Logged trees block roads, villages remain cut off in OrissaJune 23rd, 2009 - 6:53 pm ICT by IANS
Bhubaneswar, June 23 (IANS) At least 125 villages in Orissa’s Koraput district continued to remain cut off from the rest of the state for the seventh consecutive day Tuesday as local workers refused to clear the trees Maoists felled to block the roads, officials said.
Maoists felled more than 30 trees from June 16 on the three roads that connect Narayan Patna block to the district headquarters, Koraput. The block of villages, located at the distance of about 75 km from Koraput, has a population of over 40,000. Of them, 31,000 are tribals.
The workers are not willing to clear the tree logs, especially after Maoists killed with a blast nine policemen who had gone to clear the blocked roads Thursday, a police official said.
The policemen were travelling in a jeep near Narayan Patna to clear the roads when the blast occurred. All of them died on the spot.
“The people of the region depend on the three roads to reach the district headquarters, and all of them were blocked with felled trees,” district Superintendent of Police Deepak Kumar told IANS, adding that though the police were ready to send an anti-landmine vehicle and provide required security, the workers were not willing to clear the roads.
The region is considered a Maoist stronghold. Maoist supporters under the banner of Chasi Mulia Sangha last week forcibly occupied hundreds of acres of farm land of non-tribals in the region by hoisting red flags on the land, officials said.
Hundreds of non-tribals have already left their homes in panic as the Maoists unleashed a reign of terror in the area. The tribals claim they are the owners of the land which non-tribals were forcibly cultivating since decades.
Koraput is about 500 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.