The four security personnel’s killing in the Latehar district of Jharkhand on Friday seems to have proved the Election Commission’s apprehension true.

In a major attack ahead of the Assembly polls, the Maoists ambushed a police control room (PCR) van, killing an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) and three policemen at the National Highway 22 near the Rukaiya More at Chandwa in Latehar district.

The police team on patrolling duty in the Chandwa police station area was attacked by the rebels, leading to a gun-battle and fatalities.

The incident took place just a few hours after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) working president J.P. Nadda claimed at a rally in the area that under the Raghubar Das government the Maoists had been wiped out.

The attack also punched holes in the state government’s claims that Maoist incidents had declined. In the past 19 years, it’s the first time that the Maoists killed policemen before the first phase of polls.

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Thursday had said the five-phase voting in Jharkhand was based on the Home Ministry’s report and officials’ feedback.

“The Union Home Ministry in a February 5 report said the 19 of the 24 Jharkhand districts were Maoist-affected. The Ministry released Rs 775 crore for the Maoist-affected districts,” said Arora.

On the Centre’s claim in Parliament that there has been 45 per cent fall in the Maoists activities in Jharkhand, he said, “We go by written documents, which is in the public domain. The official feedback was that the Maoist could use new tactics and ways to obstruct polls”.

At the inter-state coordination meeting in connection with Assembly elections at the police headquarters here on Friday, Jharkhand DGP A.K.N. Choubey stressed the need to strengthen the intelligence network, share information on a timely basis and conducting of joint operations.

He asked SSPs and SPs of the bordering districts to identify check-posts and conduct regular checking drives. In the wake of the recent Maoist incidents in rural areas, similar exercises be conducted there, he added.

The DGP also detailed a map as to how with the help of neighbouring states, like Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and UP in the phase-wise and timebound manner the Maoists problem could be solved.

According to the police sources, Friday’s ambush was an act of desperation and they were not expecting any attack before the first phase of the polls.