Jharkhand and Bihar police on Tuesday launched joint operations to search for seven workers of a construction company allegedly abducted by Maoists from Deoghar near the Jharkhand-Bihar border on Monday.

The workers employed by KK Builders, Jamshedpur-based construction company, included a site supervisor, two guards, a driver, and three labourers. They were abducted by a group of armed men from the site of a Rs 2.5 crores-bridge being built over Dhadhwa river under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. The site lies 30 km from Jamui district in Bihar, a Maoist stronghold.

Senior police officials said four companies of paramilitary Jharkhand Jaguar had joined state police in search operations in Dumka and Deoghar districts in Jharkhand and the adjoining areas in Bihar. No pamphlets were recovered from the site and several hours after the abduction, no demand had been made by any group in exchange for the workers’ release.

“We suspect the CPI (Maoists) have abducted the workers. It is not clear what the motive for the abduction is but we suspect it may be related to collecting levy from the construction company.The search operations are on in Deoghar; we have sent additional forces today to the areas near Jamui,” said Jharkhand Director General of Police Rajeev Kumar.

“We sent four companies of Jharkhand Jaguar to the district border of Deoghar and Dumka in Santhal Pargana, and state border along Deoghar-Jamui,” said a senior Central Reserve Police Force official.

Speaking to local media, Vikas Singh the owner of KK Builders said before the incident he had received no demand for levy from any extremist group. He said his staff had reported that workers were threatened into stopping work, beaten up, and the armed men had taken a motorcycle, Rs 7000 cash, and 12 mobile phones with them before they left the site with the workers.

“I have regularly got demands for levy working in the area. In October 2012, I received a note with the letterhead of Santhal Pargana Zonal Committee and reported it to the police. When the police traced the calls, they found some of my workers had links with the Maoists and were making the call and three of my employees were arrested,” said Manoj Singh who has a contract to build a PMGSY bridge five km from the KK Builders site.

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