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CIMA Gallary

Maoist who fled held, cop dead

- Encounter after late night search; Giridih villagers deny shootout

Hazaribagh, Feb. 5: A CRPF and police team went into a remote village of Giridih district late last night and arrested four wanted Maoists, but a constable was killed in an encounter that followed though villagers denied there was any shootout.

Constable Ajit Kumar Singh (30), who sustained a single bullet injury in the chest, was given a guard of honour in the presence of zonal IG Murari Lal Meena, after which his body was sent to his native village of Chouparan in Hazaribagh.

SP Amol Venukant Homkar confirmed the arrest of the four Maoists — one of them, Chotka Marandi, had fled after rebels attacked their prison van in Giridih on November 9, last year.

Working on a tip-off that Chotka was taking shelter in the area, a group of securitymen from the CRPF and quick response team crossed Barakar river to launch a search operation at Simrajori village in Simradhab panchayat under Pirtand police station, 52km from Giridih district headquarters, around 9pm last night.

According to the police, around 50 Maoists were hiding and suddenly opened fire on the police team. Around 30 rounds were fired by each side. Constable Singh, a member of the technical cell of the district police, died after he took a bullet in his chest.

In the end, Homkar said, the team managed to arrest Chotka, Veeralal Hansda, Fokcha Besra and Sanjhla Marandi — all Maoists.

However, villagers of Simrajori claimed there was no encounter, alleging instead that the police team, including Singh, beat up a group of local residents and took away money they had collected for organising a puja.

Dasarath and Sita Besra said a group of neighbours were at their house when the police came and started assaulting them. “The policemen even took away Rs 1,750 we had collected as donation for a puja,” said Dasarath, denying there was an encounter.

The police dismissed the allegations as fabricated, saying Maoists were taking shelter in the village. “The rebels did not expect us to reach such a remote village, that too at night. A constable died, but we managed to arrest the Maoists,” said Homkar.