BHUBANESWAR: The Sunki landmine blast in which eight unarmed security personnel were killed has once again brought to fore how Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) have gone after innocents in a desperate bid to regain their hold over the tribals using terror as a weapon as their turf dwindles fast.
With Maoists looking at soft targets, the situation is disturbing because desperation has bred mindless violence. In Nuapada, they killed a Plus Two student whereas in Malkangiri, a 65-year-old was executed earlier this year in the cut-off areas of Chitrakonda. Most killings are on the pretext that the victims were police informers.
‘’Killing in any form is not justified but why is that only blood of poor tribals are spilled by Maoists whereas they claim to represent their rights and cause? It is a sign that the Red rebels are willing to sacrifice even their ideology to remain relevant. At least that is what the signs are,’’ said an expert.
The killing of Dasru Durua under Mathili police limits in Malkangiri last week was another such example ahead of panchayat elections. But this desperate strategy of the Maoists seems to be helping police which are fighting a grim battle. In the last two days, people in Koraput, Rayagada, Kalahandi and Nuapada took out candlelight marches to express solidarity with police after the Sunki incident.
‘’In Odisha, people support Maoists out of fear. They source money from mining companies, contractors, ganja dealers and timber mafia. Since they have been killing innocent civilians citing petty reasons, villagers are siding with police which uphold their rights,’’ says DIG, South Western Range S Shyni.
With demonetisation inflicting a heavy toll on their financial resources, their desperation has grown multi-fold since the resources are short in supply. Sources reveal that the CPI (Maoist) had demanded `2 crore from a private company which expressed its inability to pay the amount in bulk. The outlawed outfit agreed to a proposal of monthly payment by the company at the end.
If that is not bad enough, the Maoist party is believed to have set collection targets for individual dalams too. An Area Committee Member arrested by State Police not so long ago was found to be in possession of `3 lakh.
With tribals showing faith in the police by turning away from Maoists, the cops in the rebel strong-holds are slowly reclaiming the lost ground by adopting a changed approach which is humane.
‘’We are strict with our operational teams in ensuring that they behave well with people during search exercises. When we have to search a village, we understand that it is a bad experience for the inhabitants and so have started sending chocolates and books to distribute after search so that any negative feeling is gone. We are also telling our people to explain why we had to search. We are trying to bring in this change and it is catching up,’’ says Shyni.