The death of Pakur police superintendent Amarjeet Balihar in Tuesday’s attack in Jharkhand’s Dumka district has been a blow to the Maoist image among the tribals and dalits of the state.
The self-proclaimed champions of these two marginalised sections, the people now feel, have turned the gun against them.
“The Maoists have always singled out the tribal and dalit officers and killed them. Tribal officers are soft targets,” said a relative of Balihar on condition of anonymity.
In fact, the tribals and dalits have been hit once too often. While hundreds of Jharkhand policemen — a majority of them tribals — die during anti-Maoist operations every year, Balihar was the third prominent police officer to be targeted.
In October 2006, Maoists beheaded special branch inspector Francis Induwar. In September 2010, they killed Bihar military police jawan Lucas Tete.
The caste war is rooted in the Maoist fold too, at least in Jharkhand. In 2001, a chunk of Ganjhu cadres — members of a scheduled caste — defected and formed a parallel outfit, Tritiya Prastuti Committee, which is the biggest enemy of the Maoists.