Midnapore, July 12: Suspected Maoists last night shot dead two villagers, including a gram panchayat pradhan, in West Midnapore.
The bullet-riddled bodies of Soumen Bhakat, 33, the chief of Kenddangri gram panchayat, and Kamal Mahato, 56, were found inside Sirshi forest, 4km from their home in Jamboni’s Balidiha village.
A villager said the Maoists had demanded Rs 5 lakh from Soumen recently but the panchayat chief had told the rebels he could not pay more than Rs 50,000.
Police said although no rebel posters were found near the bodies, “several spent AK-47 cartridges were lying at the spot”. “Here, only the joint forces and the Maoists use AK-47 rifles. Also, the Maoists have a strong presence in the area,” Mukesh Kumar, the additional superintendent of police (operations), said.
Sources said suspected Maoists had kidnapped Soumen and Kamal when they were returning from Jhargram town yesterday. “Soumen was returning in his motorcycle and he gave Kamal a lift as they stay in the same village,” a police source said.
Soumen had distanced himself from the CPM following differences. He won the 2008 panchayat polls as an Independent.