Ringed by six-foot-tall barbwire fences and gun-toting security personnel, the policemen in Narayanpatna police station of Koraput should not have to worry about their safety. But they are concerned over the government facilitating the release of eight Maoists and 15 activists of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), a Maoist frontal organisation in Narayanpatna block, as part of a deal to secure the release of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka.
“On April 9, over 200 CMAS supporters from Maoist-affected Balipeta gram panchayat marched outside the police station. Then on April 11, 60 people of Kumbhar gram panchayat came marching up to the police station, followed by 100 more from Tentulipadar gram panchayat on April 13. They came with red banners of the CMAS,” said Atanu Rout, inspector-in-charge of Narayanpatna police station.
Though the crowd was not very large, it brought back memories of 2009. For most of 2009, Narayanpatna was under siege as the lone road connecting it to the nearest railhead, Laxmipur, was blocked by the CMAS activists. In November 2009, 5,000 CMAS activists, led by Nachika Linga, attacked the police station.
A month after the MLA’s abduction, it is the police in Narayanpatna who are feeling the heat as the government has stopped the combing operations in the area. “In fighting Maoists, the important thing is momentum. We have lost that and it may mean the difference between victory and loss,” said Rout.