Sunday, June 01, 2008

Maoist leaders shot in night ‘encounter’

VISHVENDU JAIPURIAR

(Vishnugarh) Hazaribagh, June 1: Four rebels, including the mastermind of former MLA Mahendra Singh’s murder, were gunned down in an alleged encounter last night.

Arjun Yadav and Nitish Da alias Jodha Mahto, self-styled Maoist sub-zonal commanders, were among the four, which also included a woman, Reshmi Besra. The other one was identified as Vijay Ghatwar.

Claiming the killing “a great achievement”, superintendent of police Praveen Kumar Singh said that this was result of “timely information followed by concrete strategy”. The CBI was also in search of Arjun — a resident of Durgi Dhawaiya of Giridih — since long after the Mahendra Singh murder in January 2005.

However, two different angles appeared regarding the “encounter”. The police claimed that they — along with CRPF jawans — had gunned down the Naxalites after reaching Chunnar Mandu, about 48km from the district headquarters, at 9.30pm.

They said that the Maoists were busy meeting contractors of kendu leaves, when the gun-battle took place.

But according to sources, Arjun, popularly known as Dr Vijay, had been arrested earlier yesterday in Barkatha. After alleged third degree torture, Arjun spilled the beans and told the police about the meeting. He passed the information that Nitish Da would also be present there.

Acting on this information, the team reached the spot but Arjun tried to escape by pushing aside the officer in charge of Vishnugarh police station, Bhola Yadav. Soon firing started and Arjun along with Nitish and two others were lying in a pool of blood. Many other rebels present there sustained bullet injures but managed to escape, claimed Yadav.

Sources said that Arjun fell into the police trap after information about his movement got leaked. But he planned to escape after taking the men in khaki to the meeting spot, a Maoist stronghold area, but his idea failed as the police started indiscriminate firing.

The sources added that a large number of villagers and contractors of kendu leaves were present at the meeting. A 12-year-old girl, Kanti Hembrom, was also arrested as she was “a part of the Maoist group”. The rebels did not fire a single round.

One can bomb, two rifles, two revolvers, one walkie-talkie, torch and uniforms were recovered from the spot.

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