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Rebels find safe haven in capital

Ranchi, Oct. 9: Guess what’s the favourite pastime of rebels these days? Playing hide-and-seek with the police.

While the forces are making a consolidated effort to flush out Naxalites from dense forests and hilly terrain hideouts after the grisly murder of Francis Indwar, the rebels are at leisure in “safe houses” in and around the capital.

The fact came to light after a Latehar police inspector, Ravi Kant, lost a literal bout against a PLFI area commander, Ravindra Yadav, in the Lakshmi Nagar locality of Sukhdeonagar police station in the capital yesterday.

Sources said Yadav escaped after defeating Kant in a free-style wrestle around 6pm. “The extremists also opened two rounds of fire after snatching away the inspector’s pistol,” a local resident said.

Senior superintendent of police Praveen Kumar confirmed the incident. The injured officer has been admitted to RIMS, he said.

According to sources in the police, there are possibilities of more rebels being holed up in city. “It is a great idea to live in a rented house whenever police intensify search in forests,” an officer said.

Another supported the fact, saying the capital was also the perfect place for making investments. “The money extremists levy from businessmen runs into crores. It cannot be invested in the forest,” the officer said.

Easy access to legal and medical aid is again a reason why rebels have made Ranchi their favourite getaway. “They come and stay here to provide legal aid to arrested comrades,” said a CID officer.

His Special Branch colleague added: “There are several nursing homes in the city where extremists can get proper treatment on payment. On August 11 this year, PLFI leader Santosh Yadav was arrested from the city when he came for a medical check up with one of his women cadres,” the officer said.

A senior police officer said having hideouts in prominent cities was an old rebel strategy. “In August 2005, Maoists had targeted an Andhra Pradesh MLA and others on Independence Day in the heart of Narayanpet town in that state,” he said.

State police spokesperson and IG (provision) S.N. Pradhan also admitted the possibility of Naxalites having hideouts in Ranchi. “Most rebel leaders have been arrested from big towns. They stay in the cities to monitor actions in the forests. We are aware of the fact,” he said.

Police sources said it was such possibilities that had prompted tenant verification drive in the capital.

Intelligence reports suggest there are 11,000 Naxalites operating in 160 districts across the country. They generate Rs 1,200-1,500 crore every year to buy the sophisticated weapons. “And this is possible only because rebel masterminds operate from towns and cities,” an officer added.

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