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Security scramble after supari Poll-eve jolt perks up state police

Ranchi, March 9: The ease with which firebrand Ajsu leader Tileshwar Sahu was gunned down yesterday in Barhi by a PLFI sharpshooter not only sent shock ripples across the state, but also rung alarm bells on the need to beef up security for politicians campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls.

To combat the security threat after the state’s most high-profile civilian casualty in rebel violence so far, Jharkhand police today sounded an alert to bodyguards and escort parties deputed for politicians and VIPs.

“For all campaigns, rallies and movement of candidates and top politicians, we sounded alerts across districts. Jharkhand police headquarters is monitoring this task. District-level panels have been formed at the level of respective SPs and other designated police officers. Sahu had bodyguards, but was still killed,” inspector-general (operations) M.L. Meena, nodal officer for Lok Sabha polls, said today.

In Jharkhand, Lok Sabha elections will be held on three days — April 10, 17 and 24. Though campaigning is slated to start from March last week, many aspirants are already visiting constituencies.

“We need to review security arrangements for Lok Sabha elections in the state and must focus on strengthening intelligence network. Installing more telecom towers in rebel areas would help to communicate better,” Jharkhand chief secretary R.S. Sharma said.

On March 7, when Union cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth reviewed security issues related to Left-Wing Extremism with chief secretaries and director generals of police of states, Sharma participated in the video-conference and spoke of a sharp decline in Naxalite violence in Jharkhand.

But as Sahu’s death suggests, there is no stopping rebel-sponsored civilian casualties.

Though Sahu had bodyguards, he took a bullet in a women’s day event in full view of thousands by a hired PLFI gunman who ostensibly wanted to shake hands with the leader.

It was widely believed that Ajsu would field Sahu from Chatra for Lok Sabha or Barhi for Vidhan Sabha.

Sahu’s murder is the latest addition in the list of rebel killings of politicians.

In 2011, Independent MP from Chatra Inder Singh Namdhari survived an attack in Bhandaria area of Chhattisgarh bordering Garhwa, but 16 policemen lost their lives.

In 2008, rebels shot dead Tamar MLA and welfare minister Ramesh Singh Munda of JD(U) at a Bundu school.

In 2007, Jamshedpur MP and popular JMM leader Sunil Kumar Mahto was gunned down by Naxalites in Ghatshila subdivision of East Singhbhum district when he attended a local football match. In the same year, rebels gunned down JVM chief and former chief minister Babulal Marandi’s son Anup Marandi at a Giridih village. In 2005, before Assembly polls, CPI(ML) MLA Mahendra Prasad Singh, an upright legislator, was shot dead.


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