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Jharkhand: Maoists attack on CRPF patroling party

Posted by Admin on August 27, 2009

Bloodshed in bandh final hour
RAJ KUMAR

Ranchi, Aug. 26: A villager playing police guide was killed and a CRPF jawan injured when a squad of rebels led by sub-zonal commander Kundan Pahan ambushed a 38-member security party in Bundu barely an hour before the 48-hour CPI(Maoist) bandh drew to an end last night.

Deputy superintendent of police (DSP), Hatia, Rajeev Ranjan, who survived the attack, said police and CRPF personnel were returning from Ulida after a long-range patrol when the rebels struck.

Tired as they were, the jawans had stopped for some rest at Nawadih Middle School. The school, nestled between dense forests and hills about 35km from the capital on the Ranchi-Jamshedpur highway, made them easy targets.

An armed squad of 100 rebels surrounded the campus around 11pm and began firing indiscriminately from semi-automatic rifles. The security personnel scurried for cover, many taking shelter in classrooms on the 1.8-acre campus.

“Sukhram Munda, a village youth who was guiding us, was killed in the first hail of bullets. CRPF jawan Shivshankar Yadav was injured. We took position in eight classrooms and a gun battle ensued,” Ranjan said, adding that they exhausted 800 rounds during the encounter that lasted for three hours.

The DSP said that the rebels tried to demoralise the force by heckling them and asking them to surrender. “They kept saying that they had laid siege to the campus and we could not escape. Pahan himself was hollering at us,” he added.

Officer in charge of Lapung police station Kuldeep Toppo, who also survived the attack, admitted that he had never faced such a tricky situation. “It was a difficult challenge for us because we had no long-range firearms. I found myself helpless with a 9mm pistol. The encounter ended only after reinforcement and anti-landmine vehicles reached the spot. Bundu sub-divisional police officer Anand Joseph Tigga led the additional force to the school around 2am. We stayed on the campus till 7am,” he said.

A section of police officers said the patrol team had made a strategic mistake. “It was foolish to use the same route for entry and exit, besides entering a forested stretch at night,” one of them said not willing to be named. Senior police superintendent, Ranchi, Praveen Kumar, however, claimed that the security team had been caught unawares.

CRPF jawan Yadav has been admitted to hospital, where his condition is said to be stable. TT

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