The killing of six Jharkhand villagers by Maoists and subsequent death of a cadre in an encounter inside Saranda forest, close to Odisha border, are pointers to the fact that the Red rebels are reclaiming ground in the area.
After three days of intense search, police and security forces of West Singhbhum district in Jharkhand on Saturday evening brought six bodies of villagers and a Maoist Nitihan Purty from Sarnada’s Sabauli area under Sonua police limits, about 40 km from Jareikela in Sundargarh district. In course of recovering the bodies, Jharkhand police exchanged fire twice with small Maoist groups in which Purty was killed at Kudabeda area on Friday.
The killing of villagers stemmed to the killing of Maoist sympathisers Somu Bodhra and Hangera Hansa Munda on March 3 over a dispute linked to a community gambling at Manmaru village under Tebo police limits. Families of the two had sought help of Maoists.
At a kangaroo court on March 10, three brothers Lita Odeya, Dodia Odeya and 15-year-old Malgu along with Hindu Odeya, Selai Odeya and Dongohani Purty were beaten to death.
West Singhbhum SP Pankaj Kamboj described the killing as a ‘revengeful’ act and said the bodies were buried on a hilltop. He said no kangaroo court was held and panicked villagers were made to remain present at gun points. Police also seized a revolver stolen from police, three 12 bore guns, a sophisticated hand grenade, two country made hand grenades, flash lights and explosive materials.
He denied that Andhra Pradesh-based Maoist Bishnudev Reddy was taking lead of Saranda and claimed that the Maoists continue to be on the run. Charhi Odeya who lost three sons in the incident pleaded for safety of villagers. Rourkela Police said these developments do not augur well for the prevailing peace at the border areas of Sundargarh and Jharkhand.