Another poll, and Tamar in the limelight for a different reason

Tamar (Jharkhand), Nov 28 ( This little town got on to India’s political map early this year, when then chief minister Shibu Soren lost a by-election here. The constituency is in the limelight again in the middle of Jharkhand’s five-phase assembly polls. This time it is due to the Maoists.

Soren was defeated by Gopal Krishan Patar alias Raja Peter of the Jharkhand Party (JP) by over 9,000 votes. Soren had to quit his chief minister’s post and President’s rule was imposed in Jharkhand on Jan 19 as no alliance had the numbers to form a government.

After nearly 11 months Tamar will go to the polls Dec 2. Now the worry is the role that may or may not be played by Kundan Pahan, the self-styled zonal commander of the CPI-Maoist.

It was Pahan’s group that killed then legislator and senior Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Ramesh Singh Munda in July 2008, necessitating the by-poll in which Soren was defeated.

State intelligence officials say that Pahan, just like Veerappan, the sandalwood smuggler and forest brigand who challenged three state governments for over two decades before being gunned down in 2004, is becoming notorious for his violent actions.

Pahan has unleashed his terror in Ranchi, Khuti and Jamshedpur districts, over a 50 sq km area of forests and hills where he rules the roost.

It was Pahan’s group that abducted Special Branch Inspector Francis Induwar from Khuti this October and beheaded him. The nation was shocked when Induwar’s decapitated body was found near Raida Ghati on the Ranchi-Jamshedpur national highway Oct 5.

More than 20 security personnel have been killed in the last 15 months in this area.

This is the same area where Pahan’s group hijacked an ICICI Bank delivery van in May last year and looted Rs.5 crore and two kg of gold. Police are yet to crack the case.

The voters of Tamar will go to the polls Dec 2. The main contest is between sitting legislator Raja Peter and the son of Ramesh Singh Munda.

In the last 11 months the political scenario has changed. Raja Peter is now a JD-U nominee. Ramesh Singh Munda’s son Vikas Munda is a nominee of the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU).

Ram Dayal Munda is fighting on the Congress ticket. He is a tribal scholar and former vice chancellor of Ranchi University. The other parties who are trying their luck include the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). In all there are 17 candidates in the fray whose fate will be decided by 164,625 voters.

“Both Vikas and Raja Peter are opportunists. Vikas’ father fought against the Maoists but he is an AJSU nominee. Raja Peter was with Enos Ekka till he was a millionaire, but changed his side when Ekka went to jail,” Ram Dayal Munda told IANS. Jharkhan Party president Enos Ekka is now in jail on graft charges.

When asked about the Congress nominee said: “Violence like beheading cannot be justified. They do all such things for levy. If they (Pahan and his group) have power, they should join a democratic system and take command of funds for the development for the people. They are misusing funds collected in the form of levy.”

There are two other assembly constituencies where Pahan has a strong base — Khuti and Silli. Former Jharkhand home minister and AJSU president Sudesh Mahto is seeking re-election from Silli for the third time.

The election in Khuti is also interesting as the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) of Shibu Soren has fielded Masi Charan Munda, 34, a jailed Maoist rebel facing 18 serious criminal cases including murder.

Masi was a zonal commander of the Maoist organisation People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI). The other key candidates in Khuti are sitting Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Neel Kanth Singh Munda and Rosan Surin of the Congress. Rosan is son of late Sushila Kerketta who was Lok Sabha MP in 2004 and 2009. Rosan is the richest candidate of Jharkhand with assets worth Rs.24 crore.