The Orissa Police have arrested about 30 armed cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) early on Saturday from four places in Sundargarh district, about 450 km northwest of Bhubaneswar.
Following a tip-off on Friday night, the police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) began a joint operation in Banei subdivision.
The operation ended in the wee hours of Saturday, with the Maoists being arrested from Chandiposh forest areas, the police said, adding that the group was active in the Saranda range of forests on the Orissa-Jharkhand border.
Rourkela SP Diptesh Pattnaik said, “The group is suspected to have been involved in the murder of a police sub-inspector, looting of explosives on July 16 and blasting of three forest bungalows in the district two months back.”
However, the police of Jharkhand expressed doubts over the operation.
Manoj Kumar Mishra, Deputy Inspector General of Jharkhand Police, said arresting mostly innocent villagers, dragged forcibly into the outfit, hardly served any purpose.
His comment referred to the Orissa Police claim that not a bullet was fired in the operation.
Orissa Police brass, however, explained that when Maoists carry out attacks or attend meetings, they come in big numbers. But while dispersing, they split into small groups to avoid detection.
They said the police surrounded the Maoists from all sides after a meeting ended and they split into small groups. And, hence, they were nabbed from four different places.
Sanjeev Marik, Inspector General (Operations) of Orissa Police, told Hindustan Times, “As our forces outnumbered them, they readily surrendered. We cannot fire at people who surrender before us without offering any resistance.”
The Saranda range, covering 820 km from Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district to Orissa’s Rourkela district, has been a Maoist hub for the past 15 years.
The forest has seen at least three major massacres of police and paramilitary forces in the last eight years. More than 60 men in uniform were killed in encounters with the guerillas.
(With inputs from B. Vijay Murthy from Jamsedpur and Soumyajit Pattnaik in Orissa)