Orissa pleads helplessness in tackling Maoist violence

July 2nd, 2008 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  


Bhubaneswar, July 2 (IANS) Increasing Maoist related violence over the past few years has become a major cause of concern for the Orissa government with officials expressing their helplessness in tackling the situation. The deadly attack by the rebels on Sunday on a motor launch in the district of Malkangiri is the latest in a series of violent incidents that the state has witnessed during the past three years, government officials said Wednesday.

The Naxalite militancy in parts of southern, northern and north-western Orissa continues to be an area of major concern for the state government, officials said.

According to a Orissa home department press release, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has influence in at least eight of the state’s 30 districts. They are Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj.

CPI - ML (Jana Shakti) (Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist), another left wing extremist outfit, has made its presence felt in the mineral rich tri-junction areas of three districts, Keonjhar, Jajpur and Dhenkanal.

Fifteen out of thirty revenue districts of the state have been affected by Naxalite violence to some degree, the release said.

In 2005, there were 37 incidents leading to 21 deaths that included six extremists. In 2006, there were 43 incidents leading to 28 deaths including 20 extremists, the release said.

In 2007, there were 52 incidents leading to 22 deaths including seven extremists. Till May this year, there have been 18 incidents leading to 26 deaths including seven extremists, the release said.

On Feb 15 this year, the rebels attacked Nayagarh district armoury and a police training school simultaneously with a degree of military precision unseen before, the officials said. As many as 14 people including 13 policemen lost their lives in this incident.

“Initially the rebels were not using modern weapons and we were able to track them because they were using mobiles,” said Satish Gajbhiye, district magistrate of Malkangiri district, a Maoist stronghold.

Now they have many deadly weapons which they have collected through looting of police stations and government armouries. They are also using a more advanced communication network, he said.

“They have modern weapons such as SLR guns, light machine guns (LMG) and AK47s. Besides they have a few rocket grenade launchers,” he said. They are also using explosives, land mines and claymore mines.

“They also have UBGLs (under barrel grenade launchers) which we came to know during an operation in the Goshma forest where they hid after launching an attack in Nayagarh,” he said.

They are now using high frequency wireless sets and have reduced their use of mobile phones. Besides they have created a network for transmitting their messages through their supporters and villagers, he said.

“Police is capable of tackling them but there are several formalities that come in the way,” deputy inspector general of police (operation) Arun Sarangi told IANS.

The Maoists claim they are fighting for the poor, deprived and neglected sections of society. They are carrying out attacks on landlords and contractors, researcher Richard Mahapatra said.

They get money from various sources. Even poor people pay them, he said. “For example, in Orissa, bamboo fellers, who have been organised by the rebels, ‘contribute’ Rs 5 every day from their wages to them”.

Orissa was shocked when the rebels attacked a motor launch which was carrying policemen in the Balimela reservoir, some 700 kms from here on Sunday.

The launch had about 66 people on board and it sank after the attack. Of them, 61 security personnel were from Andhra Pradesh, two were Orissa police constables and three were employees of the vessel.

Of them, only 29 people have been accounted for so far, including two boat employees and the two Orissa constables, the state’s Director General of Police Gopal Chandra Nanda said.

Others are still missing Wednesday despite a search by over 1,000 security personnel.

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