Ranchi, Jan. 22: The death toll of security personnel ambushed by Maoists in Latehar a fortnight ago rose to 11 as a CRPF jawan, who was being treated for bullet wounds on his head, succumbed at Apollo hospital this afternoon.
Mahesh Ram was one of the 15 jawans who were injured in the Maoist attack ' characterised by the monstrous act of implanting explosives in the abdomen of corpses ' at Amuatikar forest in Latehar.
Hospital superintendent P.D. Sinha said, "Ram was the most critical among the injured admitted at the hospital. He had recovered well after treatment and was shifted from the ICU three days ago. This morning, he had breakfast and even talked to those met him. He was resting after physiotherapy when he complained of difficulty in breathing. He was immediately shifted to the ICU but his condition kept deteriorating. Around 12.30pm he breathed his last."
With the latest casualty, the number of victims in the Maoist strike in Latehar touched 15, including four villagers.
Meanwhile, graffiti denouncing Maoists were spotted this morning in a few villages including Hami, Chatakpur and Medadih in Mahuadanr police station area, 150km from the Latehar district headquarters.
The slogans read messages like "Maowadi apradhi hain (Maoists are criminals)" and "Maowadi ka saath dena bandh karo (do not help Maoists)", all signed by the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), a breakaway faction of the CPI (Maoist) that is active in Latehar.
A resident, who did not want to be named, said, "Schoolchildren noticed the writings this morning and alerted villagers, who fear imminent clashes between the TPC and Maoists."
Another resident, who claimed to be a Maoist sympathiser, said he too had come to know about the graffiti but had taken it for granted. "Humein maloom hai aisi wall writing ka kya. TPC ke log toh police ke hi aadmi hai (We know there is not much to the graffiti. The TPC rebels side with the police only)," he said.
Maoists also triggered a few blasts last night at Kuku village, merely 10km from Amuatikar.
A police officer at Barwadih said, "The blasts were meant to sense the position of security personnel in the forest. No one was injured."
He argued the rebels were angered by the fact that the properties of a member of its People Liberation Guerrilla Army, Mrityunjai Bhuia, were attached at his village at Nawadih in Barwadih police station area.
However, Latehar superintendent of police (SP) Kranti G. Kumar expressed ignorance about the incident when contacted this afternoon.