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Dead Maoist Balihar killer

Dumka, Jan. 9: A 45-year-old man, who was brutally murdered by unidentified persons at Simanijor along Dumka-Rampurhat road on the night of January 5, has now been identified as a Maoist involved in last year’s killing of former Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar and five other policemen.

The body of Kalam Sheikh (45), who used to live at his in-laws’ residence at Amrapani village in Kathikund police station area of Dumka, was found the next morning.

Investigations later revealed that he was one of the 30 accused named in the chargesheet pertaining to Balihar’s murder. Police suspect that he might have been killed by his own men.

“Yes, the chargesheet in the murder case of former Pakur SP and other policemen had named Sheikh as an accused. We are trying to find out whether Maoists had any role in his murder,” DIG Priya Dubey told The Telegraph.

Vakil Hembrom and Satan Besra, two of the three Naxalites held in connection with Balihar’s death, had named Sheikh along with others. Police had prepared the chargesheet on the basis of their statements, which was finally submitted to a trial court by investigating officer G.K. Minj in October last year.

Hembrom and Besra had told the police that Sheikh not only attended a Maoist strategy meeting the night before the ambush, but was also a member of the attack squad.

Police had been on the lookout for Sheikh, who was from Nalhati in Bengal but started living at Amrapani in Ahikaripara after marrying a local girl. He was also involved in another Naxalite attack in November 2012 and had been sent to jail, but was later released on bail by Jharkhand High Court.

“Sheikh was very active among the Maoists. He used to extort levy from contractors and other sources. His death might have been the fallout of a deal gone wrong. The rebels may have eliminated him after misappropriation of levy money,” a police source claimed.

Balihar and five other policemen — driver Ashok Srivastava, SP’s bodyguard Chandan Kumar Thapa, constables Manoj Kumar Hembrom, Rajiv Kumar Sharma and Santosh Mandal — were killed on Dumka-Pakur road near Kathikund, 25km from the district headquarters, on their way to Pakur after attending a meeting with DIG Dubey on July 2 last year.

Constable Bablu Kumar Murmu, SP’s bodyguard Levinus Marandi and Dharmraj Muraiya were injured.

So far, police have managed to arrest only three rebels involved in the incident. The rest are at large.

Police seem to have hit a dead end. So much so that sources claimed Sheikh used to move about freely in the rebel-dominated area and had also called on JMM chief Shibu Soren at his Khijuria residence on September 19 last year, pleading innocence. A JMM functionary had facilitated the meeting.