Republic Day celebrated first time in decades in Maoist bastion in Odisha

The 72nd Republic Day was a double delight for the people in Odisha’s Malkangiri district on Tuesday.

For the first time in five decades, the Day was celebrated in two panchayats in Swabhiman Anchal (previously known as Cut-Off area), which was earlier controlled by the outlawed CPI (Maoist).

“After the area was cut-off from the rest of the district due to a reservoir project in early 1970s, left wing extremists had established their domination. On October 31 last, the BSF and the Odisha police set up a camp at Gurasethu, which marked fading out of the Maoists’ influence,” Rishikesh Dnyandeo Khilari, Malkangiri SP, told The Hindu.

“For the first time after several decades, Republic Day was celebrated and the national flag was hoisted in Panasput and Jadambo panchayats inside Swabhiman Anchal,” said Mr. Khilari.

During the past one year, security forces have strengthened their presence in Swabhiman Anchal by laying roads despite stiff resistance from the left wing extremists. Jadambo was sort of capital for them in Swabhiman Anchal.

After welfare projects including mobile phone connectivity and drinking water facilities were taken up, villagers started supporting security forces. Often in the past, the Maoist cadre forced people to hoist black flags on Republic Day.

After the takeover of Gurasethu, the Maoists have been pushed to Jantri situated at the extreme end of the reservoir. Security forces are now trying to reclaim it.

At the State-level celebrations in Bhubaneswar, Governor Ganeshi Lal hoisted the tri-colour while Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik attended as chief guest. General public were not allowed to attend the celebrations this year in the wake of the pandemic. About 25 platoons of police were deployed for the State-level celebrations.

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