Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who also holds the home portfolio, has ensured that Maoist rebels do not step up their activities by taking advantage of either the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic or the onset of the rainy season. In states such as Chhattisgarh, the pandemic has given the rebels an opportunity to make fresh recruitments and ramp up their violent operations. They have taken advantage of the fact that even the police force of the neighbouring state has been engaged in enforcing Covid protocol to bring down the number of positive cases.
However, even though the men and women in khaki have been engaged in work related to Covid-19 control in Odisha as well, the state government has seen to it that their primary job of maintaining law and order is not affected in any manner because of the pandemic. The Chief Minister, who is keenly aware of the fact that the Maoists might make wrong use of such situations, has kept the force fully ready to deal with any kind of emergency.
Thus, there has been no let-up in the operation against rebels in the areas where they have been active. The latest encounter between the Maoists and the police took place at Kumbhaharu village in Kandhamal district, with jawans of the Special Operations Group (SOG) and District Voluntary Force (DVF) destroying a camp of the rebels and seizing a huge cache of arms and ammunitions.
The exchange of fire between the two sides followed an intensive combing operation in the area where the Maoists were camping. The SOG and DVF jawans moved towards the camp after getting reliable intelligence inputs on the presence of the rebels who, when challenged, tried to escape under the cover of the dense forest. The entire area was combed by the jawans who have been trying to flush the rebels out of their hide-outs in different parts of the state.
Top police officers are also keenly aware of the fact that the Maoists generally intensify their activities during the rainy season when forest tracks become muddy, making the movement of security forces difficult. This is also the season when the rebels organize most of their training camps for new recruits. However, with the Chief Minister determined to wipe out the menace of left-wing extremism from the state, the police top brass is not taking any chances. The force has intensified the operation against the rebels irrespective of the weather conditions.
It is this determination of the government that is making the rebels nervous. In the recent past, the police have notched up several successes against the Maoists with massive capture of arms and ammunitions. Unnerved by the ever-intensifying police operations against them, some rebels have also given up arms and sought the opportunity to join the social mainstream. As it is, the Chief Minister has appealed to the rebels several times to give up their violent ways and return to the mainstream. Those who have done so have reaped the benefits. Hopefully, there were will be more surrenders in the coming days.