Close watch on vital installations, border

RANCHI: Jharkhand police have increased vigil on highways, railway tracks and all installations of strategic importance, fearing retaliation by CPI (Maoist) after the death of Kishanji, one of the top most leaders of the banned outfit, in a gun battle with security forces.

On Friday, all police stations and pickets, especially along the highways and bordering with West Bengal, were alerted.

Police had initially sealed the borders with West Bengal to check movement of rebels across the border after the encounter in West Midnapore’s Burishole, about 10km from the Bengal-Jharkhand border, on Thursday.

Jharkhand police spokesperson R K Mallik said security forces were prepared to tackle any situation. “We are alert and are keeping a close eye on every development,” said Mallik. Since movement of passenger trains on the Howrah-Mumbai section is already suspended at night for the past one year, the rebels are not likely to get any soft target, he added.

“We are also keeping a close watch on the Coal India Chord section of the Dhanbad railway division in view of information of a bandh called by the Maoist. Police don’t have any specific input about the bandh in Jharkhand.”

On the other hand, police are also working on a strategy to take the advantage of leadership crisis in the banned organization.”

Special Branch IG S N Pradhan confirmed that security forces had stepped up efforts to trap Kundan Pahan, the self-styled subzonal commander operating near Ranchi and Khunti district. He was accused of killing former minister and JD(U) MLA Ramesh Singh Munda in 2008, robbing Rs 5.5 crore the same year and beheading special branch officer Francis Induwar in 2009.

“We have launched a massive operation to nab Pahan. This is the right time to redefine our strategy to wipe out the Maoists especially those operating in border areas,” said Pradhan.

Pradhan said security forces deployed in bordering areas were asked to be vigilant as there was a possibility of cross-border movement of Naxalites. “We have information that Suchitra, the wife of Maoist leader Sashadhar Mahato who was killed in March in an encounter with the security forces, was accompanying Kishanji. Probably she is injured and may move to a safer location. Security personnel have been asked to be on alert to check her movement,” he added.
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