SPECIAL REPORT Issue-01 July to September 2010 Index Page
Full version of the report

Mining and arming of the Maoists



The rights activists have been opposing extractive industries including the mining companies for violations of the rights of the people, especially the Adivasis, and destruction of the environment. As the Department of Mines prepares the Draft Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2010 the Ministry of Coal has been at loggerheads with the Ministry of Environment and Forests(MoEF) over the issue of “no go area”. The map released by the MoEF showed 35 percent of the area in nine coalfields in six States, including Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, as “no go areas”. These areas are mostly dense forests where mining is unviable because of the environmental damage it would cause. The remaining 65 percent of the coalfields are in forests that can be mined, but only if environmental and forest clearances are obtained. [1]

However, the hard fact that mining companies have been contributing to the arming of the armed opposition groups, mainly the Maoists, has been completely ignored.  India must be ready to pay the price for allowing open arms bazaar that is facilitated by the mining industry.

The context of the Maoists threat

The government of India had turned its blind eye to illegal mining. It could afford to do so until 2004 when the various Maoists groups were engaged in internal fighting over turfs, territories and ideologies.

As the Ministry of Home Affairs, in its 2003-2004 Annual Report stated “The Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and the Revolutionary Communist Centre of India- Maoist (RCCI-M) have merged into a single entity christened as the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCC-I). Pertinently, the two predominant Indian naxalite outfits, the CPI-ML-People’s War (PW) and the erstwhile MCC, have been engaged in a dialogue aimed at merger of the two outfits since the beginning of the year 2002.”

The unity efforts started following the first conference of the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia in 2001. In 2003, the Revolutionary Communist Centre of India (Maoist) merged with the Maoist Communist Centre of India. In 2004, the MCCI and CPI (M-L) (PW) merged to became the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

By 2005, Chhattisgarh became the theater of the Maoists conflict; and currently 83 districts in 9 Naxal affected States have been included under Security Related Expenditure Scheme of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues repeatedly described the Maoists as the biggest internal security threat. The number of deaths tells the intensity of the conflict: in 2002, according to the Annual Report of the MHA, there were 482 deaths in Naxalite insurgency, while in 2009 there were 908 deaths.

The question is where the Maoists get arms from?

Illegal mining and open arms bazaars

Mr B.K.Handique, Union Minister of Mines informed the Parliament on 8 March 2010 that the state governments detected 1,61,040 cases of illegal mining in 17 States of mainland India during 2006 to 2009. These include 36,677 cases in 2006, 39,925 cases in 2007, 42,860 in 2008 and 41,576 in 2009. [2] These cases appear to be a fraction of the illegal mining in the country. The state-wise and year-wise cases of illegal mining reported by the State Governments is provided in Table 1.

Mining cannot be done without access to detonator, nitrate mixture and other explosives. It is clear that 1,61,040 illegal mining have been sourcing explosives illegally. There is an illegal arms bazaar which is supported by pilferage of detonators and explosives from those who have been given licences for the same under the Explosives Rules.

Table 1 : State-wise and year-wise cases of illegal mining detected by the State governments

State

  Year  2006

  Year  2007

  Year     2008

  Year 2009 (upto December 2009)

Total

Andhra Pradesh

5385

9216

13478

11591

39670

Chhatishgarh

2259

2352

1713

1078

7402

Goa

313

13

159

9

494

Gujarat

7435

6593

5492

5416

24936

Haryana

504

812

1209

1372

3897

Himanchal Pradesh

478

 

503

1114

2095

Jharkhand

631

82

225

15

953

Karnataka

3027

5180

2297

1687

12191

Kerala

1595

2593

2695

1321

8204

Madhya Pradesh

5050

4581

3895

3868

17394

Maharashtra

4919

3868

5828

8270

22885

Orissa

284

655

1059

758

2756

Punjab

218

26

50

73

367

Rajasthan

2359

2265

2178

4711

11513

Tamil Nadu

2140

1263

1573

215

5191

Uttarakhand

 

