Hilltop Pokharia (Dumka), April 26: Maoist rebels trapped and ambushed a police team atop a remote hill in Dumka early this morning, killing a senior officer and two constables.
A rebel and a villager were also killed in the crossfire in the hills of Pokharia under Shikaripara block, 55km from the Dumka district headquarters where Jharkhand police chief Vishnu Dayal Sharma was to hold a meeting with senior officers today.
Acting on a tip-off that the police now think could have been a trap, a team led by DSP (headquarters) Chandan Kumar had climbed the hill and zeroed in on a hut where 10 to 14 Naxalites had taken shelter.
Ajoy Singh, officer in charge of Raneshwar police station who was also part of the team, rebels hiding in bushes started firing the moment the cops reached.
While Kumar was lucky to survive, Shamshad Ansari, officer in charge of Shikaripara police station, and constables Ramdayal Paswan and Nasir Ansari died on the spot.
Sabisteen, a Bokaro Maoist, and Kalu Deheri, a villager, were also killed in the shootout. Manoj Deheri, a suspected rebel, was arrested.
Two police rifles, thought to have been looted from Giridih a year ago, and a huge cache of ammunition were seized from the spot along with uniforms, Naxalite literature and donation slips.
IG (operations) D.K. Pandey and state police spokesperson R.K. Mallik arrived here soon after the incident. This is serious and calls for strengthening police deployment in the remote areas of Naxalite-infested Santhal Pargana, Mallik said.
Singh said once the team identified the hut in which the Naxalites were resting Ś it belonged to one Baramajhala Deheri Ś Kumar and Shamshad Ansari caught two young girls later identified as members of a Maoist squad. The rebels opened fire the moment a constable entered the hut.
Suddenly, Singh said, bullets were raining on us.
In the shootout, the girls managed to escape. Singh saw one injured rebel being carried away. Another lay dead.