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Naxal attack in Jharkhand
Ex-CM Marandi’s son among 17 killed
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, October 27
Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi’s son Anup Marandi was among 17 people killed and four injured in a daring Naxal attack during a cultural programme at Chilkhadia village in Giridih district of Jharkhand near the Bihar border early today.

Besides the massacre at Giridih, the armed Naxals, also known as Maoist rebels, were on a separate rampage in both Purulia and Midnapore near the Jharkhand-West Bengal border by triggering a landmine blast and a fierce encounter with the CRPF and the Jharkhand police yesterday.

Reports reaching here said that Babulal Marandi was expected to attend the programme but could not do so finally. Marandi’s brother, Nuru Marandi, narrowly escaped the attack.

Babulal Marandi, who left the BJP to float the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) and now represents the Koderma Lok Sabha seat, today blamed the Central and state government for the attack.

A shocked Marandi said,"My family was a target of the Naxals. They should have been more careful." He also charged the Koda government with having no specific policy to politically counter the Naxals, besides lack of proper development measures to bring back the misguided youth into the mainstream.

The JVM, meanwhile, called a statewide bandh on Sunday to protest against the incident.

The midnight atttack at Giridih was the second major offensive by the ultras in Jharkhand against their "political target" this year.

On March 4, the general secretary of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and MP Sunil Mahato was shot dead by the Naxals in Ghatshila near Jamshedpur. The Naxals then torched the MP’s vehicle before fleeing the scene by taking advantage of the commotion set off by the attack.

Director-general of police, Jharkhand, B.D.Ram today said that around 1 a.m. about 30 heavily armed Naxalites reached Giridih where a cultural programme was being held. The programme was organised after a football match that concluded in the afternoon.

Ram said that the rebels, including 12 women, first mingled with the crowd before suddenly opening indiscriminate fire and exploding bombs, killing 14 people on the spot. Three people succumbed to their injuries later. Four others injured included two women.

Condemning the incident, Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda announced Rs 1 lakh compensation and a government job for the nearest kin of those killed.

Koda dismissed the allegation that the state government was not doing enough to curb the Naxal violence.”It is our success in catching big Naxal commandos that is causing revenge attacks like this,” he claimed.

Koda also visited Giridih, about 290 km from the state capital Ranchi. He was accompanied by the DGP B.D.Ram to review the situation. A high alert was also sounded in and around Giridih district and a massive manhunt was on to nab the culprits.

Besides, Koda, former Chief Minister and BJP leader Arjun Munda also visited Giridih and criticised the state government for failing to curb the Naxalite menace claiming innocent lives.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar personally spoke to Madhu Koda condemning the attack. He also positively responded to Koda’s proposal to launch a joint combing operations by Bihar and Jharkhand police forces to flush out the ultras. Nitish also spoke to Babulal Marandi to condole his son’s death.

At present, Naxals are said to be active in 18 of the 24 districts of Jharkhand, besides in 156 districts in 12 other states, including Bihar, of India of a total 29 along a “red corridor” stretching from the India-Nepal border in the north to Andhra Pradesh in the south.

Before attacking the cultural programme at Giridih, in a separate incident yesterday, Naxals went on a rampage that took place near the Jharkhand-West Bengal border.

A landmine planted on the Belpahari-Banspahari Road in West Midnapore by Naxals missed its target, a CRPF team, by seconds and blew up near a bus, injuring five passengers, including a woman. Two more landmines were detected before these could cause any damage.

The landmine attack came on a day when a red alert was sounded in Bandwan in neighbouring Purulia, with the Jharkhand police locked in a fierce encounter with Naxals on the inter-state border.

The police and bomb squad officers combed the forests for landmines and lurking Maoists.They reportedly found rations and spent cartridges instead.Police said the Maoists had planted three improvised explosive devices on the road, but luckily only one went off. 

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