 

191

 

191

West Bengal

80

426

315

80

901

                 Total

36677

39925

42860

41578

161040

In fact, out of the 61 trucks carrying nearly 300 tonnes of explosives that have gone missing while being transported from Dholpur in Rajasthan to Sagar in Madhya Pradesh during April to June 2010 [3], about 26 trucks with 150 tonnes of explosives were found in a village in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan on 16 August 2010. The owners of the storehouse where the explosives were kept remained untraced. Investigators stated that the explosives were meant to be sold for illegal mining in Bhilwara and Rajsamand districts of Rajasthan where a large number of illegal mines operate. [4] The government has failed to clarify the whereabouts of the rest explosives?

Actions are seldom taken. Mr B.K.Handique, Minister of Mines informed the parliament on 23 February 2010 that only 23,844 First Information Reports and 20,705 court cases were filed  during 2006 and 2009 [5]  as given in Table2:

A bare analysis shows that though the State governments have detected 1,61,040 cases of illegal mining, actions were taken only in 44,544 cases.

Further, in Andhra Pradesh which has detected 39,670 cases of illegal mining, no FIR or court case has been filed. The same is true for Kerala with 8,204 detected cases of illegal mining, Punjab with 367 detected cases of illegal mining and Uttarakhand with 191 detected cases of illegal mining.

Table 2: State-wise and year-wise cases of FIRs and court cases filed against illegal mining

 

State

  FIR lodged

Court Cases

Total

Andhra Pradesh

0

0 

0 

Chhatishgarh

0

2283

2283 

Goa

0

 

0

Gujarat

158

8 

166

Haryana

103

138

241

Himanchal Pradesh

0

711

711

Jharkhand

205

39

244

Karnataka

959

771

1730

Kerala

0

0

0

Madhya Pradesh

5

16157

16162 

Maharashtra

20197

13

20210

Orissa

57

86

143

Punjab

0 

0

0

Rajasthan

607

59

666 

Tamil Nadu

579

421

1000

West Bengal

974

19

993

Uttarakhand

0 

0

0 

               Total

23844

20705

44545

All FIRs do not necessarily lead to court cases unless the State authorities conduct investigation and file cases before the court.

An analysis of the court cases filed show that Gujarat filed only 8 court cases against 39,670 detected cases of illegal mining (0.02%); followed by Maharashtra with 13 court cases out of 22,885 detected cases (0.05%); Rajasthan with 59 court cases out of 11,513 detected cases (0.51%); West Bengal with 19 court cases out of  901 detected cases (2.11%); Orissa with 86 court cases out of 2,756 detected cases (3.12%); Haryana with 138 court cases out of 3,897 detected cases (3.54%);  Jharkhand with 39 court cases out of 953 detected cases (4.09%); Karnataka with 711 court cases out of  12,191 detected cases (5.83%); Tamil Nadu with 421 court cases out of 5,191 detected cases (8.11%); Chhatishgarh with 2,283 court cases out of 7,402 detected cases (30.84%); Himachal Pradesh with 711 court cases out of 2095 detected cases (33.94%) and Madhya Pradesh with 16,157 court cases out of 17,394 detected cases of illegal mining (92.88%).2

Explosives seized by security forces

The security threat is not a theory. Explosives recovered from the Maoists by the security forces confirm that the insurgents have very significant quantities of explosives.

According to the information collected by Asian Centre for Human Rights, the security forces claimed to have recovered 60,511 detonators, 1,59,090 kg of ammonium nitrates and gelatins weighing 1,964 kilogram as well as 1,918 sticks between January 2009 to September 2010 as given in Table 3.

