Home ministry calls urgent meeting of Maoist-hit states

July 14th, 2008 - 9:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) The unprecedented burst of Maoist violence in the country’s four most affected states that has led to over 50 killed in just a month has prompted the union home ministry to review security and ways to check the rebels’ spatial spread. Beginning with the snapping of power supply to 280 forested villages in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, the killing of 40 members of Andhra Pradesh police’s elite Greyhounds force and the brutal slaying of a Jharkhand legislator - all these incidents could spur the demand to set up a specialized force to tackle Maoist violence, said sources.

“Chief secretaries and police chiefs of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa - that account for the lion’s share of Maoist violence - will meet Wednesday. We will also review the police-population ratios and plans of strengthening their special branches,” said a top government functionary.

“Home secretary Madhukar Gupta will meet up with the officials separately.”

What has caused much concern among intelligence officials and those overseeing anti-Maoist operations in North Block is the ambush by the Maoist guerrillas of a motor-launch carrying the Greyhound force when they were returning from neighbouring Orissa after assisting in an operation.

“Considering that we wanted other states to replicate such an elite squad and were hoping to raise a dedicated force at the central government level, this is certainly a big blow as they (Greyhounds) have had huge successes in Adnhra Pradesh,” said a senior ministry official.

According to the police, the launch had 66 people, including 61 commandos, two Orissa Police constables and three employees of the vessel owner on board when it capsized.

While 28 personnel swam ashore, the remaining went missing and the police forces of the two states with the help of the navy carried out intense search operations in Balimela reservoir, about 220 km from Visakhapatnam, for the missing policemen.

After the daring raid in Orissa’s Nayagarh district in February where rebels laid siege of the town and decamped with a huge arsenal of weapons, violence has escalated.

Rebels blew up a Reliance cellphone tower in Jaduguda village in Koraput district and set its maintenance room on fire, and also burnt an earth digging machine in Malkangiri district.

According to Orissa home department officials, the Maoist rebels have a presence in at least eight of the state’s 30 districts. These are Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj.

“We will need to take a hard look at all these developments and how best we can use forces to counter the Maoists,” said an intelligence official.

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