ROURKELA: High density of population in the slums combined with rising floating population offer a safe haven for anti-national forces in Sundargarh district and cosmopolitan city of Rourkela in particular.
The district continues to be a sitting duck in the absence of any mechanism and intelligence network for Rourkela district police (RDP) and Sundargarh district police (SDP) to track potential threats in floating population. The arrest of five SIMI operatives from Nala Road with intelligence inputs from Telangana police and IB is not an isolated case.
Sources said about two decades back, two Khalistani terrorists had taken shelter in the Steel City and were later gunned down after a chase in a forest under Bargaon police limits of Sundargarh.
A top woman Maoist Shoba alias Sushila Munda was also arrested from Lathikata near here, while another Maoist Ashutosh Tudu was staying at Sector-2 slum before his arrest. Rourkela city, comprising areas under Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) and Rourkela Industrial Township of RSP, has a total population of about 5.25 lakh with slum clusters housing more than 2.5 lakh slum dwellers.
High density of floating population acts as a cover for criminal elements, who sneak in from the neighbouring states including Jharkhand, and easily mix with locals of their linguistic origin.
Despite persistent threat factors, Rourkela police failed to enforce norms for building owners asking them to verify the past records of tenants. Moreover, SIM cards are easily available without valid documents.
Rourkela District Congress Committee president Biren Senapati said due to lax policing, criminals from outside the district use Rourkela as hideouts, putting the life of the citizens here at risk.
Rourkela police also score poorly when it comes to sensitising denizens to keep a watch on suspicious activities in their neighbourhood.
The locality from where SIMI operatives were arrested is a stone’s throw away from Plant Site police station. Though the densely populated Nala Road is the nucleus of criminal activities, police hardly dare to venture into the area. The illegal Bangladeshi settlement adjacent to Railway Overbridge near Sector-21 continues to be a potential threat with rise of illegal settlers.
Growth of mining and industrial operations have converted Sundargarh headquarters town into the destination for the floating population.
Hemgir block bordering Chhattisgarh is high on coal mining, while Koida block bordering Jharkhand is a major supplier of iron ore. Rajgangpur, Birmitrapur, Bonai, Lahunipara, Kutra, Kuanrmunda, Bisra and other remote pockets with industrial or mining operations have a sizeable floating population.
Rourkela-based IGP (WR) R K Sharma said in the present context, the RDP and SDP are doing their best in containing crimes. Efforts are underway to strengthen intelligence networks to track anti-national forces and criminals taking shelter in the district.