Raipur: One villager among those held as hostages was beaten to death after being tried in a “people’s court” and the rest were freed late evening on Saturday after Maoist rebels took around 250 villagers hostage in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to neighbouring Dantewada.
Sukma superintendent of police D. Shravan said the “Naxals killed a villager identified as Sadaram Nag by holding a so-called Jan Adalat in the forests between Gaadem and Munga villages under Tongpal police station limits and released the others”.
As per information, the freed villagers were returning to their homes, carrying Nag’s body with them, Shravan told PTI over phone. Security forces were mobilized in the region to catch the Maoists, Shravan added.
The Maoist rebels abducted the residents of Marenga and some adjoining villages within Tongpal police stations limits late on Friday night and herded them to a nearby forest in protest against construction of a bridge. According to police, the villagers had incurred the rebels’ wrath by supporting the development work in the area. Sadaram Nag was supervisor at construction of a bridge on a river near Marenga which may be the reason behind his murder, the SP said.
“Around 200-250 villagers have been abducted and 4-5 others (locals) are negotiating their release,” chief minister Raman Singh told reporters earlier in the day after conflicting claims were made by police officials on the number of villagers forcibly taken by the rebels.
Additional superintendent of Police, Sukma, Harish Rathore, said anywhere between 400 and 500 villagers were “taken away” to the jungles by the rebels opposing construction of a bridge, while inspector general of Police, Bastar region, R.P. Kalluri, called it a “fiction” created by the media.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi, who was on a visit to Dantewada on Saturday, said there was no future for violence in democracy. “Only plough on the shoulders and not guns can bring development. And this will bring everyone to the mainstream of the country,” Modi said. “There is no future for violence. The future is only of peaceful means. The birth place of Naxal movement Naxalbari has already given up this violent means. Don’t get disheartened,” he added.
“The macabre drama of death will end,” he said, referring to Naxal violence in the state, and added “a lot of people have been killed by “mad men on the path of violence”.
The Maoists have been opposing construction of a bridge on a river near Marenga village that they apprehended would facilitate increased mobility of security forces during operations against them. The Maoists, who had called for a boycott of the Prime Minister’s visit and a ‘Dandakaranya Bandh’ on Friday and Saturday, went on rampage in several parts of Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bastar region, damaging rail tracks on Kirandul-Visakhapatnam route and blocking roads.
The bandh has hit normal life in the Bastar region with private transporters suspending their services. The rebels also blocked roads in the interiors of Sukma and Bijapur districts by felling trees and digging roads, the official said, adding there were reports of villagers being prevented from attending Modi’s programmes in Dantewada.