Suspected Maoists on Wednesday night killed a functionary attached to a local organisation campaigning for the right of labourers working under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS).
The incident took place in Jharkhand’s Latehar district, around 100 km north of Ranchi.
On February 22, an MNREGS worker by the name Subbal Mahato was assaulted by a contractor in Bokaro district when he asked for his dues. Mahato died later.
In Wednesday night’s incident, police said the assailants picked up Neyamat Ansari, 40, from his residence in Jerua village, 30 km from district headquarters, and rained blows on him with sticks, leaving him in a pool of blood.
Ansari was rushed to a local hospital, where he died.
The victim’s sister (the name could not be ascertained) has lodged a complaint accusing a Maoist squad of having a hand in this.
Ansari was not only a close associate of eminent economist Jean Dreze, a member of the National Advisory Council, but was also instrumental in bringing the Lok Adalat on the MGNREGS, a Rs 40,000-crore social security project, to Latehar in 2009. However, director general of police GS Rath said: “Ansari had a tainted past, and reportedly Maoist links,” adding, the killers were yet to be identified. “We are probing,” he said.
Latehar police superintendent Kuldeep Dwivedi said the Maoists were involved in the killing. “Land disputes could be one of the reasons behind the murder,” he said, adding, “of the eight persons named in the FIR, at least seven were once local villagers with whom the victim had a land dispute”.
The assailants, police said, were also looking for a person named Bhukhan Singh, also an MNREGS activist, but he was not at home on Wednesday night. Members of Ansari’s family and locals blocked National Highway 75 at district headquarters for a brief while, demanding compensation and prompt action against the culprits.