A sub-inspector and a policeman were killed in a gunfight with a rebel group, the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), late Saturday in Jharkhand’s Simdega district that falls in the so-called Red Corridor.
Bano police station in-charge Vidhyapati Singh and his team of four guards stormed a house in Mahabuang village in Bano block, around 165km west of the state capital Ranchi, in the night after they were alerted about the presence of PLFI second-in-command Guddu Gope, police said.
As he came face to face with the rebel commander, Singh asked him to surrender but Gope opened fire with an AK-47, injuring Singh and district constabulary jawan Raju Biruli.
“Our OC (officer in-charge) did not fire first as there were women in the house,” Simdega superintendent of police Rajiv Ranjan Singh said.
Gope managed to flee under the cover of darkness but a gunfight broke out between his men and the police team. The area was cordoned off and more personnel rushed to the site. Guns fell silent around midnight after the rebels fled the area.
SI Singh and Biruli were taken to a local hospital but were declared dead.
The sacrifice of the two men would not go in vain and the PLFI would pay a very heavy price for the assault, SP Rajiv Ranjan Singh said.
The PLFI is the second biggest Left wing extremist group after the CPI (Maoists) that is active in the western districts of Jharkhand, parts of neighbouring Odisha, Bihar and Chhattisgarh.
The two killings are a departure from the way the PLFI operates. Unlike other hardline Left outfits active in these parts, the group had so far avoided a direct confrontation with security forces.
Senior police officers have rushed to Simdega to take stock of the situation. An offensive against PLFI would be launced soon, sources in the police headquarters said.
An ex-soldier-turned-rebel, 41-year-old Dinesh Gope founded the group in 2003. The group, say police, are hired guns who kidnap, murder and extort money.
He, however, told HT in an interview last year that he was leading an armed rebellion against landlords and upper-caste people to bring justice and equality to villages where the government was not invisible.
PLFI runs a few schools for poor tribals in Jharkhand and Odisha. Dinesh Gope enjoys Robin Hood-kind of standing in some villages but police say it’s the fear of his gun that forces villagers to side by him.