Odisha’s Kandhamal is safe haven for Chhattisgarh Maoists: report

Maoist activities in Odisha, which were on the wane for the past few years, have revived again. Odisha’s Kandhamal has become the safe haven for Chhattisgarh Maoists following the 24 April Sukma attacks that claims the lives of 25 CRPF personnel.

Leading Odia daily Sambad has reported that at a time when the security forces are preparing to avenge the Sukma attacks, the Maoists in Chhattisgarh has chosen Kandhamal as their safe sanctuaries.

Though the local police have the lead about this development, they are yet to take any action.

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According to the report, a group of 20 Maoists were seen behind Kalinga B.Ed. College in G Udayagiri area in Kandhamal.

The report suggests that the dense forests in Phiringia, Chakapada, Raikia, Daringbadi, Kothagad and G Udaygiri have become the new den for the Chhattisgarh Maoists.

Kandhamal’s tryst with Maoism is not new. The southern Odisha district has seen several Maoist violence in the past.

In 28 April, the security forces exchanged gun fire with Maoists at Jajasapanga forest under Phiringia block in Kandhamal district.

In 2016, five civilians, including a 13-year-old boy, were killed in Kandhamal in a cross fire between the Maoists and the security forces.

In 2012, the Maoists had abducted two Italian nationals – Claudio Colangelo and Paolo Bosusco – from Kandhamal-Ganjam border and held them captive for 11 days and 29 days, respectively.

In 2010, the Maoists triggered a landmine blast in Brahamanigaon area of Kandhamal, blowing up an ambulance and killing five civilians including a three-year-old girl.

In 2008, Vedanta Keshari Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati was brutally murdered by Maoists along with four of his followers during a spiritual discourse at his Jaleshpata Hermitage in Kandhamal. Sabyasachi Panda — who is currently in Berhampur Circle Jail — had allegedly carried out the gruesome crime through two of his key lieutenants – Azad and Uday. Azad is currently lodged in Jharpada special jail in Bhubaneswar and Uday is in Kandhamal jail.

The Maoists might have pulled the trigger on frail body of the 84-year-old sanyasi, but several intelligence inputs suggest that the heinous crime was committed at the behest of Christian missionaries. Intelligence sources further indicate that a US-based Pentecostal Church funded Maoists to execute the attack on the revered Hindu monk.

Swami Lakshmanananda murder is a textbook case of Maoist-Missionary nexus. Sabyasachi Panda said on record that most Maoist cadre in Odisha are Christians, pointing to a deeper Missionary-Maoist nexus.

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