Three security personnel, including a CRPF deputy commandant, were injured after separate contingents on an anti-Maoist drive reportedly fired at each other by mistake in west Jharkhand’s Latehar district on Thursday.
Local police identified two of the injured as Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) deputy commandant Vivek Ojha and sub-inspector Ashok Kumar Singh. The name of the third injured, a jawan, could not immediately be ascertained.
The suspected friendly fire happened in Kuku-Piri forest area of Latehar, around 110 km northwest of capital Ranchi, when CRPF personnel and members of
Jharkhand Jaguar, the state police anti-Maoist unit, were on the anti-Maoist drive.
Initial information from the state police suggested the security personnel were injured in a CPI(Maoist) ambush, but slowly it dawned the firing that took place around 8.30am was probably due to mistaken identity.
“Initial reports said a Maoist guerrilla team had attacked the security forces, but later we received information about the cross-firing between the forces. Right now, nothing can be ascertained; we are investigating the matter,” Anurag Gupta, inspector general of police (IG) and Jharkhand Police spokesperson, said.
Asked about the suspected friendly fire, MV Rao, inspector general (IG) of CRPF, said, “We are looking into the matter.”
The injured security personnel were flown to Ranchi for treatment. Deputy commandant Ojha, who sustained bullet injuries on his legs, was stated to be out of danger.
The security personnel had converged in the forest following a tip-off about the presence of senior Maoist leaders, who apparently were meeting to finalise a strategy to impose their boycott for the Lok Sabha polls.
Jharkhand’s four most Maoist-affected parliamentary constituencies — Palamu, Chatra, Lohardaga and Koderma — go to the polls on April 10.
Maoists impose poll boycott in all their strongholds.
Maoists have strong presence in 18 out of the 24 districts in Jharkhand. Since 2003, 1,804 people have died in left-wing extremism related violence across the country. The election commission has identified polling stations in at least 11 districts sensitive.
Maoist leader Arvindjee alias Nishantjee alias Dev Kumar Singh, a member of the outfit’s Bihar Jharkhand Military Commission, was reported to be among the rebels meeting in Kuku-Piri forest.