Five Maoists killed in an encounter in Kandhamal, Odisha

Published : July 10, 2020 19:57 IST

The bodies of four of the Maoists and seized goods near the encounter spot in Kandamal district, Odisha. Photo: By Special Arrangement

The appeal of the Maoist seems to be waning fast in Odisha, which has been experiencing left-wing extremism for more than three decades now. Five Maoists were killed in Kandhamal in two encounters on July 5 and 6, and sophisticated weapons, ammunition and camp materials were recovered from them.

Sharing the details of the encounters, Prateek Singh, Superintendent of Police, Kandhamal said that a search operation by a joint team of 25 commandos of the Special Operation Group (SOG) and the District Voluntary Force (DVFF) of the State police was launched on July 4 on the basis of a specific intelligence input from the Special Intelligence Wing (SIW).

During the operation that continued through the night in the reserve forest area of Tumudibandha block, the commandos spotted a group of about 40 Maoists at around 6.30 a.m. on July 5. They started firing at the policemen, which led to fierce exchange of fire between the two sides. It lasted an hour and a half, Prateek Singh said

The extremists escaped into the jungle following the exchange of fire. The police found four Maoists, including two women, dead in the camp. One of them was Sukru alias Kosa Sodhi, who was a State committee member of the banned party and a prominent leader of the BGN Division. He was carrying a reward of Rs.20 lakh on his head. Sukru, a tribal person, hailed from Malkangiri district.

Others killed in the gunfight included a divisional committee member, an area committee member and a party member of the group carrying a reward of Rs.5 lakh, Rs.4 lakh and Rs.1 lakh on their heads respectively. The weapons seized from the spot included three self-loading rifles (SLRs), one Indian small arms system (INSAS) rifle and two country-made guns.

After the encounter on July 5, another team of 20 commandos was sent to an area about five kilometers away on July 6 on the basis of information received from local informers. They encountered a group of about 20 Maoists atop a forested hill and one of them, who carried a reward of Rs.4 lakh on his head, was killed in the exchange of fire.

Prateek Singh told Frontline that an operation against the cadres of two divisions of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) is also in progress in the region in close coordination with the police of adjoining districts of Kalahandi and Rayagada.

The Banshadhara-Ghumsar-Nagabali (BGN) division and the Kandhamal-Kalahandi-Boudh-Nayagarh (KKBN) division of the Maoist group are active mainly in Kandhamal, Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, he said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik spoke to Prateek Singh on July 7 and appreciated the efforts of the police in containing Maoist activities in the district. He also assured them of all support to the force on the ground.

State Director General of Police Abhay made an appeal to the Maoists to surrender and take advantage of the surrender and rehabilitation policy in place. He asked them to come forward and join in the developmental initiatives of the government.

In a statement issued on July 9, the State police expressed hope that the action of the security forces in Kandhamal would help give momentum to developmental initiatives of the government.

After the encounters, the State government declared five more districts as free of Maoist activities in the State and removed them from the Central government-sponsored Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme (exclusively meant for capacity building in Maoist-affected districts). These districts are Angul, Boudh, Sambalpur, Deogarh and Nayagarh.

In fact, 19 of the total 30 districts in the State were covered under the SRE scheme in 2012. But in 2018, the State government reviewed the situation and declared six districts—Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Gajapati and Ganjam—as free of Maoist activities. It later added two more districts, Angul and Boudh, in the scheme, taking the total number of districts covered under it to 15. A final decision on this removal has to come from the Centre. After that, the following 10 districts will remain under the SRE scheme: Bargarh, Bolangir, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Nuapada, Rayagada and Sundargarh.

The fizzling out of the Maoist influence in the State is seen as an indication of the growing acceptance by the people of the developmental agenda of the State government and their disenchantment with the Maoist ideology, the police claimed.

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