By all accounts slain Pakur SP Amarjeet Balihar took lightly the headquarters alert to police superintendents to remain extra vigilant because of the operation against the Maoists in the Palamu and Latehar jungles.
He travelled to Dumka with a lean force, comprising mostly his guards and an escort team.
The Maoists, closely following his movements for the past few days, laid a trap and ambushed him on his return journey.
Around 3,000 security officers and jawans of the Jharkhand police and central reserve police force (CRPF) have been carrying out an operation against a Maoist group in the jungles of Palamu since June 25.
According to several intelligence alerts sent to police headquarters, after having lost several members in the past one week — the police, however, couldn’t recover the bodies — the Maoists were looking for an opportunity to strike at some other location to throw the police off the scent. Their targets are politicians and policemen.
During the last weekend, following an intelligence alert, the police did not allow the convoy of former deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahato to cross the Bundu valley in Ranchi district and advised him to return to Jamshedpur. Mahato followed the instruction. All political leaders have been subsequently advised to minimise their movements in rural areas after sunset.
“The Maoists have carried out the dastardly act to divert our attention from the ongoing operation in Palamu, where we are about to reach their strongest and safest hideouts,” director general of police Rajiv Kumar said before flying to Dumka to take stock of the situation with senior officials of the state police and CRPF.
Dumka, Pakur, Sahebganj and Godda districts are among the poorest, remotest and predominantly underdeveloped districts of Jharkhand.
Sharing borders with Bihar in the north and West Bengal in the east, several parts of Dumka remain cut off from the mainstream and there is very poor road and telephone connectivity.
For more than two decades, the local Santhal tribes have successfully prevented the Maoists from spreading their base in the region. But with increasing mining activities and displacement taking place, the ultras have gradually started getting acceptance.