In perhaps the first-ever assessment of armed Maoists in the state, the Orissa Police has found that between 70 and 80 per cent of them do not belong to the state.
Around 50 per cent of the total armed cadre belong to the Andhra-Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee operating in Koraput and Malkangiri districts, a senior paramilitary officer said.
The study also put the total number of armed Maoist cadre in Orissa at a little over 500. While many of them joined the outfit as recently as six months ago, some have been members for 30 years.
The firearms they use range from single barrel muzzle loader to AK-47 and 9 mm pistol. “It’s the first time we could build a complete profile of Maoist cadres operating inside Orissa and the kind of firearms they use, their sociological background, their aliases, how long they have been operating in Orissa etc,” said an official at the home department. Only Andhra Pradesh has done such a profile of its Maoists so far.
Orissa plans to keep the list updated, taking into account Maoists who surrender or are killed.
Officers admitted that the real numbers could be higher as there is a lot of movement from other states to Orissa, particularly from Chhatisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. There may be other Maoists offering cover to actual armed cadres whose number hasn’t been calculated.
The Andhra-Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee is the biggest, with an estimated 240-250 cadres. The second biggest committee is Dandakaranya Zonal Committee, which has around 100 armed cadre, mostly from Chhatisgarh. The third biggest zonal committee is the Orissa State Organising Committee, which has around 80 armed cadres.
Officials said Odisha Maovadi Party formed by the recently expelled Sabyasachi Panda may not have more than 20 armed cadres.