Table 3: Recovery of detonators and explosives
from the Maoists

Detonators

Gelatin sticks/rod

Nitrates

Date

Quantity recovered in unit

Date

 

Amount recovered in unit

Date

Quantity recovered
in Kgs

1-2-2009

800

13-12-2009

100 

23-3-2009

1900 

8-11-2009

50 

2-2-2010

5 

7-11-2009

350 

13-12-2009

45000 

13-2-2010

800 

12-11-2009

4500 

13-2-2010

800 

-3-2010

8 

23-11-2009

25000 

 3-2010

8 

15-3-2010

100 

11-2009

100000 

15-3-2010

300 

16-4-2010

650 

13-12-2009

1000 

16-4-2010

1000 

30-4-2010

150 

10-3-2010

10200 

30-4-2010

150 

8-5-2010

80 

16-4-2010

50 

2-5-2010

25 

21-5-2010

25 

19-5-2010

40 

8-5-2010

73 

 

1964 kg 

21-5-2010

50 

19-5-2010

280 

 

 

5-6-2010

16000 

21-5-2010

25 

 

 

 

 

9-8-2010

12000 

 

 

 

 

Total

60511 

 

1818 units and 1964 kg

 

159090 

The details of the sources of recovery of detonators and explosives are described below.

2010

On 9 August 2010, the police recovered 12,000 detonators packed in 30 separate bags from a dumper near Rajapul under Amas police station in Gaya district
of Bihar. [6]

On 11 July 2010, the police arrested three persons and recovered 2,000 units each of grenade strikers, grenade rings and other raw materials for making grenades in Bokaro, Jharkhand. [7]

On 28 June 2010, over 5,000 rounds of cartridges were found in a car after it was intercepted by police for violating traffic rules at Jatindra Mohan Avenue near Shovabazar Metro Railway station in Kolkata. [8]

On 15 June 2010, two persons were arrested following an encounter with the police and explosives including nine can bombs were seized from them from Bhalua forest area in Gaya district of Bihar. [9]

On 5 June 2010, two persons identified as Suryabhan and Satyendra were arrested with around 16 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, detonators and gelatin rods in Obra area, some 300 km from Lucknow, under Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh. [10

On 21 May 2010, the police arrested one person identified as Ashok Kumar from Langdra area in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh and recovered over 50-kilograms of ammonium nitrate, 25 detonators and 25 gelatin rods. [11]

On 19 May 2010, a person identified as Baleshwar Yadav was arrested in Jharkhand’s Bokaro district with 40 kg of ammonium nitrate, 1,040 metres length of fused wire, 280 detonators, and other devices used in making landmines. [12]

On 8 May 2010, Railway Protection Force personnel seized a consignment of 80 gelatin sticks and 73 detonators from Nagpur railway station in Maharashtra from one Pannalal Ramteke (60 years). [13]

On 2 May 2010, the CRPF and Special Operations Group of the state police arrested four alleged Maoists identified as Manas Majhi alias Laden (30 years), Giffio Pradhan alias Gullu Bandi Sodi (28 years) and Deba Madkami (25 years) and recovered twenty-five detonators, huge quantities of fuse wire, starters among others in Gajapati district of Andhra Pradesh. [14]

On 30 April 2010, the Criminal Investigation Department from Kolkata arrested one Kamruddin Sheikh (35 years) from near a hotel in Raniganj town, West Bengal and recovered 150 gelatine sticks and an equal number of detonators. [15]

On 30 April 2010, the Uttar Pradesh special task force (STF) arrested four people including two CRPF jawans identified as Vinod Paswan and Dinesh Singh for allegedly stealing arms and ammunitions. Over 5,000 live cartridges, 16 magazines of INSAS rifles, .25 bore guns, SLR and AK 47s were recovered besides 245 kg of empty shells. [16]

On 16 April 2010, the police seized about 1000 detonators, 650 gelatins and 18 bags of ammonium nitrate each bag containing 50 kilograms in a pre-dawn raid conducted at Artadka in Bantwal village under Mangalore district in Karnataka. [17]

In April 2010, four gelatine sticks and eight detonators were recovered from the car of Samir Biswas, a doctor from Asansol, West bengal wanted for his Maoists links. [18]

