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Levy root of rebel attack

Dumka, Dec. 17: The wave of development in Santhal Pargana has come at a price — the rise of Maoists, who have spotted in the situation a lucrative chance to make money in the form of hefty levy from companies engaged in various projects.

The November 29 attack on a road construction fleet of 11 vehicles at Jamni village, 28km from the Dumka district headquarters, was the fallout of such a demand for money that spilled out of control even after the company had coughed up half of the levy. This was revealed by three Maoists, who were part of the armed squad that set ablaze eight dumper trucks, an excavator, a tractor and a goods carrier outside the hot mixing plant and crusher unit of JVR Construction, an Andhra Pradesh firm, on Dumka-Pakur Road.

According to police, Diwan Marandi, Dinesh Rai and Sashi Murmu, who were arrested on December 12, have revealed during interrogation that the CPI(Maoist) had demanded Rs 2 crore as levy from JVR Construction, which is building a 99km two-lane stretch between Dumka and Barhet on Govindpur-Sahebganj highway, a year ago.

“The company had agreed to pay the levy and had even coughed up Rs 50 lakh. However, the money was embezzled by local leaders of the rebel organisation and not remitted to top-level functionaries. The November 29 attack was carried out by these local rebels, who wanted to mislead the senior leaders into believing that JVR had not actually paid the levy,” Dumka SP Hemant Toppo told mediapersons.

This is, however, not the first time that arrested Maoists have spilled the beans on the practice of collecting levy from private companies and contractors engaged in development works, but police appear to have done little to foil such attempts.

Notably, James Murmu, another rebel arrested by Dumka police in August 2011, had also admitted that the CPI(Maoist) was collecting a huge amount of levy from road construction companies and other firms, including Panem Coal Mines Limited that has its unit in neighbouring Amrapara, Pakur district.

SP Toppo, however, stressed that police were always kept in the dark about such clandestine deals between contractors and rebels. “Contractors will be provided adequate security if they come forward and lodge complianrs,” he added.