Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rebels deny heist role

OUR CORRESPONDENT
Bhubaneswar, June 28: Left-wing rebels today denied their involvement in the Machhkund bank robbery.

More than Rs 6 lakh was looted by unidentified men from SBI’s Machhkund branch yesterday. Around 10 to 12 armed suspected Naxalites, speaking in Oriya and Telegu, had barged into the bank after overpowering security guards and staff.

Police believed that the robbery was the handiwork of rebels although none of the several outfits had taken responsibility of the incident.

Meanwhile, in letters to the local media at Koraput, the rebels today claimed that the loot was not conducted by them. “Banks help the poor Adivasis. They provide loans to tribals. Therefore, we do not approve of bank robberies. It is a conspiracy by the policemen and the administration to put our movement in a poor light,” read a letter signed by the Malkangiri Koraput Border Committee Secretary, Uday.

Prior to this loot, the Machhkund police station that is situated in front of the SBI bank was blown up by rebels on June 5.

After loot, in a style that was similar to that of Naxalites, the robbers had felled large trees on Machkund-Lamataput and Machhkund-Jelaput roads to block the approach roads and slowdown police movement.

Meanwhile, the road blockades on the Narayanpatna approach roads were finally cleared off by the administration today after the block remained cut-off from the rest of the state for more than a week. Some 125 villages under the block had been cut off from the rest of the state after rebels felled trees on June 16.

A team of Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force had been working on the roads to clear them, said deputy inspector-general of police Sanjeeb Panda.

The blockades had prevented vehicles from plying on the roads thus preventing essential commodities to be available at the block and leading to a price hike of all commodities.

Workers were also reluctant to clear the trees after nine policemen who attempted to clear the roads were killed June 18 in a landmine blast. The clearance work was slow as the people were afraid that landmines were hidden underneath the debris.

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