India

Maoists Kill 11 Policemen in Gun Battle, Mine Blast in Jharkhand

BeyondHeadlines Special Correspondent

Ranchi (Jharkhand): At least 11 policemen, including six personnel of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), were killed last night in a gun battle and landmine attack carried out by Maoist cadres of the Communist Party of India (CPI-M) in Lohardaga District of Jharkhand.

The ambush marked the latest violence in an escalating fight between security forces and the ultra-leftist rebels, who are entrenched deep in jungles across a swathe of eastern and northern India.

Indian paramilitary soldiers patrol inside a Maoist stronghold jungle close to West Bengal and Jharkhand in 2010. (Photo: AFP)

“Eleven policemen were killed after Maoists targeted them at 10:30 p.m. when the security forces were going deep inside the forest area near Dhardharia to conduct raids,” Inspector General (operations) R K Malik told BeyondHeadlines.

According to police sources, the security forces went to conduct raids following the orders of A V Minz, superintendent of police (SP), Lohardaga.

When contacted, Minz confirmed Beyondheadlines that they had got information that some Maoist guerrillas were camping in the area.

Holding the SP responsible for the loss of lives of the security forces, the police forces said that Minz had sent the police party on operation without verifying the authenticity of the inputs received. As a result the police party fell in the death trap, the sources said.

Six CRPF personnel, including four of the 133 battalion — Sub Inspector Pratap Singh, Head Constables Satbir Singh and D N Singh and constable Gajendra Singh — and two personnel of the 94 battalion — Head Constable D C Deka and constable Radhakrishna — succumbed to injuries. Two policemen belonging to Lohardaga district unit — V K Rai and Dinesh Mahato — also died in the ambush. At least 15 securitymen were injured. The injured are undergoing treatment in hospitals in Lohardaga and Ranchi.
Lohardaga is a hotbeds of the outlawed Maoist guerrillas in the mineral-rich Jharkhand state.

Search operation is being conducted to recover the body of the deceased policemen. It is feared that the death toll could go up.

In January, the Jharkhand Police shot dead nine suspected Maoist guerrillas in the state’s Latehar District.

The Maoist movement, which began in 1967, feeds off land disputes, police brutality and corruption and is strongest in the poorest and most deprived areas of India, many of which are rich in natural resources.

Some 171 suspected Left-wing guerrillas were killed last year along with 713 civilians in Maoist-linked violence compared to the previous year’s tally of 591. A total of 285 policemen also died in 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the insurgency India’s main internal security threat and has urged state governments to increase pro-poor welfare measures, especially in Maoist-hit regions, to help counter the ultra-Leftists.

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