Senior police officers are trying to ascertain whether or not CRPF deputy commandant Harikant Jha was shot on Friday by a woman rebel, who had formed a group of females and children at Bakhari village in Jamui district to shield their leaders.
Reena Koda, said to be the wife of self-proclaimed Maoist zonal commander Siddhu Koda, was apprehended by the CRPF personnel while she was trying to change her uniform to avoid detection of her identity after the operation. Police sources said Reena had fired the shot, which hit Jha, the second in command of the CRPF’s 7th battalion, on his head, leading to instant death.
A senior CRPF official camping in Jamui said on Sunday that Reena, a frail-looking woman, was a highly trained Maoist. During interrogation, she revealed she was on the front with women and children when the security forces were proceeding towards their houses to carry out search operation early on Friday morning. “She was arrested with her firearms from the spot,” the officer said.
Reena Koda’s name figured among the 15 Maoists named as accused in the FIR lodged with the Kaira police station in Jamui district on the statement of its station house officer Vijay Kumar Yadvendu.
The CRPF official, who is monitoring the operations in the areas considered to be the hotbed of the Maoists on the borders of Bihar and Jharkhand, said Siddhu was present in the village on the fateful day.
Jha left for Bakhari village in Jamui district after the headquarters of the 7th battalion at Giridih in Jharkhand received inputs that some top ranking leaders of the outfit had gathered at the village to chalk out strategy to carry out a major attack. “He verified the inputs and planned a joint operation with the police officials of Jharkhand in Bihar,” the officer said.
Reena fired at Jha from a close range when he was reloading magazine in his assault rifle. As the officer was over 6ft tall, the bullet hit him on the head and he died on the spot.
“This provided the Maoist leaders an opportunity to escape from the village, surrounded by deep forest,” the officer said, adding that the security forces would retaliate in the same manner.
Inspector-general (operations) S.M. Khopade, who is monitoring the police operation, said an alert has been sounded in the area and search operations launched to apprehend the rebels involved in the killing of the CRPF official. “Hills and forests separate the two states and the area is considered to be safe zone of the rebels. Moreover, they are aware of the topography of the area, which the security forces were lacking,” he said.
Jamui superintendent of police Upendra Kumar Singh said the entire area has been put under strict surveillance so that the Maoists couldn’t sneak into Jharkhand.
Investigations revealed that the Maoists have recruited children in the age group of eight to 13 years, who are mainly used as informers and imparted training in deep forests. The squads comprising children are called “bal dusta” or “bal sangham”.