MALKANGIRI : The death of 103 innocent children due to Japanese Encephalitis grabbed the headlines for most part of the second half of the year, while surrender of Maoist cadres and sympathisers and Bejing encounter kept the heat mounted on the rebels. Protests by the BJD leaders against the Polavaram issue was the highlight on the politics front in 2016 in the tribal-dominated district.
The BJD leaders organised a series of protests in four southern Odisha districts, including Malkangiri, against Polavaram, a multi-purpose irrigation project being built in Andhra Pradesh. The 12-hour-bandh called by BJD against Polavaram project had crippled normal life in Malkanagiri along with Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Koraput districts.
More than 800 Maoist sympathisers, including cadres from remote Mathili, Kalimela, Podia and Chitrakonda areas surrendered. In a major boost to anti-Maoist operations, the police got a huge success as two dreaded women Maoist leaders including Radha who was carrying ` four lakh reward on her head surrendered before police.
Similarly, the death of 103 children due to JE in the district had created much hue and cry across the State. The epidemic had forced the former Health Minister and Secretary and six members of Central team to visit the JE-affected villages to find out the causes of death. The letter written by a 10-year-old Koya boy, Umesh Madhi, of JE hit Palkonda to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention had also forced Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan to visit the village.
Towards the fag end of October, at least 30 Maoists including 15 top leaders were killed in Bejing encounter near Chitrakonda reservoir in Malkangiri district. The joint operation carried out by Andhra Pradesh and Odisha police resulted in the killing of a dozen top rebel leaders including son of most wanted Maoist leader RK alias Rama Krishna.
The Orissa High Court had granted interim bail to Tapan Saha, main accused in 2011 abduction case of the then Malkangiri Collector Vineel Krishna. On May 24, Additional Sessions Judge of Malkangiri sentenced Saha to life imprisonment. The court had found Saha, a village level worker, guilty of conspiring and kidnapping the collector.
On the other hand, the red rebels who were on backfoot from the beginning of the year, unleashed a reign of terror by abducting two villagers and later killing one of them at Kudmulgumma in the district on Monday last.