BARGARH: After remaining confined to Gandhamardan Hill Range in Paikmal block of Bargarh district and Barapahad Hill Range bordering Chhattisgarh under Bhatli police limits, there have been unconfirmed reports of Maoists making forays into Barapahad Hill Range under Attabira police limits in the district.
It is learnt that the Maoists declared their arrival by holding meetings at villages in the foothills. The meeting at Kharmunda village on Wednesday, however, had to be cancelled after security forces got wind of it and launched a combing operation. Prior to this, they had reportedly held meetings at Gadgaddala and Aamjhar under Kharmunda and Tangarpali gram panchayats respectively.
The Barapahad Hill Range stretches from Hirakud Dam on one side through Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary to Chhattisgarh bordering Odisha through Bhatli and Ambabhona in Bargarh district.
If villagers are to be believed, a big group of Maoists is holed up inside the forest. Besides reaching out to the villagers, they are getting closer to Hirakud Dam in a bid to find a forest route to Sambalpur and Jharsuguda districts.
Jharsuguda is strategically located on the other side of Hirakud Dam Reservoir and they might well take boats to cross over to the district. Although the Maoists have been eyeing the industrialised district for long, they have so far failed to make any inroads. Their presence in Jharsuguda will not only help them raise fund for their activities but also develop a quadrangle connecting Sundargarh, Kuchinda and Deogarh besides Bargarh.
Earlier, the Maoists had conducted meetings at Khajria, Santra and Jhagdabehera in Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary area of Barapahad Forest Range of the district. They had called upon the people to revolt and resist limestone mining by ACC Cements at Dungri for its plant at Bargarh.
Although sources in the State Police said that they have been chased back to Chhattisgarh, reports trickling in declared their return to the district.