The villagers said the police had not even visited Hembrom, but district police officials said investigations were on

A squad of the CPI(Maoist) on Friday night opened fire at a social gathering at Khunti, 30 km from Ranchi, injuring two villagers and set fire to a jeep. The tribal villagers said they suspected the rebels targeted the family and friends of Raila Dhingra Munda for his work as a special police officer (SPO) gathering intelligence for the Khunti district police.

On Saturday, Mara Munda, Raila’s younger brother who had been shot in the right thigh and had fractured a bone, lay in Ranchi’s Rajendra Institute of Medical Institute’s orthopaedic intensive care ward.

“We had invited more than 400 villagers to celebrate the ear-piercing ceremonies of both my sisters. At 8.30 p.m., I stepped out of our courtyard and heard a gunshot. The next moment, I fell,” Mr. Munda said. “There was panic as everyone tried to flee. I cried out for my friends to pull me inside the house or I would have died,” recounted the 20-year-old with some effort as his father, Sande Munda, who can speak only Mundari, looked on.

The Maoists had killed his eldest brother, Rupu Munda, who also worked as an SPO, in a market at Adki in 2010.

Mr. Mara’s elder brother, Raila, who the family suspects was the Maoists’ target, was away in Khunti town when the incident happened. The villagers first rushed both to Khunti’s Sadar Hospital, and to Ranchi in the morning.

While the villagers in Hembrom in Adki block said the police had not even visited the village since Friday night, district police officials said investigations were on. “Our search operations are on for the Maoists,” said Superintendent of Police Anish Gupta.

Mr. Raila Munda said he started working as an SPO in 2008.

“I finished my matric examinations and started working for the police because the Maoists had terrorised our entire village. The police officers, previous SPs Manoj Kaushik and Tamilvanan, paid me Rs. 3,000 or so every three months… Maoists killed my elder brother in 2010 and now they did this while searching for me. The police did not even visit my house yet,” said Mr. Raila Munda on the phone from Khunti.