Police on the trail of Naxalites
Statesman News Service
BHOPAL, Oct. 14. — The police force of three states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra — are engaged in a major combing operation to nab the Naxalites who recently looted 9,000 kg of explosives from a truck in Roopjhar area of Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh.
The joint operation continuing in Balaghat district and border areas of Maharashtra and Chha-ttisgarh, has proved to be futile so far, police sources said.
On 6 October, about 40-50 Naxalites intercepted a truck loaded with 9 tonnes of explosives on Baihar Road between Banjari ghati and Logur village in Balaghat district. They took the truck along with its driver, Sandeep Paswan, and cleaner, Prakash Patel, to the nearby forests where they unloaded the explosives packed in scores of cartons. Sandeep and Prakash were kept as hostages for four days until the Naxalites finished dispatching the cargo to their hide-outs.
The truck was coming from Lalitpur-based Bharat Explosives Ltd in Uttar Pradesh. Its cargo of explosives was meant for the mines of Hindustan Copper Ltd. at Malajkhand in Balaghat district.
The Balaghat police woke up to the incident on 10 October when Sandeep and Prakash lodged an FIR about the incident with the Barhweli police station. The two hostages were released by the Naxalites on the same day.
The gelatine-based explosives looted by the Naxalites are not as powerful as RDX, but could be used for sabotaging roads, bridges, and buildings, sources said. They could also be used in the form of landmines. The Madhya Pradesh police have sought co-operation from Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh police to search for the looted explosives and hunt down the Naxalites.
The senior police officers of the three states also held a meeting at Gondiya in Maharashtra, about 40 kms away from Balaghat district headquarters, on 11 October in this connection, following which a joint operation was launched. Apart from the Balaghat police, anti-Naxalites state Hawk force are engaged in the operation.
This looting is said to be the most significant Naxalites' strike in its scale and planning in Madhya Pradesh over the last few years. The M P police have also alerted Andhra Pradesh since most of the Naxalites involved in the incident are believed to have come from there, sources said. They are considered to be affiliated to the leftist ultra outfit, CPI(M-L) People's War.
Most of the Naxal-infested districts in the undivided Madhya Pradesh were included in Chhattisgarh after the bifurcation of the state on 1 November 2000. Several dalams (groups) of Naxalites are operating in Chhattisgarh. Three districts, Balaghat, Dindori, and Mandla, are however still considered Naxal-affected in the existing Madhya Pradesh.
The Balaghat Range Inspector General of Police, Mr Sukhraj Singh, and the Superintendent of Police, Balaghat, Mr Jaideep Prasad, are monitoring the operation in the district. The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Intelligence, Mr Vijay Yadav, from the Police Headquarters has also gone to Balaghat to assess the situation.
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