Two Maoist commanders of the banned leftwing outfit of Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) were killed in an encounter with police and CRPF jawans in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh district, police said on Friday.
An AK-47 rifle and an INSAS rifle, both looted from policemen in the state earlier, were recovered after the encounter, which took place at Konai Khurd village under Padma police station on Thursday midnight. About 200 live cartridges, two mobile phones and radical leftwing pamphlets were recovered from the site.
While the two killed Maoists were yet to be identified, Hazaribagh SP Anup Birthire said they seem to be top commanders of TPC as such sophisticated weapons are generally wielded by those in the top ranks. TPC is a breakaway faction of the banned, bigger outfit CPI(Maoist) and is active in Jharkhand’s northern districts, he said.
At least three other Maoists are believed to have been injured in the encounter, but they managed to escape taking advantage of the darkness. Raids were on at several nearby locations to arrest them, said officials.
“These outlaws had gathered in the village to collect their regular levy (extortion money) from local crusher owners. We dispatched a squad to arrest them, but the rebels fired at the cops, forcing them to fire back,” said Birthire.
The Maoists were getting ready to set afire a crusher unit and vehicles used for transportation of stone chips if the owners refused or failed to pay them levy, said an official familiar with the operation.
Jharkhand DGP DK Pandey announced a cash reward of Rs 2 lakh for the team of security personnel who participated in the encounter. Each of the 15 men will also be given a Rs 5,000 cash award, added Birthare.
The Raghubar Das-led BJP government in Jharkhand had vowed last year to wipe out the Maoists in the state by December 31, 2017. As many as 21 of the state’s 24 districts are affected by leftwing extremism.