Midnapore, Nov. 29: A series of arrests has yielded the first eyewitness accounts backing suggestions that Maoist leader Suchitra was injured in the gunbattle that killed Kishan.
The details given by a quack, Bhudeb Mahato, suggest Suchitra suffered injuries in her abdomen. After piecing together his account and that of two youths detained earlier, the West Midnapore police now suspect she could be hiding in a forest close to Jharkhand.
Bhudeb, who is in his late 50s, said he had given a woman an anti-tetanus injection and dressed her wounds, the police said. “Mahato said he had treated an injured woman a few minutes after last week’s encounter. He confirmed that the woman had injuries on her right hand and abdomen. We suspect a bullet got lodged in Suchitra’s abdomen after grazing her hand,” said a CID officer.
Mahato said he did not know that the injured woman was Maoist Suchitra but the police believe the quack had met her several times earlier.
An officer said that on the day of the gun battle in West Midnapore’s Burishole forest, two brothers — Tarachand Tudu alias Pintu and Chamtu — were picked up barely a kilometre from the spot where Kishan was found dead.
“The brothers, who are sons of a National Voluntary Force jawan, were picked up on the basis of specific information. When they were questioned, we came to know that an injured Suchitra had come out of the jungle and managed to reach Burishole village where Pintu was waiting. He then took Suchitra on his cycle towards the nearby Chilki forest,” said the police officer.
Suchitra changed her blood-soaked salwar-kameez inside the forest and draped a sari that Pintu had with him. “They then set the salwar-kameez ablaze. We found a part of the half-burnt cloth today,” the officer added. “Pintu then took her to the quack at nearby Benashuli village.”
Quoting Mahato, the officer said: “He claimed that Pintu introduced the woman as his sister-in-law who was injured after falling on the road. But we have no reason to believe Mahato.”
The officer said: “After treatment, Pintu took Suchitra towards the Chilki forest from where she entered the jungle and the youth returned home.”
The Jharkhand border is only 13km from Benashuli village where Suchitra was treated and it is possible to make an escape to the neighbouring state through the forests.
The police today continued their search in the villages around the Burishole and Chilki forests.
“We are sure that a bullet is still lodged in her abdomen. She would not be able to travel a long distance. She will either have to reach a village where Maoist sympathisers are present or die inside the forest from blood loss and infection,” said the CID officer.
The police have detained six more persons, including a woman and two college students, from Sarakata, Benashole and Kapatkata — all are villages close to the Burishole forest.