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Kishan was murdered by govt: Abhishek

Abhishek at the Belpahari rally. Picture by Saikat Santra

Calcutta, July 17: Trinamul MP Abhishek Banerjee today said the state government had "murdered" Maoist leader Kishan, the choice of word embarrassing the administration and prompting the party to attribute the statements to the "exuberance of youth".

The government has so far maintained that Kishan was killed in an encounter after the joint security forces exhausted all means to draw him out of a forest in West Midnapore's Burisole in November 2011 and surrender.

" Aagey Jungle Mahal-e pratidin laash porto.... Bigoto char bochhorey Jungle Mahal-e shudhumatro Kishanji nihoto hoyechhey. Mamata Banerjee sarkar Kishanji-k hatya korey promaan korey diyechhey je agami dine manush-i shesh katha bolbe (Previously, people used to die in Jungle Mahal daily.... In the past four years, only Kishan has been killed in Jungle Mahal. The Mamata Banerjee government, by murdering Kishan, has proven that in the future, the people will have the last word)," the first-time MP and the chief minister's nephew said at a rally in West Midnapore's Belpahari.

A senior Trinamul leader said " bhaipo" (the Bengali word for nephew and Abhishek's nickname in the party) had "virtually called his aunt a murderer", an allegation Maoist sympathisers have made against Mamata several times. "Not just that, he went to the extent of saying it was a murder by the government. This is such a loss of face," the leader added.

A Trinamul source said Mamata was "extremely peeved" about Abhishek's comments. "She said Abhishek had to take responsibility for what he has said," the source said.

Asked to react on Abhishek's comments, Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee pointed to the "exuberance of youth".

"Abhishek is very, very young. Taarunyer aabege hoyto kichhu ekta boleychhe (Maybe he has said something in the exuberance of youth). One should not try to draw political conclusions from this," he said.

Speaking for the first time on Kishan's death, Mamata had said on November 27 last year that the security forces had waited for three days expecting him and the other Maoists allegedly accompanying him to surrender. "Safe passage was offered to them if they surrendered. Announcements were made on the megaphone. But they didn't listen. If the police hadn't acted as they did, at least 500 villagers would've lost their lives. They fired around 1,000 rounds at the police," Mamata had said at a rally in Behala.

Several Maoist sympathisers had, however, alleged that Kishan was captured, tortured and killed. A section of forensic experts who had examined the body had told this newspaper that Kishan had taken two bullets to the right of his chest and one to the left, and a fourth to his chin after he slumped to the ground. The bullet wounds, the experts had said, indicated that Kishan fell to close-range target firing.

CPM politburo member Mohammad Salim today demanded a statement from the chief minister. "A government can never murder a person.... A probe should be launched by the Centre into this," he said.

Ranjit Sur, the vice-president of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights, expressed his "gratitude" to Abhishek for "finally" admitting to the "truth" of Kishan's murder. "We have maintained that Kishan was murdered in the garb of a fake encounter. The second-in-command in the ruling party admitted it today," Sur said.

Abhishek had landed the party in trouble earlier too by threatening to "gouge out eyes" and "sever limbs" of those who "dared" to challenge Trinamul.

A minister said the party was putting its reputation "on the line" in a bid to project Abhishek as the No. 2 despite his "political immaturity".

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