Police in Jharkhand are carrying out a covert operation to unravel the huge landholdings of ‘raiyyats’ (landowners in rural areas) being allegedly usurped by Maoists’ splinter outfit, People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) in remote pockets of Gumla, Khunti and Simdega districts.
Highly placed sources in the department told HT that on the pretext of setting up schools, PLFI chief Dinesh Gope is grabbing ‘raiyyats’ lands and forcing them to sign on blank agreement papers. Since the trigger-friendly outfit is notorious for wanton killings, locals do not dare lodge complaints with the police.
All 24 districts of Jharkhand are affected by left wing extremist outfit (LWE). PLFI is the second biggest LWE group in the state after CPI (Maoists).
It has earned the unsavoury reputation of killing people Taliban style, mainly beheading and chopping persons into pieces. However, Gope, has been declining it as mere allegation.Ever since the outfit has got active, it claims to have set up 18 schools in Jharkhand besides one each in Bihar, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. “We are a social reformists group that is much different from the CPI (Maoists),” Gope had told HT recently, adding, “While the Maoists demolish schools, we build the temples of education.”
However, according to police, here lies the paradox. A couple of senior police officials not authorised to speak to media told HT that the schools are being built with a motive.
“While they serve as safe hideouts for the scores of armed militia owing allegiance to Gope, it is also the easiest and secured way to grab villagers’ land inviting negligible protests,” said an official.
Forces over the last one year have raided a couple of their schools, especially the biggest one at Garai under Rania police station in Gumla that served as PLFI head office (HO) and have managed to shoo away the extremists from the schools management.
However, there are several other PLFI-built schools in Gumla, Khunti and Simdega which continue to serve the rebels’ interests. All the schools run under the banner of Vidhya Vihar.
An official said the Garai Vidhya Vihar School was spread over 30 acres campus. While the school committee has records of purchase of around 4.6 acres, the remaining land belonging to locals has been encroached by PLFI.
“I had called the villagers and asked them to lodge complaint if they wanted their land back, but nobody came forward fearing reprisal from the extremist group,” Gumla police superintendent Bhimsen Tuti said.
He said, “Whenever PLFI embarks on a mission to set up schools several villagers of the area are robbed of their land.”
Sources said while setting up the Vidhya Vihar School in Bongda, PLFI has grabbed 25 acres of villagers’ land against their wishes.