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Attack suspicion after KLO calls strike

Jan. 8: The Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) has called a 24-hour strike in all six districts of north Bengal on January 12 and police suspect the outfit could carry out attacks to scare people to make the strike successful.

“We are apprehensive that the outfit might try to carry out some more subversive activities in north Bengal,” a senior police officer said in Siliguri.

“The press releases and statements issued by Kailash Koch, the self-styled general secretary of the KLO are authentic. We are working on every bit and piece of information as the outfit has called a strike throughout north Bengal and some parts of Assam on January 12,” the officer said.

The press release issued by Koch announced the strike and also criticised the arrests of Joymoti Roy and Santosh Roy, the sister and brother-in-law of KLO deputy commander-in-chief Tarun Thapa. The letter warned that the KLO “would not sit idle” if police continued to arrest innocent Kamtapuri people.

The strike on January 12, Koch said, was called to protest the arrests of Joymoti, Santosh and other “innocent” Kamtapuris.

Joymoti and Santosh were arrested at Salsalabari in Alipurduar.

The release mentioned that the strike would be in force from 5am on January 12 till 5am the next day.

“The response by the KLO in the form of a statement… mentioning of the names of Joymoti Roy and Santosh Roy… indicates that our investigation is on right path,” the officer said.

“We have specific information that the duo has links with Tarun and the outfit and they used to work as the outfit’s local contacts.”

But the officer also said that police vigil alone would not stop the KLO from carrying out subversive activities.

Except for Malkhan Singh who is believed to be hiding in Malda district, the top KLO leadership is said to be in the Northeast and in Nepal.

“Unlike other law and order problems, where the troublemakers hide in a specific territory, these militants are in the Northeast and Nepal, which has posed a challenge for us. There is no other way to stop this menace, except by arresting them,” the officer said.

On December 26, a blast in Jalpaiguri town, suspected to be the handiwork of the KLO, killed six persons. December 26 is the KLO martyr’s day.

The next day, shots were fired at a bus in Malda’s Bamungola, a KLO belt.

The police in Malda recently said that KLO leader Malkhan Singh fired at the bus from his AK-47 rifle.

The police are also investigating the emergence of the Kamtapur Protection Force (KPF), a front suspected to have been floated by the KLO to extort money from businessmen.

The KPF has sent letters to traders in Alipurduar, demanding money to the tune of several lakhs.

“The outfit surely has links with the KLO…. There is a hunch that a portion of the money collected by the KPF is being routed to the KLO,” the officer said.

Sources in intelligence agencies said the KLO attacks and extortions were handled by the old militants, such as Tom Adhikary, Tarun Thapa, Nityananda Sarkar and Pradip Roy.

Jawed Shamim, the inspector-general of police, north Bengal, said investigations were on and the police were on alert.

“We are mobilising our resources to gather more information about plans of the outfit. Our officers are aware about the strike and are taking all possible measures,” Shamim said.