Midnapore, May 25: Suspected Maoists fired at a newspaper distributor and his cousin at a town near Jhargram today, seriously injuring the two.
Debashis Banerjee, 50, a social worker and former CPM branch committee member in West Midnapores Manikpara town, took two bullets in his back and one in his right leg. His cousin Prasanta, 52, was hit in his right leg and right arm.
Both of them managed to crawl behind their shop and fell unconscious, an eyewitness said. The group of five Maoists escaped on their two motorcycles after some residents gathered at the place, hearing the gunshots. The rebels also took away Debashiss bike.
Jhargram superintendent of police Praveen Tripathi said the Maoists had tried to kill Debashis because they want to create panic in the area so that it becomes easier for them to extort money. He, however, added that the exact motive was still being probed.
A police officer said the rebels had targeted only Debashis. Prasanta got hit when he tried to save his cousin.
Preliminary investigations reveal that the attack was carried out by a rebel squad from the jungles of Lodhashuli (about 10km from the attack spot), Tripathi said.
Villagers took the injured to Midnapore Medical College and Hospital from where Debashis was referred to Calcuttas SSKM hospital.
The bullets that hit Debashis in the back have gone deep and require surgery, said Parthapratim Pradhan, the medical superintendent of the Midnapore hospital.
A relative of Debashis, who requested anonymity, said the newspaper distributor quit the CPM about a year ago, fearing an attack by the Maoists. He had even issued leaflets in Manikpara informing the residents about his decision.
We advised him to move elsewhere but he did not because he was a social worker and secretary of an orphanage for girls in the town, the relative said.