Monday, April 23, 2007

Naxalites eye new areas for growth

Statesman News Service

JAJPUR, April 23: The Naxalites are eyeing the industrial belt of Kalinga Nagar and the mineral rich Sukinda Valley as they have already made their presence felt in areas such as Tomka and Kaliapani. The radicals are trying to make inroads into iron ore mining belt of Daitary in neighbouring Keonjhar district.
Some of them have started warning mine owners and contractors. Extortion by such elements often go unreported and local criminals are also helping them out, said reliable sources.

Mr Bilas Behura, a mining contractor of Kamarda mines in Kaliapani area, is the last victim of the Naxalites. He was threatened on phone by the radicals and asked to hand over an amount to their men in a particular place. When Mr Behura refused to pay the amount, they reportedly set ablaze six vehicles, including four tippers, owned by him.

“We are told not to divulge the name of Naxalites in our operation as they have threatened to kill us. If we collect an amount of Rs 5 lakh for the Naxalite leaders, we get a share of around Rs 50, 000,” says a local gang leader on condition of anonymity. The Naxalites are capitalising on the tribals’ outrage over Kalinga Nagar firing in which 13 tribals were killed over land acquisition protests. The Naxalites are now extending their full support to the agitating tribals who are spreading anti-industrialisation movement in the growing industrial areas.

“We are not Naxalites. We are innocent tribals and fighting for our livelihood. It is the district police administration that first started spreading rumours that Naxalites were involved in our movement. Till date, they have in no way involved in the agitation. If the government acquires our land forcefully and keeps exploiting us, we will not need the support of Naxalites. We ourselves will become Naxalites,” says president, Vistaphan Virodhi Janmanch, Mr Chakradhar Haiburu. The Orissa government hopes to wean displaced tribals away from the Naxalite movement by starting fresh discussions with them, and at the same time, dealing firmly with the radicals.

“We have information that the radicals are extorting money in this area. We will firmly take action against them whenever we get information and give protection to the people there,” says home secretary, Orissa, Mr Tarun Kanti Mishra. However, trade union leaders allege that industry and mine owners flout many laws and rarely do they approach the police for help.

“The industries are violating many norms prescribed by the government. When they themselves are at fault, they do not have the courage to lodge a complaint against the Naxalites who demand ransom from them,” says trade union leader Mr Mayadhar Nayak. Rehabilitation and resettlement remain to be the biggest challenges of the Orissa government as it industrialises the state. Until they resolve the issue with integrity, the Naxalites will find a plenty of support in these emerging industrial areas, he added.

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