Monday, July 20, 2009

Naveen for stay of CRPF in Orissa

BHUBANESWAR: Worried over back-to-back attacks by the Naxalites in different parts of the State, including the killing of two security personnel in Sundargarh district, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday sent an SOS to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram requesting him to allow the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to continue in Kandhamal district till September 30. Naveen has also reiterated his demand for seven more battalions of CRPF to be deployed in the Naxalite-affected districts. The Centre has started withdrawal of CRPF from Kandhamal despite requests from Naveen to extend their stay. Now, five companies of CRPF are left in the strife-torn district.

The base of the Naxalites has increased in Kandhamal which witnessed communal violence last year. The attack on the Katingia police outpost under Bamunigaon police station by the Left-Wing Extremists (LWEs) late on Friday has left the district administration on tenterhooks as it will now have to deal with the situation without the Central forces.

Underscoring the need for deployment of CRPF in the district, Naveen said Kandhamal is Naxalite-affected and had witnessed communal strife last year.

The Centre has recently included Kandhamal in security-related expenditure (SRE) scheme because of the repeated attacks by the Naxalites at different places. The Naxalites had attacked a forest beat house near Daringbadi and triggered landmine blast. Sporadic incidents have taken place in the district pointing to increased presence of the extremists in the area.

Attacks on police stations and forest beat houses in inaccessible areas of Koraput, Gajapati, Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Kandhamal districts have now become regular.

The activities of the Naxalites are on the rise in Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks of Koraput district for the last six months. Ten security personnel were killed at Narayanpatna in a landmine blast suspected to have been triggered by the ultras 24 hours before the visit of Chidambaram to the area last month.

At a time when the Government is grappling with the problem in Narayanpatna block where tribals have seized land from non-tribals during the last one month leading to fleeing of non-tribals from the area, the killing of the sub-inspector in Sundargarh has put the police on the backfoot.

Last month, another police officer was killed by the Naxalites in Sambalpur district.

The incidents have turned out to be embarrassing for the State Government as the Budget session of the Assembly is going on. The Opposition is planning to raise the issue in the House on Monday during the discussion on the Budget for the Home department.

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