By Deepak Kumar Nayak*
On September 9, 2022, Security Forces (SFs) arrested four cadres of the Tritiya Sammelan Prastuti Committee (TSPC/TPC), a splinter group of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), during a search operation in the Bundu area under Keredari Police Station limits in Hazaribagh District. The arrested cadres were identified as Sanjay Karmali, Pankaj Karmali, Suraj Kumar and Prabhat Kumar Ram. Police recovered three pistols, 18 bullets, two bikes and five mobiles from these cadres.
On September 5, 2022, a self-styled ‘commander’ of the TSPC/TPC, identified as Nirmal Bhuiyan, was arrested from Gongad village under Panki Police Station limits in Palamu District. Police arrested Bhuiyan when he came to Block Programme Officer Meena Devi’s residence in Gongad to extort money. Bhuiyan assaulted Devi and her husband when they refused to acceded to his demands. On being informed about the incident, a Police team rushed to the spot and arrested Bhuiyan, who had come to the village alone. Around half-a-dozen cases were previously registered against him in various Police Stations in Latehar and Palamu Districts. Bhuiyan was active in the banned outfit since 2012 and was evading arrest.
On September 1, 2022, a ‘zonal commander’ of the TSPC/TPC, identified as Bhairon Ganjhu aka Bhaskar aka Veerapan, was arrested from the Kasiyatu Forest area under Simaria Police Station limits in Chatra District. A cache of arms and ammunition, including a sophisticated US made weapon and an INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) assault rifle looted from the Police was recovered from him. Ganjhu was wanted in more than 16 cases and was active in Jharkhand’s Chatra, Palamu and Latehar Districts.
According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 30 TSPC/TPC cadres have been arrested in Jharkhand since the beginning of the current year (data till September 11, 2022). During the corresponding period of 2021, 18 TSPC/TPC cadres had been arrested. A total of 18 TSPC/TPC cadres were arrested through 2021. Since 2002, when TSPC/TPC was formed, at least 228 TSPC/TPC cadres have been arrested.
SF pressure has led to the surrender of one TSPC/TPC cadre in the current year (data till September 11, 2022), in addition to two in the corresponding period of 2021, as well as through 2021. Since 2002, at least eight TSPC/TPC cadres have surrendered.
A total of three TSPC/TPC cadres have been killed in the current year (data till September 11, 2022). There were no such killings during the corresponding period of 2021, nor in the remaining period of 2021. However, since the formation of TSPC/TPC in 2002, a total of 70 TSPC/TPC cadres have been killed.
Significantly, since 2002, TSPC/TPC has not been found involved in the killing of any SF personnel, thus far (data till September 11, 2022).
The last TSPC/TPC-linked civilian killing was reported on February 2, 2017, when TSPC/TPC shot dead Munna Singh aka Munna Ganjhu and his associate Murari Sharma in the Kunda area of Chatra District, Jharkhand.
Since its formation in 2002, TSPC/TPC has been responsible for 22 civilian fatalities.
Though TSPC/TPC has been on a continuous decline, the group’s disruptive activities continue.
On August 1, 2022, around 25 armed cadres of the TSPC/TPC created a ruckus in the Balram Stone Mines Pipradih compound in the Olhe village of the Bariatu Block (administrative sub division) under Balumath Police Station limits in Latehar District. Kanhai Singh, the operator of Balram Stone Mines, was being continuously threatened by TPC cadres for ‘levy’ (extortion money), and when the cadres did not get the ‘levy’ despite threats, armed cadres reached the mines and overpowered the security personnel there. Later, the cadres broke the glass of a Poclain excavator and punctured a tractor tire by shooting into it. The TSPC/TPC cadres threatened the SF personnel with dire consequences if the work re-started without their ‘orders’.
Earlier, SAIR had noted that TSPC/TPC activities were mostly linked to their ‘levy’ demands from businessmen and contractors, and the outfit is more of a criminal gang than an ideologically driven Naxalite movement.
Meanwhile, according to a May 20, 2022, report, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted raids at seven places [six in Chatra District and one in Ranchi District] in Jharkhand in connections with the Magadh Amrapali Colliery terror funding case, and the colliery’s links with the TSPC/TPC. During the raids, the NIA seized firearms, ammunition, INR 366,000 in cash, 11 vehicles, incriminating documents and digital devices. The NIA stated,
They [suspects] were raising illegitimate funds from the contractors, transporters, delivery order holders and coal businessmen for TPC leaders, namely Gopal Singh Bhokta, Mukesh Ganjhu, KohramJi, AkrmanJi. Anischay Ganjhu, Bhikan Ganjhu, Deepu Singh alias Bhikan and Bindu Ganjhu.
Indeed, a Pandora’s Box was opened with the arrest of a wanted ‘zonal commander’ of the TSPC/TPC, Bhikhan Ganjhu, and his close aide Rahul Munda, from Ranchi District on March 16, 2022. Bhikhan Ganjhu was wanted by the NIA for smuggling of arms and ammunition to Maoists and gangsters with help of Naga militants. Commenting on the arrest, Surendra Kumar Jha, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ranchi, stated,
Arresting him was not easy as he didn’t leave many traces behind. But due to the sustained efforts of the police and information system, we got information about him. A team under the leadership of the City Superintendent of Police was formed and he was finally arrested. His arrest is very important because he is the top brass of TSPC and we are hopeful to nab more cadres after his interrogation.
NIA’s step came after the seizure of five sophisticated weapons on February 7, 2019, by the Bihar Police, including Under Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGLs) and a large consignment of AK-47 ammunition being smuggled, allegedly from the Myanmar border, with the help of some Naga militants, to be supplied to Naxalites [Left Wing Extremists] and gangsters in the country.
Of the 136 most wanted Naxalites/Criminals with rewards on their heads, listed by the Jharkhand Police, at least nine are from TSPC/TPC, including:
- Brajesh Singh Ganjhu aka Gopal Singh Bhokta aka Sarkar, Chatra District, TSPC/TPC ‘chief’, INR 2.5 million.
- Akraman Ganjhu aka Akraman Ji aka Ravindra Ganjhu, Chatra District, ‘Regional Committee Member (RCM)’, INR 1.5 million.
- Dashrath Oraon aka Roshan Ji, Chatra District, ‘Special Zonal Committee (SZC)’, INR 500,000.
- Rakesh Ganjhu, Chatra District, SZC, INR 500,000.
- Baijnath Ganjhu aka Budha Marandi, Latehar District, ‘Area Commander’ (AC)’, INR 200,000.
- Karim Ji aka Gulab Ji aka Gulab Ravidas, Chatra District, AC, INR 100,000.
- Birendra Ganjhu, Latehar District, ‘Local Guerilla Squad (LGS)’, INR 100,000.
- Santosh Ganjhu aka Budhan Ganjhu, Ranchi District, LGS, INR 100,000.
- Sahendra Yadav aka Nariyan, Chatra District, LGS, INR 100,000.
TSPC/TPC is one among 18 Left Wing Extremist groups operating in Jharkhand. Other significant outfits include the CPI-Maoist, Peoples’ Liberation Front of India (PLFI) and Jharkhand Jan Mukti Parishad (JJMP).
In spite of having been substantially incapacitated, TSPC/TPC remains a weak spot in the State’s security, as its disruptive activities continue to create problems for the establishment. Coherent, coordinated and targeted SF operations against the outfit, particularly against its fugitive ‘chief’ Brajesh Singh Ganjhu, are needed to bring a permanent end to this menace.
*Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management