BHUBANESWAR/MALKANGIRI:Two days after they were abducted from a bordering village of Malkangiri, all the 11 tribals were released by Maoists on Thursday afternoon.
The freed villagers, police said, have reached Kartanpalli under Mathili block but no direct contact could be established with any of them.
In the morning, five villagers were freed by the Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) after they were reportedly tried in a Praja Court. Later, another six were released.
“We have information that all the 11 were released and they have reached Kartanpalli,” IG (South-Western) Range Y K Jethwa said.
Sources said all the 11 faced trial in the kangaroo court at an unknown place near the Odisha-Chhattisgarh border and the decision to free them was almost immediate. However, since the Maoists had taken away the mobile phones of the abducted villagers, establishing contact with them was a problem.
It was not immediately known why the Red rebels had abducted the 11 tribals in the first place but all of them have been warned against making any contact with the police or the local administration after their release. “They have been specifically asked not to cooperate with the police,” sources added.
Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra said the police are trying to find out the exact reason behind the kidnapping.
However, the Maoists are believed to have buckled under growing pressure from tribals of the region and released the 11 villagers. “The pressure appears to have worked as hurting the tribals would have gone against them,” Jethwa said.
On Wednesday, the Malkangiri Adivasi Sangha, an umbrella body of tribals, had demanded unconditional release of the villagers and had warned of armed action if the Red rebels did not free them.
While the security forces have gained increasing ground against the Maoists in the last couple of years in the State, in the last one year alone, 100 members have returned to the mainstream.
Since the tribals have developed a sense of alienation towards the Maoists, Jethwa said the rebels are now resorting to desperate measures but in vain. The abduction __ though no outfit has taken responsibility as yet __ is believed to be the handiwork of the Darbha Division of CPI(Maoist)’s Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee.