A Maoist hit squad of around 30 armed guerillas shot dead a suspected member of a rival group on Wednesday night, minutes before his two daughters were to complete their wedding rituals in Jharkhand’s insurgency-hit Palamu district.
Witnesses said the Leftist insurgents barged into Pokhari village when the two sisters were readied for the final pheras, the customary walk around a fire by the bride and the groom that signals the end of the ceremony.
They fired several times at the father of the brides, Mahendra Choudhary, and escaped before the guests and the family could react or raise the alarm.
Choudhary was rushed to the Sadar hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival. A relative who was also injured is undergoing treatment in Daltonganj. The attack did not deter the family from completing the ceremony, though.
The Maoists claimed responsibility for the murder, alleging that the slain man was a hardcore cadre of a rival insurgent outfit, Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC). Both groups are fighting for supremacy to control the mines in the area.
Family members denied Choudhary’s association with any rebel group. But he always moved with his armed group and never stayed at his home, sources said. He came home on Wednesday evening for the wedding when the Maoists got a whiff of his arrival.
Deputy SP Palamu (rural), Hiralal Ravi said: “Police have no information about the man’s affiliation with the TPC. We are investigating to ascertain the involvement of Maoists.”