Raipur/New Delhi, May 9: Maoists have abducted around 250 villagers in Chhattisgarh, and efforts were on for their release, Chief Minister Raman Singh said on Saturday.
Speaking to media persons in Bastar district, Raman Singh said most of the abducted villagers were connected with the ruling Bharatiya Jata Party.
The abductions took place even as Prime Minister rendra Modi visited the region on Saturday, and 11,000 additiol security personnel were deployed for the visit.
The villagers were reportedly on their way to Modi’s rally, against which the Maoists had called a shutdown in Bastar.
Sources, however, said around 500 people were abducted from Sukma district just hours before they were to attend Modi’s rally in Dantewada district.
The whereabouts of these 500 people from Mongra village in Tongpal region was not known yet.
The sources said that as the villagers gathered near the tiol highway to proceed to Dantewada, a group of around 100 Maoists - wearing army fatigues and carrying sophisticated weapons - arrived at the spot and took them away to a nearby forest area.
The Maoists also reportedly took away their mobile phones.
However, the state’s information commissioner Ganesh Shankar Mishra denied reports of any abduction by Maoists, and said the villagers had themselves gone to meet the insurgents.
He said some insurgents had come to the villages to prevent some government work from being done, and the villagers went with them to discuss the issue with their leaders.
Sources also said the Maoists were opposing the construction of a bridge in Bardi, and had earlier abducted 17 employees of a Hyderabad-based construction company.
Meanwhile, officials said Maoists uprooted railway tracks in Kamalur and Kumhar in Dantewada district during their bandh.
Officials said the movement of trains was stopped beforehand in view of the strike, and railway personnel were on their way to repair the broken tracks.
Meanwhile, Kawasi Lakhma, the Congress legislator from Sukma, also claimed on Saturday that Maoists abducted around 500 people, except women and children, from five villages.
He said around 2,000 Maoists entered the villages and abducted the people.
After reports of 500 people being held hostage by Maoists surfaced, a senior police officer in Chhattisgarh said such reports were “fiction created by the media”.
“Reports of 400-500 people being held are a fiction created by the media,” Inspector General of Police (Bastar) R.P. Kalluri told media persons.
“Only five-six people are being held by Maoists. We are negotiating with them to free the people,” he said. In Delhi, the union home ministry also denied a hostage-like situation in the state.
“There is no hostage-like situation there. We have got a report that some labourers gathered there at a construction site,” home ministry spokesman Kuldeep Singh Dhatwalia said. (IANS)