Monday, December 14, 2009

Naxal ranks split over share in extortion spoils, say cops

Bhupendra Pandey Posted online: Sunday , Dec 13, 2009 at 0209 hrs

Lucknow : With an increase in the amount of levy being collected by Naxal groups in the bordering areas of Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, Naxal leaders are now engaging in conflict among themselves over the share of booty, say police.

Munna Vishwakarma, sub-zonal commander of the People’s War Group (PWG), shot his senior Ram Vriksha Kol on November 9 follwoing a dispute over sharing the levy amount. Vishwakarma also got Shiv Prakash Kushwaha, another member of PWG’s affiliated group ‘Songanga Vindhyachal Committee (SVC)’, killed on Thursday over the same issue, claim police.

Sonbhadra Superintendent of Police (SP) Preetinder Singh said, “The dispute over levy collection has led to conflict among Naxal groups over the last four months. Munna Vishwakarma and Ram Vriksha Kol belonged to the same Naxal group, but the collection of extortion money had caused differences between them and they started operating with separate groups.”

“The dispute erupted with both the groups approaching the same contractors or businessmen for levy and if one of them extorted the money from a particular target, the other would get annoyed. This led to conflict and Vishwakarma succeeded in eliminating Kol,” Singh added.

Another violent clash over levy is feared to take place in the Naxal-affected area of Garhwa district in Jharkhand and Vishwakarma is again expected to play a vital role in the conflict.

“Basant Yadav of Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), who had been the sub-zonal commander of the Gadhwa south zone, suddenly disappeared three months ago with a levy amount of nearly Rs 50 lakh and three weapons including a self-loaded rifle (SLR),” said Lalchand Mahto, Station Officer (SO) of the naxal-affected Dhurki police station of Garhwa (on the borders of Sonbhadra district of UP).

“Yadav has now joined another naxal group - Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) - which is active in Palamu, Latehar and Chatra districts of Jharkhand. The MCC group in Garhwa has appointed Mritunjaya Singh as the new sub-zonal commander and a clash between the TPC and the MCC can take place anytime,” the SO said.

Garhwa Superintendent of Police (SP) Richard Lakra told The Indian Express: “The MCC, which is stronger that the TPC, can attack Basant Yadav anytime, as he had caused a major financial loss to the group. The MCC group in Garhwa is now being led by Mritunjaya and Shatrughan Singh.”

Sonbhadra SP Preetinder Singh maintained: “Since the MCC and PWG operate jointly and Vishwakarma too gets some percentage of the levy from Garhwa, he along with his group would also be part of the clash against Yadav.”

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