MGM police station where Bapi Mahato, the main accused in the Jnaneswari Express sabotage, is being interrogated. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Ranchi/Jamshedpur, June 20: Armed Maoists slaughtered two villagers, including a supporter of anti-rebel outfit Nagarik Suraksha Samiti (NSS), at Ghurabandha block of East Singhbhum’s Ghatshila sub-division last night.
The murders took place hours before police cuffed Bapi Mahato, the prime accused in the Jnaneswari Express sabotage, in Adityapur this morning.
Though the exact motive behind the twin killings in Ghurabandha is yet to be ascertained, police suspect it to be an attempt to unleash fear by the notorious Kanhu Munda squad of CPI(Maoist), which is active in the region.
Forty-year-old Basko Singh Sardar of Gian village was the first to fall to Maoist bullets around 9.30pm. Basko was returning home from the village market when a group of six armed rebels accosted him and shot him in the head. With villagers preferring to stay indoors in fear of rebels, he soon bled to death.
About half an hour later, another group of armed Maoists barged into 45-year-old Lakhiram Mardi’s home in Bakrakocha village. They dragged Mardi, a supporter of NSS, outside and slit his throat.
NSS president Shanker Chandra Hembrom told The Telegraph that though the victim was not an active member of the outfit, he might have been a supporter.
Intelligence sources said Basko had last year supplied fuel wood to a CRPF camp and might have been on the rebel hit list since then.
Ghatshila SDPO Anup Birtharay visited the murder sites this morning. “Description of the incidents given by the victims’ family members suggest the involvement of the Kanhu Munda squad, which is active in Ghurabandha. After successful operations in Bengal, the Maoists are trying ti trigger fear in the Ghatshila region,” he said.
A combing operation for Maoists has been launched in Ghurabandha, he added.
In another development, Ranchi police last night arrested a Bihar weapons dealer and his two aides for supplying arms and ammunition to extremists and criminal gangs in the state.
Devendra Kumar, a resident of Rahui village in Bihar’s Nalanda district, was apprehended from Birsa Chowk, about a kilometre from the Assembly, in Jagannathpur police station area.
More than 100 rounds of ammunition for SLRs and countrymade single and double-barrel guns were found on him and his aides — Mohammed Jasmuddin alias Phool and Mohammed Firoz, both temporary residents of Dehu Gutu village in Arki, Khunti. They are also natives of Rahui like Devendra.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Praveen Kumar said the trio had been forwarded to Birsa Munda Cental Jail and were in judicial custody.
He pointed out that the ammunition was worth Rs 28,500. “They were carrying 100 rounds of cartridges used by the PLFI and 10 rounds for an AK-47 rifle used by CPI(Maoist) sub-zonal commander Prasadji,” the SSP said.
He said all three were on their way to Khunti when they were arrested. “They were headed for Bandhgaon in Arki from where the ammunition would have been sent to Prasadji’s hideout. Earlier, they had supplied countrymade rifles to PLFI groups in Gumla, besides 9mm pistol cartridges to the Jainath Sahu gang in the capital,” he added.