A mob torches CPM leader Chandi Karan’s house in Binpur, adjoining Lalgarh. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
Lalgarh, June 17: Three CPM activists who were part of a “resistance group” formed by police for night patrol to keep Maoists at bay were gunned down today near Jhargram, almost 60km from the guerrillas’ Lalgarh stronghold.
Police said the trio had played an “active role” in helping them remove a roadblock put up by the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities on the way to Jhargram town.
“The Maoists backing the committee killed them for revenge,” West Midnapore superintendent of police Manoj Verma said today.
Abhijit Mahato, 20, a first-year college student, and Anil Mahato and Niladri Mahato, in their early 40s, were sitting at a tea stall near the crossing of Bombay Road and the path leading to Jhargram when five men armed with AK-47 rifles turned up on two motorcycles.
Abhijit was shot first. Anil and Niladri, who had begun to run, were chased down and shot point blank. The bikes disappeared with the men shouting “Maobad, zindabad”.
For 15 minutes, no one came near the bodies, afraid that the Maoists would appear again. They trooped to the pools of blood later and took the bodies to the subdivisional hospital.
“It is an audacious strike since it took place far from Lalgarh and at 7am, in broad daylight,” said a police officer. “It shows how far the reach of the Maoists has extended.”
The police had no doubt that the five were Maoists who came all the way from Lalgarh for the kill. “Villagers told us they went back towards Lal-garh through the dirt tracks in the jungles,” an officer said.
In Lalgarh, People’s Committee members and their Maoist bosses went on the rampage, ransacking homes of CPM leaders and torching them.
About a thousand people raided the house of Dharampur local committee secretary Dalim Pandey. The broke the furniture, put them in a pile outside the house and made a bonfire of it. Dalim and his family had fled their home last Friday. They are untraceable.
The palatial house of Dalim’s cousin Anuj, the party’s Lalgarh zonal secretary, was plundered two days ago.
Another group, this time accompanied by AK-47-wielding men, went to Belatikri local committee secretary Chandi Karan’s house in Binpur, adjoining Lalgarh, and carried out a similar exercise. The Karans are also in hiding.
A committee supporter, Subhas Mahato, said: “Chandi used to extort money from people and force them to support the CPM.”
A grocery run by Karan’s “right-hand man” Alok Rakshit was not spared either.
In Goaltore, 35km away, the rebels allegedly dragged away four CPM supporters, including a father, son and nephew. They are missing.
In Calcutta, chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti appealed to the Lalgarh villagers to resist being used as “human shields” by the Maoists.
“The Maoists are using innocent women and children as human shields in their war,” Chakrabarti said. “This is inhuman and dangerous. These villagers are not involved in the reign of terror unleashed (by the Maoists) there. They are not associated with it.”
Home secretary Ardhendu Sen and state police chief Sujit Sarkar, who met district offi-cials, returned to Calcutta in the evening to brief the chief minister.