Bhopal/Raipur, April 18: A virtual army of over 2,500 Maoists armed with automatic weapons laid siege to Usoor village in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, forcing hundreds of frightened villagers to flee their homes while the Central and State governments continued to wallow in indecision. Many of the villagers who fled their homes were accommodated in government-run relief camps, which are already overflowing with refugees. Crouching inside the local police station was a force of 30 without even the basic facilities, like barracks and toilets, or the manpower.
Police sources told this newspaper on condition of anonymity that the Maoists’ immediate motive may have been to create safe passage for the movement of arms and ammunition captured from the SAF armoury at Murkinar during Sunday’s daring raid in which 11 policemen were gunned down.
Usoor is barely a few kilometres from the Andhra Pradesh border. The sources said the ground level situation was so bad that an outright revolt in the force wasn’t unlikely. The response from the police and political bosses in the State was one of complete indifference despite full knowledge of the gunpowder keg waiting to explode at their doorstep.
Such was the paralysis that had seized the government, said the sources, that even the conference of collectors and superintendents of police convened by the Chhattisgarh government last Sunday turned out to be an unmitigated farce. In fact, there weren’t even enough seats to accommodate the participants.
The danger of the Naxalite menace was brushed aside with the response that the moment the proposals for a proper police set-up was approved by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), 70 per cent of the problem would be over. The set-up proposal has been lying with the BPR&D for over four years. A revised proposal was given four months ago, but even this seems to have been consigned to the backburner.