Jalpaiguri, Aug. 28: In their first strike against the Dhupguri killers, police today gunned down a self-styled Kamtapur Liberation Organisation commander on the Bhutan border.
Rohini Adhikary, reportedly commander of the group’s Peping camp located in the jungles of Bhutan, was killed in an encounter in Hatipota forest as he and his two associates tried to sneak into Bhutan on cycles.
Adhikary, known in the region by the pseudonym, Sailab Sarkar, was a prime suspect in the August 17 attack on the CPM office in Dhupguri in which five party workers were killed, including district secretariat member Gopal Chaki.
The district magistrate of neighbouring Cooch Behar today suspended an employee of his department, Biswajit Burman, after he was arrested for his alleged links with the KLO. Burman, a Class IV employee, had been harbouring KLO operatives at his village home, police said.
Jalpaiguri district superintendent of police Siddh Nath Gupta, who called a press conference to make the announcement within two hours of the killing, said policemen opened fire after being shot at. He said two policemen suffered bullet injuries and are being treated in hospital.
One 9-mm pistol and several rounds of live ammunition were recovered from the militants, apart from the cycles they left behind. The duo who managed to escape have not been identified.
A police team, patrolling Hatipota forest, spotted the three militants on cycles around 10 am. They were carrying automatics and were barely 500 metres away from the Bhutan border. When asked to stop, Gupta said the militants started firing at the policemen who retaliated, killing Adhikary on the spot.
The superintendent of police said two militants escaped into the dense forest while the encounter was on. He said Adhikary, high on the district police’s wanted list, was working as a camp commander in south Bhutan.
Gupta said police found some documents on the dead militant. “We believe Adhikary was part of the KLO group which had attacked the CPM party office in Dhupguri.”
The officer said Adhikary, a resident of Dakshin Parokata village under Shamuktala police station, had joined the outfit in 1995. He was among the first batch of KLO militants trained by the Ulfa. Later, he was made camp commander in Bhutan.
“We have concrete evidence he was directly involved in the Dhupguri strike. Adhikary was part of the core group of the KLO action squad which had masterminded the Dhupguri strike,” Gupta said.
Police believe Adhikary was involved in the smuggling of guns and had recently visited Coxs’ Bazaar in Bangladesh to procure assault rifles. He was also an accused in the landmine blast case at Turturi jungle near Bhutanghat in May. Police fired a total of 16 rounds in the encounter.
“With the heat on them in the wake of the Dhupguri killings, the militants were probably trying to sneak into Bhutan during the day, presuming the crossing would be safer,” Gupta said.