In its first-ever offensive after the uneasy truce in February this year, the Orissa Police on Sunday raided a Maoist camp at a reserve forest in the mineral-rich Keonjhar district and seized a huge quantity of gelatine explosives.
Follwing a tip-off that eight to 10 Maoists of the Kainganagar division were camping at the Bali Hill area near Rebana reserve forests, a platoon of CRPF personnel, local police and the district voluntary force (DVF) comprising former special operation group (SOG) men, raided the Maoist camps on Saturday evening.
The Maoists were having dinner when the police team arrived. However, the rebels managed to flee under the cover of darkness.
“We seized 72 gelatine sticks, several detonators and some handgrenades as well as seven kit bags. The Maoists could not take away anything. This is the biggest haul from any Maoist camp in the district,” said Keonjhar SP Ashis Kumar Singh.
The cops seized 140 books, including training manuals, personal diaries and a plan of action for future attacks. The seized material included one GPS (global positioning system) set, some pressure bombs, a radio, medicines and contraceptives.
The combing operations in Maoist-dominated areas were stopped in February last year after the abduction of Malkangiri District Collector R Vineel Krishna.
The government, in response to the 14-point demand of the rebels negotiated by a three-member team of interlocutors, had said that there would be no “coercive action by security forces as long as the Maoists did not indulge in unlawful activities”.
The state’s decision to resume combing operations comes after Union Home Minister P Chidambaram expressed his unhappiness over the way Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik acceded to the Maoists’ demands without batting an eyelid.
In 2010, Orissa’s anti-Maoist wings such as SOG, DVF and D-CAT, assisted by the Central paramilitary forces, had driven the Maoists up against the wall.
Last year, 108 people were killed in 44 incidents of Maoist-related violence — 62 civilians, 25 Maoists and 21 police personnel.
In 2009, 81 people were killed in 37 incidents — 36 civilians, 32 police personnel and 13 Maoists. This month, five Maoists of the Kalinganagar division surrendered before the state police.
On April 8, two Maoists, including a 13-year-old boy, surrendered before the Superintendent of Police of Jajpur. On April 1, three Maoists, including two minors, surrendered in Keonjhar.