Jamshedpur, Aug. 8: Longo has become the launchpad for the first-ever popular uprising against Naxalites in Jharkhand.
When the backlash ran its course last night, nine Naxalites lay dead — beaten lifeless by the people of Longo and villages nearby when the guerrillas picked out Daru Gope for retribution after he set a trend by defying a diktat against ploughing some plots.
The People’s War activists slain at Longo, a sliver of a village 75 km from Ghatshila in East Singhbhum, included two women — one from Bengal. Two activists — identified as Putra Pariah and Tumpu Bundua — were captured alive later.
East Singhbhum superintendent of police Arun Oraon said that around 9.30 last night, a group of 14 People’s War activists swooped down on the village to teach Gope, in his early thirties, a lesson.
According to Oraon, the Naxalites had some days ago given an order not to plough certain plots in the village. But Gope was among the first to go against the directive. He was later joined by 500 other men from the village in ploughing the land.
In this show of defiance, Oraon said, the villagers were also being spurred by the Nagarik Suraksha Samity, a group floated by the district administration, and police for preventing the spread of Naxalism in the district.
As the People’s War activists caught Gope and poured kerosene on him, the people of Longo sounded an alarm and marshalled help from other villages in the area.
Oraon said the people of Longo had anticipated the Naxalite attack and had told villagers nearby that they would ring the bell in a school when they needed help.
As soon as the bell tolled, over 300 people surrounded the Naxalites and began protesting the punishment being meted out by the Naxalites.
The heated argument soon spiralled out of control, prompting the villagers to snatch the weapons of the Naxalites and beat nine of the 14 to death. Three managed to escape but the two who suffered injuries were caught. They are now at the police station in Dumaria, 50 km from Ghatshila.
The police said that out of the nine, eight had died on the spot while one breathed his last on way to hospital.
All the dead have been identified by the police. “Those dead include the area commander of the local guerrilla outfit, Budesh Munda, who was a resident of Jiyan under Ghurabandha police station,” Oraon said.
The others are: Sunil (from outside the state), Gourango (Bengal), Naa Ban Singh (Bengal), Bhujang Mardi alias Marshal, Motka alias Segil and Tutih Melgandih. The two women have been identified as Gowri (from Bengal) and Panchami.
The villagers recovered arms and ammunition from the Naxalites. A self-loading rifle, three regular rifles, four single-barrel guns, four grenades, one mine, several detonators and cartridges were found.
“We had received a message last night at 12.30 but wanted to check its veracity, fearing that the tip-off could be a trap to ambush the police. But when the samity men also called me up and assured that it was not a ploy, we began preparing to reach the area,” Oraon said.
“We reached the spot early this morning and, by then, the villagers had already killed the Naxalites. Alerted by them, we raided Vimla Pahar, a nearby hillock, and arrested the duo,” Oraon added. The arrested duo led the police to a 25-kg can bomb on the road.
“The situation is certainly tense now but most of the villagers seem satisfied at their success against the People’s War. Four days prior to the event, we had a meeting with members of the samity and had wanted proof of the fact that they were working for us. They had then assured us that they would plough the plots which had been earmarked by the Naxalites. Last night’s incident was a fallout of this,” Oraon said.
Two sub-inspectors, four havildars and 16 jawans have been posted at the village.