100 armed Maoists have sneaked into Satkosia wildlife sanctuary, about 60 kms from here, apparently to set up their base. The intrusion of such huge number of Maoists has triggered panic not only among the people of 75 villages in Satkosia but also among the forest officials. Reports from Satkosia villages stated that in the last two days, three to four groups of heavily armed Red rebels held meetings with people of Chutkei, Majhipara, Goindi, Tuluka villages and other areas. During their interaction, the Maoists tried to stoke the dissatisfaction among the people for backwardness and Government apathy to their woes. The presence of the armed Maoists was also confirmed by Forest department officials who said five of their personnel were severely beaten up at Chuari camp by the ultras.
When the forest staff challenged them on Wednesday night suspecting them to be poachers, they were attacked by the ultras inflicting injuries. According to Chutkei villagers, around 10 heavily armed Maoists visited their village on Tuesday evening. They asked for food and enquired about the villagers’ condition before vanishing in forest next morning with stern warning not to speak to police. The ultras also held similar meetings in others areas. Sanctuary officials are now a worried lot.
It is well known that the Maoists used to have a safe corridor along the border areas of the sanctuary earlier. However, the motives of the ultras are yet to be ascertained. It is suspected that either they have entered the restricted sanctuary area under police pressure elsewhere or they want to hide here taking advantage of dense forest and people’s large scale discontentment with the State Government. Angul Superintendent of Police Rajesh Pandit Uttam Rao, who is closely monitoring the situation, said, “We are verifying the reports received from Satkosia villagers.” The entry into Satkosia by armed cadres poses a major challenge to police since their advance into a few kilometres from Angul town can prove to be a strategic gain if they are not flushed out soon.
Police on High Alert in Satkosia Sanctuary
ANGUL:In the wake of armed Maoists’ movement in Satkosia wildlife sanctuary, police have remained on high alert to prevent any violent incident and flush them out of the area. “We have registered two cases – one relating to assault on a sanctuary official and the other regarding snatching of Rs 50,000 from another staff – at Purunakote police station. Angul Sub-Divisional Police Officer RN Deo has been asked to inquire into two cases,” said Angul SP Rajesh Pandit Uttam Rao.
Talking to this paper, Rao said police have kept a close watch on the situation and taken all possible measures to contain the menace. Meanwhile, panic has gripped the population of entire Satkosia sanctuary following intrusion of armed Maoist cadres into their areas. Even police personnel do not remain present at Purunakote police station at night. The forest staff also prefer to guard the sanctuary in civil dress instead of uniform. According to sources, Maoists’ presence in Satkosia is nothing new and police are well aware of it.
But what worries the police authorities now is the growing alienation of the local population because of the imposition of stringent laws in restricted area like ban on fishing in Mahanadi and others. It is very difficult for the inhabitants to lead a normal life in the sanctuary area for the restrictions. Police also fear that the deprivation of the people may be exploited by Left ultras if remedial measures are not taken urgently.