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Offensive against rebels in Ghatshila

Jamshedpur, March 20: Security forces, under the umbrella of East Singhbhum district police, today launched an offensive in Naxalite-infested Ghatshila sub-division, prompted by the recent escape of a feared local leader and the seizure of Maoist posters decrying the coming general elections.

Among those involved in the pre-election exercise — voting in the region is on April 17 — are men belonging to CRPF and Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB).

They are concentrating on Ghurabandha, Mosabani, Ghatshila, Dhalbhumgarh and Dumaria, according to additional superintendent of police (rural) Shailendra Burnwal, who as leader of the operation, is camping at Ghatshila.

Burnwal said recent incidents, like the escape of dreaded Maoist Fogra Munda and distribution of posters in Ghurabandha, indicated that the rebels were regrouping in the area before the elections.

“Some fresh incidents involving rebels on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections have forced us to launch anti-insurgency operations in Maoist-hit Ghatshila sub-division. The operation will continue until we are able to frustrate the rebels,” he said.

The additional SP said the operations involved long-range patrolling of Maoist pockets across the hilly areas of Ghurabandha where, intelligence reports suggest, the rebels were organising an anti-election campaign.

“Fogra Munda, who fled Ghatshila jail on March 3, is a close aid of Kanhu Munda, commander of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) outfit's Ghurbandha squad and is facing as many as nine cases of murder. After his escape from judicial custody, the local squad has gained in strength,” said a police source.

The police have also recovered posters in which Maoists are calling upon local residents to join them to disrupt the elections. The posters also claim to offer monthly remuneration ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 to a new recruit.

The additional SP said anti-insurgency operations were also being carried out in the border areas of Bengal and Odisha to keep a watch on the movement of Naxalites who often cross over into the Ghurabandha and Ghatshila-Dhalbhumgarh areas.