Saturday, April 17, 2010

Panchayat sevak among Maoists held

- Kundan Pahan’s relative flees

Ranchi, April 16: The police today arrested three Maoists, including a government official, from Bongabad forest in Khunti district, about 40km from the state capital, but a relative of dreaded zonal commander Kundan Pahan managed to flee.

The arrests took place at 2am today when a group of five on two bikes were returning from a meeting of Krantikari Kisan Committee (KKC), a frontal organisation of the CPI(Maoist).

The arrested government employee has been identified as Govardhan Manki, a panchayat sevak posted in Bundu block to look after electoral rolls and monitor welfare schemes, while the others were identified as Lakshman Munda and Munni Mahadeo Munda, both members of a squad led by Shyam Pahan, who escaped.

The police believe that Shyam, who is the uncle of Kundan, was the custodian of over Rs 5 crore in Maoist funds, most of which had been looted from a cash van of ICICI bank on Ranchi-Jamshedpur highway two years back.

Khunti SP Asim Vikrant Minz was all praise for the Ranchi police for having pulled off the arrests. “When a police team from Ranchi was on way to Bundu through areas coming under the jurisdiction of Khunti district police, the group was intercepted,” he said.

According to Ranchi SSP Praveen Kumar, once the five were intercepted, one of them managed to flee. “When our police team was waiting, it noticed five persons coming on two motorbikes. After the bikes came closer, our jawans intercepted them. But, one of them jumped and disappeared into the darkness, while we caught the other four,” he said.

One of them was let off after interrogation. But three others were arrested. “We recovered Naxalite literature from them and after interrogation we came to know that they were returning from a Krantikari Kisan Committee meeting and the man who fled was Shyam Pahan,” Kumar said.

Officials at Khunti police station said an FIR was registered and both the motorbikes used by Maoists were seized.

Elsewhere in the state, especially in the Saranda forests of West Singhbhum, security forces continued their offensive against Maoists.

“The terrain is like Dantewada. There is also scarcity of water. So, the forces are carrying water bottles and taking extreme precaution,” said CRPF DIG Bhanu Pratap Singh who is in command along with the West Singhbhum police.

Saranda forests, Asia’s biggest sal tree reserve, has been a rebel stronghold for long. The area has seen little development, with West Singhbhum deputy commissioner Sunil Kumar conceding that the district administration had made little headway in laying bituminous roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

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