Hours before Hemant Soren’s swearing-in, Maoists blow up community centre in Khunti
Maoists allegedly blew up a community centre in Jharkhand’s Khunti district on Sunday, hours before JMM leader Hemant Soren’s oath-taking ceremony as the new chief minister, police said.
A large portion of the centre in Selda village was damaged and Maoists also pasted posters in the area with slogans like “remove police camp from schools” and “stop playing with the future of school students”, police said.
Police reached the spot and began an investigation. No casualty was reported after the blast.
Khunti’s deputy superintendent of police (DSP), Ashish Mahli said the incident took place early on Sunday.
“Prima facie, it seems the activity of Maoists. We are investigating it and talking to the villagers,” Mahli said.
Mahli said the season of poppy cultivation has started in the area and there was a discussion among villagers that the community centre would be used as a police camp to check illegal opium farming practice.
“During the anti-opium drive last year, we had found left-wing extremist groups’ link in opium farming. We had seized over two quintals of opium from across Khunti last year,” Mahli said.
Khunti is considered to be the second-largest producer of poppy after Maoist-affected Chatra district.
CPI (Maoists) and People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) are involved in the business and they lure villagers to cultivate poppy, police said. Illegal opium cultivation trade is considered to be a money-minting machine for the insurgent groups.
Khunti Police had claimed last year that they had destroyed poppy crops sown in an estimated area of 3000 acres and worth several crores.
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