Villagers lynched a top Maoist leader on Thursday night in Jharkhand's West Singhbum district, police said on Friday. They said that the lynching could be a sign of growing public anger against the alleged excesses by extremist outfits in the state.
Johnson Ganju, an area commander of the CPI-Maoists, was said to have been involved in several attacks on security forces besides two jailbreaks in the state, where Maoist violence has left hundreds dead in the past two decades.
Around 18 extremist outfits are active in Jharkhand but police say that most of them are bands of thugs involved in extortion and abduction besides gun-running. There are also allegations of rape on cadres of these outfits including the CPI-Maoist, the biggest Left-wing group in the country.
In January last year, a Maoist cadre was lynched by villagers in Ranchi district. The same year, a leader of the AJSU Party was lynched after villagers mistook him for a Maoist commander, which police say are manifestation of the people's anger against militant outfits.
A police official said villagers of Rongo under Manoharpur police station, around 180 km from the state capital, lynched Ganju after he terrorised them for several days.
“The villagers were furious. He (Ganju) abused them and also scared them off by firing in the air. On Thursday night, things went out of hand and he was killed,” said Surender Ravidas, the Manoharpur police station-in-charge. Police have lodged an FIR against “unknown persons”.
The police official described the rebel leader’s face as “beyond recognition” and said his identity was confirmed from “documents” found on him. His body was recovered on Friday morning after some villagers alerted the police.
Ravidas said the rebel was shot with an arrow -- a traditional weapon of the state’s hunter-gatherer tribes -- before he was beaten to death.
Police, quoting villagers, said that the Maoist commander took shelter in the village a week ago. He was waiting for the return of his ‘companion’ Helen Charwa, a Maoist sympathiser who acted as a conduit in the outfit’s extortion network.
Helen, who was once arrested in 2011, was scheduled to return home on Saturday from an undisclosed location.
Police sources said that in December last year, Ganju had helped 13 prisoners including eight hardcore Maoists to escape from the Chaibasa jail. In 2012, he had escaped from the Mander jail with four of other rebels.