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Maoists kill Marandi son and 18

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SHAHNAWAZ AKHTAR Giridih Published 27.10.07, 12:00 AM

Giridih, Oct. 27: Maoists gunned down 19 people, including the son of former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, a little past midnight today at a function held after a football tournament.

Anup Marandi and 16 others died at the scene of the shooting at Chilkhari village, about 55km from here, while two succumbed to their injuries at a Giridih hospital. Eleven others are injured.

The Maoists jumped on the dais around 12.40pm, shouting they had come to kill Nunulal Marandi, brother of Babulal and the chief guest at the function, eyewitnesses said. The rebels began firing at the front row, assuming their target was sitting there. Nunulal, who was in the second row, fled the scene unhurt.

“My family is a target of Naxalites,” Babulal said. “My son and brother should not have ventured out at night.”

The officer in charge of the Deori police station, Virendra Singh, had been sent with a team to guard the tournament and the function, but had returned in the evening after the prize distribution.

“It is a clear case of negligence on the officer’s part,” said the additional superintendent of police (Giridih), Arun Kumar Singh.

Former Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MP Sunil Mahto was gunned down during the prize distribution after a football match on March 4 this year. The game at Baguria, East Singhbhum, had been organised as part of Holi celebrations.

Chilkhari residents said the rebels had arrived at last night’s function in two groups, one wearing Central Reserve Police Force uniforms and the other in ordinary clothes. The second group mingled with the crowd, ASP Singh said.

All the 85 artistes, members of a Bokaro group, survived but Suresh Handa, the new vice-president of the Giridih College students’ union, was among the dead. The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha has called a state-wide bandh tomorrow.

JMM chief Shibu Soren condemned the attack. Chief minister Madhu Koda, who visited Chilkhari, said: “It is a sad incident. The attack was retaliation for police action against the rebels.”

The chief minister, however also said he could “smell” a conspiracy and had ordered a probe.

A joint police-paramilitary combing has begun but ASP Singh said the attackers may have sneaked into Bihar since Chilkhari is near the border.

Koda has announced Rs 1 lakh and a job for the family of each of the dead. The state will pay the medical bills of the injured, five of whom have been shifted to Pataliputra Medical College and Hospital, Dhanbad.

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