A group of Maoist supporters on Monday demolished a martyrs column' erected by the red rebels, burnt their effigies and surrendered before the police and BSF in Odisha's Malkangiri district.

The incident occurred in Rallegada Gram Panchayat located in the Cut Off areas, now called Swabhiman Anchal, which was earlier a Maoist hotbed. The area is encircled by water on three sides while another is connected to a dense forest of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

As many as 150 Maoist supporters also took pledges not to further help the members of the outlawed CPI (Maoist).

This is part of Odisha Police's Ghar Wapasi' Initiative. The interior and Maoist-infected villages are being brought to the mainstream. We are instilling confidence in people to ensure they approach the police and administration to help speed up development, Malkangiri SP Nitesh Wadhwani said.

Left-wing ultras operating in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh used to take shelter in the Cut Off area as it was almost inaccessible for security personnel.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in July 2018 inaugurated the Gurupriya bridge' over the Janbai river in the area which was cut off for around five decades in the Maoist-hit zone of the district.

An election was held in the area for the first time in 15 years in 2019.

Those who surrendered during the day also burnt Maoist dress and literature and shouted slogans like "Maobadi Murdabad".

BSF DIG SK Sinha said that the people got the confidence to raise their voice against the Maoist due to the strong presence of security personnel in their region.

The police and BSF also distributed sports kits, sarees and other clothing items among the people who pledged to return to the mainstream.

The district administration also gave them job cards and informed them about various government schemes in agriculture, livelihood and others.

We also appeal on behalf of Odisha Police and Malkangiri administration to the remaining Maoists to shun violence, lay down arms and join the mainstream, the SP said.

Earlier on June 2, as many as 50 Maoist supporters had surrendered before the Odisha DGP in Malkangiri. Nine days later, 397 others too joined the mainstream.

Police sources said that 37 jawans of counter-insurgency force Greyhound, seven BSF personnel, four Odisha Police personnel and 40 local tribal people were killed by the Maoists over the years. Thousands also fled the area out of fear, they said.

Swabhiman Anchal, comprising nine Gram Panchayats and 182 villages, was earlier considered the safe haven of the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of the CPI (Maoist) for more than two decades.

The area is undergoing a fast turnaround, the SP said.

It now has schools, pucca roads, ambulance service besides livelihood projects like pisciculture. While people are getting boat service for transportation, they now have mobile tower installation on a priority basis.