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Cops snare Bengal Maoist quartet
Kanchan. File picture

Calcutta, Dec. 4: Police have arrested four top state leaders of the CPI (Maoist) since last evening, including its Bengal chief Sudip Chongdar alias Kanchan, in the force’s biggest single success against the rebels in the state.

Maoist sources accepted the arrests would “weaken the organisation” because the quartet’s main task was to build the rebel base in Bengal by recruiting the youth, a job that required them to frequent Calcutta and led to their capture.

Officers said Kanchan, 49, was caught along with fellow state committee members Anil Ghosh alias Ajitda and Barun Sur alias Bidyut while they were boarding a bus in the city’s Maidan area last evening. With them was an ordinary party member, Bimal Mullick, who too was arrested.

Following their interrogation, a woman state committee member, Kalpana Maity alias Anu, was picked up from Howrah station this morning.

Officers said Kanchan, the state committee secretary, and the three other leaders had come to the city to hold a meeting yesterday. But the police had been monitoring their movements for the past fortnight by tapping the phones of Kanchan’s aides.

“All those arrested would frequently visit Calcutta and stay at rented houses. They would hire rooms to stock seditious material,” said senior officer Rajeev Kumar.

The strength of the Maoists’ state committee has now been reduced to seven from 14 since 2008, officers claimed. The other committee members held in the past two years are Somen (nabbed from Barasat), Telugu Deepak (from Behala) and Narayan Sanyal (from Amtala, South 24-Parganas). Kanchan had taken charge after Somen, the then state secretary, was arrested in 2008.

The four arrested overnight were “vital operatives”, a Maoist source told The Telegraph. “They used to visit various parts of the state, hold meetings and rally people round our cause and motivate them. They are very persuasive. All four had been key to building our Lalgarh base in a short time.”

He said Kalpana was “very close” to the wife of Chhatradhar Mahato’s brother Sashadhar, who oversees the rebel operations in Lalgarh and Purulia.

All five were produced in the Bankshall court today and remanded in police custody for 10 days. They have been charged with criminal conspiracy, waging war against the state and illegal arms possession, but not yet booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Kanchan, a BSc in mathematics and resident of Garbeta, West Midnapore, had been arrested in 2001 from Ghatshila when he was a People’s War member and was jailed for two years. He returned home and began a retail business in vegetables before disappearing in 2005.

The Maoist source said it was Kanchan who had issued the statement claiming responsibility for the attack on the chief minister’s convoy in November 2008. “He was instrumental in broadening the party’s base and in planning strategies.”

In city-wide searches after the arrests, the police seized about 100 AK-47 bullets, explosive circuits, timer-based explosives, CDs, laptops, mobile chargers, antennas and Maoist literature. Late tonight, raids were on across North and South 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly.

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