Around 150 Maoist supporters demolished a ‘martyrs column’ erected by the red rebels, and surrendered before the police and BSF in Odisha's Malkangiri district, officials said.
The incident occurred in Rallegada Gram Panchayat located in the ‘Cut Off’ areas, now called ‘Swabhiman Anchal’, which was earlier a Maoist hotbed. The region is encircled by water on three sides, while another is connected to a dense forest of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
The Maoist supporters on Monday also took pledges not to further help members of the outlawed CPI (Maoist).
“This is part of Odisha Police’s ‘Ghar Wapasi’ initiative. The interior and Maoist-infected villages are being brought to the mainstream. We are instilling confidence in people to ensure they approach the police and administration to help speed up development,” Malkangiri SP Nitesh Wadhwani said.
Left-wing ultras operating in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh used to take shelter in the ‘Cut Off’ area, as it was almost inaccessible for security personnel, the officials said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had in July 2018 inaugurated the ‘Gurupriya bridge’ over the Janbai river in the area. An election was also held there for the first time in 15 years in 2019.
Those who surrendered during the day also burnt effigies and Maoist literature, and shouted slogans like ‘Maobadi Murdabad’.
BSF DIG S K Sinha said that people got the confidence to raise their voice against Maoists due to the strong presence of security personnel in the region.
The police and BSF distributed sports kits, sarees and other clothing items among the people who pledged to return to the mainstream.
The district administration has provided them with job cards, too.
“We also appeal on behalf of Odisha Police and Malkangiri administration to other Maoists to shun violence, lay down arms and join the mainstream,” Wadhwani said.
Earlier on June 2, as many as 50 Maoist supporters had surrendered before the Odisha DGP in Malkangiri. Nine days later, 397 others had joined the mainstream.
Swabhiman Anchal, comprising nine Gram Panchayats and 182 villages, was earlier considered the safe haven of the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of the CPI (Maoist) for more than two decades. The area is undergoing a fast turnaround, the SP added.
-With PTI Input