A day after Maoists abducted the district collector of Sukma in Chhattisgarh, police in Odisha have strengthened security arrangements along the border areas on suspicion that the Red rebels may try to sneak into Malkangiri district in search of a safe heaven as the southern district shares a boundary with the neighbouring state.
The 2006 batch IAS officer Alex Paul Menon was kidnapped by a group of Maoists from Manjipara village while he was interacting with a group of villagers about a government outreach programme. Sources said that as the crime spot, from where the collector was kidnapped, lies at a distance of just 15 km from Odisha's border, the rebels may try to enter into Malkangiri district to avoid the glare of security men, as anti-Naxalite operations have been halted due to the ongoing MLA Jhina Hikaka hostage crisis.
"As anti-Naxalite operations have been almost stopped in south Odisha because of the hostage crisis, the Red rebels may find it safe to enter the forests of Odisha's Malkangiri district," a source at Malkangiri said.
However, police sources said there is the least possibility of the Maoists trying to come to Odisha along with the abducted collector. "Though Sukma shares a boundary with Malkangiri district, it is most unlikely that they will come to Odisha. But we can't be complacent. Security along the border areas has been beefed up and the inter-state borders have been sealed. Patrolling has been intensified," said DIG (south-west range) Saumeyendra Priyadarsi.
Police said that the abductors will feel safe in Chhattisgarh as the state government will be under pressure and may not initiate any operation to rescue the collector. "In 2011 when Maoists abducted the then Malkangiri collector they did not take him to Andhra Pradesh. Also, in Hikaka's case the abductors have not taken him to Andhra because the rebels feel safe in their own state as the government may not dare to initiate any action," said a senior police officer deployed in anti-Naxalite operations in Malkangiri.
"Though to some extent counter insurgency operations have been suspended in Malkangiri, we are keeping a track on the rebels' movement and security men are kept on alert to avoid any eventuality," the officer added.