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Assam link in Maoist catch

Midnapore, Feb. 2: Asim Mahato, one of the suspected Maoists picked up from the guesthouse of the Midnapore municipality on Monday, had been arrested in Assam last year on the charge of possessing illegal arms.

A police officer in West Midnapore said it was being probed whether Asim used to procure arms from militant outfits in Assam and sell them to Maoists in Jungle Mahal. The officer said Asim had probably been arrested from Assam’s Mangaldai in August.

West Midnapore police chief Manoj Verma said “we had information that Asim had been arrested under the arms act”. He said Asim had confessed the fact during interrogation. “He had returned to West Midnapore after getting bail in that case. We are investigating whether Asim was involved in any racket in Assam of supplying arms to Maoists in Bengal,” Verma said.

The police are also investigating whether Asim had any links with Kanchan Debsingha, a suspected Maoist squad member who too had been arrested last year in Assam on charges similar to Asim’s. Kanchan was arrested by West Midnapore police on November 9 last year from Salboni during a visit to the state after getting bail in Assam.

Kanchan was allegedly travelling with Nepal Singh, Trinamul’s Salboni unit chief, when the police stopped the car and arrested him. The car had purportedly been hired by Singh. Kanchan is now lodged in Midnapore central jail.

Police sources said Kanchan, like Asim, had stayed at the Midnapore municipality guesthouse. The municipality is run by Trinamul with the Congress’s help. Trinamul has claimed the guesthouse doubles as a “relief camp” for party supporters who had fled their homes because of “the CPM’s atrocities”.

West Midnapore police chief Verma said Kanchan used to “buy arms from various places and supply them to Maoist guerrillas in Jungle Mahal”.

A police officer said Maoists had “established contacts” with militants in Assam. “The Maoists procure arms from these militants against large sums of money. We are trying to find out whether Asim and Kanchan had links with any of the militant outfits,” the officer said.

Rebels picked up

Three suspected Maoist action squad members were arrested last night from a house in Bankura’s Barikul where they were holding a meeting.

The police said Gudel Soren, 25, Srinath Murmu, 23, and Siddhartha Pal, 22, were wanted in several cases. “They did not offer any resistance at the time of their arrest,” district police chief Pranab Kumar said.

The police said Pal and Bhairav Mandi, a Maoist leader arrested in November last year, had tried to murder a local CPM leader. The arrested trio were remanded in seven days’ police custody.

Pal’s parents, however, claimed he was not a Maoist. They said the police broke open the door of their house last night and took him away.

Another suspected Maoist was arrested from Jhargram today. The police said Tapan Mudi was involved in the murder of a CPM leader and was an aide of rebel leader Sashadhar Mahato.

A revolver, cartridges, a motorcycle and a cellphone were seized from Mudi.

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