Ranchi/Jamshedpur, March 24: Maoists claimed the lives of two abducted engineers today in Latehar, while a police constable was killed in a landmine blast in Ghatshila in the border areas of poll-bound Bengal amid heightened police patrolling.
The two incidents, occurring in Maoist-hit districts in two opposite ends of Jharkhand, were yet another indication of the security challenges facing the Arjun Munda government, now barely six months at the helm of affairs.
Word about the deaths of the two civil engineers, abducted by Maoists a week ago, reached police this morning. And to add to complications, a police party returning with their bodies were locked in an encounter in the dense jungles of Dwarka in Latehar district.
Additional reinforcements were rushed from Palamau. An encounter is on between the state police and the extremists in an area bordering Panki police station in Latehar, DGP G.S. Rath said.
The engineers, Jitendra Kumar Singh and Mukesh Yadav of Calcutta-based Simplex Infrastructures, were kidnapped from the Chandwa-Chakla road in Chandwa by armed rebels on March 17.
They were returning after inspecting civil work at an upcoming 540MW thermal power plant being set up by Abhijeet Group at Chandwa.
Over the next week, the state police continued to deny the involvement of Naxalites in the abductions. DIG Laxman Prasad claimed local criminal gangs were involved, adding he was confident the two would be freed.
This morning, however, word reached the police that their bodies had been located in the Kerum forests. The police party left for the area at 11am. But while they were returning with the bodies, they were fired upon by rebels.
In Ghatshila, police constable Rajesh Prasad Shaw (24) was killed and two others injured in a landmine blast triggered by Maoists who were targeting his boss, Ghatshila (ASP) Anish Kumar Gupta, at Dainmari jungle near the Bengal border this morning.
Sources in Bengal police said two Maoists were also gunned down in the police firing that followed.
The incident occurred when a joint team of district police and CRPF, comprising 300 jawans, was on its way to Dainmari and Makuli bordering Belpahari police station in Bengal, to conduct long-range patrolling after receiving information that the CPI(Maoist)s Dampara squad was holed up in the forests. The men were negotiating a turn when the landmine exploded around 7.30am. Shaw died on the spot. Two CRPF jawans ó Ganesh Gaur and Vinod Kumar ó were also injured.
DIG Singh and East Singhbhum SSP Akhilesh Kumar Jha rushed to the spot. Soon afterwards, police and paramilitary forces launched a combing operation at Dainmari and adjacent Makuli forests.
The constable was following Gupta, who was the Maoists target, and was caught in the explosion, Singh told The Telegraph.