On 15 March 2010, the joint forces personnel seized around 300 detonators and 100 gelatine sticks from two persons at Sirkabadh in Maoist affected Ayodhya hills area of Purulia district in West Bengal. [19]

On 10 March 2010, an operation conducted by the police and CRPF led to the recovery of 1.2 tonne of ammonium nitrate and other materials used for making explosives from Uparghat, Palamau, Sarubera and Manpur jungles of Uparghat zone in Nawadih block of Bokaro, Jharkhand. [20]

In March 2010, the police recovered eight gelatine sticks fitted with detonators in a plastic bag under a seat of a bus at the Durgapur bus terminus in West Bengal while these were being transported for the Maoists, according to the police. [21]

On 13 February 2010, a man identified as Satyanarayan Sharma from Rajasthan was arrested with 800 gelatine sticks and equal number of detonators and two sacks of ammonium nitrate in Alot town in Ratlam district of Madhya Pradesh. He was carrying the material from Shajapur district to Mandsaur. [22]

On the night of 2 February 2010, the police arrested Purna alias Ramesh Mambalika, an alleged Maoist explosive expert from Tubuni village under Gudari police station area in Rayagada district of Orissa. Five landmines, gelatines and 15 kilograms of splinters used in the making of landmines, among others, were seized from his possession. [23]

2009

In December 2009, the Bihar police raided an abandoned godown near Amaratalab in Rohtas district and recovered 40,000 to 45,000 detonators and 10 quintal of ammonium nitrate, 100 gelatine sticks and several metres of fuse wire. [24]

In November 2009, the Bihar and Jharkhand police seized over 100,000 kg of ammonium nitrate after raids in Patna, Gaya, Rohtas and Bokaro. [25]

On 23 November 2009, the police seized about 250 quintals of ammonium nitrate used in making explosives from Basa village in Rohtas district of Bihar and arrested three people. Detonators have also been recovered. [26]

On 12 November 2009, about 45 quintals of explosives were seized by the Special Task Force of Bihar Police from two places in Gaya district of Bihar. The explosive materials were mostly ammonium nitrate, a key ingredient in bombs. Earlier on 10 November 2009, the Bihar Police had seized 30,000 live cartridges of .315 bore, two AK-47 rifles, four Insas rifles and a huge quantity of explosives. [27]

On 8 November 2009, the police seized six country made carbines, eight semi-prepared carbines, two country made pistols, 7221 live cartridges of 12 bore gun, 50 detonators, zinc oxide and other chemicals used for making bombs from a house owned by a retired government employee in Patna, Bihar. [28]

On 7 November 2009, the police seized 350 kg of ammonium nitrate, copper sulphate and bottles of acids stuffed in gunny bags and plastic containers from an abandoned truck in Kankerbagh locality in Patna, Bihar. Four persons were arrested in this connection. The police claimed that the seized explosives were meant for Maoists operating in Jharkhand. [29]

On the night of 19 July 2009, a special task force recovered 1,964kg of gelatine and 15,000m of fuse wire from the storeroom of Progressive Construction Limited (PCL), a construction firm, in Bagoder in Giridih district of Jharkhand. The police arrested the storekeeper, Mahesh Madela. [30]

On 12 July 2009, Bokaro police have arrested three persons with 2,000 units each of grenade strikers, grenade rings and other raw materials used for making grenade. [31]

On 10 April 2009, the Bihar police have recovered a huge cache of arms and explosives hidden in a water tank by the Maoists in the Bhalua forest area of Gaya district. The arms included 7 country made sten guns and 16 bombs weighing 20 kilograms. [31]

On 23 March 2009, the police seized a vehicle loaded 1,900 kg of explosives mostly ammonium nitrate during a raid at Haji Suhanpur Mohalla in Munger town in Bihar. The police believed that the explosives were being supplied to the Maoists. Four persons named Ishwari Begum, wife of Mohammed Salam, Gorelal Yadav, Fantush Yadav and Jai Jai Ram Yadav were arrested. [33]

