| An anti-landmine vehicle in Ranchi. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Aug. 4: A constable of the Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP) was killed and four injured in a landmine blast at Anari Dhora village under Chainpur police station today. The rear portion of one of the anti-landmine vehicles in which they were travelling was blown off. This is the first time, an anti-landmine vehicle hit an improvised device in the militancy-ravaged Palamau district.
According to police sources, a crime meeting was in progress at the office of the superintendent of police Navin Kumar Singh, when an informer brought news that People’s War extremists had set ablaze two houses at Ramgarh village.
Singh immediately ordered officers in charge of Chainpur, Rehla, Satbarwa and Vishrampur police stations to go to the site and take stock of the situation.
The officials took two anti- landmine vehicles and proceeded towards the village with a JAP contingent. On the way, the convoy trundled a landmine, which exploded. The blast was so powerful that it ripped through one of the vehicles and mangled the rear portion.
JAP-1 company-A jawan Joann Raja Lamb died on the spot. Constables Hemant Kshetria, Dhananath Dhakal, Manoj Ranj, Shravan Guru and Dhananath Dhakal, sitting at the back, were injured. Three of them were admitted to Sadar hospital while Dhakal was shifted to Ranchi.
The incident has sparked panic among policemen, who are now scared to travel in mine-proof vehicles. “We used to feel safe in anti-landmine vehicles, but the explosion has proved that even they are not blast-proof. The vehicle, which was damaged, was brought from Garwah district barely a month ago,’’ said one of the injured jawans at Sadar hospital.
Inspector-general of police (operations) R.C. Kaithal said the JAP-I jawan was killed by a rod which had come unstuck as the rear door of the vehicle was open at the time of explosion. Asked if the vehicle was in a condition to move, Kaithal said it would be difficult to say without inspecting its condition.
“If its gear has been damaged, then it cannot move. But to say that it was blown into pieces in the landmine blast would not be correct,” he said. The Palamau superintendent of police said the landmine was planted by the rebels a week ago in anticipation that the police would go on raids through that stretch.
Civil surgeon R.P. Sinha said the three jawans are out of danger. DIG Palamau range Kapildev Prasad Singh and deputy commissioner of Palamau Siyaram Prasad Sinha visited Sadar hospital and “praised the jawans.” The DIG said combing operation was under way in the area where the blast took place.
However, he said the informer was not wrong as the People’s War had set fire to the house of one Fiaz Mian.