Hazaribagh, Oct. 28: The Hazaribagh police today launched a massive combing operation in the forests of Keredari to trace abducted circle officer Nirmal Kumar Toppo without any success.
Although it is being suspected that Maoists are behind the abduction as Keredari, located on the Hazaribagh-Chatra district border, is their stronghold, the police failed to confirm it.
Hazaribagh superintendent of police (SP) Pankaj Kamboj, who led today’s search operation, said that they were trying to zero in on various criminal groups active in the area. The SP suspects that the kidnap may have been the work of an abduction gang that was busted a few years ago. But the gang members were released on bail recently. “My team is looking at all angles. We are trying our best to ensure Toppo’s safe return,” Kamboj added.
However, sources said that many breakaway groups of the CPI(Maoist) were also active in Keredari and neighbouring areas. They said that movement of extremists was reported in that area in the past few days and hence, the hand of such rebel factions or the CPI(Maoist) cannot be ruled out.
Jharkhand Administrative Service Association (Jhasa) led by deputy development commissioner N.N. Singh and sub-divisional officer Sanjay Singh today called an emergency meeting, where it condemned the incident and demanded immediate release of Toppo.
The association members also warned that if the circle officer was not traced by tonight, they would start an agitation tomorrow. Better security for block development officers and circle officers posted in Naxalite hotbeds was their other demand.
Hazaribagh MP Yashwant Sinha and Sadar MLA Saurabh Narayan Singh went to meet Toppo’s family in Deeppugarha and assured of all help. The two leaders promised to mount pressure on the administration to ensure safe release of the officer.
Police sources pointed out that Patra bridge from where Toppo was abducted last evening had witnessed similar incidents in the past.
In 2005, a resident was abducted from the bridge and later his dead body was recovered from a nearby forest. On July 4, 2008, two missionaries were kidnapped from the same place but later released. In May this year, a manager of a construction company met the same fate. He was also released.
Later, it was found out that Jharkhand Liberation Tiger (JLT) was behind the abduction of the missionaries and the manager too.