A bagful of Rs 1,000 notes totalling Rs 29 lakh buried for safety by Maoist guerrillas in a dense Jharkhand jungle has become termite food.
Kanhu Ram Munda, a regional leader of the CPI (Maoist) outfit, buried the money in January and found out in June that termites had fed on the treasure, police said on Tuesday.
The rebels, who claim to be fighting for the rights of poor farmers and landless labourers, carry out hit-and-run attacks on security forces and extort money from businesses, especially the mining industry in mineral-rich state.
The bag hidden in the Chakri-Bakrakocha jungles in East Singhbhum along the Jharkhand-Odisha border contained extortion money of the Munda-led Gurabandha Squad of the CPI (Maoist).
Police learnt the loss to the Maoist coffers from Mangal Tudu, a member of Munda’s squad, who surrendered on July 21.
Tudu told his interrogators the termite attack soured the relationship between Munda, who carries a reward of Rs 30 lakh on his head, and his comrades.
“The Gurabandha Squad is now facing a shortage of funds … we’ve blocked their supply lines effectively,” said Anoop T Matthew, the Jamshedpur SSP.
A bundle of Rs 1,000 weighs about 120gm, and Rs 29 lakh stashed in a bag will weigh 3.50kg, bank officials calculated.
A police special branch report says the CPI (Maoist) groups collect about Rs 200 crore annually from development projects, kendu leave traders, timber merchants and miners across Jharkhand — a state where 18 of its 24 districts are affected by insurgency.
The Maoists extort up to Rs 25 lakh a month from the miners and gem traders operating illegally in the emerald mines in the Gurabandha jungles, 110km from Jamshedpur.
“We recovered about Rs 10 lakh the rebels collected from contractors engaged in development projects here last year. We will get the better of Kanhu soon,” officer Matthew said.