Maoist activity increasing in poll-bound Dantewada

Sukma, the hub of Maoist activity in Bastar division, is back in the news with the reported convergence of a large number of Naxalites during the past fortnight.

Intelligence reports with the state police suggest Maoist activists in large numbers have been arriving in the region from neighbouring states. Police suspect that they are planning a major action before the Dantewada assembly seat by-election. Vigil has been increased and security forces have been alerted in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Telangana.

The campaign for the Dantewada by-election is now at its peak with the imminent arrival of senior leaders for campaigning. The Dantewada by-poll is slated on September 23 along with three other seats in Kerala, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh each.

Significantly, both the Congress and BJP have fielded as candidates widows of party leaders killed by Maoists. The Congress has fielded Devati Karma, whose husband Mahendra Karma was killed by the Naxalites in the Jhiram massacre. Many top Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh were killed in a Maoist landmine blast in Jhiram in 2013.

The BJP has nominated Ojasvi Mandavi, the widow Bhima Mandavi whose death in a Maoist attack on April 9 has caused the Dantewada by-election. Maoists had attacked the convoy of the BJP leader by triggering an improvised explosive device (IED) during the Lok Sabha elections. Besides Mandavi, five security personnel were also killed in the attack. The BJP legislator’s vehicle was last in the convoy.

The BJP and Congress are locked in a direct contest in Dantewada and their campaign revolves around Maoism and the attempts of the two mainstream parties to garner sympathy votes.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has often complained that the Centre is impeding the inquiry into the death of Mandavi.

Maoists have eliminated many leaders in this area. Before the 2018 assembly elections, the Maoists had also killed a Doordarshan cameraman in Nilavaya village. They had also killed two BJP leaders of Nakulnar in the 2008 assembly elections.

During the last assembly elections, the Congress had promised to solve the Maoist problem through dialogue. However, the state government is facing a piquant situation with the Centre taking a different stance now. T

The Communist Party of India (CPI) in the state has been nudging the Congress government about the release of innocent tribal people who get targeted by both the Maoists as well as the security agencies.

After the Central action on Sections 370 and 35A in Kashmir, BJP is eager to appear more aggressive on terrorism and Maoists.

Earlier this week the Chhattisgarh Governor Anasuya Uike called on Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi who is said to have assured her that a detailed action plan against Maoists is being formulated and will be sent to the state government soon.

Meanwhile a hardcore Maoist, carrying a reward of Rs 8 lakh for capture, surrendered in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district on Wednesday, an official said. Sudhir Korsa (31) turned himself to police in Bijapur around 450 km from here, citing disappointment with the “hollow Maoist ideology and violence being committed by them”, Superintendent of Police Divyang Patel said.

Korsa was active as platoon commander of People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) battalion 1 of Maoists and was wanted in nine cases of attacks on security forces, including the attack at Burkapal in 2017 and at Tadametla in 2010, Patel said.

Korsa was given an ‘encouragement’ amount of Rs 10,000 and will be provided further assistance as per the government’s surrender and rehabilitation policy.

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