Villagers in Odisha’s Malkangiri take on Maoists, kill one for opposing road construction
For the first time ever, villagers at Janturai village in the Swabhiman Anchala area in Odisha’s Malkangiri district killed a Maoist late Saturday night after a face-off over the construction of a road in this stronghold of the Left wing rebels, police said.
Malkangiri’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Khilari Rishikesh Dnyandeo said on Saturday night over a dozen rebels had gone to Janturai village and tried to terrorise the villagers in order to force them to stop road construction work. They also threatened them not to celebrate Republic Day. Janturai is almost 600 km Southeast of the capital Bhubaneswar.
“As an altercation ensued between the Maoists and the villagers, the rebels resorted to blank firing. In retaliation, the villagers pelted stones and fired arrows at them. One of the Maoists was killed and the other was seriously injured and later arrested,” Dnyandeo said.
The SP said the Maoists did not anticipate the sudden retaliation by the villagers and tried to flee seeing the collective anger. Security forces have rushed to the village to take stock of the situation.
The Maoist who was killed was identified as Adma, a member of the Gumma area committee while the one arrested is Jipro, area commander of Nandapur area committee, the officer said.
This is the first time that the villagers in the Maoist hotbed have retaliated. The Maoists’ writ has always run in the area with the rebels routinely scaring off people from polling booths in several assembly, Lok Sabha and panchayat elections.
The Swabhiman Anchala area bordering Andhra Pradesh has been a Maoist stronghold for more than two decades although the influence of the rebels has been decreasing slowly. The area which has 151 villages in spread across nine gram panchayats remains a major cause of concern for the state police as the Maoists commanders of the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee operate there.
Sandwiched between the Balimela reservoir on one side and daunting hills on the other side, the area was out of bounds for almost four decades for the government till it built a bridge last July ending decades of isolation for the 37000 people of the area.
But the promised infrastructure in the interior parts of the region as well the economic development is yet to come due to lack of communication facilities in the region where the terrain is harsh.