Dantewada, Sep 11 (ANI): Maoists ultras have been demanding huge sums of money from traders and contractors in poverty-stricken Chhattisgarh's Dantewada District, thereby threatening of dire consequences in case of non-compliance.
Several locals have received extortion threats in the form of letters from Maoists, demanding as much as Rs.1, 00, and 000 as 'protection money'.
In fact, they often threaten locals to blow up their houses in case they do not receive the amount.
An atmosphere of fear and distress prevails in these villages. Tribals, threatened by Maoists, have been forced to leave behind their homes and their source of livelihood.
The Maoists also demand money from traders and contractors who receive money to carry out development projects. The development work in these areas gets stalled, leading to further impoverishment.
Recently, a journalist and activist, Lingaram Kodopi was arrested along with a contractor, B.K. Lala, on the suspicion that they were allegedly involved in illegal money transfer.
Following reports quoting WikiLeaks that protection money was being given by Essar through contractors to Maoists, a case has been filed against the company, which has business operations in Chattisgarh.
It has been suspected that the accused were transferring money to Maoists on behalf of Essar Steel Limited.
Civil rights activists have condemned their arrest and felt that these two were being framed in the case.
Police officials informed that extortion threats were common and they were trying their best to maintain the law and order situation in the district.
"Maoists had extorted money from B.K.Lala, Lingaram Kodopi and Soni Sodi. When police surrounded the area, there was hustle and bustle, and the suspects fled the area. Kodopi is a resident of Sameli village. After interrogation, we have found out that money was being given to Maoists, one of them was from the Darbha division and his name was Raghu aka Vinod," said Dantewada Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg.
State authorities are stepping up development projects in the region under new plans sanctioned by the Central Government. Authorities are being cautioned that the contractors are being forced by Maoists to give a share of the money for executing development projects.
"We have received warnings regarding the same. We gather information extortions and try to solve such cases," said Garg. (ANI)