Maoists’ loss is PLFI gain in badlands of Jharkhand
An increasingly tight grip of security forces over activities of the outlawed CPI-Maoist in Jharkhand has seen its splinter group, the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), slipping through like sand. Mainly involved in criminal activities and extortion, PLFI cadre have killed scores of innocent villagers in Khunti, Gumla, Simdega and adjacent districts. They now pose a greater challenge than ever for the forces to maintain law and order State Director General of Police GS Rath had directed SPs of several districts to expedite operations against the PLFI rampant in the area.
The ongoing action by the police against the PLFI seems to be inadequate. “It cannot be said that the PLFI is a bigger challenge than the Maoists, but they are definitely a cause for concern as they are working at a local level, killing each other in order to create terror among the people,” said Khunti SP M Tamil Vanan. The PLFI, which has shown strong presence in Khunti, Simdega and Chaibasa, kills anybody who does not abide by its diktats. Every other day, there are reports of cold-blooded murders by PLFI cadre over trivial issues. The extremist group has been engaged in a bloody war with the Maoists and some other small groups in the area for quite some time. According to police reports, 91 murders took place in Khunti in 2010, and the figure went up to 128 in 2011. This year, 100 killings have already taken place and this year looks set to be more violent that the previous.
“Although we have been able to limit killings in the area, it might have crossed the mark of 100 this year. Most of it is the handiwork of the PLFI,” said the SP. If the locals are to be believed, a majority of those killed had either refused to join the rebels or were branded police informers. Most of the civilians killed till September were from Khunti, Simdega and Gumla. Ironically, the police establishments in some of the districts were said to have actively backed and supported the PLFI and Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) to blur the Maoist footprint. Later, these outfits became hard to control as they had a feel of power and supremacy in their areas. As joining the PLFI was always comparatively easy, more and more unemployed youth linked up due to greed of easy money; the main source of PLFI’s income is extortion and levy. In the process, they come in direct conflict with the Maoists and civilians get killed in the name of informers and supporters of each other.
The havoc wreaked by the PLFI has forced panchayat and zila parishad members to keep away from ongoing projects. Many stay away from their residences because of the threat to their lives. “After the killing of Palkot Zila Parishad member Kalawati Devi, we keep away from our homes as there is always a threat from the PLFI cadre,” said zila parishad member Handu Bhagat of Gumla. “We are not afraid of the Maoists but the PLFI cadre — without any ideology — are involved in the levy, and kill innocent villagers if they express their inability to meet their demands,” he added. Sometimes a member has to give levy to as many as four groups, all of them claiming to be PLFI members.