Security was heightened as a ‘Martyrs’ Week’ called by the Maoists began Wednesday in their Bastar stronghold in Chhattisgarh amid fears of attacks in the region.
“Security has always been in top gear in the entire 40,000 sq km in the Bastar region, but it has been further scaled up in view of the martyrs week as the rebels will try their best to damage government property and terrorize civilians,” T.J. Longkumer, inspector general of police of the Bastar region,
The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist has called on its cadres and people to observe the martyrs week in memory of rebel leader Charu Majumdar, founder of India’s Maoist movement, who died in police custody July 28, 1972. The week also commemorates other Maoists who have died in the operations of the security forces.
According to the police, security has been beefed up in the forest interiors of all five districts of Bastar – Dantewada, Bijapur, Bastar, Narayanpur and Kanker.
Police patrolling and drives to detect landmines in insurgency-hit areas, including National Highway-221 in Dantewada and National Highway 16 in Bijapur, have been stepped up.
Maoists have a presence in 13 of Chhattisgarh’s 18 districts.
Around 2,000 people, half of them civilians, have lost their lives to the Maoist insurgency since Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in November 2000.
Maoists have killed 231 people in 2010 alone, of which 76 paramilitary troopers lost their lives in the Dantewada massacre April 6.
Buses and commercial vehicles went off the roads in parts of Orissa as Maoists Wednesday began observing ‘Martyrs’ Week’ in memory of rebel leaders killed by security forces, police said.
“Government and private buses are not running in the interior areas of Malkangiri, Rayagada and Gajapati districts. The operators kept vehicles off the road for fear of a Maoist attack,” a police officer said.
The rebels have put up posters and distributed leaflets in many places of these regions asking people to join hands with them in the so-called war they have launched against the government and the system.
Maoists have presence in more than half the state’s 30 districts. Malkangiri, Rayagada and Gajapati districts are considered their strongholds.
“We have beefed up security in interior areas. Security forces and the local administration have been told to remain alert,” he added.
Charu Majumdar, founder of India’s Maoist movement, had died in police custody July 28 in 1972. The guerrillas have been observing ‘Martyr’s Week’ since then.