Maoist insurgents seldom follow their ideology nowadays, surrendered “zonal commander” Kundan Pahan said when Jharkhand police presented before media one the outfit’s most ruthless killers on Sunday and handed him a cheque of Rs 15 lakh.
The elusive Pahan was with the CPI Maoist group for over a decade and security forces had put a bounty of Rs 15 lakh on his head.
The Maoist leader and his group was wanted for the beheading of police officer Francis Induwar, murdering former minister Ramesh Singh Munda, planting landmines to kill over six policemen, including a DSP in Bundu, and looting Rs 5.5 crore and a kg of gold from a private bank on national highway 33.
He accepted last week the government’s surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy for Maoist rebels in a state that is fighting a four-decade-old insurgency, considered the country’s biggest internal security threat.
Pahan has allegedly agreed to give information about his former rebel colleagues to police.
Police sources said the government has helped his daughter study at an English-medium private school after he renounced the armed struggle.
But his surrender, and benefits attached to it, has left many disappointed. Legislator Vikas Singh Munda of Tamar staged a hunger strike at Ranchi’s Morhabadi on Sunday against the government’s policy and demanded punishment under the law for Pahan.
Hindustan Times broke the news of his surrender with an exclusive picture on May 12 and met him once before near the picturesque Dassam Falls in 2016.
He was unhappy with the organisation and had walked out already then.
Police didn’t let out any details about his surrender, but it has been learnt that Pahan laid down arms before senior police and Intelligence Bureau officers around a week ago. He was questioned at secluded places and asked to persuade others in group, especially those who reported to him, to surrender.
He admitted on Sunday that the Maoists were deviating from their ideology, a point that piqued him to walk away after being one of its most dedicated cadre with about 50 criminal cases in Khunti, 42 in Ranchi, 27 in Chaibasa, seven in Saraikela and one each in Gumla and Ramgarh districts.
The insurgents say they are fighting for the rights of peasants and landless labourers in the mineral-rich state but they train their guns occasionally on these very people for various reasons, especially those they suspect to be defying their diktat and giving away their positions to government forces.
Pahan could be the biggest catch and become the most important bait to coax insurgents to surrender. Maoist violence, however, has come down over the years in Jharkhand because of coordinated counter-insurgency measures, backed by choking of rebel funding sources and development of rural areas that have been their support bases traditionally.
Ranchi’s deputy inspector general of police, Amol Venukant Homkar, was present during Pahan’s media interaction on Sunday along with the senior superintendent of police, and the additional director general of police.
“You either join the mainstream or be ready to face our bullets,” Homkar said.
SSP Kuldip Dwivedi said Ranchi police have been running a strong campaign against Maoists, and Pahan was influenced by the surrender policy. “He will get all the facilities in accordance with the terms and conditions of the policy.”