Rather than corruption, the Aam Aadmi Party in Jharkhand has found itself tackling a new enemy: a left-wing extremist organisation. AAP’s Khunti candidate Dayamani Barla has registered two FIRs and written to the Election Commission after alleged cadres of the People’s Liberation Front of India threatened and attacked her supporters. She alleges the PLFI men asked her cadre to campaign for former minister Anosh Ekka, who faces cases on disproportionate assets.
The PLFI, which has its origins in Khunti district’s Torpa block, is the most dangerous LWE organisation in the state in terms of incidents: it accounts for around 36 per cent of them, ahead of the CPI-Maoist’s 34 per cent.
Barla said, “At about 4 pm on April 9, my supporters were campaigning at Biguadag village. Six armed people on two motorcycles beat the driver with the butt of a rifle and snatched everyone’s mobiles. One of the men claimed he was a zonal commander of the PLFI.” Barla faces seven-time BJP MP Kariya Munda apart from the Jharkhand Party’s Ekka.
She alleged one woman was told to stay back. “They held a revolver to her and asked her to go around the village, touching the feet of people and asking for votes for Anosh Ekka.”
The other FIR is about an alleged incident on April 6 in Arki block’s Birbanki, though AAP activists were not sure whether it was the PLFI. Seven AAP activists were allegedly stopped by armed men on motorbikes who took away their car keys.
Barla says the day she submitted her nomination papers, some people tried to stop her supporters from reaching the office.
The police offered Barla security, which she turned down. “The PLFI men clicked my supporters’ pictures on their mobiles, so we are worried about what happens after the polls.”
Anis Gupta, Khunti’s SP, said the FIRs were being investigated. “There are no names in the April 6 case but we are trying to identify the six men responsible for the April 9 attack,” he said.
Barla, a former journalist, operates a tea shop in Ranchi. She led two key agitations in Khunti, one against the Koel-Karo dam during which eight adivasis were shot dead on February 2, 2001, and against an ArcelorMittal steel plant.