The truce between the Orissa government and Communist Party of India (Maoist) is over. About a month and a half after it halted all operations against the Maoists in the state following Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna's abduction by ultras on February 16, the Orissa government is again on an offensive mode.
While the Maoists as well as the mediators, with whom the government negotiated for Krishna's release, blamed the government for violating the agreements reached, the government has apparently taken the decision to resume the operation against the ultras after intelligence inputs revealed that the Maoists were regrouping and planning for major operations in the state.
Since the first week of April, the police have arrested a major Maoist leader, killed a woman Maoist cadre in an encounter, raided Maoist hideouts in two districts and seized arms and ammunition.
Police said its offensive against the ultras started after they killed two people in a 'praja court (people's court) in a village on April 2 in Kalimela police station of Malkangiri, about 650 km southwest of Bhubaneswar.
On April 5, in a major operation, the police arrested Chenda Bhushanam alias Ghasi, a top cadre of Andhra Orissa Border Special Zone Committee (AOBSZC) of CPI (Maoist) in neighbouring Koraput district. Ghasi, wanted in more than 200 criminal cases, including 65 murders in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, had a reward of Rs10 lakh over his head. "He had a hand in almost all Maoist activities in Malkangiri and Koraput," said south-west range DIG Soumendra Priyadarshi.
On April 11, the police raided a Maoist camp in mineral rich Keonjhar district, about 300 km northwest of Bhubaneswar, seizing 72 gelatin sticks, several detonators and some hand grenades.
Talking to the HT, Orissa police DG (in-charge) Anup Patnaik justified the operation against the ultras. He said that the state government had agreed to refrain from operation against them if they did not indulged in any unlawful activities, but they have breached the agreement.
Patnaik said there had been a marked increase in the activities of the Maoists in the recent weeks. They have violated the agreement with the government by distributing provocative posters, terrorising people in villages and moving around with arms and ammunition, he said. "We have detected several Maoist camps in Malkangiri, Koraput, Ganjam and Sundergarh. We have reports that three main Maoist groups have planned a major operations in the state," he said.
However, the mediators, who helped secure Krishna's release on February 24, are not happy with the state government. Dandapani Mohanty, one of the three mediators, told the HT that the security forces have resumed combing operation despite no provocation from Maoist side. Besides, Mohanty said, the state government had failed to start the process of releasing more than 600 innocent tribals languishing in various jails on charge of Maoist activities.
"Instead, some corrupt police officers have planted stories of violent activities by Maoists to justify operation against them. There have been several instances of security forces going to interior villages and terrorising innocent tribals as part of the combing operation," he said.