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Ex-aides betrayed rebel
- Bikram tells police about Maoist leaders

July 18: Maoist guerrilla squad leader, Bikram who was arrested in Purulia on Monday, was “betrayed” by people once close to him but had of late developed contact in Trinamul, police sources said today.

A senior police officer said Bikram’s mentor Kishan too was trapped and gunned down near Jhargram last November on the basis of tip-offs from Maoists who, unknown to their comrades, had switched allegiance to Trinamul.

On Monday night, acting on “information” from other such Maoists, a 200-strong police team surrounded Biramdi railway station, on the foothills of the Ayodhya Hills, and arrested Bikram when he came to meet a contact.

“We followed the modus operandi we had adopted to hunt down Kishan,” an officer said. “After the new government came to power last year, many Maoists joined Trinamul. Many other rebels are contemplating to do the same. These people have become a rich source of information for us.”

According to police officers, “hardcore” Maoist Aghor Hembram, who switched over to Trinamul last year with many of his aides, was an “extremely useful” source of information on Maoists and their whereabouts.

“Hembram knows the terrain of Purulia’s Maoist-dominated areas. He has been speaking to Maoists in villages about the futility of continuing the armed movement,” an officer said. “We get information on Maoist leaders from these people.”

“Two Maoists who are considering joining Trinamul informed us that Bikram would come to the railway station,” the officer said.

Hembram identified Bikram, 34, at the Purulia police lines on Monday night.

Bikram, an IIT Kharagpur dropout who led an 80-strong armed squad in Purulia, was conducting a recruitment drive.

Sources said the police were “intensively interrogating” Bikram to know the whereabouts of some of his associates.

“He is co-operating with the police. He has told us the names of several functionaries and contacts in Maoist strongholds in Purulia and the border areas of Jharkhand, Odisha and Bengal,” an officer said.

The sources said the police would take Bikram to the Ayodhya Hills soon to locate Maoist hideouts and camps in the forests.

“We want him to help us identify and track down rebel squad members in the district. We know some are sick and hiding in the jungles. Besides arresting them we want to seize the arms and weapons they had snatched from the police,” a source said.