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Lalgarh: CPM leader Killed in shootout

Posted by Admin on September 17, 2009

Women and children in the huge march in Purulia

Women and children in the huge march in Purulia (File)

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Midnapore, Sept. 16: A CPM leader was killed last night in what was believed to be an encounter between Maoists and anti-rebel vigilantes in a West Midnapore village.

CPM leaders, however, said the party’s local committee member, Ajoy Patra, was dragged out of his house in Sheora village, about 20km from Lalgarh town, taken to a forest a kilometre away and shot dead. Police, who gave the time of the murder between 8pm and 10pm, said they were probing how Patra was killed.

Villagers of Kuturia, near which the encounter allegedly took place, gave a version different from the CPM’s. They said the 45-year-old leader, who had played a key role in building a resistance squad against the Maoists, was killed during a two-hour “shootout”. A bullet hit Patra in the chest.

Ajit Santra, a Kuturia resident, said Sheora and its neighbouring villages were dominated by the CPM. Party supporters, who were part of the resistance squad, had been keeping a watch on the forest for the past two days after a group of Maoists, most of them boys, shot dead CPM branch committee secretary Sambhu Mahato in nearby Burisole on Monday.

“Around 8pm, the Maoist guerrillas were seen entering the village. About 15 villagers armed with single-barrel guns and led by Patra engaged the Maoists till at least 10pm. When the bullets stopped, we discovered that Ajoyda had been killed,” said Ajit, a farmer.

Neither the police nor the CPM was ready to admit that Patra was killed in a shootout between the rebels and villagers. “If one has to admit that there was an encounter between the villagers and the Maoists, then they would have to explain how so many villagers came to have guns,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity.

District superintendent of police Manoj Verma said: “We have information that the Maoists had attacked Sheora village and Ajoy Patra was killed by them. The police have brought the body from a forest near his village. We are investigating into the exact cause behind his death.”

Dahareswar Sen, a district secretariat member of the CPM, said: “A group of Maoists went to Ajoy Patra’s house and called him out. When he opened the door and went out, he was dragged and taken to Kuturia forest a kilometre away. Then he was shot.”

Police van burnt

Maoists set ablaze a police van tonight at Kantapahari in West Midnapore. Around 9.15pm, the Maoists stopped the van, pulled out its driver and helper and set the vehicle on fire barely 6km from Lalgarh police station.

Superintendent of police Manoj Verma said the van was carrying building material from Midnapore to Kantapahari where a police camp is under construction.

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