘new generation’ politician Rahul Gandhi and the grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi—broke the mould by joining the BJP in 2004, instead of the Indian National Congress, with which his family has traditionally been aligned. He has stated that the BJP’s recent values better reflect his and the original ones held by the Congress on issues such as nationalism, for which he is a strong proponent.Often portrayed as more direct and confrontational than his cousin Rahul, Varun Gandhi has emerged as the hero of the ‘Hindutva’ forces, or those seeking to ensure that Hindus in India get the same status as presently enjoyed by Muslims in Pakistan. The cousins may well end up competing head-on with each other at some point in the future as they try to persuade the Indian electorate to choose between their societal visions.

    Source: the-diplomat.com

    Indian the largest democracy of the world faces deep rooted issues ranging from Corruption to Crime, from Poverty to Population. While this new breed of politicians surely are looked upon as hope for a new India, the politics of family itself raises concerns about the agenda that they may profess.

    Hopefully while following Nationalism, Varun will put “Nation” first.

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    Pakistan: President Zardari hands over nukes control to PM Gilani

     

    Zardari leads Pakistan; 45 people killed in Taliban-plagued north-west frontier

    Pakistan

    Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari transferred control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. He also revealed his intentions to strip the office of President of more powers by year-end. Zardari also gave up the powers of the Chairman of the National Command Authority which controls the country’s nukes and transferred them to the Prime Minister late Friday night.

    While the presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar described the move as a “giant leap forward to empower the elected Parliament and the Prime Minister” the fact that the amnesty granted to Zardari came to an end on Saturday, may be a crucial fact to have triggered the move. Several corruption and criminal cases pending against President Asif Ali Zardari are likely to be reopened after a controversial amnesty agreement expired on Nov. 28.

    The amnesty was granted as part of the National Reconciliation Ordinance introduced in December 2007 as part of a deal between then-President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and President Zardari’s, wife, ex-PM, Benazir Bhutto who was later slain by a suicide bomber. The ordinance allowed Mrs. Bhutto and Mr. Zardari to return to Pakistan and not face charges that had been pending against the duo. The amnesty also allowed to some key ministers in the current government who faced corruption and other charges of their own.

    The ex-President, Pervez Musharraf was responsible for creating the National Command Authority and passing the 17th Constitutional Amendment to give himself sweeping powers. The ammendment allowed the President to dismiss the PM and dissolve Parliament at his will. The ammendment is also expected to be done away with in December.

    The move also comes after a ruling by Pakistan’s Supreme Court in July of this year which required the government to get several ordinances issued by Musharraf endorsed by Parliament by November 28. After the government failed to do so due to pressure from political parties, Zardari re-promulgated 27 ordinances in total.

    Now that the amnesty cover is out of place, several key ministers including President Zardari may face the heat. PM Gilani has already hinted that he may sack the ministers facing charges. Mr. Zardari was the minister for investment in his wife’s government during 1993-96. He has already spent almost eight years in prison facing trial on several corruption and three murder charges before being freed in 2004 by a court on bail. He also faced trial on a money-laundering charge by a Swiss court that was withdrawn at the request of the Pakistani government days before his election as the country’s president.

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    Transparency International releases Corruption Perceptions Index 2009

    CPI-2009

    Corruption Perceptions Index-2009

    Transparency International (TI), a Berlin based organization, which is a civil society organization and claims to be leading the fight against corruption, has released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for the year 2009.

    Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.

    The organization releases this list every year which ranks nations on an index which is created as a function of various parameters to scale the level of corruption in a country. It measures the perceived level of public-sector corruption in 180 nations and territories around the world. As TI defines it: The CPI is a “survey of surveys“, based on 13 different expert and business surveys. Each nation undergoes a different number of surveys to get a final score. The scores are on a scale of 0-10 where 0 is perceived very corrupt and 10 as very clean. The score is based on perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts.

    This year, Somalia (1.1) tops the list of most corrupt nations with Afghanistan (1.3) being a close second. Iraq is at 5th spot with a score of 1.5.

    As TI’s Head, Huguette Labelle put it, the 2009 corruption list is “of great concern,” since most of the nations have a score of under 5. Out of 180 nations featuring in the survey only 48 have a score of above 5. Most of the nations that ranked high on corruption include some of the most poor and war torn nations.

    The international community must find efficient ways to help war-torn countries to develop and sustain their own institutions,” said TI’s head Huguette Labelle.

    Afghanistan slid from a score of 1.5 in 2008 to 1.3 this year, which is bound to fuel the attack on President Hamid Karzai whose election and re-election was clouded with allegation of rampant fraud. Earlier on this Monday the Afghan government announced steps that included forming a major crime unit to tackle corruption. This moved has been seen as a move designed to assuage Western concerns about Karzai.

