Maoist shadow lengthening in Orissa

Ten years ago, the left-wing extremists were active only in three Orissa districts bordering Andhra Pradesh, but they have now spread to 17 of the 30 districts, official sources said. Maoists have made their presence felt in Orissa in a big way since 2001 killing policemen and people, dubbing them as 'money-lenders', 'exploiters of the poor' and 'police informers'.

Since 2000 till March this year, the Maoists have killed as many as 262 persons, 151 of them security personnel the sources said. The maximum casualty of securitymen, 74 including 36 Greyhound personnel of Andhra Pradesh, was reported in 2008. Next year, 33 personnel including 10 CISF jawans lost their lives in the hands of the Maoists, the sources said.

The number of civilians killed by Maoists was also on the rise. While four people were killed by Maoists in 2000, the toll was 28 in 2009, 24 in 2008 and 13 in 2007. VHP leader Laxmananda Saraswati was one of the victims in 2008 that led to major riot in Kandhamal district. The ultras have killed 12 civilians and five securitymen till March this year, the sources said.

Of the 17 affected districts, Malkangiri bore the brunt of the Maoists' wrath with 117 deaths - 81 securitymen and 36 civilians. Malkangiri is followed by Koraput 43 (25 securitymen, 18 civilian), Raygada 27 (10, 17), Nayagarh 16 (15, 1), Gajapati 12 (8, 4), Sambalpur 12 (2, 10), Kandhamal 8 (0, 8), Keonjhar 5 (2, 3), Mayurbhanj 4 (3, 1), Ganjam 3 (3, 0), Dhenkanal 3 (0, 3), Deogarh 3 (0, 3), Sundargarh 2 (2,0) and Nuapada 2 (0, 2).

There are three districts where no casualty was reported by the Maoists. These districts are Jajpur, Nabarangpur and Kalahandi. Today, inhabitants of four villages in Sundargarh district have been living in two relief camps in K.Balang town after fleeing their homes following Maoist strikes. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had said the government would not have any dialogue with the Maoists unless they first stopped violence.

Patnaik, who recently attended a meeting with Union Home minister P Chidambaram in Kolkata to discuss the Maoist problem, has been accusing the centre of not providing the required CPMF back-up to counter the ultras. The opposition Congress and BJP, on the other hand, has been accusing the BJD government of "utter failure" to control the menace.

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