Ranchi, April 9: Members of the Shanti Sena, a people’s army formed to counter Naxalite threat, are angry. They believe their founder Bhado Singh and seven others couldn’t have been butchered by rebels on Tuesday if the police paid heed to their renewed call for protection.
“The Shanti Sena, established six years ago with the help of senior police officials, will soon be dismantled in Gumla. From now, getting information about Naxalite activities in the area will be a challenging job for the police,” a member of the Sena said, requesting anonymity.
Even the people of rebel-affected Gumla have clammed up after extremists ambushed Singh and his compatriots on Tuesday morning when the rest of the state was celebrating Sarhul. They believe the police failed to help the very people who were cooperating with them in the fight against Maoists.
“Last year, Bhado Singh had sought adequate security when rebels killed a friend of the police, Praveen Sahu. But the police did not pay heed to his requests, leaving him in the lurch,” said another Sena member.
Vice-president of Jharkhand Teli Samaj in Gumla Heera Sahu echoed his sentiments. “An atmosphere of mistrust has grown in Gumla and no villager is ready to share any information with the police. All of them are tightlipped and are keeping a safe distance from any official visiting the spot,” he said.
A senior police official admitted to their failure. “How could the police be unaware of the plan of extremists in their area if the people were with them? It is a matter of shame that 150 Maoists laid ambush hardly 5km from Palkot police station and targeted a vehicle full of police supporters in daylight. This is bad policing,” he said.
Police spokesperson Raj Kumar Mallick, however, said it was not a serious problem. “Losing confidence in the police was natural after such a big violence. People will again gain confidence in them,” he said.
IG (home guards and fire brigade) M.V. Rao, who had succeeded in putting a check on Naxalite activities during his tenure as SP in Gumla six years ago, expressed concern. “It is the time to build confidence. Without people’s help, policing is not possible. Whatever I could do as a policeman in different districts was the result of co-operation extended by people who informed about crimes and criminals round-the-clock,” said Rao — the inspiration behind the Shanti Sena.
Sources in Gumla said director general of police V.D. Ram visited Semra village and met the residents. He also held a meeting with his officials and gave necessary instructions. He, however, denied existence of any Shanti Sena in the area.