Nagpur, Dec 19 (IANS): In a bizarre development, Maoists have allegedly issued a press statement threatening to kill an Opposition lawmaker following certain local mining disputes, the Maharashtra Legislature was informed here on Monday.
Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar said that his party colleague and Nationalist Congress Party MLA from Aheri, Dharmarao Baba Atram was given the threat and demanded immediate security cover for him.
The threats came in the form of an announcement from the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist)'s Western Sub-Zonal Bureau to Atram, recently in the Maoist-infested Gadchiroli.
The Maoist groups have raised strong objections to the expansion of the Surajgarh Steel Project for mining iron ore, awarded to a Mumbai-based company, despite purported opposition by the local tribals and farmers, and have demanded that the project be stopped.
They claimed that tribals' opposition to the project was bulldozed by the government in 2013 and it came up by 2016, but though the company was allowed to mine around three tonnes of iron ore per year, the government has now raised it to 10 tonnes annually.
The 'reds' have said besides the tribals resentment, the project is also playing havoc with the environment as hundreds of hectares are being dug up for the iron ore, and now it will go up to 1,000 hectares, hitting at least 40 villages that depend on farming and foresting activities.
Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government has taken serious note of it and directed that Atram will be accorded security immediately.
On his part, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said that the Surajgad Steel Project has provided jobs to over 6,000 people and another 10,000 will get employments in the next phase of the project.
"Developmental and industrialisation activities in the Gadchiroli district will not be halted due to the fear of Maoists. There will be no laxity in providing security to Atram and he will be given proper security," assured Shinde.
Other prominent leaders like Congress President Nana Patole, Dr. Jitendra Awhad, Dilip Walse-Patil also raised the issue of the death threats to Atram and demanded action from the government.
Earlier, there have been violent repercussions to the project including killings and torching of vehicles belonging to the mining company.