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Rebel rivalry claims 3

Ranchi, Nov. 28: CPI (Maoist) rebels gunned down three Jharkhand Prastuti Committee (JPC) rivals last evening. The bodies were recovered this morning from a dense forest in Panki police station area of Palamau district.

The deceased were identified as Babulal Bhuiyan — the local JPC zonal commander — and area commanders Prashant and Vikram. Five more JPC cadres in the platoon are reportedly missing. Police suspect that either they managed to flee or they had been abducted.

“We received the information last evening that a gun-battle between Maoists and JPC rebels had begun in the Panki forest area. But, before the police could react, the bodies of three JPC cadres were recovered. It appears the Maoists also took away their weapons. It is too early to say how many other JPC cadres were accompanying their slain comrades and where were they now. The case is being probed,” deputy inspector-general of police Praveen Singh said.

A critical look at the Naxalite politics dominating the Palamau region suggests that CPI(Maoist) and its breakaway factions Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) and JPC are now at loggerheads. Apart from establishing their supremacy in different pockets, the main fight is also for grabbing a bigger share of the levy pie.

Till a few years ago, over 80 per cent of villages were fully dominated by the Maoists. And to chase them away, police started extending logistic support to their rivals or breakaway factions. Now, while 40 per cent of the villages are by the CPI(Maoist), another 40 per cent are considered TPC strongholds. The JPC has significant presence in 10 per cent of the villages and the remaining 10 per cent of the villages are in the clutches of other rebel groups.

Over the years, the Maoists also tried to bridge differences with their old comrades, but to no avail. The “peace talks” mainly failed over the issue of sharing levy. “About six weeks ago, the CPI (Maoist) and JPC had merger talks in the dense forests along the Chatra-Latehar border. Here too, the negotiations failed over the issue of sharing of levy. Yesterday’s killings too are outcomes of desperate bids by Maoists to regain their old strongholds,” opined a senior officer.

However, he admitted that by extending logistic support to TPC, JPC and other rival rebel groups, the police have also fallen in their own trap.