The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Suspicion falls on Andhra's most wanted
- Strike aimed at foiling raids

Calcutta, July 10: The strikes by suspected CPI (Maoist) rebels in Bankura and Purulia last night were plotted by Koteshwar Rao alias Kishanji, a top-level Maoist from Andhra Pradesh, according to sources.

Rao is the chief of the organisation's action squad, which operates in Jharkhand and Bengal.

The entire plan ' said to be in retaliation to the crackdown initiated by the state government a month-and-half ago ' was chalked out in Calcutta a fortnight ago at a meeting presided by Kishanji and politburo members of the organisation, the sources said.

'Both the operations were carried out by the core members ' both men and women ' of the organisation's action squad. The assassins, all in black trousers and shirts, were armed with sophisticated and semi-automatic weapons. The way they fired proves the killers are well-trained in pulling triggers,' said an official of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Chayan Mukherjee, additional director-general of police (law and order) said: 'He (Kishanji) is on the list of the most wanted Maoists. Though we have no specific information about his whereabouts, efforts are on to track him down.'

Police, however, agreed that Kishanji was a few steps ahead of them. 'There was no report from the officials of the Intelligence Branch (IB) who are deployed there. The IB has not even mentioned the names of the victims in their list of the Maoists' targets,' said an official of the CID's Special Operation Group, the wing specially formed to combat Naxalism in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.

At a meeting on June 3 in Calcutta, leaders of the CPI (Maoist) had adopted a resolution and threatened those who tipping off the police.

The official said the twin attack has proved it was not a false threat. 'While walking away, the assassins were shouting slogans describing their targets as police spies. They also warned villagers that all police informers would meet the same fate,' he said.

Earlier, Maoist leaders had also drawn up a hit list. Senior police officials, including an IPS officer, were among the targets.

'Besides, they selected the Lalgarh police station in Bankura as one of their immediate targets. They had a plan to attack the thana and kill police officers posted there sometime in the last week of June,' said another official working on the movements of the outfit. But Bankura police came to know about the plan.

'Similarly, the Maoists also kept a close watch on our movement. We carried out a massive search operation in Lalgarh jungle where the members of the action squad were supposed to meet. But they managed to escape a few hours before we rushed there,' said the official.

'It seems, the attackers targeted CPM leaders after their first plan ' attacking the Lalgarh police station ' did not work,' he added.

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