Nine members of People Liberation Front of India (PLFI), a banned Maoist faction, surrendered before the Jharkhand police in Ranchi on Monday, days after the state police chief announced they would crush Maoist menace by 2017-end.
Police described the surrender as historic saying that the nine extremists, including an area commander, had not surrendered before the police at one stage earlier.
Jharkhand continues to remain the second-worst left-wing extremist-affected state after Chhattisgarh in the country.
Inspector general (operation) and Jharkhand police spokesman MS Bhatia said with Monday’s surrender, the figure of extremists who laid down arms reached 108 since the formation of state in 2000.
He said 27 extremists surrendered in 2016 which was historic. Last year, 13 extremists had surrendered their arms.
“The surrender shows that mass base of PLFI has dwindled in their stronghold. People have also started mass meetings against them,” said Bhatia.
The extremists who laid down their arms before director general of police DK Pandey are area commander Lal Bihari Singh (22), Samu Lugun (18), Mitu Lugun (18), Achu Hernz (14), Ganju Lugun (18), Birsa Lugun (18), Jirga Lugun (18), Gomo Lugun (18) and Sado Lugun (18). They were members of different squads led by Mangra Lugun, Amar Gudia and Ramu Ganjhu.
Achu Harenz, a minor, said a Maoist commander asked him to join his squad while he was returning from school. “I joined them to ensure safety of my life. Now, I want to start study again,” he said.
All the extremists, barring Lal Bihari, told the police that PLFI commanders Mangra Lugun and Amar Gudia threatened to kill their family members when they tried to stop them from joining the extremist squad. Lal Bihari joined the extremists to take revenge in a family dispute.
The Maoists felt pressure due to setting up of police camps in their strongholds in Gudri and Porengar villages. They were also disillusioned by PLFI activities that included hindering development works, collecting levy, misbehaving with women, snatching government’ food meant for public distribution.
They had expressed their desire to join the social mainstream before their families.
“It is important that all extremists who surrendered today are from poor tribal community. They chose the path of extremism due to various reasons but afterwards discerned that it would not lead to development of their family and the society,” said the director general of police.
Pandey said the police were trying to provide security for implementation of development schemes in extremist-affected areas.
“We have made development and providing basic needs to 750 villages in the state. Seven hundred and eighty six mobile towers were built in these areas. Chief minister Raghubar Das has also started a plan to recruit 2,500 assistant policemen from extremist-affected areas to provide employment to local people”.
He said 15,000 policemen would be recruited in 2017.
Soon after taking oath as the chief minister in 2014 December, Das had announced that the Maoist menace would be crushed within six months. Almost two years later, the state is still fighting the rebels in several districts.