Sunday, November 15, 2009

Trader killed for defying bandh

Sukumar Mahato, TNN 15 November 2009, 04:28am IST


MIDNAPORE: Trader Susanta Pratihar paid with his life for travelling by the forests along the border area of West Midnapore and Bankura where the Maoist-led People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA) had called a 72-hour bandh. Security forces on Saturday spotted his gutted car and a muffler lying beside in the Bhalukbasa forests.

A torched pick-up van has also been identified. Another group of jawans recovered a body six kilometre away from the spot at Hatimara village in Goaltore, where the PCPA men laid a siege on the CPM camp two weeks ago. Police fear that it could be Pratihar's body.

The raid by the security forces was not peaceful though. Forces on Saturday had to confront the Maoist fire from inside the jungle. The gunbattle continued for over two hours till the Maoists beat a retreat. The crucial part of the operation was at Bakshibandh under Kotwali police station, covering parts of Salboni, Lalgarh and Kotwali where Maoist military strategist Kishanji is alleged to have taken shelter.

PCPA activists alleged that the "CPM harmads" entered the area with security forces. The entire area was out of bounds for the media because the forces didn't allow anyone to follow them.

Desperate to block vehicular movement on the last day of the three-day bandh, PCPA men on Saturday built temporary brick walls on State Highway-9 connecting Jhargram and Silda. The "road clearing team" followed by the police reached Dahijuri and removed the "walls" around 11 am.

Employees of the United Bank Of india, Shipabazar branch in Midnapore, were thrown into a tizzy after the bank manager got a call on his land phone that a bomb was planted on the bank premises.

Police came to the spot within half an hour, but did not find anything despite an hour-long search. Police have no clue who were behind such hoax call. Denying a hand in it, local leaders of the People's Committee against Police Atrocities hinted that they were preparing for a major offensive.

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