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Rebels torch bikes, SUV

Ranchi, April 24: Suspected CPI(Maoist) rebels set on fire three motorcycles and an SUV parked on the premises of an Adhunik Group office in Balumath, around 47km from Latehar district headquarters, in the small hours of Thursday, apparently to extort money from the company officials.

Police said around a dozen rebels ransacked the office, set the vehicles on fire and assaulted nigh guards posted at the site surrounded by dense forests. “They also left behind pamphlets, directing the company officials to seek the rebel outfit’s permission before starting groundwork for mining in the area,” said a senior police officer.

Adhunik Power and Natural Resources Limited (APNRL) — a wing of Calcutta-based Adhunik Group — is setting up a power plant in neighbouring Seraikela-Kharsawan district. It is also running a steel plant in the district.

The company has been allotted a coal block in Ganeshpur of Latehar for the thermal power plant.

Though full-fledged mining operations are yet to begin, the company has set up an office near Ganeshpur coal block to take care of the preparations to begin groundwork.

The rebels attacked this office to create panic.

Latehar superintendent of police (SP) Michaelraj S. said it appeared to be a case of extortion, though police were probing the matter from different angles. “Raids are on to nab the culprits,” the SP said.

Not only Adhunik Group, but also Abhijit Group, Essar Steel, CCL, JSMDC among others have stakes in Latehar district. “Employees of these companies too received levy demands from different rebel outfits in the recent past,” a police officer said.