Tension prevailed in the southern parts of Chhattisgarh as Maoists began their two-day economic blockade on Tuesday. Two tribal civil militia members were killed overnight. Railway tracks were damaged to halt transportation of iron ore to Andhra Pradesh.
"Rebels axed to death two tribal members of the civil militia movement Salwa Judum in an overnight attack in Bijapur district. The guerrillas also halted the transportation of iron ore from Dantewada district's Bailadila hills to Visakhapatnam by damaging railway tracks at several points on Monday," a police official told IANS.
The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has called for an economic blockade on Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the alleged exploitation of the state's natural resources by private and public firms. The rebels claim the resources belong exclusively to the locals of the area.
They are also opposed to the formation of special economic zones (SEZs) in various parts of the country.
The Bastar region in southern Chhattisgarh, spread across 40,000 sq km, is rich in minerals and forest resources. It is home to several private companies, including Essar Steel Ltd, and India's largest public sector iron ore producer and exporter National Mineral Development Corporation Ltd (NMDC).
Normal life has been thrown out of gear in the interior areas of five districts in the Bastar region - Narayanpur, Bijapur, Bastar, Kanker and Dantewada. Transporters have kept their vehicles off the road fearing attacks by Maoists. The rebels, however, have exempted ambulances and school buses from the strike.
The Chhattisgarh government has beefed up security at railway stations, highways, government installations and iron ore rich regions to foil Maoist attacks during the blockade.
Maoists have a strong presence in the Bastar region and even run a parallel government in some areas.
According to police estimates, around 5,000 hardcore Maoists armed with AK-47 rifles and landmines, backed by nearly 20,000 cadres, are active in southern Chhattisgarh's hilly terrain.