Saturday, February 27, 2010

Maoists’ talks offer turns out to be hoax

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

Kishenji’s phone belonged to abducted cop
Did media fall prey to Naxal sympathisers?

Did the media fall prey to a great hoax in reporting the ceasefire offer purportedly made by the top Maoists leader Kishenji? This is what the Centre thinks after analysing various intelligence inputs which suggest that Kishenji did not talk to any TV journalist at all in the recent days.

And that’s not the end of the story. What gives it a curious twist is the latest discovery that the phone number given by Maoists to the media asking Union Home Minster P Chidambaram to call up for peace negotiations actually belonged to a police constable who was briefly abducted and released by the rebels a few months ago.

Intelligence officials feel that some Naxal sympathisers wanted to confuse the Government after the Home Minister made a statement recently that the Centre would be ready to hold talks with Maoists if they stop violence for 72 hours. “So they made a counter-statement in the name of Kishenji. But the data received from various telephone interceptions proved that this episode was a drama created by Naxal sympathisers to create confusion,” the officials said.

The Vodafone number 9734695789 belonged to Sisir Kanti Nag, the constable who was abducted by Maoists demanding the release of the PCPA leader Chatradhar Mahato, on September 26.

“The Vodafone SIM card was purchased from Kharagpur and it belongs to Nag. But right now it is impossible to say from which dealer it was purchased,” a senior district police officer said on condition of anonymity. “We are questioning the constable and trying to find out details,” he said. Nag’s cellphone number in all probability is being used by Koteswar Rao, better known as Kishenji, and is the phone number Chidambaram has been asked to call up on, the officer said.

Nag and his colleague Siteshwar Prasad were abducted by Maoists from a bus at Tamajhuri in West Midnapore on September 26 demanding the release of Mahato. Nag was released later that night at Jamtalghera, about 50 km away from Tamajhuri.

Kishenji, who contacts the media frequently, has used as many as 18 different mobile phone numbers since June last year when the hunt for him was launched.

The Airtel number which was used by Kishenji when the hunt began belonged to a schoolteacher from Lalgarh who had lost his cellphone, the police officer said. The teacher had lodged a complaint with the police, he said.

While two of the numbers used by the elusive Maoist leader to contact PTI belonged to Jharkhand, one to Andhra Pradesh and the rest to West Bengal. “Most of the numbers used by Kishenji, belong to various people from Nadia, Hoogly and South 24 Parganas,” the officer said.

“This is a very intelligent way to distract the police from mainline investigation and Maoists have used this method very carefully and tactfully,” a senior intelligence officer said.

The Maoist leader is known to move between Goaltore, Salboni, Lalgarh, Belpahari and the neighbouring Jharkhand.

Meanwhile, Intelligence agencies have told the Government that the reports of ceasefire offer made by Maoist leader Kishenji were not true. Claming that Kishenji never contacted any journalist, sources said that some TV journalist talked to a Maoists leader Raju and telecast the story quoting Kishenji.

“We found that this person who was known as Raju in the Maoist circles talked to TV journalists on Monday. Kishenji never called up any journalist,” a senior Home Ministry official said.

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