Malda, Jan. 6: Senior police and intelligence officials in Malda today said they could confirm that known KLO leader Malkhan Singh had planned the shooting targeting a bus in Malda district on December 27 and had himself fired 11 rounds from an AK 47 rifle.
“Based on information gathered from arrested KLO militant Chhoton Roy, KPP leaders Falen Burman and Subhash Burman and other sources, we have cracked the case and can confirm that KLO militants, including Malkhan Singh, were behind the attack,” said Kalyan Mukherjee, the superintendent of police of Malda, today. Malkhan, though not a member of the KLO central committee, is the key leader in north Bengal for the outfit that wants a separate Kamtapur state.
“Six persons were involved in the attack and had been to the spot on two motorcycles. They had organised the attack to create panic and terror. Malkhan Singh himself was present at the spot along with some other KLO militants,” Mukherjee said.
On the night of December 27, a day after a blast in Jalpaiguri town that killed six people, bullets were fired at a private bus in Malda’s Pakuahat.
Pakuahat is in Bamungola, a known KLO belt. As the attack happened in a KLO zone and a day after the explosion in Jalpaiguri for which the KLO was suspected, the suspicion of the bus shooting also fell on the outfit.
The Malda police chief said today: “Apart from firing at the private bus in Pakuahat, the militant outfit had planned some more subversive activities in the district. Those plans, however, have been foiled because of the alertness and prompt steps of the district police.”
Intelligence officers investigating the case said Chhoton Roy, the KLO militant arrested last week, had spilled the beans on the shooting during interrogation. According to the intelligence officers, Roy said he was himself riding one of the two bikes with Malkhan and another militant as pillion. “It was Malkhan who was carrying an AK 47 and fired 11 rounds, targeting the bus. Kumud Roy, a KLO militant and an aide to Malkhan, was riding the other motorcycle with two others on pillion. He was carrying a 9mm pistol and fired five rounds,” an intelligence officer said.
Of the six involved in the firing, the police have arrested Falen and Chhoton and have named Malkhan and Kumud. They are, however, not named the remaining two persons.
Malkhan had attempted to escape into Bangladesh, the investigating officer said. “However, because of tension beyond the border, the guards are alert on both sides. This is hindering him from crossing over. We have passed an alert across the district so that he cannot get out of Malda district,” the officer said.
“Yesterday, we had a tip-off that he was hiding at Sirshi-Kalaibari village in Habibpur block close to the India-Bangladesh border. Raids were conducted but he could not be caught.”
During investigation, the police said they came to know that the attack on the bus was planned at Falen Burman’s house in Gazole, on the evening of December 26, around the same time when the IED, explosion happened in Jalpaiguri.
“At the meeting, it was decided to fire at the private bus in Kalipukur (in Pakuahat), which is a rural area and gets deserted in the evenings,” an officer said.