Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blasts, arms haul


Hazaribagh/Giridih, Nov. 24: Maoists sounded a pre-poll warning of sorts when they blew up four school buildings in Giridih and Palamau while four of their sympathisers were arrested on the border of Chatra and Hazaribagh for carrying arms and ammunition in the last 24 hours, signalling what is likely to be a tense month of voting in Jharkhand.

Hazaribagh Sadar DSP Naushad Alam said the rebels, arrested from Garukhurha village, near Itkhori, had four rifles and live cartridges on them. The consignment was meant for sub-zonal commanders of the little-known Jharkhand Sanyukta Morcha, a breakaway faction of the CPI(Maoist). The group was travelling in an SUV that had a tampered numberplate.

DSP (rural) Sangeeta Kumari said Morcha supremo Rampati Ganjhu had been arrested in Ranchi two years ago and sent to Chatra jail. Reorganising a team even from behind bars, Ganjhu ordered his men to supply arms to sub-zonal commanders Nageshwar Ganjhu alias Nagji and Chamra Munda alias Sudhirji.

Three of the arrested rebels — identified as Ram Nandan Prasad, Sanjay Kumar and Awadh Kumar, all residents of Gaya — confessed that they had supplied bullets to Nagji and Sudhirji in the past, too.

The DSP (rural) said the SUV belonged to the fourth, Santosh Kumar, who pleaded innocent. Today’s arrests were preceded by a series of Maoist strikes on schools in Giridih and Palamau.

To prevent security forces from using it as a shelter during anti-insurgency operations, a rebel squad triggered a blast at Manjiladih Primary School in Giridih last night, damaging a major portion of the building, superintendent of police Ravi Kant Dhan said.

A second group targeted two middle schools and a high school at Dekcha and Koksa villages in Palamau around the same time. They also pasted posters, calling for a poll boycott. Superintendent of police Jatin Narwal said Jharkhand’s borders with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh had been sealed in the wake of the elections.

While polls in Giridih are scheduled in two phases — on December 2 and 8 — Palamau will vote in the final phase on December 18.

In another incident, about a dozen armed rebels set fire to the campaign vehicle of an Ajsu candidate at Baltharwa village in Giridih this morning.

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