Maoists kill 13 cops in Jharkhand

Zilla Parishad president, government official go missing

Maoists kill 13 cops in Jharkhand

Maoists in Jharkhand on Saturday mounted a major offensive on Garhwa district triggering a blast that killed 13 policemen and injured two security personnel.

Bodies of policemen are seen after a landmine blast in the jungles of Bariganwa, in Jharkhand, India, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. Suspected Maoist rebels triggered a powerful landmine explosion Saturday killing 13 policemen in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, a top police official said. AP

“The Maoists today (on Saturday) triggered a blast on an anti-landmine vehicle and killed 13 policemen and injured two in the Barabali jungle under the Bhandaria Police station area in Garhwa district,” Jharkhand’s Director-General of Police G S Rath told Deccan Herald over the phone.

The policemen were escorting a government official and a zilla parishad president to a remote village.

According to Superintendent of Police Michael S Raj, the incident happened “around 11 am when a patrol party in an anti-landmine vehicle was passing the stretch of jungle between Burgar and Bhandaria police stations.

“The policemen were escorting Zilla Parishad President Sushma Mehta, member Hirwanti Devi and Bhandaria BDO Basudeb Prasad, who were going to a remote village, Kashetar, inside the jungle.”

“The villagers had created a blockade, protesting against the poor condition of primary health centres. The team was going to speak with the people,” police sources said.

Lying in wait

At least 50 Maoists were waiting, said the sources, “when the officials and security personnel were moving through that area.  The Maoists opened fire and drew the security personnel into an ambush. After triggering the landmine blast, the Maoists began indiscriminate firing.

“The powerful landmine blew off the vehicle and killed 11 of the 15 personnel inside the van. Officer-in-Charge of Bhandaria police station Raj Bali Chowdhury, who was in the police van, and a driver of the anti-landmine vehicle were thrown into the burning jeep. Chowdhury and his driver were killed on the spot,” Raj said.

“The Maoists have also decamped with 13 rifles of the police,” he added. “Additional forces have rushed to the spot and an intensive combing operation is on.”

Zilla Parishad president Sushma Mehta and others were reportedly missing after the incident.

The Maoists, claiming responsibility for the incident, demanded the release of one of their leaders and warned that such incidents would recur. “Police have not only intensified the joint operation but also arrested one of our leaders. And he is not even produced in the court,” the rebels said.

On December 3, last year, 10 people, including eight policemen, were killed and two injured when the Maoists attacked the convoy of MP and former Jharkhand Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari, who escaped unhurt in Latehar district.

The Maoists had triggered an IED blast and then opened fire on the security vehicle which was following Namdhari’s car at Ladu More in the district.

Chief Minister Arjun Munda told reporters in Simdega district, “This is an act of cowardice, an act of desperation (by Maoists).”

But Namdhari held the DGP and the government responsible for the incident. “There are no government and no police administration in the state. Everything is done as per the Maoists’ diktat,” he alleged.

In fact, in a recent letter mailed to Deccan Herald, Maoist politburo spokesperson Abhay had called upon the entire party, activists of mass organisations and revolutionaries “ to overcome the deep sorrow and agony of the brutal murder of Comrade Koteswarulu alias Kishenji” and “intensify the People’s War.”

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