Ten members of banned CPI (Maoist) including four leaders of the Maoists Madhya zone — the area south of Grand Trunk Road including Aurangabad in Bihar and Chatra and Palamu in Jharkhand — were killed in a clash with Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), a rival splinter group of the Maoists, in Chatra district 100 kms north of Ranchi.
TPC led by its founder Brajesh Ganju is active in Jharkhand’s Chatra, Latehar, and Ranchi districts and is one of several Maoists splinter groups active in Jharkhand.
According to senior police officials, the clash between Maoists and the TPC began in Lakramanda forest 20 kms from Kunda police station in Chatra on Wednesday evening and went on till 4 a.m. on Thursday.
“Two teams of 80 troopers of Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) and 15 from District Armed Police left for the spot at 10 p.m. but reached only by 3 a.m. They fired 80-90 rounds between 3 to 4 a.m. By daybreak, both Maoists and TPC had fled. We recovered 10 bodies of Maoists; nine were in uniform and one in plain clothes and we recovered arms,” said Jharkhand Director General of Police Rajeev Kumar.
Mr. Kumar added that four bodies were identified as that of leaders of Madhya zone Regional Committee of Maoists including that of Lalesh Yadav, secretary of Maoists’ Bihar Jharkhand North Chhattisgarh Special Area Committee (SAC), Jaikumar Yadav, a platoon commander with SAC, Dharmedra Yadav alias Biru, sub-zonal commander of Chatra Palamu, and Prafulla Yadav, sub-zonal commander in Koleshwari. One AK 47 rifle, two .303 police rifles, three .315 guns, one carbine, cane bombs, empty cartridges and literature were recovered, said Mr. Kumar. “Maoist leader Lalesh Yadav had arrived from Gaya to assist a group of the rebels with whom we had an encounter in Gumla district on March 13 and 14, but his group was intercepted by TPC,” he said.
After an encounter in Latehar earlier this year in January in which 11 security personnel were killed, the Maoists in a statement had alleged that the Jharkhand police were using “vigilante groups” including the TPC in operations against them.
Mr. Kumar denied any cooperation between the police and the TPC in the incident. “We suspect one dead and two injured among TPC cadres as well though we did not recover the body. The police troopers are all safe,” said Chatra SP Anoop Birtharay.