Rajaram Satapathy– BHUBANESWAR/KORAPUT: Contrary to expectations, Maoists did not release abducted BJD tribal MLA Jhina Hikaka on Friday, announcing instead he will be in their captivity till April 25, to be followed by another praja court trail to decide his fate.
The Maoists released an audio tape highlighting their latest stand on Hikaka, rejecting the government’s proposal to withdraw cases against 13 of their members and demanded withdrawal of cases against 29 persons they had demanded to be released from jails earlier.
The Maoists’ move came as a surprise not only for the government but for people from all walks of life as everybody was expecting Hikaka’s release in view of the government agreeing to withdraw cases against some of their people and promising to help them in obtaining bails.
The extremists on the other hand called a two-day bandh and blocked roads in Narayanpatna block in Koraput district. They virtually went on a rampage in the district, disconnecting roads to Narayanpatna and setting fire to several vehicles at a construction site under Semiliguda police station in two separate offensives on Thursday night.
The Maoists called a two-day bandh from Friday, demanding withdrawal of central forces, halt in operation Green Hunt and release of their jailed activists. Police said the Maoists felled roadside trees near Dumbuguda and Bagam to obstruct Laxmipur-Narayanpatna and Narayanpatna-Bandhugaon roads. They also dug a road near Balipeta to snap road connectivity to the Maoist-hit block with Damanjodi.
“Narayanpatna has virtually been cut off from the rest of the state. Maoists have obstructed all the connecting roads to the block through road blockades put up at several places. In this situation it is impossible for anyone to reach the block by road. Traffic between Narayanpatna and bordering Parvatipur of Andhra Pradesh has also been hit by the road blockades,” a source at Narayanpatna said.
Sources said Maoists put up banners near the blockades, demanding withdrawal of BSF forces from the area, a stop to anti-Naxalite operations and release of their incarcerated members, among others. The Maoists banners also said the rebels will be observing a ‘protest week’ from April 24 in Odisha and Chhattisgarh in protest against operation Green Hunt.
Traffic is unlikely to resume in Narayanpatna in the next few days as police said the blockades can be removed only after the Maoist bandh. “As the Maoists are observing a bandh it is not wise to clear the blockades as they may again chop trees to obstruct traffic. There is also possibility of presence of explosives near the blockades, due to which we have to take necessary precautions before clearing the blockades,” said Laxmipur SDPO Y Jagannath Rao.
In a separate incident, around 1 am on Friday a group of about 30 armed Maoists swooped down on a construction site near Pendajam under Semiliguda police limits and set ablaze two roadrollers, a machine, a tipper and a motorcycle used in the road construction work under Pradhan Mantri Gramya Sadak Yojana.
“There has been no report of injury or casualty. Before setting the vehicles on fire, the Maoists asked the labourers near the construction site to vacant the place,” said Semiliguda police station IIC Sarat Sahu. “The reason behind the attack on the construction site is yet to be ascertained,” he added.