Police are investigating if yesterdays Maoist attack that left 13 of its men dead was the result of an elaborate plan under which the Naxalites instigated a village protest and then targeted the police team that was called in to help.
Initial inquiries have shown that CPI (Maoist) zonal commander Mritunjay recently held a series of meetings with villagers of Bargar,reportedly encouraging them to demand relocation of a primary health centre coming up in the village. The police believe the idea was that a protest would bring in the police,who would then be targeted. The mukhiya of Bargar,Ram Das Minz,is being interrogated for links with Mritunjay.
It was as part of this plan,authorities say,that a bandh and road jam were held near Bargar yesterday morning. Minz called up the officer-in-charge of Bhandaria police station,Rajbali Choudhary,for help. Choudhary,in turn,called up Block Development Officer Basdev Prasad to look into the villagers demands.
While Prasad was able to reach the village unhurt,Naxals struck at Choudharys convoy that followed,22 km from Bargar. Choudhary was among the 13 killed.
Daniel Soren,a Jharkhand Armed Police constable admitted in a hospital in Ranchi,said the Naxals started firing at their anti-landmine vehicle soon after the blast. They took many of us into custody and shot them, he said.
The whereabouts of Zila Parishad chairperson Sushma Mehta and three others,who were also going to Bargar,remain unknown. Maoist spokesperson Sudhirji today claimed responsibility for their abduction,demanding that anti-Maoist operations be stopped for their release.
Garhwa Superintendent of Police Michael Raj said they were exploring if the abduction was meant to divert attention from Minzs role.