India: Maoist ‘zonal commander’ killed in an encounter in Jharkhand

Top Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) ‘zonal commander’ identified as Sahdeo Rai alias Tala Da, who was main accused in murder of five Policemen including the then Pakur Superintendent of Police (SP), Amarjit Balihar in 2013, was killed in an encounter with the Police force near Chhatupada village under Shikaripada Police Station limits in Dumka District of Jharkhand on January 13, reports The Pioneer. An AK-47 rifle, an INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) assault rifle, magazines, cartridges and bags were recovered from the place of encounter during the search operation. State Government had announced a reward of INR one million on Tala da who is a named accused in around 50 extremists-related incidents in the Santhal Paragana division.

Meanwhile, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Giridih Police along with the CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action)has launched a ‘cordon and search’ operation in the dense forest of Madhuwan and its neighbouring areas, following an encounter with Maoists at Kubri forest in Giridih District of Jharkhand on January 12, reports The Pioneer. Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP), Deepak Kumar informed that following a tip-off regarding a meeting of Maoists to be held near Kubri forest, a search operation was launched to trace them. “As soon as the joint team of District Police, CoBRA battalion and 154 battalion of CRPF reached the spot, Maoists started firing. This was retaliated by firing from security forces, but the Maoists succeeded to escape,” he said. Security Forces had recovered huge domestic items from the encounter spot. Sources informed that ‘commanders’ of the Maoists from Bokaro, Giridih and other areas including Ajay Mahto, Santosh Mahto and Mithilesh Mahto were supposed to attend a meeting in Kubri but their plan was foiled by the Police.

Separately, SFs recovered 30 locally manufactured hand grenades and nine kilograms of explosive substances from the Kumandih forest in Latehar District of Jharkhand on January 11, Superintendent of Police (SP) of Latehar District, Prasant Anand, said, a total of 140 partly-manufactured hand grenades and materials for making grenades were recovered during the search operation.

In another incident, a Maoist was arrested in Chitara village in Giridih District of Jharkhand on January 13, reports The Week. The Maoists identified as Yodho Tudu was wanted in the killing of a Policeman during an encounter on March 30, 2009 near Merampahari of the District, said Bagodar Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO), Binod Mahto.

In addition, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), arrested a key suspect in connection with the killing of a former Janata Dal-United (JD-U) legislator from Jharkhand over a decade ago, from Jojahatu village in Khunti District of Jharkhand on January 12, reports The Hindu. Bhajo Hari Singh Munda (48), accused of killing Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Ramesh Munda, officials said. Bhajo Hari Singh had been absconding for a long time and a non-bailable warrant had been issued against him. He was chargesheeted last March, the NIA officials said. Ramesh Munda was killed, allegedly by the Maoists, when he was delivering a speech at a function in Bundu town in his Tamar Assembly constituency on July 9, 2008. His two bodyguards were also killed in the attack.