Forest staff had not alerted police about Maoist diktat to supply provisions at the time of transportation of bamboos, resulting in the third incident in Madhya Pradesh since April in which Maoists had torched trucks and machinery.
Two groups of 30-plus Maoists armed with AK-47s and self-loading rifles had torched five bamboo-laden trucks on Tuesday at Balaghat’s Dhiri Murrum village.
Sources in Balaghat police told HT that forest staff engaged in the last phase of transportation of bamboos to a depot in Lanji area, had recently been ordered by the Maoists to carry ‘personal store’ (necessary provisions) in the bamboo-laden trucks.
While handing a list of provisions, the Maoists had threatened violence if truckers did not deliver the supplies.
“Questioning of the forest staff and truck drivers revealed two Maoist groups had asked the drivers whether provisions for them were present or not . On getting a negative response, they attacked the drivers, other staff and then torched the trucks,” a police officer said.
For the Maoists, it was an opportunity lost to bolster their stock of provisions since the last truckload of bamboos were being transported before the onset of monsoon.
“Had the forest staff shared the information earlier with us, we would have neutralized the threat... On two previous occasions, timely inputs had prevented ambush in Dewarveli and Sunderwadi areas,” the officer added.
There were at least 10 Maoists who carry bounties ranging from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 30 lakh in the two groups. The cadres are part of two major Maoists groups operating in the region, Malajkhand Dalam and Tanda Dalam.
“The incident suggests that Tanda Dalam has once again become active in Balaghat district,” Balaghat zone inspector general of police DC Sagar said.
Balaghat Superintendent of Police Gaurav Tiwari said the Maoists are frustrated over the seizure of provisions from their hideout at Bijakhoh jungles last month. “We’ve held talks with district police chiefs of Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon district and Maharashtra’s Gondiya district for better coordination as Maoists activities are concentrated in the junction of the three states,” Tiwari said.