CRPF jawans comb a forest for Maoists in Jhumra, Bokaro, on Tuesday. Telegraph picture
Maoists opened fire on a CRPF patrol party in Jhumra, 80km from Bokaro steel city, triggering an hour-long gun battle on Tuesday morning.
No casualty was reported from either side.
Around 11am, the rebels launched the surprise attack on over a dozen CRPF jawans of the 26th battalion during a regular drive at Tuti Jharna-Kashitand in Gomia block near Lugu Pahadi. The CRPF jawans retaliated strongly.
Even as the exchange of fire continued, a large contingent of security forces, comprising 100 district police personnel and three dozens CRPF jawans, were sent to the spot.
The reinforcements, led by Bokaro SP Jitendra Singh and DSP Manoj Kumar Rai, soon besieged the entire area, forcing the rebels to retreat.
The gunfight came to a halt around noon.
Consequently, the security forces launched a massive search operation that continued till reports last came in.
“CRPF men were on a regular drive when Maoists targeted them. They gave a strong reply. Over a dozen rounds of bullets were fired from each side,” North Chotanagpur IG Laxman Singh said.
He added that a search operation was still on and it was not clear yet if anyone on rebels’ side was injured or killed during the encounter.
The security forces have been carrying out regular operations in Bermo sub-division following intelligence inputs about Maoists sneaking into Gomia and Nawadih blocks to disturb the polls.
In fact, the administration has adopted a two-pronged strategy to keep Maoists in these two worst Naxalite-affected blocks in Bokaro.
On the one hand, police and CRPF have stepped up anti-rebel operations and deployed large contingents of personnel at all strategic entry and exit points, securitymen are trying hard to consolidate their relation with local villagers with the help of Civic Action Plan (CAP).
The CRPF and police are frequently distributing goodies under the CAP among villagers to win their confidence and prevent them from getting influenced by extremists.
Sources said such initiatives were taken in the past too, but in view of the elections, the administration were holding CAP programmes quite regularly now.
Under a similar initiative, the CRPF with the help of the district administration distributed blankets, shawls, mosquito nets, medicines, containers, saris, books and sports items at Potso, Barai, Bhalmara and Kharpito villages in Nawadih yesterday.
According to CRPF sources, around 100 women were given saris, while overt 100 old people were provided blankets.
These apart, cricket bats, balls, footballs, books and exercise books were distributed among around 50 children. Over 150 villagers were given free health check-up.
Speaking to The Telegraph, CRPF commandant of 26th battalion Sanjay Kumar urged villagers to come out and vote without fear. “People should use their rights because security forces are there for their protection,” he said.