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Calcutta link to Maoist behind bandh

Posted by Admin on August 26, 2009

26RanTruck6.jpg One of the five trucks that was set on fire by Maoist rebels on Tuesday. Picture by Prashant Mitra

Aug. 25: The two Maoist leaders whose arrest has triggered a violent bandh in several eastern states hail from Bengal, police said today, announcing a sequence that did not tally with events on the ground.

The duo — Amitabh Bagchi, a CPI (Maoist) politburo member and secretary of the central military commission of the outfit, and Tauhid Mulla, a Bengal state committee member — are from Shyampukur in Calcutta and Murshidabad, respectively, the police said.

They were arrested last night at Ranchi railway station on their way back from Bengal, Jharkhand police said today. However, the 48-hour Maoist bandh in five states to force the police to produce the two in court, fearing encounter deaths, was announced and had begun on Monday morning itself, several hours before the purported evening arrests.

The Maoists have been claiming that two leaders — the alias of Bagchi matched — were arrested on August 19. Central security sources had told The Telegraph on Monday that Bagchi and another senior leader were arrested last week without specifying a date.

Asked about the incongruity in the bandh preceding the arrests — the reason for the Maoist protest — a senior Jharkhand police officer said: “We can’t answer all questions.”

The two were today produced in court which remanded them in six days’ police custody. The Maoists had enforced a bandh in parts of Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar and Chhattisgarh demanding that the police make public the arrests.

On the second day of the bandh today, the Maoists torched two railway stations in Orissa and Bihar, and blew up a mobile phone tower and burned five supply trucks in Jharkhand.

In Bihar’s Gaya district, around 400 Maoists took hostage the stationmaster of Ismailpur railway station after setting the facility ablaze. The Maoists later freed the stationmaster.

According to Bengal police sources, the rebels had assigned Mulla to “revitalise” the Maoists network in Nadia, Murshidabad and Burdwan.

While the Maoists wanted to re-establish their links in Murshidabad and Nadia, where it had suffered reverses in 2007 following the arrest of 12 activists, it wanted to make fresh inroads into Burdwan, especially in the troubled Mangalkot, the police said.

“Before 2007, the Maoists were making repeated strikes in CPM strongholds in Nadia and Murshidabad, killing at least five CPM leaders,” a police officer said. “But after the CID struck here and arrested a dozen Maoists, including local leaders like Chandi Sarkar and Zakir Hussain, the Maoist presence in the two districts virtually crumbled.”

However, after the recent successful incursions into Lalgarh, the Maoists decided to regroup in these two districts, the police said. Mangalkot was also added to the list as the political clashes there offered the Maoists an opening to fish in troubled waters, the police sources claimed.

Mulla was a natural choice as he is familiar with the three districts. He was asked to make a recce of the area before returning to Jharkhand to place his views on the situation. In early and mid-August, Mulla spent many days travelling through the three districts, visiting old contacts and trying to develop new ones, the police said.

Bagchi, who is also known as Anil and used to live in Shivdas Bhaduri Lane under Shyampukur police station, had returned to Bengal to confer with Maoist leader Kishanji who is said to be camping in Lalgarh or on its outskirts.

“Bagchi is the secretary of the central military commission of the Maoists,” an officer said. “So it is natural that Bagchi might want to confer with his boss.”

Bagchi met Kishanji over three days in Lalgarh before deciding to return to Jharkhand. Bengal police claimed that the arrests were possible because they had tipped off their Jharkhand counterparts. Top

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