‘Combing’ for naxals is a misnomer in Adilabad as there are hardly any forests left to carry out such meticulous and systematic search operations. Rapid denudation of tree cover in this district is a major reason cited by experts for the “low-key activities” by activists of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) since about three years now. The police here stay on their toes, especially during summer when beedi leaf collection gets underway in April. The beedi leaf contractors here have for long been an easy target for extortion by extremists.
The police are reported to be keeping the activities of contractors under vigil to prevent any unlawful activities. Beedi leaf collection is by and large concentrated in the forests on the east side of the district.
Adilabad Superintendent of Police S. Tripathi on Monday surveyed the hilly areas in Kerameri mandal, which forms the fringe of Mangi forests where a dozen members of Mangi dalam are reported to be mobile yet inactive in terms of any ‘action’.
Though it was a heart-rending sight so far as environment degradation is concerned, the visual from atop a watch tower on the Kerameri ghat road made it abundantly clear that movement of a group of people as in a dalam cannot be camouflaged within the confines of the jungles or whatever is left of it.
The district police had anticipated naxalites spilling over into Adilabad after the April 16 encounter at Sukma in Chhattisgarh and the one in neighbouring Gadchiroli on April 12. Anti naxal operation forces in the district were in a state of readiness due to such anticipation.
There was, however, no cross-over of Maoists and the police could breathe easy, at least temporarily.
An interaction with police officers involved in anti-extremist operations here pointed out the recent deforestation to be one of the main cause for the Maoists shunning entry in Adilabad.