Thursday, June 04, 2009
OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
ASI Bera’s wife Jyotsna. Picture by Samir Mondal
Bankura, June 3: Three policemen lunching at a roadside shop with their guns resting against tables were shot dead and robbed of their weapons in Bankura this afternoon.
Two other cops are battling death in hospital.
A group of eight closed in on them from all sides and started firing around 1.15pm. The police had no time to react, said witnesses at Pirolgari More, 10km from Sarenga police station in south Bankura.
As the cops fell, the attackers picked up their weapons — three .303 rifles, an SLR and a revolver — and sped away on motorcycles.
The needle of suspicion points at Maoists because of the daring nature of the strike, though the rebels have never killed policemen for arms in Bankura before.
The owner of Annapurna Hotel, Kalachand Das, was in the kitchen when he heard the shots. “These cops came to my eatery everyday for lunch. I was cooking when I heard the shots. I went to the door and saw a constable running. One of the assailants chased him and shot him,” said Das.
Scared, he fled inside and stepped out after the sound of the motorcycles faded.
Assistant sub-inspector Biswanath Bera, 50, who was leading the team, and constables Gopal Chandra Dey, 45, and Bishnupada Saha, 58, died on the spot.
Death almost chased down Saha, who was injured three years ago in an explosion that killed the officer in charge of Barikul, also in Bankura. He is from Burdwan. Bera is from West Midnapore and Dey from Purulia. They were out on routine patrol.
“There must have been at least 12 in the gang, eight of whom carried out the operation while the others waited on the bikes,” an officer said.
The attackers fled towards Raipur, from where the Jharkhand border is not far. District police chief Vishal Garg, who went to the spot, about 200km from Calcutta, said: “The border has been sealed.”
The condition of constable Nitendranath Das and National Volunteer Force member Balaram Maity is said to be serious.
Such attacks had so far been restricted to Purulia and West Midnapore, where suspected Maoists have shot policemen on several occasions and snatched their arms. “The only strike in Bankura so far was the one that killed the Barikul officer,” an officer said.