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Chhattisgarh Maoists call for economic blockade, police on alert


Raipur : Maoists in Chhattisgarh have called for a two-day economic blockade in the state's insurgency-hit Bastar region next week and police forces have been put on high alert to foil the rebels' plans.

Fearing large-scale violence and losses to iron ore mining in the southern region during the blockade June 26-27, security personnel have been deployed at several strategic points.

"Police and paramilitary troopers have been put on high alert in the Bastar region with extra policemen deployed at railway tracks, highways, government establishments and mining facilities to defuse the economic blockade called by Maoists," Sant Kumar Paswan, Chhattisgarh's acting director general of police, told IANS.

The Dandkaranya Special Zonal Committee, a frontal unit of the banned outfit Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), sent press releases to regional daily newspapers earlier this week, saying they would call for an economic blockade June 26-27 in Bastar.

The blockade, according to the Maoists, is to send across the message that the resources of the region belong to the locals of the area and is instead being exploited by private firms.

The Bastar region, spread across 40,000 sq km, is rich in minerals and forest resources. It is home to several private companies, including Essar Steel Ltd, and India's largest public sector iron ore producer and exporter National Mineral Development Corporation Ltd (NMDC).

Maoists have a strong presence in the interior pockets of the Bastar region, including Bastar, Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur and Kanker districts for over three decades.

NMDC has major mining facilities at Dantewada's Bailadila iron ore deposits.

Earlier this week, Maoists had carried out blasts on railway tracks and set on fire a conveyor belt of the NMDC at Bailadila, causing losses of millions of rupees.

The rebels have also opposed the formation of special economic zones (SEZs) in various parts of the country.