The level of preparedness the Maoists displayed in overwhelming a special task force of security persons in Jharkhand’s Lohardagga district on Tuesday has forced the state police to confront the possibility that the rebels had prior knowledge of the security operation.
A source in the police headquarters said the manner in which all the improvised explosive devices were meticulously hidden and connected beneath the ground suggested that a Maoist mole had leaked the information about the task force operation.
But officials are tight-lipped over the prospect of an information leak. Inspector general of police RK Mallick said, “I cannot comment on it so soon.”
The rebels had triggered nearly 50 blasts during the ambush, killing 11 securitypersons and injuring 30. Hundreds of rebels, including commanders Nakul Yadav and Puran Ganju, are said to have participated in the attack.
Director general of police GS Rath on Wednesday said a Maoist group active in Latehar and bordering Chhattisgarh districts carried out the ambush. “They have not moved out of the state,” Rath said.
He said the Lohardagga superintendent of police, Asim Vikram Minz, who had formed the special task force recently, would have to explain how the team ran into the rebel trap.
The team was ambushed near Dhardharia waterfall, around 125 km from state capital Ranchi, while on a raid following a tip-off about a rebel meeting. An informer told the police rebel leaders Rabindra Ganju and Akshay Verma were camping in the area and mobilising locals to join them.
The only relief for the police after the ambush is that the rebels did not loot the weapons.
Maoists have killed around 350 security persons in Jharkhand in the last 10 years. Their activity increases during April and May. The arrest of several top rebel leaders from across the state had kept them on the back foot in the last six months.
Rath said, “We were expecting such an attack as they were getting desperate.” He added that the arrest of three top rebel leaders —V Subramanyam, Vijay Kumar Arya and Punendu Sekhar Mukherjee — from Bihar last weekend could have added to their desperation.