Friday, March 05, 2010

Slain Nandigram leader betrayed Maoists: Deepak

TNN, Mar 5, 2010, 07.52am IST

KOLKATA: Maoist military commander in Bengal, Venkateswar Reddy alias Telugu Deepak, has confirmed that his men — and not the CPM — gunned down senior Trinamool Congress leader Nishikanta Mondal in Nandigram because he “betrayed them”.

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee had all along accused CPM of the killing, though Kishanji claimed responsibility for the murder. Deepak’s statement indicates that no matter how close one is to the Maoists, their ‘friendship’ comes at a price.

Deepak, who is learnt to be handling interrogators with ease, answering questions selectively, surprisingly opened up on the Nishikanta killing, say sources. “We killed him because he was a friend turned enemy,” he is reported to have said.
According to police, Nishikanta, a CPM-turned-Trinamool leader, was hand in glove with the Maoists during the land agitation. Deepak was leading the Maoists there as Gouranga. They fought many battles together and Nishikanta earned the trust of the Maoists. While leaving Nandigram, the rebels left 10 sophisticated arms and a huge amount of money in his safe-keeping.

Things started changing after Trinamool swept the 2008 panchayat elections in Nandigram and neighbouring areas. As pradhan of Sonachura panchayat, Nishikanta started distancing himself from Maoists, stopped them from expanding their network and even blocked their activities in Haripur where the rebels want to stir opposition to the proposed nuclear plant, Deepak told the police.

Also, Nishikanta denied any knowledge of the guns and money Deepak had left with him. The Maoists waited until the poor men in the area got angry with Nishikanta’s handling of NREGA funds. The guerrillas started building up a movement along with some members of Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC). Deepak then chalked out a plan to kill Nishikanta after getting the go-ahead from his seniors, including Kishanji.

The killing sent shockwaves in the Trinamool ranks, especially among grassroots activists who had at times come close to Maoists while fighting CPM gunmen. So, when Mamata Banerjee went hammer and tongs against the Maoists after the killing of two partymen in West Midnapore, some Trinamool activists in the area chose to quit politics
fearing a retaliation from the Maoists.

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