Journalist killed in Sukma, ‘Maoists’ flip-flop on role

The murder of a journalist in Sukma district last week has exposed the warped relations between Maoists, scribes and businessmen involved in petty smuggling. While it is not clear whether Nemichand Jain, 42, was killed by Maoists for being a police informer or personal enmity was the cause of the murder, all persons associated with the murder have links with the rebels.

Maoists immediately accepted, a day later denied, and have now again accepted the murder. Tin trader Alghu Chaurasia, arrested soon after the murder with his two sons, also has close links with the Maoists. Jain contributed for three newspapers — Dainik Bhaskar, Hari Bhoomi and Nai Duniya — and like many other journalists in Bastar region was considered close to both the police and Maoists, not as a supporter or sympathiser, but a reporter whom they trusted to spread their word.

Jain's body was found on February 12 in Tongpal with an alleged Maoist pamphlet tucked in his belt. "Nemichand was killed as he was a police informer, took policemen to villages, threatened people in village fairs and clicked their photographs," said the pamphlet, signed off as 'CPI(Maoist) Kanker Ghati Darbha Division'.

The pamphlet was suspicious. Maoists are not known to have an administrative or military unit named 'Kanker Ghati Darbha Division'. Kanker and Darbha are nearly 150 km apart.

Next day, another pamphlet was found through which Maoists denied involvement. "Please find the murderer and inform Maoists," said the pamphlet. This one too raised suspicion, as their request to know about the culprit sounded unusual.

On Tuesday, another pamphlet and Jain's bike, missing since the incident, were found at the murder spot. The rebels have again taken responsibility, claiming that Jain was an informer. This one was signed off as 'CPI (Maoist) Kanker Ghati Area Committee'.

"Maoists do seem to have some role in it. These pamphlets seem suspicious but no one in the area can release absolutely fake pamphlets naming Maoists," Sukma SP Abhishek Shandilya said. "Jain was very close to them. Why they would kill him is puzzling."

The police are also exploring Chaurasia's involvement. He is involved in petty smuggling of tin and is known to give regular commission to Maoists. "Chaurasiya had enmity with my brother. In January, Maoists called him. They suspected he was a police informer. They thrashed his son and held him captive for a few days. After his release, Chaurasia had an altercation with my brother. He thought my brother had complained to the Maoists about him," said Jain's brother Jograj. (इंडियन एक्‍सप्रेस)

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