Ranchi, April 19: Three minor boys who had just appeared for matriculation examination were allegedly shot dead by rebels at a village in Bero block of Ranchi district last night.
Aditya Gope (15), Jeetbahan Mahto (16) and Upendra Mahto (15), residents of Masu village, about 43km from the Ranchi district headquarters, were friends and used to study together at SS Plus 2 High School, Bero.
Hailing from very poor families, they also worked as labourers in their spare time to support their parents, who are dependent on agriculture for livelihood.
A local resident said the trio were sleeping under a cowshed outside Jeetbahan’s house on Friday night when they were woken up by some men around 9pm and take to a crop field about half a kilometre away.
“They were shot dead there. Although the local thana is hardly 6km away, police came to know about the incident around 6am and sent a team at 8am,” he added.
Once the news of the murders spread, a large crowd of villagers gathered at the field where the boys lay in a pool of blood this morning.
Angry, the local residents did not allow police to take away the bodies for autopsy. They also blocked Ranch-Gumla Road (NH-23) near Jaria village from 9am to noon in protest against the deteriorating law and order situation in the block.
The blockade was removed only after SP (rural) S.K. Jha assured the protesters that action would be taken against the culprits and assistance would be given to the victims’ family members.
The villagers finally rented and allowed the police to send the bodies to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) for post-mortem.
Officer-in-charge of Bero police station Shiv Kumar Singh confirmed the triple murder. “A murder case has been registered on the basis of the statement of Suresh Mahto, father of Jeetbahan. Investigations have started.”
Quoting from the FIR, he said that around 10 armed suspected extremists reached the house and took the boys with them around 9pm yesterday. They were shot dead in a field.
Singh, however, could not specify whether the Maoists or PLFI or any other Naxalite faction had carried out the murders. “Mahto’s statements do not mention the name of any extremist outfit,” said the officer-in-charge.
But he made it clear that the boys did not have any criminal background.
Hazaribagh: Jharkhand Prastuti Committee rebels allegedly killed a 36-year-old farmer, Kiran Thakur, in Bhandartola forest of Keredari block late last night.