Maoists abduct cop in Orissa, set conditions for release

Bhubaneswar, July 8 (Calcutta Tube) Maoists, enforcing a two-day shutdown to protest the killing of a top leader, abducted a police officer in Orissa’s Keonjhar district and have reportedly demanded the release of at least 68 tribals in order to free him, police said Thursday.

The Maoists had attacked a police building in the mining town of Daitari, about 150 km from here in Keonjhar, and abducted assistant sub-inspector of police Umesh Marandi Wednesday.

‘We want the release of 68 innocent tribals,’ a man claiming to be Maoist leader ‘Sunil’ told local television channel ETV Oriya from an undisclosed location, adding that the tribals were lodged in jails in Keonjhar district.

The man, whose voice was broadcast, described himself as the area commander of Kalinga Nagar division of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist. Accusing police of harassing innocent people, he said: ‘We want an end to police atrocity in Kalinga Nagar.’

Police said they were verifying the television clip. ‘This (the audio clip) has come to our notice. We are verifying it,’ Inspector General of Police (Operations) Sanjeev Marik told IANS.

The attack on the police station came during the CPI-Maoist shutdown called Wednesday and Thursday to protest the killing of their top leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad in an alleged shootout July 2 in Andhra Pradesh.

Road and rail services were hit in the interiors of Orissa. Traffic was thin in some areas of Malkangiri and Rayagada districts as heavy vehicles went off the road. Government buses were not plying in Rayagada district.

The movement of vehicles in some areas of Kandhamal district was also disrupted as the rebels blockaded several roads by felling trees.

The rebels torched at least two trucks and a dumper near Chunaghati village in the district of Sundergarh early Thursday when the vehicles were on their way to a mine to bring raw materials, police said.

However, life was unaffected in most parts of the state.

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