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Jharkhand: Latehar: Fragmenting Threat

Jharkhand: Latehar: Fragmenting Threat

Deepak Kumar Nayak Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management | @indiablooms | 24 Apr 2018, 07:18 pm

Five cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), including two ‘sub-zonal commanders’, were killed in an encounter with Security Forces (SFs) during a search operation in an area between the Sikid and Kedu Forests under Herhanj Police Station limits in the Latehar District of Jharkhand State on April 4, 2018. The two ‘sub-zonal commanders’, carrying rewards of INR 500,000 each on their heads, were identified as Shivlal Yadav and Shravan Yadav. The identities of the remaining three slain Maoists are yet to be ascertained. SFs recovered the bodies of the five Maoists, along with two Self Loading Rifles (SLRs), two Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) assault rifles, a .315 bore rifle, and a large number of live bullets from the encounter spot.

On February 1, 2018, a CPI-Maoist cadre, identified as Birbal Oraon, was killed in an encounter with SFs at Bhitar Pandra village in Latehar District. Superintendent of Police (SP), Prasant Anand disclosed, "We had information that the squads have been active in the Garu area for past several days and an anti-Naxal [Left Wing Extremism (LWE)] operation was launched to apprehend them." He added that the Maoists had started firing at the approaching security personnel, forcing them to retaliate. While Birbal Oraon was killed some other Maoists managed to escape.

On January 17, 2018, an ‘area commander’ of Jharkhand Jan-Mukti Parishad (JJMP), a splinter group of the CPI-Maoist, was killed in an encounter at Jerpahari under Sadar Police Station limits in Latehar District. An AK-47, four American-made rifles, one INSAS assault rifle, among other materials, were recovered from the encounter spot.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), of the 16 Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) neutralised in Jharkhand in 2018, (data till April 15), seven (one JJMP and six CPI-Maoist cadres) were killed in Latehar District alone. Since 2005, a total of 101 LWEs have been neutralised in the Latehar District out of a total of 555 in Jharkhand. The District thus accounted for 18.19 per cent of total Naxal deaths recorded in the State over this period. Latehar District has the highest proportion of Naxals killed in the State, followed by Palamu with 13.51 per cent (75 LWEs fatalities); Hazaribagh with 11.71 per cent (65 LWEs fatalities); and Khunti with 10.99 per cent (61 LWEs fatalities).

Meanwhile, on March 21, 2018, according to the Jharkhand Police, top Naxal 'commander' Arvindji aka Dev Kumar Singh aka Nishant, who was active in Bihar and Jharkhand and carried a reward of INR 15 million on his head, died of cardiac arrest at his jungle hideout in the Budha Pahad hills in Latehar District. A native of Jehanabad District in Bihar, Arvindji was known for some of the deadliest attacks on SFs. He was the mastermind of the daring Jehanabad jailbreak of 2006, in which over 341 prisoners escaped from custody. After an attack on Police forces in Latehar District in January 7, 2013, in which 10 SF personnel were killed, bombs were planted inside the bodies of the dead on his instructions.

Significantly, the District has not recorded any SF killing thus far in 2018. There was no SF killing through 2017. The last SF killing was reported on July 11, 2016, when a Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) trooper – Ajai Kumar – succumbed to his injuries after being injured in an encounter between SF personnel and CPI-Maoist cadres at an unspecified location under Baresan Police Station limits in Latehar District. Since 2005, a total of 61 SF personnel have died in the Latehar District, 18.94 per cent of the 322 SF fatalities in Jharkhand over this period.

The highest number of SF deaths in a year in Latehar was recorded in 2009, when 27 SF personnel had died. In that year, the kill ratio was in favour of the LWEs at 1: 4.5, and remained in their favour in 2010 at 1:6. After 2011, however, the kill ratio has remained in favour of SFs at 1:1.63 in 2011; 1:1.5 in 2012; 1:1.8 in 2013. There were no SF fatalities through 2014 ad 2015, while the LWEs had lost three and two cadres, respectively, in these years. The ratio was in favour of the SFs at 1:7 in 2016. No fatalities were registered in either category in 2017.

Meanwhile, after registering the highest number of civilian fatalities, at 15 in 2011, fatalities dropped to just three in 2017. In the intervening years, the trend has been cyclical, but fatalities remained in single digits. Since 2005, a total of 59 civilians have been killed in the Latehar District, 8.91 per cent of the 622 civilian deaths in the State over this period.

Jharkhand: Latehar: Fragmenting Threat

Deepak Kumar Nayak Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management
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