Calcutta, Dec. 31: The same group of guerrillas who burnt alive CPM leader Rabindranath Kar and his wife this morning had gunned down party leader Mahendra Mahato in July.
A preliminary probe con- ducted by Purulia police has revealed that the 50-odd CPI (Maoist) activists who surrounded Bhomragarh village today were led by members of the same 'action squad' that orchestrated Mahato's murder.
'The attackers also adopted the same modus operandi. Like on the previous occasion, they came under the cover of darkness, terrorised villagers by standing guard in front of their houses and after completing the operation, took advantage of forest cover to escape. This time, too, they fled to Jharkhand,' said a district intelligence branch officer.
A 10-member core group of the action squad led the Maoist brigade. The blueprint for the operation was chalked out by Koteshwar Rao alias Kishanji, the Maoists' second-in-command and head of their central military commission, better known as the action squad.
The attack was carried out under the supervision of Kishanji's right-hand man Dipak. 'Kishanji assigned the job to kill Kar to the same action squad members who were part of the strike in July,' said another officer.
The extremists were armed with 'AK-47 and self-loaded rifles and carbines', he added.
After visiting the scene of crime and talking to the villagers, senior officers, including western range inspector-general Banibrata Basu, concluded that the rebels' sole target was Kar.
'They did not touch any other villager. But we are confused about why they set his wife on fire,' said a district administration official, adding: 'There must be someone in the village who helped them identify the house.'
Two major strikes within five months point at a gross intelligence failure on the part of the state's police and the administration.
'After the twin strikes at Barikul in Bankura and Bogdoba in Bandwan in July, the intelligence agencies should have launched an all-out effort. The home department had asked the CID to monitor the Maoists' movement across the state, but the CID's efforts have drawn a blank,' an official admitted.