The arrest of 30 alleged Maoists by the Rourkela police on Friday has snowballed into a controversy, with people accusing the police of having arrested ‘innocent’ people.
People of four villages in Orissa’s Sundargarh district — Chandiposh, Silipunji, Mundatala and Champajharan — from where the 30 people were arrested by the police, submitted a memorandum to Bonai Sub-Collector Sarat Chandra Mishra on Monday demanding a thorough enquiry into the matter. These villages are located in the Bonai sub-division of Sundargarh district, 450 km northwest of Bhubaneswar.
Villagers were led by Bonai’s BJP MLA Bhimsen Choudhury.
On Sunday, women from the villages had held a demonstration in front of the Chandiposh gram panchayat office, demanding immediate release of the ‘innocent’ people. “The police have arrested innocent people, most of whom are daily wage labourers. They should be released soon,” Choudhury said.
The CPI(Maoist) has called a shutdown in Sundergarh district on Tuesday in protest against the police ‘atrocities’ on innocent people. Rourkela Superintendent of Police Diptesh Pattnaik however said, “All the arrested persons belong to the outfit’s village militia.”
The police claimed they had recovered a rifle, three pistols and 30 rounds of ammunition from them. A day after the raid, they were forwarded to a court on Saturday. The police claimed no exchange of fire took place during the entire operation.
The police said the arrested people were involved in several cases, including the murder of Sub-Inspector Ajit Bardhan and looting of explosives on July 16. The police, however, admitted that none of those arrested was a hardcore Maoist.
“I was asleep when the police knocked on my door. They asked me to be a witness. But later they arrested me,” said Safal Oram, 33, an arrested teacher while being produced before the court.