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Maoist leader shot dead

Ranchi, July 23: A CPI(Maoist) sub-zonal commander and aide of the outfit’s dreaded top gun Kundan Pahan was shot dead in a pre-dawn encounter with security forces in a forest in Khunti district today.

Tulsidas, alias Vishalji, was gunned down by a joint team of state police and paramilitary forces at Utkramit Madhya Vidyalaya in Lemba village in the Adki area, around 40km from the Khunti district headquarters.

An assistant commandant of the CoBRA, Manoj Kumar Yadav, sustained a splinter injury under the eye during the encounter and has been admitted to Apollo Hospitals in Ranchi, where his condition is said to be stable.

Acting on intelligence inputs, a strike force of 25, comprising state police and commandos of the elite CoBRA unit of the CRPF, launched an offensive around 2.30am at Lemba. The team led by Ranchi superintendent of police (rural) S.K. Jha also included ASP (operations), Khunti, P.R. Mishra, ASP (operations), Ranchi, Harshpal Singh, deputy commandant of CoBRA and other senior officers.

According to Jha, the Maoists, who were 20 in numbers, opened indiscriminate fire as the security team reached near the school. The security personnel retaliated. The heavy exchange of fire between the two sides continued amid heavy rain for close to two hours, forcing the rebel squad accompanying Vishal to retreat into deep jungles behind the school building.

Later, the forces recovered Vishal’s body and seized one AK-47 rifle, 150 rounds of ammunition, one grenade, 83 rounds of used cartridges, two mobile phones, one charger, one set of camouflage uniform, groundsheet, bag and blanket from the school. “He sustained three bullet injuries,” said a senior officer.

Later, acting chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty and director-general of police Rajeev Kumar told reporters that Vishal was said to be the “right hand man” of Kundan Pahan, who heads activities of armed Maoist cadres in the state and along its borders.

Vishal, who was also the chief of special area committee (SAC)-2 active in Bundu-Chandil zone, was carrying a cash award of Rs 2 lakh on his head. He was wanted in connection with as many as 25 cases of murder, extortion and other Naxalite incidents.

DGP Kumar and acting chief secretary Chakraborty distributed Rs 2 lakh reward among the security personnel who took part in the encounter.

“This is an important achievement against the Maoists, DGP Kumar said while speaking to mediapersons at the state secretariat.

Bunker destroyed

Police destroyed a concrete Maoist bunker in the forests of Parasnath Hills in Nimiaghat, around 42km from the Giridih district headquarters, in the wee hours of Wednesday. A huge cache of arms and ammunition were recovered during the operation.

The seizures found in 15 boxes included 27 small guns of .315 bore, five revolvers, two countrymade pistols, one .315 gun and four 12 bore double barrel guns.

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