Monday, April 06, 2009

Media’s close encounter with top rebel

GAUTAM SARAKR
Jamui (Bihar), April 5: On April 2, Masterji, the CPI(Maoist)’s eastern Bihar and Jharkhand division committee commandant, spoke to a group of reporters, on their way to Jamui headquarters from Jasidih (Deoghar).

When the seemingly frail man clad in a dhoti and khaki half-shirt offered to guide the media men through the forest and Naxalite politics, most were sceptical.

But, the man promised that “all of you will enjoy my company, as I can give you information about Naxalites,” while stopping the group’s car near Chakai.

What followed was a riveting conversation regarding poll and police from the perspective of the Maoist top man. “We are not going to target any polling personnel this time, because they come from the middle-class. But, we will not allow police and higher officials in the area and will target possible poll centres such as schools,” he calmly told the reporters.

Masterji also informed that armed squad members have been assigned to conduct surveys of possible makeshift police camps in schools or other government buildings. Police, too, have noticed increased Maoist activity in the area.

On April 1, police spotted armed dastas (groups) of Maoists near Datuna-Kaluamaran area in Chandramandi falling under Simultala police station jurisdiction. “In Noubakadehi village Maoists quizzed villagers about the places where paramilitary forces were being put up. The area is quite near to Giridih Jharkhand,” said Sakadev Yadav, the officer in charge of Chandramandi station.

According to the officer in charge of Simultala PS, Rajeshwar Ram, the terrain makes it almost possible to track the dastas down. However, police did conduct raids late in the evening on April 1. Near Batiya they were nearly succesful, too.

“The police are searching for me, but I will join my group in the Batiya valley forests,” Masterji had told the reporters.

On March 29, a government school at Chormara village near Bhimbandh wildlife sanctuary, falling under the Barhet block, was blown up by the Maoists.

Jamui superintendent of police Binoy Kumar said the school was under police radar along with police stations and camp. However, it seems that police attention was not strict enough.

Last year, Maoists blew up a forest bungalow located near Chormara village. The bungalow was used as temporary camps for the paramilitary from time to time. In recent past the rebels also damaged a government resthouse at Mohonpur under Lakshmipur PS, a government high school at Banhara hamlet on the border of Munger and a resthouse of the irrigation department at Garhi under Khaira PS. All the buildings were used as makeshift camps for the paramilitary at some time.

“Schools are captured by the paramilitary who create nuisance for villagers in the adjoining area. What is the need for such buildings?” asked Masterji, who vanished into the dense forests right after reaching Batiya valley.

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