Friday, April 10, 2009

Candidate killed in Malkangiri by Naxalites

Express News Service First Published : 10 Apr 2009 04:18:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 10 Apr 2009 10:26:23 AM IST

BHUBANESWAR: Hours after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik campaigned in parts of Malkangiri and Chitrakonda Assembly segments, a candidate was hacked to death by suspected Left-wing extremists near Kalimela putting a huge question mark on the security apparatus in the Naxal-hit districts.

Somanath Madkami, a candidate of Samruddha Odisha for Malkangiri Assembly seat, was killed in front of his wife at Arshaguda, some 3 km from his home at Kalimela. He belonged to the Koya tribe.

Collector and district election officer Nitin Bhanudas Jawale ruled out countermanding the election as Somanath belonged to an unrecognised political outfit.

He will submit his report to the Chief Electoral Officer Alka Panda.

Police said Somanath was asked to come over to Arsaguda to meet a group of Naxal leaders who wanted to hold election- related discussions. Reports said an unidentified person showed up at Somanath’s home at about 1 p.m. ‘‘The messenger told my father that the Naxals had sent for him and would like to discuss poll related issues at Arshaguda,’’ Lalit Madkami, Somanath’s son who works as a junior clerk at Malkangiri collectorate, told this paper.

Somanath, being a local, decided to accept the invitation and proceeded to the spot with wife Parvati. Little did he know he was walking into a death trap. He was brutally killed with an axe in front of his spouse. However, mystery shrouded the actual killer as his family members said it could be the handiwork of political rivals.

Since Somanath belonged to the Koya tribe, traditionally Naxal sympathisers, he was seen as one who could divide the votes of his rivals. Lalit alleged it was a planned political conspiracy. His uncle and former Zilla Parishad president Nanda Kumar Kartami was also killed in a similar fashion at Sikhpalli last month. Somanath had received a letter from the Maoists a few days back, the son said. South Western Range DIG Sanjib Panda said investigation would reveal if the Naxals are behind the killing or it was a personal vendetta.

The murder has once again exposed the vulnerability of the Naxal hotbed. As of now, nine companies of Central paramilitary forces are deployed in the district and another four will be mobilised soon.

Although the current scenario may necessitate more deployment, this is unlikely to happen given the constraints.

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