Hostage crisis? 500 villagers 'abducted' by Naxals as PM Modi visits Dantewada

Around 500 villagers from Marenga village and adjoining villages in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh were taken hostage by Naxals, who were apparently angered over their support to the construction of a bridge in Tongpal area of Chhattisgarh's Sukma district, police said.

 Hostage crisis? 500 villagers abducted by Naxals as PM Modi visits Dantewada

Representational image. Reuters

The incident took place on Friday night ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the Naxal-affected state.

"Large number of armed cadres stormed into Marenga and adjoining villages under restive Tongpal police station limits late last night and took away 400-500 villagers, including women and children, along with them," Sukma Additional Superintendent of Police, Harish Rathore told PTI.

After getting information about the incident security personnel were mobilised in the dense forests of Tongpal for search operations, he said, adding efforts are on to trace their location.

Meanwhile, RP Kalluri, IG Bastar Range, said, "The hostage situation is a fiction created by the media....Yesterday, some Maoists came to the village where bridge construction is underway and they have taken five-six labourers who were working on the bridge.

"As a usual practice, some villagers of Marenga and nearby villagers have gone to the jungle to speak to the Maoists, negotiate and bring these five-six labourers back...but reports of 500-600 villagers held by Maoists is total fiction," he said.

BJP leader Srichand Sundrani, on the other hand said, "If they (Naxals) want to present themselves in front of the PM in this way, it shows their cowardice. The government will never bow down before Naxals," he told news agency ANI.

Modi's visit to Chhattisgarh is aimed at taking stock of socio-economic development initiatives being taken there. He's the first Prime Minister since Rajiv Gandhi to visit the district.

Two mega projects for setting up of ultra mega steel plant and second phase of Rowghat-Jagdalpur railway line will be inaugurated during Modi's visit, state government officials said.

The Prime Minister also interacted with the students as he visited an education city. The visit was aimed at providing education to under-privileged children living in the area.

The education city spread across over 100 acres and built at the cost of approximately Rs 120 crore provides residential and classroom educational facilities.

It is estimated to serve almost 5,000 most deprived children of the region every year by providing them the opportunity to have quality education.

Modi will also visit a livelihood college, that has been imparting necessary skills to youths living in Dantewada region to help them get suitable employment opportunities.

Dantewada, the worst Naxal-affected district of Chhattisgarh, under Bastar region is rich in mineral resources, especially iron ore. The area has been witnessing Naxal attacks in the past.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for setting up of the ultra-mega steel plant at Dilmili village in Dantewada, with a capacity of three million tonne every year, will be signed during Modi's visit.

Chhattisgarh will have direct investment of more than Rs 18,000 crore through this project. Over 10,000 people in the region will have direct and indirect employment opportunities through this project, they added.

Another MoU for the second phase of a railway-link between Rowghat and Jagdalpur will be inked during the Prime Minister's visit.

The 140-km rail link, to be constructed at a cost of Rs 24,000 crore, will connect Bastar region with important cities of the state like Raipur, Bilaspur and Durg. The rail link will also help in easy and cheaper transportation of iron ore for industries.

These two projects are expected to rapidly help in socio-economic transformation of Bastar which is considered as backward region, the officials said.

(With inputs from PTI)

Updated Date: May 09, 2015 13:14:01 IST