Ranchi, Jan. 12: Maoist rebels, who unleashed havoc in Amuatikar forest of Latehar on January 7, killing 13 CRPF personnel, are distributing CDs accusing security forces of using innocent villagers as human shields.
In the CDs, handed over to local residents along with letters, the rebels have claimed responsibility for the killing of 13 security personnel, and announced a bandh in the Palamau commissionary on January 13 and 14 to protest against the "delay" in producing their arrested leaders in court.
On January 7, an encounter broke out between Maoist rebels and security forces in Amuatikar forest when three companies of CRPF jawans entered the area following a tip-off that 200 rebels were holed up there. The encounter continued well into the next morning, leaving 13 personnel dead. Four civilians (not three as reported earlier) were also killed while trying to help the jawans retrieve bodies of slain colleagues later in the afternoon. The fleeing Maoists had strapped IEDs on two bodies, which exploded while being retrieved, killing the four.
On January 9, another body that had been airlifted to Ranchi for post-mortem was found with an IED planted inside.
A resident of Barwadih, 40km from Latehar district headquarters, who received one such audio CD with a message from Maoist spokesperson Toofan, passed it on to The Telegraph.
In the CD, Toofan expressed unhappiness over frequent visits by Union minister Jairam Ramesh to the forest areas of Jharkhand and called for a "mass movement" against him.
He expressed unhappiness over the death of villagers and blamed the police for them. He "invited" newsmen and human rights activist to the area to see for themselves how security forces had booby trapped the entire place, putting the lives of innocent villagers at risk.
In the statement, delivered in Hindi, the Maoist claimed they had taken away arms and ammunition from the security personnel and there was no casualty from their side in the encounter.
The resident who provided the CD said the situation in the area was tense, and many villagers had left home in fear.
"The Maoists are prepared the same way they were prepared in Lalgarh. If they are not handled properly they can cause huge casualties among security personnel engaged in operations in the area," the resident claimed.
District SP G. Kranti Kumar said he was aware that Maoists were present in the area but it would be wrong to do anything in haste. Given the rebels' strategy, it was important to take a lot of precautions before carrying out any operation against them.
He, however, rubbished Maoist claims that they had not suffered any casualties. "As far as our intelligence is concerned, eight trained Maoists guerrillas were killed in the encounter," he said.
He added that an FIR had been lodged against Maoists for preparing IEDs that claimed the lives of four villagers for helping the jawans during search operations.
An FIR was lodged today at Barwadih police station against 48 alleged Maoists in connection with the January 7 encounter and consequent incidents including planting of a bomb in the abdomen of a dead CRPF jawan.