Hunt for holed-up Maoists

  • Police of three districts cordon off Burhapahar forests

Our Special Correspondent

Chief minister Raghubar Das pays homage to slain CoBRA jawan Ajay Kumar in Ranchi on Tuesday. Later, the body was sent to his home state Punjab for funeral. (Prashant Mitra)

Ranchi, July 12: Security forces today intensified combing in Burhapahar forests, spreading across Latehar and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand and Balrampur district of Chhattisgarh, a day after a CoBRA jawan was killed in an encounter with Maoists reportedly holed up in the hilly terrain.

Though no casualty was reported, policemen involved in the operation claimed to have found bloodstains in the forests, pointing to injuries among rebels.

Security forces also recovered 15 IEDs planted in a series during the search today.

Yesterday, Ajay Kumar, a jawan of the 209 CoBRA battalion, was killed during an encounter with Maoists, who opened fire when securitymen tried to move up the hills.

According sources, security forces have been camping in Burhapahar forests – encompassing Baresand area of Latehar, Bhandaria of Garhwa and Sambri area of Balrampur (Chhattisgarh) – for the past few days following intelligence inputs, suggesting Maoist presence in the area.

It is suspected over 200 heavily armed rebels belonging to the squad led by CPI(Maoist) politburo member Deo Kumar Singh, alias Arvindji, who carries a reward of Rs 1 crore on his head, were hiding in the hilly terrain about 750 metre above sea level.

While Latehar and Garhwa police, along with CRPF, are carrying out search in the Jharkhand side, Balrampur police have stepped up vigil from Chhattisgarh end.

Sources revealed that right-hand man of Arvind ji, Balkeshwar Oraon, alias Bada Vikas, who was reportedly caught in Chhipadohar forests of Latehar on Friday, was guiding the forces in the fortified Maoist hideout.

Palamau range DIG Akhilesh Jha, though feigned ignorance about Vikas’s reported arrest and the latter’s role in the ongoing operation, confirmed that the Burhpahar forests had been cordoned off from all sides. “I have no idea about Vikas’s arrest. The operations began two days ago and would continue,” he added.

Latehar SP Anoop Birtharay said: “We lost a jawan yesterday. But this time, we are not calling off our operations. The policemen are determined to avenge the death of our jawan and continue the drive till the end.”

In another anti-Naxalite operation, police today arrested three Maoists from different villages of Shikaripara in Dumka.

One of them has been identified as Vimal Hembrom, alias Chhota Vimla, who was wanted in several high-profile cases including the ambush on former Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar and his team in 2013.

“We were tipped off about Vimal presence at Dharampur village. Later his aide Diwan Singh Hembrom and his wife Shanti were also caught,” said Dumka SP Prabhat Kumar.


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