Maoists on the prowl, cops had a tough time

Maoists on the prowl, cops had a tough time
Saturday December 30 2006 12:11 IST

BHUBANESWAR: It was a year law-enforcers of the State would like to forget. Kalinga Nagar bloodshed, one among the string of tragedies, sent ominous signals for Orissa. Or was it just for Orissa Police?

If the men in khaki were in for some serious battering after the firing that claimed lives of 13 tribals in Orissa’s emerging industrial hub in Jajpur, it only got worse afterward.

Chairman of Rairakhole block Harekrushna Pradhan was shot dead when a police officer was ‘aiming’ at a wild bear in a forest. The incident led to Sambalpur bandh and the State Government had to order an RDC probe.

On the wee hours of March 24, more than 500 Left Wing extremists swooped on an OSAP camp at R Udaygiri, gunned down three policemen before freeing the inmates of a sub-jail.

While retreating, they took an SI and the jail superintendent hostage, virtually cocking a snook at anti-Naxal operations. It was not before 11 days that the two officials were set free by the extremists.

Entirely on their own terms. Little over two months later, ultras shot dead the officer-in-charge of Motu Police Station Durga Charan Mishra in a local market during the daytime.

The spate of Naxal violence prompted the State Government, so far reluctant, to impose a ban on seven outfits including the CPI (Maoist) on June 9.

But the ban, as experience showed, never stopped the Red radicals. They were on the offensive as usual. They shot dead a village headman in Malkangiri on October 13 and two days later, three locomotives were torched at Tampardihi in Sundargarh district.

However, the worst, was yet to happen. Jaswinder Singh, DIG of South Western range, was killed while on his way to a media conference on October 23.

At first, police termed it a handiwork of Maoists, but it turned out to be an ‘accidental firing’ by one of his personal security officers.

How it happened and under what circumstances is still being probed by Crime Branch Police. Seven days later, Naxals gunned down Bandhu Behera, a trader, in Malkangiri who they termed a police informer.

Similarly Baideswarpur, a small village under Tangi police limits in Cuttack, hit the headlines when a police constable allegedly killed his wife, son and a daughter. Orissa Police possibly could not have had it any worse.

But security personnel had their share of success. Deogarh Police pushed the ultras on the defensive. In two encounters, the cops gunned down at least nine cadres of the CPI (Maoist) leaving their local unit in tatters.

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