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Red act after Centre rap

Bhubaneswar, May 11: A rap from the Centre and a fresh killing by the Maoists in Koraput district today prompted Odisha government officials to put their heads together to work out a strategy to contain the spiral of violence unleashed by the rebels.

Sources said the brainstorming session with its focus on intelligence gathering and ensuring better coordination between Odisha police and the central forces deployed in the Naxal zone preceded the meeting of the unified command set up with the purpose of evolving strategies to effectively tackle Left-wing extremism. The lack of coordination between Odisha and the central forces has been a cause of concern for the unified command headed by the chief secretary.

The issue is in focus following three kidnappings by the Maoists who also killed a police officer recently in Nuapada district close to Chhattisgarh border. The Centre’s concern over the worsening situation in the Odisha is evident from its recently released advisory which says that the rebels are spreading their tentacles to newer areas in Odisha at an alarming rate. The advisory has found Odisha lacking in requisite counter-measures.

For past sometime, has been facing flak for its “inadequate” response to the situation since it has neither succeeded in launching effective police operations against the Maoists nor cutting off their support base among the tribals who continue to shelter them and gather intelligence on their behalf. The government’s attempt at raising a tribal force against the rebels by recruiting unemployed youths in the Maoist belt as special police officers has also failed to yield results.

Sources said deliberations at the unified command also focussed on these issues apart from the need for improving coordination between state and central forces and effective intelligence gathering to keep the Maoists at bay.

There was also a shared concern over the extension of rebel influence to newer areas, specially western Odisha districts such as Nuapada, Balangir and Kalahandi which boast of a sizeable tribal population.

The Odisha government officials have now also come to realise the urgent need for formulating a well defined policy to tackle the threat of Left-wing extremism.

“The sudden spurt in Maoist violence makes it all the more necessary for us to evolve a clear cut policy,” said an official. The unified command meet coincided with the killing of a contractor by the rebels in Narayanpatna area of Koraput district. Police said the body of J. Rajendra Prasad, who was executing road work in the area, was found between Laxmipur and Narayanpatna.