Maoists shoot dead road building camp watchman in Odisha, burn vehicles
In their first-ever attack in 2019, armed Maoists shot dead a watchman at a road building contractor’s camp in Odisha’s Kandhamal district and set fire to several construction vehicles late Saturday night, police said.
Kandhamal superintendent of police Parteek Singh said a group of 10-12 members of the Maoists’ Kalahandi-Kandhamal-Boudh-Nayagarh division raided the road construction camp at Patiamba village under Phulbani Sadar police station area where contractor Prasanna Kumar Swain was to build Sudrukumpa-Medikhol road under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.
The rebels barged into the camp at around 2 am, dragged out watchman Rabindra Mallick and shot him dead. They then torched a road roller, a mini truck and three tractors before fleeing the place.
Officials said Maoists last year asked Swain to give them Rs 5 lakh. Though Swain had asked the Maoists to take the amount from him at a particular place, he had tipped off the police about it earlier.
Officials believe the Maoists attack is also a revenge for a police encounter in the same area in May last year when 5 rebels including a divisional committee member were killed. The elite Special Operation Group and District Voluntary Force team in May last year had led the encounter which ended in the death of Badal, the divisional committee member, with a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head.
Today’s attack comes in the wake of Odisha’s successful anti-Maoist operations in 2018 that led to reduction in the number of Maoist-affected districts from 19 to 15. Last year 53 Maoist incidents were reported in which 19 rebels were killed and 27 surrendered. While only one policeman was killed, 12 civilians were killed by Maoists.
In Odisha, 16 battalions of Central paramilitary force, 41 anti-Maoist SOG teams, 848 DVF jawans, 56 platoons of India Reserve Battalion, 74 platoons of State Security Battalion and 18 platoons of Odisha Special Striking Force are currently fighting the rebels.
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