Maoists ran rampant across Jharkhand in 2008January 4th, 2009 - 1:42 pm ICT by IANS
Ranchi, Jan 4 (IANS) Maoist rebels in Jharkhand struck at their will in 2008, killing a legislator and several police officials and hijacking a bank delivery van.For the police, 2008 was a bad year in comparison to 2007. The year saw a total of 405 Maoist-related incidents, up from 278 in 2007. A total of 39 security personnel including a deputy superintendent of police, were killed against 11 in 2007, according to police data.
The police said it succeeded in killing 99 Maoists over the year against 60 in 2007. Police officials claimed that more rebels were killed in 2008, but they were rarely able to recover the bodies of the rebels killed.
At the same time, the number of civilians killed went down in 2008. A total of 148 civilians were killed, against 175 in 2007. Out of the 148, 39 were termed police informers by the Maoists and killed, up from 27 killed in 2007 for the same reason.
The rebels demonstrated their sway on the Ranchi-Jamshedpur national highway by pulling off four big incidents.
They hijacked a delivery van of the ICICI Bank near Tamar block on the highway in May 2008 and looted Rs.50 million and one kg of gold. Five security personnel, including a deputy superintendent of police, were killed on June 30 in the same area.
In July 2007, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) legislator Ramesh Singh Munda was killed while attending a cultural programme in a school in Bundu block, also situated on the highway. Four other people were also killed in the attack.
Rebels also ambushed a team of the Special Task Force (STF) near Rahe police picket of the same block in December, as they were returning after reviewing security of a bank. Five STF personnel were killed in the incident.
Police officials say that rising number of Maoist activities is due to increasing number of Maoist outfits in the state. From three groups active five years ago, the number has increased to six with the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), Peoples Liberation Front of India (PLFI), Jharkhand Prastuti Committee (JPC) and the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) being the most prominent.
According to police officials, Maoist rebels gathered more than Rs.1.2 billion by extorting levies and taking their cut from funds assigned for development work, including construction of roads and bridges in the state.
“The previous year (2008) was not good for the security forces. Maoists have changed their strategy and now ambush security forces in civilian areas, causing more casualties,” a senior police official involved in anti Maoist operations told IANS.
The official attributed the killing of civilians to fights for superiority between different Maoist groups in some parts of the state.