The forest areas on the border of tribal-dominated Sundargarh district are paying a heavy price for their proximity to Jharkhand. Criminal activities originating in neighbouring State continue to mount the woes of the Odisha police and the rural population along the border.
Sources said banned criminal outfit People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) is at loggerhead with the outlawed Maoists in Jharkhand. Consequently, the PLFI, a breakaway faction of Maoist outfit, after a lull for one year is seeking to recreate base in border areas of the district.
The PLFI activities continue despite the fact that both Rourkela and Sundargarh district police have taken tough action against the outfit. A PLFI camp was busted and huge cache of arms and ammunition were seized on Friday night by Sundargarh police.
Sundargarh SP Sanjeev Arora said the PLFI members seem to be eyeing the illegal extortion trade. He said with strong intelligence network, police are successfully gunning after them.
Law and order situation along the border of Sundargarh is directly influenced by the developments in Simdega and West Singhbhum districts of Jharkhand. After years of Maoist menace, the Rourkela police in tandem with their West Singhbhum counterparts over the past 20 months virtually tamed the Red rebels based in the vast Saranda forest.
After a criminal outfit, Jharkhand Badshaw, was crippled three years ago, the PLFI and its Jharkhand-based offshoot Pahadi Cheetah appeared on Sundargarh horizon to indulge in rampant violent activities. Since July last year, at least six encounters have taken place to neutralise the outfits.
An SP in Jharkhand informed that the PLFI has around 500 cadres. It periodically launches recruitment drive to rope in jobless youths using the modus operandi of Maoists. The Pahadi Cheetah gang too follows same method.
Rourkela-based IGP (western range) RK Sharma said the enmity between PLFI and Maoists recently renewed in Khunti, Gumla, Lohardaga and other areas of Jharkhand. He said Odisha police are geared up to crush criminal activities originating from Jharkhand.