Tension prevailed at a remote village in Odisha’s Malkangiri district on Wednesday after three villagers were picked up by suspected Maoists and one was killed, officials said.
According to police, on the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday, a group of around 20 armed people attacked the residents of Khajuriguda village, which falls under the Jodamba police station limits in the Swabhiman Anchal region, and picked up three residents, accusing them of being police informers.
The throat of one of the residents picked up, Dasu Kheumudu, was slit with a sharp object, and he succumbed to his injuries. The other two — Sana Hantal and Samru Khil — managed to return to the village and are currently undergoing treatment. Both are said to be in a critical condition.
Malkangiri SP Rishikesh Dyandeo Khilari said, “The victims were innocent tribals. On being informed about the attack, a team was dispatched to the spot and the body was recovered. We are suspecting that the accused were Maoists and further investigations to identify them and arrest them are underway.”
The yet to be identified ultras have been booked under IPC sections 302 (murder) and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). No arrests have been made yet. Combing operations have been intensified in the surrounding areas, officials said.
The attack comes a day after BSF personnel seized and defused seven IEDs from the area following a tip-off from villagers, and two days after police a huge cache of explosives was unearthed by the police on the Malkangiri-Koraput border.
The Swabhiman Anchal region, which was cut-off by the rest of the district by the Gurupriya river, was long considered a fortress of left-wing extremists. However, the situation started to change after the cluster of 151 villages was made accessible thanks to the construction of a 910-metre bridge built over the river in July 2018.
The administration and police forces have now started penetrating in the erstwhile Maoist hotbed by providing telecom services, healthcare facilities and providing basic facilities like building roads.
“Such an incident has been reported after a long time. We have been actively penetrating in these areas and they have not been able to execute their activities in this area. Through the incident today they want to coerce people and threaten them, but a thorough investigation into the matter will be conducted,” Khilari said.
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