Ranchi, June 29: Rebels of the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) gunned down two CPI(Maoist) sympathisers in Khunti last evening, sparking fears of possible turf war between the two rival groups in this forested area.
Around a dozen armed members of the PLFI, a breakaway faction of the Maoists, raided a weekly haat (village market) at Birbanki, around 50km from Khunti district headquarters, and sprayed bullets on Vishram Munda and Gopal Munda around 4pm.
While their bodies remained in a pool of blood, the villagers and small-time businessmen, who all had come to the market, disappeared from the spot in no time and took refuge at the nearby Central Reserve Police Force camp and other “safer” places.
Sources said Vishram and Gopal were natives of Birbanki — a CPI(Maoist)-dominated village that shares borders with Tamar police station area of Ranchi district.
“There has been a lull in rebel activities in the recent past, but the yesterday’s incident may trigger a spate of murders in the area. We are apprehending a war of supremacy again as the Maoists will now try to settle the score,” said a local scribe, requesting anonymity.
Superintendent of police (SP), Khunti, Anish Gupta visited the market site at Birbanki today to take stock of the situation.
“I went to Birbanki this morning. It seems that the duo used to collect levy from the market and send the money to Maoist leader Kundan Pahan and his lieutenants. We are closely observing the situation,” Gupta told The Telegraph over telephone.
A senior officer added Vishram and Gopal used to supply arms to the Maoists too.