The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Murdered MLA’s cellphone recovered

Dhanbad, Aug. 24: Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation today claimed to have recovered the mobile phone of the late CPI(ML) legislator, Mahendra Singh, who was assassinated in January 2005, from a rebel, arrested from Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai.

CBI sources claimed that Jayant Mahto, alias Kunal Kishore alias Amit, had been given the mobile phone by Maoist leaders as a prize for his “good work” but Mahto was not aware that it belonged to the legislator. The blue Samsung phone was extensively used by Mahto after changing SIM cards but his luck ran out when he travelled to Chennai for medical treatment of his fast-losing eyesight due to splinter injuries received during an “armed action”.

It is not clear if the phone gave him away but Bokaro police claimed the rebel had confessed receiving it at a “party” to celebrate the successful assassination of the CPI(ML) legislator from Bagodar in Giridih, who was opposing Maoist activities. Mahto is also learnt to have claimed that the legislator was gunned down by sharp-shooters from Andhra Pradesh, helped by over a dozen rebels from Jharkhand.

Dhanbad police claim Mahto was accompanied by Shankar Mohali and Pramod Kumar alias Netaji to Chennai. But while Netaji managed to give the police a slip at Chennai, both Mahto and Mohali were taken into custody. They were first flown to Calcutta and then driven down to Bokaro and interrogated at the CRPF camp.

CBI’s Lucknow branch, which has been inquiring into Mahendra Singh’s assassination, today took the rebel on 10 days’ police remand. In the background of what he had disclosed to the police, said CBI sources, his deposition could be valuable for unravelling the murder mystery.

The mobile phone, they said, is a crucial piece of evidence to prove Maoist involvement in the legislator’s killing. While the CBI had claimed in the past that the MLA was eliminated by Maoists, this is the first time the claim has acquired some credibility and made with conviction.

The laptop and mobile phone, recovered from Mahto, are also expected to reveal several clues and names of people who have been helping the rebels.

The rebel, they claimed, had named Pramod and one Ashutoshda as the main conspirators behind the MLA’s murder. It was the latter, he claimed, who had handed over the phone to Mahto.

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