On the night of 1 February 2009, the police seized 800 detonators from three men arrested from a private bus in Kotwali locality in Maoist affected Chandauli district of Uttar Pradesh. The police claimed that detonators were being supplied to the Maoists in Sonbhadra district. [34]

Attacks by the Maoists on mining companies to loot explosives:

The security forces also claimed that the Maoists have looted over 54,500 kg of explosives during January 2009 to 30 September 2010. The details are given below:

On 19 May 2010, the Maoists hijacked a truck and looted 16.5 tonnes of high-grade ammonium nitrate, which is used for making explosives, in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. The truck was on its way to Raipur from Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to deliver the consignment to a factory. The truck was not accompanied by any security guard. [35]

On 10 March 2010, the Maoists stopped a tanker and looted over 16 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate used in making explosives near Dhanora Tehsil in Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra. The tanker was on its way from Chandrapur in Gadchiroli to deliver the consignment to a private company in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh. [36]

On 12 April 2009, Maoists attacked the National Aluminum Company’s (NALCO) magazine depot, where explosives used for blasting purposes were stored, in Koraput district in Orissa, killing two CISF jawans. [37]

On 27 March 2008, the Maoists raided a mining facility of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) in Dallirajhara area in Durg district of Chhattisgarh and looted about two tonnes of explosives. [38]

On the night of 9 February 2006, the Maoists looted some 20 tonnes of explosives (unofficial reports said 50 tonnes) from the NMDC magazine at Hiroli in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district and killed eight CISF personnel. [39]

Human costs and the government’s complicity

The human costs of easy access to detonators and explosives are devastating. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal, from January 2005 to 14 November 2010, the Maoists triggered 533 explosive devised bombs - 25 in 2005, 62 in 2006, 102 in 2007, 65 in 2008, 178 in 2009 and 101 up to 14 November in 2010. During the same period, 380 explosions were fatal and these caused death of 442 persons and injury to 422 others. [40]

Expressing the government’s helplessness, on 22 July 2010, Home Minister P Chidambaram while justifying the situation stated “unless the State is able to provide them better security they will have to pay these rents to protect their investments.

The statement of Home Minister Chidambaram is not fully correct. Insurgent groups need explosives. Mining companies can provide them. Mining companies (both legal and illegal), operating in areas where the state cannot offer security as admitted by Home Minister P Chidambaram, are in no position to refuse when the Maoists demand explosives. In a number of districts affected by the Maoists including Latehar of Jharkhand, the government cannot undertake its programmes including NREGA and NRHM. However, private companies have been working, ostensibly with what Chidambaram calls, after payment of rent. Any other person providing such “rent” to the Maoists would be termed as “terrorist”. 
Illegal minings continue to run as the government of India and State governments do not consider funding of the Maoists by the companies for their self-benefits as an offence under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Neither the Explosives Act, 1884 nor the Explosives Rules revised in 2008 provide for any specific requirement of ensuring that the explosives sold/sanctioned to the licensees have been used only for lawful activities or purposes allowed under the Act and the Rule. There is no provision to monitor end use of explosives by physical inspection of the site where the explosive has been used. Rule 24 of the Explosives Rules, 2008 only provides for “maintenance of records and submission of returns”. While Rule 128 of the Explosive Rules, 2008 provides for “powers of search and seizures”, there is no mechanism for end use on the spot verification of the explosives sold / sanctioned to the licencee.

There is no doubt that explosives are being gathered beneath India with acquiesce of the government of India for the sake of profit and socalled national development. The Maoists strategy at present does not appear to include attacks on metropolitan cities  or towns. However, it must be stressed that contours of the conflict with the Maoists have substantially changed since 2005 because of the mining, easy and open access to detonators and explosive substances. The risks multiply each day.

Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) recommends the government must take necessary measures to: (i) declare complete ban and provide for enhance punishment and penalty for illegal mining through an Ordinance; (ii) close all the illegal mining as a matter of national security priority; (iii) bring the sanctioning authority for explosives for mining within the ambit of the security establishment to be provided on needs assessment, and (iv)amend the Explosive Rules of 2008 to provide for mandatory on
the spot end use verification of the explosives obtained by the licencees.

Endnotes:
1 . Frontline, India, Vol-27-Issue14: Jul. 03-16, 2010.
2. Unstarred Question No.1151 asked by Shri Rajkumar Dhoot and answered on 08-03-2010 in RS by Shri B.K.Handique, Minister of Mines & Minister of DONER
3. 300 tonne explosive missing, The Tribune, 14 August 2010
4 . Ammo stolen for illegal mining, The Hindustan Times, 18 August 2010
5 . Unstarred Question No.12 asked by Shri Prabhakar Ponnam and answered on 23-02-2010 in Lok Sabha by Shri B.K.Handique, Minister of Mines & Minister of DONER
6 . 12,000 detonators recovered from Gaya district, UNI, 9 August 2010
7 . 3 Maoist aides held, ammo seized, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 12 July 2009
8 . Ammunition meant for Maoists seized in Kolkata, Times of India, 29 Jun 2010
9 . Two Maoists held in Bihar, explosives seized, DNA, 15 June 2010
10 . Two held with explosives in Uttar Pradesh, Thaindian News, 5 June 2010
11 . UP police arrests one for supplying arms to Maoists, Thaindia News, 21 May 2010
12 . Maoist arms supplier held with 40 kg explosives, Thaiindian News, 19 May 2010
13 . Gelatin sticks, detonators seized at city rly station, The Times of India, 9 May 2010
14 . 4 Maoists held in Orissa; arms, explosives seized, The Hindu, 3 May 2010
15 . Coal mine ammo for Maoists, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 3 May 2010
16 . Police selling arms to Maoists?, Times Now, 30 April 2010
17 . Karnataka Police seizes huge quantity explosives, Thaindia News, 16 April 2010 9
18 . Coal mine ammo for Maoists, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 3 May 2010
19 . Explosives seized in Maoist area in West Bengal, The Hindu, 16 March 2010
20 . Rebels sing, explosives seized, The Telegraph, 11 March 2010
21 . Coal mine ammo for Maoists, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 3 May 2010
22 . Explosives seized in Madhya Pradesh town, Thaindia News, 14 February 2010
23 . Maoist explosive expert held; guns, landmines seized, The Indian Express, 3 February 2010
24 . Ammonium nitrate, detonators seized,the Hindu,13 December 2009
25 . Ship docks with explosive cargo, Times of India, 8 December 2009
26 . 250 quintals of explosive material seized, The Times of India, 23 November 2009
27 . 45 quintals of explosives meant for Maoists seized, The Indian Express, 12 November 2009
28 . Huge cache of firearms seized in Patna, The Hindu, 9 November 2009
29 . Timeline of explosives seized, The Hindustan Times, 12 November 2009
30 . Scanner on firms after explosives haul, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 21 July 2009
31 . 3 Maoist aides held, ammo seized, the telegraph, 12 July 2009
32 . Bihar police recover explosives from Maoists hideou,  buzg.com,  10 Appril 2009
33 . 2000 kilos of explosives for Maoists seized in Bihar, Times of India, 23 March 2009
34 . Three arrested with 800 detonators in Uttar Pradesh, Thaindian News, 2 February 2009
35 . Naxals loot tonnes of explosives, Zee News, 20 May 2010
36 . Maharashtra: Naxals loot explosives, NDTV, 13 March 2010
37 . Maoists attack Nalco mines in Orissa, 2 CISF jawans killed, The Indian Express, 13 April 2009
38 . Naxals loot explosives from SAIL mine, Business Standard, 29 March 2008
39 . Maoists attack PSU depot, kill 8 CISF men, Times of India, 11 February 2006
40 . http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/maoist/data_sheets/Landmineincident.htm
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