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PLFI activist dies in gun battle

Bhubaneswar, July 9: One activist of People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), an outfit which had Maoist connections in the past, was killed and four others were injured in an hour-long gun battle with a joint team of Odisha and Jharkhand police late last night.

Five PLFI members, including the four injured, were arrested from a spot close to Odisha border. Cadres of the PLFI, who operate on both sides of the border, had unleashed a reign of terror in areas such as Rourkela, Birmitrapur and Rajgangpur.

Yesterday’s encounter followed the killing of local BJD leader, Hardeep Singh, near Kansbahal by the members of the outfit. The arrested PLFI members were also involved in four other cases of murder in Sundergarh district bordering Jharkhand.

The operation was planned after Rourkela superintendent of police Himansu Lal last evening received intelligence inputs about PLFI activists hiding at Manzurgarha village within Jaldega police limits of Jharkhand. Lal alerted his counterpart on the other side of the border and proceeded to the spot with a team of more than 15 policemen.

Around 9pm, they surrounded the house in which the PLFI members were hiding. However, when challenged, they opened fire on the police team using sophisticated weapons such as AK-47s and 9mm carbine machine guns.

While PLFI member Rajan, 22, was killed during the encounter in which around 300 rounds were fired, four others — Samuel Munda, Sunli Singh, Dillip Singh alias Sakha tiger alias Srinuf Khadia and Johnson Munda, all in the age group of 20 to 25 — suffered injuries.

Another PLFI activist, Manisha Lugun, 20 was arrested from the spot. The injured were immediately shifted to the Ispat General Hospital in Rourkela for treatment.

DIG, western range, Y Jethwa said: “They are all PLFI members who were planning something big.” He said that driven out of Maoist organisations in the past, the members of the outfit had taken to crime, including extortion. The police have seized one AK-47 rifle with three magazines, one 9mm carbine, one self-loading rifle and one pistol besides 163 rounds of live ammunition and two gelatine sticks.”

The police said that apart from being involved in the killing of BJD leader Hardeep Singh, the arrested PLFI members were also facing charges in connection with two other murders in Bisra and Rajgangpur areas of Sundergarh. They also have 25 cases against them in Jharkhand.