JVM leader Dulal Bhuiyan (below) at his house in Jamshedpur, which he said was targeted by rebels on Sunday. (Bhola Prasad)
Jharkhand woke up to a shocking Sunday news of a Maoist attack on a former minister and abduction of his watchman only to be told later by police that the entire episode was staged.
The protagonist in question — JVM leader Dulal Bhuiyan — however insists that the police of the coalition government led by Hemant Soren are trying to hush up the matter and that his house in Jamshedpur was indeed targeted by an armed squad of rebels in the small hours.
According to Bhuiyan, CPI(Maoist) rebels stormed his residential premises in Bhuiyandih, 4km from the heart of the steel city, around 2.35am and dragged watchman Birendra Paswan to the Dalma foothills. He claimed the watchman was freed four hours later after being quizzed on his whereabouts.
In reality, Paswan was snoring off to glory at his home, a stone’s throw from his VIP employer’s residence, from 3am to 7am — the purported duration of kidnap.
Bhuiyan, who was stripped off six of his eight bodyguards six months ago, had further said that the incident followed threats from rebels on his mobile phone while he was in Patamda a week ago.
“The man on the phone said I would be killed like JMM leader Sunil Mahto and Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar who were both gunned down by rebels. I still have the number of the caller on my phone, which police can verify,” the former minister had said earlier in the day.
However, he did not say why he had earned the wrath of Maoists.
East Singhbhum SSP Richard Lakra, who was informed about the ‘attack and kidnap’ around 8am, directed city SP Kartik S. to launch a probe and submit a report, which the latter did by early evening.
“We had suspected he (Bhuiyan) might be lying. The confusion was dispelled after watchman Paswan gave in to intense interrogation and subsequent spot verification,” Lakra said, adding that Paswan was at his home all the time.
A police source said they suspected that the former minister wished to get back his six bodyguards who had been removed from duty after he lost his VIP status as a minister.
Even after police busted his story at a news meet late in the evening, Bhuiyan stood his ground. “I have shed blood for Jharkhand, and I won't lie for bodyguards. Police are trying to hush up such a serious matter,” he said.
“Nine armed men had targeted my house while we all were sleeping. They kidnapped my watchman and took him to Dalma foothills, where 100-150 more men were present,” the JVM leader added.
The SSP said Paswan had been made a witness in the fabricated case registered on the basis of an FIR lodged by Dulal Bhuiyan with Sitaramdera police. “After investigations come to an end, we will decide on what action may be taken against the person concerned,” he said.