Six persons, allegedly belonging to an upcoming criminal gang, were gunned down by suspected activists of the People’ Liberation Front of India (PLFI), a Maoist outfit, in a village in neighbouring Khunti district. The incident occurred on Monday evening but the police got the information about the same Tuesday morning.
The police said that a rivalry over increasing their sphere of influence between the upcoming gang and a PLFI sympathiser appeared to be the reason behind the incident.
According to the police, the bodies of the six persons were found in the forests of Hudindag village under Khunti police station area this morning. The place is located on Ranchi-Khunti border. The villagers were reportedly aware that gunshots had been fired after dark on Monday evening at the place. However, they did not venture out to inform the police due to fear.
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The deceased have been identified as Zakir Hussain, Aman Yadav, Manish Pahan, Anil Pahan, Pervez Khan and Raza Khan – all in their 30s. Apart from Pervez and Raza, all the other deceased were from Silda village – located around 5 km from where the incident occurred. Pervez and Raza were from Pithoria and Nagri areas of Ranchi. The police claimed that Zakir was leading the newly-formed group that was looking to extort levy.
However, Zakir’s elder brother Sabir Hussain Ansari, an autorickshaw driver, who was at home when the incident occurred, claimed that Zakir was involved in a fight with one Lal Mohan Yadav of the same village following the latter’s claim over the land belonging to Moharram Committee.
Sabir said: “Since the last four years, Lal Mohan had been threatening us in the name of PLFI. Some PLFI activists have been visiting us and threatening us all through. Sometimes, they would visit us in the day time also. We had approached the police, but they would ask us to bring proof. Zakir was involved in supplying building material. The dispute was over land that was written in the name of Moharram Committee in the village.”
Claiming that Zakir led the committee, Sabir further claimed that a village panchayat had decided to divide the land equally, but Lal Mohan did not agree and continue to threaten the family in the name of PLFI. Sabir further added that Zakir had gone with his friends and associates to Ranchi and was returning when the incident occurred. “Following threats, Zakir used to keep Pervez and Raza with himself. The other three were his friends from the village,” he said.
The families of the other victims were not willing to talk. Khunti Superintendent of Police Anish Gupta said that Zakir had earlier been a PLFI associate and had fallen out due to some reason. “Lal Mohan is also a sympathiser of PLFI. Although Zakir was not a commander, he was a PLFI activist. Of late, he had been trying to form his own group. All the murdered people were part of his group. His criminal antecedents are being checked,” said Khunti.
Gupta added that the group – riding on three bikes – was intercepted and they were virtually defenceless following which the assailants shot them dead. Khunti is among the worst naxal-affected districts and is a stronghold of PLFI, which, in itself, is a splinter Maoist group. The police claim that their activists mostly resort to extortion to fund their activities, while declaring allegiance to the extreme Maoist ideology.