Cops to step up Latehar heat

Ranchi, Feb. 1: Senior policemen and CRPF officers today held a meeting in Latehar to devise strategies to launch the "biggest ever" operation to combat Maoists in the district, close on the heels of the rebel ambush in January in which 11 jawans were killed in Amuatikar forest.

Although the police were tight-lipped about the meeting at the SP's office, sources said they were planning to give a fitting reply to Maoists who raised heckles by implanting explosives on the corpses of jawans and villagers to inflict maximum damage during the encounter on January 7-8.

"Maowadion ke virudh chalne wale sabse bare abhiyan ki ranniti bani iss meeting mein (a strategy was chalked out in the meeting to launch the biggest ever campaign against Maoists in the district)," said a source.

A police officer asserted that such meetings were expected in every Maoist-affected district.

"CRPF director-general Pranay Sahay held closed-door talks with his officers in the state for two hours on January 23. It was aimed to intensify security operations in rebel-hit areas of Jharkhand, where 17 battalions of CRPF and two units of its special strike force CoBRA have been deputed to join the state police in the fight against Naxalites," the officer pointed out.

Another police officer echoed the same.

"Latehar is hardly around 100km from the state capital. But Maoists in the district are very active despite the strong presence of security personnel. Before attacking the personnel at Amuatikar forest on January 7 and attacking a road construction site at Chhatariyatar under Latehar police station yesterday, they have targeted several personnel and innocent villages during elections. The stretch between Latehar and Hehegara railway stations has always been a soft target," the officer added.

However, Latehar SP Kranti G. Kumar termed the meeting a routine exercise of personnel engaged in anti-Naxalite operations in the district. "Such meetings with CRPF personnel are held every month. There is nothing new in it."

DIG of Palamau range Praveen Kumar, who took part in the meeting, also remained evasive. "It was a routine meeting in which we relayed to the officers all the points that were communicated by the governor's adviser during a meeting a few days ago."

On Wednesday, governor's adviser and former CRPF director K. Vijay Kumar had asked the state police to provide better policing and present a people-friendly image.

Asked further, the DIG declined comment, saying, "Strategic matters cannot be discussed."

The meeting, which started around 11am, continued for three hours with the commanding officers of 214th, 112nd and 11th battalions of the CRPF, besides all four DSPs of Latehar, in attendance.