Rebels kill at Panem coal site

Dumka/Ranchi, Jan. 10: Maoist rebels attacked an excavation site owned by Panem Coal Mines Limited at Katahaldih in Amrapara this afternoon, killing a security guard, the attack coming barely a month after three vehicles owned by the same company were torched, even as director-general of police G.S Rath admitted that IRB jawans posted in the area in the wake of heightened rebel activity had been relocated to Manipur.

According to reports, over two dozen rebels armed with sophisticated firearms and traditional weapons stormed the coal excavation site around 4pm, firing indiscriminately on security guards posted there. One of the guards, Pramod Yadav, was killed in the firing while at least four others sustained bullet injuries.

Badly outnumbered, the 12-odd security guards fled from the spot after exchanging fire for nearly half an hour. Before leaving, the Maoists set an earthmover on fire, though company sources said three vehicles had been burnt.

DIG Vinay Kumar Pandey confirmed Yadav’s death, but refused to comment on the condition of the others.

“So far, we have been told that one guard was killed in the firing, but we have no information about the injured,” the DIG said, adding that Pakur superintendent of police Mayur Patel had rushed to the spot with forces.

Incidentally, a group of 30 Maoists and 15 villagers had hacked Sister Valsa John to death at Pachuara village in Amrapara police station area on November 15 allegedly for supporting the Panem management at the cost of land losing villagers. Panem is a joint venture of Punjab Electricity Board and Eastern Mineral Trading Agency.

The police have been able to arrest only seven villagers, but none of the rebels. Sources said it was probably the same group of rebels who carried out today’s attack.

When contacted, Panem executive director N. Kumar confirmed the incident. “The incident happened around 4.30pm. One of our men was killed in the attack and the Maoists torched three vehicles at the site. Police are yet to reach the spot,” he said, before disconnecting the phone.

In Ranchi, director general of police G.S. Rath said the Maoists wanted to torch all the mining and excavation equipment worth crores but were not successful. “A private security guard who had stepped outside to relieve himself got killed. The other guards retaliated and the rebels fled,” he claimed.

Asked why the IRB company posted nearby in the wake of Maoists activities in the area did nothing, Rath said the company personnel had been moved to Manipur for elections there. “We will soon send another company of IRB men there. The IRB company posted in Deoghar would be sent as replacement,” the DGP said.

He added that the SP and other police officers along with forces have moved to the site.

Asked why the police had not provided security to the coal mining company, which had repeatedly faced attacks, Rath said the rebel groups eye the coal company for levy.

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