Odisha: Nearly 295 active militia members surrender
In a major success for the Odisha government, as many as 295 active militia members, village committee members and Maoist sympathisers have surrendered before Odisha police in Malkangiri district.
The district is considered to be a Maoist stronghold. All those arrested hail from the cut-off areas of the Malkangiri which has been a Maoist den. Now the area is known as Swabhiman Anchal.
With a population of around 32,000, the area got cut off from the district’s mainland in the 1960s following the construction of the Machkund reservoir. It turned into a Maoist den. But things swiftly changed in 2018 following the inauguration of the 2.5km Gurupriya bridge. The bridge connected the people residing in nine gram panchayats of the area with the mainland by road for the first time after a gap of nearly five decades.
The area — a tri-junction of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, which was rechristened as Swabhiman Anchal had made international headlines when the then Malkangiri collector, R. Vineel Krishna was kidnapped from there by the Maoists in 2011.
Inspector general (IG- Operations) of Police, Amitabh Thakur told The Telegraph, “ Many of those who surrendered before the police on Saturday, were involved in several incidents of exchanges of fire with security forces, arson cases, killing of civilians, hoisting of black flags, burning of vehicles, supply of food and logistics to Maoists, passing of information about the movement of security forces, threatening and assaulting of innocent tribals to leave their native villages, land, household articles and domestic animals on the pretext of being police informers”
Explaining the reasons for the militia and Maoists sympathisers surrendering before the police, Thakur said, “A sea change has taken place in the last few years following large-scale developmental works initiated by the government. Besides, the distribution of mobile phones to people under different schemes by the government also plays a great role.”
He said, “Maoists encourage cultivations of cannabis. The priority of the government was to wean people away from the cultivation of cannabis which was a major source of livelihood. People have been introduced to the cultivation of turmeric and drumstick which is equally profitable. Besides, a few crores of fingerlings have been dropped into the reservoir for regenerating fishing. These steps have provided effective livelihood to the local inhabitants. Taking people away from cannabis cultivation has hit the Maoists as they are unable to extort money from the villagers.”
The IG maintained that earlier on June 2, 50 Maoists had surrendered before the director-general of police.
In another development, police seized gelatine sticks, INSAS magazines and contraceptive materials during a raid on a Maoist hideout in Kandhamal district.
Kandhamal superintendent of police Vinit Agrawal said, “We have seized a number of contraceptives. Women Maoists are being tortured. We urge the Maoists to join the national stream.”