Before being shot, SP called for help

Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar managed to make a call to a subordinate as his two-car convoy came under attack in Dumka district's Kathikund police station area, top police officers said on Wednesday, a day after the IPS officer and five other policemen were killed in the ambush by suspected Maoists.

"The SP managed to get out of his vehicle, move to the left side of the road and make a call to the Office Incharge of Amrapara (30 km away, in Pakur) at 2.32 pm," said Jharkhand DGP Rajeev Kumar. "The OC told me that the SP had managed to pass on the information that he was ambushed. That the SP got enough time to make that call indicates that the Maoist squad was small."

Balihar had also called his family while leaving Dumka town, where he had gone to attend a meeting called by newly appointed DIG Priya Dubey.

It is suspected that a group of CPI (Maoist) cadres led by zonal commander Pradeep Majhi alias Praveer carried out the attack.

Maoists had taken positions mostly on the right side of the road near a culvert on the Kathikund-Amrapara road, about two km into the forest. The attack began as the two vehicles — a Scorpio with the SP, gunman and driver and a Bolero with a driver and five gunmen — slowed down to negotiate the culvert.

The Maoists clearly knew which car to target — all except the right rear tyre of the Scorpio has been shot out, while the Bolero has all four intact. The SP's body was found in a gutter by the road, shot possibly around the time he had just finished calling for help.

There have been reports that the SP ignored a warning by the Special Branch about attacks on officers in the wake of an ongoing operation in Latehar.

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