Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Naxals choking Malkangiri bit by bit

Express News Service
First Published : 22 Dec 2009 04:29:00 AM ISTLast Updated :

BHUBANESWAR: What Maoists did in Nepal to grab power not so long ago is being replayed in Malkangiri. The attack on Balimela Hydel Project was in the offing since it has long been one of the vulnerable installations. Their attack on the valve house was just a statement to prove that they could target anything at will but the State Government simply refused to take notice.

Sans any anti-Naxal strategy for implementation, the Orissa Government is banking on just one thing - para-military support from the Centre. The seven battalions of CRP F, which the State demanded to take on the Red rebels, has not come yet. And the Centre has shown no inclination to meet the demand.

That the State has found Centre’s attitude worrying is one thing but what’s of concern is how it has responded to a deteriorating situation in southern district of Malkangiri where the rebels have the administration at their mercy.

The CPI (Maoist) has already upgraded its strength to a battalion which is evident from their announcement of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) but it went unheeded by the anti-Naxal unit of the State Police.

Security analysts pointed out that CPI (Maoist) is strangulating Malkangiri by the day. The Machhkund Division of the Red rebels has its control over the entire stretch from Govindpali towards Balimela, Chitrakonda and further down to Sileru and Donkariah. This is the main route to Andhra Pradesh and even a skilled AP Police do not have access to the region.

Similar is the control of the rebels from Malkangiri town towards Kalimela, Motu and southern tip of the district. The region contiguous to Chhattisgarh is under the control of the CPI (Maoist).

In the recent past, when they attacked Boipariguda, the Maoists managed to sever links to Malkangiri because that is the only route to the district headquarters and once taken over, it chokes all connections to the southern district.

While CRPF’s anti-Naxal capabilities have increasingly come under question, the State Government’s over-dependence on the Central para-military force is even more appalling.

“Given the situation in Malkangiri, a CRPF battalion deployed in Sambalpur was mobilised to the southern district to the potential risk of the latter.

However, such is the upgraded strength of CPI (Maoist) that Malkangiri seems to have slipped out of control,” said a source.

“Strengthening the force to take on by intelligence-based strategies is the only option but that’s what the Government is ignoring,” said an expert.

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