Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fresh gunfight between police, Naxals in West Bengal

PTISaturday, March 27, 2010 17:35 IST

Kolkata: A fresh gun battle today broke out between Maoists and the joint forces in Salboni area, even as police remained tight-lipped over reports that top leader Kishenji was injured in Thursday's encounter at Hatiloth forest in West Midnapore district.

The fire-fight began when the special anti-Maoist CoBRA personnel were carrying out a search in Hatiloth and Bhalukbasa forests, both in Salboni area, besides Chotokalsibhanga forest in Lalgarh area, police sources said.

There were no immediate reports of any casualty.

Asked whether Kishenji, who twice escaped arrest, was hurt in Thursday's gun battle with the joint forces, superintendent of police Manoj Verma told PTI, "A group of Maoists in Hatiloth forest were injured, but it cannot be said for certain whether Kishenji was present."

Kishenji was trapped when the joint forces surrounded a group of Maoists during the release of kidnapped officer-in-charge of Sankrail police station Atindranath Dutta on October 22 last year. However, he escaped after threatening to kill Dutta.

On January 21, Kishenji gave the second slip, while his laptop and headphones were seized at a jungle between Jitushol and Dumurpota under Kotwali police station. Stating that the anti-Naxal personnel had cordoned off Lalgarh, Jamboni and Kotwali police station areas and were tightening the noose on the maoists, the police official said, "If Kishenji had called up the media to state that he was hurt it would have been a different matter, but there is no specific information about him."

Another senior police officer told PTI, "I have also heard that he is hurt, but there is no information about his whereabouts."

Asked whether the elusive Maoist leader was in Midnapore district or had fled, another senior police officer said his
mobile phone was being tracked.

On whether any Maoist has been eliminated in the ongoing encounter, Verma said "We cannot say anything until a body is
recovered. So far we have not recovered a body."

The official said two Maoist squad leaders Sanatan Pal and Prasanta Patra were arrested from Salboni area yesterday.

They were produced in court today remanded to police custody till April 4.

Pal was arrested with an SLR rifle, while Patra, regarded as a big catch, was involved in all major attacks in Belpahari and Banspahari area of the district for the last three years, Verma said.

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