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Militant arrest sparks tension

May 10: The arrest of a KLO militant and five people linked with the organisation in north Bengal, from two different areas in Jalpaiguri, has made the district and adjoining areas tense.

Sensing that the KLO might strike several pockets in the district during tomorrow’s panchayat elections, police have sealed the border with Assam and Bhutan.

A joint force of the Kumargram police and CRPF raided a hideout at Joydebpur, a remote outpost on the Raidak river, and arrested Komal Das, alias Debdas Roy. On questioning, Komal admitted he had undergone arms training at Assam’s Barpeta camp. The militant can handle sophisticated weapons like the AK-56 and machineguns.

Harke Singh, assistant commander of CRPF’s 138 Battalion, said Komal unsuccessfully tried to flee when he realised he was being cordoned off by police. Joydebpur is the same place where a KLO militant was killed by police on February 19.

Elsewhere, another team raided a hideout at Jayanti, Kalchini, and arrested five people with close KLO links. Those arrested were Kamolesh Chhetry, Kedar Prasad, Chandan Dey, Binod Das and Fogu Kaharia.

Police said the arrested supplied rice and essential commodities to KLO hideouts in Jalpaiguri and Bhutan. Dey told police they were forced to supply food and other material. “We will be killed if we refuse to carry out their (KLO’s) orders,” he said.

The district administration in Jalpaiguri and Siliguri and the police have beefed up security. They will have to ward off possible militant attacks as well as political clashes during the elections.

The administration has provided security to those CPI(M) leaders whose names figured in the KLO hit-list. The politicians have been asked to have their security guards around them at all times.

K.. Meena, DIG, Jalpaiguri range, has been assigned to maintain law and order in Jalpaiguri district. Kumargram, Shamuktala, Alipurduar, Banarhat, Dhupguri, Moinaguri and Falakata have been identified as “sensitive zones”.

The CRPF has been deployed in most of these areas. A district police team of 70 “army-trained cadets” will also patrol the areas.

In Siliguri, police are on alert in Kharibari, Phansidewa and Naxalbari blocks because of their proximity to Bihar and Nepal.

In Chopra, at least 35 booths have been identified as “sensitive”. These include Daspara, Dungibustee and Khalpara. “One Rapid Action Force platoon will be deployed in these areas,” North Dinajpur superintendent of police, Anuj Sharma, said:

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