    Among the group of 7 most rich nations Italy’s ranking took a beating with it sliding to 63rd position from last year’s 55th spot. Some of the nations which made marked improvement are Liberia (97th from 138 last year) and Gambia (106th from earlier 158th). The United States of America while improving its score from 7.3 to 7.5, slid one spot on the rank to 19th. China has a stable score of 3.6 but slid seven places on the ranks to 79th. Brazil (3.7) shared the 75th spot with Columbia, Peru and Surinam while another BRIC nation, Russia (2.2) was ranked very low at 146th. India (3.4) ranked at a joint 84th spot with four other nations including Thailand.

    The top-5 nations on the list are: New Zealand (9.4), Denmark (9.3), Singapore (9.2), Sweden (9.2) and Switzerland (9.0). Canada (8.7)is ranked at a joint 8th with Australia and Iceland.

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    India: Former Jharkhand CM in IT net on corruption charges

    Madhu Koda Speech

    Ex-Jharkhand CM, Madhu Koda

    In a shameful revelation made by the Income Tax (IT) Department and Enforcement Directorate (ED) the former Jharkhand Chief Minister, Madhu Koda has been charged of money laundering and disproportionate income. The total sum involved in the whole financial fiasco is said to be upwards to INR 4000 crores. Koda was supported in running the “business” by his old friends and associates.

    The IT department is interrogating four other co-accused in the case, including Basant Bhattacharya, R P Singh, B B Singh and Bhim Singh, all close aides of Koda and his associates, while his old time “buddies” Binod Sinha and Sanjay Choudhary are absconding.

    The tale of Koda who was a daily wage earner before coming to politics and rising to the post of Chief Minister where he created this 4000 crore empire in a period of three years is a fascinating tale in itself.

    An unlikely threesome has spawned one of India’s biggest political scams – a window grille-fixer-turned-CM and his two buddies, one who started off selling milk door-to-door and the other selling chewing tobacco.

    If you divide the money allegedly made by Jharkhand leader Madhu Koda (39) and his two buddies, Binod Sinha (39) and Sanjay Choudhary (41) by the number of days Koda was in office as chief minister and as minister of mines in the BJP-led Arjun Munda government, it comes to a jaw-dropping Rs 3.6 crore a day. And this isn’t a figure being trotted out by Koda’s rivals. This is the official estimate of probe agencies on the basis of the riches they have been able to uncover so far to draw the contours of a massive political scam.

    The IT department which had information about the group’s investments in iron and coal mining, steel, tourism and hotel business is now receiving anonymous emails detailing the group’s investment even in uranium and gold.

    A senior I-T officer, who has been screening the emails for the last couple of days, revealed that the number of mails has already touched touched the 200 mark.

    The department received around 120 emails on Saturday alone. We have been provided vital information about the investments made and the source of money from the emails,” said the officer.

    Working on such leads the IT department conducted raids on the premises of  Balaji group in the well-known Zaveri Bazaar area, famous for bullion trade. In fact the business of the group was so discrete that the traders even in the same area has no idea about the other office of the group in posh Nariman Point area.

    The group, set up in 1993 as a small bullion trading business, now has 10 companies in Mumbai, Noida in Uttar Pradesh, Surat in Gujarat and Dubai with a total turnover of Rs 1,000 crore. It began diversifying from 2006-2007 into realty, gold, diamond, jewellery and precious metals.

    Balaji Group is also into ship management and manning. The shipping branch of the firm owns two dry cargo vessels. It also has a foreign exchange division.

    Officials are also examining the involvement of other group companies, who they suspect were floated in 2007 with prime objective of money laundering. The other companies under the scanner include Balaji Bullions and Commodities (India) Private Ltd and Balaji Universal Trade Link Private Ltd. The IT department claimed that the group’s Rs 1,500-crore transaction was made since the two companies were incorporated.

    One of the most shameful facets of the tale is that the state which has some of the best mines of Coal, Iron-ore, Copper, Graphite, Gold, Silver, Uranium, Asbestos, Mica, Bauxite, Manganese, Fire clay, among others has one of the lowest literacy and income levels in the nation. The state was created after dividing the erstwhile state of Bihar and has a predominantly tribal population. The state has some of the largest Indian operations of the iron and steel production like the Bokaro Steel Plant at Bokaro Steel City (operated by SAIL) and the Tata Steel.

