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Mar 19, 2013 at 12:41pm IST

Maoists lying low in Narayanpatna leaves police puzzled

Koraput: With intensified combing operations by security forces, the Maoists, who were calling the shots in Narayanpatna area of Odisha's Koraput district since 2009, have retreated to the forests. Around 90 Maoists were arrested and at least three others killed in encounters with the police since January, 2012, official sources said.

However, Maoists suffered a major setback in the past two months as at least 944 tribals deserted the Naxal-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), which the banned outfit was using as a shield to carry out its activities. The police said with intensified combing operations, especially by the BSF, the Special Operations Group and theDistrict Voluntary Force, the Maoists have retreated to the forests.

Earlier, Maoists were enjoying a free run in the area. They were visiting the villages regularly and also getting support from many locals. But with a change in the situation, now the ultras have also changed their tactics, a senior police officer said.

Maoists lying low in Narayanpatna leaves police puzzled

Silence on the part of the rebels is very mysterious and we can't underestimate their firepower, a police officer said.

Apprehending that the villagers may inform police about their movements, the left-wing extremists are avoiding visits to villages, though they are very much present in the thick forests of Narayanpatna bordering Andhra Pradesh, the officer said.

The Maoists are desperately trying to regain their lost tribal support base in the area and it will be a mistake on the part of the police if they take the extremists lightly,another police officer with a note of caution said. Neither was any top Maoist leader arrested, nor killed during operations, making it difficult to conclude that Narayanpatna had completely slipped away from Maoist control, a senior para-military force officer on condition of anonymity.

Silence on the part of the red rebels is very mysterious and we can't underestimate their firepower. At any moment they can mount an offensive, the officer said. To cash in on its recent successes, the police is contemplating setting up BSF camps at Mankidi, Tengulipadar and Bijaghati in Narayanpatna area.

Once the three camps become functional, the Maoist movement would be completely restricted, said Sub-Divisional Police Officer (Laxmipur) Y Jagannath Rao.