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News & Views on the Revolutionary Left

Jharkhand New rebel commander baffles cops

Ranchi, Feb. 5: The four young men, freed by Maoists after 35 hours, today claimed that they were let off as the rebels found themselves surrounded by the police. No ransom had changed hands, they added.

The young men, all residents of Harmu, had undertaken to repair a stretch near Dasham falls at an estimated cost of Rs 84 lakh. They were abducted following their failure to cough up the Rs seven lakh demanded as “levy”.

Police sources said in their statement, the young men had admitted to the presence of two young men of Nepali origin and three tribal girls, among the rebels. Although the petty contractors had little idea about firearms, they apparently told the police that rebels were armed with sophisticated firearms that they had not seen with policemen before.

Five of them had been abducted but one of the contractors, Pappu, was set free earlier to inform the families about the ransom.

The rebels walked all the time and rested briefly before resuming their walk. They swiftly climbed a hill and took the hostages to task for being slow. One of the hostages, son of Congress leader P.N. Singh, twisted his ankle while trying to walk briskly. Raju Munda recalled that whenever the rebels rested, at least eight of them took up positions to look for the police. The eight would communicate with each other by whistling, they confided.

The group largely spoke in Mundari among themselves but the commander was called as Toppoda. While the “Toppo” is a surname more common among the Oraons, the suffix da, denoting an elder brother, is used in connection with Bengali-speaking people and Maoist commanders.

The police appear to have been taken aback by the new name. Police sources confide that they had never heard of an area commander by the name of “Toppo” before.

The victims were served with rice and sabji that rebels were carrying. When one of the hostages, Amarendra Singh, expressed inability to have rice, he was offered nimki, sonpapri and a packet of glucose.

On five different occasions the next day, the rebels found themselves at shouting distance with the police, who were combing the forests and the hills. The hostages had a scare when on one such occasion the rebels threatened to shoot them, if the police opened fire.
But they clearly wanted to avoid an encounter and on each occasion, they managed to give police the slip.

Late on Sunday night, they were released, claimed the freed hostages, from the spot from where they were abducted. Their cell phones were also returned. They reached home by 5 am today, they claimed.


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posted by Bimal 6.2.07,


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