Maoists from Chhatisgarh who had reportedly abducted 11 people including a former chairman of a panchayat samiti in Malkangiri district on Tuesday night, released all of them by on Thursday evening.
Though initial reports said only 7 people were abducted, later it was found 4 more people too were picked up by Maoists.
Over 20 Maoists from Darbha ghati led by their leader Vinod Kashyap had abducted people from Kartanpalli, Barha and a few other villages under Mathili panchayat samiti of Malkangiri district on Orissa-Chhatisgarh border.
Among those abducted included former chairman of panchayat samiti Trinath Bhumia, a Paraja tribal. None of the family members of the abducted persons nor any other villager had lodged a complaint with the police.
The villages from where Maoists abducted the people is very near to Darbha ghati of Sukma, the district, most affected by Maoist violence in the country.
While Bhumia of Kartanpalli and Bonduku Golar of Barha village were released by Thursday evening, the rest 9 were let off after the Maoists held a Praja court where they thrashed three including the local sarpanch for ‘helping the police’.
The villagers were warned of the dire consequences of helping the police. Orissa DGP Sanjiv Marik said all the 11 people have been released.
“But it’s hard to say if these people were abducted as they are Maoist sympathisers. A few of them are former militias of the Maoists. We would interrogate the 11 to find out the truth,” said Marik.
Police officials said the ‘abduction’ could be a Maoist tactic to terrorise the tribals on not giving any information to police.
Since last month, the police and central paramilitary officials have started a poster campaign in Mathili and other interior areas of Malkangiri bordering Chhatisgarh with pictures of some top Maoist leaders like Ramakrishna, Katakam Sudarshan and Jinugu Narsimha Reddy urging people to contact their nearest police station camp to inform the whereabouts of the Maoist leaders.
The rewards ranged between Rs 1.31 crore to Rs 2.52 crore. Maoist politburo member Katakam Sudarshan has a cash reward of Rs 2.47 crore on his head as announced by different States.
Ramakrisha and Jinugu Narsimha Reddy carry a cash award of Rs 1.52 crore each.
After the Tuesday night’s abduction, posters against Maoists had come up in several areas of Malkangiri district by a local tribal
organisation, Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh. In these posters, the tribal body threatened to take up arms against Maoists in all tribal villages
of the district if the abducted persons were not let off by the Maoists.
In the poster, the tribal body threatened to unite tribals of Malkangiri for a major movement against the Maoists if non-tribal Maoist leaders from Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh did not stop their violent activities against them.
The last time Maoists abduction in Malkangiri happened in April 2013 when the rebels picked up 3 tribals from a village under Mathili police station area.
Maoists then abducted three tribal people from Kiang village under Mathili police station and later killed two
tribals while releasing the third one.
In September 2012, Maoists abducted 9 persons including a former sarpanch, a Naib sarpanch and two village guards had been kidnapped by Maoists from the cut-off area in the district.
The two village guards were murdered on allegations of being police informers and their bodies were later found. The rest were released by the rebels.