Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Narayanpatna villagers in a Catch-22 situation

From The Times Of India
15 Feb, 2011

KORAPUT: People of Tentulipadar are a hapless lot, practically stuck between the dragon and the deep sea! "The Maoists threaten to kill us if we availed government facilities, including Rs 2 kg rice and old age pension. The Maoists often ask us to attend their meetings. But if we do so, we come under the police scanner," a resident of Tentulipadar in Narayanpatna block told some police officers who visited the village on Sunday.

Tentulipadar is one of the worst Maoist-hit areas in Koraput, where people have not lifted their quota of Rs 2 kg rice since January for Maoist fear.

A team of top cops, including DIG (south-west range) Saumyendra Priyadarsi, SP (Koraput) Anup Kumar Sahoo, DSP (Laxmipur) Y Jagannath Rao, inspector-in-charge of Semiliguda Sarat Sahu and DIG (BSF) S K Barua, visited several Maoist-hit villages of Narayanpatna to assess the situation and instill confidence among the villagers.

"During our visit, we spotted Maoist posters in several parts of the area. Through these literatures, the Maoists urged villages not to accept or avail government facilities and benefits. We asked villagers not to be scared by the Maoist threats and avail all government facilities. The villagers have been asked to join development activities in their block," the SP said.

"Security measures taken for area dominance were reviewed and a BSF camp has been decided to be set up at Tentulipadar. Rebel activities have reportedly In recent times, rebels activities have increased in the area," he added.

Tentulipadar's neighbouring areas like Bijaghati, Dongapai, Podapadar, Dungsil, Basanput and Balipeta villages, which were also on the officials' itinerary, did not have a single pucca road on which motor vehicles could ply. However, when they did arrive there, the villagers met them and spoke to them about their problems.

Admitting that these villages have been developed much for the past several years, the SP said: "Road connectivity in the remote corners is in a very bad shape. Villagers also complained of lack of healthcare facilities and education. We will ask the officials to speed up development in the area."

"As the majority of the people in Bijaghati eke out a living by cultivating bananas, the police department has chalked out a scheme to help banana farmers to enhance their income," he added.

In the past few months, Maoists have received a setback in Narayanpatna due to intensified police operation and deployment of BSF forces. Now they are targeting villagers in their fight against the state.

"We are spending sleepless nights here. We are in a dilemma as to what we shouls do. We are suffering for no fault for our own. The ongoing battle between the police and Maoists has hit us the most," a villager at Dungsil said.

Sources said that though police have intensified anti-Maoist operation in Narayanpatna and are taking all possible security measures. But, the villagers are a worried lot. They fear that security personnel cannot provide them security round-the-clock.

"Despite all the security arrangements, Maoists have been successful in creating disturbances in Narayanpatna. Under these circumstances, the people in the district sometimes prefer to cooperate with the Maoists. They are very scared of the Maoists," the source said.

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