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Maoist killed, family sighs in disbelief S
entry duty for bosses fatal

Ghritakham, June 28: Kamal Mahato was a village defence squad member asked to guard his Maoist bosses while they camped on the edge of a forest near Jhargram, police said today.

He was the lone rebel killed in the encounter with the security forces outside Ghritakham village early yesterday.

His widow Jayanti sat stone-faced in their small mud house this morning, watching her two sons play in the courtyard with other children.

Jayanti, 28, said she could not shed a tear because of her sons — Susanta, 7, and Basanta, 4. They didn’t know yet that their father was dead.

“See how my children are playing. See how happy they are. How can I rob them of that by crying? I will have to live the rest of my life with them,” Jayanti said, almost choking but in control.

Kamal had left home after dinner on Saturday evening, like he had been doing the past few days. “I knew my husband was acquainted with some of the Maoists. But I didn’t know the extent of his association. He had been leaving home after dinner and returning in the morning. I had no idea what he was doing,” Jayanti said.

Her heart skipped a beat when she heard gunfire outside the village yesterday. “I knew a battle had started between the police and the Maobadi but I did not know my husband was there. We woke up to the thud of police boots in the village. I became scared as the day wore on because my husband did not return,” she said.

Kamal’s elder brother Babulal, 36, a former CPM gram panchayat member, enquired at every possible place about his sibling but no one seemed to know where he was. “Even when we heard about the death of a Maoist, it did not strike us that he could be my husb- and,” said Jayanti.

Then some TV channels showed the body and the word spread. Babulal went to Jhargram today and identified it.

Kamal’s mother Durga, 65, finds it difficult to believe that her younger son worked for the guerrillas. “He used to till our two-bigha plot,” she said.

Babulal earns Rs 4,000 a month working under the Sarva Siksha Abhijan project. His job is to monitor the midday meal scheme in schools and dropout rates.

Other villagers said the Maoists had been staying in a field 500 metres from Ghritakham since Tuesday. “They used to make us march with them and shout slogans demanding the withdrawal of the forces and the release of Chhatradhar Mahato. They had threatened to kill us if we failed to join them,” a man said.

Jhargram superintendent of police Praveen Tripathi said: “Kamal had five more village youths with him last night.” Their job was to look out for approaching police teams.

Kamal, Tripathi added, had earlier helped the Maoists abduct and kill three villagers who had been branded police informers.

Susanta realised his father was no more when he saw the body being brought down from a Matador van tonight. He ran towards it, took a hard look and broke down. Jayanti’s dam burst.

Many of the young villagers who had fled fearing police harassment yesterday returned today. But they looked at outsiders with suspicion.

Posters put up by the Maoist-trained village defence squad demanding the withdrawal of the joint forces from Jungle Mahal and urging villagers not to give their land to the Jindals for their factory were wiped clean off the walls today. “The police had entered only those houses that had the writings on them,” said a villager.

The Jindals are planning a steel plant in Salboni, 70km away. They have got the land they want.

Murder: Suspected Maoists last night shot dead a former CPM worker in Bankura’s Sarenga. Kiriti Duley, 42, was cycling home after selling sal leaves when he was attacked.

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