Steady surrender by naxal sympathisers in Odisha’s Malkangiri district

Naxal sympathizers surrender before Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Nitesh Wadhwani in Odisha.

Naxal sympathizers surrender before Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Nitesh Wadhwani in Odisha. | Photo: Special Arrangement

As many as 907 sympathizers, including 467 active militiamen, have surrendered to Odisha police and the Border Security Force (BSF) at Swabhiman Anchal, once a stronghold of left-wing extremists.

The surrender of a large number of sympathizers and active militia is seen as a significant change in the fight against the outlawed CPI (Maoist).

These 907 people, including women, belonged to Andrapali, Gajalmamudi, Jantri, Nakamamudi, Jodambo and Panasput gram panchayats in Odisha’s Malkangiri District and Bungaput gram panchayat and Kumuda gram panchayats in Andhra Pradesh’s Alluri Sitharam Raju district.

These gram panchayats used to be CPI (Maoist) stronghold where security forces had difficulty venturing.

“All these villages are on the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border. These Maoist followers were involved in violent activities helping the extremists and killing of security forces and civilians,” Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Nitesh Wadhwani said.

Mr. Wadhwani said, “The surrender represents a growing opposition to the Maoist ideology. Before surrendering, they raised slogans against the CPI (Maoist). . The development initiatives of the state government along with the strategic deployment of security forces motivated the citizens to join the mainstream.”

Swabhiman Anchal, the erstwhile Cut-off area, used to be a remote region and accessible only by boat. After building a bridge over Gurupriya, Swabhiman Anchal was not cut off.

Citizens, who stayed inside their homes during elections, voted in large numbers in the recent Panchayat elections. The percentage of votes was over 82%. Currently, nine Company Operating Bases (COBs) of the Border Security Force are functioning in Swabhiman Anchal. Also there are two police stations of Odisha government.

The state government created a specific fund for the development of the region. Now, almost all villages within Swabhiman Anchal have Anganwadi Centers. Medical facilities have also been created.

The road network and mobile towers have been the most prominent development in the region. There are 28 mobile towers in operation. It works both ways. While mobile towers help people stay in touch with the daily happenings of the world, intelligence gathering has become easier for security forces.

“By April 2023, eight to nine school hostels would be operational, and now all the villages want to establish a school in their area,” said Malkangiri SP.

As the development work was progressing at a brisk pace, the civil administration and security forces have clamped down on Swabhiman Anchal. The last reported exchange of fire in the Andhra-Odisha Border region was in 2021.

There has been continuous mainstreaming of Naxal sympathizers in the region. Before 907 sympathizers surrendered, 50 Maoist militants returned to their main active ranks before Odisha Director General of Police Sunil Bansal on June 2, 2022. Similarly, 347 Maoist followers surrendered before Malkangiri police and BSF at Jantri BSF camp. It was followed by 550 people on 11 June 2022 at Janbai BSF camp on 22 August 2022 and 313 militiamen from Andrahal gram panchayat on 17 September. Another large group of 410 entered Jantapai on 5th November.

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