The Odisha police on Saturday said that 295 active Maoist militias, members of local village committee, Maoist sympathisers and members of Maoist frontal organisations like Gana Natya Sangha in four villages of former Left-Wing Extremism bastion of Swabhiman Anchal in Malkangiri district have surrendered before them, reports Hindustan Times.
Police officials said that 295 men and women of Dhakadpadar, Dabuguda,Taber and Arlingpada villages of of Jantri grampanchayat in Swabhiman Anchal area of Malkangiri — that once served as training ground for the rebels — surrendered at a function organised at the BSF camp in Jantri.
Surrender, a BSF impact
“The villagers who surrendered were involved in several exchanges of fire, arson cases, civilian killings, hoisting of black flags instead of national flag, burning of vehicles, boycotting MLA-MP elections, supply of food and logistics to Maoists, passing of information about movement of security forces, and threatening and assaulting innocent tribals to leave their native villages,” the police said.
The locals, according to the police, celebrated the surrender by shouting ‘Maoists murdabad’ slogans. On June 2, police said that at least 50 villagers of Jantri gram panchayat had surrendered before them. The surrender of villagers came after the BSF set up its base at Jantri, at the extreme end of Swabhiman Anchal and inaccessible by road during monsoon season., the police said adding, the BSF base is expected to hit Maoist influence in Jantri, Andrapalli, Dhauliput and Ralegada grampanchayats.
However, tribal activists in Malkangiri questioned the government and the police and termed the surrender an eyewash. “How do the tribals gain by surrendering? In 2016 too, the then Malkangiri SP had engineered similar surrender of over 700 tribals in different villages calling them Maoist sympathisers. None of them got any benefit from the state government by surrendering. Today’s surrender is also an eyewash. In any case, how are the villagers responsible for the violence as they lived in Maoist bastion and had little option than to help them,” asked Malkangiri-based tribal activist, Ghenu Muduli.
Increased naxal presence
Over the years, naxal groups such as the Peoples’ War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) have established their presence in those districts of Odisha that border Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, said an Outlook report. While the PWG is active in the Malkangiri, Rayagada, Gajapati, Ganjam, Koraput and Nabrangpur districts bordering Andhra Pradesh, the MCC is steadily increasing its presence in Sundergarh, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts bordering Jharkhand and West Bengal.
A careful examination of the growth of the Naxalite movement in Orissa would demonstrate that, apart from internal factors such as underdevelopment, poor functioning of institutions of civil governance, the persistence of traditional structure of exploitations in rural and tribal areas, and an ill-equipped police force, growing naxalite violence in the neighbouring states has influenced the course of events in Orissa, the report added.