In a late night strike, suspected members working for the outlawed Tritiya-Sammelan Prastuti Committee (TPC), a faction of CPI (Maoists), allegedly attacked the central coalfields limited (CCL)-run Tetariyakhad coal mine at Balumath in Jharkhand’s Latehar district on Friday.
In a brief assault, the armed miscreants set four coal laden trucks and a bike on fire. Four drivers and cleaners also sustained bullet injuries in the indiscriminate firing. The armed miscreants fled after reinforcements from Balumath police station reached the spot. Both sides also exchanged fire for a brief period.
Incidentally, the Latehar deputy commissioner Abu Imran had visited the same location around 48 hours before the attack to find out if the operations at the coal mines were running smoothly.
One Pradeep Ganjhu, working in connivance with the TPC, the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) and a criminals’ gang led by jailed gangster Sujeet Sinha, later claimed the responsibility for the attack and warned the coal traders of more such action if they continued working without his consent.
The attack assumes significance as the TPC had been posing a tough challenge for the state police by calling for the stoppage of coal mining and coal transportation work for four days beginning December 13 and had put up posters and banners at many locations in Latehar and Chatra district apart from a crowded place in the state capital of Ranchi, surprising police.
Upping the ante against the TPC, the security forces had gunned down a sub zonal commander on Wednesday and seized one AK-47 and cache of ammunition and other items from the spot in Latehar district.
The district police had also made elaborate security arrangements to ensure that coal mining and transportation work was not stalled.
The Latehar superintendent of police (SP) Prasant Anand said, “Pradeep Ganjhu is the same man who is having a nexus with both the TPC and the PLFI besides working for the criminal gang. We have recently arrested two of his accomplices and seized the AK-47 carried by him after an encounter from Balumath area. The duo was involved in firing at coal sidings in Latehar and Chatra district.”
The SP added, “This is an act of desperation by the TPC after being forced on the back foot by the security forces. They used Pradeep who is also frustrated after losing two of his close aids and the weapon. He however, will soon be neutralised.”
Incidentally, the marauders selectively targeted the drivers and the cleaners. They spared the traders and transporters and the officials. “They especially targeted the drivers and cleaners as the act was aimed at creating fear for extortion,” the SP pointed out.
Those injured were identified as cleaners Pintu Yadav and Suraj Ganjhu; driver Anil Yadav and clerk Bansropan Ganjhu. After the first aid at the community health centre at Balumath, they were shifted to Ranchi for better treatment.