    J'khand Mineral Map

    Jharkhand Mineral Map

    The tales of a staggering sum of money, equal to nearly half the unfortunate State’s annual budget, being stashed away in instruments ranging from residential property in Delhi and Kolkata to mines in Liberia and two star hotels in Thailand, are the stuff of legends. If even remotely true, Koda should have a venerated place alongside the early ‘Nabobs’ of the East India Company. In time, once the irritating legal complications are out of the way — as they inevitably will because the law in India is never unduly harsh — Koda will have all the qualifications to become India’s first National Professor of Political Entrepreneurship.

    If the five currency counting machines recovered from his residence are any indication they indicate the volume of “monetary traffic” on this nexus highway which was routed to buy the three hotels in Thailand, mines in Liberia, companies in Dubai, and much else in Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia to name a few.

    Within days of taking office as CM in September 2006, Koda renegotiated and signed mining MoUs worth Rs 1,98, 362 crore (or nearly two lakh crore rupees!) with as many as 44 firms. Soon, his associates were buying up real estate and property in Jharkhand, Delhi and abroad, transferring hundreds of crores overseas by hawala, spawning as many as 25 companies in less than two years to give a new meaning to “India Shining!” and create an empire that could match some of India’s biggest business houses.

    With the state elections approaching fast the parties who propelled his rise to the post of CM are now brushing of allegiance to the person they once supported. When Koda was appointed CM, he was an independent MLA. Political observers noted that the support of Koda was just a political game to keep the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) out of power by the Congress Party which was the leading partner of the ruling coalition at center.

    As the head of a coalition Government that had been put in place to keep the BJP out of power, Koda took full advantage of the political cover provided by an indulgent UPA Government. Ranchi was constantly abuzz with small talk of the very effective ‘single-window’ clearance system Koda had initiated for anything to do with the State Government, but particularly mining-related matters. The bush telegraph invariably communicated tales of a Caligula-like dispensation in Ranchi but the custodians of national morality wilfully chose to look the other way, as they did during the 2G telecom scam.

    One of Koda’s accomplice’s Binod Sinha is also a party to a Tractor Scam worth INR 3-crore.

    Koda meanwhile got himself admitted to the Apollo Hospital on Tuesday, after complaining about high blood pressure, stomach ache and nausea, has been advised to stay in hospital for some more days.

    The IT and ED officials are meanwhile ready to arrest Koda as soon as he is discharged from the hospital.

    “We have managed to extract vital information from the four and are confident that this evidence will help to nail Koda and his associates in a court of law,” said a source.

    As the state assembly elections are nearing much mud-slinging and more skeletons are expected to tumble out of the cupboards.

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    Naxalite terrorists hold India to ransom

     

    Rajdhani Express

    The concerns raised by various reports earlier seemed to have not made any impact on the authorities in India who still talk about going soft on the Maoist terrorists (Naxalites) in India. The “Red-Corridor” as it is (in)famously known, stretches over multiple states in India. These terrorists who call themselves the voice of the poor and oppressed have been on an overdrive in the past few months killing hundreds of civilians and security personnel. In the latest incident they hijacked a passenger train thereby holding the whole nation to ransom. The train in question is arguably the most coveted train in India, the Rajdhani Express.

    The train – one of India’s fastest, swankiest passenger trains – had been hijacked by at least 300 ax- and sword-wielding Maoist rebels Tuesday morning as it sped through West Bengal on its way from the eastern state of Orissa toward the Indian capital. After a five-hour drama, during which the driver was taken hostage and passengers were forced off the train and into the jungle, the rebels surrendered. No one was hurt.

    Booker Prize Winner- Arundhati Roy has been a vocal supporter of the Naxals

    Booker Awardee-Arundhati Roy has been vocal about the Naxal "cause"

    While people are regularly killed and looted by these criminals, the most shocking element of the whole episode is the clout and sympathy they find in political and so-called “intellectual” groups. While the spate of violence and crime goes unabated after a lot of dilly-dally the central government recently gave a go ahead to carry out operations against the Naxalites. Though the level of commitment from the various political parties still seems varied and casts doubts on the intentions.

    In the recent Rajdhani express incident the police FIR lodged tells a story in itself.

    In what is being seen as a move to shield the Maoists, there is no mention of the Maoists or even the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA)in the FIR that was lodged against the hijackers of the Rajdhani Express by the Railway authorities, in the Rajdhani hostage case.

    Questions are now being raised over why Mamata Banerjee’s railways ministry has not mentioned the PCPA or the Maoists’ in the FIR.

    This new information comes to light despite the Maoists and the PCPA claiming responsibility for the hijack of the Rajdhani.

