(From top) Choton Roy in Malda, and Santosh Roy and Joymoti Roy in Jalpaiguri on Friday. Pictures by Surajit Roy and Biplab Basak
Jan. 3: Police have arrested an alleged KLO militant who was present at the spot when a passenger bus came under fire in Malda’s Bamungola on December 27 and also picked up other two persons in connection with the blast in Jalpaiguri.
Choton Roy, 20, a close aide to KLO militant Malkhan Singh, was arrested from an abandoned house near a crematorium in Mehedipur, Gajole, in Malda last night. The police said the duo were present when the bus came under fire at Bamungola.
At Salsalabari in Alipurduar subdivision, Joymoti Roy and Santosh Roy were arrested in connection with the Jalpaiguri blast. Joymoti is the sister of Narayan Roy alias Tarun Thapa, the self-styled deputy-commander-in-chief of KLO. Santosh is the husband of Tarun’s another sister.
The police claim that Tarun had masterminded the blast that killed six persons at Bajrabari in Jalpaiguri on December 26.
“We had information that Choton Roy, a close aide to Malkhan Singh, was involved in the attack on the private bus. Accordingly, we started a search for him and arrested him from an abandoned house in Mehedipur yesterday,” said Kalyan Mukherjee, the superintendent of police of Malda.
According to him, a joint team of policemen from Habibpur and Gajole arrested Choton.
“It was Choton’s motorcycle which Malkhan uses for his movement. Raids are on across Malda to catch Malkhan. Choton was also involved in extortion. He was present at the spot along with Malkhan when the bus came under firing,” said the police chief.
Choton is the third person to be picked up for the firing on the bus that injured four persons.
Mukherjee had earlier claimed that on December 26, a meeting had been held in the house of Falen Burman, an arrested KPP leader, at Jajail in Gajole block. Malkhan was present along with some of his cohorts at the meeting and a plot was hatched to attack a bus to spread panic across Malda district.
Malkhan is a central committee member of the KLO and is the principal leader of the militant outfit to carry out subversive activities in Malda district.
Choton was produced in the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Malda today and remanded in police custody for eight days.
The Jalpaiguri police said Santosh was a trained KLO militant of the fourth batch.
“He is the husband of Tarun’s elder sister Nirubala and used to stay in Salsalabari. Joymoti, who is unmarried, is Tarun’s younger sister and she was also staying with Nirubala. Both Santosh and Joymoti have links with Tarun and KLO. We have also seized some documents from Santosh’s home,” said a police source.
The investigators said total five persons, including Santosh and Joymoti, had been held in connection with the Jalpaiguri explosion.
“Tarun had planned the blast in Jalpaiguri to make the KLO’s presence felt in the region. He and Nityananda Roy, who is also from Jalpaiguri district, had been assigned the task of spreading terror in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts. Although Tarun is the mastermind, his sister and brother-in-law used to work for him. That is why we have arrested both of them,” said an officer associated with the probe into the explosion.
Sources said there was evidence to show that Santosh and Joymoti had talked to Tarun over cellphone.
Joymoti runs a small eatery in Salsalabari in front of her sister’s home, while Santosh does petty business at Bholardabri in Alipurduar, said the sources. Tarun hails from Manthani village near Belakoba under Rajganj block in Jalpaiguri.
Both Tarun and Santosh had been arrested during Operation Flushout carried by the Bhutan army in 2003. They were released from jail in 2009.
Akash Magharia, the additional superintendent of police, Alipurduar, said Santosh and Joymoti had been taken to Jalpaiguri for investigation. The duo were remanded in police custody for 10 days by the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Jalpaiguri.
While being taken to the court, Santosh told journalists that he was no longer associated with the KLO. “It is true that I was with the KLO earlier. But ever since I came out of jail, I have severed all ties with the outfit. I do petty business to lead a life,” he said.
Joymoti said: “Tarun stayed at Manthani for about a year and disappeared in 2011. We do not have any connection with him since then.”