Villagers flee after Maoist threat

Sambalpur: Thirteen families in Bargarh’s Badtunda village have fled their homes for fear of Maoists. Armed Maoists had come to their village on Sunday in search of Md. Rice, a contractor. On not finding him, the angry Red rebels torched two of his vehicles and threatened his family of dire consequences.

Sunday’s incident has triggered panic in the village. Md Rice belongs to Gountia (village head) family of the village and most of the villagers who have fled are his siblings and cousins.

The villagers said they have lost faith in police though the cops have intensified combing operation. “Though police are aware of Maoists coming to our village, they did not come to Badtunda till Monday afternoon. So we left the village with our families and took shelter at a safer place,” a victim said while talking to the media on Tuesday.

The Gountias have been targeted by Maoists for allegedly occupying land meant to be given to landless families. The Maoists had killed Md Iter, a Gountia, six months ago. “The Maoists intend to create panic. But they will not be successful because of the heavy movement of security forces,” a senior police officer of Bargarh district said.

But assurances from police could not root out fear of Maoists from the minds of people. Life was affected in Bargarh’s Paikmal area on Tuesday as the Red rebels had given a bandh call. Shop-owners had downed shutters and there was no traffic movement on roads connecting Padmapur with Nuapara.

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