SAMBALPUR: Worried over largescale desertion and fast depleting cadres, the Maoists are desperate to strengthen their base and undertake largescale recruitment by resorting to their old arsenal of ‘psychological warfare’. The filing of an interlocutory application in the Supreme Court, seeking fresh ‘Palli Sabhas’ to reconsider mining of bauxite from Niyamgiri Hill through Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and the killing of Manda Kadraka by security forces during combing operation in an encounter in the Niyamgiri Hills on February 27, have come as a shot in the arm for the Maoist operating in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts. The fact that the security forces have acknowledged the presence of Sukhdev alias Bunty in the encounter, speaks about the motive of the Maoists.
The Left Wing Extremists (LWE), who already have a large congregation in Telen Reserve Forest in Madanpur Rampur block of Kalahandi despite encounters, are in no mood to relent and keep the issue of Niyamgiri on the boil. Their strategy is aimed at isolating the State Government and the bandh call in five blocks of Kalahandi and Rayagada blocks reestablishes the fact. In fact, ever since Supreme Court turned down the proposal for bauxite mining from Niyamgiri Hills and Dongria Kondhs rejected it in the 12 Palli Sabhas, the State Government has been looking for options to provide bauxite to aluminium based industries in the State. With uncertainty looming large over the fate of Posco and Mittal Arcelor walking out of Odisha, the State Government is desperate to save its image as investment destination. Industries like Vedanta Limited already feeling the heat in the absence of bauxite and iron industries facing acute shortage of raw material, Niyamgiri and Gandhamardan have remained the last hope for the State Government to mine bauxite.
With mass movement forcing Balco out of Gandhamardan in early 80’s, the State Government is not daring to touch Gandhamardan even as it is testing waters in Niyamgiri. But the timing of the proposal went against the State Government as it failed to visualise the assembly of the Dongria Kondhs, Jharania Kondhs and Kutia Kondhs for Niyam Raja Parab, the presiding deity atop the Niyamgiri hills. With villagers getting caught in the crossfire between Maoists and security forces, it has united the Kondhs against the State Government sealing all the chances of any rapprochement. This has forced the State Government on the back-foot, giving the Maoists the much needed fillip.