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Anger erupts as bodybags land

Chaibasa (West Singhbhum), Dec. 21: Police were seething with anger at the killings of their colleagues in the Saranda forests and the state government’s alleged indifference over taking on rebels even as chief minister Babulal Marandi vowed not to be cowed down by the threat from extremists.

The policemen were furious at their colleagues’ death in an encounter with more than 70 members of armed Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) deep inside the Saranda forests on Thursday night.

The angry policemen did not allow anyone to touch the bodies, brought in on two vehicles, from Manoharpur at 11 pm yesterday. While one was stationed at the Sadar hospital, the other was positioned at the police lines.

Several requests from senior police authorities, including director-general of police R.R. Prasad, to allow the hospital staff to conduct the post-mortem failed to pacify the members of the Jharkhand Police Men’s Association (JPMA) and the Jharkhand Police Association (JPA).

Hospital doctors were up till 2 am in the hope that union leaders would allow them to conduct the post-mortem. The policemen relented only 12 hours after the arrival of the bodies.

The toll in the MCC ambush rose to 16, with two more jawans succumbing to injuries at Rourkela hospital. Around 15 injured jawans were rushed to the hospital yesterday.

“It is a tragic incident but our fight against militants would continue,” said Marandi who reached Chaibasa a little before noon to pay tribute to the slain cops.

Marandi announced Rs 10 lakh compensation each to the family of the police personnel who died in the incident. The state will immediately give Rs 13,000 to each family, he said.

JPMA president Ram Chander Pandey said: “Thirty-two police jawans who had gone into the forest with the raiding party are yet to return.”

The DGP, however, said: “We do not think that any jawan is missing. We are preparing the list of jawans who had gone to the forest.” He said a search party would visit the massacre site.

Police sources said around 100 police personnel were pressed into service for the combing operations. While about 78 of them entered from Manoharpur, the others made their way from Kiriburu.

The police officials said the MCC looted at least 18 rifles and two self-loading rifles from the police after the encounter.

The police are angry over the administration’s alleged insensitivity in tackling extremism in the state.

Citing an example of the administration’s apathy, Pandey said that on December 2, the union had a meeting with the chief secretary, DGP and the home commissioner in Ranchi and requested them for better facilities for policemen, especially those on duty in Naxalite-dominated districts.

“But their reply came as a rude shock to us. They told us that if the PW and the MCC could make their activists work for Rs 600, why can’t the police discharge their duties since they are being paid more than the rebels. Should the police be equated with extremists'” Pandey said.

Dharmendra Kumar Singh and Turam Sinku succumbed to injuries this morning.

Their bodies are being brought to Chaibasa, which observed a bandh.

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