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CPM leader held in Netai firing case

Burdwan, May 7: A CPM leader accused in the 2011 Netai firing case was arrested from Jharkhand’s Chandrapura yesterday, nine days after five party workers were picked up from Hyderabad in connection with the killings.

Anuj Pandey, a CPM zonal committee secretary who had in 2009 allegedly led party cadres to put up a stiff resistance against Maoists in Lalgarh, was arrested by the Bengal CID from a house where he had been staying for the past few months, sources said.

Pandey, whose Lalgarh home was burnt down by villagers allegedly led by Maoists in 2009, had been absconding since the Netai firing.

On January 7, 2011, nine villagers were killed when suspected CPM cadres opened fire from the two-storey house of party leader Rathin Dandapat, prompting Calcutta High Court to order a CBI probe the next month. Dandapat was arrested along with four other party workers from Hyderabad on April 28.

Asked about Pandey’s arrest, CID special superintendent Bharati Ghosh said: “He had been shuffling hideouts in Nellore, Hyderabad and Asansol.”

The officer added that the arrest was made following a tip-off the CID got a few days ago. “The area surrounding the place from where he was arrested is Maoist-infested. But I can’t say if he had any connection with the rebels,” Ghosh said.

The CID got a day’s remand for Pandey from the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Burdwan as the court in Jhargram, under whose jurisdiction Netai falls, closes at 2pm in summer. Pandey, in his fifties, will be produced in the Jhargram court tomorrow.

Former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee recently told a rally in West Midnapore that CPM cadres had committed a “grave mistake” in Netai.