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Caste casualty whiff in Maoist’s death

- Ganjhus lose clout, police happy to cash in on rift in rebel ranks

Hazaribagh, July 21: Rebel commander Ajay Ganjhu, who was killed in Chatra yesterday, may have been set up as bait by his rivals within CPI(Maoist), an organisation impaired by caste conflicts for long.

Sources in the police said infighting had taken toll on the outlawed organisation in Jharkhand, a set up in which the Ganjhus, a section of scheduled caste rebels, have wielded immense clout.

The police were tipped off about the presence of Ajay Ganjhu, alias Paras, in his native village of Lakarmanda in Chatra. A police source said they believed Maoist insiders passed on the information to them.

“With Parasjee being the only remaining powerful Ganjhu leader, commanders belonging to other castes were not happy over his grip in Hazaribagh, Chatra, Latehar, Gaya and Palamau,” the source added.

Inspector-general and police spokesperson in Ranchi S.N. Pradhan agreed the Maoists were divided over caste. Asked whether the police was benefiting from it, he said they did not miss any opportunity in exploiting the weaknesses of the rebels.

“We welcome all information from any source,” he said.

“Paras was a big commander and behind every decision of the outfit. His position had weakened as he was branded a womaniser. Due to this, other members kept aloof from him for a few months. His second marriage also played a part in undermining his position,” he told The Telegraph.

Paras had not only killed policemen and civilians but also eliminated top leaders of the CPI(Maoist) breakaway faction Tritiya Prastuti Committee, which is also known to be Ganjhu-dominated.

“His death puts an end to the Ganjhu domination in the organisation,” an officer said.

An officer in the intelligence department corroborated what Pradhan said. Paras’s position in the outfit, he also claimed, had weakened in the last one year after he married a second time, to a girl of Tumba village in Kunda police station area of Chatra.

His estranged first wife immolated herself last year.

Paras was sidelined for a few months but later given charge of the Bihar-Jharkhand regional committee, the officer added.

P.K. Mishra, assistant commandant of CoBRA’s 203rd Battalion — it took part in the operation in Chatra yesterday — said CRPF higher-ups had decided to adopt the seven children, four sons and three daughters, of the slain Maoist.

In recent years, police have gained from the rivalry of the Ganjhus — they are Dalits — with Yadav rebels, who have revealed vital information on their whereabouts.

For instance, in 2007, the police succeeded in capturing Maoist zonal commander Bhagirath, followed by the arrests of Sunil Ganjhu and Tilak Ganjhu, both top leaders of Giridih.

The then SP Anurag Gupta had managed to eliminate another top Maoist leader of the state, Nripendra Ganjhu — he had abducted 23 engineers of Hindustan Construction Company involved in widening Grand Trunk Road — during an encounter in 2003.

Following his arrest in Hazaribagh on May 28, Maoist zonal commander Naveen Manjhi had told the police that the banned outfit was suffering from a tribal, non-tribal rift.