Mathabhanga/Siliguri, Aug. 31: Police today gunned down two Kamtapur Liberation Organisation militants involved in the Dhupguri strike in an encounter at Beltali, a village near Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar.
Haripada Roy, alias David Barua, and Jogesh Roy, alias Kalyan Singha, were killed as they were trying to sneak past a police cordon around the village with a group of rebels.
The success of the encounter has come as a face-saver for the state police, particularly its top brass in north Bengal, on the eve of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s visit. The slain militants were prime suspects in the August 17 assault on the CPM office in Dhupguri. Five workers were killed in that attack, including Jalpaiguri district secretariat member Gopal Chaki.
The pre-dawn shootout comes close on the heels of the encounter on Wednesday, when police shot Rohini Adhikary, a self-styled commander of the KLO’s Peping camp in Bhutan.
Mathabhanga police, led by the subdivisional police officer, cordoned off Beltali, about 3 km from Mathabhanga town, after a tip-off that KLO militant Jogesh Roy was moving around with a group of five to six rebels near the village.
“We had information that the group would probably take shelter in hardcore KLO ultra Jogesh Roy’s house. Late last night we cordoned off the village and mounted a search operation to flush out the militants,” superintendent of police, Cooch Behar, Praveen Kumar said.
“Around 2.45 in the morning, a police team on the outer ring of the Cooch Behar-Mathabhanga state highway near Satai More spotted a group of six-seven militants trying to cross the road. On being challenged, the militants opened fire from automatic weapons.
While two militants were killed in retaliatory fire by the police, the others managed to flee. The militants are believed to have headed north towards Gokhsadanga and Falakata,” the police official added.
Kumar said initially they did not know the identity of the dead militants. “Confirmation from our Jalpaiguri counterparts revealed that we had indeed gunned down two top-notch KLO militants. Both were members of the KLO action squad, which took part in the Dhupguri strike.”
This afternoon, at a gathering in Calcutta, Bhattacharjee underlined the need for taking the army’s help. “There have been links among the KLO, the Ulfa and the ISI and the combination is running 11 camps in Dhupguri and Kumargram in north Bengal. It might be difficult for the state government alone to dismantle these camps without help from the army.”