‘CoBRA killed villager, not a Maoist’
The villagers of Chintagufa from Sukma district of south Chhattisgarh have claimed that the person killed in an encounter with the Central Reserve Police Force’s CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) team on Tuesday was “an innocent villager” and not a “Maoist.” Sukma police had claimed on Tuesday that a “Maoist” named Kawasi Kosa was killed in an “encounter” between the Maoists and a CoBRA team near Chintagufa and an SLR (Self Loading Rifle) was recovered from him with two magazines. In a written complaint addressed to the Director General of Police, Chhattisgarh, the deceased’s younger brother, Kawasi Hurra, has claimed that Kawasi Kosa had no relation with the Maoists and he was “picked up from his home in Chintagufa by the CoBRA team” before being killed.
10 political prisoners walk free in West Bengal
In the first ever group-acquittal since the Trinamool Congress (TMC) came to power in 2011, as many as 10 political prisoners were acquitted on Tuesday night by a Ranaghat district court in south Bengal. All the activists were allegedly working for the outlawed CPI(Maoist) in Nadia District in south-central Bengal and had been languishing in various jails for nearly 10 years. They were charged under the Arms Act of 1959 and various sections of the IPC.
However, none of the charges was established and thus all the activists were acquitted by the (Addl.) District and Sessions Judge, Rupanjana Chakravarty. Ajit Chakravarty, Pradeep Chatterjee, Lata Murmu, Gupi Das, Haidar Ali Chowdhury, Paresh Tirkey and Mongal Mondal were released. “Rina Sarkar, Prasanta Das and Aloke Debnath got bail in other cases but the release orders have not reached the jail authorities,” said Prasanta Haldar, a rights activist, representing Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP).
The oldest among the acquitted activists, 72-year-old Ajit Chakravarty, was once acquitted by the Left Front government soon after it came to power in 1977. In fact, Left Front had withdrawn all charges against the political prisoners after assuming power, when Mr. Chakravarty was released. Before coming to power the TMC government made similar promises but withdrew cases against only four political prisoners. While more than 50 political prisoners were released on bail, cases were not withdrawn.
In fact, TMC even retracted the status of a political prisoner, granted by the Left Front government, to a detainee, by passing an amendment Section 24 of the West Bengal Correctional Services Act of 1992 passed by the earlier Left Front government. The West Bengal government has curbed “the rights of political prisoners by making an amendment to Section 24,” wrote Professor Amit Bhattacharya, an observer of Naxalite movement in the State, in one of his papers.
Mr. Haldar said that the government is now fighting “tooth and nail” in the Supreme Court to get the status of political prisoners granted to some of the alleged Maoist activists by the Calcutta High Court revoked. “Some of the activists like Gaur Chakravarty or Sadanala Ramakrishna (still in jail) were arrested before the 1992 Act was amended and now the State government is even trying to withdraw the few facilities provided to a political prisoner,” said Mr. Haldar.
Arrested Maoist falls sick, referred to RIMS
A hard-core arrested Maoist was referred to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi when he consumed something soon after production in a court in Dumka district today, a Central Jail official said. Jamesh Murmu, who was booked under various sections of IPC including murder and was incarcerated in the Dumka Central Jail since August 2011, was taken for production in the court of District Judge Virendra Pratap Singh. However, when as he was being taken back to jail, he consumed something in the van and started vomiting, said Dumka Central Jail Jailer U N Gupta.
He was immediately taken to the jail cell and given treatment by the doctors, who referred him to Dumka Sadar Hospital. The doctors at the Sadar Hospital again referred him to RIMS, Ranchi, he said adding Murmu was being taken to Ranchi under tight security arrangement. It could not be ascertained what he has consumed, he added.
Mining company staff freed by Maoists after being kidnapped
Four officials, including a general manager of a private company, who were kidnapped this morning by Maoists from an iron ore reserve in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Kanker district have been released, the police said. “The officials were released late this evening after the Maoists warned them not to carry out any mining in the region,” Kanker Superintendent of Police Jitendra Singh Meena told PTI. Five staff members of the Neco Jayaswal Company namely, General Manager Mithlesh Chaudhary, Supervisor Deenanath Patel, Shyam Sundar Sahu, Dipesh Kaiwartya and geologist S K Paul were abducted by Maoists while they were on inspection work at Chargaon iron ore reserve where the company has been carrying out mining work.
However, a squad of around 30 armed Maoist rebels stormed the Chargaon reserve and whisked away five staff members, the SP said. “Of them, geologist S K Pal was released in the afternoon while other officials were freed later,” he said. Soon after being informed about the incident, security forces were mobilised in the region, around 200 km away from the Chhattisgarh state capital of Raipur, to rescue employees, he said. “No specific demands were made by Maoists to free the abducted people, though they warned them not to carry out any mining work in the region,” he said. The released officials reached Chargaon, he said, adding that they would be interrogated soon. A combing operation is underway in the region to nab the Maoist cadres involved in the incident, he said.
Two police constables injured in encounter with Maoists
Two police constables were injured in an encounter with Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Kanker district today, police said here. The incident took place at a valley near Khadaigodra village under Antagarh police station limits, where security personnel were deployed to ensure security to road construction work, Kanker Superintendent of Police Jitendra Singh Meena told PTI. A joint team of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) and district force was carrying out combing in Khadaigodra region, located around 250 km away from the state capital, during their task to provide security to the construction work. “As they were cordoning off a valley in the region, a Maoist triggered a landmine blast followed by indiscriminate firing on them injured two district police force constables,” he said.