Journalist killed in landmine blast reportedly planted by Maoists in Odisha’s Kalahandi district


Kalahandi, First Published Feb 5, 2022, 9:23 PM IST

A 43-year-old journalist of Odia daily, Dharitri died in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast on Saturday triggered by left-wing extremists in Kalahandi district’s Madanpur Rampur block on Saturday, days ahead of the panchayat polls in the state.

The journalist was identified as Rohit Biswal was trying to go near posters put up by suspected Maoists warning people not to vote in the coming panchayat polls in Mohangiri village in Madanpur-Rampur block, police said.

Police suspect that Rohit, a native of Mohangiri village, stepped on a pressure IED as he went towards one of the posters put up by the Red rebels. He succumbed on the spot at about 1 pm. A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) team has rushed to the spot after the incident.

“We received information about posters put up by Left Wing Extremists of the Madanpur Rampur area around 9.30 am. “Since morning we have been receiving photos of Maoist posters put up in the area asking people to boycott the polls. Sometimes Maoists put up IEDs near such posters and we normally don’t rush to take out such posters unless the area has been sanitised by bomb disposal squads. I suspect the reporter must have stepped on the IEDs planted under the road or gone too close to the posters which may have triggered the explosion. We are yet to get any clarity on how this happened,” said Sarvana Vivek M, Kalahandi SP.

Biswal’s death is the first instance of a journalist in Odisha getting killed in a Maoist violence. Kalahandi’s superintendent of police said police were the likely target of the IEDs.

There have been a series of posters put up by the CPI (Maoist) in Rayagada, Kandhamal and Kalahandi districts asking people not to participate in the upcoming rural polls.

Odisha is going into the panchayat elections beginning February 16 in five different phases. Though Maoist violence has witnessed a significant drop in the state, there are pockets where the Red rebels have been active.

Last Updated Feb 5, 2022, 9:23 PM IST

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