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Govt wobbles in Red battle
- Two arrested in CISF outpost attack

April 9: Stunned by successive Maoist offensives, governments at the Centre and in Jharkhand today groped for a strategy to combat the rebels. Police claimed some degree of success and announced the arrest of two Maoists for their role in the attack on CISF camp.

The mobile phone left behind by the rebels outside the CISF camp at Gandhinagar (Bermo) today led the police to arrest two people for suspected links with the extremists. They have identified a third person, a contractor, for whom the search has been intensified.

Giridih SP Arun Kumar Singh, while confirming the arrests, said the sim card was found to have been issued in the name of one Satya Deo Lal, who claimed to have sold it to Manoj Choudhary, a contractor operating in Madhuban area. While Choudhary was not available, his people claimed the sim card had been given to his clerk, Daso Manjhi.

While the contractor is believed to have links with the Maoists, Manjhi, say police, is a hardcore extremist. Both Manjhi and Lal were arrested and handed over to Bermo police while a search is on for the contractor, the SP said.

Meanwhile, JMM leaders, deputy chief minister Sudhir Mahto and land revenue minister Dulal Bhuiyan, refused to react to the threat held by the Naxalites. The banned outfit has threatened Mahto with murder after accusing him of defaming the Maoists. Both Mahto and Bhuyian have been vocal in condemning the Maoists after the assassination of Jamshedpur MP Sunil Mahto.

In an open letter issued this week, the Maoists denounced Sudhir Mahto for painting the former MP as an “honest politician” and warned him against siding with corporate houses seeking to set up industries in the state.

Several newspaper offices received the threatening letter by e-mail but, in the absence of a cyber cell, state police are clueless and cannot track down the source. Even otherwise, claimed security personnel, it would have been difficult to trace the mail because Maoists are known to have used computers and destroyed hard discs.

The mail has sent shock waves through the JMM and a central committee member declared on condition of anonymity, “We need to do some tough talking with the government, which has been soft-pedalling the issue.”

Reports from New Delhi suggested a flurry of activities in the Union home ministry, shocked at the successive Maoist offensives in Jharkhand. The ministry has lined up three meetings in the next fortnight to take stock of the worsening situation. While the task force on Naxalites is scheduled to meet in Hyderabad on April 13, the inter-ministerial group will be meeting at Patna on April 16 and followed by the coordination centre meeting in Delhi on April 24.

Even as the home ministry reviews its strategy, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major declared in New Delhi today that the Indian Air Force is acquiring a squadron of multi-utility helicopters and another squadron of transport planes to combat Naxalites and for internal security operations.

Air Marshal Major, speaking to the media for the first time since taking over as the chief of IAF on March 31, said that while the government would have to decide on the use of air power, the Air Force had to be ready for all contingencies.

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