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CIMA Gallary

800 guards set resign deadline

- Compensate Maoist-slain or we quit

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 28: Nearly 800 village guards in Koraput have threatened to resign if the government did not meet their demands following the killing of two of their colleagues by Maoists.

The rebels have unleashed a reign of terror in the southern parts of the state at a time when security forces are combing the forests of Kandhamal and Ganjam in pursuit of rebel leader Sabyasachi Panda.

Sources said a weekly market (haat) at Lamtaput in Koraput was shut down in a hurry yesterday after Maoist posters threatening retaliation against alleged fake encounters by the police surfaced in the area.

“People shut themselves indoors immediately because they realised that even the police would not be able to save them in the event of a Maoist attack,” said a government official posted at Lamtaput.

The villages are no more considered safe with 11 village guards having put in their papers over the past week. The first batch of resignations, triggered by the threat of violence from the rebels, came from Boipariguda, a known Maoist bastion.

The Koraput District Gramrakhi Association has demanded Rs 10,000 towards cremation expenses of the slain guards and Rs 10 lakh compensation to the families of each of them, apart from government jobs to at least one member from each bereaved family. All the 780 members of the association have threatened to resign if the government failed to meet their demands by December 4.

Senior police officials including Koraput SP Awinash Kumar have sought to assure the village guards of tight security, but his words have failed to inspire confidence in them. The fear of the village guards stems from the recent killing of two of their colleagues by the Maoists in different parts of the district. While Bhagaban Naik of Girliput village was shot dead in October, the rebels killed another guard, Goura Chandra Dalei, of Dasmantpur earlier this month.

The Maoists had suspected the two to be police informers. The police are yet to arrest the accused. Apart from village guards, the special police officers (SPOs) recruited by the government from among the local tribal youths, are also living in fear.

Police officials posted in the district admit to the Maoists’ reign of terror but they see it as a sign of desperation. “In the recent past, we have had several successes against them. We arrested two senior Maoist cadres only on Sunday. This has made them desperate and they are unleashing violence in retaliation. But this is not going to last long,” said a senior police officer.