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Fangs bared at fresh target

- Anaconda-II to stretch 120km from Saranda after Maoist arson

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Dec. 17: The hiss of Anaconda-II will soon be heard far and wide.

Jharkhand Police and CRPF personnel — who launched the second round of sustained offensive against Maoists in the forests of Saranda, West Singhbhum, just seven days ago — are now likely to go combing 120km away to Goelkera to buffer peril triggered by an incident of rebel arson last night.

An armed squad of 35-odd Maoists, including women, torched a construction fleet of 14 at a railway project site in Mahadevshal of Goelkera block — purportedly over levy — prompting the state’s security think tank to consider quick area proliferation for Anaconda-II.

“We are going to spread our net wider in the (Singhbhum) region. We will launch an offensive in and around Goelkera very soon,” IG (operations and intelligence) S.N. Pradhan told The Telegraph.

CRPF DIG (Chaibasa operational range) Ashok Samyal corroborated Pradhan. “Maoists are targeting construction companies for levy in different places. The operation (in Saranda) is going on according to plan. Another similar offensive (in Goelkera) can be expected,” said Samyal, who has served in Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) that borders the red bastion of Abujhmad in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.

In a further boost to anti-Maoist offensives in Jharkhand, Odisha is planning an operation along its border with Singhbhum. CRPF sources said Bhubaneswar DIG J.P.K. Ray, who reached Rourkela for a security meeting, had hinted at an offensive as early as today or tomorrow.

Odisha’s move can be interpreted as the Union home ministry’s seriousness to keep its Rs 249-crore showpiece Sar-anda action plan on track.

West Singhbhum police are, meanwhile, trying to plug security gaps that facilitated the attack in Goelkera, 180km from Jamshedpur.

Giving details of the attack, SP Pankaj Kamboj said the rebels, in a 15-minute operation, set 10 dumpers, two excavators and as many rollers ablaze around 9.30pm yesterday, thwarting railway tracks laying work on the Chakradharpur-Manoharpur section.

Private firm Triveni Constructions has been working on the project for a year.

According to Kamboj, the contractor had initially ignored suggestions to beef up security at the site. Four days ago, however, it approached him through Chakradharpur railway divisional office for a permit to use explosives for making a tunnel.

“We advised deployment of forces first and a proposal was sent to South Eastern Railway’s headquarters at Garden Reach, Calcutta. A nod was being awaited when the attack took place,” he said, adding they were gauging whether and when a combing operation was needed in the area.


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