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Iron hand in Koda war on Maoists

Bokaro, Dec. 3: Taking the killing of 13 jawans yesterday as an open challenge to his regime, chief minister Madhu Koda today asked the Centre to rush an additional 20 companies of para-military forces to give a “befitting” reply to the CPI (Maoist) which he branded an “Escapist Misguided Organisation”.

The jawans, belonging to the Special Task Force of the Jharkhand Police, were travelling in a minibus near Kanjkiro, 62 km from here, when the Naxalites triggered an explosion using a battery-operated remote control.

Of the 16 jawans travelling in the minibus, 13 died in what is the first major Maoist attack during Koda’s two-month-old rule.

The chief minister lashed out at the Maoists. “They are out to misguide the poor and the downtrodden for their selfish motives, disturbing the development in the state,” he said during a visit to the steel city, where he met the wounded jawans at the Bokaro General Hospital.

Koda said he would ask the Centre to send at least 20 more companies of para-military forces, which would take the number to 50 in the state.

The state, 18 of whose 22 districts are considered Naxalite-affected, has 30 companies. Bokaro, among the hotbed districts, has only one.

The chief minister, however, asserted that even with 50 companies, he could not guarantee a complete solution.

“All neighbouring states of Jharkhand face this problem which has been hampering progress and development. But we will tackle this menace with an iron hand,” he said.

The chief minister made a slew of promises on tackling the rebels. The proposed road of about 34 km on the Jhumra hillocks will be completed; the police would be provided modern weapons and the latest in communication gadgets; police recruitment would begin soon for strengthening the security apparatus.

The government, he said, would keep an open mind and invite the rebels to join the mainstream and work for development. “If they have a genuine grievance, we will address it,” Koda said.

He announced a total compensation package of Rs 21 lakh for each of the slain jawans. This includes Rs 11 lakh from the LIC. He also promised a government job for a member of the family of those killed.

The Jharkhand Policemen Association alleged that the jawans died because no senior officer had accompanied the team.

Central team: A team comprising the IG (operations) of the CRPF and the IG (anti-Naxal) will visit the blast site tomorrow.

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