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Mission purge PLFI takes flight

Ranchi, July 9: Jharkhand today pressed two Mi-17 armoured choppers of Indian Air Force for the first time to add teeth to Operation Karo, the ongoing offensive against People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) in Khunti, Gumla, Simdega and other districts under the grip of the banned outfit.

Officiating chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty, along with state DGP Rajeev Kumar and other top police brass today conducted an hour-long aerial recce from 11.30am of the entire PLFI-affected region.

“Two helicopters have been taken from Indian Air Force exclusively for this purpose. Our sole motive is to permanently cleanse Jharkhand of the PLFI this time. Time for talks are over,” Chakraborty said before leaving for Khunti.

“Standing instructions have been issued to the security forces to identify and nab each one of PLFI members or their sympathisers,” he added.

According to a civil aviation department official, Union home ministry had given the helicopters to Jharkhand for anti-Naxalite missions, but they were only used as air ambulances or for ferrying CRPF or state police head. After Chakraborty’s intervention, the choppers were pressed directly for offensive from today.

Both will help security forces on the ground track PLFI movements, map remote or tough-terrain areas and airdrop teams when needed.

“Helicopters give our forces psychological edge over enemies and help build pressure. War strategies must keep evolving. We are working out logistics for an all-round attack this time,” IG (operations) M.L. Meena told The Telegraph.

He added that unlike before, inter-district operations were on in full swing this time. “Unless districts and border areas cooperate, the mission will fall flat,” he said.

The effort at synergy seems to be working.

Since Operation Karo’s launch on July 4, Khunti police have nabbed a dozen PLFI members, including area commander Shankar Gope.

Last night, four members aged between 22 and 25 years were nabbed from Saudag village, Khunti. Identified as Mangal Pahan, Jote Lal, Pandeya Singh Munda and Kishun Munda. They have been forwarded to jail in Khunti this morning.

On whether any arrested PLFI members have provided any clue about outfit chief Dinesh Gope, Meena said he was waiting for a final report.

Intelligence reports say many members of the PLFI, including Dinesh, are shuttling between Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

“Dinesh has set up as many as 15-16 schools in recent times and has even formed a trust. He is trying to white-wash all his black money collected through extortion and levy and has serious political ambitions. We are probing details of his activities and people involved in them. Nabbing him is vital to crush the PLFI,” said Meena.

Calling the PLFI a gang of criminals engaged in extortion, kidnap, murder and other illegal activities, the state launched the offensive in response to the banned outfit arm-twisting the closure of some 400 schools in Khunti recently.

Though the state has not divulged the number of personnel involved, JAP, CRPF and Jharkhand Jaguar teams have together been pressed for this combing operation.

When contacted, Khunti SP Anish Gupta remained tight-lipped. But a well-placed source said CRPF was the main strike force, JAP and Jaguar teams gave back-up and intelligence support.


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