Forces on the trail of another Maoist leader

JHARGRAM/SURI: With Kishanji’s death acting as a morale booster, security forces have stepped up their operations and tracked down the hideout of a top Maoist commander, Ranjan Munda, in West Midnapore’s Nayagram block.

More than 600 jawans of the CRPF and the police’s Counter Insurgency Force raided Gangasole forest on the Orissa border on Wednesday in search of Ranjan. SP P K Tripathi is at the operation site. Security forces believe Ranjan recently returned to Bengal after escorting a senior Maoist leader to Orissa and is now holding out with his squad of 12.

The joint forces are still looking for the injured Suchitra Mahato. The discovery of a woman’s decomposed body in Jamboni’s Kanaisole forest triggered speculation for a while but it was not Suchitra’s, say sources.

Bhupati Mahato, the village quack who treated Suchitra, and Pintu Tudu, who allegedly helped her escape, were produced in Jhargram court and remanded in CID custody for seven days

Police say Tudu sheltered Suchitra in his home and took her by cycle to the Jharkhand border. She is suspected to have taken shelter in Dhalbhumgarh or Ghatsila because she badly needs treatment for the bullet lodged in her belly.

Another Maoist, Barun Das alias Surya, surrendered to police in Suri, Birbhum, on Wednesday in response to chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s rehabilitation offer. Das was allegedly involved in the murder of village guards, blowing up of rail tracks, mobile towers and other subversive activities in Khairasole, SP Nishat Pervez said, adding that Das was the “commander-in-charge of Khairasole-Dubrajpur area”.

Bengal police are in touch with their Orissa counterparts to encircle the rebels. In the Kishanji encounter, too, it was a pincer movement by CRPF teams in Jharkhand and Bengal that pinned him down.

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