Police jeeps escort a transit van carrying prisoners from Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi on Saturday. (Prashant Mitra)
Ranchi/Dhanbad, Nov. 10: The Ranchi zonal headquarters today directed the superintendents of police of 10 districts to take extra precaution while ferrying undertrials from jail to court and back, a day after Maoists in Giridih ambushed a prison van killing four and freeing seven hardcore rebels.
The directions were given this morning asking the police chiefs to ensure there was no repeat of yesterday’s raid by the rebels, Ranchi zonal IG M.S. Bhatia said.
“Every superintendent of police (SP) has been asked not to slacken and constantly monitor the movement of prison vans, especially when they carry undertrials. The SPs, who were directed over phone, were also told to chalk out a contingency plan to face any crisis,” he said.
The districts falling in the zone are Ranchi, Khunti, Lohardaga, Gumla, Simdega, Palamau, Latehar, West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan.
Giridh comes under the Bokaro zone.
The SPs have also beefed up security and alerted their subordinates.
“Though the possibility of a Maoist attack here is low, proper security arrangements have been made on the direction of seniors in the wake of yesterday’s attack,” said Ranchi SSP Saket Kumar Singh, in charge of security in Birsa Munda Central Jail where over 100 Maoist undertrials are currently lodged.
Although he refused to give details of security measures, the wake-up call was apparent judging by the movement of the prisoner van from Birsa Munda Central Jail in Hotwar this morning.
Four police vehicles tailed the prisoner van to civil court, 10km away. Normally, only one police vehicle follows the van.
Latehar SP Kranti G. Kumar said, “Though we had alerted officials beforehand, the directions from Ranchi will help us chalk out a security plan meticulously. We have beefed up security and sounded an alert in the district. Though the distance between the district jail, which has around 45 Maoists, and the court is hardly 200 metres, we have taken proper precaution for the safe movement of prisoner vehicles.”
He, too, did not share security details.
In Giridih town, a 60-member Maoist guerrilla squad had fired upon a transit van ferrying prisoners yesterday evening, killing three policemen and one inmate of the sub divisional jail.
Meanwhile, Dhanbad police today formed a six-member special mobile squad to keep vigil on the stretches of national highway and Grand Truck Road crossing the district in a bid to thwart any Maoist attack.
During a high-level meeting at the SP’s office, North Chotanagpur IG Murarilal Meena and Coal Belt DIG Laxman Singh proposed increased security measures in Naxalite-affected areas of the district. Sources said the district police decided to step up security in Tundi, Topchanchi and Rajnagar areas especially.
SP R.K. Dhan said that as around 24 hardcore Maoists from the district and neighbouring Giridih were lodged at Dhanbad Central Jail, apart from notorious criminals, coal smugglers and underworld dons, attempts to free prisoners could not be ruled out.
“We convened a high-level meeting in which every aspect of security arrangements was discussed and additional forces have been deployed from today itself to keep an eye on movement of vehicles ferrying top Maoists and criminals. We have also asked the intelligence network to provide timely information and call top officers directly in case of emergencies,” he added.