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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Tribals get it from both sides

B Vijay Murty, Hindustan Times  Ranchi, January 13, 2013
First Published: 00:30 IST(13/1/2013) | Last Updated: 01:22 IST(13/1/2013)

This week's killing of 10 security persons has again demonstrated that the Maoists' belligerence goes up sharply in January, the birth time of their armed unit, the People's Liberation of Guerrilla Army.

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And the celebrations, often taking brutal form, continue for seven days. Thousands of Maoists and sympathisers from different corners of the country assemble to participate in the celebrations and exhibit their strength. It has been the rebels' tradition to execute big subversive plans before they disperse.

On December 3, 2011, the rebels had attacked the convoy of Chatra parliamentarian Inder Singh Namdhari in Palamu, killing 11 people including a civilian.

On January 4, 2008, they blew up a police jeep in Latehar, killing five including a sub-inspector.

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Jharkhand's hilly terrain and dense forests have served as ideal locations for their congregations. Around 700 civilians, 448 security persons and 500 rebels have been killed in red violence in the state over the past 12 years.

At the Ambatikar forests on Tuesday, the security forces had encountered a strong contingent of Maoists headed towards the Odisha border.

Led by their commanders Deo Kumar Singh and Vikashji, both members of CPI (Maoists), the rebels tried inflicting maximum damage, but also suffered major losses in the process.

The injured CRPF and Jharkhand Jaguar jawans said they had shot at no fewer than 20 Maoists, killing at least 10 of them, mostly women.

However, the bodies could not be found because the Maoists always take them away from the encounter site and often deny casualties on their side to keep the morale of the red brigade high.

Any admission of casualties would add to the frustration of the rebel group, already facing a large-scale exodus and challenges from splinter factions.

Latehar police superintendent Kranti Kumar Gadideshi said Singh and Vikashji were explosive experts and prone to cruelty.

The duo, the police said, implanted the IED in some slain jawans' bodies with the idea of blowing up the chopper in which the bodies would be flown to district headquarters.

And, Maoist spokesperson Toofan released a CD condemning the security forces for using villagers as human shields (four villagers died while rescuing the bodies when they were asked by security men to do so) and warned them not to do such a thing again.

"Using innocents as human shields has been the practice of our forces for years," said Gautam Naulakkha, member, People's Union for Democratic Rights.

"Any commission of war which does not conform to the Geneva protocol is highly condemnable. What the Maoists have done in Latehar is deplorable. But the number of cases of violation by the security forces is far greater."

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