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Maoist presence?

Print edition : Jun 18, 2010 T+T-

The absolute secrecy maintained by the Dongria Kondh is not without reason. Recent reports in the local media suggest a Maoist presence in the Niyamgiri area. Journalists in Bhawanipatna, the headquarters of Kalahandi district, say that the Orissa government is in the process of declaring Niyamgiri a Maoist-affected area. The Central Reserve Police Force has been deployed in neighbouring Muniguda block in Rayagada district.

Thirty-five per cent of Niyamgiri falls in Kalahandi district and the rest under Rayagada district, which has officially been declared a Maoist-affected area. An atmosphere of fear and paranoia is evident even in Bhawanipatna. Several police checkpoints have been put up in and around the small town to scan people and vehicles regularly. Sanjeev Panda, Deputy Inspector General of Police of Koraput range, confirmed the deployment of troops at Muniguda but expressed ignorance about the presence of Maoists in Niyamgiri. I am not aware of any Maoist presence in Niyamgiri, he told Frontline. Yes, troops have been deployed in Muniguda, but they are not for Niyamgiri.

Reliable sources, however, said the government would soon start combing operations in the manner of Operation Green Hunt in Niyamgiri, which the tribal people say definitely will result in a war.

An official of Vedanta claimed that the tribal people were a threat to national security even as he lashed out at a report brought out by Amnesty International, titled Don't mine us out of existence. The report amounts to contempt of court as the issues raised in it have already been considered by the Supreme Court. Amnesty has blamed the Orissa government and the Government of India for not granting territorial rights to Adivasis which is a serious threat to the security of the country. Further, like the United States, Australia, France, Japan and China, India is not a signatory to the International Labour Organisation treaty on indigenous people, which proves that the Amnesty report is absolutely baseless, said the official.

Mahim Pratap Singh