With security forces intensifying combing operation in Kandhamal district, armed Maoists have reportedly entered Sonepur through Boudh creating panic among the people.
Reports said 40 to 50 armed cadres, including women, visited Jharbahali-Pipalkanta village near Mankadbahal under Chadeipank gram panchayat and held a meeting on Sunday, their second over last two days.
The Maoists inquired about their welfare and problems and asked them to fight for their legitimate rights.
The Maoists reportedly had held two woodcutters captive for more than five hours and questioned them about PRI members and routes to Sambalpur. They also took away SIMs from their mobiles.
It is learnt that they are also fanning out to nearby villages and simultaneously interacting with people before converging at a point.
Reports of Maoists’ movement have also been received from Ranisarda forest near Menda village and meetings are slated to be held here late on Sunday.
As the district provides them gateway to Kandhamal via Boudh besides Sambalpur, Balangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi to down south, the Maoists are believed to have decided on spreading their wings in the district which had remained out of their bounds till now.
Confirmed sources said, the inability of the Maoists to expand their base beyond Sambalpur has forced them to rejig their strategy. And under the new strategy, they made their presence felt in Mayurbhanj before moving to Sonepur.
The Maoists have found Birmaharajpur sub-division with good green cover and deprived of basic amenities, a soft target.