One of the two PLFI cadres who escaped the Tuesday night attack by Maoists in Khunti districts Murhu block,which left six of them dead,surrendered on Sunday at Ranchis Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences. Anil Purti (25) hails from Buruma village in Murhu and had suffered two bullet injuries. He also broke his right arm while running away from the carnage. He spoke to this newspaper in Ranchi.
We were resting when they attacked us. It must have been 12-1 am. There were no lights so I never saw how many of them were there. They were shouting that they will finish us off, said Anil. The police had suspected that there were at least eight boys under a tarpaulin cover that night,as they had recovered six pairs of shoes from the encounter spot. We had taken the shoes off. Two of us were outside the tent,keeping watch. There was no warning they did not ask us to surrender. All bullets came from one side, said Anil. He claims he has been recuperating at home since the attack,but the injuries forced him to seek medical help at Ranchi.
Anil confirmed police suspicion that the attack was a result of contesting claims over the region. The area where the attack took place is controlled by the CPI (Maoist). Ram Mohan is the area commander. The organisation decided to try and drive them out. Our mission was to lay the groundwork for it there,by concentrating on Namsilih Village. We were there to talk to the villagers to draw them to the PLFI. We had visited the village in the evening. It was out first night of camping in the area, he said.
Maoists seemed to have excellent sources as they were able to strike within hours of the PLFI cadres making their appearance.
It was also imperative for them to retaliate,as they seemed to have conceded territory to the PLFI in April.
The area where the Prabhat Khabar journalist [Jitendra Kumar Singh,April 27 was shot down was a Maoist area,too. But since his killing,the PLFI has gained control over the territory. I was not part of the squad that killed Singh, said Anil.
He said that he has been in Area Commander Aseasan Purtis squad,which has about 15 members in it. Purti himself had gone to kill Singh. It was over levy collection for a road that Singh was the contractor for. Purti was not part of the eight-member team. All eight carried .315 sporting rifles,which was scavenged by the Maoists.
Anil claimed he joined the PLFI only six months back as he saw it as a lesser of two evils: Pankaj [Giro was forcing me to join the Village Republican Guard of India. I had completed my tenth standard and did not have a job. I refused multiple times,but it came to a point that he started threatening me. I decided to join the PLFI for protection.
He said he had obtained arms training in the Rania area of Khunti and was on his first mission when the attack happened. Anil refused to identify the six who died. A police team is scheduled to interrogate him on Monday. I do not know the name of the other boy who escaped. He was new to the organisation. I have no idea about his current whereabouts, said Anil.
When asked about the security of his family now that he has turned himself over to the police,Anil looked down at his half-toe,sighed and looked away into the distance.