After a lull of nearly three weeks, violence returned to Kandhamal district with the killing of a tribal on Wednesday.
Dhanu Pradhan, the man killed, was a local contractor who did not belong to the minority community. According to police, Maoists may have killed Pradhan but the motive is yet to be established.
Arun Sarangi, DIG (law and order) told HT: “The incident took place at Kumbharigaon under Brahmanigaon police station, nearly 160 km from Phulbani. Pradhan was shot dead by three assailants armed with pistols. Maoists are the prime suspects behind the killing.”
On the motive behind the killing, Sarangi said it could be for revenge as the Maoists had released a hitlist of people who stoked “communal fires”. But the list of 14 did not have Pradhan’s name.
The last killing in Kandhamal district was on October 14 when a CRPF jawan was killed at Sisapanga village. The jawan had gone to the village along with a colleague in a vehicle to fetch food items. They were surrounded by a group of tribals, who were angry at the arrests of villagers by the police in the last few days. The driver managed to escape, but the jawan was killed. As many as 39 people have lost their lives in Kandhamal district so far after Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was killed.