K Vijay Kumar, security advisor to Union home ministry, during his visit to Malkangiri last week. Telegraph picture
Bhubaneswar, Sept. 9: Maoists today gunned down a village head in Malkangiri district even as security forces stepped up combing operation in the area.
Malkangiri superintendent of police Akhileshwar Singh said Ishwar Chandra Sodhi was shot dead at Kottamateru village in the Padia police station limits close to Chhattisgarh border.
The killing, however, coincided with surrender of nine Maoists, including three women cadres, in the district. Singh said the three women, who gave up arms today, were Budri Golari, Sinde Khilo and Kumari Madhi.
Kumari belonged to the Kalimela dalam of the Maoists and had been involved in the loot of explosives from a stone crusher at Kursiwada and the torching of a BSNL tower at Balimela.
The six male cadres, who had given up arms before police, were identified as Dasu Khilo, Dasa Khilo, Suresh Pangi, Kumuti Khilo, Sahadeb Mattam and Sukdev Burudi.
All of the cadres hail from villages in the Chitrakonda police station area of the district. The operation against the Left-wing extremists was intensified following security advisor to the Union home ministry K. Vijay Kumar’s visit to the district last week. Sources said Kumar held discussions with senior police officials of Malkangiri apart from the BSF officers posted in the area. “Together, they chalked out the strategy to combat the growing Maoist threat in Malkangiri and the adjoining Koraput district,” said a source.
The security advisor also laid emphasis on development of the Maoist-infested areas of the districts as there is a growing perception that poverty and underdevelopment was driving local people, mainly the tribal youths, to join the rebels.
However, the situation has not improved despite the government’s drive to provide jobs to the local tribal people by recruiting them as special police officers.
On the other hand, the Maoists killed two special police officers. One of them was shot dead at his village home in Malkangiri district. The killers left behind posters warning people against accepting the special police officers’ job or acting as police informers.
In another development, the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) has rapped the Odisha government for not making proper use of central funds for security related expenditure in the Maoist-affected areas.
Moreover, the CAG found that the Pawan Hans helicopter, hired by the state government for assisting the security forces during their operations against the rebels, had also been used for other purposes. Even weapons bought with central funds for anti-Maoist operation were provided to policemen in areas, which had not witnessed any extremist activity. However, sources in the police department refuted the charge.