Naveen Patnaiks swap deal of releasing 27 Maoists and their sympathizers for release of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka and Italian tour operator Paolo Basusco is likely to have a far-reaching impact on the anti-Maoist initiatives in Orissa apart from demoralising the state police,say police and paramilitary officials involved in anti-Naxalite operations.
As the police and home department officials get busy on the nitty-gritties of the release of the 27 men and women,the men in charge of anti-Maoist operations in Koraput and Malkangiri wondered whether the continuous combing operation over the past two years was of any worth. The state government may well use the SOG (Special Operations Group the specialised anti-Maoist force) personnel to guard the police stations in other areas instead of sending them on anti-Maoist operations. What is the point of arresting a Maoist,when we know that one abduction is enough to neutralise all our gains. For how long would the state continue to release Maoists against abductions, said a senior official,who has been part of many successful anti-Maoist operations in Koraput.
Though the anti-Maoist operations were somewhat affected last year after the Malkangiri Collector swap deal,the security forces gained ground soon after. But the 2012 abductions may be different.
The security forces are sore that the Chief Minister did not even talk about the killing of 44 civilians by Maoists in Narayanpatna since the last four years on charges that they were police informers. Among the 44 killed,19 are tribals,who the Maoists claim to be fighting for. Now after the Maoists release,it would be difficult for us to get intelligence inputs in Narayanpatna as CMAS would again run amok as it was in 2008-09. The CM could have spoken about the violent record of CMAS in his speech,but he chose not to do it, an official said.
After the release,the immediate headache for the police in Koraput could be the consolidation of Maoists in Narayanpatna block,a forested area surrounded by hills. It was Narayanpatna,where Maoists in 2009 wanted to make it Orissas Lalgarh through use of frontal organisation like CMAS,a powerful organization of tribals from Narayanpatna and neighbouring Bandhugaon blocks.
The CMAS has been successfully organising tribals in both blocks since 2000 through its land re-distribution programme in which they forcibly took land from non-tribals and gave it to the tribals. The Maoists who took over the leadership of CMAS in 2008-09 had almost succeeded in Narayanpatna through a series of well-planned attacks on state and central forces till the forces repelled them in 2010.
Though no one is sure if Narayanpatna can again become another Lalgarh,a BSF official in Koraput agreed that the release of Maoists would put them on backfoot. The battle will be tougher as my boys would be cautious while arresting the CMAS people in villages knowing well that they are actually Maoists in disguise. But what is the alternative, he asked.