Calcutta/Midnapore, Nov. 26: The rape of a young tribal woman and police’s refusal to accept her father’s complaint had triggered Thursday’s Maoist assault in Bengal’s Belpahari, a senior police officer said today.
A labour contractor working on the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana had allegedly raped the 20-year-old on the night of November 19.
Her parents went to an India Reserve Battalion camp to lodge a complaint the next day. Officer-in-charge Nirmalendu Koley refused to register it. “The parents were not only shown the door, but even roughed up by some of the jawans. Enraged, the family approached the Maoists,” the officer said.
Three days later, some 70 Maoists led by a woman attacked the camp and set ablaze vehicles that were part of the showpiece road scheme.
As the guerrillas fired, the heavily armed paramilitary jawans cowered inside.
Koley has been suspended. The police said he was facing action for hiding in the face of the attack.
“We have come to know that Koley had been cowering inside the camp along with around 75 jawans at the time of the attack. He has been placed under suspension for his role,” state armed police director-general Rajat Majumdar said tonight.
Armed police inspector-general R.S. Rawat conducted a probe into the incident and submitted his report to the DG yesterday.
Although paramilitary jawans man the Chhurimara camp, about 250 km from Calcutta, they are under the supervision of a police inspector.
“During the investigation, we spoke to labourers working on the Prime Minister’s project. A probe is on to trace the contractor,” an officer working on the case said.
The Maoists, he said, avenged the police inaction with the attack led by the “tall young woman”.
The rebels split into two groups. One torched eight trucks and pay-loaders being used to build the road. The other surrounded the camp and challenged the jawans to a fight.
But no one responded. The jawans armed with Insas and AK-47 rifles hid inside the camp for the two hours that the rebels kept firing.
The West Midnapore district police had earlier said that the rebels had struck because the road would make patrolling easier. Superintendent R. Rajsekharan also said the jawans sought permission to step out and retaliate, but they were not given the green light because they could have walked into a booby trap.
“It is unthinkable. They are equipped with the best of weapons,” an investigating officer said.
“Koley has failed to give a satisfactory explanation of his action. It appears that he took fright realising that the rebels had come to take revenge for his behaviour towards the tribal family. Stern action will be taken against him.”