Midnapore, Sept. 20: Suspected Maoists today shot dead a West Midnapore Trinamul Congress leader who was part of an anti-rebel forum backed by the party, barely a month after the murder of a colleague attached to the resistance group.
Lalmohan Mahato was walking to his coaching centre in Pukuria, about 20km from Jhargram, when five masked men on two motorcycles stopped him and fired at point-blank range. He died on the spot.
The attackers left posters beside Lalmohan’s body saying he was given the “extreme punishment” for his role in setting up bhairab vahini, a reference to the anti-rebel Jana Jagaran Mancha that is backed by Trinamul. The gang then sped away towards the Jharkhand border, 15km away.
Jhargram police chief Gaurav Mishra said: “We believe that the murder was the handiwork of the Maoists.”
“Lalmohan was walking from his home to the coaching centre when the five masked men fired at him. Lalmohan was hit in his head and right hand,” a police officer said. The distance from his home to the coaching centre is about 100 metres.
On August 24, the rebels had gunned down Trinamul activist Rabindranath Mishra in nearby Dhangri. Mishra too was a leader of the Mancha.
One of Lalmohan’s neighbours said: “I saw him walking towards his coaching centre around 6.20am. I was brushing my teeth and Lalmohanda waved at me. A few moments later, two motorcycles came and stopped before him. I then heard gunshots.”
Khetramohan, another Pukuria resident, said: “We ran to the place where Lalmohanda had collapsed. We found him lying in a pool of blood.”
Police sources said a meeting to condole Mishra’s death in Pukuria last week could have provoked the attack.
“Local Trinamul workers have been setting up units of the Mancha in Jungle Mahal areas like Dhangri to organise tribals against the rebels since early August. Lalmohan had taken the lead in setting up a unit of the Mancha in Pukuria village,” another police officer said.
Angry villagers prevented the joint forces that reached the village around 7.30am from taking away Lalmohan’s body.
“We had urged the police to set up a camp in the village after Rabindranath Mishra was killed but they did not pay heed. The joint forces are doing nothing to prevent Maoist attacks on villagers,” said a Pukuria resident.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee described Lalmohan’s killers as “cowards”. “Those who killed him are cowards.… Those who don’t want schools, jobs and development are indulging in such acts. (The process of starting) negotiations are on and they will go on. But I don’t believe in the politics of murder,” she told STAR Ananda.
Mamata said the Jayanta squad was responsible for the murder. “The Jayanta squad is engaged in such killings. Arms earlier held by the CPM’s harmads have landed in the hands of the so-called Maoists,” she said. She said Lalmohan’s family would get Rs 5 lakh as compensation.
Union minister Mukul Roy will visit Pukuria on September 24.