Friday, May 15, 2009

Naxals make inroads into Nuapada

Express News Service First Published : 15 May 2009 11:59:56 AM ISTLast Updated : 15 May 2009 01:12:47 PM ISTNUAPADA: In June last year, the then SP of Nuapada Bhagban Mishra admitted movement of suspected armed persons inside Sunabeda Sanctuary spread over 600 sq km in the district for the first time. Although the Left ultras have been frequenting the district after that, the administration is denying their presence. Experts said the denial will compound the problem in times to come.

Notwithstanding repeated denials by the administration, Subrat Rath, presiding officer of an eight-member polling party deployed for polls in booth no. 23 in Patdarha village and booth no. 22 in Kathaphera village in Boden block, reported the presence of Maoists in the area.

Rath narrated before sub-collector Gurucharan Prasad about his face-off with the Maoists and how he went into hiding. He also described the incidents before mediapersons the next day. Rath even said Naxals pasted posters on the school premises where the polling booth was located and no villager exercised franchise in both the booths under the shadow of Red terror.

Though police admitted that the Naxals had come from Chhattisgarh on the other side of the border, they denied that the Naxals had anything to do with boycott of polls. To make things worse, even District Collector Bishnu Prasad denied having received any reports about movement of Naxals in Patdarha and Kathaphera. Rather, he accused the villagers of terrorising the polling party.

Experts said Maoists are cashing in on the resentment of tribals due to lack of development in the sanctuary areas. As the sanctuary shares its border with Naxal-infested Chhattisgarh, the ultras are finding it easy to infiltrate into the district.

Sunabeda Sanctuary, comprising 15 revenue villages, is inhabited by about 15,000 ethnic tribal communities including Chakutias, Paharias and Bhunjiyas. However, the inhabitants continue to languish in abject poverty in the absence of development.

The inhabitants of Patdarha, Dhobghat and Garjanpani villages in Boden block of the district have reported movement of Maoists in their areas time and again. But with the district administration refusing to acknowledge their presence and in the absence of any visible development activities, Maoists may spread their tentacles and strike at any time in the district, feel experts. Repeated efforts to contact Nuapada SP Bibek Rath over his mobile proved futile.

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