Orissa steps up anti-Maoist operations in border regions
The Orissa government has stepped up combing in the areas bordering Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh following intelligence inputs that Maoists from the neighbouring states were trying to penetrate into its southern and western districts. Senior police officials said the expansion plans of the ultras from these two states had come to light following Friday’s encounter between the security forces and the Maoists in which three ultras were killed in the Tureighat forests of the Rayagada district. Rayagada SP Rajesh Pandit said one of the three ultras killed was Mohan, a senior cadre from Chhattisgarh, who had been entrusted with converting the Niyamgiri-Rayagada division of the Maoists into a much bigger entity to be named as Indravati division.
Intelligence reports say Maoists from Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are planning to cross their respective borders into Orissa Mohan had been operating in the area for some time now recruiting new cadres and imparting them training in the handling of weapons. “His death is a blow to the Maoists’ expansion plans in the region but now we know for sure that they want to push deeper into western and southern Orissa,” said a senior officer engaged in the anti- Maoist operation which has been stepped up in districts such as Koraput, Malkangiri, Gajpati, Sundergarh and Sambalpur apart from Rayagada. Sources said the involvement of Andhra Pradesh ultras was in the planning stage.
“Their topmost leaders including Modem Balakrishna alias Manoj, who also operates in Rayagada, hail from Andhra Pradesh. “They control the entire Maoist movement in Orissa and Chhattisgarh. In Jharkhand, however, they don’t have much influence,” an officer said. The police said the operation was simultaneously being stepped up in Ganjam and Kandhmal districts.
Wet spell hampers combing operations in Agency
First phase of polling today in Paderu Revenue Division The first phase of Panchayat elections in the district will take place in the Paderu Revenue Division, comprising the Visakha Agency area on Tuesday, posing the biggest challenge to the police and the district administration in the background of violence by the CPI (Maoist) which resulted in no elections in 19 Panchayats in six of the 11 mandals, for the posts of 19 sarpanches and 148 ward members.
The day before polling, the officials heaved a sigh of relief as the security personnel and polling staff reached the polling stations designated to them and no incident was reported till late in the evening, even from the problematic villages after late on the previous night when the Maoists felled a tree and placed it across the road on Rompala ghat road between Chintapalli and GK Veedhi.
Protest against killing
This was in protest against the killing of a veteran Maoist leader Ganti Prasasdam and after the call for a bandh in the AOB area on Sunday in protest against Prasadam’s killing failed to evoke a response. Though a large police force has been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of elections by keeping the Maoists at bay, their presence is not overtly visible and the strategy seems to be to keep the forces at a distance from the polling stations and around the villages. Intensive combing was launched several days ago in the Agency, particularly after a woman Maoist was killed in exchange of fire in GK Veedhi mandal on July 13 in search of around 100 Maoists who moved in from Odisha to disturb the polling in Visakha Agency.
Dangaria tribals oppose mining at Niyamgiri in 2nd Gram Sabha
Residents of Serkapadi village of Odisha’s Rayagada district on Monday rejected a proposal of allowing bauxite mining atop Niyamgiri Hills. The tribals belonging to Dangaria Kanda community living at Kesarpadi village in hill slopes of Niyamgiri Hills under Sibapadar Gram Panchayat of Muniguda block expressed their views at the Gram Sabha held on Monday in presence of the Orissa High Court appointed supervisor and district judge Sarat Chandra Mishra. Earlier, the residents of Serkapalli village of the same Rayagada district on July 18 had also opposed the proposal of allowing mining atop Niyamgiri Hills.
“The residents have given their opinion against mining atop Niyamgiri Hills fearing adverse impact on their cultural and religious rights,” District Judge SC Mishra told reporters. “We don’t want any mining in Niyamgiri. Mining can be done in the hills only at the cost of our blood,” said Kudruka Dundu, a local, adding it would affect their livelihoods in a large scale. Of the 36 voters of the village, who were natural members of the Gram Sabha, 33 persons including 23 women, attended the Gram Sabha held amidst tight security.
The village was fortified in view of the Maoist opposition to Gram Sabhas. Besides the district judge, many State Government officials had to walk down to the village located at hill slope notwithstanding heavy down pour in the locality. This was the second Gram Sabha in the series of 12 gram Sabhas to be held in the Rayagada and Kalahandi district as per the Supreme Court’s April 18 judgment. Meanwhile, the four tribal MLAs and Niyamri Surakshya Samiti have demanded conduct of Gram Sabhas in 200 villages instead of limiting it to only 12 hill slope villages.