RANCHI: Non-Maoist groups, many of which are purely criminal gangs, have become a bigger threat to the state than the CPI (Maoists). A study by the state police special branch showed that these groups in the past one year have been responsible for carrying out over 55 per cent terror strikes in the state, thereby sending alarming signals to security agencies. “Together they are earning crores from levies,” said police sources.
According to an estimate, the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), a splinter group of the CPI (Maoists), alone makes over Rs 150 crore annually from levies. A dozen such groups are active in Jharkhand. The IG special branch, S N Pradhan, said, “They have overtaken the Maoists and are flourishing flaunting the name of Maoists. If this trend continues, we might need another Operation Green Hunt to flush them out.”
As businessmen tend to pay more money to Maoists than to local criminals out of fear, every criminal group in Jharkhand is now projecting itself as Maoists. “It requires only a group of criminals, a few posters, some Maoist levy collection pads and arms to unleash a reign of terror,” said Pradhan, who is also the spokesperson of the Jharkhand Police.
Since 2004, when the People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre merged to form the CPI (Maoists), dozens of splinter groups were formed. The PLFI is led by Dinesh Gope, Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), TPC special and TPC 1 by Brajesh Ganju, the Jharkhand Prastuti Committee (JPC) by Loha Singh (now dead). Several other groups like the Pahadi Cheeta, Jharkhand Sangharsh Morcha, Jharkhand Jan Mukti Sangrah Morcha (JJMSM) are functioning without leaders.
Recently, a group of JJMSM leaders attacked the Patratu cement factory asking for levy. This group had spread terror in the Patratu Industrial Area, where over half-a-dozen factories are located. The Namkum police arrested three persons who were collecting money in the name of Maoists. A group of local criminals impersonating as PLFI men killed a businessman by the name of Sushil Kejriwal. It was an extortion killing. In Jamshedpur, two Maoists were arrested while collecting money from a railway contractor a few months ago. Three days ago, the Namkum police arrested three criminals for demanding money.
The Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce and Industries (Jvice president, Vikas Singh, said, “Businessmen prefer to pay up than report the matter to the police.”
The Ranchi SSP, Saket Singh, said even petty criminals have started calling themselves Maoists as it helps them to collect money faster.
In the past few years, the CPI (Maoists) suffered many setbacks because of the arrest of several top leaders and cadres. Over a 100 Maoists have been arrested. Their supreme commander, Kishenji, was also shot dead last year.