Cash-strapped Maoists now turn poachers
Pushed to a corner after “Operation Biswas”, a police drive to contain Maoists, the rebels have now struck upon a new strategy to collect funds, police say.
Rohtas Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj said the police drive had effectively ended the ‘levy raj’ of the Maoists, who could no longer get easy money by targeting road contractors, businessmen or traders.
He said the Maoists in Rohtas and Kaimur districts were, however, fast emerging as poachers, smuggling the organs, skin and horns of wild animals to raise money. Among the animals targeted by the Maoists were leopards and tigers, police said.
“Operation Biswas, a police drive against Maoists mainly in Rohtas and Kaimur, bordering Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, has turned out to be hugely successful. The Maoists have not recovered from the setback,” Maharaj said.
Rohtas and Kaimur are considered as Maoist-strongholds in the state. Police officials say that the Maoists appear to be working in cahoots with poachers. Maharaj said that some days ago, police recovered arms and ammunition along with equipment used for poaching from Maoists arrested in Ulho and Gotahar villages.
Maharaj said police had arrested Indu Paswan, kingpin of the Maoist poachers, on August 7. Police also recovered a leopard skin and two sets of deer horns from Paswan.
Four arrested Maoists informed the police that tiger and leopard skins were sold illegally in the market at a price ranging between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. Deer hide fetched Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh. A set of horns sold for Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000.
A senior official said that after the Maoist-poachers were arrested, police in all districts were alerted to keep a watch on the poaching activities of Maoists.