Ranchi, Oct. 8: Joint security forces today intensified operations against PLFI in Khunti — which has recorded the highest number of civilian casualties at the hands of rebels this year — in a concerted move to rein in the breakaway faction of the CPI(Maoist).
IG (operations) S.N. Pradhan told The Telegraph the offensive was launched and the SPs of Gumla, Simdega and Chaibasa asked to remain alert and provide backup.
“Other districts have also been put on alert in view of the Maoists planning to observe the first death anniversary of their leader Kishan on November 24,” Pradhan, also the state police spokesperson, pointed out.
PLFI is considered to be the second biggest internal security threat after the CPI(Maoist) in the state. The extremist group is engaged in a bloody war with its parent outfit in several districts, including Khunti, Simdega and Gumla.
According to sources, the operation against PLFI was intensified after DGP G.S. Rath questioned during a meeting with SPs last Friday why special missions were not launched against PLFI and Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) — also a splinter organisation — but only against Maoists.
Pradhan said more personnel drawn from CRPF and Jharkhand Armed Police would be rushed to Khunti tomorrow. The South Chotanagpur DIG had been asked to supervise the operations, he added.
Seventy per cent of the 84 civilian killings till September have been reported from Khunti, Simdega and Gumla districts. Over 35 cases have been reported in Khunti alone, a district bordering Ranchi, Gumla, West Singhbhum, Simdega and Seraikela-Kharsawan.
According to police sources, villagers in Khunti are polarised on the issue of support for Maoists and PLFI men. They are sympathizers of one group or the other, which often results in gang war and killings.
Only two days ago, suspected Maoists abducted three persons in Laved village under Arki police station of Khunti. They demanded that police hand over certain informers (PLFI supporters) in return for the safe release of the victims.
Maoists and PLFI rebels were also locked in a gun battle in Rania a few days ago, though there was no casualty on either side.
Ironically, the police establishment was said to have earlier actively backed PLFI and TPC in Latehar to weaken the CPI(Maoist).
Pradhan refused comment on the issue but said that the police were out to exploit the turf war between PLFI and Maoists to their advantage.
The IG added that he had intelligence inputs about Maoists assembling in Porahat forests of West Singhbhum ahead of the death anniversary of Kishan.
DGP Rath told The Telegraph he did not visualise any problem in view of Kishan’s anniversary, but that the Maoists could always create trouble to unnerve the administration.
“So, we have sounded the districts to get ready and take extra precaution while running an operation against Maoists, as there may be plans of landmine attacks,” he maintained.