Monday, March 30, 2009

Maoists gun down Ekka aide in Simdega graveyard

- Rebel strikes in Simlipal reserve forest trigger high alert in Ghatshila sub-division
RAJ KUMAR & KUMUD JENAMANI

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, March 29: CPI(Maoist) rebels shot an influential Jharkhand Party leader in Domtoli, about 150km from the state capital, in Simdega district late last night.

The bullet-riddled body of 60-year-old Yakub Kongari, known to be a very close associate of former rural development minister Anosh Ekka, was spotted around 10am in the Kolebira police station area today.

Police said Kongari, the panchayat president of Ekka-led Jharkhand Party, was sleeping in his room around 10.30pm when around 40 rebels barged in, dragged him to a graveyard, about 100 yards away, thrashed him with bamboo poles and pumped three rounds of bullets into his body.

Pamphlets strewn around his body read: “Police ke mukhbiro ka yahi hashra hoga (all police informers will meet the same fate).”
A neighbour, who was awakened by the screams for help and distant gunshots, said Kongari’s wife, two sons and two daughters were in the house when the Maoists attacked. “The rebels only took him (Kongari) away. They had, however, promised not to harm him,” he said.

Kongari’s elder son Habil has lodged an FIR at Kolebira police station. Police have sent the body to Simdega Sadar hospital for post-mortem and are combing the area for clues.

Simdega police superintendent Abhisekh Kumar said that though the rebel pamphlets branded Kongari an informer, the reason behind the murder was yet to be ascertained. “Preliminary investigations suggest dispute over payment of levy spurred the killing. But it is too early to draw such conclusions,” he said.

The incident has prompted several political leaders to postpone their poll campaigns in the area. Ekka has rushed to the spot to condole Kongari’s bereaved family.

Meanwhile, a triple Maoist strike in neighbouring Orissa has prompted the East Singhbhum police to put Ghatshila sub-division, a rebel hotbed, on high alert.

Early this morning, the rebels blew up two beat houses in a remote pocket of Simlipal in Mayurbhanj district. The blasts were followed by torching of vehicles in front of a range office, which doubles up as a tourist stopover, in Chahala. No casualty has, however, been reported.

“We have put the police on the high alert. The rebels may come in the direction of Ghatshila, which is also a tourist spot,” said East Singhbhum police superintendent Naveen Kumar Singh. He said a special task force was also combing the forested areas along the border.

Deputy inspector-general of police, Baripada, Orissa, Jaswant Jethua said that the Maoists had blown up the beat houses in Simlipal like they had done in Saranda in West Singhbhum in 2001 and 2002. This called for an alert in Jharkhand, he said.

He said the three-room range office at Chahala was a hunting hut of the British Raj. It was developed into an accommodation for tourists much later, he added.

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