Don’t deposit Maoists’ money in banks, police tell Jharkhand villagers

Ranchi, Nov 22 (IANS) The Jharkhand Police have started a poster campaign in Maoist-hit areas of the state asking people not to deposit or exchange the demonetised currency notes belonging to Maoist guerrillas or their organisations.

“The villagers should not deposit the illegal money (of Maoists) in Jan Dhan accounts, otherwise they will be held responsible for such transactions,” Inspector General of Police (operation) M.S. Bhatia, who is also the Jharkhand police spokesperson, told IANS.

“We are putting up pamphlets in remote rural areas where hardcore Maoists have dumped their cash. We (police) want to inform the villagers in advance that they should not be duped,” he said.

The police have launched a poster and pamphlet campaign in more than 16 districts like Lohardagga, Lathear, Garwah, Chatra, Khuti and Chaibasa.

Police sources say that the Maoists have converted large amounts of the demonetised 500- and 1,000-rupee notes through villagers by exchanging the currency. The villagers were threatened to exchange the notes.

Maoists are putting pressure on villagers, contractors, petrol pump owners and others operating in Maoist-hit areas to exchange or deposit their money.

On November 15, Maoist guerrillas killed a nursing home owner in Jharkhand’s Serikela-Kharsawa district after he refused to deposit their unaccounted money in the bank.

On November 10, the police arrested Nand Kishore, a petrol pump owner from Bero on the outskirts of Ranchi, when he was carrying Rs 25 lakh in cash and going to a bank to deposit the money.

During interrogation, Kishore admitted that the money belonged to Dinesh Gope, the supremo of the banned Maoist organisation People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI). Kishore was to deposit the money in his account in the name of petrol and diesel sales.

In Jharkhand, Maoist guerrillas collect Rs 150 crore to Rs 200 crore a year in the form of ‘levy’ or protection fee they slap on villagers, businesses and contractors.

After the November 8 demonetisation, Maoists are using their white-collar network to turn their “black money into white”, the police officer said.

Police sources say that civil contractors, petrol pump owners, mining area contractors, officials, and leaders in areas falling under the Maoist bastions have been put under close watch.