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Maoist foray into extortion

Jorhat, March 2: Maoists are allegedly making inroads into the extortion business in the name of “revolution”.

The latest to be served with such “requests” for monetary and material help are two doctors in Tinsukia’s Sadiya subdivision on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.

Tinsukia police sources told The Telegraph today that two doctors (names withheld for security reasons), based at the Sadiya sub-divisional headquarter, Chapakhowa, had received a letter from the Communist Party of India (Maoists) about a week back. Chapakhowa is about 500km from Guwahati, on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra.

Sources said the note, issued by self-styled Upper Assam leading commander of the organisation, Chandra Baruah, had asked for money from one doctor and 20 mobile handsets from the other.

According to the FIR lodged with Sadiya police station by the two doctors of the Chapakhowa First Referral Unit hospital, a boy, aged about 15 years, had delivered the two letters to one of the doctors at the hospital while he was on duty in the OPD.

The letters, written in Assamese, asked one doctor to pay Rs 70,000 towards organisational expansion of the party, while the other letter asked for 20 mobile handsets, mentioning the name and model of a particular company, citing the same reason.

Both letters had a rubber stamp seal of the organisation and offered revolutionary greetings at the beginning and lal salaam (red salute) at the end.

Urging for safety and protection, the doctors have expressed apprehension about working in the hospital, especially at night.

A senior Tinsukia district police official said investigation was on, and necessary measures were being taken to protect the doctors, along with a review of the security in the entire area.

The official said the police were also trying to ascertain the authenticity of the demand notes and the identity and whereabouts of the boy who had delivered those.

A police source said the name used by the commander in the extortion note was not real but an adopted one, which militants generally do after joining an outfit and added that the name might be one of the adopted names of local Maoist leader Siddartha Buragohain, who hails from the Telekola area of Sadiya.

It could not be ascertained whether the Maoists had contacted the doctors to collect the money and the mobiles, as the police were probing the matter.

On December 27 last year, the Tinsukia district administration said in a secret message issued to Dispur and the police headquarters that extortion notes were served to a few persons in Ambikapur, including a woman ward member of Ambikapur gaon panchayat.

A group of about seven armed men, suspected to be Maoist activists, had served the notes on December 20.

The missive had said the husband of the ward member who received the extortion note runs a small khuti (unorganised dairy farm) at 9 Kilo Khuti, which is the last border point of the Assam-Arunachal boundary. The area is on the edge of the dense Kundal Kalia reserve forest, beyond which lie two Arunachal Pradesh districts — Lohit and Lower Dibang Valley.