Ranchi, March 25: Three policemen, including an officer-in-charge, were injured when PLFI rebels triggered a landmine blast and opened fire at a 14-member police squad headed to Kotna village in Khunti district this morning.
The 7.30am attack comes exactly two weeks after the Chhattisgarh Maoist ambush in which 15 security personnel and a civilian were killed.
Those injured in today’s attack are officer-in-charge of Murhu police station and sub-inspector Praveen Kumar, constable Harish Kumar and driver Roshan Mundu.
Khunti SP Anis Gupta confirmed the PLFI hand. “The attack took place when the force was on its way to Kotna village to conduct a meeting on the Lok Sabha elections with the villagers. They were supposed to discuss ways to ensure peaceful polling,” he added.
According to sources, the policemen were in two vehicles, each carrying seven persons. Officer-in-charge Praveen Kumar, five constables and a driver were in the first vehicle, while seven jawans of Jharkhand Armed Police were in the second car.
“The first vehicle was hardly 1km from Kotna village when there was an explosion. Indiscriminate firing from the forests lining the road also started. The jawans in the second car hurriedly took position and an encounter took place. After 10 minutes of firing from both sides, the rebels fled,” said a police officer.
The injured were taken to Apollo hospitals in Ranchi for treatment.
Hours before the Khunti blast, a JAP constable was injured in another attack involving a former Maoist in Garhwa district.
A 50-member team, comprising district police and Jharkhand Armed Police personnel, rushed to Bhumphod in Dhurki, about 50km from the Garhwa district headquarters, at 6am on getting information that former Maoist Krishna Bhuiyan, alias Dehati, was holed up in the region.
“As soon as the squad reached near Kanhar river, a group of seven men opened fire at them. JAP constable Abdul Satar Roy sustained injuries in the firing that lasted for barely five minutes. The gang then escaped. The jawan has been sent to Daltonganj Sadar Hospital, which referred him to RIMS in Ranchi,” a police officer said.
Garhwa SP Sudhir Kumar Jha said Dehati was present in the group that had fired at the personnel.
“After leaving the CPI(Maoist), Dehati formed another gang with some criminals released from jail. After police came to know about his presence, a team was sent to arrest him when the encounter took place,” he said.
With the Lok Sabha elections approaching, Naxalites and criminals have intensified their activities with an intention to disrupt the democratic process.
Earlier on March 21 night, around 150 Maoist guerrillas in uniform had swooped down on a school in Giridih, which was used by CRPF jawans in January, and blew it up. The rebels also left behind pamphlets asking people to boycott the Lok Sabha elections.