In a major strike, a superintendent of police and five policemen were killed Tuesday by Maoists in a forested stretch of Jharkhand while returning after an official meeting, police said.
Amarjit Balihar, the superintendent at Pakur, died with his colleagues after coming under a hail of gun fire in Dumka district, Jharkhand Director General of Police Rajiv Kumra told IANS.
Three other policemen were injured in the well-planned and audacious attack.
This was Balihar's first posting as superintendent in any district. He had taken charge in May. According to police sources, Balihar is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
According to Kumar, the deputy inspector general of police of Dumka range had called a meeting of senior officers in Dumka, around 350 km from Ranchi.
"Balihar was ambushed when he was returning to his office," Kumar said.
The attack took place in a jungle stretch between Kathikund and Gopikanar in Dumka as Balihar's convoy passed.
Around 40 to 50 guerrillas who had concealed themselves initially triggered a land mine and later fired at random at the police convoy in a classic Maoist style.
Balihar, a 2003 Indian Police Service batch officer, died instantly.
Director general Kumar rushed to Dumka by helicopter to take stock of the situation. Two companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been sent to Dumka.
Police said a massive combing operation had been launched in an attempt to catch the Maoists.
Jharkhand Governor Syed Ahmad and political parties condemned the attack and expressed their condolences to the affected families.
Police sources say the Maoists had been trying to execute a major operation like the one in Chhattisgarh in which many Congress leaders were killed.
Police officials say Maoists in Jharkhand are frustrated as they have been booted out of the Saranda forest area and eight of them were killed in Latehar district last week.
This is not the first time such a high-ranking official has been killed by the insurgents.
In 2000, just before Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar, Lohardagga's Superintendent of Police Ajay Kumar was killed by the Maoists.
The Communist Party of India-Maoist is active in 18 of Jharkhand's 24 districts.