Jharkhand to showcase Saranda 'liberation' during Rajnath Singh visit

  • B Vijay Murty, Hindustan Times, Ranchi
  • Updated: Sep 23, 2014 03:23 IST

Jharkhand will showcase the "liberation" of Saranda as its biggest success story in the fight against Maoists when Union home minister Rajnath Singh arrives on Tuesday in the state ravaged by decades of left-wing extremism (LWE).

Singh's visit to states affected by LWE starting with Jharkhand assumes significance in view of the NDA government's move to overhaul the strategy to fight Maoists, likely to be reflected in a new policy to be announced soon.

At least 18 out of Jharkhand's 24 districts are hit by LWE, which the government considers the country's "gravest internal security threat".

"He will arrive at the Birsa Munda airport at around 10.45 am and take a chopper to Thalkobad in Saranda," director general of police Rajiv Kumar said.

Thalkobad is 160 km west of capital Ranchi and in the heart of Saranda, once the epicentre of Maoist rebellion in the country.

During a meeting with top government officials in Ranchi later in the day, Singh is likely to give an outline of the government's new anti-Maoist strategy, which will focus on increasing the fighting capabilities of the state police.

Comprising nearly 800 hillocks, the mineral-rich Saranda forests are spread over an 820-sq km area in West Singhbhum district bordering Orissa.

The DGP said "liberating" Saranda from rebels was the biggest challenge for the state and central para-military forces.

"We did it successfully spilling no blood and winning the people's confidence," he added.

With 42 big and small iron ore mines besides innumerable stone crusher units, the Saranda forests gave the rebels huge "revenue" by way of extortion, which was used to strengthen the underground organisation's armoury and manpower.

Maoist central committee leader Kishan da had once put the importance of Saranda in perspective by boasting that "minerals make money and money makes guns".

West Singhbhum police superintendent Narendra Kumar Singh attributed the police success to "relentless surveillance, a strong intelligence network, cutting down of rebel supply lines and successful raids" which forced the rebels to either surrender or flee the area.

Saranda's "normalcy" was reflected during the parliamentary polls held in April.

Against a 45% turnout in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the 23 polling stations in Saranda recorded 69.77% polling in the last general elections.

Security forces will once again be tested when Assembly elections are held in the state later this year-end.

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