    While the political parties exchange allegations over support to naxalities, security of the hapless passengers remains at stake. Everyday millions of Indians commute on the rail network.

    Although some known faces of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities, including Santosh Patra, were among the crowd, a railway official was quoted by sources saying “Who will identify them? We do not know any of them?”

    Though later on Thursday evening the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), in what seemed to be a “damage-control” exercise filed a FIR naming naxals as the perperators.

    “When the police forces were heading towards the train on October 27 they were fired upon by the People’s Committee Against Political Atrocities(PCPA) and Maoists. An FIR has been lodged against them for attacking the police and attempting to prevent them from doing their lawful duty,” a senior police officer told PTI.

    Naxalite Training

    In an earlier revelation many national newspapers carried the news of the amount of fund and source of funds that these Naxalities have in their kitty. The sources peg the value of the “business” at INR 1,500- crores which is raised mainly through mafia style extortions especially from the corporates operating mines and related industries in the naxal belt.

    Naxalism, which started off as a people’s movement, has now become a nearly Rs 1500 crore organised extortion business in the form of ‘levy’, police and central security officials said.

    CPI (Maoist) and especially its splinter groups, which extort the money hardly pump it back for running the movement but instead use it to maintain luxurious lifestyles for their masters, the officials said.

    "Red-Corridor"

    The report also exposed the way these militants are raising funds from the hapless industrialist in these areas. This has in many cases also led industries to shut down operations after some of the employees were abducted or killed. The area is widely under developed and poor people get lured to join the “movement” with hope of getting “social justice” and as reports indicate “wages” for being part of the gang.

    If a conservative estimate is taken of the income generated from ‘levy’ in the seven most Naxal-infested states — Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal and Maharashtra — security agencies feel the collection from these areas, which are commonly referred to as ‘red corridor‘, amount to nearly Rs 1,500 crore.

    The Naxals have even come out with a card, recovered by forces, which clearly shows the exact amount of ‘levy‘ to be paid by contractors, petrol pump owners and land owners.

    It usually ranges from 10 per cent of the project cost for those making unpaved roads to five per cent for small bridges and others.

    Such militants are also encouraging production of narcotics to fund their groups. While they lead a lavish life from the funds they are forcing common people to death traps.

    The chiefs lead a luxurious life with all modern facilities. Though, they forcibly recruit children in their cadre, their own kids study in good public schools,” officials said.

    The Naxals also encourage local villagers to undertake opium cultivation, just like insurgents in Northeast states.

    Of the total 1.07 lakh kg of ganja or marijuana seized in the country in 2007, heavy quantity of it was from Nagaland (15,489 kg), Madhya Pradesh (14,815 kg), Maharashtra (12,551 kg), Chhattisgarh (7,470 kg) and Andhra Pradesh (7,059 kg).

    The naxalities have also been targeting banks to fund their luxuries.

    After the recent theft of Rs 5 crore from a bank in Jharkhand, the state police are all set to work out a strategy to prevent Naxals from targeting banks in several parts of the state.

    Sources in the police said the theft in Jharkhand was a part of Communist Party of India (Maoists)’s decision to target bank money. “In November 2007, the central committee of the CPI(M) had asked its members to ensure that substantial percentage of tax was collected from banks. The top leadership of the party is of the view that levy should not come only from old sources like Gram Pradhans and contractors in the Naxal-affected areas,” a source said. Naxals who operate at the ground level have been told to target banks in Uttar Pradesh too, he added.

    In a report published by the BBC the level of sophistication and organization of these terrorists is clearly visible. The details were revealed when BBC landed up with a copy of the “preliminary interrogation report” of Narla Ravi Sharma, a senior Naxalite leader who was arrested a fortnight ago by the security forces.

    He is quoted as saying that the annual expenditure incurred by the Maoists in the Bihar-Jharkhand region is around $200,000.

    The Maoist leader said that all their members were paid monthly “wages”, though he refused to divulge how much.

    Mr Sharma was arrested in mid-October along with his wife, Anuradha, from the forests near Hazaribagh town in Jharkhand.

    His revelations about corporate funding of Maoists has prompted police and intelligence officials to suggest that the massive military effort planned against the rebels will not yield the desired results unless their “finance line” is choked.

    This is not the first time Indian firms doing business in rebel-dominated areas have been accused of funding the rebels.

    In the 1980s and 1990s big tea and oil companies were accused of regularly giving funds to the separatist United Liberation Front of Assam and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland in the north-east.

    Corporates generally pay up to avoid disruption or abductions – and business leaders say that the government should not punish them unless they can provide security to companies operating in Maoist-affected areas.

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