Pottangi, Feb 1: Challenging the state government’s recent claim of decline in Maoist activities, the ultras Sunday made their presence felt by torching seven vehicles at camp offices of several contractors in Koraput district.
The incidents took place in the dead of the night at Uparabarabandh, Chunmeta, Taupadar and Thuria villages in Kutia panchayat under Pottangi police limits as over a hundred ultras thronged the sites and torched the equipment – five earthmoving machines, a tractor and a mixture machine.
“The Srikakulam-Koraput divisional committee of the CPI (Maoist) is behind the attacks. We have launched a combing operation to nab the ultras,” said SP (Koraput) Charan Singh Meena.
Officials said two months ago, work had started for 11 road projects with a budget of Rs 11 crore to connect Kutia panchayat with Kunduli.
According to reports, the rebels first arrived at the camp office at Uparabarabandh village and set ablaze a JCB excavator after snatching the mobile phones from four workers. The project worth Rs 1.8 crore under PMGSY was awarded to contractor Patitapabannath Sharma.
Similarly, they went to a temporary camp at Chunameta (Kamuguda) village and burnt another JCB and a tractor laden with cement sacks. Thereupon, the ultras torched three JCBs at Taupadar village and two vibrating machines, a diesel generator, a water pump and a cutting machine near a bridge at Thuria village. The cost of the three JCBs would be approximately Rs 95 lakh, a staffer of the construction company said. One of the JCBs belonged to former MP Jayram Pangi, sources said.
The reason behind the torching of the vehicles was to halt the road widening work, according to a report.
The ultras also put up posters at several places warning the contractors against widening of the roads beyond three metres. They would resort to bloodshed if the width of the roads exceeded three meters, the posters put up on behalf of Srikakulum-Koraput Divisional Committee (CPI) Maoist said.
According to the workers engaged in the bridge project at Thuria village, the Maoists while leaving the site asked them not to continue working in the site otherwise they would be awarded death penalty. Contractor Upendra Kumar Patra was awarded the project.
Panic gripped nearby villages following the incident. PNN