Fear dominates the atmosphere in Narayanpur district where Maoists killed 27 CRPF men on Tuesday.
“We fear them both,” said a villager about the security forces and the Left extremists. “Last week, 12 policemen walked into our village while the rebels were still present. As soon as they got to know of it, the cops quietly left the village,” Mukur Nikash, a farmer in Narayanpur, told HT.
Residents feel the CRPF men should have been more vigilant. “It is sad the forces that came here from different states were killed by Maoists. They should have remained alert,” said Sukhdu Kajam, a resident of the nearby Murmeta village. “When villagers knew about the presence of Maoists in the area, how could the police have missed it?” he wondered.
Most tribals were also unwilling to speak, fearing a backlash from the Maoists. “We will have to pay the price if we take sides,” said Baiju Sondiya, an elderly man living near Meherbeda village.
The fear is justified. On Wednesday night, ultras slit the throats of three tribals who allegedly informed the police about their movements. The bodies were recovered Thursday near Kadkaa village.
“Today the rebels killed three villagers suspecting them to be informers. This is our fate after trying to maintain distance from the ultras and police,” said another villager.
Tribals living near Tuesday’s ambush site say they had informed the police about increased Maoist movement in the vicinity.
Yet, the CRPF jawans ventured out early Tuesday morning.